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Pursuing Unity Within Christ’s Church

Episode 16

In John 17, Christ prayed for unity amongst his followers. We too should pray for unity and work hard to establish, or reestablish it, whenever possible. It should be noted that Jesus prayed for unity of a particular kind in John 17. This is indicated by the words “just as” or “even as” in John 17:20 and following. Superficial unity is not the goal, but rather deep and substantial unity. That is what we should be working towards! It might be a good idea to listen to the sermon that Pastor Joe recently preached on this passage. If can be found at (It is sermon #65 in the series preached on 02/21/2016). This podcast seeks to build upon that sermon by providing practical insights for pursuing and maintaining unity within Christ’s church. These principles can actually be applied in any setting where unity is needed (marriage, family, etc.).

Posted in Podcasts, Confessing the Faith, Church Life, The Christian Life, Posted by Mike. Comments Off on Pursuing Unity Within Christ’s Church

The Christian Sabbath: Considering The New Testament

The question before us is do the scriptures teach that the fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”, is still in force for Christians today? This is not my first post on the subject. In the first, I simply stated our belief on the matter. In the second, I addressed what I believe to be a crucial problem within the modern church, namely, antinomianism. In the third, I introduced the categories of moral, civil, and ceremonial as they apply to the law of Moses. I made the case that the fourth commandment contains both moral and ceremonial aspects. This is why the command will abide forever (because it is moral), and why some things have changed (the day has moved from Saturday to Sunday, etc., due to the ceremonial aspect of the command). Now we turn our attention to the New Testament and ask, does the New Testament teach that the fourth commandment, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”, is still in force for Christians today?  I have seven points for you to consider.

One, the burden of proof is on those who claim the Sabbath command is no longer in force. A careful reading of the Old Testament scriptures leaves one with the impression that the one in seven pattern of work and rest will continue on to the end of time. I’ve made a case for this in previous posts. Those who claim that the fourth command is no longer binding must prove that the New Testament says the command has been done away with, leaving us with nine of the Ten Commandments

Two, never does the New Testament suggest that fourth commandment has been removed. Some will respond by citing Colossians 2:16-17, which says, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” In fact, this verse supports the view that we hold to. Paul is using technical language to refer to the Jewish seventh-day Sabbath along with the whole complex of festivals and feast days associated with the Jewish Sabbath. We agree that the Christian is not to rest and worship on Saturday as if under the Old Covenant. Neither is the Christian obligated to observe the Passover, the Feast of Booths, or any of the other Jewish holiday. Christ has fulfilled these things, and has thus removed them. By no means is this text saying that the one-in-seven moral principle given at creation and on Sinai has been fulfilled and thus removed. Clearly Paul has in mind all of the ceremonial laws of the Old Covent associated with the Jewish Sabbath, including the ceremonial aspect of the fourth command itself (the seventh day). Notice that he uses the language of shadow and substance, proving that he has the ceremonial and symbolic in mind, and not the moral command of God.

Three, Jesus taught that no law would pass away until it is fulfilled. Listen to Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:17-18: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” The word translated fulfill means, “to give the true or complete meaning to something—‘to give the true meaning to, to provide the real significance of’” (Louw-Nida, 33.144). The question must be asked, did Christ fulfill, or accomplish, all that the Sabbath signifies at his first coming? I hope not! The Sabbath is, among other things, a picture of eternal rest (Hebrews 4). Though Christ earned and secured our rest at his first coming, we have not yet entered into it fully. When we gather for worship on the Lord’s Day (the Christian Sabbath) we are to remember Jesus and his great act of deliverance accomplished at his first coming. But we are also to look forward to the fulness of God’s rest which is yet in our future. The full significance of the Sabbath has not yet been fulfilled, therefore we should not think that it has passed away.

Four, some have claimed that because the New Testament never reiterates the Sabbath command word for word, it is no longer in force. My response: Who says that something must be repeated in the New Testament in order for it to carry over from the Old? The vast majority of the Old Testament is not repeated in the New and yet we understand that much of it remains in force. If we argue that a particular Old Testament principle no longer has force we must demonstrate theologically why that would be. To say that a law or passage of scripture from the Old Testament only applies if it is repeated word for word would gut the vast majority of the Old Testament of significance for the Christian.

