Sabbath Observance

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Joshua, Jan 1, 2006.

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  1. kevin.carroll

    kevin.carroll Puritan Board Junior

    I guess I'm not getting what you mean by "the one or the other." Let me tell you what I am getting at:

    I believe in the Sabbath. I keep it as best I can be refraining from unecessary work (and requiring it from the family), by worshipping, by doing acts of mercy, by rising early and spending extra time with the Lord. These are things that the Bible specifically teach.

    I do NOT, however, set my Sabbath observance by the clock. As far as I am concerned, Sabbath begins when I open my eyes on Sunday morning and ends when I close them on Sunday night. What I am driving at is that to add to the commandment (viz. it starts at 12:00:01 and runs through 12:00:00) by heaping regulations for obervance (like the Pharisees did) is bordering on legalism.

    I respect your desire to be safe in the keeping of the commandment, I really do. It is entirely different however to require others to submit to your (generically, not you personally) personal standards in keeping the commandment. Hence, if you feel it is sinful to flip on a football game on Sunday afternoon (and promptly pass into a coma), then don't. But if your conscience allows you to, then do.
  2. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    Not trying to be difficult here but, are the football players sinning by playing on the Lords day? If they are, your watching is sinful and advocating of their desecration of the day.

    Keep in mind, I have stumbled from time to time in this regard. This does not change the fact though......

    [Edited on 1-3-2006 by Scott Bushey]
  3. Myshkin

    Myshkin Puritan Board Freshman

    1."Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy"
    2. "A man that does not provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever"

    These two bible statements are true, obviously. But providence throws curveballs at us now and then. For those who take the Puritans view of the sabbath, how do you reconcile these two biblical principles? Not everyone has the grace that allows for a Monday through Saturday job.

    I am not asking as a challenge, I am simply asking as one who deals with this issue daily, as my conscience has been confused and almost destroyed over this very issue since joining this board. I find that those who do not
    struggle with this, assume that those who do struggle are looking for a way out of observing the sabbath properly. I am weary of those who do not struggle with this issue, because they seem to ignore God's wisdoms that says: "What do you have that ou did not receive?" The issue comes with those who do want to honor the commandment but life does nto always allow it because one is also called to provide for the family. So what is more important, proper sabbath observance or feeding oneself and ones family? The same God who calls for observance of the fourth commandment is the same God who provides the circumstances in which many believers have to work on Sunday or else they cannot get a job at all. So which is it: God's law or His providence? Obviously a false dilemma that only Ben and a few others on this board seem to realize.
  4. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    Exo 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    Exo 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
    Exo 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God
    : in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
    Exo 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

    My 2 cents: If you cannot support your family in the six remaining days, the church and congreegants should step up to the plate.......

    Act 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
    Act 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
  5. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    So, how does Romans 14 apply to the Sabbath issue?

    Is it proper for someone to view each day the same according to Romans 14?

    According to Romans 14, is it proper for me to consider Tuesday as a "sacred" day?

    If Romans 14 appears to conflict with Old Testament Jewish laws, which covenant is binding?

    According to Romans 14, is it acceptable for different Christians to eat different foods, worship on different days, etc.?

    Am I bound by the WCF, John Calvin, the Old Testament, or Romans 14?

    The Old Testament is a wonderful document. It is a treasure trove of good information about sanitation, criminal law, civil law, etc.
    Am I bound by ALL these laws?

    The sabbath day of rest is wonderful 95% of the time. Does that mean we are bound 100% of the time?

    If you honour Sunday as the Sabbath, do you avoid watching NFL football because it may require someone else to work on the Sabbath?

    Have a great day!
  6. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    Trevor said: "I am a missionary who travels much to speak. Sometimes I need to drive on Sundays. By neccessity, driving requires gas.

    Should I only travel a "new" Sabbath day's journey (which would be, I guess, the equivalent of one tank of gas),and when I run out of gas, do I sleep in a ditch so as not to make Motel 6 work?"

