Lord of the Sabbath

Matthew 12:1-8

5/25/2008

Audio Version

“Come to me, and I will give you rest.” So says Jesus. The burden of Jesus is light, and His yoke is easy, He says. And yet, sometimes we feel as if the burden should be heavier. There are some Christians who would prefer a life of self-accusation, self-burdening, self-atoning, self-salvation. Such people are likely to add to the law of God. The Pharisees were like that. Jesus will accuse them of placing impossibly heavy burdens on the people without lifting a single finger to help. One of those heavy burdens is the case-law that built up around the Sabbath. Against all the laws that the Pharisees and rabbis made so that the Sabbath would not be violated, Jesus tells us that He is Lord of the Sabbath, and that the purpose of Sabbath is not to impinge on human needs, as if people could not satisfy their hunger on the Sabbath. Rather, the purpose of the Sabbath is to worship God. Let me repeat that: the purpose of the Sabbath is to worship God. However, the worship of God does not mean that we starve ourselves, nor does it mean that we exercise no mercy towards people in distress. Let’s look at what the Sabbath means, and then look at how the Pharisees were adding to the Sabbath law, and lastly, how Jesus frees the Sabbath from all the extra commands of the Pharisees.

The Sabbath was instituted at creation. On the seventh day of creation, the Lord rested, or ceased from His work. Therefore, the Sabbath is a creation ordinance, like marriage and like work. Those are the three creation ordinances: Sabbath, marriage, and work. The Sabbath did not come into existence on Mount Sinai. Of course, the Ten Commandments are still a guide for the Christian life. But in no sense can we say that the Sabbath is only for Old Testament Israel. The Sabbath is for all humanity. In the Old Testament, there are two reasons given for why Israel was to observe the Sabbath day. The first reason is creation, as we have already seen. As God rested on the seventh day, so also the Israelites were rest on the seventh day. In Exodus, that is the reason given in the Ten Commandments themselves. In Deuteronomy, the reason is a different, but related reason. In Deuteronomy 5, the second telling of the law, the reason for keeping the Sabbath is that they were redeemed from the land of Egypt. They were slaves under the Egyptians, and had no time to rest, and no time to worship God. God redeemed them from the land of Egypt precisely so that they could rest from work on the seventh day and worship God. These are the two reasons for keeping the Sabbath: creation and redemption. As we saw in our call to worship from Isaiah 53, the Sabbath is for worship, and it is not for us to do any old thing we want to do. Some people might say, “well, the Sabbath is Old Testament, and we are in the New Testament, so the Sabbath law does not apply.” If that is true, then it is the only one of the Ten Commandments that does not apply any more. Is that really a reasonable conclusion to draw? Where does Jesus say that the Sabbath no longer applies? Jesus spends 14 entire verses talking about the Sabbath right in this very chapter. Would He have done that for a law that was about to become obsolete? Indeed, Jesus speaks of the Sabbath commandment just as much, if not more, than any of the other commandments. But there are further reasons for believing that the Sabbath is still in effect for Christians. We said that the two reasons for keeping Sabbath are creation and redemption. Well, the Bible speaks of the work of Christ as being a new creation, and a new redemption. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says that if any man is in Christ, there is a new creation. And, of course, Christ’s work is obviously that of a Redeemer. Just as God freed Israel from the land of Egypt, so that the Israelites would not have to work so hard, so also did God free us from our Egypt of sin and death, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. So Jesus fulfills the creation and redemption reason for keeping the Sabbath. That does not mean that the Sabbath is ended. It means that the day has changed from Saturday to Sunday.

In the Old Testament, there was a telescoping Sabbath pattern that points to the eternal Sabbath rest. There is the weekly Sabbath. Then, every 7 years, there was a Sabbath rest for the land, and then every 7 times 7 years (49 years), there was a Jubilee of freedom from servitude. These Sabbaths telescoped into each other, and opened out into the eternal Sabbath rest that Paul speaks of in Hebrews 4. There still remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, says Paul in Hebrews. Ultimately, what the Sabbath means is eternal rest from our labors. Every time we celebrate the Sabbath Day, we are now looking forward to the eternal rest that comes when we get to heaven. Sunday Sabbath, then, is supposed to be a bit of heaven experienced beforehand. It is the sacred brought into the realm of time. However, there are lots of things that get in the way of our enjoying this day, just as there were lots of things that the Pharisees put in the way to keep that day from being a foretaste of heaven.

The Pharisees had 39 activities that were forbidden to do on the Lord’s Day. You could not carry something on the Sabbath Day, unless you were wearing it. You could not travel for very long. You could not reap, winnow, or cook on the Sabbath. And that, of course, is the source of their objections to what the disciples were doing on the Sabbath. The Pharisees did not have a problem with the disciples picking heads of grain from a field that did not belong to them. This was already allowed under Old Testament law. The problem was that they were doing these things on the Sabbath. The disciples were harvesting grain, and they were getting rid of the husks, and they were making a meal out of this grain. That was against their man-made laws.

Notice that Jesus never says that the disciples were actually breaking the Sabbath. Instead, Jesus argues that hunger is a legitimate reason to “break” the Sabbath. Hunger is not a sin. Hunger is something that makes eating a necessity. Jesus uses the example of David and the showbread. That showbread was only for the priests to eat. No one else was allowed to eat it. However, since David and his men were going about the Lord’s work, and they were fainting from hunger, the priest gave them the showbread, or consecrated bread. Necessity and the preservation of human life “trumps” other laws.

However, a word is necessary here about “necessity.” All too often, we make up things that are “necessary” so that we can break the Sabbath. We just “have” to go to the Hague Cafe, because we are tired. What did your fathers and grandfathers do when the Hague Cafe wasn’t open? What did they do when there was no cafe open for them to force other people to work on the Sabbath? They planned ahead. With a little planning, you can make Sunday very easy. Make a double batch on Saturday night of whatever you are making for supper. That way, Sunday is easy. You just have leftovers. Keep the meal simple otherwise. These are suggestions, of course. No one is going to make a rule about that. But that Sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest from our normal labors, and is for worship. Now, some people might think that it is hypocritical of me to say that going to the Hague Cafe makes people work on Sabbath, and so breaks it, but then have potlucks on Sunday that make our people work. However, there are two differences between the two situations. The first is that the Hague Cafe involves people working for money, doing business as usual, whereas a potluck does not involve that. Secondly, a potluck is doing the Lord’s work of fostering fellowship among believers. Plus, when many people work together, is it really that much more work than eating a dinner at home? Therefore, I do not believe that they are the same kind of thing.

The next example Jesus gives to the Pharisees is that of the temple priests themselves. They work on the Sabbath, because they are doing the work of God, and they are doing the work of worship. They “work” on the Sabbath, and yet do not break the Sabbath. So, even if the disciples were “breaking” the Sabbath, Jesus is telling the Pharisees that it is fine for the disciples to do so, since He Himself is greater than the Sabbath, and is indeed Lord of the Sabbath. Incidentally, this proves that a minister is not breaking the Sabbath when he preaches on Sunday. He is leading the people in worship, just as the Old Testament priests did. Now, I make every effort to have all the reading and writing done before Sunday, so that all that is left is to preach and lead worship. But occasionally, necessity, in the form of many interruptions during the week, will force me to finish the work on Sunday. That is no breaking of the Lord’s Sabbath, since it is the Lord’s work.

The last piece of evidence that Jesus gives is the purpose of the law, which is mercy, not sacrifice. The Pharisees were not being merciful to the disciples, and not allowing them to eat these picked heads of grain (which, when you think about it, is such a small thing!). They were more interested in the letter of the law, than in the heart of the law, which was mercy. Jesus will go on to heal a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath as an act of mercy.

To sum up what we have been saying then: the Sabbath is for worship. On this day, we cease what we usually do during the week in order to worship God. That is the purpose. Everything we do on Sunday should be conducive to worship. Sometimes that means taking a nap, so that you can be awake for the evening worship service. Sometimes it means activities for children, so that they can sit quietly and reverently in the worship service. It means fellowship with believers, talking about the sermon and how it can apply to our lives. There are two categories of works that are lawful on the Sabbath: one category is the works of necessity, and again, that does not mean those things which we think are necessary, but really are not. It means those things which are truly necessary, like feeding hungry mouths, as Jesus here proves. And secondly, as we will see next time, acts or works of mercy, like healing, or visiting the sick and shut-ins. This is calling the Sabbath a delight.

