Josiah Audette

"Aware of the past, curious about the future, ready to argue the present." Tocqueville

Tag: Church

Feminist Patriarchs

Feminist Patriarchs

EPHESIANS 5

Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the wife’s head, even as Christ is the head of the Church, and the same is the Saviour of his body. Therefore as the Church is in subjection to Christ, even so let the wives be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it. That he might sanctify it, and cleanse it by the washing of water through the word. That he might make it unto himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blame. 

SIX MILES & SIX VERSES

On July 28, 1883 outside of Calgary an unsurpassed distance of track for the Canadian Pacific Railway had been finished. All 6 miles. All in a day’s work. This championing was the work of champions, namely, the Ryan brothers, both world class spikers. Big Jack, a gargantuan Swede could pound a spike with just two blows, half the amount of any other spiker. He could also handle the entire 560 pounds of an iron rail track and lift it onto a flat rail car. Pierre Berton records a crew of 130 men in fourteen hours laid the 604 tons of rail on sixteen thousand wooden ties bound by 565 bolts and 63,000 spikes. Eight would unload the wooden ties, four would space them, two would distance them, and two more arranged them precisely in front of the spikers. Twelve men then unloaded the rails, twelve more hauled them to the front, and ten men would then swing the rails onto the ties. Fifteen men would then fasten the bolts, followed by thirty-two spikers and four spike peddlers. Berton records, “The lead and gauge spiker each drove 2,120 spikes, averaging four blows to a spike, which meant that in fourteen hours they each delivered an average of eighty-four hundred blows with a sledge hammer.”

It was 6 mile undertakings like Big Jack’s which led the CPR to “Span the World” with its parallel tracks. The rail line would later be heralded as the iron thread which held the nation together. Parallels are a powerful thing, both for trains of rail and trains of thought. The Apostle Paul laid down a parallel track over 6 verses in Ephesians which would span the entirety of human experience and hold the family, church, and state together. Like a railway track, a grammatical parallel involves two lines. Being in parallel, one naturally and logically, relates to the other. What can be observed of the one can consequential be observed of the other. In this famous parallel we see on the one line Christ’s headship over his bride the church corresponding with the line of a husband’s headship over his wife. This line of a husband’s headship has been claimed back and championed forward by many family oriented Christians today. Like Big Jack, us patriarchal, hierarchical families have laboured hard in building this iron thread of headship for our households and culture. But in the process have we forgotten the other track in this parallel, and are we in danger of derailment?

REALIGNMENT OR DERAILMENT

As heads of our households we can read Ephesians 5 and what is says with regards to our wives’ submission, but miss what it commands for our own. We see ourselves so clearly in the one parallel of Ephesians as the head of our brides, but do we miss that in the other side of the parallel we are the bride? How can we claim our own headship if we do not recognize the other Head from which we derive our position? How can we consistently call wives to submit to their head when we do not submit to our own? Are we patriarchs in the home but feminists at church? We must examine to see if how we have rebuilt Paul’s track in Ephesians 5 is due for realignment lest we are due for derailment.

COVENANTAL HEADSHIP

The first reality to come to terms with is that of headship. If by “headship” you imagine “boss” you are far, far off. Paul does not say that Christ is boss of His church or master of His bride. Such a picture is foreign thinking to the attributes of Christ. Rather, He is called the “Head.” The term “Head” is a covenantal term. In Scripture we see two covenantal heads, Adam and Christ. You are in covenant with either one or the other. By conception, as his posterity, we are in a covenant relation with our earthly father Adam.  He is our federal head as we are in league with him. When he sinned in the garden, he did so covenantally. That is, representing all mankind, and representing them accurately. We cannot plead his sin as being misrepresentative of us. So the entirety of the human race sinned in our accurate contract, party, league, and covenant representative head, Adam. Yet there is another and better head, namely Christ. As the sin of the first Adam condemned us, so the obedience of the second Adam redeemed us. Christ is the federal representative of those who are in party, league and covenant with him by sovereign grace. This means that headship in a marriage is covenantal headship. As we were one with Adam, as we are now one with Christ, the wife is one with her husband. This covenantal representation is so real, so accurate, so living, and so organic that Paul analogizes it with the human body. There is a sense in that both the head and the body are so vitally, organically, and essentially connected as one that you cannot tell where the body ends and the head begins. This is why any individualistic notion when it comes to the covenant relation with Adam and Christ is untenable. Equally so in marriage. The two shall become one. One federally. One covenantally. One representationally. One organically. One legally.

MARRIAGE COVENANT

This concept was historically reflected in society with the English Common Law doctrine of Coverture. Coverture was where “By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband: under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing… and her condition during marriage is called her coverture.” This is an accurate legal picture of what headship entails. Our personal existence is suspended, incorporated, and consolidated into Adam as his earthly prodigy or into Christ as his redeemed bride. We are under their wing, protection, cover, and headship. There is no room for the individualistic notion that we are independent of such protection or cover of wing. As we are all familiar with, in Common Law Coverture a woman could not hold property or assets. Blackstone explains, “For this reason, a man cannot grant any thing to his wife, or enter into covenant with her: for the grant would be to suppose her separate existence; and to covenant with her, would be only to covenant with himself.” What a beautiful picture of headship and the organic union of a covenant. A wife’s personal status is suspended, incorporated and consolidated into her husband. So too the believer’s personal status is suspended, incorporated, and consolidated into the bride of Christ. In marriage, this reality eliminates the blame game as Adam attempted to do after the fall. The moment the husband starts to blame the wife he begins to think of them as two, separate individuals whereas they are one flesh. A husband blaming the wife should be just as impossible an image as a head seeking to bite off its own body. So when we regard this organic union of head and body as one individual holding “bosship” over another it is sheer foolishness because such a view necessitates the notion of two individual, separate persons. Whereas there is only one. We must get clear of all such individualistic thinking with regards to headship and coverture in the marriage covenant.

CHURCH COVERTURE

But when we do hold such an individualistic view as we tend with regards to the marriage relationship it is no wonder we can think in such individualistic terms when it comes to the church relationship. Again, these things are in parallel one to the other. As we have seen, there is no room in covenantal headship and covenantal coverture for individualistic thinking patterns. Christ is not your head if you are not in coverture as and with His bride.  How can we uphold a woman’s coverture in the home when we deny our own in the church? What are our wives to think when we refuse to suspend our personal existence and incorporate and consolidate ourselves into the marriage union of the church with Christ? It would be fallacious for a bride to refuse to suspend her status and incorporate herself into the marriage union as the body. How is it any less ludicrous (Or feminist for that matter) when a Christian family refuses being incorporated into the marriage union of Christ, in which they are the body? Christ is the federal head of the Church. The church is the universal body of believers. The universal body of believers is made up of many local bodies of believers. Consequentially, Christ is not your head if you are not incorporated into a local body of believers. You are not part of the church universal if you are not part of the church local. Again, there is no room in this covenant relation for individualistic tendency. There is no room for it in the marriage relationship or the church relationship. The two must be aligned in parallel or derailment is impending.