    I realize this is a rhetorical question, but I shall answer it anyway.

    From an Old Testament perspective, Trevor should "sleep in the ditch."

    The New Testament perspective may be different.

    The Number 2 commandment is to love your neighbour!

    Maybe "forcing" the people at Motel 6 to work on Sunday will allow these people to buy food, cars, etc. Maybe the most loving thing to do is to cause work on the Sabbathin this case.

    This action may also protect Trevor and his family. Sleeping in ditches can have traumatic consequences. It is hard to honour God after you have been mugged in a ditch.

    I seldom see the word "love" in PB posts. This word is suppose to underpin all our thinking.

    I find this board fascinating - in ways I never expected. You people are all very very well educated.

    Anyway, sorry I answered your rhetorical question, Trevor.
  7. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    My above post may be wrong.

    If Trevor travels with a pet donkey, maybe the more loving thing to do is "sleep in the ditch."

    The pet donkey could do severe damage to Motel 6 and its employees. This is not very loving.
  8. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    Then again, maybe a Man of God with a donkey might put the "proper fear of the Lord" in heathen Motel 6 employees.
  9. Jie-Huli

    Jie-Huli Puritan Board Freshman

    I do not want to get embroiled in this discussion, but I just have a quick observation. Whenever the Sabbath is discussed from any angle, it seems many people cannot help themselves from trying to make the traditional view of the Christian Sabbath seem ludicrous by pointing out all sorts of supposed contradictions and absurdities. And it is almost always the case that the polemics of anti-Sabbatarians is far more petulant and cold than anything said by the Sabbatarians.

    The position of the great Confessions, grounded, I am convinced, in the Holy Scriptures, is exceedingly reasonable and gracious, and makes due exception for any truly valid tensions there may be with other duties . . . exceptions for works of necessity and mercy.

    The hedges put up around the Sabbath (to use Mr. Pipa's imagery) are gracious and loving, and for the benefit of God's people. There is nothing inherently "legalistic" about discussing the details of the standards God sets down in His Word. To discuss the exact time we observe as the Sabbath is very practical and useful. The Sabbath quite obviously has as one of its key components the issue of time, and setting apart a time solely for the things of the Lord. This is a great joy to God's people. The specific details of how we practice the Sabbath do indeed have an implication on the spiritual benefit we receive from it, and for that reason alone (aside from the desire we have to obey God's commands), such a discussion may be quite valuable and an encouragement to many.

    I am not going to make the mistake of giving an absolute answer to a hypothetical, only to have others come back with more "details" of the hypothetical changing the nature of the question completely.

    Most of these questions, meant to make the Sabbatarian position look absurd, completely ignore the ramifications of the Biblical and Confessional exceptions for works of necessity and mercy.

    But even aside from that, the above question faces the obvious difficulty: who is it that makes the pastor's speaking schedule for him? How does he decide what his schedule for Sunday will be?

    Obviously, those serving the Lord must do so according to His precepts. No matter what perceived "need" we may see elsewhere, we know that if we are truly serving Him we will not go against His commands in the process of doing so.

    So if, in a specific situation, you do not in good conscience believe that a situation is covered by the exceptions of necessity or mercy, the clear answer is to rearrange your travel Schedule so as not to break the Sabbath, that you may be a good example to the flock.

    Our Puritan forbears certainly faced as pressing ministerial needs as ministers today, but they arranged their Schedules with a high regard for the Sabbath in mind.


  10. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    First of all, I take back the pet donkey comment. Pet donkeys should be avoided because they can be dangerous (but cute).

    We do not seem to be discussing Romans 14 much.

    I have seen a lot of words concerning Jewish Old Testament law, legalism, the WCF, John Calvin's views, and various hypotheical scenarios.

    With the exception of myself, I have seen little referance to Romans 14 or other New Testament writings.

