WSCAL: Clark on the Sabbath

[Sadly, in experimenting with the Performancing Firefox plug-in blog editor, I blew away my original post.  All the comments are here, so maybe some higher textual analysis could reconstruct most of it, but in the meantime, I am going to try to simply replace the main points as I remember them:]

  • The Sabbath is a creation ordinance
    • It’s not a question of whether the Sabbath was instituted in Ex 16 / Ex 20
    • The Sabbath was instituted in Gen 2
    • Secular/Sacred distinction “built-in” to creation itself
  • There is one significant difference between the 10 commandments in Ex 20 and Deut 5
    • Ex 20: Keep the Sabbath Holy “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
    • Points back to Creation
    • Deut 5: “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”
    • Points to redemption, or Re-Creation
  • Why change Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday?
    • Jewish calendar structured around Sabbaths
      • Seven days, Seven Years, Seven times seven years
      • Focus of Jewish calendar is most important redemptive act (Passover)
    • Best possible reason to change Sabbath is an even more significant singular act of redemption
      • Jesus died on Good Friday
      • Spent the Jewish Sabbath “resting” (in the grave)
      • On the first day of the week, resurrected, and, having completed his labors (his assignment as part of the intra-trinitarian Covenant of Redemption) “entered into his rest”
    • Thus we celebrate that we enter into Christ’s rest every Sunday
  • Do’s & Don’ts?
    • Do’s are “pretty easy: worship and rest”
    • Clark refuses to give any concrete list of don’ts
    • Guidance of Synod of Dordt (they weren’t just there to grow TULIPs!):

rest from all servile works (with these excepted, which are works of charity and pressing necessity) and from those recreations which impede the worship of God.


40 Responses

  1. He concludes by not providing a list of dont’s. The list of do’s is “pretty easy: worship and rest”.

    Bravo! Let nothing stand between you and the worship service. Ever. But other than that…


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  3. The sabbath day is the one day God gives me [us] for the explicit purpose of rehearsing the consummation and for the [hand-in-hand] purpose of escaping the culture.

    To this end you will find that my Sunday football game consumption is way down over previous years. Actually going to the stadium on Sunday would be like actually deciding to leave heaven and visit hell just because the entertainment in hell is so good.

  4. To this end you will find that my Sunday football game consumption is way down over previous years.

    So why do you watch football at all? It is either wrong or right to watch football on Sunday correct? If it is wrong then you are sinning whether you watch 1 quarter or attend an entire game. Or is this a work in progress and you are weening yourself, so as to not have withdrawal symptoms?

    I do not think attending a football game on Sunday is like visiting hell, if it were we will have a hard time convincing the unsaved they need to accept Jesus so they do not spend eternity in “hell” :)

  5. Well, it depends on how reliable you think the guideline of “rest from all … recreations which impede the worship of God” is. If that is the best summary of how to develop personal convictions concerning what not to do on the Sabbath, then football might be like drinking but not getting drunk. I.e. (on a person-by-person basis), X minutes of watching football might not impede worship, but Y hours of football might impede worship. So it’s not a black-and-white question of whether watching football itself is a sin, but a grey question of how much football does it take to impede worship?

    And if you don’t agree that “rest from all … recreations which impede the worship of God” is the best yardstick, then the question would have to be evaluated another way.

  6. I think the portion of the statement “which impede the worship of God” is their way of being politically correct so as to not step on anyone’s toes.

    They do not end the statement at “rest from all recreations” thus providing the caveat that as long as you remain in an attitude of worship, you can do as you desire on Sunday. I can make the argument that whatever I do is done with an attitude of worship (including playing with my son, watching football, playing sports, etc…) just as working during the week is done with an attitude of worship.

    I do not see this as much of a guideline at all, but more so as a reminder that we should conduct all our business and pleasure activities with an attitude of worship.

  7. Galatians 5:1 “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

    I Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or WHATEVER YOU DO (emphasis mine), do it all for the glory of God.”

