Why don't we kill those who break the Sabbath today?

Discussion in 'Defending the Faith' started by Bookmeister, Dec 9, 2011.

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  1. Zach

    Zach Puritan Board Junior

    “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you." (Exodus 20:8-12 ESV)


    “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
    from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
    and call the Sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the LORD honorable;
    if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
    then you shall take delight in the LORD,
    and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
    I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
    for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
    (Isaiah 58:13-14 ESV)

    These are the two key texts in my understanding of the Sabbath. In the first, from the Ten Commandments, we see the Universal Moral Law of Sabbath keeping which continues to this day. It is a call to keep the day holy. In Isaiah 58 we see examples of how Israel was not keeping the day holy. What is amazing though, and I experienced this when I began to try to keep the Sabbath, when we keep the Sabbath holy, resting in Christ, we will begin to take delight in the Lord. Like I said, I now have learned to love the Sabbath day far more than I enjoy doing my homework, errands, or football. Seriously brother, I can't recommend enough Dr. Pipa's book.
  2. RobertPGH1981

    RobertPGH1981 Puritan Board Freshman

    You see this isn't my stance alone, my church as a whole conforms to what I said above. A few months ago this topic was brought up and my church was split on it completely. I will need to follow up with my pastor to better understand how he views this topic because he will obviously have more insight than me. But on a different note, I will definitely need to read the book you mentioned above. :D
  3. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    MODERATOR'S WARNING; Beware that your comments appear to be contra confessional.

    LBC 22:8. The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy

  4. MarieP

    MarieP Puritan Board Senior

    The New Covenant has rules and regulations too...

    I believe the context of that is the ceremonial law. I believe there were aspects of the Old Covenant Sabbath that were ceremonial (first off, the day was changed from Saturday to Sunday), but the command to rest from our labors one day in seven is moral- it is woven into the very fabric of creation itself!

    Our Old Covenant counterparts were told to trust in God alone and not in their own strength and self-righteousness. And yet God gave them a Sabbath...
  5. RobertPGH1981

    RobertPGH1981 Puritan Board Freshman

    d. Confessional Requirements: One must hold to either the Westminster Standards, the Three Forms of Unity, the Second Helvetic Confession, or the LBCF to be approved for membership without a waiver. This does not mean that the these confessions are viewed as the "Word of God." Rather, these confessions and creeds are taken to accurately summarize the key doctrines of the Bible and allow mutual, like-minded fellowship (Amos 3:3, "Can two walk together unless they be agreed?"). The adherence to any orthodox historical documents assure that the board will be kept "like-minded" in most of the basic points of salvation history and that the fellowship "exhortive and encouraging." Those who seek to modify, depart from, change or disprove the doctrines found in the Confessions will bear the burden of proof to support their claim.

    e. Under some circumstances, the Admins may approve an applicant who does not fully confess one of these historic Reformed confessions but whose soteriological and ecclesiological journey is taking them down that path. This has included some Lutherans, Episcopalians, and some independents in the process of Reforming.

    My church adheres to the LBCF, but the topic at hand is debated in my church.

    Burden of Proof Provided below as to how I understand it. However, as a side note, I still set apart Sunday as holy, but do not impose restrictions on myself as to put myself under law (as I mentioned above).

    As an example:

    Col 2:16 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.
    Col 2:17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

    ESV Study Bible Notes:

    Col. 2:17 a shadow of the things to come. The old covenant observances pointed to a future reality that was fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Heb. 10:1). Hence, Christians are no longer under the Mosaic covenant (cf. Rom. 6:14–15; 7:1–6; 2 Cor. 3:4–18; Gal. 3:15–4:7). Christians are no longer obligated to observe OT dietary laws (“food and drink”) or festivals, holidays, and special days (“a festival … new moon … Sabbath,” Col. 2:16), for what these things foreshadowed has been fulfilled in Christ. It is debated whether the Sabbaths in question included the regular seventh-day rest of the fourth commandment, or were only the special Sabbaths of the Jewish festal calendar.