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53 Comments

  1. J. B. Hood said,

    June 30, 2008 at 8:25 am

    (1) Col 2:16-17 and Romans 14:5-6 seem to be clear in their teaching that day-observance is a non-issue for Christians. Would you support brothers for ordination who hold to this exegesis?

    (2) “No one is going to make a rule about that. But that Sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest from our normal labors, and is for worship.” So adherence to “not working”, i.e., not going to the cafeteria, is optional? If I go to the cafeteria, is it potentially okay, or is it breaking the Sabbath? (And if it’s breaking the Sabbath, what should the punishment be? OT seems to be pretty strong on that one.) But if a CPA goes to the office the week before taxes are due . . . Where is the line between working/not working?

    (3) I like where you are headed at the end here (Is 58, perhaps?).

    JH

  2. greenbaggins said,

    June 30, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Welcome to my blog, J.B. In regard to Colossians 2, I don’t believe that Paul is talking about the weekly Sabbath, but the special festivals that were often called “Sabbaths.” The same is true of Romans 14, which is talking about the ceremonial law, not the moral law. I do not usually see this as an issue to prevent ordination. However, I do usually try to see what the underlying view of the law is before I vote.

    I don’t believe that going to a cafeteria is lawful. You have to make someone else work in order to go there. Making someone else stumble on the Sabbath is itself a breaking of the Sabbath. I don’t care who owns the cafeteria, or whether they are open by themselves or not. I will not make someone else work for money on the Sabbath. We are not in Old Testament Israel. I think it is the consistory/session’s responsibility to discipline such cases. A CPA never has to work on Sunday. A farmer who milks cows does have to work on Sunday. So does a doctor. It is not always easy to piece out who should work on Sunday and who should not. However, one thing I do know is that way too many stores are open on Sunday.

  3. J. B. Hood said,

    June 30, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Thanks Lane.

    Re: “often called ‘Sabbaths'”. Do you have some first century data that would help make sense of your argument re: Col. 2? The logical flow in Colossians is annual, monthly, and weekly (i.e., Sabbath) events. In order to go against this exegesis, other data would have to be compelling, would it not?

    I hear you on this being a sessional, not theocratic/national, matter. My question is, however, what should the punishment be for the CPA or folks dining out on Sunday (even on special occasions)? How many violations before excom? Does your church prosecute this much?

    Re: “You have to make someone else work in order to go there. Making someone else stumble on the Sabbath is itself a breaking of the Sabbath” Another issue–if I watch sports on Sunday, aren’t I encouraging someone to violate the Sabbath by working (whether athletes, commentators, engineers, stewards who clean such facilities, etc)? What about TV–even if the news or Charlton Heston in the Ten Commmandments (they love running that on Sun night) is on, aren’t I engaging someone in work if I watch? Should we not prosecute folks who watch TV on Sunday?

  4. greenbaggins said,

    June 30, 2008 at 10:38 am

    J.B. I don’t see that progression of yearly, monthly and weekly being of any importance whatsoever to Paul’s argument there. The importance of the context is in regard to Christian liberty. The Sabbath is not part of Christian liberty, but is part of the moral law. Or do you think that the fourth commandment is the ONLY commandment no longer in force? Matthew 12 ought to disabuse anyone of that notion. See this post for my detailed biblical-theological exposition of why Sunday is the Christian Sabbath.

    http://greenbaggins.wordpress.com/2005/09/15/from-sabbath-to-lords-day-2/

    My churches are continental in tradition. I have to deal with one thing at a time. I have bigger fish to fry at the moment. I think that Isaiah 58 is talking about anything that is not conducive to worship. I don’t see how any TV watching is conducive to worship.

  5. m said,

    June 30, 2008 at 11:00 am

    I strongly recommend reading the Minority Report of the OPC Committee On Sabbath Matters. The report can be found at the bottom of the following webpage: http://www.opc.org/GA/sabbath.html. The entire minority report is worth reading, but the first five points, dealing with Col 2:16,17, are especially helpful:

    Colossians 2:16, 17 is the key passage for the understanding of the place of the Fourth Commandment in the Christian life.

    1. In this passage Paul clearly speaks of the weekly Sabbath. Though the Greek word is plural in form, we must understand it here, as elsewhere (Matthew 12:1; Luke 4:16; Acts 13:14; 16:13), to refer to the weekly Sabbath. Taken together, the words of these verses “specify the annual, monthly and weekly celebrations” (Abbott).

    2. Paul is combating the legalism in the “Colossian heresy.” These two verses show that whatever else may have characterized this heresy, it contained a strong Jewish element. Over against this legalism Paul declares that the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Christ. In him there is complete provision for our salvation. If we have died with Christ and are risen with him, there is no need to subject ourselves to ordinances such as “Touch not, taste not, handle not,” for these are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh.

    3. But Paul’s argument goes beyond a condemnation of legalism. He speaks of the ordinances regarding food and drink and holy seasons as “shadows.” The Sabbath, along with other ceremonial matters, like food and drink, belongs to the shadows. The substance, the reality of all these, is here with Christ.

    4. When Paul places the Sabbath among the shadows, his meaning can hardly be misunderstood: he is placing the Sabbath commandment within the ceremonial law which has been fulfilled in Christ. But it is absolutely impossible to evade the force of his words: “Let no man therefore judge you…in respect of…the Sabbath day.” These words can only mean that the keeping of the Sabbath cannot be made the criterion for testing one’s piety. A statement such as this could never have been uttered by an inspired speaker of the Old Testament times. That Christians are no longer under the obligation of keeping the Sabbath could hardly have been stated in clearer terms than the words of Colossians 2:16, 17.

    5. Two other passages in Paul provide corroboration of this understanding of his words in Colossians 2:16, 17. Galatians 4:10, 11: “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.” To observe the rite of circumcision and to observe the Old Testament holy days, is to turn again to the “weak and beggarly elements” and to be brought under bondage again. Although the Sabbath is not mentioned specifically, we know from the Gospels the important role that Sabbath-keeping played in Jewish legalism. It is significant that Paul makes no exception for the Sabbath. Romans 14:5, 6 confirms the teaching of the Colossians passage that Sabbath-keeping cannot be made the criterion for judging one’s piety. “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” Again, there is no specific mention of the Sabbath, but it is not easy to understand how Paul could have avoided mention of the Sabbath day, if he had meant to exclude it. It might seem that this understanding of these two passages proves too much, since it nullifies all distinction among days; but the New Testament speaks of the Lord’s Day, distinguishing the first day of the week from others. However, the context in both these chapters clearly deals with a Judaizing type of legalism. In such a context it would be no more necessary for Paul to mention the Lord’s Day than it would be necessary for him to mention baptism alongside of circumcision in the Galatians letter.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    June 30, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Thanks for the comment, m. I do not allow anonymous commenters. So, would you please tell us who you are, your church affiliation, etc.?

  7. J. B. Hood said,

    June 30, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Lane,

    Thanks for the commendation of your post. I think it makes a great case for Christian worship on Sunday.

  8. Seth Foster said,

    June 30, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    Jesus said that we worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Where does Hebrews 3-4 fit into this discussion of the Sabbath? Hebrews 4:7 says that Jesus declares “Today” as the Sabbath. So, if we are to keep the Sabbath Day holy, we are to keep everyday holy! To rest from works does not mean to abstain from mowing the lawn or going to a cafeteria on Sunday. It means that we are to stop depending on our works to earn our righteousness but to place our faith in Jesus Christ and His completed work and perfect obedience.

    Hebrews deals with the heart – not our outward works. Those who have a heart of unbelief will never enter into the Sabbath, no matter how diligent they are in abstaining from work on Sunday, or how regularly they attend all the church services. In contrast, the believer has entered Christ’s Sabbath rest by ceasing from his works as God did from His (Hebrews 4:10). And then, we are exhorted to be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience (Hebrews 4:11).

