WSC Q&A #57

Q: Which is the fourth commandment?
A: The forth commandment is: Remember the sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the seventh day and made it holy.
Genesis 2:2-3: And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

I'm particularly excited about examining the fourth commandment! I think that out of all the commandments, the fourth commandment is the most neglected by the modern church. We seem to have a generally low view of the sabbath day and what it means to keep it holy. Perhaps that stems from an attempt at not appearing to be legalistic. And surely, as certain theological trends arose in the 20th century that divided the continuity between Old and New Testament, opinions about how to apply the law to the New Covenant Community began to arise, and out of all the ten commandments, the fourth commandment got shafted in a big way. Generally, people in the church still agree that murdering someone, stealing, not honoring your mother and father, etc., all bad and terrible things, but for some reason, not keeping the sabbath day holy seems to be optional for God's people. And while I don't consider myself a strict sabbatarian (that is to say, I'm not someone who believes all we can do on Sundays is eat, sleep, and go to church), and sitting through many presbytery exams it's clear that many, if not most, who are licensed or ordained in the PCA take exception to the Westminster Confession of Faith's wording concerning what is permitted and forbidden on the Sabbath, I believe that it is certainly possible to have a high view of the sabbath day and not be a strict sabbatarian.

So we'll get to examine all of this over the next several weeks. We'll look at what the fourth commandment allows, what it forbids, as well as examine why we believe that since the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the New Testament ordains the first day of the week, Sunday, to be the Christian sabbath. But most importantly, we'll examine what role the sabbath day plays in our Christian worship, and why the sabbath is an important part of both our Christian discipleship and the right and proper worship of God. 

Posted on February 8, 2016 and filed under Teaching.