SUBMISSION

Having established our personal status being necessarily suspended and incorporated into the marriage union of Christ, in which we are the body, we may proceed to examine our duties in such relation. The first duty is submission. We submit as we recognize ourselves in the body of Christ, just as wives submit when they recognize themselves in Coverture. In Ephesians 5 “submission” is synonymous with “subject”. It could read, “Subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, subject yourselves unto your husbands, as unto the Lord.” We are definitionally, subjects of Christ, subjects of the Church. So Church coverture is practically realized when we submit ourselves as subjects to the local body of Christ. In such a sense, the Church is the congregation of Christ’s subjects. Such subjection is in itself both a rejection of our independence and recognition of our covenant incorporation into the body. You cannot recognize the head if you do not first recognize the body. Though we be patriarchs at home, anything less in the church is a sheer declaration of covenantal feminism.
SUBJECTION OF REVERENCE

Puritan William Gauge identifies the proper submission of inferiors to their superiors as being a subjection of reverence. The sufficient means of which is entailed in testifying by speech, gesture, obeisance, action, or ready obeying of their commandment the eminence and superiority in them whom they revere. Wives submit to their husbands when they recognize themselves as inferiors and voluntarily testify the eminence in their superiors in such a manner. Patriarch’s likewise model this submission in parallel when they recognize their households as inferiors and voluntarily testify the eminence in the superior household of God. “Remember them which have the oversight of you, which have declared unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering what hath been the end of their conversation.” Hebrews 13:7. “Obey them that have the oversight of you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give accounts, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Hebrews 13:17. The suitable manner of this submission of reverence is in meekness. “To necessary subjection, must voluntary subjection be added.” The effectual cause of this submission’s means and manner is to be the filial fear of the Lord. Wives are not to submit to their husband with ultimately their own self-gratification in view, nor their husband’s praise, but in a careful endeavour to please God. Likewise, we subject ourselves to the body of Christ with no view to ourselves or others, but because it pleases our Father and we fear him. A wife or church body’s subjection of reverence to their respective superiors is not conditioned upon anything other than this. We would call a women who refused to subject herself to her coverture a feminist. Though we be patriarchs in the home what are we then if we refuse our Church coverture? We make the bride of Christ a feminist. As William Gouge puts it, “Let this duty of submission be first well learned, and then all other duties will be better performed.”

COVENANTAL LOVE

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church, and gave himself for it.” Outside of covenantal thinking we may regard this passage to mean that Christ loved the Church “lots” and husbands ought do the same. Wilson observes, “What it means is that husbands should love their wives federally, the way Christ loved the Church.” How did Christ love the Church? By giving himself for it. By covering it. By offering to her His “wing, protection, and cover.”  A federal love free of all individualism. Indeed headship and coverture are inescapable realities despite any of our individualistic misconceptions. The choice is between being a good federal head or a poor one. The tenant is not that all federal headships are good, but that all federal headships are necessary. As husbands we can model Adam’s blame game headship or Christ’s loving headship. Christ sacrificed for things He didn’t do, so husbands should be willing to do the same for their wives. As federal head the husband takes responsibility for the state of his marriage as Christ presumes responsibility for the state of his. Just as the husband assumes responsibility so therefore the wife can assume the privileges of marriage. That she receives his provident care for her name, soul, goods, and body. This is embodied in the subjection of service common to all Christians, even superiors to inferiors. Gauge defines, “Subjection of service is that whereby one in his place is ready to do what good he can to another.” The manner is also in meekness and motive is the filial fear of God. This subjection of service is to be paralleled in Church leadership to the body. “The Elders which are among you, I beseech which am also an Elder… Feed the flock of God, which dependeth upon you, caring for it not by constraint, but willingly: not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind: Not as though ye were Lords over God’s heritage, but that ye may be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive an incorruptible corn of glory.” Again we see that “headship” is not “bosship” “as though ye were Lords over God’s heritage”.  Our subjection of service as husbands or church leadership is not conditioned by the subjection of reverence we receive from our wives or church body. It is conditioned by the constant fear of God. “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” If Christ conditioned his submission of service based upon what he received from us there would be no bride, no church.

SANCTIFY & CLEANSE

Subjection of reverence from inferiors engenders subjection of service from superiors and likewise subjection of service from superiors engenders subjection of reverence from inferiors. Although neither party conditions their respective subjection upon what they do or do not receive from the other. Again, such a reaction would be highly individualistic, the hand attempting to decapitate the head or the head trying to snap at the hand. “For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourished and cherisheth it, even as the Lord doth the Church.” The process of this unconditional subjection is purely sanctifying. Consequently, the Church is the dominant place where Christ’s sanctification and cleaning occur. Do not mistake me to mean exclusively within the confines of the building or limitations of the worship service duration. But rather to indicate the intimate, organic, life lived out in the body of believers as the powerhouse of purification. The Church is Christ’s institution for sanctification.  We ought therefore to subject ourselves to its coverture. So too marriage parallels this reality. One of the greatest helps of sanctification is the institution of marriage where two sinners are made one flesh. One sinner in headship and the other in coverture. Both within the Church body and marriage union a due measure of pain will come with this sanctification. But when done in the fear of God it will be effectuated without strain.

COMMANDED TO OUR WEAKNESS

Scripture always commands to our weaknesses. When Scripture commands husbands to love their wives, it is because they are by tendency  weak in doing so. Likewise, when Scripture commands wives to submit reverence to their husbands it is because they are generally weak in doing so.

COVENENTAL NOT CONDITIONAL

Because husbands tend to be harsh to their wives love is pressed upon them to prevent abusing their authority. Such authority without being tempered by love would become a tyranny. Paul goes out of his way to qualify a covenantal love rules out such harshness. We read in Colossians 3 “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter unto them.” This love is neither harsh or inconsiderate. Peter in chorus with Paul exhorts, “Likewise ye husbands, dwell with them as men of knowledge, giving honour unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, even as they which are heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not interrupted.” The Lord will not hear their prayers because He holds husbands responsible.  Husbands carry the principle charge, they shall give an account for that which is amiss, the blame lies upon them. Such is the nature of federal headship and a wife’s coverture. The Lord will not hear our prayers, but if we are in such a state of harshness it is more than likely we are not praying much in the first place. Rather than taking the state of their union to God they pour it on their wives who may have reason to say with the poet.