    Hebrews also warns us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as we see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:25). Why? Because assembling together as believers helps us to hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. It also helps us to stir up love and good works (10:23-24).

    These verses do not designate a certain day of the week. Rather, they address the heart of a believer. The sin is not the outward participation in certain forbidden activities on Sunday. The sin is willfully neglecting or avoiding times of worship and Christian fellowship. God gave us the Sabbath rest for our good – not to put a burden on us as the Pharisees did. That Sabbath rest is only found in Christ, not on outward observance of the Law. We have to be careful not to be little legalistic Pharisees in judging others’ behavior on Sunday. For the law kills but the Spirit gives life.

  9. greenbaggins said,

    June 30, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Seth, the rest of Hebrews 4 is not a present rest, but a future rest (see 4:11). That explains verse 9, which says that there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. Verse 10 caps off this argument by saying that there is a once for all rest from works. They cannot be bad works, since the analogy is to God and His works. Therefore, the Sabbath rest is future. As such, the fourth commandment is not abrogated, since it *remains* typological of heavenly rest. You have over-exchatologized the Sabbath.

  10. tbordow said,

    June 30, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    J.B. and M’s exegesis on Col. is accurate, IMO, but it grieves me to read that you, Lane, would use church discipline against a member for going out to eat on Sunday afternoon. Is this where the conservative wing of the PCA is at? Church discipline is a last resort used against those persistently denying the faith through unrepentance; the result being treated as an unbeliever. This is how you deal with Christians who eat out on Sundays? How sad.

    Todd Bordow

  11. greenbaggins said,

    June 30, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Why is breaking the Sabbath any different than breaking one of the other commandments? You make it sound like I would excommunicate someone right off the bat. There would have to be patient instruction (even presuming that the session agrees with this view of the Sabbath!) first. Persistent breaking of ANY of God’s commandments is not a light thing. It is certainly an indicator of today’s view of the law of God that Sabbath breaking is no longer considered a serious sin at all.

  12. tim prussic said,

    June 30, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    GB: Harrumph!

  13. greenbaggins said,

    June 30, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    Tim, help me exegete comment 12. I’m not quite clear. ;-)

  14. Seth Foster said,

    June 30, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    I respectfully disagree with you, Lane. The Sabbath rest is a spiritual rest that is given to anyone who places their faith in Christ. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

    When are we supposed to come to Jesus and enter that rest? Hebrews says “Today” – Now. I believe by His grace I have entered that rest. And, because I am in that rest that only Christ offers, and with His “yoke” upon me, I am able to fulfill the commandment to keep the Sabbath Day holy.

    There is a true story of an elderly woman in China who was sent to a labor camp because she would not renounce her faith in Christ. She was forced to push a heavy wooden cart through the fields and load the cart with rocks to make the ground ready to plow. It was cruel backbreaking work for this poor old woman. But, she did not complain; rather, she rejoiced because the work left her all by herself to praise and worship the Lord! You see, when she was back in the camp, the guards watched over her, not allowing her to speak about Christ or to praise Him. But, when she was alone in the fields, she was free to sing and pray to the Lord without the threat of the guards. Lane, this woman had the heavy brutal yoke of communism around her neck, but in Christ, her yoke was easy and her burden was light. For, she had entered the true Sabbath rest. In Christ, everyday was a Sabbath Day. And, wouldn’t you agree that even in a prison labor camp, she was keeping it holy?

  15. tbordow said,

    June 30, 2008 at 7:41 pm

    Lane,

    We break God’s commandments every minute of every day. And I didn’t suggest you’d ex-communicate a member right away, I said that is the end result of the process. But to be consistent, if that member, not seeing this as sin in the Bible even after your arguments, continued to eat out Sunday before 6:00pm, pr 12:00am (whatever you label the sabbath), then the discipline would need to move to the next level, or why start discipline? Sounds like breaking a bruised reed to me.

    Todd

  16. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    June 30, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Good Luck Lane. I pray for your continued willingness to defend the obvious necessity and continuance of the 4th Commandment. Excepting the obliteration of the Second Commandment by evangelicals the Fourth has had the most tarnished reputation and has lost its usefulness for man-centered Christianity.

  17. Seth Foster said,

    July 1, 2008 at 11:32 am

    Don’t confuse the particulars with the principles. For, like the Pharisees, we will only wash the outside of the cup.

    Jesus said that our righteousness must exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. That is why He emphasized the two greatest commandments:
    You shall LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And you shall LOVE your neighbor as yourself.
    Without love, all the Sabbath keeping in the world will mean nothing. You can’t force somebody to love the Lord. They need to be born again in order to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees.

    Don’t get me wrong – I am not knocking the fourth commandment. What I am saying is that keeping the fourth commandment requires a heart of love to the Lord. So, instead of beating a dead horse on the particulars of Sabbath keeping, which are often matters of opinion and not undisputable doctrine, a minister needs to first direct his counsel to the member’s heart – not to his behavior.

    And a little note to consider – Teaching and ruling elders in the PCA need to remove the “plank of the Federal Vision” from their own denominational eye SO THAT they can see the “speck of going to a restaurant on Sunday” in their member’s eye. In other words, tolerating and promoting a false gospel within their own ranks blinds and disables a PCA elder from judging others on smaller matters.

    But to add a little humor to the discussion – Lane, I think you are jealous that people get to go to restaurants – after all, you live in the backwoods or rather prairie of South Dakota! Is there a restaurant in your town? Just Kidding!!!

  18. Roger Mann said,

    July 1, 2008 at 1:14 pm

    11. Lane wrote,

    Persistent breaking of ANY of God’s commandments is not a light thing. It is certainly an indicator of today’s view of the law of God that Sabbath breaking is no longer considered a serious sin at all.

    This is most definitely not merely an indicator of “today’s view,” but is a legitimate position that has been held throughout church history. Calvin himself clearly maintained that the Sabbath had been “abrogated” (Institutes, 2.8.32), and wrote the following:

    Early Christian writers are wont to call it typical, as containing the external observance of a day which was abolished with the other types on the advent of Christ. This is indeed true… (Institutes, 2.8.28).

    Still there can be no doubt, that, on the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, the ceremonial part of the commandment was abolished. He is the truth, at whose presence all the emblems vanish; the body, at the sight of which the shadows disappear. He, I say, is the true completion of the sabbath: “We are buried with him by baptism unto death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life,” (Rom. 6:4). Hence, as the Apostle elsewhere says, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holiday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days; which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ,” (Col. 2:16, 17); meaning by body the whole essence of the truth, as is well explained in that passage. This is not contented with one day, but requires the whole course of our lives, until being completely dead to ourselves, we are filled with the life of God. Christians, therefore, should have nothing to do with a superstitious observance of days. (Institutes, 2.8.31)

    Are you so confident in your position that you would condemn Calvin as an unrepentant Sabbath breaker and (if a member of your church today) proceed to excommunicate him?

  19. tim prussic said,

    July 1, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    A few things to keep in mind: Seth (#14), of course Christ is our Sabbath – he’s kept every law for us, but that doesn’t mean that we now don’t have to love him by keeping his commandments, does it? Because he’s our faithful husband, should we therefore be unfaithful husbands? Further, where in the NT is the Sabbath shown to be over and done? Jesus opposes distortions of Sabbath keeping, not the Sabbath itself, which he honors and keeps.

    Todd (#15), keep in mind the distinction between internal and external sin. The church really cannot discipline for internal sin, but only for external sin. A man maybe lustful inwardly with no external, public sin. The ability for his session to address that only occurs as he externalizes it (e.g., by telling them or externally sinning). If a sin is external and persistent, the brethren individually and their representatives (the session) are obligated to address it and engage in discipline (which doesn’t start with excommunication).

    Roger (#18), a pastor (and the session) should educate and admonish his people. If a man doesn’t think eating out on the Lord’s Day is breaking the sabbath, discipline would start with education and go from there. In the end, this issue might not be pushed to the extent of excommunication. It is delicate and needs to be handled with care.