    ---------- Post added at 08:07 PM ---------- Previous post was at 07:53 PM ----------

    Thank you for your responses, Marie. :D

    So my thought process around this isn't that we don't follow moral laws outlined in the bible. However, I do not think we should place restrictions on the Sabbath, in other words placing lists of things we should and should not do. Isn't that what Jesus was rebuking the pharisees about in Mark 2:27? The argument, as I have seen it so far, is a debate between if the Sabbath was part of the Mosaic Law or the Moral Law like you mentioned in your second comment. However, I would admit that I am not as versed on this subject as some, so this is something I would need to prayerfully consider.
  6. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    [Moderator]Robert, you have made your position clear. It is not a confessional position, and so we won't provide a platform for its promotion. Ideally this exception to the Confession would have been included in your application for board membership, or at least noted in your profile.

    The rules you cited do not mean that the Board has promised to hear out those who think they have a Biblical case to make against the Confession; merely that it is at the discretion of moderators, administrators, and especially board ownership to determine when posting has become unacceptable advocacy.

    This thread is closed for the Sabbath; we can reopen it on Monday, but with the understanding that no one is going to argue against the observance of the Lord's Day as the Christian Sabbath, but to reply to the question raised in the OP.

    P.S. For those wanting to know about the Christian Sabbath, Dabney is the second-best thing I've read on the topic.
  7. rbcbob

    rbcbob Puritan Board Graduate

    I AM REOPENING THIS THREAD AND ASK THAT YOU CAREFULLY READ MY RESPONSE. Whatever eventual (if any) exceptions you may list to the London Baptist Confession please refrain from advocating such exceptions on Puritan Board postings.

    Re: Col 2:16 “So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths,”

    This passage does NOT address the Fourth Commandment, nor indeed any of the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments are the summation of the MORAL Law which is binding on Man as Man. As Moral Law they were binding before Sinai and after the Death of Christ alike.
    The apostle was referring to Judaizers seeking to impose a variety of Ceremonial Laws upon Gentile Christians.

    Thomas Scott, successor to John Newton at Olney, in commenting on Col. 2:16 said:
    “Seeing therefore that Christ had cancelled the ceremonial law; let no man venture to judge and condemn the Gentile believers, as guilty, or as in no part of the church, because they disregarded it; and let no Christian disquiet himself about such censorious judgments which related to the distinction between clean and unclean meats, or the use of, or abstinence from, this or the other drink; or the neglect of the Jewish festivals and solemnities, the new moons and Sabbaths.
    Doubtless this last related principally to the weekly Sabbath, which as observed on the seventh day, was now become a part of the abrogated Jewish law. For the Sabbath under the Mosaic dispensation, was a ceremonial and a judicial, as well as a moral requirement; the morality of it had no necessary connection with the seventh day in preference to all others, save as that was for the time appointed. __Thomas Scott, loc.cit.

    One of the hallmarks of the New Covenant is the guarantee that God’s MORAL Law (as codified in the Ten Commandments) would be written on the hearts of God’s people and that they would keep them.

    Jeremiah 31:33 "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
    This passage is repeated twice in the book of Hebrews (8:7-13; 10:14-18).

