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Holy Day or Holiday? (Part 3 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
November 11, 2021 3:00 am

Holy Day or Holiday? (Part 3 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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November 11, 2021 3:00 am

The fourth commandment compels us to be intentional about how we spend our time on the Sabbath. Learn about the difference it could make—for both believers and unbelievers— if we actually applied this principle! Join us on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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In the fourth of the 10 command compelled to be intentional about how we spend one day in seven. Not only is the principal straightforward but God himself has set the example. So what would happen if we apply this practice today on Truth for Life. Alastair Beck outlines the abiding significance of a Sabbath observance and the difference it can make for each one of us invite you once again is this morning to turn with me to Exodus chapter 20, as we try to conclude the study which we began Exodus chapter 20 and verse eight. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Here we are at the fourth commandment, a command that like the other nine is clear and comprehensive. We saw that the principal was stated very clearly and that unless we had a conviction as to the distinction of the day as God had set it apart, then all other considerations would be largely futile. So we belabored that point, hoping that it would sink in for all of us.

We then went on to recognize that God had established this pattern in the pattern is observed in Scripture. The basis for the of the day itself and its sanction is provided for as in the 11th. There's foot in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth to see and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.

Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. In other words, God himself as creator distinguished between the days there was the stamp of his creative power in them all and yet on this particular day, God determined that it should be marked by this distinction.

We then noticed that this was something which was not only grounded in creation, but it was also grounded in what he had done in redemption and if you would turn to Deuteronomy chapter 5 for a moment you find there.

That is, God reiterates his commandments in providing this call to the Lord's day to the Sabbath day.

Beginning in verse 12 of Deuteronomy 5, he reminds his people that the holiness of this day is attached not simply to creation, but also to redemption and in verse 15 he says, remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.

Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day because he says of what I have done in creation and because of what I have done in redemption.

I am establishing I have established this pattern, which we are able to observe another transition from the Old Testament into the New Testament and from the seventh day of the week to the first day of the week is grounded in this, namely that the redemption from Egypt is seen always in Scripture in light of what it previewed and what the redemption from Egypt previews is the redemption which is been secured by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. So much so that in the Old Testament the seventh day memorialize not only God's rest in creation but also the redemption of Israel and in the New Testament the Lord's day memorializes the completion of the work of redemption signaled by the resurrection of Jesus, and it was this fact which marked out and gave to the first day of the week. Its distinctive religious significance that we might turn just a couple of places to affirm this in our minds. In the book of acts we find this going somewhat randomly to acts chapter 20 we read there in verse seven on the first day of the week. We came together to break bread and on that occasion, Paul spoke to the people. When Paul writes in first Corinthians, and in chapter 16 in verse two he says on the first day of every week. Each one of you should set aside of some of money in keeping with his income and he gives instructions for giving and it is tied to this first day of the week marked with the significance not simply of the fact of God's creation but also of the wonder of redemption and it was on this first day of the week if you like, almost stamping it in this way that Jesus appeared to his followers after his resurrection.

Obviously it was the resurrection day, which gave to this first day of the week. This new die mentioned in significance and so it is a short transition that allows the apostle John in Revelation 110 to speak about being in the spirit on the Lord's day in the pattern which is established in the Old Testament is picked up and applied in the New Testament is the Lord's day memorializes Jesus resurrection just as the Lord's supper memorializes Jesus death. So here it is the deliverance from Egypt and from the bondage to slavery. There gave sanction to the Sabbath institution under the old covenant and the resurrection in its redemptive character gives sanction to the sacredness of the first day of the week so the pattern is seen not simply in looking back, but in looking forward redemption has three tenses to it. That is a past in the present and the future development and so too does the observance of God's day. We look back in the past and memorialize the fact of his resurrection. We look forward to the day when we will enter into the fullness of the Sabbath rest prepared for the people of God and in the present time. The significance of the Sabbath, principal is found in the beneficial nature of why God has left it to its and it is for this reason that we read from Matthew chapter 12 because it is there as well as in Mark chapter 2 that we find the statements which are most often misapplied and misquoted the statements of Jesus underscoring the fact that the Sabbath was made for man rather than man for the Sabbath and convincing his listeners of the fact that the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. Jesus was not asserting his lordship over the Sabbath merely to prepare man for his abolishing of the Sabbath in just a matter of a very short time. It would be a strange and uncharacteristic action on the part of Jesus and it would be in it in no sense in keeping order in accord with anything else that he ever did. Christ affirmed the place of the Lord's day. He affirmed its abiding application.

He is the Lord of the Sabbath. He says, guarding it against the distortion of the Pharisees and seeking to make sure that no one deprives men of that which is been given for his good indeed.

When Jesus says I am Lord over the Sabbath.