    Can someone address my earlier questions relating to the implications of "sacred days" and Romans 14?

    What am I missing?
  11. satz

    satz Puritan Board Senior

    Henry, i am no expert on this but i would venture that a short answer to your question probably runs something like this;

    Romans 14 is discussing things that are not commanded but are optional to believers. If the observing the sabbath is commanded in scripture it thus does not have a romans 14 application at all.

    I am sure someone can come up with a more detailed answer though. :book2:
  12. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    Romans 14 says:

    "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters...

    One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike....

    So then, each of us will give account of himself to God..."

    My prayer is: Lord, please do not let my insistence on non-essential matters of sacred days cause a brother to stumble. Please do not let
    me needlessly place burdens on the shoulders of my neighbours. Life is tough enough already.

    Have a great day!
  13. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    I think we all share one opinion:

    I think that regardless of the stance on the Sabbath issue, we should make time for the Lord every day.

    In one sense we differ a lot; in another sense we share basic beliefs.
  14. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    Mark said:
    "If the observing the sabbath is commanded in scripture it thus does not have a romans 14 application at all."

    Romans 14 says:
    "One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike...."

    What does "sacred" days refer to then?

    Help me on this, please.
  15. Jie-Huli

    Jie-Huli Puritan Board Freshman

    The traditional understanding is essentially this (quoted from Matthew Henry's commentary on this verse):

    This verse is referring to Jewish holy days and festivals, not to the Lord's Day. We understand God's Word by comparing Scripture with Scripture, and since we are convinced of the lasting command of the Lord's Day by Scripture as a whole, we know that Scripture will not contradict itself here. Therefore the "observing of days" referred to is clearly something different than the Lord's Day.
  16. Jie-Huli

    Jie-Huli Puritan Board Freshman

    Not bad. I wish I could hear you speak it out loud, then I could know how your tones are coming along. Cantonese is one of the trickier languages, with about 9 tones altogether. I am much more fluent in Mandarin than Cantonese, but Mandarin only has the 4 tones. Hopefully Indonesian bahasa is not so troublesome for you. ;)

    I will not belabour the point here of what should be defined within works of mercy and necessity. I would just suggest that in order to keep in line with the reformed tradition (including the 1689 BCF, to which I assume you subscribe), you ought to frame your discussions on this issue in terms of what actions mercy and necessity require of a minister on the Sabbath, rather than seeming to go against the Sabbatarian doctrine itself.

    Again, however, I do believe a minister ought to be very careful in how he arranges his speaking/preaching schedule on the Sabbath, keeping in mind not only his own observance unto the Lord but also the example he is leaving to the flocks. A minister will obviously be very busy on the Sabbath, and I am not referring to that. But are regular long journeys on the Sabbath required of a minister? Perhaps in unique situations they might be (which would fall within the Biblical exceptions), but I think a minister ought to be slow to come to this conclusion, and should always bear in mind the Sabbath principle when making his commitments in the first place.

    I respect very much the work of missionaries, but I just do not see how the traditional Sabbath teaching is an impediment to that work. Quite the contrary, the Sabbath itself is a beautiful doctrine which the missionary's flocks will be blessed to be instructed in.

    With kind regards, I believe that the ridiculousness is imposed on the doctrine by its critics; there is nothing ridiculous about the doctrine itself, nor does it paralyse anyone from service (I am sure many strict Sabbatarians are among the busiest, most fervent servants of God occupied with his labours on the Lord's Day).

    But the principle must be lived out in practical ways, and that is why I always find it very sad for charges of "legalism" to arise every time some specific aspect of Sabbath observance is mentioned. Such discussions of practically living out the Christian life, leavened with grace and love, are exceedingly helpful to those growing in the Christian faith. The time element is not an extra-biblical addition to God's command; the command itself expressly concerns itself with time, and this is a substantive, spiritually meaningful aspect of the Sabbath command. It is not a gnat in any sense.



