to Sabbath keepers: can you study the Bible on Sunday?

Discussion in 'Controversial Topics' started by BDB, Feb 1, 2014.

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  1. BDB

    BDB Puritan Board Freshman

    I know most everyone would agree that it is right to read the Bible on Sunday. However, my question is, can you in good conscience engage in rigorous Bible study on Sunday? Study is often more work and requires greater labor and strain than physical work or recreation, so I would be interested in hearing your views about this. If you say no, I would be curious as to where and how you draw the line.
  2. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

    Perhaps I am confused or missing the point, but how would engaging in rigorous study of God's holy word possibly be a violation of God's holy day? The Sabbath is a day for holy resting, not a total cessation of activity much less complete idleness. That being the case, how could one possibly be profaning the day by using such holy time to study the Holy Scriptures?
  3. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    "Sabbath" means literally, "cease."

    What is ceased from is the ordinary work and recreation of the other six days so that one can prioritize the worship of God, public (corporate) and private (family and individual) worship all the day. (See WCF XXI).

    That worship includes studying, memorizing, meditating on, rightly hearing, etc. the Word of God.

    It's not a day to sleep, or not do anything.
  4. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    The Sabbath is a day of resting IN the Lord. Resting in His Word seems to be quite in keeping with the Sabbath. "Take delight in the Lord on the Sabbath" Is. 58:14
  5. stephen2

    stephen2 Puritan Board Freshman

    I think its a fair question. We need to continue to remind ourselves that the reason we turn away from ordinary things is that we may delight ourselves in God... some of us spend all week studying theology, commentaries and engaged in rigorous Bible study. On Sunday we want to select reading that is going to particularly draw us to worship. Pipa's suggested reading at the end of his book is selective for that reason. Someone else might find it very beneficial to read from a systematic theology on Sunday. I choose instead to read sermons. I don't know that a rule should be made, but we ought to be asking ourselves how the activities we are engaged in serve the purposes of the day.
  6. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    As our Lord clearly stated, Lk.6:1-11, the purposes for the day cannot be divorced from the adoption or application of the day. The error of the Pharisees was their punctilious formulae for not-working (and alleged keeping thereby) a pristine Sabbath. Which "keeping" led to their denial of true acts of worship, mercy, and necessity. They turned the actual blessed resting of the day into a mindless legalism.

    Isaiah had already addressed this topic (ch.58), which Andrew mentioned above already. But I would draw your attention to other vv in that passage,
    Already, generations prior to the days of Christ, the pacific rest of grace was being turned into a forced "work" of a fast. Fasting is self-denial (of one thing, in favor of another). By its very nature, it emphasizes the limits and scarcity of time and resources. It is earth-bound. Fasting is almost the antithesis of the Sabbath-intent, which as Jesus stated was given to man particularly for his blessedness, "The Sabbath was made FOR man." The Pharisees had bypassed Isaiah's counsel. Sabbath was for them an enforced "fast" from work (and we know how they sought salvation by work!).

    We should rest from our 6-days labor on the Sabbath. This break is God's gift to us. But we should only recuperate as much as we need to, not neglecting the soul-rest we take by striving to enter into the Lord's rest, Heb.4:9-11, by means of his appointed worship opportunities.
  7. AdventTruth

    AdventTruth Puritan Board Freshman

    Are you saying Sunday is the Sabbath?
  8. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    Isn't that what you have said?

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    VII. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has 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.
    Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter XXI
  9. AdventTruth

    AdventTruth Puritan Board Freshman

    Josh and Edward....kindly give me bible text stating sabbath is now Sunday. I know what the confessions say, but that's not bible. Kindly give me biblical text. From my readings of scripture the Jewish sabbath (Friday Sundown - Saturday sundown) ended with the old/covenant. Sabbath Rest is now found in Christ. No? The seventh day sabbath pointed to Him.
  10. AdventTruth

    AdventTruth Puritan Board Freshman

    Kindly show me a verse stating this please.
  11. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    I Corinthians 16
    1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
    2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

    Acts 20
    7 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.