He is affirming the fact that he desires that men and women enter into all the benefits that the Lord's day brings, and is Lord. He speaks his authority in regulating the abiding law of the Sabbath day. I've covered a great deal and that because I need to come to this area of the practice of the Lord's day being applying the principle which is stated in the pattern which is observed.

We can return to am sure we will have occasion to I would like to draw very heavily on the work of the late Prof. John Murray and and affirm for eyes, the abiding application of the Sabbath in our day is very very important because as you know it is is is a question of great confusion. I quoted this morning from a gentleman who had passed away in 1975 and writing before his death he said this, it is not too much to say that we almost if not all the blessings we enjoy to the Lord's day quite awesome statement without it there is no true Christianity and without Christianity there is no real lasting spiritual blessing that we in our generation are in danger of losing this day altogether. Few serious minded men or women will dispute in our time.

The Lord's day is not so much argued about anymore. People simply ignore it. We are living. He says in perilous times a mock Christianity, with its violent breed of atheism.

Modernism and immorality is the religion of the vast majority of our people. If this mock Christianity continues to advance its present alarming rate. The time may be near when in Britain, the Lord's day is a divine institution will be nothing but a relic of history.

Even now literally millions of people turn their backs upon and refused to acknowledge it. Many of these artists. T.S. Eliot describes them.

Quote decent godless people there only monument the asphalt road and a thousand lost golf balls tens of thousands of others make a formal recognition audit, not the whole of it, but a 45 or 60 minutes of it. The rest of it. They claim as their own.

So, millions disregarded completely which is where our culture is and thousands regard 45 or 60 minutes audit the rest. We tend to claim as our own.

So what then possible abiding significance is there in the Sabbath, principal, well let's apply it. First of all to society and to unbelievers in general. Most people I think would be tempted to say that there's no point in thinking of the application of the fourth commandment in relationship to a godless society. After all our friends and our neighbors largely reject God and reject his authority, but no commitment to the Lord or to his word, and so we say to ourselves in light of that, surely it is pretty futile for us to confront our neighbors with the question of their desecration of the Lord's day of the fight of the matter is that when we plead with our neighbors and our friends concerning the distinctiveness of Christianity. Obviously we will have more to say than simply to plead with them.

The obligations of the Sabbath. It would be highly unlikely that most of us would use that as the starting point in most of our conversation. However, we didn't divorce it from our wider presentations of the gospel.

I don't believe that it is wrong to urge Sabbath observance on our unbelieving friends for the following reasons which I'm indebted to Murray for first of all, because we're presumably not going to say that it's wrong or futile or irrelevant to confront unbelievers with the law of God. When I going to say that when I going to say that it is a futile task to confront people with God's law, because after all, the word of God says that it is by God's law that our unbelieving friends become conscious of their sin, and so it is going to be important for us to confront our unbelieving friends with the truth of Romans 623 for the wages of sin is death and one of the things that are neighbors and friends to essay but you know I'm quite a good person.

I haven't really done very much that is wrong or one of the ways that we can ask them about how they're doing in relationship to God's standard is to say, how are you spending your Sundays and the reason that we find ourselves unwilling to use that as a point of departure in our witnessing is grounded in the fact that there is a fallacy, namely the fourth commandment is in a different category from all the others. This is a fallacy that we not only theoretically professed but to which we have pragmatically succumbed and the reason that most of us could not speak to our friends about breaking the law of God in relationship to the fourth commandment is because we are in such dreadful predicaments in relationship to it ourselves.

It would be like trying to induce in someone the rightness of giving up smoking. And while were talking to them. We have a large cigar sticking out of the corner of Armagh God piata given some time said I don't understand.

So the reason we can go to our friends and say hey what about Sundays is because we didn't say it because anything or that we point there for a five pointed back at ourselves we have no ground upon which to address the quest also sends because of vital because by the law comes the awareness of sin. We must recognize that then sin can be made understandable in the minds of our unconverted friends when they see that this command remains in Scripture. Indeed, we actually do a great disservice to men and women to the gospel and actually to their eternal destiny.

When we exclude Sabbath desecration from the scope of God's condemnation because often our friends is a will and not an adulterer and I don't steal service okay what we can talk about that.

Let us find something else. When we talk about the Sabbath. Also, I sustained emphasis upon the necessity of Sabbath observance is a restraining influence which prevents other kinds of multiple transgression and when we confront our neighbors and our friends in our unbelieving society.

