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Our Sabbath Duties


Our Sabbath Duties

Text. 1 Corinthians 16:1-4
What is THE PURPOSE OF THE SABBATH.  Let’s see three simple statements, with help from the teachings of Heidelberg Catechism, Q103

1. The Sabbath Involves our Christian Duty. Read 1 Cor. 16:1-4.

Paul is urging these Corinthian believers to give to help those who are in need, specifically he is collecting an offering to help the poor widows at Jerusalem. See when this Christian duty is to be performed… Upon the first day of the week! Why?

  • The day for the Christians to meet. Now there is a reason why this collection was to be taken on the first day of the week. It was then that the church met. It was the day that Jesus rose from the dead, but even before the resurrection the disciples of the Lord were meeting on the first day of the week. John 20:19 The day that the Christians meet, is the day that the Christians give!
  • The first day is the Christian Sabbath. The Sabbath is a CREATION ORDINANCE given not just to the Jews, but to all of mankind, for their blessing, their benefit and their wellbeing. To deny Christians the blessing of a Sabbath rest is to completely contradict God’s creative purpose, and to flout His will and purpose for man. But the first day of the week IS the CHRISTIAN SABBATH. Greek, κατα μιαν σαββατων literally, ‘on the first Sabbath.’- the Christian Sabbath, the first day of the week.
  • Performing Our Duties before the Lord is WORSHIP. The giving of our offerings to the Lord is PART OF OUR WORSHIP!

On the Lord’s Day the church has gathered together in the name of the Lord, and we sing His praises, we read His Word, we pray to Him, we proclaim His Word and we bring our offerings unto the Lord. We perform our Christian obligations before the Lord.

2. The Sabbath Requires the Observance of All Our Christian Duties.
Let’s try then to see what other duties are required of us, in the keeping of the Sabbath, as our obligations to God under Covenant of Grace, duties that we cannot perform alone, in our garden or at a river with a fishing pole, or on a bike, and certainly not at a football match. Again we get great help and advice from the Catechist:-

  • The maintenance of Worship and Biblical Instruction. Titus 1:5 Paul would rather suffer personal loss than hinder the Preaching of the Gospel. It is a Christian duty to do nothing which would hinder the preaching of the Word and the proper Worship of God.
  • Fellowship with Believers around God’s Word, and In His House. The Catechist puts it like this, – to diligently attend church! What a blessing to associate with the Lord’s people, to draw aside from our everyday surroundings and to be in a place where our common focus is Christ and His redeeming work for us. Psalm 40: 10-11.
  • The Hearing of His Word. A Christian duty is to listen to God’s Word being read and to LEARN IT, as it is being expounded, being SUNG! We must value our services where the Word of God is the centre of our worship. 1 Corinthians 14:19
  • Participation in the Sacraments. The sacraments are most properly administered when in the Christian Gathering, on the Lord’s Day. 1 Cor 11:33, Acts 20:7
  • Prayer. Of course you can pray at home. But there is a need for Corporate Prayer, and instances of it are well known in the Bible, and to attend at corporate prayer is a Christian Duty, most suited to the Sabbath Day. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 I 8-10
  • Almsgiving. And we have already seen that this is a Christian Duty, most suited to the Sabbath Day.

3. The Sabbath is Our Preparation for Eternity. Isaiah 66:23 Heidelberg:- Second, that all the days of my life. I rest from my evil works, let the LORD work in me through his Holy Spirit, and so begin in this life the eternal Sabbath.” The Sabbath is a day of:

  • Recuperation. We rest from our evil works.
    Now in what sense is our work evil? All our works are in some sense evil, in that they fall short of God’s standards. All of our righteousness are like filthy rags. So on the Lord’s Day, let’s put them aside, rest from them and focus our hearts on purer works, on HIS work for us.  Our less than perfect works will end! One day, all of our material, earthly preoccupations will be gone, and we shall be taken from them. It is well to prepare, and God’s way of reminding us that all these things will come to an end is to have put them aside for a day, and spend time with his people, in his house and in his presence. To shift our focus from Earth to heaven and eternity.
  • To Assist in our Sanctification. More than this, the Lord’s Day assists us in our sanctification. The purpose of our sanctification, the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit within us, is to prepare us for heaven, to make us more Christlike, and that is only perfects in eternity.
    As a Means of Preparation. Here’s the definitive text: Hebrews 4:9

So apart from the physical and wellbeing benefits of a weekly day of rest, the Sabbath is God’s gift to His people, to prepare them for their eternal rest in glory, with Christ as our undistracted focus.

So, what is the Purpose of the Sabbath, for the believer? And what is the believer’s response? Isaiah 56:1-7
Bob McEvoy

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