    Or, if you want to do it the easy way, get a German calendar. They start with Monday as the first day of the week, and show Sunday as the 7th. The common calendar design, as used in the Anglosphere is not universal worldwide.

    Compare online:
    Year 2014 Calendar
    Year 2014 Calendar
  12. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    The Westminster Standards are faithful summaries of the doctrine of Scripture to which they speak.

    Every statement and/or propositions of doctrine in them are footnoted by Scripture proofs.

    So, one place to start is study those Scripture passages.

  13. arapahoepark

    arapahoepark Puritan Board Graduate

    Might I suggest From Sabbath to Lord's Day by Jospeh Pipa. Of course the Sabbath was fulfilled in Christ, so were the Ten (or nine from your view point) Commandments. Since when do we not follow the rest of the 9? I also would like to remind you that you are promoting views not tolerated on this forum New covenant theology/progressive covenantalism/dispensationalism. I hope you are just asking for scripture proofs for more learning on the subject of the binding Sabbath from naivete; I will give you the benefit of the doubt.
  14. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    :judge:Reminder: I don't see a problem here; but just a reminder: while the PB moderators do not want to squelch honest queries and questions about the confessional (scriptural) views held by the board, advocacy of unscriptural positions or tearing down scriptural ones, will not be allowed.
  15. BDB

    BDB Puritan Board Freshman

    Honest question. 3 questions, actually:

    1) I have heard it said that the other 9 commandments are reiterated either directly or indirectly in the NT, while the Sabbath commandment is not. Can it be shown either directly or indirectly that this is so? The fact that the NT says they met "on the first day of the week" does not imply that they followed all previous Sabbath regulations on said first day. It just states they met on the first day. (Please do not default to the argument which says, "Well, the NT doesn't say we shouldn't do this/that/those things, but does that mean those commandments are no longer in effect?")

    2) On what basis is it insisted that the Sabbath is part of the moral law? The fact that God gave it with the other 9? The fact that its establishment is grounded in the Creation account? I do not necessarily disagree with that assessment, but nor do I think it entirely concrete.

    And, my most important and 3rd question: 3) If the Sabbath was part of the Moral law, why was the keeping of it not referred to prior to Moses? I understand the passage is mentioned in Genesis, but is that direct enough a reference to infer Sabbath teaching from it? All of the rest of the Moral law (the 10 commandments) is clearly seen prior to Moses in the lives and accounts of the Old Testament saints-- indeed, the Gospel itself is revealed there-- but to my (confessedly) limited knowledge, I do not know of anywhere that shows the Patriarchs and those of that era abode by the Sabbath laws, which they necessarily would have had to do, if it was part of the Moral law.

    And if someone could answer this one thought that I have, it would be much appreciated: We are taught that the Heathen intrinsically know the Moral law and do not keep it. From Genesis to Rev, they are indicted for this. Their sins are listed-- sins against the Moral law, sins against God and neighbor. But I do not know of any place in Scripture where the heathen are ever indicted for not keeping the Sabbath
    except when the ceremonial law was in place, where the surrounding nations of the children of Israel were indicted by God for not keeping all His ceremonies.

    I reckon that if the Sabbath is part of the moral law, the non-keeping of it would be listed in the nearly exhaustive lists of moral sins given in the New Testament. If it is, somewhere, I do stand corrected.

    I would appreciate any honest and sincere responses as I am desirous to learn. I was not taught the Gospel in Baptist Fundamentalism, and so it is entirely probable that my understanding of many other things is most lacking. As several of you have hastily and immediately threatened to not tolerate, I assure you I am not trying to tear down the confessions-- just to understand the whole light of Scripture.

