Baptist, What Do You Believe? #12

I have mentioned in the past how heavily I have leaned on my pastor’s notes when writing these posts on the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. In preparation for Article 8, on The Lord’s Day, I have found that pastor Harris’ notes in the main were virtually a transcript form of his Wednesday-evening message of January 25, 2006 (listen to the audio), so I have decided to publish his outline here, with only minimal editing.

Why is it we gather for worship on Sunday? Why the first day of the week? Are we violating the Sabbath? What about those folks who worship on Saturday? Are they just nuts? What is to be our relationship with the Sabbath? Is the Sabbath a Christian institution? Is it merely for the Jews? This is one of the long-standing debates within the Church. What is to be our attitude toward the Sabbath? Which is part of a larger controversy – “What is to be our relationship to the Old Testament Law?”

Here again we must recognize that godly people disagree on this subject. There are those who believe the Law is binding on the believer as well as the Jew. There are those who would modify that and say that the 10 Commandments are binding. Others would say it bears no relationship to those who are in Christ. Still others would insist that it does to some degree.

As I try to work through this and untangle the knot – I have to acknowledge some of my presuppositions. I must acknowledge, up front, that I bring certain convictions to this question:

  • God exists.
  • He is Sovereign, king, lawgiver, he makes the rules.
  • He has spoken, revealed himself through the Scripture.
  • His word is faithful and true..
  • God has a people.
  • I reject a strict Dispensational approach to the Scripture.
  • I do not believe that God has two separate people: the Jews and Christians.
  • I do not believe that the OT was for the Jews and the NT is for Christians.
  • There is continuity and discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments.
  • Something is new about the New Testament.
  • I read the OT from a NT perspective.
  • The focus of all the Scripture is Christ! (See article 1 page 7, the last sentence.)

Thus I’m convinced that as New Testament Christians we read the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. The New Testament has logical priority over the Old Testament. Which is the higher, more complete revelation of God; the O.T. law, or Christ? The New Testament regularly refers to believers as “slaves” of Christ. Christ is our master/law-giver.

Look at the Mount of transfiguration, with Jesus, Moses (law) and Elijah (prophets). Hear The voice of God – “This is my son, listen to him.” With that in mind…

What about the Sabbath?
For the instituting of the Sabbath we must look to Exodus 20:8-11. Here we find the institution of the Sabbath Day. What day was it? The seventh. Why is this? It was to commemorate the work of creation. God set it up to be a day of “rest” and worship. It became one of the four major emphases in Judaism: The Temple, the Scriptures, traditions and the Sabbath.

Let’s ask a question for thought: What does it mean “God rested”? Was He worn out from all that “creat’n”? Was He tired? Did He need to rest? Note throughout the Scripture the promise of entering into His rest. The Sabbath was a picture of this. I believe it is a picture of entering into Christ. All the OT rituals pointed to Christ.

What was given as a picture of Christ and His work on our behalf was twisted and perverted into a means for man to prove how righteous he was because of what he did (observe the Sabbath)! What was intended to be a blessing became a “burden.” (See Matthew 12) The Sabbath was to be a day “set aside” to focus upon worship. It was to be a day given to God for the purpose of rest and spiritual development.

Now, what of the Lord’s Day?
The early church gathered on the first day of the week. Why is that? To honor and remember the Resurrection! The Lord’s Day commemorates the work of redemption – the “new creation.”

Where do we find the New Testament command that “changed” the Sabbath? We don’t! Acts 20:7 Revelation 1:10 The command is in the implications of the text and in the practice of the early church. Even secular historians note that these early believers met on the first day of the week.

The following passages might indicate that a specific day is not commanded (Galatians 4:8-11; Colossians 2:16-17; Romans 14:5-10; Hebrews 10:1), yet we must balance that with Hebrews 10:23-25 to gather together for worship regularly.

Now look at our Statement of Faith.
VIII. The Lord’s Day
The first day of the week is the Lord’s Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord’s Day should be commensurate with the Christian’s conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Note the following:

  • It is a “Christian” institution.
  • It is “For regular observance.”
  • It “Should include exercises of worship and spiritual devotion both public and private…”

There is some concern with the last sentence. If this statement were applied to all the articles it would render them meaningless. This is a change from the 1963 statement.The 1963 statement was a much stronger statement, reading thus: “…and by refraining from worldly amusements, and resting from secular employments, work of necessity and mercy only being excepted.” Why was it changed? A number of people are asking that question. There was talk of seeking to replace the Article viii of the 2000 with article viii from the 1963. It would appear that the change was an accommodaation to our culture. At the time of the adoption of the 2000 BFM a reporter from the Orlando Sentinel, following the convention’s vote, wrote with tongue in check the following :

“Now that the NFL Tennessee Titans (based in the SBC’s headquarters, Nashville) have made it to the Super Bowl, Southern Baptist have conveniently decided that refraining from worldly amusements on the Lord’s Day is not longer advisable.”

This is another of the emotional issues that surrounds our faith. While I would agree that Romans 14:5-10 should guide us in dealing with this issue, I also believe it is important that we acknowledge that the Lord’s Day is a special day. It is unique and set apart for a holy purpose.

Previous Lessons:
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #1 (An Introduction)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #2 (On the Doctrine of Scripture)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #3 (On the Doctrine of God)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #4 (On God the Father)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #5 (On God the Son
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #6 (On God the Holy Spirit)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #7 (On the Doctrine of Man)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #8 (On the Doctrine of Salvation)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #8 (Continued) (On the Doctrine of Salvation)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #9 (On God’s Purpose of Grace)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #10 (On the Doctrine of The Church)
Baptist, What Do You Believe? #11 (On Baptism and the Lord’s Supper)

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