Seven good reasons to stop breaking the Sabbath right now


From Darryl Hart:

“(Inspired by Tim Challies)

If you are consumed with secular activities and unwilling to devote merely one day a week to God, you have every reason to be concerned with the state of your soul. God promises that if he has saved us we will gain new passions and new affections. We will have not only the ability but also the desire to replace sin with holiness, to replace worldliness with sanctity.

Even those who know next-to-nothing about the Christian faith know this: Christians are commanded to “love God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind.” Just like Jesus, Christians are to serve their heavenly father. Of all people, Christians should know that violating the Lord’s Day exacts a high cost — the cost to their bodies, to their souls, to their mental well-being, to their dignity, to their future. A vast amount of the worldly activities you enjoy on Sunday is done by people against their wills.

At a time when the Christian church is crying out for more and better leaders, an entire generation of young men and women are infantilizing themselves by not setting the Lord’s Day apart. They constantly choose secular activities over God and their spiritual growth is stunted. For the sake of your church, stop breaking the Sabbath.

There is scarcely a pastor ministering today who has not seen a family crumble and fall under the weight of treating Sunday like Saturday. Men are tearing apart their families for the sake of fun; women are shunning God’s word to create family moments. Children are being exposed to worldliness through the trails their parents leave behind. Fathers are inviting Satan into the home by their commitment to what God forbids and what Satan loves. For the sake of your family, stop breaking the fourth commandment.

The Lord’s commission is an urgent commission because it is a matter of eternal life and death. Time is short and hell is forever, which makes the Christian’s business an urgent business. And yet so many Christians are distracted by something as trivial as the NFL or a trip to the beach. Their attention is arrested, their energy depleted, their usefulness undermined. Don Whitney says it well: “If there are any regrets in Heaven, they will only be that we did not use our earthly time more for the glory of God and for growth in His grace. If this is so, this may be Heaven’s only similarity with hell, which will be filled with agonizing laments over time so foolishly squandered.” For the sake of your mission, keep the Lord’s Day holy.

Christians are called to be different, to stand out from the rest of the world by their desires and by their behavior. Christians are to put sin to death and to display the power of God in removing and destroying all competitors. And yet so many Christians have had their witness shattered when the sordid truth comes out and when others learn that they profess faith in Christ on the one hand, and are worldly minded on the day devoted to the Lord. Parents undermine the gospel they have been telling their children, pastors undermine the gospel they have been preaching to their congregations. For the sake of your witness, stop breaking the Sabbath.

By making light of the Lord’s Day you are making light of the death of Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, you acknowledge in your profession of faith that the cost of forgiveness was nothing less than the death of God’s beloved Son. Jesus suffered and died for your sin. How can you, as a Christian, then toy with your sin and take it lightly? How can you cling to it? As Spurgeon says with his customary eloquence, “Sin has been pardoned at such a price that we cannot henceforth trifle with it.” For God’s sake, keep the Lord’s Day holy.

Of course, the New Calvinist, Challies, did not write about the Lord’s Day. His subject was pornography, which is a sin that has enormous implications for our society. But are violations of the seventh commandment necessarily more heinous than those of the fourth commandment? The history of Israel (think David and Bethsheba) suggests otherwise. In which case, the New Calvinists may exhibit a moralism (or understanding of sanctification) that is remarkably ignorant of the markers of Reformed Protestant piety.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Challies has no point about pornography. But I do wonder if porn would be less prevalent in Christian circles if the Lord’s Day received more attention. As I understand the broken windows policies that turned New York City around, if you police the small stuff like trash, graffiti, and broken windows, people notice that little things matter and so big crimes like murder and theft go down. If the church had more of a corporate sense of holiness by keeping the Lord’s Day holy, attending two services, removing American flags from the church, singing more Psalms, avoiding business activities, enjoying a day of rest in simple ways, maybe other incidents of violating God’s law would decrease. That analogy, of course, breaks down if the fourth commandment is more basic to Christian devotion than the seventh commandment. But no one said sanctification would be easy.”

God cares about our worship

If worship is important to God, then it should be important to us as well.  One of the early Reformers, John Calvin, believed that the doctrine of worship ranks ahead of the article of justification in importance, and comprises the entire substance of the Christian life.  Worship is arguably our most important calling as Christians.  Because the Reformed tradition has historically held corporate worship and Lord’s Day (NT Sabbath) observance in such high regard, many of its churches have called two public worship services on Sunday, the Lord’s Day: one in the morning and one in the evening.

This coming Sunday (September 30th) is another chance for you to attend a Reformed worship service.  The following are the details:

When: 18h30

Where: Bellville Reformed Church


Take N1 North towards Paarl
Exit Jip de Jager Dr  (M16)
Right under the N1 (bridge)
First left at robots onto Frans Conradie Dr
First right at robots onto Broadway Street
Church is on right about 1km down Broadway opposite Louis Leipoldt Hospital

This coming Sunday evening will provide another opportunity to participate in and reflect upon a worship service shaped by the Reformed interpretation of Scripture.  In terms of the big picture, we affirm that our worship is only as good as the theology behind it.  In other words, good theology must produce good worship.  This is in keeping with Paul’s admonition to Titus in Titus 2.1, “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”

Have you perhaps thought critically about some of the assumptions underlying your views of corporate worship?  Are they biblically and theologically sound?  The following are two popular assumptions that are prevalent today, but do not necessarily stand up to the scrutiny of Scripture:

  • Sincerity and informality are the chief barometers for evaluating true worship.  But can we trust our feelings as fallen creatures?
  • Evangelism should drive the form and content of our worship services.  But does the bible encourage us to design worship for unbelievers?

The best of the confessional Reformed tradition has argued for a number of theological truths that should inform worship.  These include: the creator-creature distinction, the sovereignty of God and the total depravity of humankind.  We will look at these doctrines and others in the weeks to come…

In support of some of the points made here and for a good resource in general on recovering Reformed worship, see With Reverence and Awe: Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship by D.G. Hart and John R. Muether.

Before you attend another public worship service, perhaps you might benefit from allowing the writer to the Hebrews help you with his vision.

“For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempestand the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly* of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.  See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”
(Hebrews 12:18-29 ESV)