Tuesday, April 6, 2010

More on the Lord's Day

Calvin continues discussion about the Sabbath and the Lord's Day in today's readings.  Christ fulfilled the Sabbath therefore there is no longer the ceremonial regulations associated with this commandment were abolished which Calvin stated in yesterday's reading.  So what is left for us to do in relation to a weekly day of rest?  It is still profitable for us to "(1) to assemble on stated days for the hearing of the Word, the breaking of the mystical bread, and for public prayers [cf. Acts 2:42]; (2) to give surcease from labor to servants and workmen."  We should continue to have weekly corporate worship and give ourselves and our employees/servants/ourselves the day off for rest.  So Calvin asks (and answers) the question: If it is profitable for us to have regular public worship and take rest from our labors, why not do this everyday?  He answers this in two parts: (1) our flesh is too weak for us to have daily meetings and (2) it was not God's will (which I think should be the first reason). 

Calvin then asked why celebrate Sundays and not on the traditional Jewish Sabbath.  There were people in Calvin's day who argued that we should be worshiping on Saturday and not on Sunday.  Paul wrote, "So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ" (Colossians 2:16-17 NKJV).  Once again, Christ is the fulfillment of the Sabbath and the fulfillment of the law.  The ceremonial laws which pointed to the coming of Christ are now unnecessary because Christ has come.  Paul told the Corinthians that they should collect offerings on the first day of the week in 1 Corinthians 16:2.  There were superstitions in the church regarding worshiping on the Sabbath.  Calvin writes that Paul told the Romans that it was superstitious for anyone to think that one day was any higher than any other day in Romans 14:5.  Calvin responded to the superstitions by stating, "If one fears superstition, there was more danger in the Jewish holy days than in the Lord's days that Christians now keep.  For, because it was expedient to overthrow superstition, the day sacred to the Jews was set aside; because it was necessary to maintain decorum, order, and peace in the church, another was appointed for that purpose."

We should take time each week for worship.  It was "the ancients" who decided to change the day of the week from the Sabbath to the Lord's Day.  "The purpose and fulfillment of that true rest, represented by the ancient Sabbath, lies in the Lord's resurrection.  Hence, by the very day that brought the shadows to an end, Christians are warned not to cling to the shadow rite."  Calvin also says that there is nothing magical about the number seven nor would he condemn churches who worship on another day "provided there be no superstition."  Calvin wrote about the truth in the commandment which is now unshadowed: "First, we are to meditate throughout life upon an everlasting Sabbath rest from all our works, that the Lord may work in us through his Spirit.  Secondly, each one of us privately, whenever he has leisure, is to exercise himself diligently in pious meditation upon God's works...In the third place, we should not inhumanely oppress those subject to us."

Finally, Calvin wrote about regular assembly of worshipers.  We must gather together as the body of Christ regularly for worship and spiritual growth.  Calvin wrote about it, " order to prevent religion from either perishing or declining among us, we should diligently frequent the sacred meetings, and make use of those external aids which can promote the worship of God."

Tomorrow's reading: 2.8.35-2.8.40

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