Seven Theses on the Sabbath in the New Covenant

These are just some of my thoughts on the Sabbath that will probably change over time as I am corrected by Scripture. Feel free to add your comments below. In all seriousness, this is just for me to use to write down my current understanding of what the Scripture’s teach. I will add Scripture proofs over time as I am able, though my language will hopefully show forth those proofs. I will update it as neccessary.

  1. The Sabbath  is a perpetual principal from creation: The Sabbath principle is as a day of holy rest is grounded in creation and is thus forever binding. As with the Law and promises of God (i.e. covenantal children), this principle is not to be subtracted unless the New Testament expressly says so – as in the case of sacrifices and other ceremonial laws.
  2.  The Sabbath is a gift given to man from God, not a burdenThe Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Thus, the Sabbath is a gift from God to man. As with the rest of God’s Law, it is not burdensome, but shows us what love, freedom, and joy truly are. To treat the Sabbath as a burden, or to place it on other in a burdensome way, thus goes against the entire principle of the Sabbath.
  3. The Sabbath’s purpose is to give physical and spiritual rest to man and to point towards our ultimate rest in Christ: The Sabbath was made with the express purpose of rest. Rest from the hard work that is to be performed the other six days of the week. Thus, work is required the other six days of the week, with the definition and extent (amount of time daily) to be left up to wise, Scripture soaked interpretation as well as Christian liberty.Though good and required in the Christian life, the Sabbath was not given for the purpose of performing seemingly perpetual ‘religious ceremonies and rituals,’ i.e. singing, prayer, bible reading, worship services, catechism and Sunday school classes etc. Meaning that to bind a Christian to the duty of attending two hour long morning and evening services is likely to be causing the Christian to actually break the Sabbath command.This is not to say that it is wrong to attend traditional worship services. This also does not mean that Christians should forsake the gathering together. Christian’s should gather on the Sabbath in order to rest together, eat together, encourage one another, sing together, perform acts of mercy, etc. But Christians are not required by Scripture to spend the entire day performing religious rituals as the Westminster Confession implies. Biblically, there is also no reason to believe that “worldly enjoyments and recreation” (WCF) are forbidden on the Sabbath. Of course, we should use wisdom in this, ensuring that we are not causing unnecessary work to be done by others (if you hold to a Sunday Sabbath). And our worldly enjoyment and recreations should of course be God glorifying and not sinful, as in any other day of the week. But there is no reason to believe that a family and/or church can’t play a board game together, go for a walk on the beach, or do anything else that would help us rest from our work.
  4. Particular day?: This is one of the more difficult parts to nail down. I’ve heard something from Rushdoony that argues against the Seventh Day Adventists wherein he basically shows how it is impossible to always rest on the seventh day from creation. It would be impossible to know which day that was and thus Israel didn’t even hold this strictly as in SDA. There are some pretty good arguments for a Sunday Sabbath, but if I am honest I have not studied enough in this area. Going off of what I know from the Scriptures, the disciples seemed to make a habit of meeting together on the day of the week that the Lord has risen (Sunday), which would seem to imply a new sort of synagogue meeting practice. I leave this open for discussion though and will come back to correct it as I learn.
  5. The Sabbath is to be practiced purposefully: So what should keeping the Sabbath principle look like? Well, I believe it should simply be the implementation of the first three theses. We should make a practice of resting weekly (perpetual), viewing it as a gift from God and not a burden (present), and using it to actual rest from our work (purpose). So if you are practicing the Sabbath not the Lords Day, this will probably mean taking a nap, eating good food, reading the Word, fellowshipping with brothers and sisters, and worshipping God both strictly (‘ordinary means of grace’ i.e. preaching, prayer, singing, etc.) and broadly (eating and drinking to the glory of God).
  6. The Sabbath should be prepared for: This is sort of a random tid bit that I have picked up from different folks on how to best celebrate and practice the Sabbath. We have to be prepared for the Sabbath. We have to plan for it. Some ways my family does this is by trying to prepare as much as possible for meals the day before. It also means ensuring that all work is completed by Saturday night so that you aren’t thinking about all the work you have left to do on Sunday. As a clean freak, I also try to ensure that my house, desk, room, etc. are clean so that I am not tempted to do laundry or the dishes on Sunday. These are meant to bind other, but are just some practical ways to make the most of our day of rest.
  7. We should have patience with one another: This is a heavily debated topic within Christendom. On the one hand, you have those whom may be criticized as being antinomian in this category and declare that the New Covenant is our Sabbath, and Christ is our Sabbath, thus fulfilling the typological nature of the command and doing away with its practice (as some see in Calvin, I haven’t read it for myself). On the other hand, you have strict Sabbatarians who would have you stoned in a covenanted nation if you even so much as flushed your toilet on the Lord’s Day. So here is my proposal: lets be patient and talk these things through with our faces in our bibles. Don’t ignore our differences, don’t act like it doesn’t matter, but also don’t break fellowship over this thing.

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