  20. Roger Mann said,

    July 1, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    19. Tim wrote,

    Roger (#18), a pastor (and the session) should educate and admonish his people. If a man doesn’t think eating out on the Lord’s Day is breaking the sabbath, discipline would start with education and go from there.

    Except for one small problem — “education” is not the problem in many cases. I highly doubt that Calvin just needed a pastor (and the session) to sit him down and explain the scriptures to him! I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with Calvin (I disagree with him on some minor issues myself), but it’s quite another thing to assume that he was simply ignorant (likewise for those, like myself, who agree with him on this issue).

    In the end, this issue might not be pushed to the extent of excommunication. It is delicate and needs to be handled with care.

    Considering that the man revered as the “father” of the Reformed church held to the non-sabbath view of the Lord’s day, I’d say that’s an understatement. If we’re too “Calvinistic” for Calvin himself, perhaps we need to rethink our position?

  21. Kyle said,

    July 1, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Roger, re: 18,

    As far as Presbyterianism is concerned, it is a reflection of “today’s view” of God’s law that Sabbath-keeping is regarded lightly. Presbyterians have long been Sabbatarians. No one should be suprised to see Lane defending the Westminster view of the Sabbath:

    WCF Ch. 21

    7. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.

    8. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

    The Ten Commandments are a summary of the moral law which was instituted at creation. The Sabbath is one of the creation ordinances, like marriage. That’s the basic foundation for perpetual observance of the Sabbath day.

    Now, as I recall, Lane is not pastoring a Presbyterian church, so I don’t know the history of Sabbath observance (or non-observance) in that church.

  22. Roger Mann said,

    July 1, 2008 at 3:05 pm

    21: Kyle wrote,

    As far as Presbyterianism is concerned, it is a reflection of “today’s view” of God’s law that Sabbath-keeping is regarded lightly. Presbyterians have long been Sabbatarians. No one should be suprised to see Lane defending the Westminster view of the Sabbath:

    I don’t have a problem with Lane defending the Westminster view of the Sabbath; I have a problem with him proposing church discipline for those members of the church who happen to disagree. Is that going to be the new standard for church membership? One hundred percent agreement with every statement of the Westminster Standards? Would Calvin himself have been unwelcome in a Presbyterian church? If so, then I suppose I need to start looking for a new church!

  23. Zrim said,

    July 1, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    It would seem to me—as someone who is more sympathetic to Lane’s views here than not—that what those of us on “this side of the table” may be failing to take into account is the vulnerability our view has to its own form of legalism. I think we are less than good Calvinists to not be seriously aware of that. I realize our views are exceptional correctives to the spirit of the age which has an odd conception of the fourth commandment (some comments above seem to make a very odd distinction between the spirit and letter of the law; but love and duty are not as mutually exclusive as some here seem to think), but that doesn’t mean wisdom suggests ticking off activities that could end in discipline. Indeed, it seems to suggest that patience is our greater burden than in locating who’s not/doing what on the Sabbath and what that might imply. Take it from one who is patiently enduring a close family member’s deeply-seated process of shaking off a broad evangelicalism that has no real conception for the fourth commandment—patience is indeed a virtue to say the least.

    It seems to me that one sign, albeit not exhaustive, that legalism is crouching is when specific suggestions are easily made. At heart we are naturally all legalists and we want to receive rules as much as we want to give them; we do better not to entertain the legalism in others by satiating our own, rather to republish the Gospel over and over. Like I said, love and duty are certainly not mutually exclusive and such notions ought to be put away swiftly. But putting them away with rules (soft or hard) instead of love is never a good strategy.

  24. Kyle said,

    July 1, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    Roger, re: 22,

    I don’t have a problem with Lane defending the Westminster view of the Sabbath; I have a problem with him proposing church discipline for those members of the church who happen to disagree. Is that going to be the new standard for church membership? One hundred percent agreement with every statement of the Westminster Standards? Would Calvin himself have been unwelcome in a Presbyterian church? If so, then I suppose I need to start looking for a new church!

    Frankly, I think you’re overreacting. Lane has not suggested anything like you caricature him. On the other hand, if the Fourth Commandment is in effect as much as the nine others, what exactly is so horrifying about the idea of the church exercising discipline in the case of members who unrepentantly break that commandment? Surely you don’t believe that consistently & unrepentantly breaking the other nine would not subject one to discipline, do you? With regard to Calvin, would either Luther or Augustine be able to be ordained in a NAPARC denomination with the sum total of their theological views? Probably not. But then we have the benefit of a certain amount of hindsight that our forefathers don’t have. We shouldn’t, of course, cavalierly assume that they were wrong and we are right; on the other hand, we needn’t dismiss Sabbatarianism even on the weight of the collective views of these men.

  25. tim prussic said,

    July 1, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Roger, #20, so what? Calvin thinks differently… big whoop. Calvin wasn’t postmil enough for my liking either. I won’t hold it against him. But I digress. In the fist place I wasn’t speaking about Calvin. He’s entered his eternal Sabbath, and is therefore a bit out of the picture. I’m talking about what Pr. Lane’s talking about: the work of ministry now. If there’s a case to be made from the Scriptures that the fourth commandment is no longer applicable, I’m interested.

  26. tim prussic said,

    July 1, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    Kyle, #24, stop being so reasonable.

  27. Kyle said,

    July 1, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Tim, re: 26,

    Don’t tell me we’re agreeing again, or I may just have to abandon Sabbatarianism. :-P

  28. Ron Smith said,

    July 1, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Lane, re: 2

    I don’t believe that going to a cafeteria is lawful. You have to make someone else work in order to go there. Making someone else stumble on the Sabbath is itself a breaking of the Sabbath. I don’t care who owns the cafeteria, or whether they are open by themselves or not. I will not make someone else work for money on the Sabbath.

    Agreed. (!) Nehemiah 10 makes it clear that we are not even to make those outside of the Covenant break the 4th Command.

    Nehemiah 10:31
    “As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the sabbath or a holy day…”

  29. Bruce said,

    July 1, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    Funny,
    In Jesus’ day there was all this abuse of the Sabbath, so Jesus had to scrub it clean. He addressed the 4th Commandment more than any single one of the other nine.

    Its such a relief (!) to know that all that clarification and reordering only had to last a few more months. Jesus: Lord of the Sabbath… that doesn’t exist any more? People who say the Sabbath-command isn’t repeated in the NT aren’t reading the Gospels as the NT. Simply put, they are functional dispensationalists.

    At least when Jesus spoke to the Woman at the Well, he made it clear that Jerusalem was THE place to worship according to the 2nd Commandment–but not for much longer. The anti-Sabbatarians would have us simply ignore all the Lord of the Day had to say by way of positive explanation. Spiritualize it all away, just like… well, like nothing else!

    I have a suggestion: how about all the anti-Sabbatarians just keep the minimum that Jesus instructed re. the Sabbath. And then you just ignore anyone “judging you with respect to a Sabbath.” To your own Master you either stand or fall.

    In this licentious, antinomian age and CHURCH, the Sabbath-command was the first to go. Reformation’s new beginning will have arrived only when it is properly revered once again.

  30. Benjamin P. Glaser said,

    July 1, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Amen Bruce!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  31. Roger Mann said,

    July 2, 2008 at 11:56 am

    24. Kyle wrote,

    Frankly, I think you’re overreacting. Lane has not suggested anything like you caricature him.

    I’m hardly “overreacting” or creating a “caricature” of what Lane suggested. Lane clearly stated that he believes the church consistory/session should discipline church members who disagree with the Westminster position and eat out at a “cafeteria” on the Sabbath:

    “I don’t believe that going to a cafeteria is lawful. You have to make someone else work in order to go there. Making someone else stumble on the Sabbath is itself a breaking of the Sabbath. I don’t care who owns the cafeteria, or whether they are open by themselves or not. I will not make someone else work for money on the Sabbath. We are not in Old Testament Israel. I think it is the consistory/session’s responsibility to discipline such cases.” (Post #2)

    On the other hand, if the Fourth Commandment is in effect as much as the nine others, what exactly is so horrifying about the idea of the church exercising discipline in the case of members who unrepentantly break that commandment? Surely you don’t believe that consistently & unrepentantly breaking the other nine would not subject one to discipline, do you?

