Keeping the Sabbath Holy

Keeping the Sabbath Holy

I invite you to consider some thoughts on the sanctification of the Lord’s Day, or the Christian Sabbath, from a book currently being read by our Ladies’ Reading Group. The book, by Henry Scudder, a member of the Westminster Assembly, is called The Christian’s Daily Walk in Holy Security and Peace. My version comes with a forward that includes recommendations from John Owen and Richard Baxter

Scudder says we should “put a difference between this [the Lord’s Day] and the other six days” (p. 85). This is because Christ rose on that Day, the Spirit was poured out on that Day, the apostles met on that Day after the resurrection, and the New Testament calls us to worship on that Day (Acts 20:6-7; 1 Cor. 16:1, 2). The Day, according to Scudder (and our confessional standards!) is to be kept with holy reverence and preparation (p. 87). This means that we should already be thinking about and preparing for the Sabbath on Saturday, in order to ensure that our hearts and minds and bodies and households are ready to meet with God, and to hear from Him in the preaching of the Word. The Day is a Day of rest, but not a Day of idleness (p. 87). We rest on the Sabbath by resting in Christ, His worship, and the fellowship of His people, as well as by doing the works of mercy that mark God’s people as having God’s Spirit. We ought to rise as early as possible on the Sabbath and prepare for worship through prayer, confession of sin, and meditation on Scripture–especially that portion of God’s Word that will be proclaimed that Day. Following the sermon, we ought to speak of it with others, hide what we have heard in our hearts, and seek to apply it diligently in our lives (p. 88).

Scudder gives special instructions about how to rest ourselves in Christ when the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper are administered (pp. 88-92). If we leave having been nourished and refreshed by Christ, we ought to give thanks to God. If not, but we can say with a clear conscience that we have prepared as we should, then “be not discouraged, but wait for strength and comfort in due time” (p. 91). Scudder also reminds us to seek opportunities to use the Lord’s Day for doing good, especially by visiting and relieving the distressed (p. 92).

Finally, Scudder offers several motives for keeping the Lord’s Day holy. First, this is always in every age the mark of the true people of God, that they keep God’s Day in God’s way (p. 93). Second, it is one of the most important means God has given by which we may grow in maturity, Christlikeness, and brotherly love: “It is God’s special day of publishing and sealing your patent of eternal life” (p. 93). To know and understand and embrace this is to find that Sabbath keeping is not a legalistic duty, but rather a source of spiritual satisfaction and delight.

Your elders hope you will be growing in your delight in Christ by growing in your desire to keep the Sabbath holy. This quarter we will be focusing in our shepherding visits on encouraging you and your family to “call the Sabbath a delight” (Isa. 58:13-14). May the Lord grow us all in the grace and knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ as we hear the call to worship, both morning and evening each Sabbath Day, and as we respond to Christ in faith, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, but joining with the people of God to rejoice together in the life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and soon return of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ!

You may read or download a digital version of Scudder’s, The Christian’s Daily Walk here.

Scudder_Daily_Walk

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