    [Edited on 1-4-2006 by Jie-Huli]
  17. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for you response Jie-Huli.

    With all respect to Matthew Henry, I am not convinced that "sacred" days refers to Old Testament holy days.

    I did not even know that Paul approved of Christians recognizing Jewish holy days.

    I would feel much better if you could back this up with other New Testament verses.

    I would also feel much more comfortable if someone could specifically point out 3 things:

    1) What day is COMMANDED as the "day of rest" or "sacred day" in the New Testament? Please quote Bible verses, not Matthew Henry.

    2) What is and is not allowed on holy days?

    - can I work if I perform a non-essential services

    I believe the WCF would say no.
    (There goes my NFL career. At 155 lbs. and 44 years of age, I thought I had potential)

    - can I cause others to work

    Now I can not watch football, go to McDonalds, use my phone, etc.
    I do not want to cause others to stumble by buying a Big Mac. That would not be loving AND in direct opposition to the Bible.

    3) How can I avoid being a hypocrite?
  18. Jie-Huli

    Jie-Huli Puritan Board Freshman


    These questions, while not particularly difficult, would take more time to answer than I have right now. That is why you have been encouraged to read the specific detailed treatments on the Sabbath by such men as Joseph Pipa and Ken Gentry, which answer these questions more fully rather than posts on a message board could do.

    We do not rest on men's authority, but these men make their arguments from the Scriptures, and that is what we are convinced by; we examine what they are saying by the Scriptures to see if it is really so, and we are convinced.

    Perhaps you do not want a link to another site, but for what it is worth (perhaps someone else viewing the thread would like to read it), here is a simple but eminently practical recent treatment of the Christian Sabbath by Dr. Peter Masters of the Metropolitan Tabernacle, from the current "Sword and Trowell":


  19. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    In spite of numerous requests, no one has told me specifically what is and is not allowed on Sunday?

    Can I try out for the Dallas Cowboys, even though being a linebacker would entail Sunday work?

    Can I have a Big Mac on Sunday, even though this would contribute to a person stumbling and violating a day of rest?

    Can I drive a car, or ride a horse, on Sunday?

    Can I exercise on Sunday?

    Can I use a cell phone on Sunday?

    What does the Bible, or Matthew Henry, say about this?

    These are very basic questions that I would think most of you have considered in the past.
  20. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    Exodus 35:

    "For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death."

    There are two commandments in this passage back to back.
    1) no work on Saturday
    2) kill anyone who violates part 1

    Please please do not tell me you attempt to obey all Old Testament laws.

    That would necessitate the killings of a whole lot of college football coaches.
  21. Me Died Blue

    Me Died Blue Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    No - but certainly the Ten Commandments at the very least.
  22. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Chris:

    The Old Testament is full of wonderful laws.
    If doctors in the past centuries understood how the Biblical laws protected against infectious diseases, many millions of lives would have been extended. The Old Testament is full of God's instructions to healthy living. I think we agree on this.

    Yet, here we are. Even the people most in love with Jewish laws (you guys), openly and purposefully violate many Old Testament laws


    If you follow the ten commandments, does that mean you never work on the Sabbath or cause others to work? (No Big Macs on Sunday for Chris.)

    If you follow the ten commandments, then Saturday must be your day of rest. Am I correct?

    How do you determine what is permissible to do on the Sabbath and what is not? How much thought have you put into this question?

    Paul says something about if you follow one law, you need to follow all the laws. If you obey the 10 commandments, why would you not choose to follow the other commandments? Please provide Biblical backup in your answer.

    You know Chris, this is a surprising difficult subject. I'm not sure what to think. However, something does not smell right..
  23. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman


    The Bible is full of many many laws. Many of these laws are exceedingly harsh. Death for rebellious sons. Death to Sabbath workers, etc.

    The question I have asked for years is how do Christians determine what laws to follow - because noone wants to follow all of them?

