SABBATH

HOW THE SABBATH SHOULD BE KEPT BY BISHOP J. B. RYLE

“Ryle was a 19th-century Anglican pastor. He was born in 1816. When he died in 1900, he was relatively unknown outside the Anglican Church in Britain. But since Ryle’s death, his books have slowly grown in popularity. Writing a tribute to Ryle in 2002, J.I. Packer noted that Ryle’s books had sold more than 12 million copies and had been translated into at least a dozen languages; the numbers continue to climb….1 “A hundred years later,” wrote his biographer, “we can see that there were few more influential evangelicals in the Victorian era than Bishop Ryle.”2 Ryle was a contemporary of Charles H. Spurgeon, Dwight L. Moody, George Mueller, and Hudson Taylor. When Ryle was 15, Charles Darwin graduated from Cambridge. His was the age of Dickens, the American Civil War, and a British Empire on which the sun never set” William P. Farley (ref#203).

“I propose,…to show the manner in which the Sabbath ought to be kept….My desire is simply to state what appears to be in the mind of God as revealed in Holy Scripture…One plain rule about the Sabbath is that it must be kept as a day of rest. All work of every kind ought to cease as far as possible, both of body and mind….Whatever, in short, is necessary to preserve and maintain life, whether of ourselves, or of the creatures, or to do good to the souls of men, may be done on the Sabbath Day without sin” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

“The other great rule about the Sabbath is, that it must be kept holy. It is not to be a carnal, sensual rest, like that of the worshippers of the golden calf, who ‘sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play’ (Exodus 32:6). It is to be emphatically a holy rest. It is to be a rest in which, as far as possible, the affairs of the soul may be attended to” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

“I see no harm in a quiet walk on a Sunday, provided always that it does not take the place of going to public worship, and is really quiet, and like that of Isaac (Gen 24:63). I read of our Lord and His disciples walking through the cornfields on the Sabbath Day. All I say is, beware that you do not turn liberty into license—beware that you do not injure the souls of others in seeking relaxation for yourself—and beware that you never forget you have a soul as well as a body” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

“I do not tell anyone that he ought to pray all day, or read his Bible all day, or go to church all day, or meditate all day, without…cessation, on a Sunday. All I say is, that the Sunday rest should be a holy rest. God ought to be kept in view; God’s Word ought to be studied; God’s House ought to be attended; the soul’s business ought to be specially considered; and I say that everything which prevents the day being kept holy in this way, ought as far as possible to be avoided” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

“I want every Christian to be a happy man: I wish him to have ‘joy and peace in believing,’ and to ‘rejoice in hope of the glory of God.’ I want everyone to regard Sunday as the brightest, cheerfulest day of all the seven…” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

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SABBATH

THE TWO DIVISIONS OF THE BIBLE

“We shall do well to remember that the Old Testament is just as much inspired as the New, and that the religion of both Testaments is…one and the same. The Old Testament is the Gospel in the bud; the New Testament is the Gospel in full flower…The Old Testament saints saw many things through a glass darkly: but they looked to the same Christ by faith and were led by the same Spirit as ourselves. Let us, therefore, never listen to those who sneer at Old Testament arguments. Much infidelity begins with an ignorant contempt of the Old Testament” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

“There is no duty imposed upon the Israelite in the Ten Commandments that is not equally incumbent upon all men everywhere” Benjamin B. Warfield (ref#180).

“Here is this great book; we divide it up, and we call it the Old Testament and the New Testament…But…if we were to be strictly accurate we would not describe it in that way. The real division of the Bible is this: first, everything you get from Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 3:14; then everything from Genesis 3:15 to the very end of the Bible. What you have up to Genesis 3:14 is the account of the creation and of God’s original covenant of works with man and of how that failed because man broke it. Beginning with Genesis 3:15 you get the announcement of the Gospel, the covenant of grace, the way of salvation, and that is the whole theme of the Bible until you come to the last verse of the book of Revelation” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189).

Here is the dividing verse. It is cryptic but the meaning is there. GOD is talking to the snake:

“And I will put enmity

Between you and the woman,

And between your seed and her seed;

He shall bruise you on the head,

And you shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen 3:15 NASB).

 

 

SABBATH

REASONS THE SABBATH IS DESECRATED

“The Christian attitude is, ‘The Lord’s will is my pleasure’” C. E. Hunter (ref#171). But, there are many ways to keep us from joy. “…the devil is in real earnest to accomplish the damnation of souls. To this end he must not let people think quietly on one day of the week” C. E. Hunter (ref#171).

We all agree we have too much on our plate weekdays. Does our “to do” list spill over into Sundays? Do we make some effort to not work on our weekday work on Sunday? And, if so, have we come to fill the day with things that we like to do that recharge us—gardening, golf, reading secular books, attending concerts, theaters, sports games, etc.? “These ways of spending Sunday are none of them of a holy tendency, or calculated to help us heavenward” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

“The measure of your love for God is the measure of the joy you get in focusing on him on the day of rest” John Piper (ref#169). “…contend earnestly for the whole day against all enemies, both without and within. It is worth a struggle” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

SABBATH

THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING THE SABBATH

“There is no other Sabbath rest besides Jesus. He alone satisfies the requirements of the Law, and He alone provides the sacrifice that atones for sin. He is God’s plan for us to cease from the labor of our own works. We dare not reject this one-and-only Way of salvation (John 14:6). God’s reaction to those who choose to reject His plan is seen in Numbers 15. A man was found gathering sticks on the Sabbath day, in spite of God’s plain commandment to cease from all labor on the Sabbath. This transgression was a known and willful sin, done with unblushing boldness in broad daylight, in open defiance of the divine authority. ‘Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp”’ (verse 35). So it will be to all who reject God’s provision for our Sabbath rest in Christ” (ref#172).