“Oft did I well, and that hear I never:

Once did I ill, and that hear I ever.”

Furthermore, love according to knowledge is both inward, with regards to his opinion of her, and outward, with regards to his affection toward her. Again, love from the head to the body is a covenantal love, not a conditional love. As Gauge observes, “No duty on the husband’s part can rightly be performed except it be seasoned with love.” So Paul in the first place commends and commands a husband’s love just as Christ first manifested his love. Husband’s initiate as Christ initiated. Nothing will engender and quicken the spirit of a wife to think her reverence be not in vain than this. Notwithstanding, heads are not to do so with a primary view to their self gratification, but to their body’s ultimate glorification. This is the Gospel in marriage. This is also why any failure in undertaking marriage is a failure in understanding the Gospel. Our covenant union is modelled after the union in the Gospel. The same parallel can be seen in the church where love is exhorted to prevent the abuse of church authority. A love too that is covenantal and not conditional. Just as the Lord will not hear our prayers if there is discord in the home, so He will not hear our prayers when their is discord amongst the brethren. Mark 11. It is motivated by the Gospel in the glory of Christ being fully realized in us. It is mannered according to the Gospel in meekness. It’s means is the Gospel in the covenant love of Christ. Both the undertaking of the institutions of church and marriage stand and fall on our understanding of the Gospel.

PSEUDO-SUBMISSION

The wife is called to be a help-meet to their husbands, not a help-meet to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit requires no aid in convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Whereas God is the holy comforter who reproves us, wives can be unholy confronters who reproach us. Hence Paul commands wives to their weakness of disrespect. They tend to desire a reception of unconditional love while they owe their respect conditionally. This is pseudo-submission. Submitting to their husbands in areas they deem subjection fit to their husbands. But it can hardly be called submission when no subjection is ever involved. Just as a husbands love is to be in inward opinion and outward affection so the submission of a wife is to be harmoniously both inward and outward. If there be no inward respect in the first place any outward reverence which proceeds is very unfounded. Her inward reverence consists in the respect she has for her husband. Her outward reverence consists in her gesture and speech towards him. I find an inverse reality that the bigger the patriarch’s beard, the less submission in the Church. Likewise, the bigger a woman’s head covering, the less submission in the home. Along with this pseudo-submission  comes a hurtfulness when unconditional respect and a disposition of benevolence is called upon from them. Wilson also notes, “While men tend to harsh bitterness, women tend to hurt bitterness. In the emotional realm, women bruise easily. Some have concluded from this, falsely, that women have a right to any offence… [But] It is as much a sin to be offended as it is to offend.” Again there is a parallel here for the church body. The bride of Christ tends to the same weaknesses as our earthy brides. We expect unconditional service from the church but condition our respect to it. We are easily offended. We do not respect it. We do not subject ourselves to it. But the failure of the bride and bride of Christ to submit spawns from a failure to understand the Gospel rightly. Brides are to subject themselves because of God’s ordained creation order. Submission starts with this declaration and recognition of this creative order.  The the saintliness or sinfulness of a husband do not deprive him of the order God has placed him in as superior. “Though an husband in regard of evil qualities may carry the image of the devil, yet in regards his place and office he beareth the Image of God.” William Gauge. Likewise, the state of her husband as saint or sinner does not move her from her position as inferior by God’s creation order. “Likewise let the wives be subject to their husbands, that even they which obey not the word, may without the word be won by the conversation of their wives. While they behold your pure conversation which is with fear… For even after this manner in time past did the holy women, which trusted in God, tire themselves, and were subject to their husbands.”What is the motive of such tiresome subjection? The Gospel. If you lack motive, you lack the Gospel. Again, marriage is the primary institution for sanctification. If you have an easy marriage, praise God, he has given it for your best sanctification. Have you a difficult marriage? Praise God, he has given it for your best sanctification. He has given it to purify your conversation. He has given it that he may perfect the fear of God in you to surpass any other regard you may have. Similarly, the Church is the primary institution of sanctification. We are necessarily subjects of it in God’s creation order. If you have been placed in a easy church, praise God, as it is best for your sanctification. If you have been placed in a difficult church, praise God, as it too is best for your sanctification. “Finally, be ye all of one mind: one suffer with another: love as brethren: be pitiful, be courteous.” “Notwithstanding blessed are ye, if ye suffer for righteousness; sake. Yea, fear not their fear, neither be troubled. But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.” Submission for the subjects of Christ to the local body is not optional. Any notion of such is feministic. We must purge all individualistic ideals and feministic tendencies from our respect for the local church.

CONCLUSION

So have we rebuilt the track of these six verses in perfect parallel to each other or is there some realignment needed? Is the track in direct following of the Gospel or does it bend to our self-gratification and conditions? Wives do we recognize ourselves as inferiors to our husbands? Households do we recognize ourselves as inferiors to the Household of God? Husbands do we initiate and model Christ’s covenantal love, his federal coverture? Church leaders, is your authority tempered by this love? Husbands and wives are you so intimately and organically one as head and body? Brethren is Christ your head? Is the Church your body? Do we all this in view of living out the Gospel or living out our selfish desires? Let us not be patriarchs to the home but feminists to the church.

Love the Church

William Montague DykeQ. What are the special privileges of the visible church?

A. The visible church hath the privilege of being under God’s special care and government of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding the opposition of all enemies; and of enjoying the communion of saints, the ordinary means of salvation; and offers of grace by Christ to all the members of it in the ministry of the gospel, testifying, that whosoever believes in him shall be saved, and excluding none that will come unto him.