    This would be my guideline for how we conduct our lives every day of the week including Sunday.

  8. This is not about how to conduct your life (law – “whatever you do, DO” – and you say “all this I will do, yes, sir”).

    This is about what the Sabbath is given to us for. So, let me repeat:

    The sabbath day is the one day God gives me [us] for the explicit purpose of rehearsing the consummation and for the [hand-in-hand] purpose of escaping the culture.

    Going to a football stadium (on Sunday when there is a game there) completely destroys that gift.

    You can go all you want for all I care. You obviously don’t share my view of the sabbath day and what it’s for.

  9. Going to a football stadium (on Sunday when there is a game there) completely destroys that gift.

    Why do you limit it to going to a football stadium?

    Can’t we also group together celebrating birthdays, excercising, enjoying your hobbies, watching tv, going out to lunch at a restaraunt, the list goes on.

    All these things you are participating in are actvities that take place in the culture in which you live. By doing these things you are NOT “escaping the culture”

    Other than sitting in a church pew all day, I do not know what you are recommending for yourself as an exeptable practice on Sunday.

  10. This would be my guideline for how we conduct our lives every day of the week including Sunday.

    Matt, you sound like a politically correct kindergarten teacher. If every child is equally special, then none is actually special. Do you see any difference between Sunday and other days? Can you worship God by working for your employer “as unto the Lord” on the Sabbath? (Pretend that you had a more usual (i.e. less special) employee-employer relationship)

  11. Of course I could. Everything we do, we do for the glory of God. Worship does not take place in a building, but in the hearts of the people.

    Who are we to tell people that have to work on Sundays that they are in sin or not “honoring the Sabbath”. There are hundreds of thousands of Christians around the world that have to work on Sunday, are they less spiritual than those of us who do not work?

    I would encourage everyone to do everything in their power to try and get Sundays off so they could attend church, but for many this is out of their control and to ask them to quit their job is ridiculous.

    “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it” (Romans 14:5–6a)

  12. One more thing,

    It would be just as easy for me to attend church and not worship the Lord, as it would be for me to not attend church and worship the Lord.

    It is a heart issue, not a location issue.

  13. Who are we to tell people

    I’ll try to head off an 10,000 words from Echo against one of his pet peeves. We are nobody. The Bible is everything. Who are we? We are Christians. Who we are is defined not by ourselves, but by the Bible. We have the right to point people to the Bible.

    There are hundreds of thousands of Christians around the world that have to work on Sunday, are they less spiritual than those of us who do not work?

    Depending on how you define “have to”, there are probably hundreds of thousands of Christians around the world that don’t really have to work on Sunday. There are X number of Christians around the world who don’t work on Sunday, even though others in the same circumstance would consider that they “have to”. Are they more spiritual than those of us who do not work? “more spiritual” is a slippery, loaded term, such that I already know you think the answer must automatically be “no”. To be more precise, are they any more or less justified (saved) for working or not working on Sunday? Absolutely not. But are they any more or less sanctified? (What is Sanctification? Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.) I would say it’s quite possible that a Christian who takes a stand and refuses to work on Sunday may be more sanctified than one who relents and thinks they “have to” work, and doesn’t seek another job where they don’t “have to” work.

    In any case, I think you’ve answered my question; you don’t seem to think that the Sabbath is a religious concept that has meaning anymore (in the New Covenant, I guess). By your logic, if various groups of Christians wanted to assemble for worship on Thursdays, or on a rotating schedule of every 5 days, or twice a year (Christmas and Easter?), it’d be OK?

    I’m being deliberately silly (I hope), just to try to probe and find out where you draw your lines.

  14. Isn’t this at the heart of what Romans 14:5-6 is talking about?

    I highly value the role attending church has in our lives as Christians. I think it is very important to attend church every week or even more if possible (i.e. bible studies, etc…)not because it is required, but in order to worship with a corporate body of believers, hear the preached word of God and remain in fellowship with other believers.