    Of course “consistently & unrepentantly” breaking a clear commandment that is still in effect under the New Covenant should be disciplined. But in regard to the external observance of the Sabbath, “there can be no doubt, that, on the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, the ceremonial part of the commandment was abolished. He is the truth, at whose presence all the emblems vanish; the body, at the sight of which the shadows disappear” (Institutes, 2.8.31). Calvin goes on to write:

    “Paul informs us that Christians are not to be judged in respect of its observance, because it is a shadow of something to come (Col. 2:16); and, accordingly, he expresses a fear lest his labour among the Galatians should prove in vain, because they still observed days (Gal. 4:10, 11). And he tells the Romans that it is superstitious to make one day differ from another (Rom. 14:5).” (Institutes, 2.8.33)

    I completely agree with Calvin’s interpretation of these passages of Scripture, and for that reason I refuse to let anyone judge me on this matter. Moreover, I agree with his assessment of the legalistic type of danger posed by the Sabbatarian view:

    “In this way, we get quit of the trifling of the false prophets, who in later times instilled Jewish ideas into the people, alleging that nothing was abrogated but what was ceremonial in the commandment (this they term in their language the taxation of the seventh day), while the moral part remains—viz. the observance of one day in seven. But this is nothing else than to insult the Jews, by changing the day, and yet mentally attributing to it the same sanctity; thus retaining the same typical distinction of days as had place among the Jews. And of a truth, we see what profit they have made by such a doctrine. Those who cling to their constitutions go thrice as far as the Jews in the gross and carnal superstition of sabbatism; so that the rebukes which we read in Isaiah (Isa. 1:13; 58:13) apply as much to those of the present day, as to those to whom the Prophet addressed them.” (Institutes, 2.8.34)

    With regard to Calvin, would either Luther or Augustine be able to be ordained in a NAPARC denomination with the sum total of their theological views? Probably not. But then we have the benefit of a certain amount of hindsight that our forefathers don’t have. We shouldn’t, of course, cavalierly assume that they were wrong and we are right; on the other hand, we needn’t dismiss Sabbatarianism even on the weight of the collective views of these men.

    My point was not that Calvin could not be “ordained” in a NAPARC denomination (which would be absolutely ridiculous in itself), but that Lane’s position would require Calvin to be condemned as an unrepentant Sabbath breaker and excommunicated if he failed to comply with the Sabbatarian view!

  32. Roger Mann said,

    July 2, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    25. Tim wrote,

    Calvin thinks differently…big whoop… If there’s a case to be made from the Scriptures that the fourth commandment is no longer applicable, I’m interested.

    Yeah, big whoop! Who’s this Calvin guy anyway! He doesn’t deserve any respect! If you say so. Nevertheless, in my opinion Calvin deserves all the respect in the world, and his exegesis of Scripture is superb on this matter (and since I agree with him on this issue, I’ll quote from him a little more). First, Calvin doesn’t argue “that fourth commandment is no longer applicable,” but rather that “on the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, the ceremonial part of the commandment was abolished” (Institutes, 2.8.31). The fourth commandment is still applicable in the sense that all true believers enter God’s true Sabbath rest through faith in Christ alone:

    For he that is entered into his rest, or, For he who has rested, etc. This is a definition of that perpetual Sabbath in which there is the highest felicity, when there will be a likeness between men and God, to whom they will be united… Now this conformation the Apostle teaches us takes place when we rest from our works. It hence at length follows, that man becomes happy by self denial… Thus believers enter it but on this condition — that by running they may continually go forward. But I doubt not but that the Apostle designedly alluded to the Sabbath in order to reclaim the Jews from its external observances; for in no other way could its abrogation be understood, except by the knowledge of its spiritual design. He then treats of two things together; for by extolling the excellency of grace, he stimulates us to receive it by faith, and in the meantime he shows us in passing what is the true design of the Sabbath, lest the Jews should be foolishly attached to the outward rite. Of its abrogation indeed he does not expressly speak, for this is not his subject, but by teaching them that the rite had a reference to something else, he gradually withdraws them from their superstitious notions. For he who understands that the main object of the precept was not external rest or earthly worship, immediately perceives, by looking on Christ, that the external rite was abolished by his coming; for when the body appears, the shadows immediately vanish away. Then our first business always is, to teach that Christ is the end of the Law. (Calvin’s Commentary, Hebrews 4:10)

    John Gill also has some great comments:

    There remaineth therefore a rest for the people of God. Not all mankind; nor the people of the Jews only; rather the people of God, both Jews and Gentiles, under the New Testament; the people whom God has loved with a special love, has chose in Christ, and given to him, with whom he has made a covenant in him, and whom Christ saves from their sins, and calls by his grace; and the rest which remains for them is not a new sabbath day, but a sabbatism: and this does not so mush design eternal rest in heaven; though the Jews often call that a sabbath; the 92nd psalm they say is a psalm for the time to come, tbv wlkv, “which is all sabbath,” and the rest of eternal life {k}: but rather this intends the spiritual rest believers have in Christ under the Gospel dispensation, which they now enter into, and of which the apostle had been treating; and as for the word “remaineth,” this does not denote the futurity of it, but the apostle’s inference or consequence from what he had said; and the sense is, it remains therefore, and is a certain fact, a clear consequence from what has been observed, that there is another rest distinct from God’s rest on the seventh day, and from the rest in the land of Canaan; which were both typical ones of the present rest the saints now enjoy: so the Jews call the world to come the times of the Messiah, lwdgh tbv, “the great sabbath” {l}.

    {k} Misn. Tamid, c. 7. sect. 4. T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 97. 1, Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 16. 3. Massecheth Sopherim, c. 18. sect. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 3. 1. {l} Zohar in Gen. fol. 31. 4. Shaare Orn, fol. 17. 1. Caphtor, fol. 64. 1. (Gill’s Commentary, Hebrews 4:9)

  33. its.reed said,

    July 2, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Ref. 32:

    Roger I respect the points you are trying to make. Not intending to get into them with, let me just observe that even a cursory reading of the Westminster Standards argues against (your, Calvin’s?) position.

    Simple question, what do you think officer holders under vows to the Westminster Standards should do if they hold to your position?

    Not trying to pick on you or give anyone a chance for pot-shots at you; just honestly curious. If you’ve already expressed an opinion elsewhere, sorry for asking you to repeat it.

  34. Kyle said,

    July 2, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    Roger, re: 31,

    The tone of your reponses to Lane suggest that he is immediately going to begin expelling people left & right & making all members adhere 100% to the WCF. That’s why I say you caricatured his position. I still think you’re overreacting and I can hardly imagine why your reaction is so apparently visceral. Presbyterians have been Sabbatarian for 400 years. This isn’t news, and, so far as I know, hasn’t normally caused shockwaves in the Reformed churches.

    Of course “consistently & unrepentantly” breaking a clear commandment that is still in effect under the New Covenant should be disciplined. But in regard to the external observance of the Sabbath, “there can be no doubt, that, on the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ, the ceremonial part of the commandment was abolished. He is the truth, at whose presence all the emblems vanish; the body, at the sight of which the shadows disappear” (Institutes, 2.8.31).

    I agree with Calvin that the ceremonial aspect of Mosaic Sabbath observance was abolished with the rest of the ceremonial law. I do not think, however, that observing one day in seven was ceremonial. The Sabbath was created for man, so that he would have opportunity to rest from his labors & enjoy his God unhindered by work-a-day concerns. We do not do ourselves any favors by refusing to observe the Sabbath.

    My point was not that Calvin could not be “ordained” in a NAPARC denomination (which would be absolutely ridiculous in itself), but that Lane’s position would require Calvin to be condemned as an unrepentant Sabbath breaker and excommunicated if he failed to comply with the Sabbatarian view!

    My point remains. Calvin is not the final arbiter. I don’t dismiss him out of hand, but if your read of him is correct, I believe Calvin was wrong on the Sabbath, and did not do justice to the Fourth Commandment. I also believe Luther was wrong on images, and did not do justice to the Second Commandment. But what do I know?