Five, while it is true that the fourth commandment is never reiterated word for word in the New Testament, it is in fact spoken of more than any other command. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were constantly accusing him of breaking the Sabbath. Read the Gospels and notice, however, that Christ never broke the Sabbath. He kept it perfectly. He stripped away all of the gunk that man had heaped upon it. He kept the Sabbath purely, but rejected the traditions of men. One should remember that the Gospels were written to Christians. Also, it should be remembered that they were written, not as bear facts of  history, but in order to persuade Christians to believe and to live rightly according to the truth. One should ask, if the Sabbath were of no importance to the Christian under the New Covenant, then why did the Gospel writers deal with it so frequently? The reason they dealt with it, in my opinion, was to demonstrate to the Christian community the importance and true significance of the Sabbath. Jesus kept the Sabbath purely. Christians are to keep the Christian Sabbath, or the Lord’s Day, in the way that he did. To state it another way, why would the Gospels devote so much time to the Sabbath principle and labor to demonstrate  Jesus’ restoration of the fourth command if the command were destined to be tossed into the garbage can of history after the inauguration of the New Covenant?

Six, notice that early church gathered according to the pattern of one in seven, but on the first day of the week. Read the Gospels and see that Jesus met with his disciples on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, after his resurrection, and before his ascension to the right hand of the Father (John 20:26). Read the book of Acts and see that the first Christians gathered for worship on the first day of every week (Acts 20:7). Read Paul’s letters and see that he expected the Church gather together on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:2). And notice, finally, that John the Apostle was said to have been in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day (a day that uniquely belongs to the Lord) when he received the vision of the Apocalypse (Revelation 1:10). How do we explain this pattern? It was so firmly and so quickly established by the first Christians, but nowhere do we find a command from Christ or his Apostles saying, the Sabbath is no more, now you are to rest and worship on the Lord’s Day. No such command is given. Where does this new pattern for rest and worship come from, then? Is it not most reasonable to see that the early Christians understood exactly what we are saying? The Sabbath principle given at creation and reiterated on Sinai was for all people in all times. God’s people were were to work six days and rest and worship one. But the resurrection of Christ was so significant (it was an act of new creation) that the day moved from Saturday to Sunday, and is rightly called the Lord’s Day. I have often wondered how pastors who claim that the fourth command was fulfilled and thus taken away by Christ compel their people to gather for worship once a week on Sundays. On what basis do they argue for such a practice? If there is no Sabbath command behind this practice, then we must admit that it is simply a tradition. And if it is a tradition, then we cannot be bound to keep it. Why not gather once a month (some Christians do, I guess). Why not gather for corporate worship on Thursdays. Who’s to say that it must be weekly and on a particular day? The only persuasive answer is that God has ordained that we gather weekly, and he has specified that the people of God gather on Sunday now that the Christ has come, having accomplished his work of redemption.

Seven, consider the following passages that do explicitly speak of a continuation of Sabbath keeping under the New Covenant: First of all, notice Matthew 24:20. Here Jesus speaks of the tribulation that the people of God will experience after he goes to the Father. He says, “Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a Sabbath.” It seems most reasonable to think that Jesus envisioned the pattern of six and one to exist under the New Covenant as it did under the Old. Two, notice that the writer to the Hebrews says, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:9–11). The word translated “Sabbath rest” refers to, “a special religiously significant period for rest and worship—‘a Sabbath rest, a period of rest'” (Louw Nida 67.185). He says that it “remains” (present tense). And remember that he was writing to Christians under the New Covenant. And why does it remain? It remains because we have not yet entered the fullness of God’s rest. Notice how  he exhorts Christians in verse 11 to “strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.”

The evidence it overwhelming, in my opinion, that the fourth commandment is still in force under the New Covenant. The six and one pattern remains because this is the pattern established by God at creation and reiterated on Sinai. In response to the question, who changed the Sabbath? The answer is that Jesus did, by his life, death, and resurrection. We rest and worship on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, because God’s word, the Holy Scriptures, Old and New, compel us to. May God’s people learn to call the Sabbath a delight!