    One godly 19th century minister wrote:
    “Read the apostle’s comment in the 8th chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, where he describes the New Covenant, and contrasts it with the Old … ‘I will put MY LAWS (the very Decalogue of which we speak) into their mind and write them in their hearts.’ And accordingly is not the first commandment, to worship one God, thus written upon the heart? Is not the second, to worship Him not with graven images? Is not the third, not to take His awful name in vain? And so of all the others. And is the fourth then omitted? … Are there ten commandments in the law, and only nine written on the heart? Is the institution of the Sabbath engraven and exhibited in the very order of the first creation, and not engraven in the order of the new creation [2 Cor 5:17]?
    … The apostle yet more distinctly teaches us this, when he says, that the Christian is an epistle of Christ, and refers to the two tables of the law transcribed on the human heart, and to the Holy Spirit as the Divine Author of the transcription. Mark, I entreat you, his language: ‘Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not IN TABLES OF STONE, BUT IN FLESHY TABLES OF THE HEART’ (2Cor 3:3) Hence there are two tables of stone, the two tables of the law__the first and the second__the one containing the precepts of the love of God; the other those of the love of man. Here is a precise transfer of this law, a removal from mere tablets of stone, to the fleshly tablets of the heart. In this transfer, do any of the commandments fall away? In the Christian’s heart, the two tablets are re-impressed, the two tablets as they came from the hand of God. And has the fourth commandment disappeared in the passage through which all the rest have found their way from the tablets of a literal inscription, to those of the Christian’s heart?”__Daniel Wilson

    The disposition of the New Covenant believer towards the Moral Law is that of The Apostle Paul who says in Romans (7:12) “… the law is holy and the commandment is holy and just and good” and then in (7:22) “… for I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.”

    John Murray on the Sabbath Institution:
    “The sanctity of the Sabbath resides in the command to keep it holy or to sanctify it (Exodus 20:8); the sanctity is that which is involved in sanctifying it. There are two elements in the word ‘sanctify’. It means first of all, to set apart. If set apart it is distinguished from something else. This belongs to the sanctity of the seventh day. There are people who will say that every day is to them a Sabbath, at least that every day is to them the Lord’s day. … The recurring seventh day is different, and it is so by divine appointment. To obliterate this difference may appear pious. … It is not piety to be wiser than God; it is impiety of the darkest hue. The Sabbath day is different from every other day, and to obliterate this distinction either in thought or practice is to destroy what is of the essence of the institution.
    … so we come to the real point at issue: may it be said that we are free to observe less strictly the fifth and seventh commandments? The abolition of certain Mosaic provisions guarding and promoting these two commandments we must recognize. But has the sanctity of these commandments been in any way revoked or the strictness with which we observe them relaxed?
    … The question is: is it a divine ordinance? If it is, the adherence to it is not legalistic any more than adherence to the other commandments of God. Are we to be charged with legalism if we are meticulously honest? … Are we to be charged with legalism if we are scrupulously chaste and condemn the very suggestions of gesture of lewdness? How distorted our conception of the Christian ethic and of the demands of holiness has become if we associate concern for the details of integrity with pharisaism and legalism! ‘He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much’ (Luke 16:10).”

    Robert, believing you to possess a teachable spirit, permit me to caution you to not hastily throw over our confession of faith which has stood the test of time for over three centuries. Our Baptist forefathers were no novices in the Scriptures. Their chapters on the Law of God (19) and Of Religious Worship and The Sabbath Day (22) reflect the seasoned convictions of those who wrestled through the vital issues of essential doctrines. I urge you to give a very careful reading to these two chapters.

    Some eighty years after our confession was signed there arose a serious challenge to “those things most surely believed among us” by certain Baptists who embraced the error of Antinomianism (the denial of the binding nature of the moral law for the Christian).
    Oliver wrote: “… the English Particular Baptists were deeply exercised about the relationship of the Christian to the moral law or Ten Commandments. The Antinomian controversy produced divisions among them that proveed to be deeper than those caused by the debates about the terms of communion or the preaching of the gospel. … Abraham Booth published The Death of Legal Hope, the Life of Evangelical Obedience in 1770 … [wherein] he expressed the hope that ‘while some professors of evangelical doctrine are verging toward Arminian legality, and others towards Antinomian licentiousness, it will be your happiness to be preserved from those wide and fatal extremes’. ”__Robert Oliver, HISTORY of the ENGLISH CALVINISTIC BAPTISTS p.112
  8. J. Dean

    J. Dean Puritan Board Junior

    Question: was the Sabbath commanded for Noah in Genesis 9 under penalty of death?
  9. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Genesis 9 was the only mandate that Gentile nations had for exercising the death penalty.