  35. tbordow said,

    July 2, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Again, there is a distinction between teaching a general view of the Law and disciplining those who do not agree with your application, even in good conscience. Discipling members who eat out on Sundays is paramount to disciplining members who only give five percent to the church even though you believe the tithe is part of the abiding moral law. Pastors are not to become Rabbis, deciding for others how exactly they are to observe the Law, and disciplining them for not following our rules. What’s next, disciplining members who see “The Passion” because you believe it violates the second commandment? I am a converted Jew; why join a Reformed church where the session operates just like my old Rabbis?

  36. tbordow said,

    July 2, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Actually, I meant “tantamount” instead of “paramount”

  37. tim prussic said,

    July 2, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    I named my firstborn after John Calvin cuz… “He doesn’t deserve any respect! If you say so.” Did I say so? Masterful eisogesis, RM.

    What, RM, is the “ceremonial part” of the Sabbath? I’ll go read that icky-pooh Calvin to see what he says in 2.8.31.

  38. Roger Mann said,

    July 2, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    33. Reed wrote,

    Roger I respect the points you are trying to make. Not intending to get into them with, let me just observe that even a cursory reading of the Westminster Standards argues against (your, Calvin’s?) position.

    Hi Reed. Yes, I’m well aware that my position (which is indeed the same as Calvin’s) is contrary to the Westminster Standards on the issue of the Sabbath. While I agree with the vast majority of Westminster, this is one issue that I take exception with.

    Simple question, what do you think officer holders under vows to the Westminster Standards should do if they hold to your position?

    They should be completely honest and officially let their exception with the Standards on this issue be known. My only point in all this is that I don’t believe it should be a matter of discipline for church members who disagree and maintain the completely legitimate position that Calvin himself held to. Indeed, I’ll go even further. It should not bar a man (like Calvin himself) from ordination in a Presbyterian church. It should be an allowable exception to the Standards. I believe Calvin has the stronger argument on this issue, plain and simple.

    Not trying to pick on you or give anyone a chance for pot-shots at you; just honestly curious. If you’ve already expressed an opinion elsewhere, sorry for asking you to repeat it.

    Well, thank you for your consideration of my feelings. But I honestly have no problem with anyone taking pot-shots or picking on me. I’m a big boy — I can handle it. But what I’ve noticed is that many of those who like to take pot-shots usually can’t handle it when fire is returned! (I’m only speaking in general, so don’t take that as implying anything about you)

  39. Roger Mann said,

    July 2, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    34. Kyle wrote,

    The tone of your reponses to Lane suggest that he is immediately going to begin expelling people left & right & making all members adhere 100% to the WCF. That’s why I say you caricatured his position.

    The “tone” of my response is simply to take Lane’s position to its logical end: John Calvin would have been disciplined and eventually excommunicated if he failed to repent under the position held by Lane. If that is not Lane’s position, then he has been unclear at best and should set the record straight.

    I still think you’re overreacting and I can hardly imagine why your reaction is so apparently visceral. Presbyterians have been Sabbatarian for 400 years. This isn’t news, and, so far as I know, hasn’t normally caused shockwaves in the Reformed churches.

    My “visceral” reaction has not been against the Sabbatarian position (while I strongly disagree, I respect those who hold it). My reaction has been to Lane’s position on disciplining and ultimately excommunicating those church members who disagree with his position and refuse to submit to it.

    I agree with Calvin that the ceremonial aspect of Mosaic Sabbath observance was abolished with the rest of the ceremonial law. I do not think, however, that observing one day in seven was ceremonial.

    Well, if you don’t think that “observing one day in seven was ceremonial,” then you don’t agree with Calvin — for he clearly states just that:

    “In this way, we get quit of the trifling of the false prophets, who in later times instilled Jewish ideas into the people, alleging that nothing was abrogated but what was ceremonial in the commandment (this they term in their language the taxation of the seventh day), while the moral part remains—viz. the observance of one day in seven. But this is nothing else than to insult the Jews, by changing the day, and yet mentally attributing to it the same sanctity; thus retaining the same typical distinction of days as had place among the Jews. And of a truth, we see what profit they have made by such a doctrine. Those who cling to their constitutions go thrice as far as the Jews in the gross and carnal superstition of sabbatism; so that the rebukes which we read in Isaiah (Isa. 1:13; 58:13) apply as much to those of the present day, as to those to whom the Prophet addressed them.” (Institutes, 2.8.34)

  40. Roger Mann said,

    July 2, 2008 at 3:04 pm

    35. tbordow wrote,

    Again, there is a distinction between teaching a general view of the Law and disciplining those who do not agree with your application, even in good conscience.

    Yes, and that is what I’ve been trying to get at. Very well put!

  41. David Gadbois said,

    July 2, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    The issue is complicated when you consider that the Three Forms of Unity do not share Westminster’s take on the Sabbath. A fairly minimal statement on it can be found in the Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 103:

    Q. 103. What doth God require in the fourth commandment?

    A. First, that the ministry of the gospel and the schools be maintained;1 and that I, especially on the sabbath, that is, on the day of rest,2 diligently frequent the church of God,3 to hear His word, to use the sacraments, publicly to call upon the Lord,4 and contribute to the relief of the poor,5 as becomes a Christian. Secondly, that all the days of my life I cease from my evil works, and yield myself to the Lord, to work by His Holy Spirit in me; and thus begin in this life the eternal sabbath.6

  42. tim prussic said,

    July 2, 2008 at 4:53 pm

    David, #41, the H. Cat. doesn’t really seem to complicate it. It nails down that there is a Christian Sabbath (“the day of rest”) and that it’s to be used to worship the Lord publicly (works of worship) and for works of mercy. Further, our weekly Sabbath rest is a beginning of our eternal Sabbath rest. This should all seems quite provocative for someone saying that because of Christ, we New Covenant believers no longer need to keep up the “ceremonial” day of rest in seven.

    BTW, Roger (or anyone else), what’s ceremonial about one of seven? That’s a serious question. I can see how the 7th-day rest is ceremonial and points to the original creation. Similarly, I can see how the 1st-day rest points to the new creation in Christ Jesus (the new heavens and the new earth!), but they’re both still one day in seven, just like the commandment says. So, again, what’s ceremonial about one out of seven?

  43. Kyle said,

    July 2, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Well, if you don’t think that “observing one day in seven was ceremonial,” then you don’t agree with Calvin — for he clearly states just that

    I wasn’t disputing that. I think Calvin is wrong to regard the observance of one day in seven as part of the ceremonial law.

  44. Elder Hoss said,

    July 2, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    There is a suffocatingly erroneous assumption here that “non-Sabbatarianism” aptly characterized the main thrust of Calvin’s thought. That is to say, no distinction or nuance is being allowed with respect to the earlier/later Calvin. What about for example, his exegesis of Isaiah 58? What about his late 1550’s writings in the revised edition of the Institutes as well as his published sermons??

    That is rather amazing, particularly from guys who claim Calvin as their heir, or is this the kind of aphoristic and slow-footed asserting that is rather characteristic of a great deal of contemporary Calvinists on the internet and which one simply has come to expect?

    The later Calvin could indeed be, even OUGHT to be characterized as Sabbatarian. In fact, the case could be made (allowing of course for variegated circumstances 21st century vs 16th) that the overall thrust of Lane’s post would find ample corroboration in the later Calvin.

    For substantiation of this, note Rev. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee’s article on Calvin & the Sabbath viz. http://www.dr-fnlee.org/docs6/calvsab/calvsab.html*** (and for that matter, almost anything else Dr. Lee has written, as he is one of the most inspiring, Spirit-filled, Kuyperian Reformed Christians many of us have ever had the privilege of meeting).

    Calvinsts – read Calvin more carefully….

