Dear Beloved, the next few weeks on the KCPC blog will be focused on showing why keeping the Lord’s Day holy is glorious! I hope this will encourage you in your faith. – Pastor Biggs

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“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 an opportunity to please and glorify God in obedience to His commandments.

God has given His people commandments for His glory and our good. The law of God, as summarized in the Ten Commandments, is a clear revelation of God’s righteousness and holiness. The commandments are a clear expression of what it means when believers are admonished: “Be holy, as God is holy” (Lev. 20:26; 1 Pet. 1:15-16).[1] God commands His people in the fourth commandment to “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”. This commandment teaches us that God wants us to set apart one day in seven for holy worship and rest. He desires that we make the Lord’s Day special.[2]

As Christians we should desire to fear God and keep all of His commandments. Indeed, the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7; Ecc. 12:13). Fearing God and keeping His commandments is a constant teaching throughout Holy Scripture (Exo. 20:20; Deut. 10:12-14; Jer. 32:38-42; Psa. 130:4; 2 Cor. 7:1). As believers, we are taught to work out our salvation with “fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12-13; cf. Exo. 20:20; Isa. 66:2). Although there is absolutely no fear of God before the eyes of the wicked and foolish in this world (Psa. 36:1-2; Rom. 3:18), Christians have been granted the fear of the Lord as a blessing and gift of the Holy Spirit in Christ (Jer. 32:38-42; Heb. 12:28-29)! Do you understand fear of the Lord as a blessing and aspect of the work of the Spirit? God promises in Christ that by His Spirit He would cause His people to fear Him:

I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever…And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me (ESV Jeremiah 32:39-40b)

In Holy Scripture, the fear of the LORD is another manner of describing a desire to obey and please God and to keep His commandments (2 Cor. 5:9-11: “We make it our aim to please Him…Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…”). In Christ, the commandments for Christians are not merely a duty or obligation (although they are that!). Rather, in Christ, the commandments for Christians are privileges of grace (Matt. 5:17-20; Rom. 6:17; 8:1-6). Christians have been set free to please God in this way before a dying and dark world infested and possessed by sin. Only a Christian can truly say with David, “O how I love your Law! It is my meditation all the day!” (Psa. 119:97); and with the Apostle Paul cry out, “The law is holy, and the commandment is righteous and good!” (Rom. 7:12).[3]

God is very clear that although the ceremonial and civil laws of Israel have been fulfilled in Christ (Col. 2:16-17; Mark 7:19; cf. Rom. 14:17), nevertheless, the moral law, summarized in the Ten Commandments is still a duty and privilege for God’s creatures to keep, particularly His own people. There is no other commandment where God so fully exegetes and unpacks the meaning as to why His creatures, particularly His set-apart people are to keep the Lord’s Day holy than the fourth commandment. Although many evangelical Christians emphasize (rightly!) Jesus’s fulfillment of the ceremonial and civil laws of Israel, and his fulfillment of the moral law (summarized in the Ten Commandments) as a Covenant of Works, they often fail to teach the importance of the ongoing requirements of the Law of God for believers. For instance, our Lord Jesus clearly said:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven (ESV Matthew 5:17-20).

Jesus with a holy hatred despised the legalism of the Pharisees. Jesus was constantly pointing out that the Law as a way of righteousness or as a Covenant of Works was impossible for sinful man (Matt. 5:20), but He as Lord of the Sabbath, also upheld and honored the moral law revealed in the Ten Commandments. The Apostle Paul taught that faith in Christ’s righteousness was not to overthrow the moral law of God: “Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law(ESV Romans 3:31). God’s people in Christ should also seek to uphold the moral law in reliance upon His grace and Spirit.

As fallen and sinful human beings, let us be honest that we often desire to go about doing our own work in our own way, selfish and stingy of our time. We want to work as much as we possibly can to get ahead, and to live our lives as fallen people as separated from God as we possibly can! The natural, fallen man sees the Lord’s Day as a hindrance and something that prevents him from doing what he wants to do. And we don’t like to be out of control (in our estimation!) of our calendars and our schedules. This was one of the reasons why Israel often did not rejoice and delight in keeping the Sabbath, and this can be our reason, too!

Yet God in His mercy and covenant faithfulness counters the sinful heart that deceives us by alluring His people to a promise of “Riding on the heights of the earth” in our delight of His holy day! Who in their right minds would not want to enjoy this treasure of a promise given by a Holy and Faithful God and Father?! Have you ever ridden on the heights of the earth??!! God promises as loving Father and blessed Savior:

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; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (ESV Isaiah 58:13-14).

“THEN you shall take delight in the LORD…!” Don’t miss this promise. God in His merciful kindness and grace desires to set His people free from our selfishness and self-centered “will worship” of doing our own thing the way we want to do it (“…From doing your pleasure…going your own ways, seeking your own pleasure…”), so that we can experience the liberty of life in the Spirit and the peace that goes with that in Christ! (Gal. 5:1; Rom. 6:1, 14; 8:6: “…The mind of the Spirit is life and [glorious!] peace”). Our great God and Father wants us to understand that true Christian freedom is keeping the Lord’s day with delight! Do you call the Lord’s Day a delight? Do you take delight in the LORD? If your life is joyless, and you have asked God to search your heart for sin that may be hiding, that you’re not seeing (Psa. 139:23-34), perhaps this is something that you haven’t taken seriously enough?! In Christ, we are set free from selfish focus on ourselves, to live unto God, gratefully desiring to do His will. Let us pray more that we will not only do God’s will as we are commanded, but to will to do it from tender and loving hearts that have been thrilled by His grace and love! “…For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).

Keeping the Lord’s Day Holy is an opportunity to show the freedom we truly possess in Christ. As a Covenant of Works, the law summarized in the Ten Commandments, particularly the fourth commandment on keeping the Lord’s Day has been fulfilled in Christ. No fallen sinner could ever keep God’s law as a way of works, or as a covenant of works to earn or merit their salvation. Jesus Christ, the glorious God-Man has accomplished this perfect law-keeping for us in our stead, on our behalf (Gal. 2:16-21). This glorious God-Man has died in our place under the just wrath of God because we did not keep God’s commandments, and we did not take seriously his teaching to keep his Sabbath holy. The glorious Gospel is that when we believe in Christ alone by faith alone through grace alone, this perfect righteousness, or perfect law-keeping of Christ is imputed to believers as if we have never sinned and perfectly kept the commandments of God. “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal. 2:20).

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

 

(To read the entire study on why keeping the Lord’s Day is glorious, click here: From Your Pastor.Why Keeping the Lords Day is Glorious.March 2016)

 

Notes

[1] Note that Old Covenant people were addressed by God’s commandment as those He had redeemed out of slavery: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery
(Exo. 20:2). So that we are to understand that all of the commandments are made in the context of God’s covenantal grace to His people who once were enslaved, but now freed by His grace (indicative). The commandments can only be kept by those who ultimately received God as their Savior, and believed in His promises of grace made to Abraham and his seed.

[2] The distinction between Sabbath and Lord’s Day is made later in study.

[3] The Westminster Larger Catechism, Question and Answer 97 is helpful here: What special use is there of the moral law to the regenerate? A. Although they that are regenerate, and believe in Christ, be delivered from the moral law as a covenant of works, so as thereby they are neither justified nor condemned; yet, besides the general uses thereof common to them with all men, it is of special use, to show them how much they are bound to Christ for his fulfilling it, and enduring the curse thereof in their stead, and for their good; and thereby to provoke them to more thankfulness, and to express the same in their greater care to conform themselves thereunto as the rule of their obedience.

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