The Sabbath and Salvation History

It struck me today that there are broad connections between the Sabbath and the entirety of redemptive history. We will take as our starting point the magnificent contribution of Geerhardus Vos to our understanding of the Sabbath, when he said that the Covenant of Works was nothing other than an embodiment of the Sabbatical principle. Just as God worked for six days and rested the seventh, so also Adam was work for the probationary period, and then enter into his eternal rest. Adam had a weekly reminder of this probationary period in the Sabbath. So far, so Vos.

The thing that struck me was that the change of day from seventh day of the week to the first day of the week can then be connected to the change of covenant from works to grace. Now, here we have to be careful, since we can in no way imply that salvation was by works in the Old Testament. Nor are we positing a dispensational understanding of the different eras of history. The Covenant of Grace began in the Garden of Eden after the Fall. However, what we can say is that Adam was told “Do this, and live.” We can expand the sentence to say “Do this for six ‘days,’ and then you will enter your seventh ‘day’ of rest, which is eternal life.” The Sabbath is a weekly sign of that Covenantal promise affixed to the Covenant of Works. OT believers thus lived in a time when the Covenant of Grace was administered in type and shadow, not in its fullness. This might have some implications for the debate on whether the Covenant of Works was republished at Sinai. I would think this Sabbatical principle connected to covenant theology does support a form of republication at Sinai (especially given the rationale for Sabbath-keeping which we find in the Ten Commandments in Exodus, which hearkens back to the time of probation in the garden; and, the people did not celebrate the Sabbath on the first day of the week yet, since the Covenant of Works had yet to be fixed by Christ. The Sabbath pointed towards Christ’s work as bringing true rest). However, just trying to think through how that would work is making my head spin.

The change of day from seventh day to first day at the very least parallels the shift to the time of Gospel, when we hear “Live, and do this.” To be more specific, the connection goes like this: Jesus has now accomplished the fulfillment of the Covenant of Works, and so now the order of events is reversed. Instead of “Do this and live,” we now hear “Live and do this.” Expanding the sentence yields the following formulation: “Celebrate your eternal life on the day of the week on which Jesus obtained it for you, and then work in the light of that salvation afterwards.” Instead of work coming before rest, rest now comes before work.

Furthermore, there is a telescoping relationship of type and antitype in the OT and in the NT. In the OT, the weekly Sabbath telescopes into the seventh year Sabbath for the land, which in turn telescopes into the Jubilee, a pattern of seven times seven. The last implied link is eternity. In the NT, the beginning of this eternity has erupted into time with the beginning of the Sabbath rest obtained for us by Jesus. In the NT, there are elements of “already” and “not yet” with regard to the Sabbath, just as in the OT. The difference is that there is a lot more “already” in the NT than in the OT. We celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday in order to celebrate the new life and salvation we have in Christ Jesus. However, we still have not entered into our bodily eternal rest, even though our souls have, as Christians.

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129 Comments

  1. January 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Excellent thoughts Lane. It just so happens I’m teaching a biblical theology of the Sabbath in Sunday School next week. I’ve had these thoughts swimming around in my head the past few days. I especially like Vos’s connection of the OT Sabbath to the CoW and your formulation “Do this and live” v. “Live and do this.”

    With respect to the OT having less of the eschatological already, I’ve read somewhere that the OT week-ending Sabbath tended to point forward, which is another way of saying it emphasized the not yet; whereas the week-beginning NT Sabbath tends to point backward to Jesus resurrection, which is another way of saying it emphasizes the already.

    Or another way to think through it is with respect to Old v. New creation. The OT Sabbath, being situated at the end of the creation week, drew attention back to the Old creation/CoW and the failure of the Adam; whereas the NT Sabbath, being situated at the beginning of the week with reference to the first fruits of the New creation (Jesus’ resurrection), draws attention to the New Creation/CoG and the success of the Last Adam.

  2. Cris D. said,

    January 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Excellent post, Lane. Thought-provoking. Further, this dove-tails with a slice of the Creation discussion following Adrian’s post (also quite thought-provoking).

    The way you are reasoning, actually, theologizing, about the days of the week/sabbath day of the creational pattern, what does that say concerning how much time Adam & Eve spent in the garden prior to the rebellion and fall? Do you know if Vos touches on that at all?

    While I’m ready to see that it’s possible to see that both Adam and Eve’s creation occurred on the first Day Six, are we to really read the story that on Day Seven, the first Seventh Day, while God rested, Adam fell? I’ve heard that in sermons, but it just doesn’t “click” for me.

    I know, this could be in the Creation post, but what does the theology of the creation pattern, the eschatological foreshadowing of the Sabbath at Creation, particularly as you are discussing it here, say to that question?

    -=Cris=-

  3. paigebritton said,

    January 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Lane,
    When you wrote, “Celebrate your eternal life on the day of the week on which Jesus obtained it for you,” were you thinking of 1 Peter 1:3? I was startled by this verse this weekend, as a statement about what Jesus’ resurrection accomplished:

    …According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

    We usually think about his death obtaining our inheritance of eternal life — but it’s also biblical to speak of his resurrection on the first day accomplishing this!

    pb

  4. January 25, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Nice post.

    There was an eschatology before sin, a higher form of bodily life in prospect. the sabbath is the sign of that goal but it cannot be attained apart from Jesus who through his obedience, death and resurrection makes it not an unattainable goal but a gift of grace based on the achievement of him who said he was Lord of the sabbath.

    Rowland Ward
    Melbourne Australia

  5. Roy Kerns said,

    January 25, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Probably I should concede that all sorts of features such as sin and slowness and sin and sloth and sin – and,oh, lack of scholarship – keep folks from recognizing the obvious. After all, that’s true about me. But I’m nonetheless repeatedly astonished at discussions with Christians who love the Bible but scorn the 4th C. That the day changed gives no pause to ponder. How come did it change? What does the reality of the change tell us about the 4th C?

    “Christ by a road before untrod ascendeth to the throne of God”. Resurrection changes everything.

  6. Andrew Duggan said,

    January 25, 2012 at 10:48 am

    Interesting.
    Certainly the Covanent of Works was finished and fulfulled by Christ for the elect in Christ by His righteousness and its terms fulfulled and its penaly paid by Christ in his death. Christ’s resurrection was so radical so that in some sense everything is different. Our eternal rest is so tied with Christ and his completed work, and his entering into his estate of exaltation in his resurrection that of course the day of rest is changed.

    However, I am having trouble reconciling the emphasis of “Do this and Live with work then rest” with two things. First, Adam’s first full day was on the Sabbath, at best he worked only one day before his rest. From his point of view it was more like, rest, then work. Second, the preface to the ten commandments in Ex 20, reads like: I saved you, now do this. How else can you read “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt…”?

  7. greenbaggins said,

    January 25, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Cris, I don’t remember Vos touching on that point. I personally would say that chapter 3 of Genesis does not have a clear time indicator. It starts with a vav-x qatal, indicating background information off the main storyline. So, I don’t think the Bible tells us at all how long Adam and Eve were in their sinless state before the Fall. As to whether the Sabbatical pattern and the CoW/CoG distinction that the change of day corresponds with actually affects this question, I could not say. I’m having difficulty seeing that it makes a whole lot of difference right now.

  8. greenbaggins said,

    January 25, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Paige, I was not explicitly thinking of 1 Peter, but rather the simple fact of Jesus’ death and resurrection being a single complex of events. Calvin argues persuasively that references to either the death or the resurrection of Christ are synechdochic (a part for the whole), meaning that a reference to one in the NT automatically implies the other. In the case of the Sabbath, Christ’s death also figures into the Sabbatical pattern, since His entrance into the grave signalled the end of the OT Sabbath, and His resurrection signalled the beginning of the NT Sabbath.

  9. greenbaggins said,

    January 25, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Andrew, important questions there. My initial response off the top of my head would be that there were always eschatological pointers in the OT. As Dr. Ward pointed out, eschatology existed in the garden. This is another way of stating one of Vos’s famous dictums: “The eschatological is an older strand than the soteric.” Eschatology precedes soteriology. So, it is not surprising to me that there are evidences of grace coming before law in the OT. Indeed, we have to say this, if we believe that the Covenant of Grace started in the Garden of Eden. These are the shadows and hints that will come to full flower in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

  10. rfwhite said,

    January 25, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Green Baggins: To your good thoughts let me take a stab at adding meat to the skeleton you’ve given us. I apologize for the length of this comment.

    At the beginning, God blessed and commissioned man to engage in the work of ruling and filling (Gen 1:26-28) in the hope of resting from all his work as God did from his (cf. Heb 4:10). Because man yielded to sin, however, he became powerless to obey God’s command; his work of ruling and filling became futile; his hope of entering God’s rest became vain. For all his days after the fall, man’s work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest (Eccl 2:23). Through the curse of death (Gen 3:19), man ironically finds a kind of rest from the vanity and futility of his work (cf. Job 3:11-19). But this hope of finding rest through one’s own death is no gospel, since one’s own death is retribution, not redemption. So, did the entrance of sin and death render vain man’s hope of entering into God’s rest? No, we know better from the gospel of Gen 3:15.

    Gen 3.15 tells us how radically the entrance of sin and death had altered the nature of the work that man was commissioned to complete, of the rest into which he would enter upon its completion, and of the means by which he would find rest from his work. After the fall, in order to enter God’s rest, man would have to rule not simply the earth, but sin, death, and the serpent and his seed. After the fall, the rest into which man would enter would involve not simply ceasing from his toil with the ground, but ceasing from his toil with sin also (cf. Gen 4:7). In other words, from the fall onward, if man would find rest from his work, he must find it not by his own hand, but by the hand of the woman’s Seed. In fact, just as apart from the Gen 3:15 gospel man would find rest only through his own death (an irony of retribution), so now according to the Gen 3:15 gospel he could enter God’s rest through the death of another, the righteous Seed (an irony of redemption). The fundamental content of the gospel would be, in sabbatical terms, the promise of rest through faith in the promised Seed.

    From Adam through Moses, this gospel of rest was preached through Noah, Abraham, and Moses. Noah was prophesied to be a giver of rest from the curse: “This one will give us relief from our work and from the toil of our hands, arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed” (Gen 5:29). Through Noah (Gen 7:1), God brought a remnant of man, Noah’s household, to rest in the new world (Gen 8:4). As Noah consecrated this new mankind to the Lord by his burnt offerings (Gen 8:20), the Lord smelled the aroma of rest and restrained his curse upon the ground (Gen 8:21). Exemplary though Noah’s role in God’s deliverance of the world was, his work was not sufficient to relieve his household’s toilsome labor to subdue sin. Thus, through Noah, a remnant shared in a shadow of God’s final rest, but only a shadow.

    After Noah and until Moses the hope of rest was held out to the seed of Abram (Gen 15:13-14), and through his seed, to the nations (Gen 12:3 et al.). Then came Moses. Before Sinai he preached rest to Israel (cf. Exod 5:5) as the nation toiled in slavery to Egypt (Exod 1:11-13, 6:5-8; Gen 15:13-14). Then, he preached a version of the Gen 3:15 promise of rest through the death of another as he preached that the nation would be redeemed through the sacrifice of the Passover lamb at the exodus (Exodus 12).

    Then, through the covenant at Sinai, Moses gave Israel very particular commandments concerning rest. Israel was commanded to enter God’s Sabbath rest (cf. Exod 20:10-11). They were to be diligent to keep the seventh-day Sabbath holy, lest they should come short of God’s rest through the deceitfulness of sin. Israel, however, followed Adam’s example and yielded to sin. The Mosaic covenant could prescribe sabbatical rest, but could not realize it. As great as their redemption through Moses had been, when Israel came to Sinai, they were still toiling in slavery to sin, and their work of keeping the divine commands was rendered futile and their hope of entering God’s rest became vain. The Law could reveal that toil, but could not relieve it. Moses could command rest, but could not give it. He did, however, bear witness to the promise of rest. In the laws of sacrifice Moses reiterated the lesson of faith. To the nation toiling in slavery to sin, Moses repeated the gospel he preached in Egypt: rest from fallen man’s futile effort to subdue sin was available through another, viz. through the sacrifices for sin. As it had been with Noah’s offerings, so it was with Levitical offerings: God smelled the aroma of rest and restrain his judgment (Exod 29:18, 25; Gen 8:20-21). In this God’s people could see how sacrifice and Sabbath rest went hand in hand; indeed, the seventh-day Sabbath could be kept only through the sacrifice of death. To put the point differently, sinners enter the rest of God only through the acceptable sacrifice of another.

    In Christ one greater than Noah has come and secured for his household relief from their work and from the toil of their hands, viz. the work-toil of ruling sin. Likewise, in Christ, one greater than Moses has come and by overcoming sin through his sacrifice has obtained rest for a new Israel who would cease from their slavery to sin. To enter God’s rest sinners looks to Christ to see in him the post-fall work of subduing sin finished. At the completion of his redemptive work, Jesus proclaimed, “It is finished” (John 19:30) and then rested from his labor of subduing sin in the sleep of death and from his labor of subduing death through resurrection in the rest of ascension.

    Freed from unceasing service to sin through faith in Christ (Rom 6:17-18), the believer’s work of subduing sin is no longer futile nor his hope of rest vain. Now, through union with Christ in his death to sin and his resurrection life to God, the believer no longer walks in slavery to sin, but in newness of life, serving God (Rom 6:4-7). Through faith, the believer has subdued sin (Gal 5:24), is subduing sin (Rom 6:12-13), will subdue sin (cf. 1 John 3:3). United with Christ by faith, the believer enters into God’s rest truly now, but not yet finally. Union with Christ in his Sabbath-sacrifice is no longer publicized by the believer’s continuing observance of the seventh-day Sabbath, but our union with Christ in his Sabbath-ascension is publicized by our observance of his first-day Sabbath.

  11. January 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Good post and good comments. I have far too much swimming around in my head to comment myself, but good posts. Very helpful.

  12. RGM said,

    February 5, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    The thing that struck me was that the change of day from seventh day of the week to the first day of the week can then be connected to the change of covenant from works to grace.

    That’s an interesting thesis, but it’s pure speculation that the Sabbath has been changed from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week. Where does Scripture say anything of the sort? It doesn’t, plain and simple. What it does say is that any form of external Sabbath observance has been done away with in Christ.

    First, Paul explicitly states that “One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.” (Romans 14:5). He goes on to say that it’s wrong to “judge” or “show contempt” (Romans 14:10,13) toward one another in this matter, whether we choose to honor one day above another or not. Yet, if the external observance of the Sabbath has merely been changed from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week, Paul could not have written that. We would not be free to “consider every day alike,” and we would not be free from the “judgment” and “contempt” of others if we fail to observe the Sabbath on the first day of the week.

