“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8)

Why is keeping the Lord’s Day holy glorious?

* Keeping the Lord’s Day holy is glorious because it is an opportunity to please and glorify God in obedience to His commandments.

* Keeping the Lord’s Day holy is glorious because it is a privilege and blessing of the Covenant of Grace.

* Keeping the Lord’s Day holy is glorious because it can remind us that the Lord Jesus created it, kept it, and fulfilled it, and gave it to believers as a way of imitating Him.

* Keeping the Lord’s Day holy is glorious because it is an opportunity for growth and maturity in Christ.

* Keeping the Lord’s Day holy is glorious because it can be a time well spent that helps us not to live overly busy and distracted lives.

* Keeping the Lord’s Day holy is glorious because it is a way of joyfully, peacefully, and graciously witnessing publicly to whom it is you belong, and to whom it is you ultimately submit!

* Keeping the Lord’s Day holy is glorious because it is part of our confessional heritage as particularly Reformed Christians.

 

  1. Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy is glorious because it is a part of our confessional heritage as particularly Reformed Christians.

I would invite you to further study of this matter by reading our Confession of Faith and Catechisms on the moral law, but particularly the fourth commandment. I would invite you to consider the thoughts of John Calvin on the Sabbath Day that are found in His Institutes of the Christian Religion.[1] I would encourage you to think about the great heritage we have as Reformed Christians who have been known to place an important emphasis on the Lord’s Day because it is indeed a glorious day to enjoy! As your pastor, I never would want us to fall into legalism of any sort with regard to this glorious day, but I must honestly and truthfully from a heart of love teach you what I think we need to understand from Scripture and our heritage as Reformed Christians. As I conclude, let us look at the Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 121, and think about how we might prayerfully apply these truths:

     The Westminster Larger Catechism, Question and Answer 121 says helpfully: Why is the word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment? A. The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment,(1) partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it,(2) and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments,(3) and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion;(4) and partly, because we are very ready to forget it,(5) for that there is less light of nature for it,(6) and yet it restraineth our natural liberty in things at other times lawful;(7) that it cometh but once in seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it;(8) and that Satan with his instruments much labour to blot out the glory, and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety.(9) (1)Exod. 20:8 (2)Exod. 16:23; Luke 23:54,56 with Mark 15:42; Neh. 13:19 (3)Ps. 92:(title) compared with Ps. 92:13,14; Ezek. 20:12,19,20 (4)Gen. 2:2,3; Ps. 118:22,24; Acts 4:10,11; Rev. 1:10 (5)Ezek. 22:26 (6)Neh. 9:14 (7)Exod. 34:21 (8)Deut. 5:14,15; Amos 8:5 (9)Lam. 1:7; Jer. 17:21,22,23; Neh. 13:15-23

     “…Because we are very ready to forget it.” Isn’t this very true of your own heart? I know it can be of mine (so very easily in fact!). But with great faith in Christ, and by the power of His Holy Spirit, let this be another way that our congregation at KCPC can have more peace, being built up in the LORD, walking in the fear of the Lord, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, and multiplying in this year!! (Acts 9:31). Think about it: Christians can walk in the fear of the Lord, keeping God’s commandments, and have the comfort of the Holy Spirit. It might be counterintuitive to have fear of the Lord and the Spirit’s comfort together like this?! But isn’t it just this fear of the Lord that brings more comfort of the Spirit? While it is not our works that are the foundation of our salvation—Christ alone and His righteousness gives us that! Nevertheless, our works that we do sincerely in Christ can comfort us and bring us to assurance of our faith and more joy than we can imagine! How? Because we can see the work of the Spirit in our works for Him (cf. Eph. 2:10) and thus we are encouraged to assurance that we belong to God, and thus we can be comforted! Indeed, by His grace, we will be comforted! (2 Peter 1:3-12; John 15:1-17). Jesus has chosen us to go forth and be joyful (John 15:11) and fruitful in obedience to Him (John 15:16). Let us expect that as believers here at KCPC!

Do we walk in the fear of the LORD, knowing that God hates sin, and we are still capable of sin? Do we walk in the fear of the LORD, knowing that God has clearly revealed His will to us so that we may know the true path of life, satisfaction of our souls, and the glory of holy lives in this present age?! Do we walk in the fear of the LORD, knowing that Jesus walked in the fear of the LORD on our behalf to merit salvation for us, and then to give us His precious Holy Spirit, who will also in Christ, make us a true and holy God-fearer?! This is the Spirit that has been given to us who believe!

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD” (ESV Isaiah 11:2-3a).

     So how can we better keep the Lord’s Day holy? Another way of asking this is: How can we better fear God and keep His commandments joyfully in Christ Jesus? This is not the time for lists that can easily fall into the trap and ditch of legalism, but here are a few offered pastoral suggestions that I try to live by. These are only suggestions. Perhaps you can share some of yours with me?! I ask you to please pray for me to be more consistent in my own life—I want to be holy, humble, and honest above all things—but sin still remains in me. Please pray for me, and kindly and with love approach me when you see I’m being inconsistent with what I am encouraging you to believe!

Eugene Peterson translated our Lord’s words in Matthew 11:28-30 that might help us to think about the proper spirit of the Christian Sabbath or Lord’s Day, and yet another advantage of keeping it as holy:  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burnt out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on’ you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (Eugene H. Peterson, The Message [Colorado Springs, Colo.: NavPress, 1993).[2]

 

Suggested Questions to Ponder and Ask Yourself to Help You to Keep the Lord’s Day Holy:

Is this activity on the Lord’s Day going to glorify God above all things? / Is this activity a work of necessity or mercy that I lovingly desire to do to love God and neighbor? / Is this activity going to hinder me (or others) from publicly worshipping God and attending to any calls to worship that God calls me to through his ordained servants? / Is this activity loving and the best use of my time for myself, my family, my guests, my neighbors, and those who look to me for leadership? / Is this activity going to be consistent with God’s Word, and particularly His clear teaching on how he desires the Lord’s Day to be remembered? / Is this activity work that I normally engage it on other days, and can it wait? / Is this activity a distraction from my taking time to grow up in God’s Word? / Is this activity something that will not be conducive to remembering what I learned in the morning worship sermon and meditating upon it and hiding in my heart so that I won’t sin against God? / Is this activity properly living a godly example before a broken and lost world?

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I want to keep the Lord’s Day holy, please help me. Grant me your wisdom and discernment. Amen

In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

 

(Link to full study: From Your Pastor.Why Keeping the Lords Day is Glorious.March 2016)

 

[1] John Calvin in his Institutes gives three primary reasons for the Christian Sabbath or Lord’s Day: “First, we are to meditate throughout life upon an everlasting Sabbath rest from all our works, that the Lord may work in us through his Spirit. Secondly,each one of us privately, whenever he has leisure, is to exercise himself diligently in pious meditation upon God’s works. Also, we ‘should all observe together the lawful order set by the church for the hearing of the Word, the administration of the sacraments, and for public prayers. In the third place, we should not inhumanly oppress those subject to us. (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles [Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960], 2.8.34)

[2] From Tom Schwanda, Reformed Spirituality Network: http://reformedspiritualitynetwork.org/

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