In the spirit of the Commonwealth Day tomorrow we shall commence with a truly wondrous British story. William Montague Dyke was the son of one of the most prosperous baronets of England. As such he was reared in cultivated and noble society.  In 1887 however he became stone blind at the mere age of ten. Composing himself to this new state in life William became devoted to his studies. Without the sundry of distractions which encumbered his peers William gained a temperament which solely cultivated itself in the pleasures of the mind. With this temperament he gained early entrance into Cambridge, and during his studies he encountered the daughter of a high-ranking British naval officer, Miss Cave. Although William was blind his love for Miss Cave was indeed not. Tenderly observing the more delicate and sweeter frames of Miss Cane’s voice, words, and air William courted her hand in marriage. He chose to satisfy himself with what he saw of Miss Cane in his mind more passionately than to behold her in the flesh. As one biographer wrote, “William Montague Dyke had lived in darkness, studied in darkness, won high university honours in darkness. He had met his affinity in darkness, learned to lover her in darkness, wooed her in darkness.” As wonderful as this is, the story does not end here. Two weeks before their wedding William submitted himself to an experimental treatment to restore his sight. The surgery was completed and William’s face was left wrapped in bandages which were to be removed on October 12, the day of his wedding to Miss Cave. No one new whether or not the treatment would actually work, but nonetheless William requested his father to remove the bandages from his face the moment his wife-to-be walked up the isle and only at that point. The day arrived and the wedding ceremonies commenced with many an august and prestigious gentry, cabinet ministers, bishops, and professors in attendance for what was to be the marriage of the decade between the children of England’s wealthiest baron and  Britain’s highest military officer.  Nobly dressed at the alter stood William, patiently awaiting his betrothed, his face still bundled in cloth. Finally, with the soft tone of the Wedding March, Miss Cave was led by her white haired father, the prestigious admiral, down the isle. William’s father began to carefully remove the bandages from his son’s eyes. He continued to unravel the bandages as the bride walked up the isle until finally, when William’s face was fully uncovered his bride stood before him. The hushed congregation of England’s finest watched intently as the blind William and bride now stood face to face. William’s exhilarated words echoed throughout the cathedral braking the silence, “You are more beautiful than I ever imagined!” He could see her. 1 Corinthians 13:12, “For now we see through a glass darkly: but then shall we see face to face.” Upon the anniversary of our local church, Grace Haven Reformed Brethren, I find the impossible task before me of endeavouring to explaining something of that “Great Secret… concerning Christ, and concerning the Church.” I find myself a blind man speaking to blind men of the beauty of Christ’s bride. But I know that when Christ comes for his bride and removes the scales from my eyes, the veil from our face, we too shall cry dear brother and sister, “You are more beautiful than I ever imagined!” And yet it is still my duty today to assist us in in just that, imagining the beauty of Christ and the glory of his bride. I want William’s exclamation to be the cry of our own hearts today.

THE VISIBLE CHURCH

The first and natural inquiry should be what is the church? Is it a social club? An association? Society of individuals? A cultural convention? Ultimately we know from Scripture that the church is the bride of Christ. This means she is the whole number of God’s elect, the entire assembly of saints throughout all ages and all territories under the headship of Christ. As Hebrews nobly states she is, “The assembly and congregation of the first born, which are written in heaven.” This is the church spiritual and invisible, the church only now as God sees it. Wayne Grudem defines, “The church is the community of all true believers for all time.” However the church as we see it is commonly termed as the “Church visible.” That is the professors of true religion under the Gospel, believers of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ and professing members of the family of God. The church is thusly both universal (Catholic) and local. What then are the true distinguishing marks of the local, visible church. Can two Christians meeting at Tim Hortons reading the Bible be rightly identified as a local “church” or is there something more to the institution? The great puritan John Owen defined the characteristics of the professing visible church as follows. “I intend such a church in general as avowing authority from Christ (1.) For the ministerial preaching of the word; (2.) Administration of the sacraments; (3.) For the exercise of evangelical discipline; and (4.) To give a public testimony against the devil and the world, not contradicting their profession with any corrupt principles or practices inconsistent with it.” Summarily, the purity of Grace Haven as a local, visible church is measured by her Scriptural teaching, her right exercise of the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord Supper, her true practice of church discipline, together with Grace Haven’s militant and holy evangelical witness in the world. The more pure she be in these four areas the more “visible” Grace Haven will be as a church. Owen’s fourth point is the most easily missed in circles such as our own and can diminish our sight of her “visibility.” We may have doctrinally pure, faithfully expositional, hermeneutically accurate preaching but not be a pure church. We may faithfully and repeatedly administer the Eucharist and Baptism but still remain a false church. We may even practice church discipline and yet all the while Grace Haven may not be a “visible” church. We may rehearse all of these church principles and practices and yet if we do not give a public testimony and if we do not confront the world we are not a true, visible church. In this sense, there is no such thing as an “invisible” “visible” church. Owen continues, “For the church, as visible, is a society gathered and erected to express and declare the holiness of Christ, and the power of his grace in his person and doctrine; and where this is not done, no church is of any advantage unto the interests of his glory in this world. The preservation, therefore, of holiness in them, whereof the discipline mentioned is an effectual means, is as necessary and of the same importance with the preservation of their being.” The visible church is visible in her proclamation. She is visible in her profession. She is visible in her practice. So we must ask ourselves “Are we ministering from the Word?” “Is Grace Haven administering the sacraments?” “Are we exercising church discipline?” And especially, “How are we, as a church, confronting culture around us with our uniformity of right doctrine preached and duties practiced?” The visible church must be just that “visible”, noticeable, and salient. We become more visible, noticeable, and salient as we cultivate purity and holiness in these four regards.

PRIVILEGE OF CHRIST’S SPECIAL CARE

Do you have a high view of Grace Haven? Dear Christian, what is your comprehension of how special Christ’s care for us is and what a privilege we have? John Calvin wrote, “If we do not prefer the church toward all other objects of our interest we are unworthy of being counted among her members.” Why should we so highly esteem and regard the church? Perhaps the best view in Scripture of the privilege of Christ’s special care and protection is seen in Matthew 16:18. “Upon this rock I will build my Church: and the gates of hell shall not overcome it.” Why love the church? Because Christ says it is “My church”! Grace Haven is a personal possession belonging to Christ and this is what establishes her value. It is not my church, nor is it our church, it is not even the prime minister’s church, it is Christ the King’s church! He is her head. Surgeon wrote of this special love, “Christ loves His church specially… something special and particular – and it stands quite alone and all by itself. Having chosen because of His love, He loves because of His choice, and that love is a peculiar, special, remarkable, pre-eminent love such as He bestows upon no one else of all the human race!” We are to love the church like nothing else, because Christ loves Grace Haven like nothing else. Furthermore, it is His church because God gifted her to Christ as we read in Christ’s prayer from the Last Supper, “I have declared thy Name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me, and they have kept thy word. Now they know that all things whatsoever thou hast given me, are of thee.” It is His church because she was promised to Christ. “For I am jealous over you, with godly jealousy: for I have prepared you for one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.” We are his betrothed. It is His church because she was purchased by him. The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ was the dowry price for her. “Knowing that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from you vain conversation, received by the traditions of the fathers, But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb undefiled, and without spot.”

