Five Reasons Why The Sabbath Is Designed For Worship -- By: Ryan M. McGraw

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 01:2 (Jul 2009)
Article: Five Reasons Why The Sabbath Is Designed For Worship
Author: Ryan M. McGraw


Five Reasons Why The Sabbath Is Designed For Worship

Ryan M. McGraw

Nearly every disagreement over Christian practice is the result of a fundamental disagreement over Christian principle. When the issue of Sabbath-keeping arises, Christians conflict over what constitutes keeping the Sabbath holy. The crux of the debate over what is lawful on the Sabbath is whether or not the purpose of the day is rest, considered in itself, or “spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship” (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 60). How we answer this question determines how we will answer every question respecting what thoughts, words, and works are appropriate on the Sabbath, as well as whether or not worldly recreations that are lawful on other days are also lawful on the Sabbath. If we believe that the purpose of the day is rest, then the emphasis of our Sabbath-keeping will be upon activities that make us feel well-rested. If, on the other hand, we believe that the purpose of the Sabbath is setting the day apart for corporate, private, and family worship, we will naturally seek to exclude all practices that are inconsistent with worship, or do not immediately promote it.

Five reasons why the ultimate purpose of the Sabbath day is worship rather than rest per se are the situation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the fact that God “sanctified” the Sabbath, the position of the Sabbath among the Ten Commandments, the character of the commands attached to Sabbath-keeping, and the connection of the Sabbath to the hope of heaven.1

Situation Of Adam And Eve In The Garden Of Eden

First, the situation in the Garden of Eden implies that the Sabbath was designed for worship and communion with God. The Sabbath was sanctified by God as soon as the sixth day of creation was completed (Gen. 2:1– 3). The Ten Commandments remind us that the example set by God at that time constituted a permanent pattern for mankind. The Sabbath was given to Adam and Eve prior to the fall and initially had no respect either to sin or to redemption. It was not given as a type of Christ as the Redeemer, since there was no sin and death to be redeemed from, and it was not given as a type of a salvation, which was an irrelevant concept to an unfallen man and woman. In the Garden, Adam and Eve lived every day as worship and service to God, yet part of their joyful service was the labor that God had given them. When the Sabbath arrived, they had nothing left but direct acts of worship and communion with Him. What more would a sinless man and woman have desired, and what other purpos...

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