Seventh day Sabbath

Discussion in 'The Lord's Day or Christian Sabbath' started by timfost, Mar 29, 2015.

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  1. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    I've been doing a bit of reading lately on the Sabbath. I am thoroughly convinced that the biblical and historical pattern for NT worship is on Sunday (resurrection day). I have a friend who pastors a Seventh Day Adventist church who obviously sees things very differently. Laying aside all of the bad theology of the SDA church, should we understand their conviction to worship on Saturday the breaking the 4th commandment? My first impulse would be to answer "no" since they still set aside 1 in 7 days as seems to be the thrust of the commandment. Again, I do not support the bad theology of the SDA and am not asking for a discussion about Ellen White.
  2. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    I just realized I may have put this in the wrong forum. Sorry, it's my first post... :)
  3. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    Moved it to The Law of God.

    Welcome to the forum. While you are getting used to things, please add a signature as shown in a link below mine.
  4. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, they are still in violation of the 4th Commandment. The Sabbath isn't arbitrary - a person can't say, "well I'm off work Wednesday so that's my sabbath."
  5. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    They're basically saying that Christ hasn't come, died and risen, and the New Testament hasn't been inaugurated by their Saturday Sabbath.

    I know they don't believe this, but that is what it means.

    Sent from my HTC Wildfire using Tapatalk 2
  6. SeanAnderson

    SeanAnderson Puritan Board Freshman

    I recently wrote the following in a blog article. The essence of it is that public worship on the first day is biblical:

  7. aadebayo

    aadebayo Puritan Board Freshman

    Excellent explanation. Thanks for explaining this
  8. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    The Lord himself has set apart his own day, and they do not keep it. Furthermore, they hold that keeping the Lord's day is the mark of the beast. So far from keeping it, they greatly blaspheme in calling that which the Lord has called holy satanic.
  9. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    Interestingly, I was reading some of Calvin's sermons on Deuteronomy and it seemed like he didn't think the day really mattered as long as it was one day in seven. I didn't really dig any further though.
  10. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    I don't know if I'd go that far... it would seem that by the same reasoning they could say that we deny the creation since we don't observe Saturday Sabbath...
  11. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    It does seem that there is a marked difference between the Continental and English reformers.
  12. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I think there are worse sins than confusion about which Day we ought to commemorate.

    SDA, with its long term dedication to the "prophetess" Ellen G. White as the fountainhead of many of their unique doctrines, has much to straighten out in their theology. That said, many SDA, whether clergy or laity, are probably safely qualified as "evangelical" today. Which is only to say that there isn't much of the Reformation left in American Christianity as a whole.

    And unless we are going to write off without consideration most of the visible, active, non-Roman church today that has some level of public commitment to biblical authority; we might want to look first at the SDA, and be thankful for as much positive as we can find there.

    They are wrong about the Day, simply put. But they encourage an honest keeping of the Day--which many other denominations with "respectable" evangelical credentials, loud commitment to biblical authority, converted membership, Bible preaching (whatever that might mean to them), big-on-Jesus, etc.--ignore, or worse.

    It's a mistake on their part. I think that's about as harsh as we want to be. In my experience, they are much harsher on those in the rest of the visible church who disagree with them. So, let's not seek to meet them at their level of condemning rhetoric.

  13. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

  14. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    The idea of an Old Creation is implied in the celebration of the beginning of the New Creation on the First Day of the week.

    I don't really know any (evangelical?) SDAs, and am not interested in condemning them for being erroneous on the particular day. I'm just talking about the meaning of celebrating the Sabbath on the Seventh Day of the Week versus the meaning of celebrating the Sabbath on the First Day of the Week - which may indeed be obscure or opaque to them.

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  15. joebonni63

    joebonni63 Puritan Board Freshman

    I did a little reading on this topic and got all kinds of weird stuff. So I went back to the Bible and got there verses.

    The early Church met on Sunday regularly.

    Acts 20:71599 Geneva Bible (GNV)

    7 [a]And the first day of the week, the disciples being come together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow, and continued the preaching unto midnight.