    (Also, if it would not be too much to ask, direct answers would be much more a blessing than being referred to the confessions and to various books, which at best answer my specific questions only indirectly, and that only after much searching.)
  16. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritan Board Doctor

    With limited time at the moment,
    the short answer is all ten commandments are reiterated, directly or indirectly in the New Testament.
    But really, why would command 4 logically, biblically, why would it be picked out to be abrogated while 1-3 and 5-10 are not? Wouldn't logically, reasonably, it be required to have explicit statement it doesn't apply? And since God's Word is His revealed will, wouldn't we expect at least an implicit reason as to why mankind is no longer to work six and cease one, as God did at Creation, even before the Ten Commandments were given on Sinai?

    This would be helpful,
    1) First study the WCF and Scripture proofs regarding this doctrine:

    2) Purchase "The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes," GI Williamson and see the discussion of this topic:

    3) Read GI Williamson's paper on the subject:

    4) Read, The Lord's Day, by Joseph Pipa

    5) Then ask, has our generation, neurotically obsessed with money and entertaining itself every day, been possessed with greater spiritual insight than the witness of church history through the centuries in arguing only one of the ten commandments, number nine does not apply? And somehow, God's example at Creation no longer applies to us.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
  17. BDB

    BDB Puritan Board Freshman

    The same could be said as to "why would we pick out the command to not sow two kinds of seed, or wear mixed fabrics, and abrogate that?" The scripture does not clearly state that as ceremonial.

    There seems to be this idea that the 10 commandments are somehow more important or weightier than God's other commandments, which is not Scriptural in the least. In fact, the commandments the Lord said were greatest are given in Deuteronomy, not Exodus.

  18. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    Ben, I sent you a PM, could you answer please, I'm trying to help.
  19. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    Ben, I recall MacArthur making a similar statement: that all the commandments are repeated except remembering the Sabbath, therefore we don't keep it any more. This comes from dispensational thinking, which basically says there is a clean break and everything prior to Christ is gone, unless specifically kept. A Reformed believer would say everything remains in effect unless abrogated: Jesus doesn't need to "republish" anything.

    A helpful point for me was to remember that regardless, the institution of the Sabbath was not originally from Moses anyway, it was instituted by God at creation, along with marriage for example. It's not part of the ceremonial law.
  20. BDB

    BDB Puritan Board Freshman

    So you believe Hebrews 4 is talking about the literal day, rather than Christ? It specifically says Jesus did NOT give them rest in the OT Sabbath. Heb 4:8. So how are we to "rest" in that which gave them no rest?

    I appreciate your aggression and your "in-your-face" attitude in labeling things fallacious, foolishness, and below elementary-level understanding. I appreciate your zeal, even though it seems intended to be slightly demeaning to me.
  21. BDB

    BDB Puritan Board Freshman

    What then would you say of our Scriptural, God-given right to own slaves? It is nowhere abrogated.

    What then of, say, Exodus 21:20-21, where a premature birth due to a scuffle is to be reimbursed by whatever amount of money the husband/father wants? It is nowhere abrogated.

    Both of these are clearly moral issues, and nowhere abrogated, and yet I think we would both understand their alteration.

    I believe this thinking can lead to problems.
  22. BDB

    BDB Puritan Board Freshman

    This is impossible, because the day in question, the Sabbath in question, is referred to as "today" in verse 7. If your interpretation were correct, it would necessarily have to be referred to as "this sunday" or "Next sunday," because if "Today" happened to not be the Lord's Day, then the statement would be false and the promise would be vain and empty.

    Furthermore, the rest we are to strive to enter, and the obedience we are to avoid, is not the lack of keeping the sabbath. That is clear from verse 11. The rest we are to strive to enter is "belief," because the disobedience in which they fell was "unbelief," as was clearly stated by the writer in verse 2.

    I do make the distinction. :) Perhaps I misunderstood your vehement reaction against beliefs I nowhere claimed to possess. I apologize if my statements led you to the inference that I hold to dispensationalism or the idea that God MUST repeat something for it to still stand. My entire point is that, given that God DID repeat MANY things, the fact that He omitted certain things from His repetition thereof, may or may not be significant.
  23. BDB

    BDB Puritan Board Freshman

    Furthermore, if Hebrews 4 refers to a literal one-day-per-week, then the statement of verse 3 "For we who have believed enter that rest," would not be accurate, because, believing does not necessarily preclude you from working on the Sabbath. Indeed, believers might sin on the Sabbath and not rest-- so how can believing be equated to entering the rest? Indeed, if I first believed on a Wednesday, how could I have "entered the rest" when the Rest only refers to the Lord's day, which has not yet come to pass?

