Sabbath freedoms and the 4th Commandment..

The person who lead me into a personal relationship with Christ was an accountant. It took over two years of questions and challenges and… well all that is another story and anyway, God was in control of all that. The point is that we became close friends as he continued to disciple Judy and I (Judy’s salvation is another story of God’s grace) weekly for a number of years. As I absorbed his biblical Christian worldview one of the more interesting aspects of his “theology” had to do with the 4th Commandment,
(Exo. 20:8-10).  His Sunday’s were very different from the rest of the week. He would do no “work” whatsoever. No cutting the lawn or paying bills or hobbies or anything. He was a sports fanatic and yet, no TV on Sunday. He would go to church and spend the rest of the day reading his Bible, memorizing Scripture and praying, with the occasional nap and pleasure reading mixed in. That was almost twenty five years ago.

Over the past two weeks, through an unfortunate set of circumstances, I have had the unusual experience of spending a great deal of time alone, working on a huge project, physically isolated from human contact, other than by phone.  One of the benefits is that it has allowed me to be reflective in a number of different areas, not the least of which, my walk with the Lord.  When the first Sunday rolled around I decided to follow my old mentor’s example and “do no work”. I spent the day reading F260 (getting caught up), deeply researching and cross referencing the passages, praying, and… napping a bit. Secretly, my shallow expectation was that God would honor my commitment and redeem the time the following “workday”.  However, Monday was a disaster as far as making any progress on my big project.. As I sit writing this blog, today is the second Sunday and I spent the morning digging into Scripture and researching online the opinion of Christian theologian I respect related to the Sabbath and how as New Testament Christians we should behave on Sunday.  At the bottom of this blog is a list of some of my references.

I was reminded over and over again that we live under the sacrificial actions of Christ and the grace of God and not under the sacrificial system of the Law. Jesus came to fulfill the law (Matt 5:17-20) that the Israelites operated under as a shadow of the ultimate redemption in and through Christ. This does not mean that the 10  Commandments should not be followed. However, we are no longer under a Jewish law that would put us to death for working on the Sabbath (Exo. 35:2). For example, the following verse precludes us from even picking up sticks to light a fire in order to get warm on the Sabbath (which, by the way was Saturday, not Sunday…. again another rabbit trail).  Remember, Jesus challenged the religious rulers in Matt. 12:11 regarding Sabbath behavior using the illustration of pulling a sheep out of a well if the need arises. It comes down to the importance of doing “good” on the Sabbath, as defined by God, not man.

If our Sunday’s are no different than our secular Saturday’s, are we living in grace or taking advantage of it? God did not need to rest on the seventh day of creation. God does not get tired. He rested on the seventh day to set an example for His children that we need to have periods of rest and spiritual renewal. It can, and really should be a part of every day, a time of prayer and devotion. Like sleep, we can miss a few hours here and there but if we don’t catch up (refilling our leaky spiritual buckets) we are a mess, open to our own sin nature and Satan’s advances.

The bottom line is that legalism is a tricky concept. Like last Sunday for me, one can do all the” right” things for all the wrong reasons. For some, like my old accountant, trying to strictly follow the 4th Commandment is perhaps the right thing. For most, a more of balanced approach is in order. Today, I tried to strike more of a balance, spending a few hours working on my never ending project and the rest reflecting on the Lord through prayer and reading and writing. Tomorrow I’ll see if God honors that…. Just kidding J

Jeff Hilles

Internet References…

 

  1. Is Working on Sunday a Sin? https://www.gotquestions.org/working-on-Sunday.html
  2. Scripture verses about working on the Sabbath –  https://www.openbible.info/topics/working_on_the_sabbath
  3. Baptist Faith And Message – The Lord’s Day, Article 8 – http://www.baptist2baptist.net/b2barticle.asp?ID=251
  4. What does God’s Word say about Christians keeping the Sabbath. – https://www.backtothebible.org/what-does-god-s-word-say-about-the-christian-keeping-the-sabbath
  5. Piper- What does it mean practically to keep the Sabbath holy? – https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/what-does-it-mean-practically-to-keep-the-sabbath-holy
  6. What does it mean to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy?- https://www.gotquestions.org/remember-the-Sabbath-day.html
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Is Aunt Sally an Angel? (Or a demon?)

If you have been around many funerals, you might have heard a well-meaning comforter tell a grieving family member “God needed another angel so He took ____________________.”  Or as recently heard after Billy Graham’s death, “Heaven is brighter now.” At the same time, I have never heard anyone say “Satan needed a demon so he took ______________” for I suppose it would bring little comfort.  We may view preceding deaths as how comics portray deceased loved ones as current angels.  The frequency of this perspective may convince you that this might probably happen. However, just because the view may be common does not mean it is supported by the Bible.