    At the time of Moses when "the law was added" (Gal 3:19) the criminal law of Moses, as well as serving as the criminal law of Israel, taught the Israelites that without the penal substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, there is no remission of sins. It was partly typological.

    The death penalty was carried out by the congregation of Israel under the authority of the elders in consultation with the priests. Thus there may be some teaching in the criminal law of Moses respecting the kinds of flagrant offences that should face sanction in the Israel of God, the New Testament Church.

    Even when it was being administered properly - although it was probably neglected by the Pharisees - it may have occurred relatively rarely, because there had to be the requisite presumptiousness in the breaking of the 10C, and there had to be two or three witnesses, who also had to agree to be involved in the execution.

    If there wasn't the quality of evidence or if there wasn't the level of presumptiousness, another penalty would take the place of the death penalty.

    They probably had to consult with the Lord as to whether this man's offence was presumptious enough to warrant the death penalty.

    This book, on the criminal law of Moses in the Talmud, indicates how the death penalty may have been neglected in the Second Temple period:


    Our Lord mentions its neglect in relation to the Fifth Commandment (Matt 15:4; Mark 7:10).
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2011
  10. louis_jp

    louis_jp Puritan Board Freshman

    Col. 2:16 also recalls the language in places like Ezekiel 45:17 and Hosea 2:11, which seem to refer to the ceremonial system as a whole.
  11. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    I would answer the question with this statement: Those who break the sabbath DO DESERVE to die. In fact, those who dishonor their parents ought to be stoned to death. Those who tell little 'white lies' deserve to spend eternity in Hell. God would be perfectly just in punishing us with the severest torment for breaking his Sabbath, BUT God has instead, sent His Son into the world to save sinners... to reconcile them back to himself. The work of our High Priest, Jesus Christ has changed everything. My sin is the reminder that I need a savior. My feeble attempts to better myself ALWAYS ends in my utter failure and a feeling of wretchedness but I am in Christ and there is now NO CONDEMNATION.

    Say what you want about the covenants and theocracies and historical theology but the goal of every discussion that involves falling short of God's glory should be directed to the Cross. Why don't we kill sabbath breakers? because the Cross changes everything.
  12. RobertPGH1981

    RobertPGH1981 Puritan Board Freshman

    Here is a simple answer to answer why we don't kill those who do not obey the sabbath.

    We are under a New Covenant, which Jesus fulfilled in our place. We are no longer under the old covenant system as Hebrews 8:13 suggests. However, this doesn't mean that the moral law became obsolete, it just means that we are to show others grace.

    In addition:

    Romans 13:1-2 says,

    1 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

    So if we killed those who did not obey we would be breaking federal laws.
  13. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    I feel like this needs repeated in every thread that even remotely touches Theonomy.

    No Theonomist has ever stated the Church should be engaged in Capital Punishment. Every Theonomist has written/spoken that this is the prerogative of the State.
  14. Fly Caster

    Fly Caster Puritan Board Sophomore

    We'd all take Sabbath-Breaking a bit more seriously.
  15. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I hope I didn't give that impression.

    But the fact that it was the congregation of Israel under the oversight of the elders with two or three witnesses points to a primary fulfillment of these laws in Church sanctions.

    Then there is the more difficult task of applying the general moral equity of these laws to the civil realm. Just pulling them straight out of redemptive historical context, and their relationship to the sacrifical system, and saying that they should be the laws of the USA or Great Britain, is not biblical.
  16. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    No Theonomist I know ever has said we should just literally apply the exact laws in their exact form into the Law code of Great Britain, but should apply the general equity thereof. Hence Greg Bahnsen's famous "put a fence around your pool" example for the Biblical law that required placing a "fence" around their roofs.
  17. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Yes, but when it comes to the penal laws the theonomists are extremely wooden.