    I do not believe that we are required to treat Sabbath in the same way and with the same extremes as the Isrealites did in the OT. This seems to be the difference in our views. My conscious is clear when I attend football games, go out to eat and play sports on Sunday. For those who cannot do these things and others with a clear conscious, do not do them.

    As far as your question:

    I obviously do not think it is possible to change the day that we attend church from Sunday to any other day becuase of cultural limitations. However, I do not think that changing the day does anything to devalue what the Sabbath means. After all, the Sabbath has already been changed once from Saturday to Sunday, right?

    Following your logic what does it say for the mid-week Bible study, or the youth meeting, or any other service that falls on a day besides Sunday? Are those meetings less useful or less inspired in their purpose?

    A couple verse to chew on:

    Colossians 2:16-17 “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

    Acts 2:46-47 “EVERY day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

  15. There are about a billion people on planet earth that claim to be Christians, and who hold worship services on Sundays. Granted some of that 1 billion figure are nominal Catholics, who go to church only on Christmas and Easter, so let’s say that half a billion actually think it’s important to go to church every Sunday.

    Now let’s pretend that these half a billion people are not crazy, and that the fact that they go to church on Sunday is not something that people just arbitrarily decided, but that they actually got this idea from the Bible somehow. I mean, if it really was just arbitrarily selected, I suppose some churches would gather for worship on Wednesdays or Fridays or whatever, but they don’t. With one voice the entire church speaks, and they all go to church on Sunday.

    Is it JUST a matter of tradition? If so, why did that tradition develop? Perhaps it developed in a sinful way, like the office of bishop, the doctrine of pennance, and prayers to Mary?

    But if that’s the case, how come the entire Christian church agrees that worship is to be done on Sunday? The only exception is the Seventh Day Adventists, but I don’t think that they’re rightly considered a Christian Church, and neither do you, because you’d never even consider joining one.

    But there are huge portions of the christian church that disagrees about bishops, pennance and prayers to Mary. But no dissent on the worship on Sundays.

    So let’s pretend, just for a moment, that this agreement in the entire church for nearly 2000 years actually has a good reason behind it. I know – this requires quite a lot of imagination, and you are feeling a bit like a child who is pretending that he can fly. I know, but try to pretend with me that this 2000 year unanimity of the entire church is actually based on some sound thinking, that there’s a good reason behind it.

    So if there’s a good reason behind it, it’s probably that this is what God wants us to do. I’m not sure there’s any such thing as a good reason that’s contrary to God’s will. I’m pretty sure that if it’s a good idea for the church of God to do it, then it’s because it’s what God wants us to do, because we are a people characterized by our desire to do what God wants us to do.

    Say what you will about Christians, but what we’re all about is trying to obey God.

    So let’s pretend a bit more. Let’s pretend that doing what God wants us to do is good, and not doing what God wants us to do is bad.

    Again, I know how difficult this pretending is, but stretch your imagination to encompass my game of make believe.

    So here’s what we’re pretending now: we’re pretending that God actually wants us to worship him on Sundays, and that to do so is good, and that to not do so is bad. That’s what we’re pretending.

    Under these extremely bizarre and unusual circumstances which stretch the imagination to its limit, let me pose this question.

    What does it say to God when you choose football over worshiping him in church?

    What does that choice say?

    The reformed conceive of worship as a covenantal dialogue between God and his people. This is really going to stretch your imagination. Let me explain.

    Let’s use a marriage as an example. What does it mean to be married? What does it mean to have companionship? Doesn’t the relationship between man and wife consist primarily of communication? You come home from work and talk about your day. She relates her feelings by speaking, you tell her about that guy who drives you crazy, maybe your boss. She knows everything about you because you’ve told her everything about you. You know everything about her too. You can communicate to her without saying anything at all most likely, and she can with you. So intimate is your bond that even a gentle pat on the hand can sometimes convey an ocean of meaning. And since we’re all adults here, I’ll go on to say that even sexual communion is a matter of communication involving the entire body. If you simply think about it, you who are married will know that I’m right.