Posted in Theology, The Christian Sabbath, Church Life, The Christian Life, Theology, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on The Christian Sabbath: Considering The New Testament

The Christian Sabbath: Is the Sabbath Command Moral or Ceremonial?

I can actually remember uttering the words, “Oh, this is good”, the first time I read chapter 19 of the London Baptist Confession. Many of the questions that arise concerning the scriptures have to do with, what appear to be, inconsistencies between the Old and New Testaments. Some have been troubled to the point of believing that the God of the Old Testament is altogether different than the God of the New – the one being a God of wrath, the other a God of grace. Others come to less troubling conclusions, but still struggle to appreciate the beautiful continuity that exists between the Old and New Testaments.

Chapter 19 of the Confession identifies three categories of laws found within the Old Testament – moral, civil, and ceremonial. These categories help the student of the Bible understand why some things have remained the same while others have changed as the Old Covenant gave way to the New. It should be acknowledged from the start that the Confession provides but a brief statement concerning these things. Confessions of Faith are like this – they do not seek to prove a case, or to thoroughly explain an issue – they are, as the name implies, confessions or declarations. Though complexities remain, the categories of moral, civil, and ceremonial are, in my opinion, good and helpful and true.

Ceremonial Laws

The Confession is right to say that the law of Moses contains a variety of “typical ordinances” (LBC 19.3). This means that some of the laws of Moses served to typifyrepresent, or symbolize something. And what did they symbolize? Among other things, they governed the worship of Israel, “prefiguring Christ, his graces, actions, sufferings, and benefits“. The ceremonial laws of Israel served to prefigure Christ. Hebrews 10 is a wonderful place to go for an example of this. The sacrificial system given to Israel was “…but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities…” (Hebrews 10:1, ESV). The passage proceeds to make the case that Christ is the true form. The ceremonial laws of Moses were like a shadow cast backwards on history, if you will, the significant and substantial thing which cast the shadow being Christ crucified.

The Confession goes on to say that the “ceremonial laws being appointed only to the time of reformation, are, by Jesus Christ the true Messiah and only law-giver, who was furnished with power from the Father for that end abrogated and taken away.” Why have they been taken away? It is because Christ has fulfilled them (Matthew 5:17)! They have served their symbolic purpose! The thing symbolized has come –  his name is Jesus the Christ.

Civil Laws

I will not linger long over the civil law. The Confession simply says, “To them [Israel] he also he gave sundry judicial laws, which expired together with the state of that people, not obliging any now by virtue of that institution; their general equity only being of moral use.” Notice two things: One, the civil laws, like the ceremonial laws, have also expired. They have expired due to the simple fact that God’s people are not confined to the nation of Israel under the New Covenant (Romans 9:24-26). Gentiles have been grafted into Israel (Romans 11:17) and are, by faith, children of Abraham (Galatians 3:7); the middle wall of separation has been broken down by Christ (Ephesians 2:14); Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36); the gospel is to go to all nations (Genesis 12:1-3; Isaiah 25:6-8; Matthew 28:18-20). Simply put, under Christ there is no nation to give the civil laws of Moses to, in a strict and direct sense. Old Covenant Israel rightly bore those laws for a time, until the Christ came through them. Now that he has come, the laws have expired (notice that not even modern Israel is governed by the civil laws of Moses, nor should they be). Two, notice that the Confession acknowledges the ongoing usefulness of the civil laws in that they too have moral implications for us today. For example, Paul argues that Pastors should be paid by appealing to a civil law forbidding the muzzling of an ox while it treads out grain (1 Corinthians 9:8-10) (I’m flattered). The civil laws, though they have been taken away, do contain application for us today.