    You stated explicitly that the Sabbath does not typify Christ, but the statement "we who have believed enter into a Certain Day of the Week" is the logical end result if the Sabbath indeed doesn't typify Christ.

    Note: I am not saying that the Sabbath laws from the Old Testament do not still apply. It well may. My entire point here is that this particular Scripture is demolished if you make Hebrews 4 refer to a day out of the week. So the case for the Sabbath cannot be made from Hebrews 4, for all the above mentioned reasoning.
  24. Logan

    Logan Puritan Board Junior

    John Owen begs to differ :)
  25. BDB

    BDB Puritan Board Freshman

    The link doesn't work. =/

    I agree with everything I've read that John Owen has written (except where he says the grace of Christ is not necessarily infinite... whatever that means) but this is not to say he was right on everything.

    I don't know what he said on this passage, but the simple reading of Hebrews 4 tells you that the passage does not make sense if you substitute "Sabbath Day" for the word "Rest." It must refer or typify Christ in some way or it is entirely incoherent. And so, the main point, at least, must be Rest in Christ.
  26. NaphtaliPress

    NaphtaliPress Administrator Staff Member

    The link works fine.
  27. Reformed Covenanter

    Reformed Covenanter Puritan Board Doctor

  28. kodos

    kodos Puritan Board Junior

    First, a quick proof of the moral nature of the 4th Commandment:
    If a company or a government mandated that its people were mandated to work 7 days a week - I do think that people (in their outrage!) would realize the moral nature of this commandment. Most especially Church Officers, as suddenly its leaders would be very concerned about their ability to draw worshipers to church. ;)

    That said, there are a lot of different aspects of this that are being discussed here. I will merely chime in regarding the ceremonial vs. moral nature of the 4th Commandment. Dabney has a very convincing proof on the difference between ceremonial laws and the moral nature of the Sabbath.

    In addition, you see its observance in Exodus 16:23 before the giving of the Law (in tangible form) on Sinai. You see how the Lord God set apart one day in seven at Creation. You see, our Lord Jesus Christ being proclaimed, "Lord of the Sabbath". If Paul had meant to rescind the keeping of one day in seven as set apart to the Lord, I would argue that we would have as many epistles dedicated to this new doctrine as you would have had with aspects of the ceremonial system that are being discussed in the NT Epistles for instance regarding circumcision. This is why the Reformed have stressed continuity rather than discontinuity between the Testaments. They are not two separate books, but one Bible and one People of God. As others mentioned, it has become popular as of late to treat them as two different religions thanks to the recent rise of Dispensationalists and New Covenant Theology folks. But we want to see that we share the same faith as our fathers in the Old Testament.

    In addition, by spiritualizing the 4th Commandment as "rest in Christ", I would argue that you argue too much for men as "spirits" and not also "bodies". Physical rest is also a component of the 4th Commandment, as is the Spiritual Nature. To force people to work 7 days a week if this is now moral in the New Covenant, is less gracious than the Old. You also pit man's spirit against his body. It is in no way, compassionate.
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
  29. BDB

    BDB Puritan Board Freshman

    It does.

    Owen says David's reference to the Sabbath in the Psalm quoted "Today, if you hear his voice," refers to Christ, and Hebrews 4 refers to Christ.

    I'll read on later and see whether he infers, despite a primary reference to Christ as our Sabbath (typified by the Sabbath), a Lord's Day Sabbath is to be established, but by Owen's own words, it primarily refers to Christ, and his establishment of the observance of the 7th day Sabbath from this passage is at most an inference.
  30. BDB

    BDB Puritan Board Freshman


    Thank you. That is the best reasoning I've read thus far. I'll have to consider and think through it.
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