    Rushdoony in his "Institutes of Biblical Law" gives the impression that he would make no concession to redemptive historical or typological consideratrions but seems to want Moses to be applied as it is as the criminal law of modern states, apart from the fact that for some reason I can't remember he would replace the death penalty for Sabbath-breaking with flogging.

    Bahnsen doesn't even introduce that modification.
  18. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    Gary North, Rushdoony, and Bahnsen disagree on whether the death penalty is a maximum or a required penalty and even in the method of execution.

    It is worth remembering Rushdoony was not a Sabbatarian.
  19. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    You're mistaken by reason of not having read the guy enough.
  20. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    The death penalty was only strictly required in the case of murder, where there were two or three witnesses:
    Otherwise, where a breach of the 10C was deemed so presumptious that the death penalty was imposed in lieu of a sacrifice and some other punishment, a ransom could still sometimes be paid instead of the death penalty.

    Even under the Levitical Economy, these judicial laws weren't moral binding laws that applied in every case. The elders had discretion, in consultation with the priests, regarding whether the death penalty was to be imposed in lieu of a sacrifice.

    Which goes against the insistence of theonomists that modern governments, under a different administration of the CoG, are under an obligation before God to legislate the death penalty for the list of offences for which it was a possibility under the Old Covenant.

    ---------- Post added at 01:50 PM ---------- Previous post was at 01:47 PM ----------

    Well either he wasn't a very good communicator - in places at least - or he changed his mind after writing the "Institutes", because when you read the "Institutes" he wants the death penalty to be imposed for about twenty offences for which it was a possibility under Moses.
  21. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    With all do respect I don't think you have really examined the issue. Bahnsen in "By This Standard" says pretty much the exact same thing you say here:

  22. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    I've read "Theonomy in Christian Ethics" and the "Institutes of Biblical Law" a number of years ago. Maybe Bahnsen's thinking was developing.

    To my mind, these considerations should mean that the death penalty for Sabbath-breaking and many other offences should be seen as appropriate to the Levitical Economy, but lesser punishments, some of them followed under the Levitical Economy, are more appropriate for the Christian era.

    The Mosaic judicial law had as one of its functions to teach the Israelites spiritual lessons. What were they meant to learn from e.g. the fact that the manslayer had to wait in the city of refuge until the death of the High Priest? What were they meant to learn from the fact that someone who was deemed to have sinned so presumptiously that he was trampling on God's grace in the sacrificial system was denied a sacrifice and had to be excommunicated by execution? etc.

    Our criminal law isn't meant to have that typological teaching function, and this should influence how we interpret the general moral equity of the Mosaic judicials.

    To the extent that the Mosaic judicials were typological of God's wrath against those that are without a penal substitutionary sacrifice, they are fulfilled.

    In other ways they can give us useful general practical and moral guidance in a Reformed approach to such matters of civil punishment.
  23. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    It is worth noting Martin Bucer in his book on Pastoral Care mentioned in the thread bearing his name speaks at some length of the place temporal civil punishments have in awakening the soul and their proper use in containing sin and directing the sinner to their need for Christ.
  24. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor


    But are theonomists who call and campaign for the death penalty beyond the rationale given in Genesis 9, calling and campaigning for the legislation of Mosaic shadows?
  25. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritan Board Doctor

    The Penal laws make up but a very small part of the written Theonomic corpus. It is hardly the only thing Theonomists have written about in their works.
  26. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    Well the subject in hand was the death penalty for Sabbath-breaking.

    The theonomists are correct to look for as much instruction as they can gather from the Scriptures on civic righteousness, but they need to give greater weight to typological considerations, and to the fact that even under Moses there wasn't an absolute command that e.g. Sabbath-breaking or adultery had to be punished by death:

    Even if someone had been sentenced to death for their crime which could only be the case if the right level of high handed presumption was there (Num 15:27-31), and if the right level and quality of evidence was there (Deut 17:6-7) it was possible for the death sentence to be commuted to the payment of a ransom, except in the case of homicide.
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