Moral Laws

The moral law differs from those mentioned above in that it is for all people in all times. It is our belief that the moral law was written in two places. First, it was written upon the heart of Adam. Our Confession summarizes this well, saying, “God gave to Adam a law of universal obedience written in his heart…” (LBC 19.1). We may call this the human conscience. Adam possessed this law in a most pure way. We possess it still today, but we suppress it in our sinfulness (Romans 2:12-16). Secondly, this law was also given to Moses. “The same law that was first written in the heart of man continued to be a perfect rule of righteousness after the fall, and was delivered by God upon Mount Sinai, in ten commandments, and written in two tables, the four first containing our duty towards God, and the other six, our duty to man. (Deuteronomy 10:4 )” (LBC 19.2). It is important to notice that there is continuity between the law given to Moses and the law written on the human heart. Paul’s point in Romans 2:12-16 is that a person will be judged by the moral law of God even if he does not have accesses to the law of Moses in the form of the Ten Commandments. For even if he does not have the Ten Commandments, he does have the same moral law law written upon his heart.

The Sabbath Command: Moral or Ceremonial?

The question is this: Is the Sabbath command moral or ceremonial? I do hope that you can see the importance of this question. If it is purely ceremonial, then we would believe that it has been fulfilled by Christ and thus taken away. If it is purely moral, then we would expect that it would continue unchanged until the end of time.

I’ve already stated in a previous post that the Sabbath command “contains a moral principle applicable to all people at all times and in all places.” But notice that I have also said in another place that the “Sabbath is a picture of something.” In other words, it has some typological, symbolic, and ceremonial aspect to it.

I have not contradicted myself. My reason for writing in this way was to prepare to make this statement: The Sabbath command given to Adam at creation, and to Moses at Sinai, was neither fully moral, nor fully ceremonial, but contained elements of both.

I believe understanding this principle is the key to understanding the Christian Sabbath, or the Lord’s Day – whichever term you prefer.

I’ve already far exceeded my self imposed 1,000 word limit, so I will work to bring this a conclussion, leaving some points for another time. For now, consider these three things:

1. We are persuaded by scripture to see the Sabbath command as moral and perpetual. Consider the following reasons:

  • The Sabbath principle was given to Adam at creation. Adam was the representative (covenant head) of mankind.
  • The Sabbath command was given to Moses being grouped together with nine other moral and perpetual commands. The fourth command has to do with the proper worship of God. The first three forbid certain things; the fourth positively commands something, namely the pronounced worship of God on day out of seven (note the terms positive and perpetual in the LBC 22.7)
  •  There is ample evidence that this moral law was not only written on stone and given to Moses, but also on the heart of man. Men and women the world over worship with regularity. They either  worship the true God or false gods; and they either worship according to what God has appointed (one day out of seven), or according to their imaginations and devices (LBC 22.1). The point is that even those who do not have Moses’ law show that they have that same law written on their hearts, distorted as it may be (Romans 2:12-16).