    Well, guess what? As a man is in a covenant with his wife, called a marriage, the church is in a covenant with God. The church is the bride of Christ. See Eph 5 where Paul easily slips back and forth between talking about husbands and wives and Christ and the church. Or see the book of Revelation, where there are countless references to this, not the least of which is the declaration by the angel that the New Jerusalem is itself the bride.

    Well, let’s think about it. If this kind of relationship is characterized by communication – even to the point that, in a marriage, the better the communication, the better the marriage – then can we say, are we allowed to say that worship is communication between God and his people and thus is completely important, even crucial to a healthy relationship?

    What if we conceived of worship as a dialogue between God and his people, where God speaks and the people respond?

    Would we then be able to say that the worship of God is actually communion with God, and is of vital importance to deepen the bond between God and his people, namely you and me, the church?

    If that’s even remotely possible, why, in God’s name I ask you, would you want to ditch that to watch football?

    Would your wife be right to be mad at you if you preferred a football game to sex?

    I mean, sex is intimate communication between man and wife. The worship of God is intimate communication between God and people, husband and wife.

    Feel free to be a little creeped out at my choice of parallels, but it’s totally appropriate and biblical, and I’ve cited the places to find it.

    So I’ll just let you know now that choosing football over worship is like choosing football over sex. And I’ll also remind you that one day you will stand before God and be absolutely ashamed of yourself for such a foolish choice. You will be forgiven, yes, and you will be in heaven anyway, to be sure. But it is equally true that you will be ashamed in that day, even as you should feel ashamed even now.

    Don’t bring shame upon yourself or the name of Christ, which has become your name as a wife takes on her husband’s name. Bring honor to Christ by clinging to him, recognizing that in him alone do you find refuge from the world and hope for peace with God and hope for the age to come. Cling to him, and release your sins, confessing them to him, hearing the word of pardon, and walking in new obedience.

    Don’t be afraid to confess your sins to God. There are two reasons why you shouldn’t.
    1. He is already fully aware of them. You cannot hide them from him. You might as well admit them then.
    2. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Don’t be afraid to confess your sins, because he will surely pardon them. He has promised to do so. There is no condemnation. Your sins don’t condemn you. You have no need to fear judgment.

    Go to church. It’s not hard, and it’s quite enjoyable. Don’t ditch church to go to a football game. Don’t be in a hurry to leave church either, in order to catch as much of the game as possible on TV. Don’t ditch church to go to Grandma’s house. Jesus Christ is your first love. He demands uncompromising obedience. He has given you 6 days in which to work and do whatever else, asking for only one day in 7 for his worship. This is not an unfair burden he has placed on you.

    Go to church, commune with your God.

  16. Notice that I did not say what it is sinful or not sinful to do in between church services, but only said not to be in a hurry to leave church in order to participate in them.

    Honor the Sabbath: go to church, both morning and evening if your church has that. That’s it.

    Go to church.

  17. So I’ll just let you know now that choosing football over worship is like choosing football over sex.

    Where did this come from? No one has said anything about choosing one over the other. You are making this up so you can argue with yourself.

    This is not an either\or question, no one skips church to attend football games or do anything else (not even me, I know that is hard to believe)

    What about this concept: YOU CAN DO BOTH FREE OF GUILT, go to church then go do what you want the rest of the day, and then come back and go to church at night, what a concept!

  18. I am sorry if my previous posts gave the impression that the things I do on Sunday take the place of church. That is not at all true, they are the things I do between a 9:00AM service and a 6:00PM service GUILT FREE!

  19. Matt,

    For many churches, there is a conflict between worship and football. Many there are not, and that’s great, but many there are. that’s the real point, don’t choose anything over church, even mentally.

    Also, remember that freedom is not license to sin. Not that that’s what you’re saying, just a friendly reminder.