FAMILY IDOLATRY

Again, how are your affections toward the church of the Lord Jesus Christ? But not just do you lover her, but do you love her enough? Scott Brown acutely observes, “We have trained our affections to love other things greatly and love the essential things lightly.” These misplaced affections lead to idolatry. Idolatry is where we forsake what God has commanded us to do because our affections are toward that which God has not commanded us to do. In a community such as ours, family integration can lead to family idolatry. Joel Beeke correctly states, “As precious and intimate our own personal immediate family is, it is only but an interm arrangement. But our Church family life however is for all eternity.” Family integration does not mean that the church is made or done or subservient to the family. Jeff Pollard provides us with examples of such family idolatry.

  1. Family members we have not seen for a long time come for a visit on the Lord’s Day. So rather than worshiping God on the Lord’s Day with the brethren, which God has commanded us to do, we stay home to visit, which the Lord has not commanded us to do.
  2. Our children have a gift for music, sports, or some other academic pursuit. A public event takes place in line with that gift and we come back so late from that event, which God has not commanded us to do,  that we are tired and do not attend the Church on the Sabbath, which God has commanded us to do.
  3. A new family arrives at Church but we regard ourselves as not outgoing, introspective, or introverted and so we don’t open our home to hospitality, which God has commanded us to do, in order that we may preserve our family comfort zone, which God has not commanded us to do.
  4. We have a busy week ahead or behind us and we feel need to rest and instead of gathering with the Saints, which God has commanded us to do, we take the day off from religious observance, which God has not commanded us to do.
  5. We see another church body which can meet some of our personal wants that we do not feel are being met at our local church. So we at times reserve  contributing to the fellowship of the brethren at our local church, which God has commanded us to do, to entertain ourselves by consuming the fruits of another assembly thereby robbing both, which God has not commanded us to do.

John Owen emphasizes, “The celebration of the ordinances of sacred worship appointed by Christ, and the participation of his institutions for their edification, is not a matter of accident… but is to be an act in them of choice and voluntary obedience unto the commands of Christ. By some this duty is more expressly attended unto than by others, and by some it is totally neglected; for neither… do they consider what is their duty unto the Lord Christ therein, nor what is most meet for their own edification. They go on in these things with others, according to the customs of the times and places wherein they live, confounding their civil and spiritual relations. And these we cannot but judge to walk irregularly, through ignorance, mistakes, or prejudices. Neither will they in their least secular concernments behave themselves with so much regardlessness or negligence…But a liberty of this nature, regulated by the gospel, to be exercised in and about the great concernments of men’s souls, is by many denied and by most neglected.” If Owen warned this in the height of the Puritan era how much more ought it concern us in ours? Now these situations instanced outside of Church are not necessarily evil, and do not mistake this for there never being a situation that permits missing Church. We need only to strongly and critically re-evaluate when it is lawful and necessary to do so. In view of Christ’s supreme love for his bride ought not we also have a supreme love for her? Do we love her lightly and love other things greatly? What do you greatly love more than the church? What do you greatly love more than Grace Haven? It had better not be your programs, events, conferences, work, leisure, or even your family. “My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.” A family integrated church does not mean a church that is integrated around the family, but rather families that are integrated around the church. Anything less is not family integration,  but family idolatry. I say this not to abandon our programs, events, conferences, work, leisure, or family but to place them rightly in relation to the bride of Christ. When we commit family idolatry don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you only defraud yourself, but also your family and our brethren, and Christ. When Saul was persecuting the church the Jesus said to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?” Christ didn’t say “Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou the church” but “Why persecutes thou me?”! Because Christ so closely and personally identifies himself with the church, when we persecute the church, Christ regards it as persecuting Himself. So may the Lord not have just cause to say to me or any of us by name “Josiah, Josiah why neglectest thou me?” Or “Josiah, Josiah why criticizest thou me?” Or “Josiah, Josiah why skippest thou me?” Or “Josiah, Josiah why fault-findest thou me?” Weariness with the Lord’s day is weariness with the Lord. Weariness with the church is weariness with Christ. John Calvin states, “He cannot have God for his Father who refuses to have the Church for his mother.”

CARE & GOVERNMENT

“Upon this rock I will build my Church: and the gates of hell shall not overcome it.” Both the head and the foundation of the church is Christ. The pure church expresses this foundation in its confession of faith as the Apostles did a few verses prior to Christ’s pronouncement to Peter. “Thou art that Christ, the son of the living God.” This confession of faith is the cornerstone of the church, the objective reality  upon which we rest, and the foundation upon which Christ privileges us with special care and government of being protected and preserved in all ages, notwithstanding the opposition of all enemies. Take note of it. “I will build.” “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners: but citizens with the Saints, and of the household of God. And are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. In whom all the building coupled together, groweth unto an holy Temple in the Lord. In whom ye also are built together to be the habitation of God by the Spirit.” Grace Haven as the local, visible expression of the invisible church, is Christ’s workmanship. Firstly, Christ’s workmanship promises the triumph of his bride. “And the gates of hell shall not overcome it.” Hell cannot resist the faith of the church. Calvin observes, “Against all the powers of Satan the firmness of the church will prove to be invincible, because the truth of God, on which the faith of the Church rests, will ever remain unshaken.” 1 John 5:4, “This is that victory that hath overcome this world even our faith.” Contrary to popular illustration, the picture given in Matthew 16 is not Hell attacking the refuge of the church, but rather the church storming the gates of Hell. Gates by nature are not offensive instruments of war, they are defensive. Gates cannot attack, but only be attacked. Furthermore in Scripture the term “Gate” commonly notes place or jurisdiction of power, authority, counsels, and social designs. Additionally, one can observe the plurality of the term “Gates” here in Matthew 16. Summarily, what is being declared is that all the powers of hell, the many counsels of hell, and the multiple social designs of Satan cannot resist the onslaught of Christ’s one militant church. Secondly, Christ’s workmanship promises the eternal establishment of his bride. “To whom coming as unto a living stone, disallowed of men, but chosen of God and precious. Ye also as lively stones, be made a spiritual house, an holy Priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Christ hewed us as living stones from the very quarries of hell, redeemed us into his kingdom, and there is refining and shaping us into the edifice of his bride. Thirdly, Christ’s workmanship promises the reward for his bride. “That he might sanctify it, and cleanse it by the washing of water through the word, That he might make it unto himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing: but that it should be holy and without blame.” Surgeon praises, “He loved her, not so much for what she is, but what He makes her as the object of His love. He loves her not for what comes to Him from her, or with her, but for what He is able to bestow upon her! His is the strongest love that ever was, for He has loved unseemliness till He has changed it into beauty! He has loved the sinner till He has made him a saint. He has loved the foul and filthy till He has washed them with water by the Word of God and presented them to Himself without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. We love because of loveliness apprehended and perceived, but Christ loved because He would impart His own loveliness to the object of His choice.” This is the tender care and sovereign government of Christ over his bride, over us, over Grace Haven.