    Acts 20:7 Assemblies in the nighttime cannot be justly condemned, neither ought, when the cause is good.
    Acts 20:7 Word for word, the first day of the Sabbath, that is upon the Lord’s day: so that by this place, and by 1 Cor. 16:2, it is not amiss gathered, that in those days the Christians were wont to assemble themselves solemnly together upon that day.

    So if Paul was against Sunday worship why did he preach.

    1 Corinthians 16:21599 Geneva Bible (GNV)

    2 Every [a]first day of the week, let every one of you put aside by himself, and lay up as God hath prospered him, that then there be no gatherings when I come.

    1 Corinthians 16:2 Which in times past was called Sunday, but now is called the Lord’s day.
    1 Corinthians 16:2 That every man bestow, according to the ability that God hath blessed him with.

    It's clear that we meet on Sunday's and that means Sabbath on Sunday as well.
  16. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you for your replies, they have been helpful.

    Part of what I have been grappling with is trying to understand if the NT church changed the day for the purpose of church order or because there was intrinsic sanctity in the day itself. Calvin repeatedly condemns the "superstitious" keeping of the day. I tend to agree with him that there is no inherent sanctity in the day itself since "the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath." This is certainly not to suggest that the 4th commandment was abolished our somehow fulfilled in a way that it is no longer applicable to the NT church, but on the contrary, we need a day to put aside and dedicate to the worship of God that is different from all other days.

    In this way, I certainly wouldn't say that as long as someone keeps one in seven days-- whatever day happens to be convenient in a given week-- they are obeying the commandment. However, should we also be careful not to be superstitious about getting the right day? If the commandment is commanding us to keep a particular day because it is an intrinsically holy day, should we start at sundown Saturday evening? In other words, how far do we go and are we missing the point of we go that far?
  17. SeanAnderson

    SeanAnderson Puritan Board Freshman

    I don't think we can be superstitious about getting the right day when we have a clear example of first-day public worship in apostolic practice. We should follow it.
  18. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    The apostles did nothing - especially celebrate the Sabbath on another day - without a word or revelation from Christ.
  19. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    I certainly agree! I am in no way challenging what the apostles did and why they did it. I think we should certainly worship on Sunday. All I am wondering is this: could we be putting too much emphasis on the sanctity of a particular day to call it sin for the Seventh-day Adventists to celebrate on Saturday when they are conscience bound to do so? Might Romans 14 help us with this?
  20. PaulMc

    PaulMc Puritan Board Freshman

    John Owen in his commentary on Hebrews excellently sets forth the teaching of the change of the Sabbath day from Saturday to the first day of the week, from Heb 4:9-10.
    The crux of it is that as the OT Sabbath relates to God resting on the seventh day of the original creation, so now we commemorate the new creation on the same day that Jesus Christ "entered into his rest…[and] ceased from his own works" (v.10), which was in his rising from the dead on the first day of the week. So there remains still a "sabbath-keeping" to the people of God (v.9).
  21. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I think Rom.14 does have something to say to us in this situation. But frank error is still sin, even when it is conscientiously pursued. Nor is the SDA situation a precise parallel to the one in which Paul gives "weaker brother" guidance to Christians in Roman and Corinth. But still, there is weakness there (as we might define it), and the need for we who are "strong" (as we see the divided situation) to patiently treat with those who disagree. Are we kind to those who disagree with us on Baptism? Then that should be a model for other situations also.

    The argument for the first day as the proper Sabbath for this age forged ahead (we think, in the right direction) from where Calvin and company brought us. Calvin was reluctant to admit of the first-day Sabbath as wholly of divine institution, even as the OT Sabbath was. There remained to the age of Reformed scholasticism the duty of a full working out of all the implications of the 4th Commandment, the untangling of a proper reverence for the day from capture by superstitions similar to those that in Jesus' day were obscuring the proper keeping of the Sabbath then.

    Christ appointed the weekday (the first) on which he was to be regularly, weekly met in worship. That much we have been convinced of from Scripture. Therefore, to choose one's own day, or to go back to the Old Covenant appointment is sinful, either by way of indifference or ignorance. SDA is wrong, albeit conscience-bound. But, as I said previously, I can think of much worse error for people to fall in. There are truly awful things people are doing in Sunday-worship, that a staid, evangelical Saturday-observing SDA would not be guilty of.