  20. Following your logic what does it say for the mid-week Bible study, or the youth meeting, or any other service that falls on a day besides Sunday? Are those meetings less useful or less inspired in their purpose?


  21. Feel free to be a little creeped out at my choice of parallels

    You’re not the first…

  22. Nice…

  23. Matt, They have not responded to any of the verses you gave them. It reminds me of the story in Matthew 12 where the Pharisee’s really had Jesus in a quagmire(not really). I wonder if Jesus felt trapped?
    The matter is the heart. If you feel(believe it or not you do have feelings) the conviction to spend more time in the Word and less time watching football, then understand that this is the Holy Spirit. I never feel guilty about playing with my kids at the park on Sunday or going on a lunch date with my Wife even though when I’m with her(gasp)I might not be thinking about the Message I heard that morning. I go to church not because I’m commanded to go but rather because I need to go. I love to go!

  24. Re 9:

    Why do you limit it to going to a football stadium?

    Where did I make any limit? This would be easier face-to-face, wouldn’t it.

    Matt, now that you’ve had some time to chew on

    Colossians 2:16-17 “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

    what do these verses (in context please) say, on your reading of them? Are you saying that you are now ready to argue for alcohol consumption, or what?

  25. Alex,

    Neither you nor Matt is understanding what is being said. You’re sarcastically talking about how you go on a date with your wife and play with your kids, but no one is saying you can’t do those things. But you better believe we’re commanded to go to church. Why do you think we do it in the first place, do you think it was MAN’s idea?

    The COMMAND from God is to set the day apart to him. That means the purpose of the day is to hold worship services. So if you’re ditching church to do anything else, you’re disobeying God.

    Now, you may not think so. That’s fine. Go ahead, think what you want. Believe in whatever you want the Bible to say. But the Bible does say it and it has been rehearsed here again and again. And on Daniel’s blog.

  26. Matt, was Paul referring to the Jewish 7th day or the Christian 7th day? What difference would it make, if any? Why did he say “a Sabbath day” and not “the Sabbath day? Do you think this verse speaks at all to the fact that the “seventh day” principle was a creation ordinance and not a “law” ordinance?

    Please reread comment #8 and notice how explicitly I stated this is not about someone dictating to you what is right or wrong practice on Sunday. So steering this discussion into law is off. Ironically, the whole original post is making the statement that Sabbath isn’t about law.

    I write this out of frustration because I have been perceived by some as a Pharisee. At worst, I may be guilty of being unclear, but I don’t think so. I am trying to make a simple statement in the face of folks who think there is a fight here where there isn’t one.

  27. Bruce,

    Of course it would be easier in person, but when do I ever see you? Are you inviting me over for dinner? :)

    As far as limiting your “escaping the culture” to football stadiums:

    I was assuming that you partake in other “cultural” activities on Sunday and if that is the case my point is why do you allow yourself these concessions, but not football. Some of these “cultural” activities may include; reading (books other than theological), attending parties (birthdays for grandchildren, for example), and going out to eat at a restaraunt, to name a few. It would seem to me that if Sundays are the day the Lord gave you to “escape the culture” then doing any or all of these things would be neglecting the gift, no?

    This is why I see no point in refraining from any activity that brings you enjoyment on Sunday (in between church services of course).

    Are you saying that you are now ready to argue for alcohol consumption, or what?

    I have no problem with people that want to excercise their Christian freedom by partaking in alcohol consumption. I believe it is very clear that drinking is ok, getting drunk is not. If someone can convince me that they ALWAYS drink in moderation and never get drunk then I have no problem with it. The examples I see in my life with my friends and family lead me to believe that it is very hard to ALWAYS excercise moderation in drinking and therefore my decision is not to delve into alcohol.

  28. Echo re-read post 18 please

  29. Some of these “cultural” activities may include; reading (books other than theological)

    I don’t think he even owns any books that are not theological!

