A Word from the Pastor: Sabbath Rest
This is a paraphrase of a recent question that I thought was worth sharing with everyone: What and when is the Sabbath? Is it Saturday or Sunday? Or what?
Well, if you ask any observant Jew (or Seventh Day Adventist), the Sabbath is Saturday. Period. Next question, please. But the vast majority of Christians worship on Sundays—the first day of the week. And they have done so since the time of the apostles. So what gives? Why do we “sabbath” on Sunday instead of Saturday? Here are some of the theories about the Sabbath in Christianity:
- The Sabbath remains on Saturday: This is a simple and even obvious answer, but it causes us to rethink what Saturday and Sunday are for us Christians. If Saturday remains the Sabbath Day (like it did in the Old Covenant; Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15), then we should continue to keep that day holy, as a day of rest and worship—in addition to Sunday (see #5 below for Sunday…).
- The Sabbath has changed days: Certain Christians, especially in the Reformed tradition, confess that God has changed days, so the Sabbath coincides with the resurrection of Jesus Christ in this age. According to the Westminster Confession of Faith, God has appointed one day in seven to be a day of worship, a Sabbath kept holy to him. “From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, the appointed Sabbath was the last day of the week. Beginning with the resurrection of Christ, the Sabbath was changed to the first day of the week, which in Scripture is called the Lord’s day, a day to be continued until the end of the age as the Christian Sabbath” (WCF MESV 21.7). This resolves the Saturday-Sunday controversy: We worship on Sunday, which is the Sabbath in the New Covenant. But while this deserves points for creativity, this position is never stated in Scripture, nor in early Christian history.
- The Sabbath is a concept, not a day: This is a great idea. Sabbath is not a particular day of the week, but rather a day of rest and worship. Any day you designate. In this pattern, we follow the God-ordained pattern of six days of work and one day of rest that is built into the creation itself (Genesis 2:2-3). Therefore, we don’t need to argue about Sabbath regulations like the Pharisees did. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath, so enjoy a day off!
- Sabbath is salvation: The book of Hebrews interprets the Sabbath in an interesting—and unexpected—way. When the Israelites left Egypt, God did not allow that generation to enter his “rest” in the Promised Land because they hardened their hearts against the Lord. And now, the Lord Jesus has led a new exodus: out of sin and death and into the Kingdom of God. This is the new “Sabbath rest” for God’s people. It’s not a day, but salvation itself. “For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience (4:10-11)” So in this respect, debates about which day of the week are right seem trivial, at least compared to the ultimate “Rest” of entering God’s Kingdom.
- Christians worship on the Lord’s Day, the Eighth Day: There are a couple of tantalizing passages in the New Testament that refer to worshiping on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2) or the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10)—that is, Sunday. But the very first Christian sources (the Didache, Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Origen; https://preachersinstitute.com/2013/06/05/the-eighth-day/) all strongly affirm the first day of the week as the day of worship. Actually, they often refer to Sunday, not as the first day, but the eighth day. The day of Christ’s resurrection—Sunday—is not just the beginning of another repetition of the week, but it is the beginning of something entirely new: a new creation, a new covenant, a new age of Christ’s Lordship. So however we frame it, we join the ancient apostolic practice of worshiping Jesus on Sunday and we enter his “Sabbath rest” through faith in him.
May Jesus always be praised, in this age and in the age to come!
The Life of Our Church
Online or In-Person Services
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Atlantic Ministerial Association’s Helping Hand Fund
The Ministerial Association needs our help! AMA is requesting that our local churches take up a special offering on Sunday October 18 to support our neighbors. Checks can be made out to Atlantic Ministerial Association and mailed to First United Methodist Church, 800 Poplar Street. Thank you!
Serve the American Baptist Region!
The Mid-American Baptist Churches is looking for members to fill positions on committees. The Mission and Stewardship Team provides regular opportunities for: mission and stewardship education, hands-on mission experiences, individuals to participate in short-term mission exposures. The team also promotes and resources churches in annual offerings. This term would begin in 2021 and meetings would be held primarily if not always via Zoom with an option to call in by phone.
If you are interested, please visit with Ray.
“Socially Distanced Sunday School” has resumed! Bring your Bible and a friend. Every Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
American Baptist Women’s Ministries
ABWM will meet on Wednesday, October 21, at 1:30 p.m.
Quarterly Congregational Meeting and Potluck Lunch
Our next congregational meeting will be after worship on Sunday, October 11, preceded by a potluck lunch. Please bring something to share. To make the potluck safer and more hygienic, we will have a couple of our members serve the food to you.
Pastor Appreciation Month
October is Pastor Appreciation Month. Remember what Jim Bartelson used to say: Give Ray a pat on the back; it’s cheaper than giving him a raise.
Gospel Concert and LC Clinic Benefit
The Ambassadors of Grace, along with Heirs Together, will present a Gospel Sing benefit concert for LC Clinic on Monday, October 5 at 6 p.m. at the First Church of Christ, 1310 SW 7th Street in Atlantic. There is no admission charge for the concert. A love offering will be received, with 100% of the proceeds going to LC Clinic. Masks will be required in common areas of the church, but not while seated at the concert. Water and snacks will be available. For more information or for transportation assistance for this event, please call Dottie Krogh at (712) 249-9084.
Christian Concert in Atlantic
On Sunday, October 11, local praise bands will gather for a night of music and worship. Sunnyside band shell, 6:0 p.m. Free to everyone.
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