“…whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10 NASB). The 10 Commandments are a “summary of fundamental duty; and…is binding on us all, in all its precepts alike, because they all alike are from God and publish His holy will” Benjamin B. Warfield (ref#180).

“For most people the Sabbath command is really a demand to repent. It invites us to enjoy what we don’t enjoy and therefore shows us the evil of hearts, and our need to repent and be changed” John Piper (ref#169).

SABBATH

THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exod 20:8 ESV). The word “Remember” implies that it is well known and recognized” JFB Commentary (ref#17, [Exod 20:8-11]).

“…our Lord and the writers of the New Testament treated the Ten Commandments as the embodiment…of the fundamental elements of essential morality, authoritative for all time and valid in all the circumstances of life” Benjamin B. Warfield (ref#180).

“…these Ten Commandments…was delivered…and accompanied by thunder, lightning, and an earthquake. It was the only part written on tables of stone by God Himself.”…“I there read one whole commandment out of ten devoted to the Sabbath Day, and that the longest, fullest, and most detailed of all (Exod 20:8-11)” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

The Old Testament Prophets recorded the importance of this command. They spoke of breaking the Sabbath as “the most heinous transgressions of the moral law (Ezek 20:13,16,24; 22:8,26)” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167) and “one of the great sins which brought judgments on Israel…(Neh 13:18; Jer 17:19-27)” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

“Christ…kept the Sabbath religiously and taught His disciples…to keep it in its essential spiritual sense as ordained by God” Archibald A. Hodge (ref#181).

“I find Him speaking eleven times on the subject of the Sabbath, but it is always to correct the superstitious additions which the Pharisees had made…about observing it and never to deny the holiness of the day” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

Also, the Apostles kept one day a week as a Sabbath (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2). They called it the LORD’s Day (Rev 1:10).

Even as Scripture defines yet unfulfilled prophecy the Fourth Commandment is mentioned: “’And it shall be from new moon to new moon And from sabbath to sabbath, All mankind will come to bow down before Me,’ says the LORD” (Isa 66:23 NASB).

How important is it? Bishop J. C. Ryle says, “…the Ten Commandments…is just as important to expound and enforce…as to preach Christ crucified” (ref#167).

SABBATH

THE SABBATH – AN EVERLASTING ORDINANCE

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 12.52.10 PM“…the observance of a Sabbath Day is part of the eternal Law of God. It is not a mere temporary Jewish ordinance. It is not a man-made institution of priestcraft. It is not an unauthorized imposition of the Church. It is one of the everlasting rules that God has revealed for the guidance of all mankind” J. C. Ryle (ref#178).

Before a single page of human history is chronicled, before a single act of Adam is described, the Holy Spirit places before us the institution of the Sabbath! Does not this signify, plainly, that the observance of the Sabbath—the sanctifying of a seventh day—is a primary duty” Arthur W. Pink (ref#177)!

“…the holy day should be one out of every seven….work six, rest one. Every seventh day should be a sabbath” John Piper (ref#169). “For six days He had put forth His might in creation, on this day He releases, as it were, into His own blessed fellowship the work of His hands and is pleased thus to lift man into His communion and the contemplation of His works. While we know that sin marred God’s work, and soiled the creature He had made in His image, we also know that God undertook another creative work, that of redemption, regeneration and restoration. And the completion of that work, too, is marked by a rest day in which man can once again enter into the rest of God, the Christian Sunday. That is appropriately now the Lord’s Day, the Day on which the Redeeming Lord entered into His rest,…” R. A. Finlayson (ref#188).

And, “…the Sabbath of the Old Testament and the Christian Sabbath of the New have a typical significance as pointing to the day when the Sabbath of grace is transformed to the Sabbath of glory, and the Lord’s Day of earth becomes the Day of the Lord in all its fullness of light and life and blessedness” R. A. Finlayson (ref#188).

 

SABBATH

INTRODUCTION TO THE SABBATH

“The plain truth is, that the Sabbath-breaking of the present day is one among many proofs of the low state of vital religion” Bishop J. C. Ryle (ref#167).

As with all GOD’s commands there is great benefit in keeping them (Ps 19:11). But we, (I’m pretty sure that will include all of us) have strayed so far from keeping the Sabbath that we have not experienced most of the benefits.

“The first thing that is essential before we can ever have and hold this joy is the absolute centrality of the Lord Jesus Christ” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Sept 17th).

CHRIST must be at the top of our priority list if we are to approach the subject of the Sabbath correctly. Then we must believe that keeping the commandment will provide joy. Then we must be blameless in keeping it.

Just a note before we move on to explain the “What” of the Sabbath next week: Theories exist that Sabbath-keeping has been done away with along with the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament when JESUS became the sacrifice for our sins. If you have ever heard this theology or don’t think the Sabbath is important to keep, see:

http://www.westminsterconfession.org/worship/the-lords-day.php

Archibald Alexander gives a very thought-out account of why it is still a command for us who live after the resurrection of JESUS.

“Unless we had a particular day set apart, by divine authority of the worship of God…public worship would, for the most part, fall into disuse” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).