    By offering this measure of toleration to the SDA, I'm not saying they are "just fine" in their error. I'm saying that if the SDA (or more likely, particular members) were to change (and so fundamentally) their conviction, we know from the start it would have to be Holy Spirit's work. And, I think that since we ourselves plead for others to tolerate our blindnesses (whatever they may be; if we knew them, we would not be blind therein), while they recognize the measure of truth we confess and practice; equally, we should bear with the SDA considering more those salvageable aspects of their faith and practice.
  22. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you, Bruce, for your thoughtful words. It had been helpful and I will continue to consider them. The whole Sabbath conversation is new for me as I spent many years thinking that the 4th commandment was somehow fulfilled and we didn't have to distinguish Sunday from the other days of the week except that we go to church that day. It has been tremendously encouraging to me to consider the meaning of this commandment and change how I interact with the Lord's Day.

    Question: how do you interact with Col. 2:16 in relation to this conversation? (That is certainly an open question to anyone else on the forum as well...)

  23. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    The question of substance is whether Paul means by "Sabbath" in that sentence anything in particular relating to the Sabbath of the 4th (moral) commandment.

    The word "Sabbath" is applied in the OT, in particular applied respecting the (whole) Law, to more than merely the 7th-day Sabbath. It was applied to the day of Atonement, always the tenth day of the seventh month, and applied to the seventh year in the Sabbatical cycle. From the description of the restrictions applied to the Day of Atonement (see Lev.23:27-32), when we note that other days contained similar restrictions on work (e.g. the day of Pentecost), it is clear that "Sabbath" is a term that takes on a broad description, with special application to the ceremonial rests ordained in the Law of Moses.

    In Col.2:16, does Paul mean "Sabbaths" in a broad or a narrow sense? In a ceremonial or a moral sense? When we observe the use of the whole phrase, "...with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath," as it is found elsewhere in the OT (1Chr.23:31; 2Chr.2:4; 8:13; 31:3; Hos.2:11; Ezk.45:17; Neh.10:33), it is presented as a catch-all phrase for the totality of the ceremonial life of the holy nation.

    I judge Paul, in the context, to be occupied wholly with delivering the Christian church in Colosse (and everywhere else) from the burden of Israelite ceremonies, including all such ceremonies as were tied to the old 7th-day Sabbath, and all other calendar restrictions and duties that went by the name of "Sabbath." But this deliverance has no impact upon the moral obligation of the 4th commandment. The moral obligations are as old as Gen.2:3, thousands of years older than Moses and his law. They are as fundamental as prohibitions on murder, which were certainly in force before Gen.4:8.

    In short, Paul does not say, "Let no one pass judgment on you in moral questions." Nothing could be plainer--that simple, moral Sabbath observance predates the giving of the Law with all its ceremonies, Ex.20ff--than the Israelites' practice in regard to the manna, Ex.16.

    Hope this is helpful.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2015
  24. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Bruce, thank you! This has been very, very helpful! I have a couple more questions if I may.

    1. The fourth commandment does not set a day to be observed, but rather how the day is to be observed. I'm still having a little bit of trouble saying that to get the day wrong is sinful when the commandment seems to be focused more on how the day is to be observed. Are we supposed to look for another commandment as to which day is to be observed? Could it be that Christ and the apostles set the new day for the purpose of church order, rather than as an inherent part of the commandment?

    2. What part of the fourth commandment is ceremonial and what part moral?

    Thanks again!
  25. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    None (no part is ceremonial). (if I may; this is a key dispute in Puritan sabbatarian literature).
    As to the first question, think of it in the terms of the second commandment. Both set forth a general principle (the Lord sets apart 1 day in seven for His worship, He only accepts worship He prescribes), yet the specifics are changed in the NT (first for seventh day by; bloodless sacraments for bloody sacrifices, etc.). It would be just as sinful to be wrong about what day is the Lord's day as to institute some new sacrament or alter one of the two ordained even though neither of these is specifically verbatim addressed in the two commandments.
  26. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior


    Thanks for your response. I understand there are some strong opinions in this area. I appreciate your position but am inclined to disagree, though I am still not solidly on one "side" or the other, hence the questions. :)

    1. In regards to the ceremonial aspect of the law, I think one can make a very good case from Col. 2:16 that there is a ceremonial OT application to the 4th commandment is distinguished from the moral. The sequence of feasts, New moons and Sabbaths seems to indicate a annual, monthly, weekly sequence. This is further bolstered by the usage of the sequence in the OT, especially in Ez. 46:1-12 and Amos 8:5, although both of these passages omit the feasts (Bruce listed a number of the other passages that include feasts).