COMMUNION OF SAINTS

Do you enjoy the communion of saints which you have here? Samuel Rutherford said this of his local church, “The great Master Gardener planted me here whereby his grace in this part of the vineyard I grow and here I will abide until the great Master of the vineyard think fit to transplant me.” If there were to be a theme verse for our assembly for me it would be 1 Peter 4:9. “Be ye harbours one to another.” The term “harbour” or “haven”, as it is in our name, denotes a wondrous picture of the communion of saints. Just as a haven is defined by its easy, strategic, accessibility so too the church is to be open to all they whom have need of her. We say with Christ, “Come unto me, all ye that are weary and laden, and I will ease you.” Just as the quality of the harbour can be identified from ships at sea by the stillness of its waters, so too the world can identify a church by the fervent love harboured within her. Just as a suitable harbour is as wide as it is deep, allowing sundry and diverse ships to drive themselves deeply into her refuge so too the church is sufficient to all sorts and sizes of individuals who come to her. “All that the Father giveth me, shall come to me: and him that cometh to me, I cast not away.” A harbour is also a temporary, albeit habitual, resting point. She is large enough to rest a ship from its work, but too small for the ships work to be done. A ship cannot successfully fulfill its mandate by remaining anchored at the harbour, and it must venture out into the perils of the sea. However, a ship also cannot successfully fulfill its mandate by venturing in the perils of the sea without taking repeated refuge in a haven. The haven will help the ship to do its work, but will not do the work of the ship. So too the church is to be a habitual anchorage point, “Not forsaking the fellowship that we have among ourselves.” Furthermore the church also is sufficient to hep the Christian for his needs. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bossom, and shall guide them with the young.” So too do Christians venture out from the church in the the perils of the world, “As thou didst send me into the world, so have I sent them into the world.”  The final characteristic of a haven as a caricature the church would be the strategic importance of her. A harbour is not just a place of dockage, but also that of trade, making it of economic and national importance. However enemy ships can just as easily enter the haven to take her as the trade ships which do so routinely. Hence it is that the Apostle Peter immediately exhorts, “Be ye harbours one to another, without grudging.” Grudging literally means, “To hold or harbour with malicious disposition.” The church can either harbour “fervent love among you” or she can harbour a malicious disposition. John Owen therefore exhorts, “Unto this catholic church we owe all Christian love, and are obliged to exercise all the effects of it, both towards the whole and every particular member, as we have advantage and occasion. And not only so, but it is our duty to live in constant communion with it.” 

OFFERS OF GRACE

“As good disposers of the manifold grace of God.” Offers of grace are made by Christ. “The conjunctions of all the members into one body, their mutual usefulness unto one another, the edification of the whole, with its increase, the due exercise of love (which things contain the whole nature and the utmost ends of all church-communion), do depend merely and solely upon, and flow from, the relation that the members have to the Head, and their union with him.” John Owen. We can only dispose the manifold grace of God to others as we have received the nourishment of that grace from our union with the Head. Grace Haven will only be as graceful as you or I are full of grace. Grace Haven is holy only as her members are holy. Remember the haven is a place of trade as well as dockage and shelter. A harbour will be esteemed only by both safe waters and safe business in mutual commerce. So too do Christians in the haven of the church increase their grace by “ministering the same one to another, as good disposers of the manifold grace of God.” Hear Spurgeon’s words, “You are a steward and if a steward should receive his lord’s goods, and keep them for himself he would be an unfaithful steward. Child of God, see to it that you faithfully discharge your responsibility as one of the “good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Heed the directives of the Apostle Peter to do so. “If any man speak, let him speak as the words of God. If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God ministereth, that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom is praise and dominion forever, and ever, Amen.” First it is optional, “If any man speak”, “If any man minister.” Second it is invitational, “let him speak” “let him do it.” Third it is directive, “Let him speak as the words of God.” Fourth it is unconditional, “Let him do it as of the ability which God giveth.” Fifth it is purposeful, “That God in all things may be glorified.” So old and young men, I with the Apostle Peter encourage you in the spirit of harbouring fervent love to choose the option, receive the invitation, take the direction, be ok that it is unconditional and rejoice in the purpose. As you love Grace Haven, you will be a good disposer to her. Can you say with William, “You are more beautiful than I ever imagined!”?

The Lord’s Day

Sabbath Rest

To begin with a puritan prayer on the Lord’s Day.

“This is thy day,

the heavenly ordinance of rest,

the open door of worship,

the record of Jesus’ resurrection,

the seal of the sabbath to come,

the day when saints militant and triumphant unite in endless song.

I bless thee for the throne of grace,

that here free favour reigns;

that open access to it is through the blood of Jesus;

that the veil is torn aside and I can enter the holiest

and find thee ready to hear,

waiting to be gracious,

inviting me to pour out my needs,

encouraging my desires,

promising to give more than I ask or think.

But while I bless thee, shame and confusion are mine:

I remember my past misuse of sacred things,

my irreverent worship,

my base ingratitude,

my cold, dull praise.

Sprinkle all my past sabbaths with the cleansing blood of Jesus,

and may this day witness deep improvement in me.

Give me in rich abundance the blessings the Lord’s Day was designed to impart;

May my heart be fast bound against worldly thoughts or cares;

Flood my mind with peace

beyond understanding;

may my meditations be sweet,

my acts of worship life, liberty, joy, 

my drink the streams that flow

from thy throne, 

my food the precious Word,

my defence the shield of faith,

and may my heart be more knit to Jesus.


I being with that great puritan Jonathan Edwards, “Let us be thankful for the institution of the Christian Sabbath.”

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor the stranger that is within they gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11.

The Sabbath is a pattern of one day in seven as a holy rest oriented to God. The Sabbath provides us with meaningful work and meaningful rest. David Palison stated, “To get hard work and sweet pleasure right is to image forth the One who made you. To get hard work and sweet pleasure right is to image for the One who saved you.” The Sabbath is the principle of freedom under God and of liberty under law, in that it summons us to obedience to the ordinance of rest. Rest, which delivers us from ourselves and from our work. The Lord of the Sabbath’s accomplishment of our redemption binds and enjoins us to the observance of the weekly Sabbath which prefigures our eternal Sabbath. Our rest  is witness to our confidence in the redemption of Christ through faith alone and not by works.