2. We are persuaded by scripture to see the Sabbath command as containing ceremonial elements for the following reasons:

  • The particular day is not inherently moral but serves a symbolic purpose. While the moral principle calls men and women to worship the one true God one day out of seven, the particular day is not inherently moral. We might ask, “what difference does it make which day we gather for worship so long as we worship one day out of seven?” We would have to admit that the moral principle is one in seven. The particular day would not matter except that God has specified the day, and that for symbolic purposes.
  • The seventh day symbolized something particular. Before Christ the Sabbath was on the seventh day. It was a reminder of God’s act of creation (Exodus 20:11). It reminded the people of Israel of their salvation from Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15). But given its position in the week the seventh day Sabbath also reminded them that their true salvation and rest was yet in the future. Just as we look forward to the seventh day of the week from the vantage point of the first or second day, and so on, so too the Old Covenant saints looked forward to the coming of the Christ and the rest that he would bring from their vantage point in the history of redemption.
  • The New Testament teaches that Christ fulfilled the Jewish seventh day Sabbath along with all of the festivals and feasts associated with it. Colossians 2:16 says,  “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.” (Colossians 2:16, ESV) This verse is not saying that the moral, one in seven Sabbath principle, contained with the fourth commandment has been taken away, but that the Jewish, seventh day Sabbath, with all of it accompanying feast days, has been fulfilled by Christ. Christians are not obligated to keep these. The feasts and festivals were clearly ceremonial, picturing Christ, and were thus taken away. The seventh day was also ceremonial, pointing forward to the coming of the Christ.The seventh day Jewish Sabbath was also taken away, its peculiar symbolic purpose having been fulfilled by Christ.
  • The day has moved from the seventh to the first. After Christ, the one in seven principle remains – how could it not given all that has been said before concerning its moral core, its having been given at creation and placed at the heart of the Ten commandments – but the day has moved to the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; etc. ). This is the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10), or the Christian Sabbath. The particular day was able to move because it is not moral (fixed), but ceremonial (subject to change). The day has moved given the significance of what Christ accomplished by his death and resurrection. The people of God under the New Covenant rest and worship on the first day to remember, not only the original creation, but the new creation procured by Christ Jesus. We rest and worship on the first day to remember, not only Israel’s salvation from Egypt, but the salvation earned by Christ, which was far greater indeed. 
  • The first day symbolizes something particular. We rest and worship of the first day because the Christ has come – our salvation has come. We look back to him and the significance of what he has accomplished. The first day Christian Sabbath pictures this very thing. Just as we look back to the first day of the week from the days that follow, so too we look back to the work that Christ has accomplished for us, from our unique vantage point in the history of redemption.
  • The Lord’s Day also reminds us that, as Christians, we have entered into Christ’s rest, and work out of the rest he has secured. For Adam, things were exactly the opposite – work was to lead to rest. For Israel, things were also exactly the opposite – work would lead to rest (not for salvation, but as it pertained to entering into and remaining in the land, which was a type of the kingdom of God). Notice that in Christ, however, everything is turned on it’s head. We rest and then work. We abide in him, and through abiding him we bear fruit (John 15).

3. With that said, it must be noted that we have not entered his rest in a full and consummate sense. I hope we all agree with that! Though we enjoy tremendous benefits in Christ, and though it is true that we are seated with him now in the heavenly places, we have not entered the fulness of his rest. This is why it cannot be that the Sabbath has expired. The Sabbath was a picture of eternal rest for Adam in the beginning. He was to work, and thus enter in. The Sabbath was also picture of rest for the nation of Israel, calling the people to trust in God that they might enter his rest. And the Christian Sabbath, or Lord’s Day, still functions as a picture of eternal rest. Though we have tasted that rest in Christ, we have not entered into it fully. Though the death and resurrection of Christ was indeed significant (so significant was it that the day changed!), his first coming only inaugurated  his kingdom – we eagerly await the consummation of it (Romans 8:18-25).

This is precisely what the writer of Hebrews means when he says, “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9–11, ESV)


There is ample biblical evidence in support of the idea that Sabbath principle is perpetual; there is also ample evidence in support of the idea that something changed in regard to the Sabbath at the resurrection of Christ. Noticing that the Sabbath command is both moral and ceremonial is the key that allows us to  process all of the evidence found in the Old and New Testament. When all is considered we cannot agree with the anti-Sabatarians, nor can we agree with the Seventh Day Adventists –  we must finally say “Amen” to what is expressed so beautifully in chapter 22 of the London Baptist Confession (see also chapter 21 of The Westminster Confession of Faith) and agree that this is indeed the faithful and true teaching of Holy Scripture.

Posted in Theology, The Christian Sabbath, The Christian Life, Theology, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on The Christian Sabbath: Is the Sabbath Command Moral or Ceremonial?

The Christian Sabbath: The Law is Good

My objective in this short series on the Christian Sabbath is to persuade you to believe that the fourth commandment – “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8, ESV) – applies to the Christian today just as the other nine commandments do.

It is true that we are not justified by the keeping of the law – no one ever was (Galatians 2:16). And it is true that we are not under the law in the way that Old Covenant Israel was, or those not in Christ are (Galatians 5:18). But it is a mistake to assume that the moral law, as well as the moral principles contained within the civil and ceremonial laws of the Old Testament, do not apply to those in Christ (Matthew 5:27; 1 Timothy 5:18).