    Second, Paul explicitly admonishes the Galatians for “observing special days and months and seasons and years” (Galatians 4:10), as if they continued to retain spiritual significance and legal sanction from God. This would apply to observing the first day of the week as the Sabbath as much as it would to observing the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. In principle, there’s no difference between the two. Note Calvin’s take on this passage:

    “Of what nature, then, was the observation which Paul reproves? It was that which would bind the conscience, by religious considerations, as if it were necessary to the worship of God, and which, as he expresses it in the Epistle to the Romans, would make a distinction between one day and another. (Romans 14:5.) When certain days are represented as holy in themselves, when one day is distinguished from another on religious grounds, when holy days are reckoned a part of divine worship, then days are improperly observed. The Jewish Sabbath, new moons, and other festivals, were earnestly pressed by the false apostles, because they had been appointed by the law. When we, in the present age, intake a distinction of days, we do not represent them as necessary, and thus lay a snare for the conscience; we do not reckon one day to be more holy than another; we do not make days to be the same thing with religion and the worship of God; but merely attend to the preservation of order and harmony. The observance of days among us is a free service, and void of all superstition.” (Calvin’s Commentaries, Galatians 4:10)

    Third, Paul explicitly tells the Colossians to “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” (Colossians 2:16-17). Observing the Sabbath as an external ceremony (whether on the seventh day of the week or the first day of the week) is no longer necessary. Calvin reiterates this point once again:

    “Consider whether it may not be taken to mean separation, for those that make a distinction of days, separate, as it were, one from another. Such a mode of partition was suitable for the Jews, that they might celebrate religiously the days that were appointed, by separating them from others. Among Christians, however, such a division has ceased. But someone will say, ‘We still keep up some observance of days.’ I answer, that we do not by any means observe days, as though there were any sacredness in holidays, or as though it were not lawful to labor upon them, but that respect is paid to government and order — not to days.” (Calvin’s Commentaries, Colossians 2:16)

    Fourth, the author of Hebrews explicitly states that the spiritual purpose signified by the Sabbath is fulfilled in those who believe: “For we who have believed do enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:3). This is not merely a “future” rest in heaven (although it includes that), but is designated as a rest that believers enter into “Today” (vs. 7-8). Calvin, once again, says the same thing:

    “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 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 Commentaries, Hebrews 4:10)

    Anyway, the burden of proof is upon those who claim that the external observance of the Sabbath has been “changed from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week.” As I stated at the outset, that is pure speculation. There’s not a shred of biblical evidence to support it.

  13. Richard Tallach said,

    February 17, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    The whole perfectly-numbered seven day week is typological of the perfect Heavenly Eschataloigcal Kingdom. It is the only division of time that is revealed by special revelation and is “perfectly” numbered, unlike the day, the month or the year.

    The new order Heavenly Eschatalogical Kingdom will have work and play, as well as rest and worship, but all will be charaterised by rest and worship. In the old order, meanwhile, a whole day has to be specificallly set aside for rest and worship only.

    Unfallen Adam rested in His God and Father by faith at all times, but on the Seventh Day was invited into a peculiar rest with His God, in anticipation of His eternal rest. This weekly rest from good works would have continued beyond the probation into the ongoing cultural mandate, if Adam had passed the test.

    The Seventh Day was not only the first complete day of the Old Creation, but the first complete day of the Israelites redemption from Egypt.

    The First Day, was the first complete day of Christ’s New Creation and of His redemption of His people.

  14. RGM said,

    February 19, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    In the old order, meanwhile, a whole day has to be specifically set aside for rest and worship only.

    This is a good example of what I meant by “pure speculation.” Where does Scripture teach that one “whole day has to be specifically set aside for rest and worship” under the New Covenant? Not only does God’s word not teach that, but it explicitly states the opposite:

    “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.” (Colossians 2:16-17)

    Observing the Sabbath as an outward ceremony (whether on the seventh day of the week or the first day of the week makes absolutely no difference in principle) is no longer necessary. If it were, then Paul could not have scolded the Galatians for “observing special days” (Galatians 4:10), as if they continued to retain spiritual significance and legal sanction from God. Nor could he have taught that we are now free to “consider every day alike” (Romans 14:5). If one “whole day” is still required “to be specifically set aside for rest and worship,” then we would not be free to “consider every day alike,” and we would not be free from the “judgment” and “contempt” of others if we fail to observe the Sabbath on the first day of the week.

  15. rfwhite said,

    February 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    12/14 RGM: If you agree that Christians are obligated to meet together, what would you say are the most important factors that they should take into account to determine when their meetings take place?

  16. RGM said,

    February 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Since we are now free to “consider every day alike” (Romans 14:5) under the New Covenant, the criteria for when we are to come together in corporate worship is up to each congregation. I agree with what Calvin says here:

    “Consider whether it may not be taken to mean separation, for those that make a distinction of days, separate, as it were, one from another. Such a mode of partition was suitable for the Jews, that they might celebrate religiously the days that were appointed, by separating them from others. Among Christians, however, such a division has ceased. But someone will say, ‘We still keep up some observance of days.’ I answer, that we do not by any means observe days, as though there were any sacredness in holidays, or as though it were not lawful to labor upon them, but that respect is paid to government and order — not to days.” (Calvin’s Commentaries, Colossians 2:16)

    The early Christians often met together for corporate worship every day (Acts 2:46), but eventually seemed to settle on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2), most likely in honor of Christ’s resurrection. I would say that that is a good pattern for us to follow today as well, even though each congregation is free to set their own rules about this.

    But nowhere is the first day of the week ever described as the Sabbath in Scripture. Even after Christ’s resurrection, the seventh day of the week is still described as the Sabbath (Acts 13:13-14; 16:13; 17:2), and is explicitly described as a ceremony that we are no longer required to keep (Col. 2:16-17). Therefore, as I mentioned before, the burden of proof is upon those who claim that the external observance of the Sabbath has been “changed from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week.” I don’t see a shred of biblical evidence that it has.

  17. rfwhite said,

    February 19, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    RGM: Perhaps it would help to acknowledge that I don’t know anyone affirming Sunday as the Christian Sabbath who would disagree with your assertion about who bears the burden of proof for the change of day.

  18. Richard Tallach said,

    February 19, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    RGM: The seventh day of the week is called “My holy day; the holy of the LORD” in Isaiah 58:13, and the first day of the week is called “the Lord’s Day” in Revelation 1:10.

  19. RGM said,

    February 20, 2012 at 3:14 am

    The seventh day of the week is called “My holy day; the holy of the LORD” in Isaiah 58:13, and the first day of the week is called “the Lord’s Day” in Revelation 1:10.

    Where does Revelation 1:10 say that “the Lord’s Day” is the first day of the week? It doesn’t, plain and simple. You’re simply reading that into the text.

    But even if, for the sake of argument, you could demonstrate that “the Lord’s Day” was the first day of the week, it would only prove that God calls the seventh day Sabbath “My holy day” and the first day on which Christ was raised from the dead “the Lord’s Day.” It certainly doesn’t prove that the two days are equated with one another. Scripture explicitly teaches that the seventh day Sabbath is distinct from the first day of the week:

    “Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.” (Matthew 28:1)

    “Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen.” (Mark 16:1-2)

    “And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.” (Luke 23:56-24:1)

    As I’ve stated several times now, there’s not a shred of biblical evidence that the first day of the week miraculously became “the Sabbath” after Christ’s resurrection. Indeed, the above verses flatly contradict such a notion, as the seventh day of the week is still called “the Sabbath” even after Christ had risen on the first day of the week.

  20. Richard Tallach said,

    February 20, 2012 at 10:54 am

    “As I’ve stated several times now, there’s not a shred of biblical evidence that the first day of the week miraculously became “the Sabbath” after Christ’s resurrection. Indeed, the above verses flatly contradict such a notion, as the seventh day of the week is still called “the Sabbath” even after Christ had risen on the first day of the week.”

    Well this is the transistional period before Christ had established the first day of the week as the Christian Sabbath and Lord’s Day. He’d only just risen from the dead, and his disciples were not even aware of it.

    The first day of the week became the first day of Christ’s New Creation, just as the seventh day of the week is the first day of God’s Old Creation. The first day of the week became the first day of our redemption from sin, just as the seventh day of the week is the first day of Israel’s redemption from Egypt.

    If you don’t believe that the day was changed by Christ and the Apostles, do you believe Christian’s should celebrate the Christian Sabbath and Lord’s Day on the seventh day of the week?

  21. RGM said,

    February 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Well this is the transistional period before Christ had established the first day of the week as the Christian Sabbath and Lord’s Day.

    That’s a bare assertion, not biblical evidence. Where does Scripture either explicitly state or necessarily imply that Christ “established the first day of the week as the Christian Sabbath”? If you can’t demonstrate that from Scripture, then on what basis do you expect me to believe what you’re saying? Seriously, what happened to Sola Scriptura here?

    If you don’t believe that the day was changed by Christ and the Apostles, do you believe Christian’s should celebrate the Christian Sabbath and Lord’s Day on the seventh day of the week?

    I’ve quoted both Scripture and John Calvin stating that the external observance of a weekly Sabbath has been “abolished” under the New Covenant…

    “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 Commentaries, Hebrews 4:10)

    So why would you ask me if I “believe Christian’s should celebrate the Christian Sabbath and Lord’s Day on the seventh day of the week”? Have you not been reading what I’ve written?

  22. Richard Tallach said,

    February 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Because there is a commandment to observe the Sabbath, and because the Sabbath was made for man, and we are men.

  23. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2012 at 12:37 am

    RGM, does Calvin’s commentary on Gen 2.3 modify your argument in any way?

  24. RGM said,

    February 21, 2012 at 5:37 am

    Because there is a commandment to observe the Sabbath, and because the Sabbath was made for man, and we are men.

    I’ve already demonstrated from Scripture that it was a temporary commandment that has been abrogated under the New Covenant (Colossians 2:16-17), so that God’s people are now free to “consider every day alike” (Romans 14:5). So where’s your evidence from Scripture that it wasn’t abrogated, but merely changed from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week? I still haven’t seen any. The burden of proof is upon you here not me…

    Nevertheless, since the Sabbath was a “shadow” (Colossians 2:17) that pointed to our ultimate salvation rest in Christ, we are abiding by the purpose of the Sabbath command when we place our faith in Christ. It is in Him that we find the true rest that we need (Matthew 11:28-30; Hebrews 4:1-11). The requirement for rest has been transformed to focus on Christ rather than a specific day of the week. If we have faith in Him, then we are entering God’s rest and are therefore keeping the spiritual intent of the Sabbath.

  25. RGM said,

    February 21, 2012 at 5:43 am

    RGM, does Calvin’s commentary on Gen 2.3 modify your argument in any way?

    No, because while I agree with most of what Calvin says on the Sabbath, I don’t agree with him on every point…

  26. Reed Here said,

    February 21, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    RGM: you are very welcome to comment here. However we do ask you abide by some basic rules. The paramount one being politeness towards others. Some of your responses to others here are bit condescending and a tad obnoxious. E.g., of course folks are reading what you are saying.

    Please tone it down.

    As well, as we do not allow anonymous posting at this blog, please identify yourself for us. Name and church membership will suffice. If you are uncomfortable posting that on line, then please send this information to us offline. You can reach me at reedhere at gmail dot com.

    Thanks.

    Reed DePace, moderator

  27. Reed Here said,

    February 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    RGM; so should Christians gather for corporate worship?

  28. Michael Cope said,

    February 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I find it interesting that in all of the references to Hebrews 4, verse 9 has neither been mentioned nor exegeted. Allow me: (modified from Dr. Pipa’s book “The Lord’s Day”, which I highly recommend on this topic).

    Hebrews 4:9 reads “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,”

    The word used for Sabbath in the original manuscripts here is the noun ‘sabbatismos’. It is a unique word that is used only this one time in all of scripture. The verb form ‘sabbatizo’ is however used several times throughout the old testament (in the Septuagint) to refer to the activity of sabbath keeping (Ex. 16:30). The idea of sabbath keeping is involved every time this verb is used (Lev. 26:34-35; 2 Chr. 36:21) whether it refer to the sabbath rest of the land or the sabbath rest of the people.

    Throughout the rest of Hebrews 3 and 4, however, the more general term for rest, ‘katapausis’ is used to depict God’s rest, our eternal rest, and other typical forms of rest that are expressed in sabbath keeping. This begs the question then “Why does the writer of Hebrews use this unique word ‘sabbatismos’ only in verse 9?”. If all that the writer wanted to convey was the idea that the spiritual, eternal rest promised by God has yet to be fulfilled, and that the promise of eternal rest still remains but will be fully realized only when one enters the eternal rest of glory, then he could have continued to use the word ‘katapausis’. In fact, he does use ‘katapausis’ in verse 11, “Let us therefore try to enter that rest (katapusis)”, to refer to that very thing.

    The uniqueness of the word then suggests a deliberate and theological purpose and intention by the author. He uses ‘sabbatismos’ because, in addition to referring to spiritual rest that is found only in Christ and fully realized only in eternity, it also suggests an observance of that rest by a ‘sabbatismos’ (a sabbath keeping). Because the promised rest still lies ahead for the New Covenant people, they are to strive to enter that future rest, Yet, as they do, they anticipate it by continuing to keep the Sabbath.

    A.W. Pink concludes:
    “Here then is a plain, positive, unequivocal declaration by the Spirit of God. ‘There remaineth therefore a Sabbath-keeping.’ Nothing could be simpler, nothing less ambiguous. The striking thing is that this statement occurs in the very epistle whose theme is the superiority of Christianity of Judaism; written to those addressed as ‘holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling.’ Therefore, it cannot be gainsaid that Hebrews 4:9 refers directly to the Christian Sabbath. Hence we solemnly and emphatically declare that any man who says there is no Christian Sabbath takes direct issue with the New Testament Scriptures.”

  29. Michael Cope said,

    February 21, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    “As well, as we do not allow anonymous posting at this blog, please identify yourself for us. Name and church membership will suffice.”

    To comply with these rules: Michael Cope, Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church.

  30. Reed Here said,

    February 21, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Thank you Michael. Now add Heb 10:24-25 to the context here, and ya got yerself a winner!

  31. Todd said,

    February 21, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Reed, Michael,

    I don’t think Hebrews 4 is s slam dunk for the Christian Sabbath. The context of Hebrews 4 is heaven as the fulfillment of the Land promise, which we become citizens of by faith now. One could argue the passage is actually turning us away from any earthly observance, rite, land, etc… Calvin actually argues this way:

    “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 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 on Hebrews 4)

  32. Reed Here said,

    February 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Todd: o.k. Hebrews4, apart from its context in the book of Hebrews is not a slam dunk. (Frankly, I tend to be more cautious than this. If I demand a slam dunk before I humble myself before what appears to be God’s will, I’m in trouble.)

    Yet connect the whole context, i.e., the whole book. Surely Heb 10:24-25 then carries the weight of a command that we keep “a” sabbath. In context this sabbath must be one day in seven (since the exemplar referent is the Mosaic sabbath).

