Observing the Sabbath

General Christian Theology
Valerie
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Re: Observing the Sabbath

Postby Valerie » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:17 am

Hats Off wrote:Thanks, Boot. If I can remember all this I will no longer just keep the Lord's day since that is what we do but because I understand why we are to keep the Lord's day.


I love this Hats Off. Some of my friends who were raised Amish, would get so discouraged when they would ask questions of the elders why we do this or why we do that- where does this come from, etc- they would get so frustrated with the common answer "Because that's the way we've always done it". Maybe that's enough reason- but- they wanted to understand where they learned and how "the way they've always done it".

What a blessing to really understand! Makes it a joy, a spiritual exercise, not a legalistic one.
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RZehr
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Re: Observing the Sabbath

Postby RZehr » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:57 am

Adam wrote:I do wonder, however, if Jesus's teachings were pointing toward a different understanding of the Sabbath similar to Hebrews 4:9, which seems to picture the Sabbath as an eternal rest that we are encouraged to strive to enter into. Perhaps, Sabbath, as part of the law, which was a guardian and tutor, was there to paint the picture of the rest that we will one day enjoy eternally in heaven. If that is the case, I would hate to say that we Christians no longer observe the Sabbath, but rather I would want to say that our Sabbath day of rest is waiting for us when we get to heaven. Just as the sacrificial system pointed to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ, perhaps the Sabbath day pointed to the eternal Sabbath rest we Christians will enjoy in heaven, and I do look forward to observing that time of rest.


Is there a reason you believe that the picture of rest is after death? I understand Hebrews 4 to be talking about us now, resting in Christs work.
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Josh
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Re: Observing the Sabbath

Postby Josh » Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:28 pm

At the same time, someone who questions everything and wants reasons before they will obey often has a rebellious heart.

Do we really need to have every single thing in life explained to us? Perhaps we should obey first and then search for deeper answers.
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Bootstrap
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Re: Observing the Sabbath

Postby Bootstrap » Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:01 pm

Josh wrote:At the same time, someone who questions everything and wants reasons before they will obey often has a rebellious heart.

Do we really need to have every single thing in life explained to us? Perhaps we should obey first and then search for deeper answers.


But in this case, how do you obey if you don't know what God commands? Some say we need to keep a Saturday Sabbath, others say Sunday is the Sabbath, others observe the Lord's Day on Sunday. They each say they are right and the others are wrong. Some even give rather dire warnings against those who disagree with them, or imply that the others just don't really want to obey.
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Adam
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Re: Observing the Sabbath

Postby Adam » Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:23 pm

RZehr wrote:
Adam wrote:I do wonder, however, if Jesus's teachings were pointing toward a different understanding of the Sabbath similar to Hebrews 4:9, which seems to picture the Sabbath as an eternal rest that we are encouraged to strive to enter into. Perhaps, Sabbath, as part of the law, which was a guardian and tutor, was there to paint the picture of the rest that we will one day enjoy eternally in heaven. If that is the case, I would hate to say that we Christians no longer observe the Sabbath, but rather I would want to say that our Sabbath day of rest is waiting for us when we get to heaven. Just as the sacrificial system pointed to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ, perhaps the Sabbath day pointed to the eternal Sabbath rest we Christians will enjoy in heaven, and I do look forward to observing that time of rest.


Is there a reason you believe that the picture of rest is after death? I understand Hebrews 4 to be talking about us now, resting in Christs work.


The reason I believe that is because the author of Hebrews is addressing people who are already Christians but who are struggling under persecution. He is comparing them to the Israelites who perished in the desert and did not enter the rest (i.e. promised land) because of their faithlessness. The author is encouraging them to stay faithful to the end so that they may enter their rest (i.e. the promised land in heaven). If he were talking about the Christian life on earth, it would seem to me that he wouldn't talk about entering the Sabbath rest as a future reality but as an already present reality.

However, I am open to being convinced otherwise if there is good evidence that the author of Hebrews is talking about Christian life here on this Earth.

I also think of John 5:16-17:

And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

So it seems that work in this present age continues for Jesus and God, even on the Sabbath.

Also Revelation 14:13,

And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

In this Scripture, rest is pictured as something that people enter upon death.
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ohio jones
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Re: Observing the Sabbath

Postby ohio jones » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:01 am

The author of Hebrews uses the word "today" (quoting Psalm 95) at least four times in this context. From which I assume that he is talking about today, not eternity.