    ***Some segments of Lee’s treatment of Calvin,

    “….Law-hating Antinomians have here forgotten that Calvin loved God’s Law! For the Genevan loved the non-superstitious way the Old Testament Hebrews saints had observed the weekly Sabbath. He hated only the superstitious ways in which the later Pharisees had endeavoured to keep it after perverting it. Accordingly, Antinomians have here overlooked Calvin’s clear teaching that the sabbaticality of the Fourth Commandment ¾ its ‘every-seven- days-ness’ as well as its ‘restfulness’ – is moral and unabolishable. They have confused this with Calvin’s correct caveat that the ‘Saturdayness’ of Old Testament practice was not moral but ceremonial, and was indeed abolished at Calvary. In one word they have wrongly concluded that at Calvary the entirety of the Fourth Commandment was abolished together with the then-fulfilled ‘shadows’ of the various laws of Moses…..”

    Lee continues,

    “When 46, Calvin set out his mature views on the Christian Sabbath at some length in his 1555 Sermons on Deuteronomy (5:12-15). Here, the Antinomians are strangely silent about Calvin! For here he declares: “Let us not think that the things which Moses speaks of the Sabbath day, are needless for us (Ps. 19:8-10 & Matt. 5:18)…. The Apostle, in the fourth to the Hebrews [Heb. 4:8b-11 cf. 10:25], applies the things that were spoken of the Sabbath days to the instructions of the Christians and of the new Church…. “We must refrain from our own business, which might hinder us from minding God’s works…. If we spend the Lord’s day in making good cheer, and in playing and gaming ¾ is that a good honouring of God? Nay, is it not a mockery; yea, and a very unhallowing of His name? … The shopwindows are shut in on the Lord’s day, and men travel not as they do on the other days…. Let us see if those which name themselves Christians, discharge themselves as they ought to do….

    “A great number think to have the Lord’s day most free to follow their own business, and reserve that day for the same purpose as though there were none other day for them to appoint upon of, all the week long…. It seems to them, that they have nothing else to do, but to think upon their business and to cast up their accounts concerning this and that matter…. They make that an occasion of withdrawing themselves further off from God…. But the world sees how all things are unhallowed, insomuch that most folk have no regard at all of their using of that day which was ordained to withdraw us from all earthly cares and affairs, that we might give ourselves wholly unto God…. “Because we be occupied too much about our own affairs on the other days, therefore we be not so much given to serve God in them as upon the day which is assigned wholly thereunto. The Lord’s day, then, must serve us for a tower to mount up into, to view God’s works afar off, as a time wherein we have nothing to let [alias hinder] us, or to keep us occupied, but that we may employ all our wits to consider the benefits and gracious gifts that He has bestowed upon is…. But if the Lord’s day be spent not only in games and pastimes full of vanity but also in things quite contrary to God, so as men think they have not kept holy the Lord’s day…; if the holy order which God ordained to bring us to Him be broken after that fashion is it any wonder, though men play the beasts all the week after?” Calvin then concludes: “In respect of men’s rawness, and by reason of their slothfulness, it is necessary to have one special day dedicated wholly thereunto. It is true that we be not bound to the seventh day. Neither do we indeed keep the same day that was appointed to the Jews. For that was Saturday. But to the intent to shew the liberty of Christians, the day was changed because Jesus Christ in His resurrection did set us free…. That was the cause why the day was shifted..”

  45. tbordow said,

    July 3, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    “Anti-nomian Law haters” Way to go Dr. Lee with the rhetoric. Score points for style over substance. The old Calvin (early) vs. Calvin (later) theory on the Sabbath has been debunked by Dr. Gaffin, among many others. But whatever side you come down on that debate, you can read the Geneva session minutes and never once find anyone put under discipline for working on Sundays, or recreating, especially if they had attending morning worship. Remember, that is the discussion on this thread. So you cannot use Calvin as support for such harsh discipline tactics.

    Todd

  46. Roger Mann said,

    July 3, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    42. Tim wrote,

    BTW, Roger (or anyone else), what’s ceremonial about one of seven? That’s a serious question. I can see how the 7th-day rest is ceremonial and points to the original creation. Similarly, I can see how the 1st-day rest points to the new creation in Christ Jesus (the new heavens and the new earth!), but they’re both still one day in seven, just like the commandment says. So, again, what’s ceremonial about one out of seven?

    If the Sabbath command as originally given to the Jews was “typical, as containing the external observance of a day” (Institutes, 2.8.28), then the “external observance” of one day in seven should no longer be retained once Christ its fulfillment has come. Merely changing the “one day in seven” from Saturday to Sunday, while retaining its “typical” or “external observance” (which is precisely what the Sabbatarian position does), is to smuggle an immature form of Judaism into Christianity. This is why Calvin wrote the following about those who argue that “the observance of one day in seven” remains an obligatory day of rest for Christians:

    “But this is nothing else than to insult the Jews, by changing the day, and yet mentally attributing to it the same sanctity; thus retaining the same typical distinction of days as had place among the Jews. And of a truth, we see what profit they have made by such a doctrine. Those who cling to their constitutions go thrice as far as the Jews in the gross and carnal superstition of sabbatism; so that the rebukes which we read in Isaiah (Isa. 1:13; 58:13) apply as much to those of the present day, as to those to whom the Prophet addressed them.” (Institutes, 2.8.34)

    He explains how this point relates to our observance of the Lord’s day in two other sections:

    “I am obliged to dwell a little longer on this because some restless spirits are now making an outcry about the observance of the Lord’s day. They complain that Christian people are trained in Judaism, because some observance of days is retained. My reply is, That those days are observed by us without Judaism, because in this matter we differ widely from the Jews. We do not celebrate it with most minute formality, as a ceremony by which we imagine that a spiritual mystery is typified, but we adopt it as a necessary remedy for preserving order in the Church. Paul informs us that Christians are not to be judged in respect of its observance, because it is a shadow of something to come (Col. 2:16); and, accordingly, he expresses a fear lest his labour among the Galatians should prove in vain, because they still observed days (Gal. 4:10, 11). And he tells the Romans that it is superstitious to make one day differ from another (Rom. 14:5).” (Institutes, 2.8.33)

    “It was not, however, without a reason that the early Christians substituted what we call the Lord’s day for the Sabbath. The resurrection of our Lord being the end and accomplishment of that true rest which the ancient sabbath typified, this day, by which types were abolished serves to warn Christians against adhering to a shadowy ceremony. I do not cling so to the number seven as to bring the Church under bondage to it, nor do I condemn churches for holding their meetings on other solemn days, provided they guard against superstition. This they will do if they employ those days merely for the observance of discipline and regular order.” (Institutes, 2.8.34)

    To me, everything that Calvin says here makes complete sense, and truly glorifies our Lord Jesus Christ, who is “the end and accomplishment of that true rest which the ancient sabbath typified.”

  47. Roger Mann said,

    July 3, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    44. Elder Hoss wrote,

    There is a suffocatingly erroneous assumption here that “non-Sabbatarianism” aptly characterized the main thrust of Calvin’s thought. That is to say, no distinction or nuance is being allowed with respect to the earlier/later Calvin. What about for example, his exegesis of Isaiah 58?

    What about Calvin’s exegesis of Isaiah 58? I carefully read through it last night and, lo and behold, he says the very same thing that he said in the earlier material I cited — that the “outward ceremony” of the Sabbath has been “abolished.”

    “Whoever then wishes to serve God in a proper manner, must altogether renounce his flesh and his will. And hence we see the reason why God so highly recommends, in the whole Scripture, the observation of the Sabbath; for he contemplated something higher than the outward ceremony, that is, indolence and repose, in which the Jews thought that the greatest holiness consisted. On the contrary, he commanded the Jews to renounce the desires of the flesh, to give up their sinful inclinations, and to yield obedience to him; as no man can meditate on the heavenly life, unless he be dead to the world and to himself. Now, although that ceremony has been abolished, nevertheless the truth remains; because Christ died and rose again, so that we have a continual sabbath; that is, we are released from our works, that the Spirit of God may work mightily in us.” (Calvin’s Commentary, Isaiah 58:13)

    When we compare this with Calvin’s commentary on Hebrews 4:10, it’s clear that he was referring to the entire “outward ceremony” as being abolished, to include “external rest” or “earthly worship.”