THE DECALOGUE

The Sabbath Rest is not only a creation ordinance but is also to be found in the Fourth Commandment as the culmination of the previous three commandments. Morecraft observes, “The Sabbath is a day of rest and delight in the Lord, corresponding to the first commandment. It is a day consecrated to the worship of God according to His Word, corresponding to the second commandment. And it is to be filled with works of worship, necessity and mercy in the name of Christ to the glory of God, corresponding to the third commandment.” In addition to being the consummation of the right exercise of the previous three commandments it also aids the Christian in keeping the remainder of the Commandments. Hence, the Fourth Commandment is “found in the bosom of the ten commandments, which are supreme, life-embracing, verbal foundational principles of God’s revealed will for the human race.” The significance of Sabbath Rest to the Christian lies not only in its commandment but its example by God. Divine example is as valid and instructive a guide to duty as express Divine command. As Morecraft writes, “We keep the Sabbath on the first day of the week for the same reason Adam kept the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week: the example of God.” To clarify the previous statement, the morality of the Sabbath is not affected by changing the day from the Adamic and Mosaic practice of Saturday to the Christian practice of Sunday. Robert Shaw observes, “The morality of the Sabbath is not affected by the change of the day. The substance of the institution consists in the separation of the seventh portion of our time to the immediate worship of God… It is not said, ‘Remembert the seventh day;’ but ‘Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy.’ Neither is it said, ‘God blessed the seventh day;’ but ‘God blessed the Sabbath-day, and hallowed it.” So dear Christian, know that this is a personal command of God to each of us individually. “Thou” not “ye.” “Let it be considered” reminds Edwards, “… when God challenges of us one day in seven, he challenges his own. He doth not exceed his right.” Our Lord commands and commends it to his own children in Christ. Furthermore he has bestowed it as a personal gift. “Moreover, I gave them also my Sabbaths to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord, that sanctify them.” It is a duty, but not a burdensome one, no more than it is a duty to nourish bodies with mammon, how much more our souls with Christ? Christian we may be assured that God observes his own institutions. He will not permit them to be attended without blessing as they are a means of grace to the believer. God has given to us a hallowed day to pursue His blessings, which most assuredly will be found in abundance by those who are diligent towards the observation of it. God’s blessing is never an empty one, and He has both blessed and hallowed this day, how much more ought we?

MAN’S REST VS GOD’S REST

History has record of the men who have sought this same rest, but sought it outside God, such as Stalin. According to Stalin, “If God exists, He must have ordained slavery, feudalism, and capitalism. He must want humanity to suffer, as the monks were always telling me. Then there would be no hope for the toiling masses to free themselves from their oppressors. But when I learned that there is no God, I knew that humanity could fight its way to freedom.” Consequentially, in the course of Stalin’s quest for the true sabbath, man’s true rest, he enslaved more men than any other tyrant in all history and had more men killed than any other man in all history. Stalin, like all men who attempt to enter heaven on their own terms, placed himself instead in hell. Contrary to a puritanical priggishness, the Sabbath is not a day of inactivity or idleness for man, because it certainly was not so for God. When God rested on the seventh day of the creation week, yes, he ceased from the work of creation, but began the works of providence and redemption. The work of the Sabbath is contrasted to the work of the prior six days labour. It must have a specific character of rest in worship. Men, how clearly is the sort of character being produced in your homes? The Sabbath is to be engaged and filled with works of worship. The Westminster Longer Catechism states, “The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day, not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful; and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to be taken up in works of necessity and mercy) in the public and private exercises of God’s worship: and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day.” Do you make the Sabbath your delight? Jonathan Edwards praised, “The Christian Sabbath is one of the most previous enjoyments of the visible church. Christ showed his love to his church in instituting it; and it become s the chistian church to be thankful to her Lord for it. The very name of this day, the Lord’s day, or Jesus’ day, should endear it to Christians, as it intimates the special relation it has to Christ, and also the design of it, which is the commemoration of our dear Saviour, and his love to his church in redeeming it.” While the New Testament clearly practices and urges the pattern of weekly worship, the sabbath is fundamentally a day of rest, (Not exclusively a day of worship.) This rest is a soteriological reality and symbol. Sabbath rest is a salvific reality of our redemption, liberation, and wholeness of life in God’s work. Sabbath rest is also a salvific symbol of our total confidence in God as our redeemer as we cease from our own labors. Calvin gave it beautifully when he wrote in his “Catechism of the Churches of Geneva”, “We keep holiday from our own works, that God may perform his own work in us.” Summarily, the essence of the sabbath is our rest in Christ, and our growth in the knowledge of that salvation by His grace. “There remainieth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, hath also ceased form his own works, as God did from his. Let us study therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the example of disobedience.” It is well worth our while to improve this day and enter into this rest. Edwards exhorts, “This should be a powerful motive with us to the observation of the Sabbath. It should be our study above all things to honour and glorify God. It should be the great thing with all that bear the name of Christians, to honour their great God and King… If it be your inquiry, if it be your desire, to honour God; by this subject you are directed to one way whereby you may do much in that way, by honouring the Sabbath, and showing a careful and strict observance of it.”

SABBATH WORK

It would be a terrible mistake to confuse the Sabbath rest with idleness. The former brings God’s blessing and the latter his curse. The Sabbath rest is a picture of our eternal one in heaven, where we may be sure to be employed in spiritual and heavenly exercises. Isaiah 58:13-14 clearly lays out the duties of the Christian towards the Sabbath. “If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, from doing thy will on mine Holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight to consecrate it, as glorious to the Lord, and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor seeking thine own will, nor speaking a vain word, Then shall thou delight in the Lord, and I will cause thee to mount upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Edward J. Young interpreted the fourth commandment positively in this way, “Thou shalt take exquisite delight, not just in the Sabbath but in the Lord of the Sabbath.” How well we delight in the Sabbath is a powerful barometer of our real delight in the actual Lord of the Sabbath. Sabbath keepers are covenant keepers that will enjoy the benefits of the covenant of God. “Feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father” is covenantal language and the metaphor is clear: to eat the heritage of our spiritual fathers realized and administered to us by Christ is to receive and enjoy the nourishment, strength, and vitality within.  Do you find your Sabbath’s to be nourishing? Are you especially promoting the exercise of religion not only in yourself but also in others; to be assisting them for their spiritual good? Are you partaking in the benefits of the Covenant of Grace? In the right exercise of the Sabbath we find delight and our subsistence that we may truly live. When we rightly exercise the Sabbath we draw from the Divine Rest, the glory of God revealed in his special act of creation. We draw from the Covenantal Rest of the eternal bond believers have with God in Christ. We draw from the Redemptive Rest, being delivered from the bondage and slavery of sin by virtue of Christ’s atonement. We draw from that Spiritual Rest, which is our new life in Christ indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Finally, we partake in our Eternal Rest that will be consummated in our Lord’s second coming. “For the new heavens, and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name continue. And from month to month, and from Sabbath to Sabbath shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.” Heaven is one massive, infinite, glorious Sabbath which we will partake of as believers in Christ. Yet here on earth we have an opportunity to experience something of that ineffable glory weekly. Will you pass it by?

