Evangelical Sabbath Breaking

Why are Christians forsaking the Sabbath in droves?  I believe it has something to do with American Evangelical pietism and mysticism.  Pietism and its twin mysticism allows believers to approach God without means (Rom. 10:6–17).  “The church with her public mediation is helpful, but it might also hinder my pietistic mystic sanctified devotion,” says the broad evangelical.  True sanctity comes from private devotion, rather than public worship.  The Christian can therefore skip out on external religious practice for it is not the true means of grace.  True grace comes from private experiential devotion not by some stuffy minister preaching the gospel and administering the sacraments.

Pietism and mysticism has hindered or at its worse has made Sabbath duty obsolete.  There is no need for a Sabbath when everyday is the same and the church is just a “service agency” that “exists to satisfy people’s needs.”[1]  Resting from sin in private devotion is important.  It cannot be done, however, without first attending the public means of grace (2 Tim. 2:2; 15; Ps. 40:10,11; 68:26; Acts 2:42, 46) to hear the truth of God’s Word (1 Cor. 14:19, 29, 31), participate in the sacraments (1 Cor. 11:33; 1 Tim 2:1, 2; 8-10), pray to God publicly (1 Cor. 14:16), and give Christian alms for the poor (1 Cor. 16:2) to be renewed after Christ’s image (Rom. 6:13, 12:1, 2; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9, 10; 1 Cor. 6:20).[2]

Another doctrine that hinders proper Sabbath keeping is the evangelical overemphasis on origin of creation in the first chapters of Genesis.  This overemphasis misses the point of the entire creation narrative.  These chapters are not consumed with pointing out the gross error of Darwinian Evolution.  We have to remember that Moses wrote Genesis long before the enlightenment.  Creation properly highlights the sovereignty of God over the forces of chaos and how he assumed a position of kingly rest that further reveals his sovereign power.[3]  Creation museums evidence their hindrance by donating all their time to the first two chapters in Genesis, yet open shop on the Lord’s Day (http://creationmuseum.org/).  Don’t neglect the Fourth Commandment this Lord’s Day and don’t neglect the church that properly preaches the gospel every week.  Christ will be proclaimed from the Scripture this Lord’s Day at 10:30am, I invite you to come.

[1] George Barna, Marketing the Church (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1998), 37. Everyday belongs to the Lord, but Sunday is a special day—the “Lord’s Day.”  Time as money belongs to the Lord; nonetheless, Christians set these apart to the Lord.  Galatians 4:10 and Col. 2:16–17 attacks those who make the OT shadows salvific.  Christ satisfied the shadows that believers might be free from the terror of the law.  The moral dimension of the OT shadows remains to be enjoyed in a new light.  Christian’s are not free to throw out the sacraments; neither can they throw out the Lord’s Day.  Hebrews 4 likewise provides no answer.  It speaks of God’s rest on the seventh day held out for mankind and fulfilled by Christ.  Hebrews quotes Ps. 95:11 to show how God’s wrath kept Israel from entering because they failed the works principle.  Rest remains for God’s people for Christ kept the covenant of works, and now believers follow our elder Brother into the Sabbath of the Lord.  Finally, Rom. 14:5 does not involve Sabbath but days of fasting

[2]“There is more of the Lord’s presence in public worship than in private…ergo public worship is to be preferred before private,” see David Clarkson, Public Worship to be Preferred Before Private, vol. III of The Works of David Clarkson (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1988), 190–91.

[3]Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God, ed. D. A. Carson (Downers Grove, IL InterVarsity Press, 2004), 62.


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