    So let’s quibble over when during the week the sabbath MUST take place. Let us not quibble over the fact that it is a command.

  33. Todd said,

    February 21, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Reed

    Yes, gathering together is a command – no quibble there- I just don’t see Heb 4 or 10 as an argument for a Christian Sabbath day.

  34. Richard Tallach said,

    February 21, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Richard Gaffin’s “Calvin and the Sabbath” (CFP) shows how little Calvin took into account that the weekly Sabbath was a type of Heavenly Eschatalogical Rest from the beginning of the world.

    To the extent that a layer of Mosaic typology was also added to it at the time of the Exodus, that has fallen away/been transfigured by Christ.

    Believing Man, including Adam before the Fall, always rested by faith daily in His God. But on the Seventh Day of the Week, even before the Fall, he was invited to enjoy a foretaste of his Heavenly Eschatalogical Rest from the probation and creation mandate, which his God and Father had already entered on the Seventh Day.

    This is all brought to a new level in Christ of course, in whom we rest by faith, but who invites and commands us to enjoy with Him, a foretaste of the Heavenly Eschatalogical Rest He has already entered on the First Day of the week, in anticipation.

    Richard Tallach, Knox Free Church, Perth, Scotland.

  35. Reed Here said,

    February 21, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    RGM: your use of Calvin regarding Col 2:16 is inaccurate. Calvin is referring to the practice of festival-days. In the Mosaic economy these were the days set aside for worship in addition to the Sabbath. Calvin, being consistent with Calvin elsewhere, is using this to deny the Medieval Church practices regarding “holy-days,” days of worship required to secure right standing with God.

    Here Calvin, in other words, does not support your position.

    I can agree there remains no command to keep the Sabbath, unto justification. There yet, however, remains a command to keep the Sabbath in consequence of sanctification.

  36. Reed Here said,

    February 21, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Todd, in context Hebrews is talking about the Mosaic sabbath, no? If so, why then would we not follow his parallel? If his exemplar is the Mosaic sabbath, why would we conclude that when he tells us not to forsake our assembly, he means “on unspecified times, at an unspecified frequency”? Consistency with the context requires us to understand Heb 10:25 to be discussing the practice of regular assembly on the Christian sabbath.

  37. Todd said,

    February 21, 2012 at 6:03 pm

    Reed,

    Which Hebrews passage are you referring to in your first question in #36?

  38. Todd said,

    February 21, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Reed,

    As to your response to RGM, I don’t think Calvin makes the distinction you are claiming, but you’d have to look elsewhere for his view on the Sabbath. But where do you get from Heb 10 that the Mosaic Sabbath is the parallel? The parallel in vv. 1-10 is the OT sacrifices, not the weekly Sabbath. That’s why I asked if I had the right verse. Calvin saw NT worship as necessary and commanded, but not necessarily on Sunday, but as the church calls.

    “To sum up: as truth was delivered to the Jews under a figure, so is it set before us without shadows. First, we are to meditate throughout life upon an everlasting Sabbath rest from all our works, that the Lord may work in us through his Spirit. Secondly, each one of us privately, whenever he has leisure, is to exercise himself diligently in pious meditation upon God’s works. Also, we should all observe together the lawful order set by the church for the hearing of the Word, the administration of the sacraments, and for public prayers. In the third place, we should not inhumanly oppress those subject to us” (Institutes: II.8.34).

  39. Michael Cope said,

    February 21, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    Todd: Respectfully I must say that responding with Calvin’s commentary on Hebrews 4:10 doesn’t answer the question posed in reference to Hebrews 4:9. Why did the writer of Hebrews use a different word ‘sabbatismos’, instead of the already used ‘katapausis’ if not to convey the idea of maintaining a Sabbath rest for the people of God under the New Covenant?

    If we believe in the verbal inspiration of scripture then we believe that God wants us to understand that this word has a meaning that is not foreign to its context.

    Furthermore, it is scripture, not Calvin, that must be our guide in determining these matters. Can you demonstrate from scripture that Hebrews 4:9 does not refer to a Christian Sabbath?

  40. Jeff Cagle said,

    February 21, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    RGM (#25):

    I can appreciate disagreeing with Calvin here or there.

    Still and all, what I had in mind was this: in Gen 2.3, Calvin talks in terms of a familiar framework: The OT law had a general equity and shadowy particulars. The general equity (“moral law”) abides, while the shadows (“civil and ceremonial laws”) are abolished.

    IF we accept this framework — and it certainly makes sense with the other nine commands of the decalogue — then this shifts the burden of proof a bit.

    One must ask the question, Why is it that the 4th commandment is entirely abolished? Was there no general equity contained within it?

  41. Todd said,

    February 21, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Michael,

    Greetings. I quoted Calvin in response to # 35. As for the word choice, yes, the reference is to the weekly Sabbath there, but the question is how that is fulfilled in the passage. The OT 7th day Sabbath was a day of rest, a shadow, and now we find our eternal rest through faith in Christ. To me, it doesn’t follow for the author to argue that Sunday observance of the Sabbath day is the fulfillment of the OT rest when heaven is the anti-type of rest throughout the passage(4:1, 8&9). The Sabbath day of v. 9 would also then serve as a metaphor of the true spiritual rest, just like the conquest of Canaan was a metaphor for spiritual rest. It would be odd for the author to use rest throughout the passage to refer to heaven and end up with the point about weekly sabbath-keeping. Sabbatismos’, and ‘katapausis’ are used interchangeably for rest in vv. 9&10, both meaning heaven, which is already entered through faith.

    I like how William Lane translates Hebrews 4:9 as: “There remains a Sabbath celebration for the people of God.” Lane suggests the author uses Sabbath rest to “define more precisely the character of the future rest promised to the people of God” It conveyed “the special aspect of festivity and joy, expressed in the adoration and praise of God” for his wonderful grace” (Word Biblical Commentary, volume 47, Hebrews, page 101, 102).

  42. RGM said,

    February 22, 2012 at 4:52 am

    #17. RGM: Perhaps it would help to acknowledge that I don’t know anyone affirming Sunday as the Christian Sabbath who would disagree with your assertion about who bears the burden of proof for the change of day.

    Ok, fine. But, if that’s the case, then why hasn’t anyone unloaded themselves of that burden and offered up any proof yet? I still haven’t seen even a shred of biblical evidence that the Sabbath has been “changed” from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week? The closest anyone has gotten has been the reference to “sabbatismos” in Hebrews 4:9, which doesn’t even address the issue.

    First, Hebrews 4:9 says nothing about the Sabbath day being “changed,” which is why it’s used by the Seventh Day Adventists in an attempt to “prove” that seventh day Sabbath observance is still required of Christians. Indeed, if the word “sabbatismos” means what some here are alleging it means, then that is the only thing it would prove – that we are required to rest from all of our work and entertainment on the seventh day of the week, since that’s the only weekly “Sabbath” day ever identified in Scripture.

    Second, it can’t even bear that meaning (which is why the Seventh Day Adventists are wrong), since such an interpretation flatly contradicts other clear passages of Scripture that explicitly teach that observing a specific Sabbath day is no longer necessary (Colossians 2:16-17), and that Christians are free to “consider every day alike” (Romans 14:5; cf. Galatians 4:9-11). Vine’s Greek Dictionary brings out the true meaning of “sabbatismos” (emphasis mine):

    A4. SABBATISMOS (4520), a Sabbath-keeping, is used in Heb. 4:9, R.V., “a Sabbath rest,” A.V. marg., “a keeping of a Sabbath” (akin to sabbatizoµ, to keep the Sabbath, used, e.g., in Ex. 16:30, not in the N.T.); here the Sabbath-keeping is the perpetual Sabbath rest to be enjoyed uninterruptedly by believers in their fellowship with the Father and the Son, in contrast to the weekly Sabbath under the Law. Because this Sabbath rest is the rest of God Himself, 4:10, its full fruition is yet future, though believers now enter into it. In whatever way they enter into Divine rest, that which they enjoy is involved in an indissoluble relation with God.

    Moreover, had the writer of Hebrews desired to emphasize a specific Sabbath “day” for sacred worship, the word sabbaton (Sabbath day) would have been used. Instead, Hebrews 4:9 describes a daily worship experience that brings us into the “perpetual Sabbath rest to be enjoyed uninterruptedly by believers in their fellowship with the Father and the Son, in contrast to the weekly Sabbath under the Law.”

    But, again I ask, where’s the biblical evidence that the Sabbath has been “changed” from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week? Perhaps it would be easier to simply admit that there isn’t any biblical evidence, and that this “doctrine” is based solely upon tradition, conjecture, and invalid inferences?

  43. Michael Cope said,

    February 22, 2012 at 5:42 am

    RGM: In order to prove a change of days one must first acknowledge that the sabbath is still a perpetually binding moral command and second that it is positively commanded in the NT scriptures. If you will allow me some time I will continue with an exegetical approach to show you that the change of day is in fact scriptural by looking not only to the NT passages about the ‘Lord’s day’ but also the significance of the ‘eighth day’ in the OT feasts and worship. I will attempt to respond later in the day.

    Blessings,
    Michael

  44. RGM said,

    February 22, 2012 at 6:52 am

    #40. One must ask the question, Why is it that the 4th commandment is entirely abolished? Was there no general equity contained within it?

    I agree with the “general equity and shadowy figures” framework to a degree. But that’s a far cry from inferring that the Sabbath ordinance is a perpetual command that has been transferred from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week. That’s simply not a valid inference. In other words, it doesn’t necessarily follow from the “general equity” of the Sabbath command.

    Moreover, nowhere does Scripture state that such a “change” was made, which is unfathomable if the so-called first day Sabbath is such an integral command that Christians need to obey today.

    Second, Paul could not have said that we are free to “consider every day alike” (Romans 14:5) if the Sabbath observance had merely been transferred from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week. If that were the case, then we would most certainly not be free to “consider every day alike.”

    Third, Paul could not have wrote that we are not to let anyone judge us “with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day” (Colossians 2:16) if the Sabbath command were still in effect, and the day had simply been transferred from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week. If that were the case, then it would in fact be wrong not to judge those who fail to observe the first day Sabbath.

    Therefore, I would say that the “general equity” of the Sabbath command is upheld when the church follows the New Covenant practice of coming together for corporate worship on a regular basis (Hebrews 10:24-25), with “the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2) being the most obvious example, in honor of Christ’s resurrection. But even this I don’t see as being a hard and fast rule. Nowhere is the first day of the week commanded to be the day of regular worship, and Scripture explicitly states that we are free to “consider every day alike” (Romans 14:5) under the New Covenant.

  45. RGM said,

    February 22, 2012 at 7:15 am

    Hi Michael,

    I’ll be looking forward to your post. But don’t you think it’s a little strange that such an important change as the Sabbath day is so difficult to see in Scripture? Wouldn’t such a monumental alteration of God’s commandment be fairly straightforward and easy to see (such as with circumcision) if it had indeed happened? Why does it have to be “divined” from God’s word, so to speak? And why do other verses clearly state that special religious “days” have ceased under the New Covenant, specifically mentioning the abrogation of the “Sabbath day”? I’m just saying…

    Blessings,
    Roger

  46. Michael Cope said,

    February 22, 2012 at 7:48 am

    Roger: Briefly I would like to answer just one of your assertions.

    You appeal to the complexity of the doctrine to assert that it doesn’t carry any weight but I would like to point out that the doctrine of the trinity, which is dogmatic to say the least, is complex and not clearly defined in scripture as well. In fact it took approximately 400 years of councils and debates to formulate what we we now have as the doctrine of the trinity. May I ask, would you argue against it in the same manner? I would like to think not. Therefore why then do you see difficulty in adhering to a position that is not only scriptural (more on that in my later post) but also is the historic position of the church since the turn of the first century? It is interesting to note that the reformers defended, fervently, the perpetuity of the sabbath instead of finding a more ‘spiritual’ application of it. I raise this issue to simply ask you to be humble in your approach to what many reformed would consider a vital issue and prayerfully consider what God intends for us to believe and do concerning it. Until later

    Blessings,
    Michael

  47. rfwhite said,

    February 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    43 Roger Mann:

    In response to my acknowledgement of who carries the burden of proof on the matter of the change of day, you said, Ok, fine. But, if that’s the case, then why hasn’t anyone unloaded themselves of that burden and offered up any proof yet?

    I’ll only answer for myself: the reason why is simply that, in my view, it has already been done in other places by other people.

  48. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Roger: enough with the argumentative tone. I’ve pulled your comment.

  49. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Todd: the context is not specifically the preceding verses, but the whole argument the writer is making beginning in chapter 3. From that point on the whole comparison is between the ministry under Moses and the ministry under Jesus.

  50. Reed Here said,

    February 22, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Col 2:16-17: in context is not clear that Paul is denying the perpetuity of the 4th Commandment. That, to be sure, is one option (call it no. 1). Another option (no.2) is that Paul is denying the worship requirements under the Mosaic ministry, without therefore denying the keeping of a sabbath.

    Given that:

    a) the context describes food, drink, festivals, and new moon celebrations, all of which are specific to the Mosaic system of worship, and
    b) other NT passages maintain the perpetuity of the Moral Law (the 10C; Rom. 3:31; 7:25; 13:8-10; I Cor. 9:21; Gal. 5:14; Eph. 6:2-3; I John 2:3-4, 7; Rom. 3:20; 7:7-8 and I John 3:4 with Rom. 6:15),

    Using the Bible’s own hermeneutical principle (Scripture interprets Scripture), I believe the passage is teaching option no. 2.

  51. Todd said,

    February 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Reed,

    In # 49 it looks like you are arguing for a continuing Sabbath because the “rest” of Heb 4:9 is the fulfillment of the Mosaic system of Sabbath worship and rest, thus the ministry under Moses, but in # 50 it looks like you are arguing the opposite, that the weekly Sabbath does not belong to the Mosaic economy, thus cannot be included in Paul’s statement on holy days in Col 2. Can you clarify?

  52. RGM said,

    February 22, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    #47. You appeal to the complexity of the doctrine to assert that it doesn’t carry any weight but I would like to point out that the doctrine of the trinity, which is dogmatic to say the least, is complex and not clearly defined in scripture as well. In fact it took approximately 400 years of councils and debates to formulate what we we now have as the doctrine of the trinity. May I ask, would you argue against it in the same manner?

    No, but that’s because the doctrine of the Trinity has plenty of Scriptural support and is a necessary implication of the many verses which teach that there is only one God, yet the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. So I honestly don’t see a parallel between the two issues. The Sabbath supposedly being changed to the first day of the week simply doesn’t have the same sort of Scriptural or logical support.

    It is interesting to note that the reformers defended, fervently, the perpetuity of the sabbath instead of finding a more ‘spiritual’ application of it.