  30. did anyone know that john calvin himself passed the sabbath by lawn-bowling?


  31. hey, echo. i appreciate your attempt at the anaology, but it seems to break down at a certain point.

    is it somehow intrinsically bad for a husband to choose football over sex? is he supposed to choose sex all the time? is your analogy playing to certain stereotypes of men (always after it) and women (always right to be put out when she is denied)?

    sometimes i choose church duties over family time, and vice versa; sometimes i choose work over family, and vice versa. your analogy presumes that a certain spouse must always lay everything else down when another activity is suggested, that one activity trumps all others all the time.

    my reality is that i have concentric circles of competing loyalties. i don’t operate with the typical “God, family, church” totem pole, or some variation thereof.

    that said, i do have high views of the sabbath as a reformed believer. i refrain from certain things in the day and am a “stickler” when it comes to regular worship for my family. yet i am careful not to fall into legalisms. recall what jesus said about the sabbath being created for man and not the other way around. and if your mule is stuck in a ditch on the sabbath should you not get it out?


  32. Echo,

    Re: #25

    If you want to analyze this one and break it down into it’s simplist form then the significance is not in the day. The Bible is not just a book of rules. For example the reference to the Pharisee’s in Matthew 12. They(Pharisees) were on it. They knew the proper ettiquette they knew the Law and they knew the right things to say. The “World” looked at them and saw holy men. They called out Jesus because they knew that the Law states that the Sabbath was supposed to be a day of rest. They (Pharisees) missed the point. Once again it’s a heart issue meaning it’s not cut and dry anymore. Man didn’t make the Sabbath up but it’s Men that love to regulate on people who don’t follow the Sabbath. If a man has to work to keep food on the table for his family and his church happens to have a Saturday evening service, let the man go to church. We have mega churches now in our country and many of them have mid week services as well as Saturday evening services. Is that bad? Here is a great question Echo, would you ever consider going to church on Saturday evening as a opposed to Sunday morning? If not, why?

  33. Zrim,

    RE 31

    A refreshing point of view from a self-proclaimed reformed believer. I thought only us “charismatics” thought like that! :)

  34. matt,

    don’t get me wrong, i don’t mean to dis my boy echo. he always has good stuff on which to chew. i just found his analogy to have some interesting gaps which seem to lend themselves to totem pole models. and the problem with those is that they demand a duty to each rung that doesn’t comport well with, at least, my experience.

    but like i said, i do have a high view of the sabbath; and i depart sharply from those here who make a false dichotomy between “matters of the heart” and duty. God has called us to dutifully worship Him on the sabbath, as well as to worship Him as he has prescribed (a most decidely un-Evangelical view). those that make these silly dichtomies usually seem to imply that they have pure hearts, and are held down by no rules. But love and duty are not so ill at odds as all that, depsite what the “heart people” try to tell us. waiting around until “i feel like it” may be a long wait many times. and implying that one “always feels like it” i find self-righteous and boorish.

    i also find it odd that in our reformed tradition, which has the regulative principle, that we should never know what we will get when visitng a reformed/presby church (traditional? contemporary? Evangelical? 3 songs and a lecture? high church liturgy?). yet, i can with relative ease and confidence predict what i will find at a pentecostal/broad Evangelical or mega church church and not be surpirsed when i walk out. it’s the presbies like us that should be highly predictable and these latter groups that should be unpredictable!!

    so i am quite a conservative reformed/presby type who at the same time is disturbed by our own forms of legalism when it comes to the sabbath. i don’t trod all over the sabbath and lead my family to do the same. but “the sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” i also think we make little effort to champion christian liberty and conscience on secondary issues like this. one man’s sin is another’s liberty.


  35. Alex,

    The reformed believe that the Bible commands that the first day of the week be set aside for the public worship of God. We don’t believe that the Bible simply commands us to worship, but to set apart this particular day for this purpose every week. The way that we honor that is by going to church on Sunday. That said, something that doesn’t interfere with worship is ok, provided that you aren’t pursuing worldly pursuits. The day is not for pursuing monetary gain, but the worship of God. We aren’t supposed to be a part of our culture on that day.

