THE SABBATH DEFINED
“…the Sabbath was God’s first act after the earth had been made fit for human habitation,…This day, from the beginning, was a holy day…for the purpose of teaching man that whilst he might lawfully spend six days in worldly employments, he must rest on the seventh day” Archibald Alexander (ref#175).
“The Sabbath is a sign. It points to a truth that we are never to forget. The truth is that God (and not we ourselves) has sanctified us. He has chosen us and set us apart and worked to make us distinct among the peoples of the earth” John Piper (ref#169).
“…the Sabbath is a gift of love to meet man’s need, not an oppressive burden to make him miserable or proud….It should not be governed rigidly by narrow definitions of what is work and what is not. It is a day to focus on the Lord. And now Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath…so it is a day to focus on Jesus. And it is impossible that a day focused on Jesus should be a burden to the believing heart…” John Piper (ref#169).
“As the great object of all religious instruction and worship is to please God and secure His blessing, so let great care be taken that whatever is done be sincere, humble, and fervent” William S. Plumer (ref#183).
THE SABBATH – AN EVERLASTING ORDINANCE
“…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).
APPLYING THE LORD’S DAY
…As with all GOD’s commands there is great benefit in keeping them (Psalm 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.
GOD’s objective in commanding this day of rest is for the development of our spiritual nature. Therefore, it is a day set apart from even our words and thoughts about our worldly employments and recreations [Westminster Confession of Faith] (ref#164, Series: Pathway to Freedom, Sermon#: 1693, “Holy Day or Holiday?” Part Two, October 31, 1993). Can you imagine speaking only about spiritual things before or after the church service?
“This Sabbath is kept holy…when men…are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy” [Westminster Confession of Faith] Alistair Begg (ref#164, Series: Pathway to Freedom, Sermon#: 1693, “Holy Day or Holiday?” Part Two, October 31, 1993).
A DAY OF SPIRITUAL IMPROVEMENT
…“The Sabbath must be a day of spiritual improvement—improvement which comes in public worship, in families having time around the LORD JESUS, His Word, and His purposes” Alistair Begg (ref#164, Series: Pathway to Freedom, Sermon#: 1693, “Holy Day or Holiday?” Part Two, October 31, 1993).
Spiritual improvement comes from religious reading. It is possible to read through the Bible in a year by reading approximately 18 chapters each Sunday. Improvement also comes from secret prayer and holy meditation (ref#164, Series: Pathway to Freedom, Sermon#: 1693, “Holy Day or Holiday?” Part Two, October 31, 1993).
“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;…” (Isa 58:13-14 ESV).
THE DELIGHT OF THE SABBATH
…We really would love to have a list of steps to believe, honor and obey GOD (ref#164, Series: The Sabbath, Sermon#2097, “The Delight of the Sabbath” July 18, 1999). Oh, to just apply a list of dos and don’ts…
But, trouble happens when we look for lists. We fall into the category of sacrificing instead of obeying. The LORD desires we see our enjoyment of His blessings through obedience. Sacrifice is not pleasing to Him when we weary ourselves following a list of man-made rules. (1 Samuel 15:22)
God’s Word binds us only to Him and to His Word. We are free in matters of faith and worship from every human directive (from any kind of list).
“We are free from the doctrines and commandments of men” [Westminster Confession of Faith] (ref#164, Series: The Sabbath, Sermon#2097, “The Delight of the Sabbath” July 18, 1999).
CHRIST has purchased the right to be our only Master (ref#164, Series: The Sabbath, Sermon#2097, “The Delight of the Sabbath” July 18, 1999). So we must ask Him directly. We should ask Him every Sabbath what our agenda should be for the day.