    Luther certainly wasn’t one of the Reformers who defended this fervently:

    “Secondly, and most especially, that on such day of rest (since we can get no other opportunity) freedom and time be taken to attend divine service, so that we come together to hear and treat of God’s and then to praise God, to sing and pray. However, this, I say, is not so restricted to any time, as with the Jews, that it must be just on this or that day; for in itself no one day is better than another; but this should indeed be done daily; however, since the masses cannot give such attendance, there must be at least one day in the week set apart. But since from of old Sunday [the Lord's Day] has been appointed for this purpose [i.e., as a matter of church tradition], we also should continue the same, in order that everything be done in harmonious order, and no one create disorder by unnecessary innovation.” (Large Catechism)

    Nor did the early Lutherans:

    “For those who judge that by the authority of the Church the observance of the Lord’s Day instead of the Sabbath-day was ordained as a thing necessary, do greatly err. Scripture has abrogated the Sabbath-day; for it teaches that, since the Gospel has been revealed, all the ceremonies of Moses can be omitted. And yet, because it was necessary to appoint a certain day, that the people might know when they ought to come together, it appears that the Church designated the Lord’s Day for this purpose; and this day seems to have been chosen all the more for this additional reason, that men might have an example of Christian liberty, and might know that the keeping neither of the Sabbath nor of any other day is necessary.” (Augsburg Confession, 1530)

    Anyway, I’ll wait to read your entire argument before passing judgment.

  53. RGM said,

    February 22, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    #49. Roger: enough with the argumentative tone. I’ve pulled your comment.

    Reed, you falsely accuse me of being “condescending and a tad obnoxious,” and then you pull my response, which was perfectly reasonable. And now you say that I’m the one with an “argumentative tone”? Fine, this will be my last post here…

  54. Michael Cope said,

    February 22, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Roger: As I am still working on my response I will keep this brief as well.

    Firstly, you said, “I honestly don’t see a parallel between the two issues. (trinity and sabbath)” The parallel is simply this: that both doctrines formulations are not derived from only explicit passages of scripture but are the consequence of necessary inference. (Even though in my mind Heb. 4:9 makes a pretty explicit case!)

    Secondly, you assert that “because the doctrine of the Trinity has plenty of Scriptural support and is a necessary implication of the many verses” and “The Sabbath supposedly being changed to the first day of the week simply doesn’t have the same sort of Scriptural or logical support.” that it cannot be true. Let me ask you: How many verses are required to form a doctrine? Three? Five? Twenty? At the very least, you have been shown numerous passages of scripture that affirm the perpetuity of the sabbath (albeit with a change of days). At what point do you draw the line to say this is enough “proof” and this is not? This is only food for thought and I will look forward to dialoguing more after I post my response to my previous post.

    In light of your final comment I would like to extend the offer to continue this conversation elsewhere if you feel the need to refrain from posting so as to avoid any sinful interactions. You can contact me by email at: michael.cope2@gmail.com if you are interested. Blessings, Brother.

    Michael

  55. Roy said,

    February 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Roger (RGM) made a number of assertions. One of them (in #s 12,14,24 and assumed in a number of other posts) was that Col 2 proves the 4th C is no longer binding. Reed responded in #s 35, 50. Reed’s response, while correct and not getting any interaction from Roger, was pretty packed and cryptic. Below I fill in some of the details.

    I intend to utterly remove any debate about using Col 2 against the continuation of the 4th C. Perhaps one can show from some other passages the 4th C no longer applies (one cannot). But one cannot use Col 2.

    First: context. Trace from ch 2:2ff. What concept does the text repeatedly stress, so much so that even without this iteration of the theme, the point stands out? Note citations of “in whom”, “in him”, “in Christ”, “with Christ”. Sure, Union with Christ (= salvation). If one has this relation, then there exists no need for the world’s philosophy (v8). The sacraments of the church portray that union (OT circumcision, v11, NT baptism v12, noting in an aside that Paul uses these as interchangeable in content contra the antipaedobaptist).
    That union means sin can no longer condemn us v13-15, that we have every reason to reject approaches that would proclaim salvation by works v 16-17, which apparently some were doing in the Colossian church (don’t eat this, don’t do that, do this, and you’ll get right with God).

    Obviously God did not intend us to think denying salvation by works meant we should ignore, say, “Thou shalt not steal”. Simply because some might misuse that command by saying those who don’t steal go to heaven does not invalidate the 8th C. Just as obviously the flow in Col 2 does not invalidate the 4th C, but the possible misuse of it.

    Putting “First” a little differently: only what Christ did can make us right with God. No works can. So OT Sabbath keeping, which one must agree God commanded, could not. But OT believers could not then ignore the Sabbath on the basis that it did not save. In the same manner, whatever Col 2:16 ref’s as something one may ignore because it does not save, that something is not the 4th C.

    Second: whatever v16’s reference to “sabbath day” means, it must in some clear fashion foreshadow what “in Christ” means in Col 2, namely salvation based upon the finished work of Christ and not on any effort of our own.(Heb 8:5 gives a parallel reference to “shadow”, telling us that the tabernacle was a hint of what would come. “Foreshadow” gives the idea in both Heb 8 or Col 2.) Thus anyone who wishes to apply Col 2:16 contra the 4th C *must* demonstrate how the 4th C foreshadows the redemptive work of Christ. I do not know of any who make that connection. Further, I assert as reasonably obvious that the 4th C clearly does not foreshadow the redemptive work of Christ. (Briefly: 1) it pictures heaven, the eternal rest, 2) gives a covenant sign in space and time of God’s invitation to join Him forever, and 3) declares His promise of that coming reality.)

    Well, what fits as a foreshadow? Essentially what one finds is that v16’strilogy “sabbath, feast day, new moon” became a sort of label for the Old Testament feast days. That summarizes the homework. Here is the homework: Lev 23 tells us that God commanded a number of feasts, some of these in association with the weekly sabbaths. Nu 28, esp v9-10, 26ff reiterate some of this. II Chr 2:4 cites “sabbaths, new moons, feasts” as does 8:13. These
    occassions, while sometimes occuring on the sabbath, did not equal or mean the same thing as the sabbath. Indeed, one can easily recognize much of their “trappings” as foreshadows of Christ’s redemptive work; they clearly involved the sacrificial system. Neh 10:33 uses the trio in this sense as does Is 1:13-14, Lam 2:6, Ez 45:17, 46:3 and Ho 2:11.

    Third: note how very well this understanding fits the argument of Col 2. Some people said “Christ plus something.” Col 2 says repeatedly, “Christ alone.” When one gets to v16ff we have a specific “plus something” listed: the Old Testament sacramental/ceremonial feasts. Col says, “Nope. Not only do those not save, they as a matter of fact pointed to that which does save. Don’t let anyone impose them on you.”

    If this were mathematics, I would write QED: I demonstrated that Col 2:16 does not refer to the present validity of the 4th C. But since it is not math, I will simply recommend that no reader misuse that reference as somehow contrary to the present validity of the 4th C. That question must find resolution elsewhere.

    member Christ PCA, Tulsa

  56. Bob S said,

    February 22, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    45 Roger

    My answer to yours would be the same as that to 7th Day Adventists.
    If the example of Christ and the apostles isn’t good enough for you, then nothing is good enough. At least that was what the Westminster divines thought, when it came to the synagogue and the change of the day. All we have is an example, not the command for the particular practice or institution.
    Two, there are sabbaths and there are sabbaths and we are after all talking about the moral law with the 4th commandment.

    cheers

  57. Cris D. said,

    February 23, 2012 at 9:54 am

    >> In the OT, the weekly Sabbath telescopes into the seventh year Sabbath for the land, which in turn telescopes into the Jubilee, a pattern of seven times seven. The last implied link is eternity. In the NT, the beginning of this eternity has erupted into time with the beginning of the Sabbath rest obtained for us by Jesus. In the NT, there are elements of “already” and “not yet” with regard to the Sabbath, just as in the OT. <<

    Just saw this line jump out at me. The telescoping works backwards now that Christ has come in the flesh. Eternity has broken through (anew) in a decisive way, and are we working the time- measurement telescoped elements backward? Eternity entered time in the incarnation, first parousia. The Christ proclaimed the Jubilee, the acceptable Year of the Lord (Luke 4:16-22)! Next on the time line is the Day of the Lord.

  58. Reed Here said,

    February 23, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Roger: thanks for your input.

  59. Reed Here said,

    February 23, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Todd: not sure where the disparity is coming from.

    The point of Hebrews is about the continuing application of the 4th commandment; there still is a day each week in which God’s people are called together to worship.

    The point from Col is that Paul is not abrogating the application of the 4th commandment. Instead, he is abrogating the application of the 4th commandment according to the terms of the Mosaic economy. Yes, there still is a sabbath day in which the NT children of God weekly enjoy a taste of the eternal rest which is pictured (the argument from Hebrews). No, that sabbath day is not to be practiced according the pattern of the OT economy (the argument of Colossians).

    These are complementary, no?

  60. Reed Here said,

    February 23, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Roy, no.55: cryptic, hmmm … and I thought I was just being simple. :) I’m at least glad you didn’t find me esoteric.

    To sum your point, would this be fair?

    Col 2:16-17 cannot be used to support the ongoing application of the 4th commandment,

    AND,

    Neither can it be used to support the cessation of the application of the 4th commandment.

    If I’ve understood you rightly, yep, that’s what I was trying to say in too few words. (Can’t wait to tell some of my folks in church; I didn’t use enough words :). They’re gonna love it, after they believe it.)

  61. Todd said,

    February 23, 2012 at 11:26 am

    Reed,

    Your ideas are complimentary when you phrase them like that. I just do not see them in the texts. Do you think that the Col. Christians, mostly Gentiles, would have understood such distinctions, that when Paul wrote that no day is holy anymore, that he was excluding the weekly Sabbath in it’s new covenant form because the Sabbath was part of God’s moral Law and now moved to Sundays? How would they come to such conclusions? In a similar vein, how did Adam know one day of every seven should not be for work? Would he know by special or general revelation?

    Thanks

  62. Roy said,

    February 23, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Reed #60: You’ve understood. Col 2 does not speak to the issue of the continuing nature of the 4th C. Period.

    I have a longer term goal in removing an appeal to Col 2 from debate. If folks opposing the 4th C see how they’ve been swindled by a false understanding of Col 2, perhaps they will wonder about the rest of their paradigm. Or maybe they will enter a discussion with more evidence of humility and willingness to think about the interchange of ideas.

    Not a shred of evidence for a day change? Lane’s essay opening this discussion tells not that the day did change, but that it simply had to change. And not to any day, but to first day. Now that’s, to borrow a word, esoteric. The 4thC, the Sabbath, remains a sign of the covenant, sealing God’s invitation to fellowship with him forever. But it has new characteristics reflecting progress in redemptive history.

    How can one not get filled with joy and excited with the outworking implications? I identify with Chris #57’s comment “this line jump(ed) out at me”.

    ps: Glad to be of service regarding your having an opportunity to tell folks you didn’t use enough words :^D

  63. Roy said,

    February 23, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Todd #61:Yes, I do think the Gentile Col Christians would have understood the distinction between the 4th C and ceremonial feast days from the OT system.

    That’s because Col 2 does not address the 4thC. But it does address the problem of folks telling the Col congregation that, while Jesus is great, they needed Jesus plus something else, namely works. One specific example of which was the feasts of the OT system. Paul says, “Nope. And, BTW, those feasts were a shadow pointing to Christ.” The implication is that now that the reality has come, the feast shadows are no longer appropriate.

    Short version of my #55.

  64. Reed Here said,

    February 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    Todd: Roy …

  65. Roy said,

    February 24, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Have just re-read Lane’s starting essay and all the subsequent posts. Lot of excellent thinking, including by some who have not yet connected dots. Humbled by the interchange of ideas. And, most of all, humbled by God’s invitation of the Sabbath.

    In that latter vein, brief comment. Most of us have sung the song taken from Ps 118: “This is the day…let us rejoice and be glad in it.” I hope those who know it have the tune resonating in their mind. OK. What day is it that the psalmist has in mind? What day excites him, fills him with praise, joy, delight?

    It bothers me that in multiple congregations nearly no folks I’ve met singing that song had pondered that question. It frosts, errr, saddens me that so many pastors don’t insist on teaching folks what they are actually singing. I hope that this is recondite rather than esoteric will motivate teaching.

    Ps 118 is just another one of those 150 messianic psalms. Skimming it, even the uninitiate easily recognize the subject and development of his story. It tells of the Messiah’s anguish, of the assaults on him, of his certainty of victory, of the hint of his defeating death. What the psalmist could at best only vaguely perceive, we now see clearly. v24, the words of the song, speak of Resurrection Day! Of course v23 described this as “wonderful in our eyes” ( wonderful rather than marvelous since the word’s root is pe lamed aleph, same as Isaiah 9:6’s “wonderful” and not merely neat-o-jet magical, but tying to God invading space and time on behalf of his people to accomplish their redemption, cf Moses, whom God tells he will execute wonders upon Egypt in order to deliver Israel). Jesus himself is wonder, wonderful in his accomplishing of a wonder!

    That beautiful song we sing praises God because of Resurrection Day, that First Day, that Eschatological Day. Not just any old day of a weekly pattern (ponder, btw, why a seven day week around the world), but first day. (Oh, the ironies of the folks singing that psalm when they have no regard at all for the 4th C.)

  66. Richard Tallach said,

    February 24, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    See Walter Chantry’s “Call the Sabbath a Delight” for his exegesis of Hebrews 3 and 4:

    There remains therefore the keeping of a Sabbath unto the (New Testament) people of God. For He that is entered into His rest, He also has ceased from His own works, as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:9-10)

  67. rfwhite said,

    February 24, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    65 Roy: what you say here reminds me that we fail fully to appreciate Christ’s resurrection and ascension if we do not recognize that in these events he entered into his rest from his redemptive work. To honor Christ’s resurrection and ascension by congregating on the first day is sabbatical in character at least insofar as we, the kingdom of priests, are testifying to the sabbath rest into which our great royal high priest has entered.

  68. rfwhite said,

    February 24, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    65 Roy: one other thing … when you mentioned our regard/disregard of the 4th command, I couldn’t help thinking how God set his beatitude on the 7th day because on it he ceased all the work he had been doing in creation. Do we not honor the first day as his resurrection and ascenscion day, as the day Jesus ceased all the work he had been doing in redemption? Are we, then, by gathering on the first day, confessing that God set his beatitude on that day in Christ?

  69. Reed Here said,

    February 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Todd: a bit more. Do I think the Gentile Christians would have understood the Jewish (Mosaic) references that I think Paul was making? Ignoring the question of make up of audience, well, I’m not Jewish and I can understand them. ;)

    More, what “new moon” celebration would the Gentile Christians think Paul was referring to? Something from their pagan background?

    More (going to Roy here), why was Paul writing about anything Jewish (Mosaic) to Gentiles in the first place? Maybe because some Judaizers (a known condition) were trying to impose Mosaic obligations on top of their Christian faith? Surely this is the best read of the text.