  1. God is wholly sufficient in His capability and love and does not need anyone.  To state that God needs someone is to imply that He is inadequate.  Please do not try to comfort someone by diminishing God and His character.  In the end, making light of God will not be a comfort to anyone.  The unique characteristic of a triune God is that He is perfect in His love among Himself. Therefore, His creation was a function of His desire for self-expression as opposed to a need for an object of love. God reveals Himself as the “I am” meaning that He is whole sufficient within Himself and without limitation other than His own character.  While Satan is not perfect and is lacking, still there is no indication from the Bible that Satan takes someone to make them a demon.
  2. The Bible already states that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. The presence of our loved ones with God does not enhance God, but they are the ones enhanced by God presence.  As amazing as Moses was as a leader, his face shown because he was in God’s presence and not vice versa.  We must see God as the source of blessings even when they come through human personalities.  People are a blessing to us due to God’s working in and through them.  When I grieve them, I am also grieving the loss of God’s unique working through them for my benefit.  Heaven is a place where those comforts are restored because I am perfectly restored to God’s presence.
  3. Angels and fallen angels are beings, different from humans, but also created by God through Christ (Psalm 148:2,5; Colossians 1:16) As such, the Bible gives no support to idea that deceased loved ones change into angels, but they do get transformed into bodies fitted for Heaven (1 Corinthians 15:50-54).    In fact, this role of redeemed and transformed humans is a role that even the Angels long to look into (1 Peter 1:12).
  4. Deceased loved ones will be judged by God according to Hebrews 9:27. As in the case of the thief on the cross, Jesus assured him an immediate presence with Christ in God’s Kingdom.  This expectation is also reinforced by Paul as he stated that to be “absent from the body is to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).  The Bible seems to indicate a final judgment where we will be judged by either the book of works or the book of life.  Those being judged by the books of works will all be found lacking and all grounds for justification will be insufficient (Revelation 20).  The other option is to be judged by having our name written in the book of life (Rev. 20) which means that we are in Christ and Jesus has endured the penalty of our sin and we have received His right stand with God.  For such as those, God does not put into the role of angels, but as judges over angels (1 Corinthians 6:3).

Jarrod Scott

The Cycle of Life

Last fall, our family got four baby chicks.  We had been planning for some time to raise our own hens and collect the eggs, and so when my son finished building the coop and run, we went and bought four one-day old Speckled Sussex chicks.  Now, some twenty or so weeks later, the eggs are beginning to arrive.  We’re not exactly sure which ones or how many are laying as of yet, as we are getting only one or two eggs each day.  Since the cycle to produce an egg is slightly more than 24 hours, we should be getting almost 4 eggs each day once they each are laying.  And we fully expect that time to arrive shortly.  The cycle of egg-laying is not something that the chickens really have much control over.  Every day or thereabouts, they will find themselves remaining on the nesting area until an egg is laid.  They truly have very little choice in the matter, which made me think about this business of cycles and how they can take on a life of their own.

Reading through the book of Judges as we are in our church-wide Bible reading plan, the cycle is repeated numerous times over multiple generations of God’s judge leading the people, times going well, the people forget about God, times get tough, the people cry out to God, and another judge returns God’s favor to them.  It reads almost as if it were a precursor to the movie Groundhog Day, where a character relives the same day over and over with only himself in the know.

In nature, water comes from the clouds, evaporates from the earth, condensates in the sky, and returns back to the ground without the help of anyone or anything.  The tides, the seasons, the phases of the moon, the ovulation of a woman, the waking and sleeping of day following day, it’s all going to continue regardless of our part.  Our input couldn’t matter any less.

But let that not be the case where you and your faith are concerned.  You may have grown up in a cycle that tends towards goodness and positivity, with the pleasant qualities of life as its companion.  But little from the past is guaranteed in the future.  So make it a priority, part of your daily cycle, to abide in the God who exists outside of time and cycles.  Talk and listen to the One who is daily renewing what never gets old.  Do not take for granted the grace and mercy of our Divine Father.

But if you or someone you know is part of a cycle that is not overflowing with what seems so abundant in others, taking blessings for granted is the last thing you have to worry about.  It may be all you can do to block out the feelings of sorrow and thoughts of despair.  To dare to hope for something better seems a risk unimaginable.  Then how do you escape the cycle that may be all you’ve known for too long?  How could the Israelites cry out in year 400 when nothing but silence was heard for 399 years?

Until Jesus, the cycle had been birth, life, and then death.  But then, resurrection came.  And with it came the reality of a new life, a new cycle.  That may seem like just words on a page to someone who feels like they’re caught in a trap.  But if you’ll stake your life on them, if you’ll believe they can break your cycle and start you anew, then the love that God showed by raising His Son from the dead will be yours for the asking.  And what seemed unimaginable can become quite believable.

Rich Holt