We wouldn’t dare claim this concerning the other nine commandments. Most Christians would acknowledge, for example, that, the seventh command – “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14, ESV) – still applies. It applies in that it reveals God’s moral standard for us. We can not be saved by the keeping of it  – we are not legalists. And we cannot keep it apart from the work of the Spirit in us – we are not moralists. But it is as true and applicable for us today as it was in the day it was given. My question is this: Why would we approach the fourth commandment any differently?

Some might object, saying, but the law is written on the hearts of Christians, not on stone! This is indeed true (Jeremiah 31:31-33). But why would we think that the moral law written on the heart of the Christian would differ in substance from the moral law written on stone and given to Moses? It is the same moral law for God’s people under the Old and New Covenant!

It is true, the civil and ceremonial laws do not apply to Chritsians in the same way as they did to those under the Old Covenant. And why is that? It is because they have been fulfilled in Christ (Acts 10:13). But the moral principles remain unchanged and intact (Matthew 5:17). If you are interested in this I would recommend that you read Chapter 19 of our Confession.

I made a case (very briefly) in my last post for the permanence of the fourth commandment. I argued like this: One, the fourth commandment is at the heart of the ten commandments, which is a summery of God’s moral law. Two, the Sabbath principle appears, not first in the ten commandments, but at creation. Both of these facts point to the Sabbath principle as something that transcends the Old Covenant made with Israel. It contains a moral principle applicable to all people at all times and in all places.

Here I emphasize this point: many Christians are opposed to the continued validity of the Sabbath command because they approach the issue with a predisposed aversion to the law of God. They object to the idea that we are to observe the Sabbath today saying, that is legalism! We are not under the law! Our response would be, no, you are guilty of antinomianism! You have gone to far in your rejection of the moral law!  

We are not legalists. We do not believe that a person can be saved through the keeping of the law. No one ever has been, and never will be (actually, if I had the time I would develop this point: all are saved through the keeping of the law in this sense –  Christ has kept it for us, and we are saved through faith in him!). Furthermore, we are deeply opposed to adding anything to the law of God as the Pharisees in Jesus’ day were guilty of doing (this is why I am opposed to forbidding the drinking of alcohol, for example. While drinking may be unwise (especially for some), it should not be forbidden for the simple fact that the scriptures to not forbid it (John 2)). We are not legalists.

But neither are we antinomians. We believe that the law of God is useful for the Christian. We agree with Paul that “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Romans 7:12, ESV).

Traditionally the church has confessed that the moral law has three uses for the Christian. R.C. Sproul summarizes this nicely:

“The first purpose of the law is to be a mirror. On the one hand, the law of God reflects and mirrors the perfect righteousness of God. The law tells us much about who God is. Perhaps more important, the law illumines human sinfulness. Augustine wrote, ‘The law orders, that we, after attempting to do what is ordered, and so feeling our weakness under the law, may learn to implore the help of grace.’ The law highlights our weakness so that we might seek the strength found in Christ. Here the law acts as a severe schoolmaster who drives us to Christ.

A second purpose for the law is the restraint of evil. The law, in and of itself, cannot change human hearts. It can, however, serve to protect the righteous from the unjust. Calvin says this purpose is ‘by means of its fearful denunciations and the consequent dread of punishment, to curb those who, unless forced, have no regard for rectitude and justice.’ The law allows for a limited measure of justice on this earth, until the last judgment is realized.

The third purpose of the law is to reveal what is pleasing to God. As born-again children of God, the law enlightens us as to what is pleasing to our Father, whom we seek to serve. The Christian delights in the law as God Himself delights in it. Jesus said, ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments’ (John 14:15). This is the highest function of the law, to serve as an instrument for the people of God to give Him honor and glory.” (R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith)

If you are having trouble with the Sabbath command you may need to back up and reconsider your view of the law in general. Perhaps you have misunderstood what it means to not be under the law in Christ. Whatever that means (that is another discussion for another time) it does not mean that the moral law no longer applies to the Christian.