    As far as God accepting only the worship He prescribes... I think we should always worship His as He prescribes. To say that He only accepts that kind of worship, I feel a little less comfortable with, although I may simply be misunderstanding your meaning. All of our worship is tainted by sin and is only accepted through Jesus as He is our Mediator. I think God is most concerned with the heart. Because of this, I think God often accepts worship that is not exactly as prescribed because He searches the heart. Let me reiterate, though: we should be very concerned that we worship Him as He prescribes because we desire to please Him and obey Him.

    However... I am very open to bring wrong. Again, this is all fairly new territory for me.
  27. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I don't know if you need much other than Chris' response.

    The Confessed doctrine of the Presbyterians:
    WCF 21.7 Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day
    VII. As it is of the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lord's Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath.​

    As Chris stated, the 4C stands with and after the 2C; which former teaches us to expect that God should be precise on the question, since it is his worship that is under discussion.

    But, in fact the 4C--being a summary of God's ubiquitous moral law, yet for Israel on that occasion--it did specify the Old Covenant day when it states that among them called of God: "...the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God." So far from being a thing indifferent (adiaphoron), it is proved consistent to the regulative principle: that where worship is concerned, we are to give God all that he asks, and only that which he asks.

    God set the day on which he called his people to sacred assembly before him.

    And therefore, IF the day may be changed (being a positive aspect of the law), ONLY God has the authority to change it. He HAS changed it; therefore we continue to keep the moral command according to HOW he directs (as with all other essentials of worship: Word, sacrament, and prayer).

    No, it is not the case that the apostles had any part in designating the day, as if their concern for order was paramount. Nor is it the case that Christ makes a "suggestion" out of the same concern. The Apostles were together quite a bit between the Lord's death and Pentecost. Now whenever the Day is noted when Christ (that is, when GOD) met with the disciples--with the exception of the day of Ascension--it was the First Day. After the Ascension, they were meeting practically 'round the clock, and when does God (in Christ, by his Spirit) meet with them again? On the First Day, which was Pentecost. Is there a pattern here? The Reformed churches have agreed, yes; and this appears validated by the rest of the NT notices.

    Therefore, Christ, by his local minister, calls the people to worship; not by the "traditions of our fathers," not by convenience set by our culture, but by divine institution.

    By "ceremonial" we mean: specifically related to Old Covenant observances. The commandment itself is moral, through and through. That which was "positive" is not ceremonial as such; but rather is a specific direction as to how to keep a commandment. In other words, "ceremony" was attached to the Sabbath in the ceremonial days of the Old Covenant.

    Two commemorations are assigned to the 4C (Ex.20:11; Dt.5:15). The first is Creation, and the pattern set there (including following the 7th-day rest of God) is enjoined. The second is Redemption; in Israel's case it was being brought out of Egypt, which not-coincidentally took place on the 15th of the 1st month, by my reckoning a Sabbath day (supposing the Lord ordained the beginning of their calendar on the Sabbath, Ex.12:2, that their exodus should take place properly on that day).

    Whether that opinion be taken as the truth or not, it is indisputable that our Lord--whose lordship of his people's Sabbath is plainly asserted Mt.12:8--completed our redemption on the First Day (see Lk.9:31 for our Lord's "exodus"), and even kept the last Old Covenant Sabbath perfectly in the tomb. The "Lord's Day" (Rev.1:10) is the great day of Redemption, and our weekly commemoration of it is not only fitting to the occasion; it corresponds to Israel's second commemoration, and well marks history forward from the cross; just as the 7th day well marked history until the cross.
  28. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    I will only add to what Bruce wrote, and by way of promo, the position of Nicholas Bownd (True Doctrine of the Sabbath, Naphtali Press, forthcoming April 2015), which is that he didn't see how any of the commandments could be partly ceremonial (or more exactly how one could be and the others not and vice versa). If we are going to say the fourth commandment is partly ceremonial because of some ceremonial attachments via OT worship, we might as well say the second commandment is partly ceremonial for the same reason. So, he and most if not all Puritan writers after him rejected that the fourth commandment was partly ceremonial (and this as Bruce noted is the position of the Westminster Standards). See his discussion in the forthcoming book pp 70-81. Just prior to this Bownd notes out of Junius the positive nature of the the commandment.