The Israelites did not enter the promised land because of unbelief. But what if they had believed? They would not have had to wait for death, but would have entered in immediately after the spies gave their report. That was God's original plan. The only person who entered the promised land after death was Joseph.

While there may be a second fulfillment, a more complete Rest, in the future, is it after death, or after resurrection?
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Neto
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Re: Observing the Sabbath

Postby Neto » Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:09 pm

To Boot
Yesterday morning [Pg 5. Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:39 AM] I posted the following comment:
Neto wrote:… I'll read back over this thread to see how you understand the benefits of not meeting on the Sabbath.


So now I have read back through all of your posts, to try to understand what you think are the reasons why the early Church did not practice the Sabbath. I would just first comment that I think that there is a good deal of difference between meeting as the local manifestation of the Body of Christ on the Sabbath, and practicing the Sabbath. For one thing, there are questions regarding whose definition is being used for “practicing the Sabbath”, because it is very obvious that Jesus did not define it in the same way that the Jewish leaders of his day did.

So let’s work through these quotations that I picked up on as possible expressions of why the early Church did not choose to meet on the Sabbath. (I’m still not convinced that they didn’t, but that is a separate issue.)

I actually wrote this last night, but out of concern that what I had written might come across as an attack, I edited & shortened it. People say that the way to be sure you are understanding another person is to say back to them what you think they are saying. So I have taken out my responses to what I THINK you are saying, and I will wait until I know if I am understanding correctly to respond further.

Pg. 1, Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:45 AM
Bootstrap wrote: Like the Lord's Supper, the Lord's Day implies a day that belongs to the Lord, holy to the Lord.

I understand this to be saying that gathering on the day when Jesus was resurrected puts the focus on him.
Pg 2 Mon Apr 17, 2017 10:01 AM
Bootstrap wrote:… Sabbath and the Lord's Day are distinct. ….
I don't think New Testament Gentiles were ever told to observe the Sabbath. Acts 15 lists the things that Gentiles are to do, and this is not mentioned there. I don't think the early church's writings say that Gentiles observed the Sabbath.
….
I see no justification in Scripture or the writings of the earliest church for requiring Gentile Christians to observe the Jewish Sabbath.

….Taking a day for rest and focusing on God and family is wise, and doing that on Sunday makes sense if we celebrate the Lord's Day. ….

What I hear: The day we choose to gather should reflect a focus on the resurrection of Jesus. There also seems to be an underlying expectation that the NT should prescribe when worship ought to be done.
Pg 3 Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:40 AM
Bootstrap wrote: … Ignatius [draws] a clear distinction between Christians and Jews based on Sabbath worship versus the Lord's Day [and] associates this with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our worship on the Lord's Day is our identification with Jesus. The resurrection is the basis for the Lord's Day.
….

Again, the idea here is that the focus of Sunday worship/gathering is squarely on the resurrection of Jesus.
Pg 4 Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:25 PM
Bootstrap wrote:…. I think the teachings of Jesus represent a New Covenant. What Jesus said and did is centrally important for all Christians. And the parts of the Old Covenant that matter for us are the ones that Jesus, Paul, and others affirmed in the New Covenant. ….

Again, I sense a seeming expectation that the NT is prescribing what we should do, much as the Law did for the OT era, that we should only do the parts of the OT teachings that were restated in the NT.
Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:59 AM
Bootstrap wrote:
Neto wrote:I found this reference while waiting for services to start tonight. Acts 18:7, the account of Paul in Corinth. But actually in some places it says that they met daily. That's a model we could think about following more.


To me, this does not say much about when Christians should meet to worship....

Again, the word ‘should’ appears here, as though the NT is expected to prescribe what we are to be doing in respect to which should be the primary day of gathering & worship.
I did respond to this earlier, so I will just add one comment of my own - that I don’t approach the question of Christian worship from the standpoint of “when should”; I think of the NT as more of “how should”.
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Adam
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Re: Observing the Sabbath

Postby Adam » Sat Apr 22, 2017 7:39 am

ohio jones wrote:The author of Hebrews uses the word "today" (quoting Psalm 95) at least four times in this context. From which I assume that he is talking about today, not eternity.

The Israelites did not enter the promised land because of unbelief. But what if they had believed? They would not have had to wait for death, but would have entered in immediately after the spies gave their report. That was God's original plan. The only person who entered the promised land after death was Joseph.

