Keeping the Sabbath Poorly

Yesterday we talked about how to keep the Sabbath well, and I told you that it is all about worship – doing everything you can do to enjoy God as much as you are able to. But, hear me now. I do think that a Christian sins (offends God) by not keeping the Sabbath at all, or by not keeping the Sabbath well. How do you keep the Sabbath poorly? Easy: by wasting it.

Rather than using the Lord’s Day to enjoy God as much as you are able, you will waste the Sabbath and sin against God by watching inane TV shows, surfing the web, spending so much time with your handheld phone or mobile net device that you miss time with others, or playing mindless video games all day long. People who are caught up in these things, technology has become their functional lord which demands the sacrifice of health, joy, friendships, and family. Doing these things on the Sabbath (by yourself) is not putting time and energy into investing in God but squandering the time we have to grow in grace. I added “by yourself” in that sentence because some of these things can be a fun way to spend time with family and friends, sometimes.

Bottom line? The Sabbath rest ought to be a foretaste of heaven, so we ought to look forward to the one day a week when we don’t have to think or care about worldly things or stresses and can give all of ourselves to enjoying and delighting in God. When we focus on worldly things rather than heavenly things, we will waste the Sabbath, and sin against God.

Christian, keep the Sabbath well.

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Keeping the Sabbath Well

Today I want to talk about how to keep the Sabbath well, and tomorrow I want to talk about keeping the Sabbath poorly.

How does one go about keeping the Sabbath well? The Westminster Confession again states in 21.8:

The Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe a holy rest all the day from their own worldly employments and recreations, but also taken up, the whole time, in the public and private worship of God, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.

So one can easily see by reading this sentence that you can take the Sabbath very strictly, and many do! Many truly do go to the grocery on Saturday, buy all their food for Sunday, so as not to cause any person to labor on their behalf on the Sabbath. These folks also do not do recreation on Sunday, no sports, or anything like, but spend the whole day in rest, and public/private worship of God.

I also, take it very strictly, but I define strictness a bit different than these folks. In fact, I think Jesus would define strictness a bit different than these folks. You see, Jesus healed on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-14, John 9:1-17), taught on the Sabbath (Mark 6:1-2), and promoted evangelism on the Sabbath (John 7:21-24). Jesus lived in such a way to show that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27) Jesus’ point in all this “doing” on the Sabbath was to show that the Sabbath is not to be enforced legalistically but that it exists for worshipful fun and rest. Therefore, “the Sabbath is not a law for Christians to observe, but a grace for us to enjoy.” (Mark Driscoll)

What does this actually look like, for my family? We do worship on the Sabbath, often. Most churches have two services now on Sundays, and I think we ought to be going to worship as often as we can, especially on Sundays. We do rest on the Sabbath, partly because I am tired from the morning church work, and partly because Sunday is the only day where I can take a long nap and not miss out on work I need to do. We do “recreate” on the Sabbath by playing sports, watching sports, and enjoying the company of family and friends through fun activities that make you sweat. This all is worship, and one does not need to remove “recreation” from one’s Sabbath in order to keep worship pure and undefiled.

This really all comes down to one thing: worship. The Sabbath is to be filled with worship. How do you define worship? Is it sitting in church all day on Sunday? No. Is it removing recreation from your Sunday? No. Worship is doing everything you can to enjoy God as much as you can. Sunday, the Christian Sabbath, should be about this alone.

What Is the Sabbath? Is It Still Required?

Have you ever wondered, what exactly is the Sabbath? Does God still require that we do this?

Many Christians ask this question today, but few actually look into it and see what God thinks and says about His Sabbath. So you know, God does still think a Sabbath day exists for the Christian. After speaking of this Sabbath rest from 4:1 – 4:8, Hebrews 4:9 says, “Therefore there still remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” There you have it. The Sabbath is still around and will be until the end of the world. But what is this Sabbath? Hear the Westminster Confession:

As it is the law of nature, that, in general a due proportion of time set apart for the worship of God; so, in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto Him: which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week; and from the resurrection of Christ, was changed to the first day of the week, which in Scripture, is called the Lord’s Day, and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath. (21.8)

So you see, this is a very helpful definition because it makes it clear that God has set apart one day in seven to be “kept holy unto Him.” This not only binds Christians, but binds all men in all ages. Why is it for everyone? Because God has made His Sabbath clear from the creation of the world. Remember, God created all that is in six days and rested on the seventh; afterwards telling us to model our lives after Him, by working for six days and resting on our seventh day? Before the resurrection the Sabbath was on Saturday, and after the resurrection it is now on Sunday. Did you know that this is why our country has two day weekends? The founders of our nation couldn’t decide which Sabbath to honor, so they put both into our weekly calendar, thus we have two days for our weekend. For the Christian, this day of rest is the Christian Sabbath, the Lord’s Day – Sunday – and I’m convinced that if you are not resting now on the Sabbath, God will, through His providence, cause you to rest in one way or another.

But how is this Sabbath to be kept? True, some Christians are very strict here, more strict (I think) than Jesus was about the Sabbath. So what are we to do and not to do on the Lord’s Day? Stay tuned!