    Quoad substantiam suam hac lex naturalis, etc. The substance of this |51| law is natural, and therefore it is placed in the fourth precept of the Decalogue: as that which is to be observed of all men alike. That which is natural, namely that every seventh day should be kept holy unto the Lord, still remains. Quod positum, etc. That which is positive, namely that day which was the seventh from creation should be the Sabbath or day of rest, is now changed in the Church of God.82 (82. Junii prælect. in Gen. 2:3. [In Geneseos Prælectiones (1589) 63; Opera, 2 vols. (1607; 1613) 1.27. Addressed slightly here, the moral-positive aspects of the fourth commandment are treated at greater length in later works such as the pinnacle of Puritan expositions, Daniel Cawdrey and Herbert Palmer’s Sabbatum Redivivum (part one 1645; two–four, 1652). See part 1, chapters 1–2.]
    Where we see that he makes not that day, though changed, ceremonial, but positive, that is, set down and named by the Lord from the beginning above the light of nature; instead whereof Christ has named another day, and so,the substance of the law remaining, this day is made positive in the commandment.Even as in the fifth commandment the substance of the promise was that God would bless the obedient to their governor in what place so ever they should dwell: that which was positive to the Jews was the land of Canaan, there noted; now at the coming of Christ that being taken away, the substance remains, that God will bless them in all places of the world.

    The book is on prepub sale through April 14, the day the books should complete and ship from the book maker. See Prepub offer: Sabbathum Veteris Et Novi Testamenti: or, The True Doctrine of the Sabbath | Naphtali Press
  29. timfost

    timfost Puritan Board Junior

    Thanks to you both! I realize that I wasn't very careful between distinguishing the 4th commandment as a moral law from the ceremonies. Yes, I agree, it is not correct to say that the commandment has a moral part and a ceremonial part. Would it be proper to say that there were ceremonies surrounding the observance of the 4th commandment? For example, there were (I believe) three morning and three evening sacrifices that were to be offered on the Sabbath. That was obviously done away with. If this is a proper distinction, could this be some of what Col. 2:16 is referring to?

    I anticipate speaking with this SDA friend again as this issue is very important to them. The first time we talked about it, I honestly hadn't even thought much about it. Also, my church subscribes to the Three Forms of Unity, which do not get into very much detail about the Sabbath.

    One of the things that the SDA church runs with is that regardless of Christ's appearing on the 1st day of the week or His resurrection, there is no express command that changes the day or makes an explicit correlation between these events and the change of the day. Admittedly, it seems that the correlations that we make are in part based in assumption (that Christ's appearing indicates a change of day), practice (Acts. 20, 1 Cor. 16) and history (early/apocryphal writings, etc.). Honestly, though I agree with the day change, I get a little uneasy to think of it as sinful since there is no express commandment and the NT's somewhat silent approach to the issue. However, I am more than likely missing something due to the many reformers who felt clearer about it than I do...
  30. Pantocrator

    Pantocrator Puritan Board Freshman

    Since the Jews counted days from evening to evening instead of from morning to morning, "the first day of the week" in Acts 20:8 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 could be equivalent to our "Saturday night" instead of our "Sunday morning." In Revelation 1:10, I always interpreted "I was in the spirit on the Lord's day" to mean "I was spiritually at the day of the Lord." Even if "the Lord's day" refers to a day of worship, it could just as easily refer to the Sabbath as it could to Sunday. The New Testament never explicitly says that the Sabbath was transferred to Sunday. Ellen White insisted that the Roman Empire changed the Sabbath to Sunday, but modern Seventh Day Adventists believe the change happened much earlier, around the second century.

    I personally worship on Sunday, but I do so primarily on the basis of church tradition and Colossians 2:16-17 -- "Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink or in respect of a feast day or of a new moon or of a Sabbath day, which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is Christ's."
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