“Men reject the Lord’s Day rest because they reject the Lord of the day.”
“The possession of outward form without inward understanding is called formalism, and formalism is the dry rot of today’s church.”
What are the general principles from God’s Word that will help us to keep the Sabbath as our Lord wants us to? Keep it holily, happily, honestly and humbly.
- Holily: Gathering with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s Day for corporate worship is necessary, not optional.
- Happily: In the presence of the great God of creation, redemption, and providence, mourning and sadness must flee away.
- Honestly: God is concerned with our bodies as well as our souls. Not all activity is work. Rest does not require idleness. Rest can also be active. In the Old Testament, rest is defined as refreshment. In our active forms of rest, we must keep the love of the world out of our hearts and we must not allow our active rest to interfere with our fellowship with God on His Day.
- Humbly: Be mindful of our hearts’ tendency toward rebellion. When we lose the Sabbath, we lose a means of grace of our Lord to us.
Sabbath keeping should neither be limited to avoiding business transactions on Sunday nor expanded to prohibiting everything you enjoy.
~ Bruce A. Ray "Celebrating the Sabbath
“There are no Sabbaths in hell.” ~ R.M. M’Cheyne
There is no perfect Sabbath-keeping this side of eternity. However, just as there is no perfect keeping of the other of the 10 commandments, we still endeavor to obedience by applying the principles we are given in Scripture.
“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isaiah 58:13-14
“ 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” Hebrews 4:3-11
B.B. Warfield on the Sabbath
John Calvin on the Sabbath & His Geneva Catechism
Westminster Larger Catechism On The Sabbath:
Q. 115. Which is the fourth commandment?A. The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath-day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed it(Exod 20:8-11; Deut 5:12-15†).
Q. 116. What is required in the fourth commandment?A. The fourth commandment requireth of all men the sanctifying or keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word, expressly one whole day in seven; which was the seventh from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, and the first day of the week ever since, and so to continue to the end of the world; which is the Christian sabbath (Deut 5:12-14; Gen 2:2-3; 1 Cor 16:1-2;Acts 20:7; John 20:19-27†; Matt 5:17-18; Isa 56:2, 4, 6-7), and in the New Testament called The Lord’s day(Rev 1:10).
Q. 117. How is the sabbath or the Lord’s day to be sanctified?A. The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day (Exod 20:8, 10), not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful (Exod 16:25-28; Neh 13:15-19, 21-22; Jer 17:21-22); and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to be taken up in works of necessity and mercy [Matt 12:1-13]) in the public and private exercises of God’s worship (Isa 58:13; Luke 4:16; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:1-2; Ps 92 [title]; Isa 66:23; Lev 23:3): and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day (Exod 20:8; Luke 23:54, 56; Exod 16:22, 25-26, 29; Neh 13:19).
Q. 118. Why is the charge of keeping the sabbath more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors?A. The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own (Exod 20:10; Josh 24:15; Neh 13:15, 17; Jer 17:20-22; Exod 23:12; 16:22, 25, 29†).
Q. 119. What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment?A. The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are, all omissions of the duties required (Ezek 22:26), all careless, negligent, and unprofitable performing of them, and being weary of them (Acts 20:7, 9; Ezek 33:30-32; Amos 8:5; Mal 1:13); all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful (Ezek 23:38); and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations (Jer 17:24, 27; Isa 58:13).
Q. 120. What are the reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it?A. The reasons annexed to the fourth commandment, the more to enforce it, are taken from the equity of it, God allowing us six days of seven for our own affairs, and reserving but one for himself, in these words,Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work (Exod 20:9): from God’s challenging a special propriety in that day, The seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God (Exod 20:10): from the example of God, whoin six days made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: and from that blessing which God put upon that day, not only in sanctifying it to be a day for his service, but in ordaining it to be a means of blessing to us in our sanctifying it; Wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day, and hallowed it (Exod 20:11).
Q. 121. Why is the word Remember set in the beginning of the fourth commandment?A. The word Remember is set in the beginning of the fourth commandment (Exod 20:8), partly, because of the great benefit of remembering it, we being thereby helped in our preparation to keep it (Exod 16:23;Luke 23:54, 56; Mark 15:42; Neh 13:19), and, in keeping it, better to keep all the rest of the commandments (Ps 92 [title], 13–14; Ezek 20:12, 19-20), and to continue a thankful remembrance of the two great benefits of creation and redemption, which contain a short abridgment of religion (Gen 2:2-3;Ps 118:22, 24; Acts 4:10-11; Heb 4:9†; Rev 1:10); and partly, because we are very ready to forget it (Ezek 22:26), for that there is less light of nature for it (Neh 9:14), and yet it restraineth our natural liberty in things at other times lawful (Exod 34:21); that it cometh but once in seven days, and many worldly businesses come between, and too often take off our minds from thinking of it, either to prepare for it, or to sanctify it (Exod 20:9†; Deut 5:14-15; Amos 8:5); and that Satan with his instruments much labour to blot out the glory, and even the memory of it, to bring in all irreligion and impiety (Lam 1:7; Jer 17:21-23;Neh 13:15-23).