    Now, acknowledging you’re questioning the detail to which they were understanding what Paul meant with reference to sabbath practices:

    > Paul did not limit himself to speaking only about sabbath practices.
    >He specifically referenced what we might term “advanced” Mosaic worship practices (new moons, festivals).
    > In other words, in context, he is already talking beyond mere sabbath keeping.

    Rightly interpreting this text means to answer the question, what do all three Mosaic worship practices have in common, relevant to the point Paul is making? Mere sabbath keeping IS NOT the common denominator (back to Roy for details).

    This, plus the fact that Scripture interprets Scripture, makes it clear to us and the Colossian Christians (Gentile or otherwise) that Paul was not abrogating the 4th Commandment. He was making a different point (i.e., no requirement to maintain Mosaic sabbath practices.)

    Sincerely Todd, I’m a bit surprised at what seems like an anachronistic challenge from you. You’re not just playing devil’s advocate, are you?

  70. Roy said,

    February 24, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    rfwhite #s 67,68: All these (excellent, yea, wonderful) connections, don’t ya know, are not explicit in the text. While I’m totally persuaded they are clear, boldly on the surface, I’m also aware that others may not easily see them. A biblical theological/redemptive historical approach is not translucent.

    On the one hand the struggle over those connections remind me of what someone noted earlier, namely the church taking a while to wrap its collective mind around what it understood and believed regarding the Trinity and then put that into common language. On the other hand, the struggle reminds me of the debate between credobaptists and covenant theology.

    Both reminders make me aware simultaneously of two truths: 1) the importance of the 4th C, and, specifically, the need for clear teaching regarding it; 2) my need for patience and humility when attempting explanations of what the Bible says regarding the 4th C.

  71. Todd said,

    February 24, 2012 at 10:10 pm

    Reed,

    A couple things first. No one is denying the importance of worship and gathering with the saints, and the Lord’s Day (resurrection day) is the NT pattern for when this takes place. We discipline members who regularly refuse to attend the appointed means of grace and gathering place of edification. And no one is denying that the 4th commandment has disappeared from the earth. The question is how it is fulfilled. Even strict Sabbatarians see many ways the 4th is changed under the New Covenant. If you haven’t guessed, I am convinced of Calvin’s view of this. The 4th is fulfilled as we rest in Christ, who brought us heaven through his work. Though Sunday was a pattern established to meet because of the resurrection, we should not think that gathering on Saturdays or Mondays instead because of circumstances(the early church slaves often had to meet in the middle of the night -Monday morning, because they could not demand Sundays off from their masters) is sinful or unfaithful. As was earlier stated, both Luther and Calvin saw the 4th commandment as fulfilled differently than the later Westminster Puritans.

    In asking the question about the first Christians’ understanding of a text, I am not suggesting the answer to that question trumps all other considerations of interpretation; such as context, analogy of Scripture, etc…), but it is a helpful question. For example, you often hear reformed folk, when explaining what Paul means when he writes that we are not under the law anymore, say, “of course Paul is speaking of the ceremonial law, not the moral law and general equity of the civil law,” but are we importing later reformed formulations into an earlier era without even asking if they divided the law this way, and then we can become guilty of anachronistic thinking. Did the early Christians who Paul was writing to hold these distinctions about the Law, or in their mind was the law a unit? Does Paul ever divide the law this tripartite way? Those are not unimportant questions.

    So again, when Paul writes, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath,” when Paul writes “Sabbaths are a shadow” did the hearers hold a distinction between the Jewish special holy days and the Jewish weekly holy days, and know that Paul could not mean Jewish weekly holy days. Why not? Why wouldn’t they natural include the Jewish weekly Sabbaths? Where is the evidence elsewhere that they read the text this way or thought this way?

  72. Todd said,

    February 24, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Correction – no one is “suggesting” (not “denying”) that the 4th commandment has disappeared from the earth

  73. RGM said,

    February 25, 2012 at 2:05 am

    (Note: I changed my mind and decided to pipe in once again…)

    71. So again, when Paul writes, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath,” when Paul writes “Sabbaths are a shadow” did the hearers hold a distinction between the Jewish special holy days and the Jewish weekly holy days, and know that Paul could not mean Jewish weekly holy days. Why not? Why wouldn’t they natural include the Jewish weekly Sabbaths? Where is the evidence elsewhere that they read the text this way or thought this way?

    Excellent questions, Todd. Of course there’s nothing in the text that excludes the weekly Sabbath day of the Old Covenant. That’s simply read into the text (eisegesis) as part of a prior theological commitment. In fact, within the context, Paul clearly groups the weekly Sabbath together with the annual festivals and the monthly rituals. He does the same thing in Galatians, when he refers to “days and months and seasons and years” (Galatians 4:10). Since the text doesn’t exclude the weekly Sabbath “day,” there’s simply no justification for anyone who wants to be faithful to Scripture to do so either.

    Commenting on the Galatians passage, Calvin rightly observes:

    Ye observe days. He adduces as an instance one description of “elements,” the observance of days… Of what nature, then, was the observation which Paul reproves? It was that which would bind the conscience, by religious considerations, as if it were necessary to the worship of God, and which, as he expresses it in the Epistle to the Romans, would make a distinction between one day and another. (Romans 14:5.)

    When certain days are represented as holy in themselves, when one day is distinguished from another on religious grounds, when holy days are reckoned a part of divine worship, then days are improperly observed. The Jewish Sabbath, new moons, and other festivals, were earnestly pressed by the false apostles, because they had been appointed by the law. When we, in the present age, intake a distinction of days, we do not represent them as necessary, and thus lay a snare for the conscience; we do not reckon one day to be more holy than another; we do not make days to be the same thing with religion and the worship of God; but merely attend to the preservation of order and harmony. The observance of days among us is a free service, and void of all superstition.

    Now, Reed said earlier that Calvin wasn’t referring to the weekly Sabbath day in Colossians 2:16. But that is patently false. Commenting on the fourth commandment, Calvin writes:

    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)

    Now, lest there be any confusion about what Calvin meant by the “ceremonial part of the commandment” being abolished, he goes on to clarify that no one specific day has been appointed for Christians as “the Sabbath” under the New Covenant. He specifically rules out the notion that “the observance of one day in seven” is mandatory in this present age:

    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… 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. (French – making no other distinction between the Sunday and the Sabbath, save that the seventh day, which was kept till then, was abrogated, but that it was nevertheless necessary to keep some one day.) 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)

    Calvin calls those (such as some on this blog) who maintain that the Sabbath has been “changed” from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week “false prophets,” who teach “the gross and carnal superstition of sabbatism.” I suspect that if he were posting on this blog today, Calvin would be labeled as “condescending” and “obnoxious” and in need of a little “humility.” But I digress…

    As I mentioned before, this was also the position of the early Lutherans. Indeed, this is our Reformed heritage. It was only the later Protestants (particularly the Puritans) who reverted back to “the gross and carnal superstition of sabbatism.”

    For those who judge that by the authority of the Church the observance of the Lord’s Day instead of the Sabbath-day was ordained as a thing necessary, do greatly err. Scripture has abrogated the Sabbath-day; for it teaches that, since the Gospel has been revealed, all the ceremonies of Moses can be omitted. And yet, because it was necessary to appoint a certain day, that the people might know when they ought to come together, it appears that the Church designated the Lord’s Day for this purpose; and this day seems to have been chosen all the more for this additional reason, that men might have an example of Christian liberty, and might know that the keeping neither of the Sabbath nor of any other day is necessary. (Augsburg Confession, 1530)

    Regarding Hebrews 10:25, which has been mentioned several times now, it merely states that we are not to forsake “the assembling of ourselves together.” It has no reference to the “Sabbath” at all. The early church often met together for corporate worship every day (Acts 2:46). But that hardly means that every day is “the Sabbath.” Neither does it mean that Sunday is “the Sabbath,” even though the first day of the week was the day that the early church eventually seemed to settle upon for corporate worship (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2). Moreover, the fact Scripture explicitly states that we are free to “consider every day alike” (Romans 14:5) under the New Covenant, rules out any notion of a mandatory Sabbath still being in effect.

  74. Richard Tallach said,

    February 25, 2012 at 8:09 am

    RGM said,
    “Excellent questions, Todd. Of course there’s nothing in the text that excludes the weekly Sabbath day of the Old Covenant. That’s simply read into the text (eisegesis) as part of a prior theological commitment.”

    It’s more interpreting Scripture with Scripture. Why would a commandment which our Lord repeatedly defends and clears from Pharisaical encrustations, and expliciltly says was “made for Man” not “made for the Jews” be abolished by the Apostles under Christ’s authority?

    The spiritualisation of the commandment into resting by faith all week in Christ doesn’t hold weight because true believers have always rested by faith in Christ. The weekly Sabbath day has always involved a resting from our good words and works as part of a weekly (seven day) anticipation of the New Order, that also involves work, rest, play and worship on the six days.

    God had no bad works to rest from when He rested, and neither did Adam nor Christ, when they observed the weekly Sabbath.

    See Gaffin on “Calvin and the Sabbath”.

  75. Richard Tallach said,

    February 25, 2012 at 8:10 am

    It’s not Judaistic, but pre-Judaistic.

  76. rfwhite said,

    February 25, 2012 at 8:36 am

    70 Roy: I agree with your comments. It looks to me that a lot turns on what we count as evidence, how consistently we count it, and who must produce it and when.

  77. rfwhite said,

    February 25, 2012 at 8:42 am

    70 Roy: to state my point another way, I sometimes catch myself requiring others to produce explicit statement as evidence when, at other times, I have accepted good and necessary consequence as evidence.

  78. RGM said,

    February 25, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    74. It’s more interpreting Scripture with Scripture. Why would a commandment which our Lord repeatedly defends and clears from Pharisaical encrustations, and expliciltly says was “made for Man” not “made for the Jews” be abolished by the Apostles under Christ’s authority?

    Yes, the Sabbath was “made for man” (and Jews are men) as a type of God’s eternal rest that was secured for us by Christ. In other words, the Sabbath was a “shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:17). That’s why it has been abolished under the new covenant.

    The spiritualisation of the commandment into resting by faith all week in Christ doesn’t hold weight because true believers have always rested by faith in Christ.

    True believers are also those who have always been circumcised “in the heart” (Romans 2:28-29) by the Spirit of God. So are you now going to argue that physical circumcision could not have been abrogated under the new covenant because true believers have always been circumcised in the heart? How does that necessarily follow? It doesn’t, plain and simple. It’s faulty reasoning. Neither does it follow in regards to the abrogation of the external observance of the Sabbath command under the new covenant.

    God had no bad works to rest from when He rested, and neither did Adam nor Christ, when they observed the weekly Sabbath.

    I fail to see how that is relevant. Who claimed that entering God’s rest is only a cessation from sinful works? Adam would have truly entered God’s rest if he would have obeyed God’s law (i.e., in consequence of his good works). But Adam failed, and all mankind became sinners through him. Christ, the second Adam, entered God’s rest because He obeyed God’s law on our behalf and paid the penalty for our sin (i.e., in consequence of His good works). We now enter God’s rest through our faith in Christ’s work on our behalf. But, since we are sinners as a result of Adam’s failure, it is now a rest from our sinful works when we place our faith in Christ (we have no good works to present), through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. And since Christ, “the substance,” has now secured God’s eternal rest for His people, the external observance of the command has been abrogated.

  79. Roy said,

    February 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    Roger #73: I’m glad you changed your mind and are continuing interaction.

    Your #73 hinges on your having successfully made one identification in Col 2. If v16’s Sabbath Day means First Day/Resurrection Day gathering for corporate worship (what you called “weekly sabbath”), your argument stands. If that identification fails, your argument crumbles. Completely. Game, set, match. Checkmate.

    That identification fails. I’ve already shown you that it does (#55). You have not interacted with the explicit biblical evidence demonstrating that Col 2’s “Sabbath Day” is the third in a trilogy of feasts listed (religious festival, New Moon celebration being the first two) that were part of the OT ceremonial system, the one of which happened on the 7th day sabbath.

    Furthermore, you have not dealt with the explicit statement of v17, where, whatever the these of v16 are, Paul calls them “a shadow of the things that were to come”. Whatever you want to claim as the meaning of v16’s “Sabbath Day”, you have no, zero, zilch,zip escape from the necessity of showing it is a shadow of things to come where “the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

    The OT feasts, part of the ceremonial system fit perfectly. What you have proposed does not fit at all, not in any way. Without that fit, you cannot appeal to Col 2 for any support at all of your position.

  80. Bob S said,

    February 25, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Dunno. If we’re going to play the devil’s advocate, which in part seems to me what RGM is doing, a couple of questions necessarily follow:

    1. Is The Sabbath a creation ordinance or not? Is it abolished and fulfilled in Christ? Are the other creation ordinances, marriage and work, also fulfilled in Christ and abolished?
    2. We have Christ and the apostles’s example for meeting on the first day of the week, the Lord’s day. Is that arbitrary/mere chance/irrelevant?
    3. If typologically Christ’s resurrection on the first day of the week, fulfills our deliverance from the bondage of Egypt as per the reasons in Deut. 5 for the fourth commandment, where does that leave us? Nine commandments or has the fourth simply morphed into an evangelical call to repent, believe and rest in Christ?
    4. If we are going to denigrate later Puritanism for introducing sabbatarianism, what do we do with the Westminster Standards, a product of largely anglican divines with presbyterian/puritan sympathies?
    5. If every heretic has his text, are we putting too much weight on Col.2:16 for it to bear, contra tota scriptura?

    Inquiring minds want to know before they buy into the program.

  81. RGM said,

    February 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    70 Roy: to state my point another way, I sometimes catch myself requiring others to produce explicit statement as evidence when, at other times, I have accepted good and necessary consequence as evidence.

    I have no problem in accepting “good and necessary consequence” as proof of a biblical doctrine. The doctrine of the Trinity is a perfect example.

    But it doesn’t necessarily follow that because God imposed a physical rest on the seventh day of the week in the past, that He will do so for all time. That cannot be necessarily deduced from any passage (or passages) of Scripture.

    Nor does it necessarily follow that the physical rest on the seventh day of the week has been changed to the first day of the week simply because Christ rose from the dead on that day. That cannot be necessarily deduced from any passage (or passages) of Scripture.

    Both of those propositions are non sequiturs from a logical standpoint. They are merely unwarranted conjecture, not “good and necessary consequences” of biblical teaching.

    But it’s worse than that. We have several explicit statements from Scripture that say we are no longer to let anyone judge us on whether we keep a “Sabbath day” or not (Colossians 2:16-17), and that we are now free to consider “every day alike” (Romans 14:5; Galatians 4:10) under the new covenant. But you simply dismiss those verses as not really referring to the “Sabbath,” and press forward with a doctrine that’s built upon pure speculation and invalid inferences instead.