While there may be a second fulfillment, a more complete Rest, in the future, is it after death, or after resurrection?


Those are good observations and good questions. Assuming that the audience of the letter is Christians who already have faith in Christ, what would they need to do to enter that rest? It would seem to be something other than having faith since they already have that. It seems that the author is encouraging them to stay true to their faith to the end. I wonder if the use of the word Today is intended to refer to the fact that God speaks of another time for entering His rest, a time other than the Israelites missed opportunity in the desert. That time is now here because of Jesus's death and resurrection. Hebrews 4:3 says: "For we who have believed enter that rest." It doesn't say that we have entered but that we do enter. Hebrews 4:10 says that "whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his." I don't know that we rest from our works until we get to heaven. Is there another way to interpret that in which we can be viewed as resting from our works here in this life?
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Bootstrap
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Re: Observing the Sabbath

Postby Bootstrap » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:27 pm

Hi Neto,

Thanks for your care and the spirit in which you did this.

I think my position is a little different than what you thought. I don't think the New Testament gives a clear command for New Testament believers to worship on any particular day or to observe a Sabbath. In light of what the very early church's use of words, it does seem that the reference to The Lord's Day in Rev 1:10 is to Sunday, and that the church very likely met on Sundays to honor the resurrection. I don't think narrative is the same thing as a commandment.

I agree that the way Jesus - and presumably Jewish Christians in the earliest church - kept the Sabbath was different from the way the Pharisees did. I don't see any evidence that the early church taught Sabbath keeping. In the earliest writings I can find, I see the opposite. I don't see anything like a clear commandment to Gentiles to keep the Sabbath.

I see no clear commandment in the New Testament to worship at a particular time. On the other hand, I do see some indications that early Christians honored Sunday as The Lord's Day, the day of his resurrection. That seems like a good practice to me, it's one I copy.

Does that help?
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Neto
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Re: Observing the Sabbath

Postby Neto » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:59 pm

Bootstrap wrote:Hi Neto,

Thanks for your care and the spirit in which you did this.

I think my position is a little different than what you thought. I don't think the New Testament gives a clear command for New Testament believers to worship on any particular day or to observe a Sabbath. In light of what the very early church's use of words, it does seem that the reference to The Lord's Day in Rev 1:10 is to Sunday, and that the church very likely met on Sundays to honor the resurrection. I don't think narrative is the same thing as a commandment.

I agree that the way Jesus - and presumably Jewish Christians in the earliest church - kept the Sabbath was different from the way the Pharisees did. I don't see any evidence that the early church taught Sabbath keeping. In the earliest writings I can find, I see the opposite. I don't see anything like a clear commandment to Gentiles to keep the Sabbath.

I see no clear commandment in the New Testament to worship at a particular time. On the other hand, I do see some indications that early Christians honored Sunday as The Lord's Day, the day of his resurrection. That seems like a good practice to me, it's one I copy.

Does that help?


Yes, I think I understand your position much better now. I agree that the NT does not appear to teach any particular day as the "right one". I do think there are indications that the Jewish believers continued to honor various parts of the ceremonial law, including Sabbath day gatherings, so that would be the only area of difference I see between what you have explained here, and the way I see it myself. There was a time when I thought that one of the reasons why Paul's arrest came at the time it did was God's action to stop him from fulfilling the sacrifice he had agreed to sponsor at the temple. I thought that that action would have been an affront to the sacrifice of Christ. I have backed off from that opinion somewhat, but still wonder about it. (He of course also apparently took a temporary Nazarite vow at one point, or at least some sort of vow which involved shaving his head as part of the observance, possibly to mark the end of the period in which he was under the vow. I didn't look again now, but I think I recall that commentaries differ about the meaning of the vow, and some also question whether it is referring to Paul, or to someone else.)

If I may say one more thing about the Sabbath observance - It seems to me that the OT represents it as focusing on God, the one who said "Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy". So if "the Lord's Day" refers to Sunday, and if the point of gathering on Sunday was to focus on the resurrection, then it would be changing the focus of worship as well, at least to some degree. But on the other hand, I don't see a clear distinction (in terms of the names used in the OT) between God the Father & The Messiah of God. Both are referred to in different OT passages by all of the following names or designations: Savior, Yahweh ('LORD'), Adonai ('Lord'), ha'Adon ('Master'), and others as well.
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