With the rightness of the law of God with the abiding relevance of the law of God, what we're doing is in some measure. At least checking their progress into further degradation and destruction. Indeed, we could argue and all we would do would argue that when we gave up in this country and in Great Britain on the fourth commandment, we open the door to our great exponential downward slightly in terms of the civil realm of our of our government and our country because we gave up on something that was so clearly manifestly mandated by God. We gave him the chance to call the people as if you like to a point of contact along the journey and we failed to prevent them from a further slide into trespasses and a further slide into the road that leads to destruction. The other reason that we would want to hold up the abiding principle of the Sabbath for our unbelieving friends is because the observances which the Sabbath enjoins upon us are means of grace under channels of salvation simply what we're saying is that if we can urge our neighbors and our friends even from an external perspective to cultivate these observances then they will come within the sound of the word of God right and we know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. So by calling them into Christ's way. They may come to know Christ faithfully, the outward observance of the Sabbath promotes public order and it makes for the preservation of some of our most cherished rights and liberties unrestrained violations of the economy of God's plan from all of creation destroys peace, and in our own country. Here in giving up on that which is a creation, principal, namely the Sabbath purposes of God. We introduce this integration into the civil and social order of our nation think it out now what about the application, not simply to society in general. But to the church and particularly to believers. Let's say this out observance of this fourth commandment is relevant not in isolation but is relevant in the context of the whole plan and purpose of God.

Most of us know if we have lived around any kind of Sabbath to Arianism. A tall that observance of the Sabbath principle can so quickly become an instrument of self-righteousness.

It can so easily become marked by legalism and by externalism and it was that legalism and externalism which the Pharisees had championed and which Jesus addressed there in our reading in Matthew chapter 12, you may want to turn to it just once again as I mentioned, Jesus is making it clear here in this section. In Matthew 12 that there are certain works which Jesus defended as happening on the Lord's day, and this is a this is a quite interesting a context. For example, he says that in verse five in verses three and four. Sorry, there are works of necessity, which are countenanced on the Sabbath. They're saying you should be eating these court this corn and eating them and he says, haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry.

He entered the house of God, and he and his companions in the consecrated bread which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests in verse five, or haven't you read in the law that on the Sabbath the priest and the temple desecrate the day and yet are innocent. What is that mean what it is the explanation as to what is happening when in the role of pastor and teacher and pastors we serve the people of God in the context of worship. People say will then argue breaking the Sabbath yourselves argue breaking the Sabbath that you're upholding no not in the ultimate sense insofar as works of piety such as that which was carried on by the priests are where countenanced in the temple, and in verse 11 he points out that works of mercy are also defended within the framework of the Lord's day what he was addressing and rebutting and defending his disciples against was censorious next or if you like the kind of sophistry which these Pharisees were using taking their rabbinical teaching and their traditions and perverting the Sabbath institution and by doing so they had transformed it into an instrument of oppression and into an instrument of hypocrisy so they were hypocrites and they had made it something that it wasn't.

And so Jesus says in works of mercy in works of necessity and in works of piety we still maintain the principle which God is established from all creation. So we need to understand the Sabbath commandment must never be isolated from God's law in its entirety, nor from the gospel in regenerating and in redeeming grace listening to Alister today on Truth for Life continues our series on the 10 commandments titled pathway to freedom.

If you are a regular listener to Truth for Life. You know, we take our mission to clearly teach the Bible seriously God's word is a lamp to our feet in the light to our path. It guides our every step. Even his ancient laws etched in stone thousands of years ago are still relevant to our lives today. That's why we teach directly from the Scripture so that God's word can do God's work in the lives of those who listen. Today we want to invite you to become part of the team of listeners who help make Truth for Life possible. These are listers we refer to as truth partners, they give a set amount each month.

Their collective giving brings God's word to a worldwide audience. So if you are one of our true partners. Thank you for your prayers and your financial support and if you've not yet come alongside us. You can sign up partner your giving will make a difference in the lives of so many. When you join the truth partner team. We want to send you a copy of Alister's book titled pathway to freedom how God's laws change our lives. This is a book that will help you discover just how much our current culture fails to understand the seriousness of sin, how we disregard a proper fear of God.

Alister dedicates a full chapter to each of the commandments and explores what true obedience actually looks like you'll find out in this book that God's instruction is challenging, if not altogether impossible to follow.

That's why we need a Savior request the book pathway to freedom when you sign up to become a truth partner again. You can do partner or request the book when you make a one-time if you rather mail your donation along with your request for the book right to Truth for Life at PO Box 39, 8000, Cleveland, OH 44139. By the way, if you been enjoying our current study on the 10 Commandments you can own all 12 of Alister's messages in this series USB for five dollars find it online Truth for or in our mobile.

If you'd like to take your study a step further. You can also look for the pathway to freedom study guide contains 12 chapters correspond with each of Alister's messages and it includes key Scriptures questions to help you apply God's law to your life about pain if you're a parent, the rules you make for your children are ultimately for their well-being, so it shouldn't surprise us that God's command for us to keep a Sabbath rest is ultimately for our benefit. Find out more tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg furnished by Truth for Life morning is for living

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