Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
This is a massive subject. The issue of the Sabbath has caused much ink to be spilled in our day as well as in previous days. Sabbath simply means rest. But what does God’s rest mean for God and for us? There is much confusion on this issue due to not understanding the first revelation of the Sabbath as found in Genesis 2:1-3. This confusion, in part, is due to not allowing other parts of the Bible to explain the function of the Creator’s Sabbath. In order to understand the Bible correctly, we have to understand what the Creator’s Sabbath means, not only for us but for God. In order to do that, we have to let the Creator tell us what it means. He does just that in various places in the rest of Scripture.
Every picture tells a story and every person has a story. But there is one Person whose story stands apart from all others and that story is God’s, recorded for us in the Bible. God’s story tells us that He created, what He created in the first place, why He created man andwhat man’s supposed to do, why there’s so much trouble on the earth, and where history is heading. In the next two chapters, I want to show that understanding the Creator’s Sabbath helps us understand the entire Bible–what it is about, what went wrong, how God’s going about fixing what went wrong, and where history is heading. In order to do that, it is important to understand the Bible’s diversity and unity and its beginning and end…
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Now that a brief survey of Sabbath throughout the canon has been made, a word may be said regarding typology. Many anti-sabbatarians want to argue that the Sabbath has been fulfilled in Christ, and is thus no longer binding. However, I want to argue that the Sabbath is typological of a future rest to come, and thus is still valuable today for its typological significance.
…here I simply wish to point out five reasons why I believe the whole issue of a Christian Sabbath has become controversial in our day. Rather than going to the Scriptures and studying the issue on its own merits, people often develop views on the Sabbath because of extra-biblical concerns and assumptions, and then go the the Bible in search of confirmation. I’m not trying to offend conscientious brothers and sisters who disagree with me on this issue by suggesting that they are duplicitous in their argumentation, rather I simply want to share some of those observations I have noticed which seem to lie behind their conclusions. Often our own presuppositions and outside pressures are difficult to discern, so perhaps this will be both a challenge to those who doubt that a Christian Sabbath remains for the people of God and also a help to those who are in discussion with brothers and sisters who differ on this point.So without further introduction, here are five reasons the Christian Sabbath is controversial in our day:
Living in a generally affluent society means that a “day of rest” often involves resting from play, and not work
We have a tendency to focus on Sabbath restriction rather than Sabbath blessing
Opposition to the Sabbath is representative of a wider opposition to the third use of the law
Some legitimate instances of Sabbath legalism have alienated many Christians
The Sabbath is not always defended in a helpful way, even where it is practised faithfully
If 4:10 refers to Christ’s entering into his rest, what then is the Sabbath rest which v. 9 refers to as remaining for the people of God to enter? It is (as throughout the context) the Sabbath rest of God; but it is also the Sabbath rest of the Son, which he entered when he finished his works, which remains to be entered by all who are joint-heirs with him.
But what does this have to do with the Christian Sabbath?
Brian Borgman is founding pastor of Grace Community Church. He earned a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Biola University (La Mirada, CA), a Master of Divinity from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary (Portland, OR) and a Doctor of Ministry from Westminster Seminary (Escondido, CA).
It needs to be most carefully observed that in this verse the Holy Spirit employs an entirely different word for “rest” than what he had used in vv. 1, 3, 4, 5 and 8. There the Greek word is rightly rendered “rest,” but here it is “sabbatismos” and its meaning has been properly given by the translators in the margin—“keeping of a Sabbath.”
That the Sabbath is a creation reality is also clear because unlike the other commandments, the fourth begins with “remember.” The command to remember is telling for two reasons: (1) this is not a new command, and (2) some were already guilty of not keeping the Sabbath, as is the sinful tendency of all mankind. As William Perkins wrote: “This clause doth insinuate, that in times past there was great neglect in the observation of the Sabbath.” The call to remember raises another question: to whom or what are the Jews pointed when being reminded to remember? It was not to Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. It was to the very beginning; specifically, the Lord’s rest at the end of His creative week. The Jews would already be aware of the pattern of work and rest that God has built into creation. While the Mosaic Law would bring peculiarly Jewish ceremonial and civil laws built off of the Sabbath commandment, the core of the moral law was derivative off of God’s example in creation.
If you ask several fellow Christians about the specifics of the best way to spend your Sundays, you’re likely to get several different answers. This is even true if you ask Confessional Baptists to unpack the specifics of their understanding of the Second London Confession of 1689 when it says,
The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe a holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy. -22.8
In the following post, Dr. Robert Gonzales of Reformed Baptist Seminary takes a look at Isaiah 58:13, one of the proof-texts for the Confession. He presents some exegesis which challenges and refines the traditional interpretation of the passage, and the subsequent expression in Puritan practice.
During the Q&A session for the Church Ministry module of RBS, Dr Bob Gonzales and Pastor Bob Selph respond to a question raised by one of the students regarding how much emphasis should be given to addressing the Fourth commandment in fulfilling the Great Commission to “make disciples.”
It includes a brief explanation of what it means to Sabbath, why it switched to Sunday, why we should practice it still, and how to share it with others.
A lot of what Dr. Gonzales says I recognized from a previous post he wrote called, “Following My Re-Maker’s Example: Why I ‘Sabbath’ on Sunday”.
In the Decalogue, God commands His people to rest from their weekly labors one day a week. Moreover, the Lord grounds this command in his own example:
For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (Ex 20:11, ESV).
So Israel should set the “Sabbath day” apart because God himself set it apart. They are responsible in this case to follow their Maker’s example.
Christ also roots the Sabbath obligation in creation and underscores its beneficent aim: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). God didn’t rest on the seventh day merely for his own benefit. He did it for mankind (ανθροπος). This implies that the Sabbath was first instituted at creation, not Sinai. What’s more, the Sabbath wasn’t instituted solely for Israelites’ benefit. It was made for humanity.
Over at his “It Is Written” blog (formerly called “Something Close to Biblicism”), Dr. Bob Gonzales wrote a two part blog series on the relationship of the law and the gospel:
The biblical teaching on “the law” and “the gospel” is massive. And contrary to what some may think, these concepts are fairly complex. They can’t be reduced to a plaque on the wall with the Ten Commandments or a paper tract with Four Easy Steps on how to become a Christian. Instead, law and gospel each have a fairly expansive range of meaning. Broadly considered, they overlap and are interrelated. More narrowly viewed, they’re distinct. In Part 1 of our study, I’d like to examine these concepts more broadly and show how they’re related. Then we’ll narrow our focus in Part 2, noting the ways in which law and gospel are distinct.
Jeff Smith has been a fulltime pastor since 1990 and began ministering in Covenant Reformed Baptist Church, Easley, South Carolina, as a church plant in 1994. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (B.A.) in Religion from Gardner Webb College and a Master of Divinity degree (M.Div.) from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also serves on the faculty of Reformed Baptist Seminary and as a contributor to the Reformed Baptist Theological Review. He and his wife Kelly have five children, three boys and two girls. The first two born in 1991 (twins) and the last in 2003. As of September 2009 Pastor Smith took up responsibilities as a pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Coconut Creek Florida where he presently labors.
Molinism has been coming up in various areas more and more. Ligonier Ministries posted a blog entitled “Molinism 101″ found here, where Paul Helm outlines the basics of Molinism.
James White spent an hour explaining and refuting Molinism (Middle Knowledge) during a session from the Bible Conference at the Trinity Reformed Baptist Church in La Mirada, California, October 23, 2009: