“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 time well spent that can help us not to live overly busy and distracted lives.

The Lord Jesus teaches us about the importance of “seeking first the Kingdom of God and all its righteousness—first, before all things (Matt. 6:25-33; cf. Luke 10:38-42). What better way to do this at the beginning of every week than keeping the Lord’s Day holy? This can produce a proper and holy rhythm in your weekly time and work and rest pattern that is not only obedient to God’s word but will be pleasing to your conscience and even your body.[1] The Apostle Paul teaches that we are apt to waste the valuable time that God has given to us and so he admonishes us in Christian love to make the most of every opportunity, to be wise with our time spent:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (ESV Ephesians 5:15-17).

Honestly, before God, are you walking wisely, making the best use of your time? Is this a serious problem for you? Are you constantly distracted? Do you recognize it as a sin? In a world as constantly busy and distracted as ours is, we must be extra wise, and to pray for discernment with regard to the way we spend our time—especially on the Lord’s Day. As pastor, I am often met with folks asking me to pray for them to spend their time better, especially in bible reading and prayer. I am grateful to pray for you on that as your pastor. Please pray for me as well! But we must act by faith on this impulse and desire for change. Often through obedience by faith in Christ, particularly in God’s commandments, the feelings of desire, the good habits, and the character that are needed to be faithful to God in this important privilege and duty will come as you step forward by doing what you know to be right in your union with Christ. From now on, when folks ask me to pray for them about this, I am going to ask them how they are using the Lord’s Day to develop this desire toward more obedience (Rom. 6:17).

It is important to note that Ephesians 5:17 says: “…Understand what the will of the Lord is”. There is no better place to find the will of the Lord than in the Ten Commandments![2] There is no place to find out how one may love God and keep His commandments! One way to love God and neighbor is to remember the Lord’s Day and to seek to keep it holy. Remember, our Lord Jesus said that often the reason we don’t live according to God’s way and will is that our hearts are divided, we love something or someone more than we love God (Matt. 6:21-24; Luke 14:26-27). When our Lord asked to define what the will of God looked like, he responded: “To love the Lord your God with everything in you, and your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30). Is there a better way to love God and neighbor than keeping the Lord’s Day holy? There are other ways to love God and neighbor, but are they better as far as the time God has specifically given to us believers on the Lord’s Day? Or perhaps to ask the question a different way: Can we truly love God and neighbor as ourselves if we know that we are to keep the Lord’s Day holy, and we do not? Remember the full exegesis of the fourth commandment given to us by God, and particularly the responsibility we have to family members, guests, neighbors, etc. God’s scope of this commandment is broad, and publicly noticeable by others. It is important to note in the fourth commandment that as the application of the commandment is broad, so is our responsibility to God and others, and so are the consequences of our disregard of it will be as well:

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 the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (Exodus 20:8-11)

The fourth commandment as it is exegeted and unpacked by God in Exodus 20:8-11 shows that our understanding of the Lord’s Day will have an effect on others. This is one reason why it is so important to think about it as Christians. Let us ask ourselves some challenging questions that may be helpful to consider: Is it loving for us entrusted as the head of our homes to disregard the Lord’s Day given to us and our family as a gift of grace? Is this not only disregarding God, but also disregarding the gracious love that should be demonstrated to our family? If we are in a position of leadership (like a pastor or a Christian leader) and something is unnecessarily scheduled on the Lord’s Day, have we considered the distraction this could bring to others, even hindering them from public worship of God? Have we considered that our position granted to us by God could be an opportunity for us to do good, particularly in helping others to keep the fourth commandment? Perhaps we can seek to use our God-given positions to reschedule some unnecessary events for another day?[3] Have we thought about the obligation for others involved and how this might tempt them to go against what is good and right and according to their consciences? Let us think about these things if we are to seek to love God and our neighbors as ourselves.[4] Pray for me to have wisdom in this, particularly as your pastor. Let us remember how love is clearly defined for us by the Apostle Paul:

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (ESV Romans 13:8-10)

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] Studies have shown that there are outstanding results on the body and mind from keeping Sabbath even from non-Christians.

[2] See especially the Westminster Larger Catechism on how to keep God’s commandments in Christ, Question and Answers 97-153, 115-121 for the fourth commandment on the Lord’s Day particularly.

[3] Every year there is a fun run that I would enjoy taking part in here in Purcellville. But it is on the Lord’s Day. I have often written with respect to those who are organizing the event, asking them to change the day so that they might honor God in the fourth commandment, but that I also might participate, and others as well. As of today, there has been no change. This can be frustrating, but all that we are called to do is try to speak into the situation and trust God with the rest.

[4] There are some who must work on the Lord’s Day. They may have spoken up about it to their superiors, but they still must work. This is a good work if required, and characterized in Scripture as a work of necessity (Matt. 12:11; Luke 13:15; see also Westminster Larger Catechism, Q&A 117). But should this work be normal? I think this is especially important for Christian leaders to consider who are the bosses or superiors of those Christians who feel obligated to work on the Lord’s Day, and who may be tempted to go against their conscience which is unwise and very unsafe (see further Westminster Larger Catechism, Q 126-133). It seems that the works of necessity are works that are exceptions, not rules to live by.

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