    Possible Answer:

    Whatever you decide, if it complies with the two greatest commandments - love God and your neighbour - you will probably fare quite well.

    However, I am no theologian. Lord, forgive if I am wrong.
  24. kevin.carroll

    kevin.carroll Puritan Board Junior

    No, I think your question is legitimate. I don't agree with your conclusion however. I think this falls under Christian liberty.

    And to borrow a line from Putty (Seinfeld viewer's will get this), they are the ones going to hell! :lol:

    [Edited on 1-4-2006 by kevin.carroll]
  25. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    In Act 15, Paul says:

    "It is my judgment , therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood."

    How does this passage impact the Sabbath requirement requirement debate?

    I realize that you are all more educated then me. I am not trying to be difficult.

    However, I have great difficulty with your Sabbath requirement debate.

    The Biblical backup seems poor because you seem to be selectively pulling certain verses out of the Old Testament, yet ignoring others.

    Secondly, you are not defining what is and what is not permissible on the Sabbath. Can I work on Sunday as a QB for the Dallas Cowboys?
    Can I watch, and support, other people labour on Sunday?
  26. Henry from Canada

    Henry from Canada Puritan Board Freshman

    I think we all agree on two things:

    1) The Old Testament is a wonderful collection of books. For example, OT books written thousands of years ago seem to have a better understanding of germs and infectious diseases than most doctors from 150 years ago.

    2) We all purposefully and thoughtfully break Old Testament laws. For example, no one here will kill a person for working on the Sabbath.
  27. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    In regards to labor, is it sinful to do anything other than acts of mercy or yank your oxen out of the ditch on the sabbath?
  28. LadyFlynt

    LadyFlynt Puritan Board Doctor

    or chase down loose cows and run away buggies (hubby's done both!).

    [Edited on 1-4-2006 by LadyFlynt]
  29. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    Christ abrogated the ceremonial laws of the OT, but He never abrogated the moral laws of the OT. The Ten Commandments in particular are still in full effect.
  30. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    I agree it is difficult at points. But it is not impossible.

    Scripture requires us to make some kind of distinction. Jesus Himself said that he did not come to abolish the Law or the prophets. There are numerous moral laws of God, and He never abrogated any of them. But look at the book of Hebrews on the other hand. It makes it clear that the animal-sacrificial system was abrogated. So it could not have been part of the moral law that Jesus refrained from abolishing.

    Even if we quibble over this particular law or that particular law, I think you and I would both agree that "thou shalt not kill" is a moral law rooted in the very character of God Himself. There has never been a time on earth, and there will never be a time on earth, in which murder is OK. But the law, "don't eat pork", was not a command prior to Moses, and is no longer a command after Christ. So that law is NOT rooted in the eternal nature of God. There WAS and time when it was OK, there WAS a time when it was not OK, and there IS a time now when it is OK again.

    So, regardless of where we draw the line, we both agree that a line must be drawn. Some Scriptural commands are eternal and moral, while others are just temporary ceremonial laws.

    Regarding the Sabbath specifically, here is something interesting to note:

    The inception of the Sabbath (Genesis 2:3) came *before* even any of the other 10 commandments! In the first few chapters of Genesis, you don't see any law against killing. Nevertheless, Cain was obviously still supposed to know it was wrong to kill. You don't see any law against adultery in the first chapters of Genesis. You don't see any command against making an image of God. You don't see a command to not take the Lord's Name in vain. You don't see a command to honor your father and mother.

    Yet, even in the absence of all these commands, we recognize that they all were in effect, even in Eden.

    And yet, as important as they all are, there was one of the 10 commandments which was SO IMPORTANT to God, that He explicitly brings it into view, long before any of the others. And it is the 4th commandment!

    If God only picked 1 commandment out of the 10 to tell mankind, and chose to leave the others for later, what 1 command would He pick? Apparently, according to Genesis 2:3, it is the 4th commandment.
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