    For he that is entered into his rest, or, For he who has rested, etc. This is a definition of that perpetual Sabbath in which there is the highest felicity, when there will be a likeness between men and God, to whom they will be united… Now this conformation the Apostle teaches us takes place when we rest from our works. It hence at length follows, that man becomes happy by self denial… Thus believers enter it but on this condition — that by running they may continually go forward. But I doubt not but that the Apostle designedly alluded to the Sabbath in order to reclaim the Jews from its external observances; for in no other way could its abrogation be understood, except by the knowledge of its spiritual design. He then treats of two things together; for by extolling the excellency of grace, he stimulates us to receive it by faith, and in the meantime he shows us in passing what is the true design of the Sabbath, lest the Jews should be foolishly attached to the outward rite. Of its abrogation indeed he does not expressly speak, for this is not his subject, but by teaching them that the rite had a reference to something else, he gradually withdraws them from their superstitious notions. For he who understands that the main object of the precept was not external rest or earthly worship, immediately perceives, by looking on Christ, that the external rite was abolished by his coming; for when the body appears, the shadows immediately vanish away. Then our first business always is, to teach that Christ is the end of the Law.” (Calvin’s Commentary, Hebrews 4:10)

    The later Calvin could indeed be, even OUGHT to be characterized as Sabbatarian. In fact, the case could be made (allowing of course for variegated circumstances 21st century vs 16th) that the overall thrust of Lane’s post would find ample corroboration in the later Calvin.
    For substantiation of this, note Rev. Dr. Francis Nigel Lee’s article on Calvin & the Sabbath

    Ditto to what Todd wrote in Post #45.

    By the way, I’ll be out of the loop for the next few days, so I won’t be able to respond to any additional comments until I return to my computer.

  48. greenbaggins said,

    July 3, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    I have significantly more problems with people working on Sunday than with recreation. The former is a clear denial of the continuing validity of the moral law. The latter is a matter more of interpretation. The Reformed confessions are united in the former, and not united in the latter. Of course, there are exceptions that have already been noted (such as doctors). But in those cases, a higher principle is in view, such as saving a person’s life. Even in the case of doctors, there is no need to schedule a surgery on Sunday that could be put off until Monday. They can limit themselves to life-saving operations and recuperation for patients who have long recovery times. Let it be known here that I do not rush in like some madman with church discipline that includes excommunication. I do think that someone working on Sunday for an illegitimate reason ought to receive church discipline that starts with patient and careful explanation of what the Sabbath is all about. Nine times out of ten, it will never come to excommunication, but will rather result in convincing the person, or the person leaving of his own accord.

  49. tim prussic said,

    July 3, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Roger, #46, you didn’t answer the question – and neither did Calvin. *What* makes one day in seven typical. You’ve merely used Calvin to assert that it is, but have not demonstrated that it is and what makes it so.

    Further, that the position “makes complete sense” really doesn’t amount to much either. If you’re starting with a false premise to two, you can make sense of a false system, no? For example, dispensationalism “makes sense” on its own terms, but begins with false premises. So, I agree with you that Calvin’s position makes sense, but I don’t think that it’s biblical. So, again, right back to the question: How is one day in seven typical? What’s the *biblical* evidence of that (quoting Calvin don’t count)?

    Seeing as you’ll be gone, brother, have a great 4th! We’ll talk on the flip side.

  50. Elder Hoss said,

    July 3, 2008 at 9:01 pm

    TBordow: Please read the entire article by Dr. Lee, and for that matter, other of his writings, before lobbing the “style over substance” characterization. What have you produced by way of historical theological treatments, exegetical writings, expository sermons, particulary in comparison with Dr. Lee, on the Sabbath question alone, let alone any number of related areas of study?

    You noted, “But whatever side you come down on that debate, you can read the Geneva session minutes and never once find anyone put under discipline for working on Sundays, or recreating, especially if they had attending morning worship. Remember, that is the discussion on this thread.”

    You err in thinking that a Council or Session’s (in this case Geneva’s) refusal to discipline is tantamount to their not holding to the position in question. Is your point that “well, Geneva’s Session did not discipline Sabbath breakers therefore they were not Sabbatarian.”

    This is a clericalist line of reasoning.

    Would you argue that a Council or Session did not believe in tithing if it refused to disicpline a man who did not give of His substance to the work of God?

    The fact is, JHVH is perfectly capable of punishing sinners or chastising His covenant people per any number of instances one could cite from redemptive history (the stick-gatherer comes to mind) without, in many cases, the assistance of His undershepherds.

  51. Roger Mann said,

    July 3, 2008 at 11:13 pm

    49. Tim wrote,

    Roger, #46, you didn’t answer the question – and neither did Calvin. *What* makes one day in seven typical. You’ve merely used Calvin to assert that it is, but have not demonstrated that it is and what makes it so.

    I actually found the time to post one last response. With all due respect, I did answer the question, and so did Calvin. For some reason you’re just not seeing it. I wrote:

    “Merely changing the ‘one day in seven’ from Saturday to Sunday, while retaining its ‘typical’ or ‘external observance’ (which is precisely what the Sabbatarian position does), is to smuggle an immature form of Judaism into Christianity.”

    In other words, it is not the coming together to worship one day in seven in itself that is “typical” — it is retaining the “external observance” of an obligatory cessation of physical work that makes it “typical.” As Calvin points out, “the Apostle designedly alluded to the Sabbath in order to reclaim the Jews from its external observances; for in no other way could its abrogation be understood, except by the knowledge of its spiritual design” (Commentary on Hebrews 4:10). If the Sabbath’s true “spiritual design” pointed to God’s eternal rest in Christ, then continuing to view “one day in seven” (whether Saturday, Sunday, or any other day) in the carnal sense of physical rest from labor is to retain the “type” over the “substance.”

    Moreover, I thought Calvin explained this same point quite well when he wrote that proper observance of the Lord’s day is “without Judaism, because in this matter we differ widely from the Jews. We do not celebrate it with most minute formality, as a ceremony by which we imagine that a spiritual mystery is typified, but we adopt it as a necessary remedy for preserving order in the Church. Paul informs us that Christians are not to be judged in respect of its observance, because it is a shadow of something to come (Col. 2:16); and, accordingly, he expresses a fear lest his labour among the Galatians should prove in vain, because they still observed days (Gal. 4:10, 11). And he tells the Romans that it is superstitious to make one day differ from another (Rom. 14:5).” (Institutes, 2.8.33)

    Honestly, if you don’t see how this explanation of the Lord’s day separates it from the “typical” observation of the Sabbath as being a “one day in seven” rest from physical labor, then I’m not sure how else to explain it any clearer. Take care my brother, and have a great 4th as well!

  52. Eric said,

    January 11, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Hello.
    I was wondering how you explain your moving/transfer of Jesus’ celebration of the weekly Sabbath (memorial to GODs abstainment from efforts following Creation, Decalogue & Isaiah 56), as well as the day revered by all Gentile converts, to the first day of the week- Sunday? The Roman church’s own Catechism from 1963+/- states that it has no Biblical authority to do so, but as a mark of her authority, she did.
    Please do not quote historical sources, tradition etc. Please use clear Scripture in your answer. As Scripture does not contradict Itself, please leave me unable to answer you with Scripture. I have been unable to find any verse in the Bible where GOD moves the day or Jesus negates this calendar.

    Thanks.

  53. Reed Here said,

    January 11, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Eric: consider 1 Co 16:2. Paul is dealing with worship matters from chapter 10 through this one. 1Co 16:1 notes that he is discussing the collection, something we know from early church records occurred during the Sabbath worship service.

    Note that Paul assumes that this collection is taken up, during worship, on the first day of the week. This would have been Sunday.

    John in Rev 1:17 calls Sunday the Lord’s Day. This is the label the Early Church gave to the day they gathered for Sabbath worship.

    While there is not explicit verse stating change the Sabbath form Saturday to Sunday, these verses are only understandable if worship had changed to Sunday. The earliest Church records support this – they worshiped on Sunday.

    In other words, an Apostle, Paul, assumes they will worship on Sunday. Another Apostle, John, references Sunday as the Lord’s Day, the day the Church gathered for worship.

    This should not be all that controversial.


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