The Sabbath command is at the heart of the summery of the moral law, the Ten Commandments. If it is still wrong to worship other gods, make graven images, take the name of the LORD in vain, dishonor parents, murder, commit adultery, steel, lie, and covet, then it is also wrong to fail to rest and worship one day in seven.

Questions remain. Who changed the day? What are we to do and not do on the Christian Sabbath? These, and other question will have to wait for another time. For now, may I simply encourage you to see the law of God as holy and righteous and good.


Posted in Theology, Christian Sabbath, Church Practices, Confession of Faith, The Christian Life, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on The Christian Sabbath: The Law is Good

The Christian Sabbath: Our Confession

The fourth of the Ten Commandments is this: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8–11, ESV)

How are we as Christians to understand this command? Even a brief glance at it reveals that it was originally given to a people living in a time different than our own. They were to rest on the seventh day. We, if we rest at all, rest on the first. They were to provide rest for their male servants, female servants, livestock, and to the sojourners who dwelt in their midst – all of this sounds very foreign to us, doesn’t it?

It is indeed tempting to brush the Sabbath command to the side reasoning to ourselves, “that was for a different time and for a different people, it does not apply to us anymore.” But is this true? Are we really to say that one of the Ten Commandments no longer applies? I think not.

Consider that the principle that binds each of the Ten Commandments together is the fact that they contain moral principles of universal significance. Idol worship is wrong – murder is wrong – adultery is wrong – not just for a select people living in a particular time, but for all people in all times. These things are forbidden because they are violations of God’s moral law which emanate from his being. The Ten Commandments are the Ten Commandments because they contain moral principles which apply to all people at all times.

Notice also the reason given for the fourth command. The text reads, “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” The significance is this: The Sabbath command was given, not first to Israel, but to Adam and Eve who represent the entire human race. The Sabbath is a picture of something. It reminds of of the fact that God created the heavens and the earth, of the promise of eternal rest found in him, and that he alone is worthy of our worship.

It is our conviction that the Sabbath principle remains in effect for us today. It ought to be obeyed by all people in all times. In other words, to fail to rest and to worship the one true God according to the pattern established by him at creation is to sin.

Now in the moment you read these words you probably have a dozen or more questions flood your mind: Which day? Can it be any day? If it must be a particular day, then why do we rest and worship on Sunday, and not Saturday? What can I do on that day? What must I not do? Isn’t this legalism? Wasn’t Jesus against Sabbath keeping? Didn’t Paul say that the Sabbath was done away with? What is the reason for all of this anyways? I intend to address questions like these in future posts. For now I would simply like to remind you of what we confess.

Would you please take a moment to read chapter 22 of the London Baptist Confession (below)? Notice that the sabbath principle is addressed within the context of a larger section dealing with worship, for that is the real question: how are we to worship God? The answer given is that we are to worship him, not according to our preferences, but in the way that he has prescribed in his word.

My prayer for you, church, is that you would grow convinced that this is indeed the teaching of scripture. God has given us six days to work, but he has invited us to rest and worship him one out of seven. The Sabbath is a gift. It ought to be a most joyous thing as we orient the rhythm of our lives around the worship of the God who made us, who saved us, and who will one day bring us into the fullness of his rest when he makes all things new.