    That does not automatically exclude watching a Sunday afternoon football game, provided that that doesn’t become what the day is about. The day is about worshiping God, entering his rest.

    But my wife, for example, is a nurse. Unfortunately, people get sick on Sundays too, so hospitals are open for business. While she tries to avoid working on Sundays as much as possible, sometimes she has to. She doesn’t trade shifts with someone though, if that means voluntarily taking on extra time on Sunday. She tries to avoid it as much as possible, and to be in church as much as possible. Maybe it’s right, maybe it’s wrong, but that’s what we do, and we don’t think it’s wrong, even given the reformed understanding of the Sabbath.

    But Sunday IS the Christian Sabbath, and the change from Saturday to Sunday is very significant. It changes the pattern from works earning rest to rest followed by work. In a lot of ways, it is a declaration of the truth of the gospel that the day was switched to Sunday. If you want to talk about that some more, ok, but that’s how we view it.

    Now, you may not agree that the Sabbath is a command of Scripture. That’s ok, but I would encourage you to try to appreciate at least what the reformed are trying to do, even if you don’t agree with it. Perhaps the most easily appreciated thing is that it has been changed from Saturday (which pointed to man’s need to EARN rest by works) to Sunday (which points to Christ having earned our rest for us, and therefore we work afterward, because Sunday is the day he rose from the dead). I for one love the beauty of this truth.

    The reformed are not in any way saying that there is any law that we can obey to earn our salvation. Our salvation is earned totally by Christ, and is obtained by us through faith alone. However, once we are saved by Christ through faith alone, we believe that the law of God trains us in how we should conduct ourselves, and the more conformed we are to it, through the work of the Spirit in our hearts, namely sanctification, also by grace through faith, the more we are conformed to the image of Christ and are growing into maturity in Christ. Faith without works is dead, says James, and we believe that the law tells us what those works ought to be. We always fall short of the law, but we continue to strive, running the race, in order to conform ourselves to the law, and we have been empowered by the Spirit to do this. But again, how holy we become – which is totally the work of the Spirit, not us – doesn’t affect whether or not we get to heaven. Rather, our obedience to the law is a reflection of the gratitude in our hearts to God for what he has done for us in Christ.

    We believe then, that celebrating the Sabbath, on Sunday, celebrates the greatness of our salvation in Christ, and celebrates the greatness of our God, and is a reflection of our gratitude to him for what he has done for us. We believe further that our worship of him is communion with him, communication with him, similar to the communion and communication that man and wife experience through physical union. The latter is a shadowy picture of the former. Zrim is right, the analogy does break down in some ways, particularly the way I was speaking, but my point was that worship is part of the intimate communion we have with God. It is how we practice or rehearse our relationship, in the same way that man and wife practice their relationship through all sorts of communication.

    Further, we believe that we approach God on his terms, and that he is the one who dictates those terms. We do not approach him on our own terms according to what we think he might like. Like giving someone a gift, we ask them what they want first. We don’t give them what we would want. I don’t give my wife a cigar for her birthday, and she doesn’t give me a Martha Stewart subscription. In the same way, we don’t believe that we can imagine what God wants in worship. We do and practice what we think he wants according to what he has said he wants in his Word.

    So that’s where we’re coming from. I hope that helps make it a bit clearer. I regretfully admit that many of these points were not, have not been mentioned thus far in the discussion, and I freely take the blame for this, and beg your pardon. But this is where we’re coming from. You are, of course, free to reject it or accept it, but this is how we view it, and we think our view is shaped by Scripture.


  36. This may be off subject, but Echo, are you the same Echo_ohcE from CMP on MSN?


  37. Yes.

    How are you?


  38. Calvinist. How are you?

  39. OPC. Which is…shall we say, fully Calvinist. Hehehe…

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