SIX & ONE

“The sabbath presupposes work, work fulfilling God’s creation mandate and performed under God’s law, and the sabbath is the joyful rest from the exercise of this godly dominion. On the sabbath, a man rejoices that the earth is the Lords, and all the fulness thereof (Ps. 24:1). In that confidence man rests, and in that joy he surveys the work of his hands, knowing that his labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)” R.J. Rushdoony. As Meredith Kline wrote in his work, “Treaty of the Great King”, “The sabbatic cycle of covenant life symbolizes the consummation principle characteristic of divine action. God works, accomplishes his purpose and, rejoicing, rests.”  The human life is a copy of the Divine life, to work and to rest. Life finds purpose in the sabbath, in that the sabbath makes labor meaningful and purposive. It does so by annexing to work, joyful consummation. Our six days of labor finds its fulfillment in the day of rest, and similarly, our day of rest finds its meaning in the preceding six days of labor. The relationship between the sabbath and work is one which brings all things into harmonious relationship to God and in universal dedication to Him. Examine then, the quality of your work and rest and observe how it can be improved upon. Sabbath rest and your six days work are not strictly isolated or without consequence upon each other. “In keeping the Sabbath holy” remarks Morecraft, “we are rewarding the week by weekly enjoyment of God’s promises and the benefits of being in His love and covenant; and with victory after victory, dominion, revival and reformation over the earth, week by week as we move through history towards God’s final goal for us.” How well are you diligently administrating your duties in those six days of labour so you can rest on the Sabbath day?

FORSAKING FELLOWSHIP

“Not forsaking the fellowship that we have among ourselves, as the manner of some is: but let us exhort one another, and that so much the more, because ye see that the day draweth near.” The Christian assembly has priority for the Christian on the Sabbath. No better a preacher than Charles Spurgeon could impress this as commendably. “God delights in the prayers and praises of Christian families and individuals, but he has a special eye to the assemblies of the faithful… This should lead each separate believer to identify himself with the church of God; where the Lord reveals His love the most, there should each believer most delight to be found. Our own dwellings are very dear to us, but we must not prefer them to the assemblies of the saints.” Christians, we must not be weary of well doing in this. That which is the business of the Sabbath is the greatest business of our lives, that of religion. To be weary in Sabbath observance is to stay at home or worse, go to church so you can go home. It is to regard the public worship of God as boring, to be neglectful of its sanctity, to be indifferent or callously unconcerned to its remembrance, to abandon physically or emotionally the fellowship of the brethren. How can one, who claims the name of Christ, be weary of Him and His love? Morecraft cautions, “Weariness of the Lord’s day is weariness with the Lord; and this is a sign of the most dangerous of all conditions: hardness of heart.” “Take heed brethren, lest any time there be in any of you an evil heart, and unfaithful, to depart from the living God… And to whom swear he that they should not enter his rest, but unto them that obeyed not.?” Hebrews 3:12,18. Sabbath breakers are covenant breakers. We are covenant breakers when we heed the opposite of Isaiah’s words by “doing thy will on my Holy day, and call the Sabbath a bore to deconsecrate it, as miserable to the Lord, and shalt dishonour him, doing thine own ways, seeking thine own will, speaking a vain word.” “Hear this, O ye that swallow up the poor… Saying, When will the new month be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, and make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger.” There are consequences to being a covenant breaker beyond just depriving yourself of joy and rest in Christ. “Moreover I gave them also my Sabbaths to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord, that sanctify them. But the house of Israel rebelled against me… and my Sabbaths have they greatly polluted: then I thought to pour out mine indignation upon them… But I had respect to my name.” Ezekiel 20:12-14.

SPECIAL DUTY TOWARDS PARENTS

The Fourth Commandment is orientated towards parents. “Nor thy sons, nor thy daughters.” Patriarchs have a special duty before God to take great pains in seeing their family and children keep the Sabbath holy. Q. 118 in the Westminster Larger Catechism asks, “Why is the charge of keeping the sabbath more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors? A.: The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own.” Convicting words towards parents. Do you hinder your own from delighting in the Sabbath because you are entangled in your own employments at the time? Do you children recognize the significance of the Sabbath rest and the gathering of believers in the local church? Do you example delighting in the Sabbath? Do you lead them into the true Sabbath rest?

CONCLUSION

“The pattern of the sabbath is in the past, from the sabbath of creation. The entrance into the sabbath is also in the past; for Israel, it was the redemption from Egypt; for the church, it is in the resurrection. The fulfillment of the sabbath is in the new creation. The sabbath is a present rest, based on past events, with a future reference and fulfillment.” R. J. Rushdoony. More craft gives 4 helpful exhortations toward rightly exercising the true Sabbath.

  1. Get a good grasp on the Sabbath laws and promises of the Bible. Delight in the Christian Sabbath, and keep it faithfully with all your heart, for many false teachers profess to teach the truth, with appealing systems (2 Tim. 4:3, 4), who would rob you of the glory and rest of the weekly Christian Sabbath.
  2. Train your children by word and example to delight in the Lord’s Day and in the Lord of the Sabbath all the days of their lives.
  3. Be sure that Satan will seek to make your observance of the Sabbath less consistent than your doctrine of the Sabbath. Resist him to the death and he will flee from you.
  4. Believe the glorious promises of Isaiah 66:22–44, Ezekiel 20:12 and Exodus 31:12–18. Live, work, witness, worship, pray, and rest in their light.

““For the new heavens, and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name continue. And from month to month, and from Sabbath to Sabbath shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord.”

“Moreover, I gave them also my Sabbaths to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord, that sanctify them.”