Friday, August 14, 2009

The Lord's day

Much has been said about the Lord's day, or Sunday. Many argue for, or against it. Many simply react traditionally to it. (What ever mom did, that is what I will do.) Throughout the years, Baptist have re-established their position on where they stand on the Lord's day as to its observation. Two that are notable, are worthy of mention here, but unfortunately are rarely practiced. We are a nation bent on entertainment, pleasure and self-seeking satisfaction. Listen to these documents of the past and notice the grave differences we see today:

Concerning the Lords day

When the original charter of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was adopted in 1858 it contained the following statement which continues as a part of the "fundamental laws." "Every professor of the institution shall be a member of a regular Baptist Church; and all persons accepting professorships in this Seminary shall be considered, by such acceptance, as engaging to teach in accordance with, and not contrary to, the Abstract of Principles hereinafter laid down, a departure from which principles on his part shall be grounds for his resignation or removal by the Trustees."

Here is what it says concerning the Lord's day:

XVII. The Lord's Day.

The Lord's Day is a Christian institution for regular observance, and should be employed in exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private, resting from worldly employments and amusements, works of necessity and mercy only excepted.

Then, we move to an even older document, one accepted by Baptist and held to today by many (including myself) Spurgeon made it his churches official position on each item it addresses as he felt it best reflected a summary of his views. It was called the London Baptist Confession of 1689. It is in Chapter 22 that the issue of the Lord's day is addressed. Here is a portion of it.

7. As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God's appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in 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 into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord's day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.
( Exodus 20:8; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10 )

8. 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 an 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.
( Isaiah 58:13; Nehemiah 13:15-22; Matthew 12:1-13 )

Nowhere in either of these documents can we find listed the myriad of distractions that are available to us today. But none of us are blind to all that is offered on the Lord's day as a means to pull us away from our first duty. In fact, we see a sober approach to the Lord's day that should not be translated as cultural, or otherwise. These men of old had their reasons for what they stated, and I am of the opinion that their reasons warrant our careful consideration.
I don't think we are to be solemn, frowning, sad, depressed individuals on the Lord's day, and that is not even what is being suggested in either of the documents. Rather, This day is different, to be set aside for something better than the rest of the week. Common affairs are put away, recreations that might fall on another day must be examined under the light of what the day is all about.
We are a different generation to be sure, but have we improved our holy walk? We need to be removing excuses from the lips of men who can't make it to church on Sunday rather than participating ourselves in the very things that keep them away. Our godly walk should convict, or convince men that the Lord's day is in fact a special day, given to us by our gracious Lord.


Jim Swindle said...

If my memory's right, 9 of the Ten Commandments are repeated for Christians in the New Testament, but not the sabbath. My best understanding is that we're not bound to keep the sabbath, but are free to keep sabbath. The Sabbath was made for man. Many, many Americans feel guilty if they are not "productive" seven days a week. We can set aside a day for rest and worship, confident that the Lord will provide.

Incidentally, are we losing something if we start our observance at dawn instead of at the preceding sundown?

Pastor Josh said...

Whenever I struggle with a doctrine that does not seem to be cut black and white for us in scripture, I find my next recourse to be deference to church history. There can be no debate as to in what direction this doctrine has gone in "recent" times!