  82. Steve Drake said,

    February 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Bob S @ 80,

    Is The Sabbath a creation ordinance or not?

    Certainly seems so from Ex. 20: 8-11 and Ex. 31: 12-17.

    @ RGM 81,

    But it doesn’t necessarily follow that because God imposed a physical rest on the seventh day of the week in the past, that He will do so for all time.

    Do you think God is unhappy with current orthodox Jewish custom to observe the Sabbath? Are they wrong to do so? What about Messianic Jews observing a Friday evening – Saturday evening Sabbath rest?

  83. rfwhite said,

    February 25, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    81 Roger: I want to learn more about your argument. I respect your desire to be faithful to the explicit statements of Scripture and to valid inferences from Scripture. Would you allow me to ask you some questions so as to understand you better? Here’s one: do you see a relationship between death and sabbath rest? If so, would you elaborate on how you understand that relationship? If you’ve already addressed this point in your comments above, just direct me to the specific comment(s). Thanks.

  84. RGM said,

    February 25, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    79. You have not interacted with the explicit biblical evidence demonstrating that Col 2′s “Sabbath Day” is the third in a trilogy of feasts listed (religious festival, New Moon celebration being the first two) that were part of the OT ceremonial system, the one of which happened on the 7th day sabbath… Without that fit, you cannot appeal to Col 2 for any support at all of your position.

    I’ve already addressed that in post #73, explaining why you can’t simply exclude the regular weekly Sabbath day just because it doesn’t fit your preconceived theological commitment. Paul is referring to the yearly, monthly, and weekly holy days that were imposed upon the Jews — which included the regular weekly Sabbath day. The burden of proof is upon you to prove that it was excluded in Paul’s teaching. Good luck with that…

    I also quoted Calvin, who also believed that the passage included the regular weekly Sabbath day. Luther apparently interpreted it that way as well. Here’s another excellent Calvinist theologian who also sees it as including the regular weekly Sabbath day. I can’t explain it any more detail than he does…

    Ver. 16. Or of the sabbath [days], or “sabbaths”; meaning the jubilee sabbath, which was one year in fifty; and the sabbath of the land, which was one year in seven; and the seventh day sabbath, and some copies read in the singular number, “or of the sabbath”; which were all peculiar to the Jews, were never binding on the Gentiles, and to which believers in Christ, be they who they will, are by no means obliged; nor ought they to observe them, the one any more than the other; and should they be imposed upon them, they ought to reject them; and should they be judged, censured, and condemned, for so doing, they ought not to mind it…

    Ver. 17. Which are a shadow of things to come, By Christ, and under the Gospel dispensation; that is, they were types, figures, and representations of spiritual and evangelical things… The “sabbaths” were also shadows of future things; the grand sabbatical year, or the fiftieth year sabbath, or jubilee, in which liberty was proclaimed throughout the land, a general release of debts, and restoration of inheritances, prefigured the liberty we have by Christ from sin, Satan, and the law, the payment of all our debts by Christ, and the right we have through him to the heavenly and incorruptible inheritance. The seventh year sabbath, in which there was no tilling of the land, no ploughing, sowing, nor reaping, was an emblem of salvation through Christ by free grace, and not by the works of men; and the seventh day sabbath was a type of that spiritual rest we have in Christ now, and of that eternal rest we shall have with him in heaven hereafter: now these were but shadows, not real things; or did not contain the truth and substance of the things themselves, of which they were shadows; and though they were representations of divine and spiritual things, yet dark ones, they had not so much as the very image of the things; they were but shadows, and like them fleeting and passing away, and now are gone. (John Gill, Commentary on Colossians 2:16-17)

  85. RGM said,

    February 25, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    @ RGM 81, Do you think God is unhappy with current orthodox Jewish custom to observe the Sabbath? Are they wrong to do so? What about Messianic Jews observing a Friday evening – Saturday evening Sabbath rest?

    God is “unhappy” with the orthodox Jews because they refuse to acknowledge that Christ is the “substance” who fulfilled the Sabbath type and earned God’s eternal rest for them.

    I’m not sure about the Messianic Jews, however, as it depends upon their explanation for why they still observe the Sabbath. If they are simply exercising their freedom to “consider every day alike” (Romans 14:5), and continuing to honor their ancient traditions, then I suppose that’s fine. But if they believe that external Sabbath observance on the seventh day of the week is still mandatory, as Seventh-day Adventists do, then they are clearly teaching and practicing false doctrine. In principle, that applies to those who are insisting that external Sabbath observance is mandatory on the first day of the week too.

  86. RGM said,

    February 25, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    83. Would you allow me to ask you some questions so as to understand you better? Here’s one: do you see a relationship between death and sabbath rest? If so, would you elaborate on how you understand that relationship?

    Not particularly, except that after the Fall no man can enter God’s rest in the final sense until after death. We enter God’s rest now through our faith in Christ, and we enter His rest ultimately after we die and enter heaven. Obviously, Christ’s obedience to the law and death for our sins was required in order to enter God’s rest in either sense. If you’re looking for something beyond that, then you’ll have to let me know. Perhaps there’s something that I’m overlooking at the moment, that I may or may not agree with you about.

    That’s all I have time for now. If anyone else addresses something I’ve written, then I’ll have to try and respond to it later. But it’s getting difficult to respond to multiple questions that are coming quite quickly…

  87. Bob S said,

    February 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Roger, what you seem to be forgetting – and that’s to put it mildly – is that your position doesn’t necessarily follow either. You might think so, but you haven’t proved it. IOW pot, kettle, black.

    And if you don’t like all the quick questions, perhaps it might be time to slow down yourself.

    One of the latest “might” be:

    ,blockquote> But you simply dismiss those verses as not really referring to the “Sabbath,” and press forward with a doctrine that’s built upon pure speculation and invalid inferences instead.

    So far, you have a doctrine built by and large on Col.2:16, Calvin’s commentary on the same and perjorative rhetoric.

    But hey, what’s the hurry? According to you, no? we have already entered into that rest and have all the time in the world to examine the question as opposed to being rushed into necessarily agreeing with your take.

    IOW if you’re right, you need to back off.
    But if you’re wrong, you also need to back off.

    Sounds like a win-win proposition to me.

    cheers

  88. Roy said,

    February 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Roger #84: Your comment fails to show how the weekly Sabbath (of either NT or OT) is a shadow of Christ. The Sabbath in both O and NT does, indeed, foreshadow something (that, after all, is inherent in Lane’s essay opening this discussion thread as well as a number of comments in subsequent posts). In short, it foreshadows heaven (This short statement, note well, summarizes and includes everything appealed to in the quote from John Gill re v17. So much for Gill.) Sacrificial feasts, including the feasts held on the sabbath day, did foreshadow Christ’s work. But the 4h C Sabbath does not. Never did.

    I don’t exclude the weekly Sabbath from Col 2 because that would not fit my perceived theological commitment. I exclude it because, well, the text does. Absent your interaction with the specific, explicit OT passages that Paul’s trilogy of v16 references (cf my #55), I’ll maintain that conclusion as fixed.

    I agree that your #73 said that the Sabbath foreshadows Christ. But it did not show how. Saying that something is so does not make it so. No matter how often you repeat the assertion. And no matter whom you may cite as supporting the assertion.

    Regarding the latter, I’m not persuaded you have or have not accurately understood Calvin. But your understanding of Calvin has no relevance when you clearly have not understood Col 2.

    Furthermore, remember you have a second hurdle to clear. Whatever you maintain contra a present day sabbath as binding must apply, mutatis mutandis, to the OT practice. If it’s wrong to treat the First Day as set aside by God because that would be our calling one day holy, because that would be us trying to make ourselves justified by what we do, then that would mean the OT Sabbath also is wrong for the same reasons. Yet God repeatedly and explicitly commanded the latter. You’ll have to modify your reasoning.

  89. Todd said,

    February 25, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    some really good questions – let me take a stab at some. Unlike Roger I would not say to hold to a weekly Christian sabbath day is inherently legalistic or Judaic. It seems Rom 14 allows believers to treat certain days as holy if they are so convinced, and if they observe a 24 period devoted to worship and rest that in itself is not sub-Christian. Now for some of the questions:

    “Is The Sabbath a creation ordinance or not?”

    While it is clear one of the reasons for Israel’s Sabbath is God’s creation pattern, how do we know Adam observed a day of rest? How did God communicate this to Adam? And where are unbelievers (outside the Israeli theocracy) ever accused of breaking the Sabbath?

    “We have Christ and the apostles’s example for meeting on the first day of the week, the Lord’s day. Is that arbitrary/mere chance/irrelevant?”

    It is not irrelevant, it is a good pattern to commemerate the resurrection, but at the same time there is no evidence to suggest it is binding as command either.

    “If typologically Christ’s resurrection on the first day of the week, fulfills our deliverance from the bondage of Egypt as per the reasons in Deut. 5 for the fourth commandment, where does that leave us? Nine commandments or has the fourth simply morphed into an evangelical call to repent, believe and rest in Christ?”

    All the commandments undergo transformation with the coming of Christ. If the 4th is fulfilled by resting in Christ for salvation, then that is how it is fulfilled. Even the strict Sabbatarian allows a number of changes to the 4th with the coming of Christ.

    “If we are going to denigrate later Puritanism for introducing sabbatarianism, what do we do with the Westminster Standards, a product of largely anglican divines with presbyterian/puritan sympathies?”

    Disagreeing with a view does not denigrate anyone. The majority of Presbyters take exception or hold scruples to at least one statement in WCF 21, especially 21:8, so most admit the Divines went a bit too far on the Sabbath, I’m not sure how this denigrates anything.

    “If every heretic has his text, are we putting too much weight on Col.2:16 for it to bear, contra tota scriptura?”

    I don’t believe Col 2:16 is the chief text for either side, I think Romans 14 is more to the point on this issue.

    ” I agree that your #73 said that the Sabbath foreshadows Christ. But it did not show how.”

    This is a great point. Here is how I would answer this. First, if the rest of the Sabbath typified heaven, at some level it must have typified Christ, who is the way to haven. But I would argue even more that the work-rest pattern of the OT Sabbath typified the active obedience of Christ. For those who do not see a republication principle in the Law this will hold little weight, but Israel’s pattern was to work first then rest, a “do this and live” principle. The Law called for you to work to gain your rest, to do this and live. Christ the true Israel worked for our rest, he obeyed God perfectly and through faith in him for salvaton we already have entered our rest, thus the Sabbath Day was fulfilled by the work of Christ.

  90. Bob S said,

    February 25, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    Yo, Todd. Not a bad attempt, but maybe not a good one either, yet with all due respect, certainly more temperate than Roger’s.

    As regards Adam we gather/infer that God told him more than we are told explicitly. Two, the moral law/ten commandments is the republication of the law in the garden and binds all men to obedience WCF 19:1,2,5.

    The examples of Christ and the apostles might seem to be exactly that celebrating/observing of a special day that you speak of re. Rom.14, but you that consider less than required. Hmmm. Can’t say you persuaded me of your position either.

    If the 4th commandment is fulfilled and done away with in Christ, it might be considered less than moral, no? Which means it’s another strike/revision of the WS.

    Which is to say, disagreeing with the WS view on the 4th entails far more than has been dealt with here, much more it might also unravel the WS’s view of the law itself, not only the 4th.

    As for whether Col or Rom is the chief text, that is immaterial. If Rodger, you or who ever wish to take up with the WS’s view on the 4th, the best way is to begin in Genesis and start working thru all the passages and implications. I don’t see that happening, much more that Rodger even sees it as necessary in his comments, regardless if this combox is the place for such an endeavor or not.

    cheers

  91. Bob S said,

    February 25, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    FWIW.
    The Synod of Dordt, Session 164, May 17
    (from R. S. Clark’s old Hblog)

    Rules on the observation of the Sabbath, or the Lord’s Day, with the agreement of the brothers from Zeeland the following concepts were explained and approved by Doctor Professors of Divinity.

    I. In the fourth Commandment of the divine law, part is ceremonial, part is moral.

    II. The rest of the seventh day after creation was ceremonial and its rigid observation peculiarly prescribed to the Jewish people.

    III. Moral in fact, because the fixed and enduring day of the worship of God is appointed, for as much rest as is necessary for the worship of God and holy meditation of him.

    IV.With the Sabbath of the Jews having been abrogated, the Lord’s Day is solemnly sanctified by Christians.

    V. From the time of the Apostles this day was always observed in the ancient Catholic Church.

    VI. This same day is thus consecrated for divine worship, so that in it one might 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.

    Source: H.H. Kuyper, De Post-Acta of Nahandelingen van de nationale Synode van Dordrecht in 1618 en 1619 gehouden een Historische Studie (Amsterdam, 1899), 184-6.

  92. Richard Tallach said,

    February 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    RGM
    “Yes, the Sabbath was “made for man” (and Jews are men) as a type of God’s eternal rest that was secured for us by Christ. In other words, the Sabbath was a “shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:17). That’s why it has been abolished under the new covenant.”

    The Sabbath day as a type has only been fulfilled for those who have entered their eternal rest in the Heavenly Eschatalogical Kingdom. They are enjoying the fulfilment of the Sabbath and the seven day week.

    We haven’t yet entered it. We do enjoy spiritual rest in Christ by faith but we are the Church Militant, still fulfiling the Great Commision and the Creation Mandate, in a world where we do not enjoy that eternal Rest.

    Therefore there remains the keeping of a Sabbath rest each week for us in the New Testament Church.

  93. Todd said,

    February 26, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    “As regards Adam we gather/infer that God told him more than we are told explicitly.

    Bob,

    So if the moral law is the law on the heart/conscience via creation, why did God need to instruct Adam to observe it?

    “Two, the moral law/ten commandments is the republication of the law in the garden and binds all men to obedience WCF 19:1,2,5.”

    The moral law was summarily comprehended in the Ten Commandments (LC # 98). Does summarily comprehended mean every detail? Surely references to Israel, land, Egypt, etc… found in the Ten are not part of the moral law written on every man’s heart.

    “The examples of Christ and the apostles might seem to be exactly that celebrating/observing of a special day that you speak of re. Rom.14, but you that consider less than required.”

    There are examples in the NT of worshiping on Sundays… there are no examples of disallowing work on Sundays before or after worship. One can hold to the value of gathering on Sunday without seeing the entire 24 hour period as a sabbath day.

    “If the 4th commandment is fulfilled and done away with in Christ, it might be considered less than moral, no? Which means it’s another strike/revision of the WS.”

    Like I said, most Presbyters take some exception to the WCF on the Sabbath. In all my years in ministry, I have rarely if ever sat through an ordination examination where a man agreed with every statement in the WCF on the Sabbath.

    “Which is to say, disagreeing with the WS view on the 4th entails far more than has been dealt with here, much more it might also unravel the WS’s view of the law itself, not only the 4th.”

    Not agreeing with one application of the moral law does not make one an anti-nomian. There are thousands upon thousands of faithful, obedient Christians who give theirs lives in service to God who never heard of the WCS view of the Sabbath or do not agree with it. I would not want to say these saints ignore the third use of the moral law, but rather they disagree with one particular application of it.

    “As for whether Col or Rom is the chief text, that is immaterial. If Rodger, you or who ever wish to take up with the WS’s view on the 4th, the best way is to begin in Genesis and start working thru all the passages and implications. I don’t see that happening,”

    Well, this is a blog after all, not a theological paper; we can only cover so much, but what passage would you like to discuss?

  94. Martin Luthers Overlooked Practice of The Sabbath | para-DOX parABLEs said,

    February 26, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    [...] The Sabbath and Salvation History (greenbaggins.wordpress.com) [...]

  95. Reed Here said,

    February 26, 2012 at 10:17 pm

    Roger: you seem to keep missing that Calvin is arguing against the Mosaic practice of sabbath, not against the practice of sabbath keeping per se. Respectfully, I continue to demur from your misapplication of him in this regard.

    Todd: do we have positive command to keep a sabbath? I think you’ve affirmed this. I just want to be clear.

    If so, is all you are arguing against as to the day we keep it?

  96. Todd said,

    February 26, 2012 at 10:47 pm

    Reed – if you mean a 24 hour period where we are forbidden to work (usual qualifications applied) or discuss everyday matters- then no…if you mean a regular time to gather and worship – if possible on the Lord’s Day (day of his resurrection) – then yes.

    And I don’t think Roger has misunderstood Calvin. Calvin argued for a day of worship from the 4th commandment, as well as elsewhere, but this didn’t need to be one in seven days – it could be every fourth day, and it did not need to be the first day of the week, and the day was really for hearing the word preached – there was no sense in Calvin that the prohibition of work applied to the day chosen for worship…I think that is what Roger is arguing…if you read the Geneva session minutes, nobody was ever accused or admonished by Calvin for breaking the sabbath by working on Sunday afternoons, but only for regular absences from called worship services.

  97. RGM said,

    February 27, 2012 at 3:33 am

    94. Roger: you seem to keep missing that Calvin is arguing against the Mosaic practice of sabbath, not against the practice of sabbath keeping per se. Respectfully, I continue to demur from your misapplication of him in this regard.

    No, Reed, I’m not “misunderstanding” or “misapplying” Calvin in the slightest. First, there is no other weekly Sabbath observance in Scripture than “the Mosaic practice of sabbath” on the seventh day of week. That is the only weekly Sabbath observance ever commanded in Scripture, period. So if Calvin is arguing against that, then he’s ipso facto arguing against “sabbath keeping per se.”

    Second, Calvin plainly states that no one specific day (e.g., “Sunday”) has been appointed for Christians as the Sabbath, and explicitly rules out the notion that “the observance of one day in seven” is mandatory during this present age:

    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… 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. (French – making no other distinction between the Sunday and the Sabbath, save that the seventh day, which was kept till then, was abrogated, but that it was nevertheless necessary to keep some one day.) 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)

    I’m not sure how much clearly Calvin could be. Not only was he not teaching that Sunday is now the Sabbath, but he calls those who maintain that the Sabbath has merely been “changed” from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week “false prophets,” who teach “the gross and carnal superstition of sabbatism.”

  98. RGM said,

    February 27, 2012 at 5:52 am

    92. The Sabbath day as a type has only been fulfilled for those who have entered their eternal rest in the Heavenly Eschatalogical Kingdom. They are enjoying the fulfilment of the Sabbath and the seven day week. We haven’t yet entered it. We do enjoy spiritual rest in Christ by faith but we are the Church Militant, still fulfiling the Great Commision and the Creation Mandate, in a world where we do not enjoy that eternal Rest.

    According to the Apostle Paul, it was Christ Himself who fulfilled the type of the “Sabbath day”: “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17). Calvin agrees:

    “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.” (Institutes 2.8.34)

    Therefore, “in Christ” we have a true “Sabbath-rest” (Hebrews 4:9) that’s available for us “Today” (Hebrews 4:7), which we enter into through faith in Him alone: “Now we who have believed enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:3).

    Therefore there remains the keeping of a Sabbath rest each week for us in the New Testament Church.

    If a carnal “keeping of a Sabbath rest each week” is still required of us in the New Testament Church, then the Seventh-day Adventists are correct, and we should be resting and worshiping on the seventh day of the week. For, as I pointed out in my last post to Reed, the only weekly Sabbath ever commanded in Scripture is the seventh day of the week, period. You still haven’t provided a shred of biblical evidence that God “changed” the command to observe the Sabbath to the first day of the week.

    The true meaning of “sabbatismos” or “Sabbath-rest” in Hebrews 4:9 is brought out in Vine’s Greek Dictionary (emphasis mine):

    A4. SABBATISMOS (4520), a Sabbath-keeping, is used in Heb. 4:9, R.V., “a Sabbath rest,” A.V. marg., “a keeping of a Sabbath” (akin to sabbatizoµ, to keep the Sabbath, used, e.g., in Ex. 16:30, not in the N.T.); here the Sabbath-keeping is the perpetual Sabbath rest to be enjoyed uninterruptedly by believers in their fellowship with the Father and the Son, in contrast to the weekly Sabbath under the Law. Because this Sabbath rest is the rest of God Himself, 4:10, its full fruition is yet future, though believers now enter into it. In whatever way they enter into Divine rest, that which they enjoy is involved in an indissoluble relation with God.

    Moreover, had the writer of Hebrews desired to emphasize a specific Sabbath “day” for sacred worship, the word sabbaton (Sabbath day) would have been used not sabbatismos. Instead, Hebrews 4:9 describes a daily worship experience that brings us into the “perpetual Sabbath rest to be enjoyed uninterruptedly by believers in their fellowship with the Father and the Son, in contrast to the weekly Sabbath under the Law.”

  99. rfwhite said,

    February 27, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Roger: still seeking to understand your thinking … following Vine, do you affirm that the full fruition of the Sabbath rest now enjoyed by believers is yet future?

  100. RGM said,

    February 27, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    99. Roger: still seeking to understand your thinking … following Vine, do you affirm that the full fruition of the Sabbath rest now enjoyed by believers is yet future?

    Yes, I stated this in my very first post on this topic…

    12. Fourth, the author of Hebrews explicitly states that the spiritual purpose signified by the Sabbath is fulfilled in those who believe: “For we who have believed do enter that rest” (Hebrews 4:3). This is not merely a “future” rest in heaven (although it includes that), but is designated as a rest that believers enter into “Today” (vs. 7-8).

    I fully agree with what Calvin says in his commentary on Hebrews 4:9-10, which is essentially the same as what Vine said.

    9. And we may hence easily learn the difference between us and them; for though the same end is designed for both, yet they had, as added to them, external types to guide them; not so have we, nor have we indeed any need of them, for the naked truth itself is set before our eyes. Though our salvation is as yet in hope, yet as to the truth, it leads directly to heaven; nor does Christ extend his hand to us, that he may conduct us by the circuitous course of types and figures, but that he may withdraw us from the world and raise us up to heaven. Now that the Apostle separates the shadow from the substance, he did so for this reason, — because he had to do with the Jews, who were too much attached to external things.

    He draws the conclusion, that there is a sabbathizing reserved for Gods people, that is, a spiritual rest; to which God daily invites us.

    10. 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. For whatever the philosophers may have ever said of the chief good, it was nothing but cold and vain, for they confined man to himself, while it is necessary for us to go out of ourselves to find happiness. The chief good of man is nothing else but union with God; this is attained when we are formed according to him as our exemplar.

    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 self­denial. For what else is to cease from our works, but to mortify our flesh, when a man renounces himself that he may live to God? For here we must always begin, when we speak of a godly and holy life, that man being in a manner dead to himself, should allow God to live in him, that he should abstain from his own works, so as to give place to God to work. We must indeed confess, that then only is our life rightly formed when it becomes subject to God. But through inbred corruption this is never the case, until we rest from our own works; nay, such is the opposition between God’s government and our corrupt affections, that he cannot work in us until we rest. But though the completion of this rest cannot be attained in this life, yet we ought ever to strive for it. 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 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.

  101. rfwhite said,

    February 27, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Roger: thanks for the reference to that parenthetical phrase in comment 12 to the effect that there is a future “rest in heaven.” Do you see this future “rest in heaven” as pertaining to our future sabbath “rest in the intermediate state after death,” or to our future sabbath “rest in the eternal state after resurrection,” or to both sabbath rests?

  102. RGM said,

    February 27, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    I see them as two different aspects of the same Sabbath-rest that we have already entered into through our faith in Christ.

  103. rfwhite said,

    February 27, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    101 Roger: thanks for your patience. So here is what I’m taking from you so far: our present rest from our labors is a sabbath rest; our future rest from our labors after our death will be a sabbath rest; and our future rest from our labors after our resurrection will be a sabbath rest. All this sabbath rest is now and will then be true of us who believe because Christ finished his work and is now at rest from his labors at the Father’s right hand. Would you agree? Again, thanks for your forbearance.

  104. Reed Here said,

    February 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    Roger: hmm…

    Calvin in Inst. 2.8.33 says,

    If one fears superstition, there was more danger in the Jewish holy days than in the Lord’s days that Christians now keep. For, because it was expedient to overthrow superstition, the day sacred to the Jews was set aside; because it was necessary to maintain decorum, order, and peace in the church, another was appointed for that purpose.

    It appears he is affirming the keeping of a Sabbath.

    Further, my copy of the Institutes (Battles, 1960) at the beginning of 2.8.34 reads,

    And I shall not condemn Churches that have other solemn days for their meetings, provided there be no superstition.

    (emphasis added)

    Not “holding their meetings on other” as you quote above. Maybe one of us has a faulty edition. Reading Calvin in the one I have, he is NOT affirming what you are affirming.

    At the end of this section, Calvin adds,

    But we ought especially to hold to this general doctrine: that, in order to prevent religion from either perishing or declining among us, we should diligently frequent the sacred meetings, and make use of those external aids which can promote the worship of God.

    Given this, it seems more reasonable to understand Calvin to NOT BE abrogating the 4th Commandment, but instead its functioning as under the Mosaic administration. Calvin is arguing against the teaching of the Roman Catholic sacramental approach to the sabbath, to wit that is is necessary unto salvation. Calvin is not arguing against the sabbath as necessary consequent to salvation.

    You are making too much of part of what Calvin is saying.

  105. Bob S said,

    February 28, 2012 at 12:31 am

    Todd,

    So if the moral law is the law on the heart/conscience via creation, why did God need to instruct Adam to observe it?

    And your point is?

    The moral law was summarily comprehended in the Ten Commandments (LC # 98). Does summarily comprehended mean every detail? Surely references to Israel, land, Egypt, etc… found in the Ten are not part of the moral law written on every man’s heart.

    Again, your point is?

    There are examples in the NT of worshiping on Sundays… there are no examples of disallowing work on Sundays before or after worship. One can hold to the value of gathering on Sunday without seeing the entire 24 hour period as a sabbath day.

    There are no examples either way regarding work. It’s an argument from silence as opposed to what does tota scriptura say.

    Like I said, most Presbyters take some exception to the WCF on the Sabbath. In all my years in ministry, I have rarely if ever sat through an ordination examination where a man agreed with every statement in the WCF on the Sabbath.

    Again, is the 4th moral or not? That’s one of the real questions, not the icky picky details necessarily.

    Not agreeing with one application of the moral law does not make one an anti-nomian. There are thousands upon thousands of faithful, obedient Christians who give theirs lives in service to God who never heard of the WCS view of the Sabbath or do not agree with it. I would not want to say these saints ignore the third use of the moral law, but rather they disagree with one particular application of it.

    My concern would not necessarily be with anti-nomianism per se, but the system of doctrine taught in the WS and how what is being proposed might effect it.

    Well, this is a blog after all, not a theological paper; we can only cover so much, but what passage would you like to discuss?

    My point is one, Calvin is not the last word confessionally, the WS are. We all know there are differences and nuances between the two before this came up. Two, I see some tunnel vision in regard to Col. 2, Heb.4 and Rom. 14 while some questions from the larger background are ignored, such as creation, the moral law etc. To your credit, you took a shot at them.

    Thanks for your time,

  106. RGM said,

    February 28, 2012 at 4:02 am

    104. It appears he is affirming the keeping of a Sabbath… Maybe one of us has a faulty edition. Reading Calvin in the one I have, he is NOT affirming what you are affirming… You are making too much of part of what Calvin is saying.

    Reed, I never denied that Calvin viewed the Lord’s Day as having a general agreement with the substance of the fourth commandment, but only that it was not the Sabbath itself. For instance, he wrote (quoting from the Beveridge edition of the Institutes):

    It was not, however, without a reason that the early Christians substituted what we call the Lord’s day for the Sabbath [Note: The Lord’s Day is not “the Sabbath” in Calvin’s view, but was rather “substituted…for the Sabbath” by the early Christians – not by Scripture itself]. 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. The whole may be thus summed up: As the truth was delivered typically to the Jews, so it is imparted to us without figure; first, that during our whole lives we may aim at a constant rest from our own works, in order that the Lord may work in us by his Spirit; secondly that every individual, as he has opportunity, may diligently exercise himself in private, in pious meditation on the works of God, and, at the same time, that all may observe the legitimate order appointed by the Church [again, not by Scripture itself], for the hearing of the word, the administration of the sacraments, and public prayer: And, thirdly, that we may avoid oppressing those who are subject to us. (Institutes 2.8.34)

    That alone should be sufficient to demonstrate that Calvin didn’t view the Lord’s Day as the Sabbath – with the specific day merely being changed from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week. But what he goes on to say next ought to remove any doubt for the honest reader…

    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. (French – making no other distinction between the Sunday and the Sabbath, save that the seventh day, which was kept till then, was abrogated, but that it was nevertheless necessary to keep some one day.) 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. We must be careful, however, to observe the general doctrine—viz. in order that religion may neither be lost nor languish among us, we must diligently attend on our religious assemblies, and duly avail ourselves of those external aids which tend to promote the worship of God. (Institutes 2.8.34)

    As I said before, I’m not sure how much clearly Calvin could be. Not only was he not teaching that Sunday is now “the Sabbath,” but he calls those who maintain that the Sabbath has merely been “changed” from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week “false prophets,” who teach “the gross and carnal superstition of sabbatism.”

    Anyway, I honestly don’t want to go back and forth on what Calvin did or did not truly teach. Calvin is not my authority. Scripture is. So how about proving from Scripture that the fourth commandment’s prohibition for working on the seventh day of the week has been “changed” to the first day of the week? How about proving from Scripture that the Lord’s Day is the Sabbath? Where does Scripture teach that? I’m still waiting for even a shred of biblical evidence.