The Baptist Confession of Faith
Chapter 22 – Worship and the Sabbath Day

  1. The light of nature shews that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is just, good and doth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures. ( Jeremiah 10:7; Mark 12:33; Deuteronomy 12:32; Exodus 20:4-6 )
  2. Religious worship is to be given to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and to him alone; not to angels, saints, or any other creatures; and since the fall, not without a mediator, nor in the mediation of any other but Christ alone. ( Matthew 4:9, 10; John 6:23; Matthew 28:19; Romans 1:25; Colossians 2:18; Revelation 19:10; John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5 )
  3. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one part of natural worship, is by God required of all men. But that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of the Spirit, according to his will; with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and when with others, in a known tongue. ( Psalms 95:1-7; Psalms 65:2; John 14:13, 14; Romans 8:26; 1 John 5:14; 1 Corinthians 14:16, 17 )
  4. Prayer is to be made for things lawful, and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter; but not for the dead, nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death. ( 1 Timothy 2:1, 2; 2 Samuel 7:29; 2 Samuel 12:21-23; 1 John 5:16 )
  5. The reading of the Scriptures, preaching, and hearing the Word of God, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord; as also the administration of baptism, and the Lord’s supper, are all parts of religious worship of God, to be performed in obedience to him, with understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear; moreover, solemn humiliation, with fastings, and thanksgivings, upon special occasions, ought to be used in an holy and religious manner. ( 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:2; Luke 8:18; Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19; Matthew 28:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 11:26; Esther 4:16; Joel 2:12; Exodus 15:1-19, Psalms 107 )
  6. Neither prayer nor any other part of religious worship, is now under the gospel, tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed; but God is to be worshipped everywhere in spirit and in truth; as in private families daily, and in secret each one by himself; so more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly nor wilfully to be neglected or forsaken, when God by his word or providence calleth thereunto. ( John 4:21; Malachi 1:11; 1 Timothy 2:8; Acts 10:2; Matthew 6:11; Psalms 55:17; Matthew 6:6; Hebrews 10:25; Acts 2:42 )
  7. As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God’s appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy unto him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord’s day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished. ( Exodus 20:8; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10 )
  8. The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy. ( Isaiah 58:13; Nehemiah 13:15-22; Matthew 12:1-13 )
Posted in Theology, Christian Sabbath, Church Practices, Confession of Faith, The Christian Life, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on The Christian Sabbath: Our Confession

I assume you have questions. Please ask them!

A New Wrinkle at Emmaus

No, I’m not talking about the fact that we are all getting older. I’m talking about the addition of something new – a new feature at Emmaus Christian Fellowship that I think will help us grow in Christ and our understanding of the Christian faith.

The Value of Asking Quality Questions

This new wrinkle is really quite simple – I am requesting that you as the congregation develop the habit of regularly asking quality questions that pertain to the Christian faith. It is my hope that these questions will then give leadership an opportunity to study and respond to issues that truly matter to you (if they matter to you, they probably matter to others as well).

I imagine that these questions will arise as you listen to sermons, study through Emmaus Essentials, have discussions in your GCG’s, study the Word on your own, and interact with others in the community. The idea is to encourage folks to think deeply on whatever they happen to be considering. There are no dumb questions. Anything goes (a humble and respectful tone would certainly be appreciated). Remember, if you have questions about something it is highly likely that others have the same questions in their mind as well.

Our Plan to Provide Quality Answers

I plan to receive the questions and then personally address them, or ask one of the other leaders of Emmaus to address them, in an appropriate forum.

Some questions will be addressed in a sermon or sermon series (I plan to devote at least one sermon every two months to Q&A). If the question is “big” a sermon series might be devoted to it. Other questions might be addressed through a blog post, through Emmaus Essentials, or through recommending books, articles, videos, or podcasts on the particular subject.

The idea is to encourage more engagement and critical thinking. This will surely lead to more learning for the one asking the question, the one providing the answer, and the church as a whole.

Please Participate

Please participate! Questions can be submitted at any time by going to, by sending an email to [email protected], or by simply calling me at 951-444-8765.

Please do not expect a full response to all questions immediately. I would like the leadership to have the opportunity to provide quality answers. That means we may need time to do some honest study, which takes time. We will respond right away to let you know that we have received the question and how we plan to address it. 

I look forward to the dialogue!

Posted in News, The Christian Life, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. No Comments

The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World

One of my habits is to listen to podcasts throughout the week as I drive in the car and run. I plan to grow more consistent in passing along the good stuff to you so that you can also be edified.

As of late I have enjoyed listening to The Reformed Forum podcast. There are so many wonderful issues covered, and so many top-notch scholars interviewed in this broadcast – I would highly recommend that you listen in.

In particular, I would commend an episode entitled The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World. This is one of their “less academic” programs, but the content is so deeply practical – I think it would be worth your time to have a listen.

Blessings, church. I look forward to gathering with you all on the Lord’s Day.


The Envy of Eve: Finding Contentment in a Covetous World


"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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