  107. RGM said,

    February 28, 2012 at 5:40 am

    103. rfwhite: So here is what I’m taking from you so far: our present rest from our labors is a sabbath rest; our future rest from our labors after our death will be a sabbath rest; and our future rest from our labors after our resurrection will be a sabbath rest. All this sabbath rest is now and will then be true of us who believe because Christ finished his work and is now at rest from his labors at the Father’s right hand. Would you agree?

    Yes, I would agree with that. All three are merely different phases of the true Sabbath-rest that we have already entered into by faith in Christ, who fulfilled the type of Sabbath-rest prescribed in the fourth commandment – which was rest from physical labor on the seventh day of the week.

    We are still instructed to come together for corporate worship in the New Testament (the prime example being the first day of the week), but nowhere is this described as being “the Sabbath” in Scripture. Therefore, without clear biblical evidence that “the Sabbath” was changed to the first day of the week, we have no right to teach that it has or to impose it upon fellow believers as a requirement under the new covenant.

  108. rfwhite said,

    February 28, 2012 at 8:54 am

    107 Roger: thanks. I’m getting a fuller picture of your thinking. Let me ask this: how do you view Adam and the weekly Sabbath? Did God require him to observe a weekly Sabbath? I do find an earlier, brief statement on Adam, but I don’t find your thoughts on my specific question. If you’ve already commented on this; tell me where if you have.

  109. Reed Here said,

    February 28, 2012 at 9:32 am

    Roger: you’ve made use of Calvin beyond what Calvin actually says. That has been my only point. Yes, he denies the applicability of the Jewish Sabbath. Noe, he does not deny the applicability of a “sabbath,” a day of rest from ordinary earthly concerns, instead devoted to the worship of the Lord. I.e., he affirms the continuing applicability of the moral law, specifically the 4th Commandment.

    I was only offering a corrective to your use of Calvin in support of your argument. Thanks for your clarification.

  110. February 28, 2012 at 10:17 am

    For the case that Calvin was essentially a “practical Sabbatarian” see the various pieces by John Primus and Calvin’s 34th sermon on Deuteronomy. See various resources cited in “Calvin in the Hands of the Philistines: Or Did Calvin Bowl on the Sabbath?” http://tinyurl.com/7ruqfyo .

    For the case that Calvin was perhaps more even than a practical, but a nascent Sabbatarian, see Stewart E. Lauer, “John Calvin, the Nascent Sabbatarian: A Reconsideration of Calvin’s View of Two Key Sabbath-Issues,” The Confessional Presbyterian journal volume 3 (2007) pp. 3-14, 302. Not online but issue 3 is available at http://www.cpjournal.com/.

  111. rfwhite said,

    February 28, 2012 at 11:15 am

    110 Chris C (or anyone else who wants to chime in): are you familiar with Dabney’s take on the Reformers and Sunday? If so, what do you make of his contention that the Reformers had not yet arrived at a Westminsterian view of Sunday as the Christian Sabbath, though there were material similarities that put them on what might be called a Westminsterian trajectory as they tried to steer a path away from Rome and Judaism?

  112. February 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    I haven’t read Dabney in a long time; but I think it is true that you see a lot in seed form what was fully developed in Puritanism. Dennison puts the first unambiguous Sabbatarian work at 1583 with Gervase Babington. But it goes back further by decades I think, informally taught in the Cambridge lecturing. Andrew Willet who wrote the preface to Nicholas Bownd’s work, credits learning the doctrine while at Cambridge. This is what I wrote prefacing the translation of Willet’s preface which ran in the inaugural 2005 issue of The Confessional Presbyterian journal, p. 166. (I will try to format; apologies if it blows up)

    It has been well established over the last 150 years, from the writings of James Gilfillan to James T. Dennison,2 that Pur-itan Sabbatarianism did not simply “appear” in the late 16th century with the writings of men such as William Perkins, Richard Greenham, and Nicholas Bownd, whose large work, while not the earliest, sparked the first Sabbath controversy in English literature.3 The Puritan view, in practice if not in the underlying theory, had roots in strict ideals of observing the Lord’s Day that existed at least in law even under the medieval church (Dennison, 1-32). After the Reformation, most of the statements on the fourth commandment were ambiguous as far as linking them theologically to a strictly Puritan view, but there were some initially strong statements at the beginning of Edward the Sixth’s reign by John Hooper (1548) and Hugh Latimer (1552).4 Dennison fixes the period of 1562 to 1583 as the time of “precisionizing” the Puritan doctrine of the Sabbath (Dennison, 26). By 1570, there are indications of widely held Sabbatarianism in practice out in the English countryside,5 and the incident at Paris Garden in 1583 brought forth “a national clamor for the better observance of the Lord’s day” (Dennison, 33). That same year Gervase Babington published the first unambiguous Puritan exposition of the fourth commandment.6
    On the development of the Puritan doctrine of the Sabbath, Dennison writes (Dennison, 18-19):

    … it should not be concluded that because the sources are not more explicitly strict, Sabbatarianism is nowhere to be found before 1583. Then how did it happen that, in 1583, Gervase Babington penned a statement on the fourth commandment which could have passed for a summary of Nicolas Bownd? In this writer’s opinion the answer is contained in the underground development of Puritanism via prophesyings, lecturings and the universities. One must not neglect to weigh the almost certain effect of the biblical discussions in these Puritan gatherings—discussions which undoubtedly touched on the Sabbath discussion…. Consider the fact that the following men, all of whom later expressed sentiments of a Puritan nature upon the fourth commandment, at one time attended Cambridge University, the “nursery” of Puritanism: John Knewstub, Edward Dering, William Perkins, Richard Greenham, Nicholas Bownd, John Stockwood, Philip Stubbes, Gervase Babington, William Fulke, and Andrew Willet. Furthermore, the Pur-itan lectureships and prophesyings were in full swing in the first decade of Elizabeth’s reign.

    2. James Gilfillan, The Sabbath Viewed in the Light of Reason, Revelation, and History.… (NY: American Tract Society & New York Sabbath Committee, c. 1862). James T. Dennison, The Market Day of the Soul: The Puritan Doctrine of the Sabbath in England, 1532-1700 (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2001).
    3. Nicholas Bownd, The Doctrine of the Sabbath, plainely layde forth and soundly proved (1595). The first edition was based upon sermons delivered in 1586. “We have now come to the commencement of the earliest sabbatic contest, entitled to the name, in the Christian Church.” Gilfillan, 66.
    4. See Dennison, 10-11 n33.
    5. See David S. Katz, Sabbath and Sectarianism in Seventeenth-Century England (New York: E.J. Brill, 1988) 5.
    6. Gervase Babington, A very fruitful Exposition of the Commandments (London, 1583). See Dennison, 34.

  113. February 28, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Here is a link to the text of Calvin’s 34th Sermon on Deuteronomy (courtesy of Bob Suden):

    http://tinyurl.com/6txqavs

  114. Bob S said,

    February 28, 2012 at 9:26 pm

    Thanks, Chris.
    The spam filter was impenetrable for those of us without the secret handshake.
    The reason for bringing up Calvin’s 2 sermons on the 4th is to ask is he saying the same thing or no that we are being told he is saying in the Inst. and commentaries?

  115. Reed Here said,

    February 29, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Bob: hmm … nothing in the spam/pending lately. I’ve been pretty much staying on top of it, as has Paige. Still, feel free to ask if you think something has gotten hung up, email one of us (or both): reed here at gmail dot com; paige dot britton at gmail dot com.

    If for some reason we find it necessary to decline posting a pended comment we do try to give you the courteousy of a private email.

  116. Todd said,

    February 29, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Reading Calvin’s sermon, I don’t think I can say anymore I hold to Calvin’s view because it is difficult to pin him down on this. The very fact that we even need to read a sermon to understand what he takes time to explain about the 4th commandment in the Institutes demonstrates the difficulty of finding a clear view at all from Calvin. It seems there were some internal inconsistencies in that sermon. Yet if you look at the practice of his Consistory in Geneva, there is no sense of a strong Sabbatarianism. When people choose to work Sundays and not attend sermons, Calvin’s session only insists that they attend sermons during the week. For example, John Chappon appears before the consistory:

    “”Because of the sermons. Answers that he is obedient to the gospel and does not want to drive it away and has it at heart. And that he has only three months out of the year to earn his living…And he goes willingly to the sermons, except on Sundays, but on Wednesdays he is there when he can be. And that he has not failed to go to the sermons on Wednesday except three times by accident. He was admonished to follow the sermons.” (Registers of the Consistory of Geneva in the Time of Calvin, vol. 1, pg 170).

    I could not find one example of Calvin admonishing someone how he wrongly spends time on the Lord’s Day as long as he was attending the sermons and living a Christian life, and if he could attend on different days than Sundays it was fine with the session.

    Except for small portions of history, the Reformed and Presbyterian church has always used restraint in enforcing a strict view of the Sabbath. While the rolls are littered with discipline against those who without repentance break the 7th commandment with adultery or fornication, rarely do we find discipline against those who work or play too much on a Sunday, assuming they are attending services. Maybe the church has been humble enough to see that there is not enough clear evidence in Scripture about how the 4th is fulfilled in the new covenant to prosecute in the church courts those who disagree.

  117. RGM said,

    March 1, 2012 at 6:33 am

    116. Todd: Reading Calvin’s sermon, I don’t think I can say anymore I hold to Calvin’s view because it is difficult to pin him down on this. The very fact that we even need to read a sermon to understand what he takes time to explain about the 4th commandment in the Institutes demonstrates the difficulty of finding a clear view at all from Calvin. It seems there were some internal inconsistencies in that sermon.

    I agree with that completely. Calvin definitely seems to contradict himself at times, especially on this issue. My best guess is that he changed his view regarding the Sabbath at a certain point in his life, and therefore what he wrote at different times was not always consistent. That’s why I stated earlier that “while I agree with most of what Calvin says on the Sabbath, I don’t agree with him on every point” (Post#25). I don’t rely upon any of the Reformers or the Westminster Divines on this issue. Scripture alone is my authority, period. And, so far in this debate, I haven’t seen anyone offer up a shred of biblical evidence that the Sabbath has been “changed.” As I pointed out in my last post, this is the crux of the issue that everyone seems to be dancing around or avoiding altogether…

    While we are instructed to come together for corporate worship in the New Testament (the prime example being the first day of the week, in honor of Christ’s resurrection), nowhere is this described as being “the Sabbath” in Scripture. The Sabbath is always, even after the resurrection of Christ, referred to as the seventh day of the week. Therefore, without clear biblical evidence that “the Sabbath” has been changed to the first day of the week, we have no right to teach that it has or to impose it upon fellow believers as a requirement under the new covenant.

  118. March 1, 2012 at 7:17 am

    [...] The Sabbath and Salvation History (greenbaggins.wordpress.com) [...]

  119. rfwhite said,

    March 1, 2012 at 9:07 am

    117 Roger: If/when you have a chance, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the question I asked you in 108.

    How do you view Adam and the weekly Sabbath? Did God require Adam to observe a weekly Sabbath? I do find an earlier, brief statement on Adam, but I don’t find your thoughts on my specific question. If you’ve already commented on this; tell me where if you have.

  120. Richard Tallach said,

    March 1, 2012 at 9:43 am

    “According to the Apostle Paul, it was Christ Himself who fulfilled the type of the “Sabbath day”: “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Colossians 2:16-17).”

    Has Jesus fulfilled the Sabbath in such a way that we can oblige our servants, employees and animals to work seven days a week?

    Remember that Jesus fulfilled the other nine commandments too.

  121. March 1, 2012 at 9:53 am

    [...] [...]

  122. Reed Here said,

    March 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    So Roger: would it be fair to say that the burrs in your saddle are:

    > Calling the “Lord’s Day” (the day when Christians gather in obedience to the 4th C) by it’s OT moniker, “Sabbath”?
    > Teaching that the NT has formally changed the day to which the 4th C applies, from Saturday to Sunday?

  123. Steve Drake said,

    March 1, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    rfwhite @ 119,

    How do you view Adam and the weekly Sabbath? Did God require Adam to observe a weekly Sabbath?

    This is actually quite an interesting question. Scripture doesn’t speak to it, so can we rightly infer that Adam did observe the Sabbath? I’m inclined to think that he did, but find nowhere in Scripture to support this inclination.

  124. Steve Drake said,

    March 1, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    My last sentence above in #123 might better read:

    I’m inclined to think that he did, but find nowhere in Scripture explicit support for this inclination.

    I do see implicit support from Gen. 2:2 in that God ‘rested’ on the seventh day from all His work which He had done, and can I ‘infer’ that He required Adam to rest as well? Also, Ex. 20:8-11 and Ex. 31: 15-17 seem to imply that this practice was instituted long before Moses recorded it here in these passages.

  125. Bob S said,

    March 2, 2012 at 12:35 am

    117 RGM

    The P&R essentially understand the good and necessary consequences of Scripture WCF 1:6 to be on par with your “clear biblical evidence”.

    Consequently based upon the one day in seven of creation and the example of Christ and the apostles among other things, the Westminster Assembly understood the Scripture to say that the Lord’s day is the Christian sabbath WCF 21:7,8. (Dunno. Maybe we should just throw the week out all together and go to a ten day affair).

    You disagree. Fine, but again, to try to define it as a black and white absence of “clear biblical evidence” – iow, explicit command/instruction – is to miss the point, with or without all the italicizing.

    cheers

  126. rfwhite said,

    March 2, 2012 at 11:10 am

    124 Steve Drake: for what it is worth, in his essay, “A Sabbath Rest Still Awaits the People of God,” Richard Gaffin observes that in the treatment of Gen 2.2 in Heb 4.3b-4, 6a, the author finds “not only a description of God’s rest at creation but the (eschatological) design and mandate that mankind enter and share it,” noting that “if this were not the case, the first premise in v 6 (“it remains for some to enter it”) would be without foundation.”

  127. Steve Drake said,

    March 2, 2012 at 11:45 am

    rfwhite @ 126,

    in his essay, “A Sabbath Rest Still Awaits the People of God,” Richard Gaffin…

    Is this article online anywhere? I’d like to read it.

    Thanks.

  128. rfwhite said,

    March 2, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    127 SD: I found it here:

    http://www.rts.edu/Site/Staff/rkidd/CourseMaterials/Documents/HebRev/Articles/10_Gaffin_Sabbath_Rest.pdf

    It appeared intially here:

    Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., “A Sabbath Rest Still Awaits the People of God,” in Pressing To­ward the Mark: Essays Commemorating Fifty Years of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, ed. Charles G. Dennison and Richard C. Gamble (Philadelphia: The Committee for the Historian of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, 1986), 33-51.

  129. Steve Drake said,

    March 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Hi rf,
    The link is no longer good. I even went to the rts.edu site and did a search on Gaffin. The essay in quesiton shows up, but even clicking this link gives an error.


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