Showing posts from 2010

Toyota + Rap + Humor = Phat

If you have not yet seen the “Swagger Wagon” music video (an excellent and hilarious piece of hip-hop marketing), check it out! If you like the song, you can download a free mp3 here .

A “Sabbath Testimony”—by Shannon Stewart

Sabbath Study, Part 40 When Cap started studying the Sabbath during the summer we got married, I dreaded the result. Like most Christians I knew, I “kept the Sabbath” by going to church on Sunday mornings and then used Sunday afternoons to finish homework, do last-minute chores, or just chill out with a movie before the week began. When Cap’s study led him to believe that keeping the Sabbath involved a bit more than obligatory church attendance, I wasn’t thrilled. To be quite honest, I didn’t want to think about God all day long . That would be boring. At the time, I was halfway done with my Master’s Degree in English Literature, a task that required more work than I could give. Despite constant labor, I still went to bed every night with many assignments unfinished. Days upon days of often unrewarding work, with no end in sight, made me exhausted, stressed to the point of physical ailment, and regularly depressed. I spent Sunday afternoons frantically catching up on homework, though t

Conclusion: Sabbath Principles and Practices (Cont.)

Sabbath Study, Part 39 The first half of our conclusion to this Sabbath study (see the previous post) detailed the first three “Sabbath principles.” Here are the final four. Fourth, the weekly Sabbath has changed from Saturday to Sunday. Within the realm of orthodox Christianity, this is almost universally acknowledged. Christ’s death and resurrection inaugurated a new era of Sabbath application. There are some who argue that the Christian Sabbath is on Saturday. I have not found these arguments to be convincing—or, in the long run, Scripturally credible. Fifth, the weekly rest should, in at least a general sense, look different from the other six days of the week. We do ourselves a disservice to call Sunday a day of rest while treating it like any other day. In a more specific sense, the weekly rest should involve both corporate and private worship; it is a “holy convocation” (i.e., a large, formal assembly), as well as something to be observed “in all your dwellings” (see Lev. 23:3)

Conclusion: Sabbath Principles and Practices

Sabbath Study, Part 38 For the last several months, we have studied the doctrine of the Sabbath (i.e., what the entirety of the Bible has to say about the Fourth Commandment). During this time, I have attempted to explain why I think the weekly rest is far from an outdated command—and why it is a source of abundant grace and soul-satisfying pleasure. Properly viewed and obeyed, the Fourth Commandment can greatly benefit the Christian’s life. So what about application? What exactly does a Sabbath rest look like? What are we allowed and/or forbidden to do during this day? Christian authorities have not been in complete agreement over the answer to these questions, and I won’t pretend to have unlocked all the secrets to a proper application of the Fourth Commandment. I think it is best to answer the above questions with a short list of principles rather than a list of specific steps. Application points can be debated, but I think the Biblical principles are more clear-cut…and they can lea

Eternal Rest

Sabbath Study, Part 37 Just as believers enter into rest when they pass away, so the Sabbath is a form of rest for us now. “For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His” (Heb. 4:10). Indeed, this Sabbath rest finds its ultimate fulfillment in Heaven: Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” (Revelation 14:13) The Greek word translated as “labors” in this verse denotes intense labor united with trouble and toil. This word is used in several other places in Scripture, including 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” “From such [painful, earthly] toils the redeemed in heaven will be released; for although there will be employment there, it will be w

The Lord’s Day

Sabbath Study, Part 36 In the book of Revelation, we find one more reference to the Christian Sabbath (i.e., Sunday). The Apostle John authored Revelation while on the island of Patmos, having been exiled there for preaching the gospel. Halfway through the first chapter, John gives the occasion of the book’s origin. I, John, your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet… (Revelation 1:9, 10) On the Lord’s Day . Believers have typically put the Lord’s name on practices He instituted: The Lord’s Prayer (which He taught us to pray; see Mt. 6:9-13). The Lord’s Supper (which He commanded to be practiced in remembrance of Him; see Lk. 22:19, 20; 1 Cor. 11:20, 23-26). The Lord’s Day (Sunday, which He evidently instructed His followers—probably during one of His

The Eternal Sabbath: Application Points

Sabbath Study, Part 35 The last post was admittedly long, and we covered a lot of material. Hebrews 4 is not the easiest passage to study, so I’ve asked Albert Barnes to help us by giving four application points. (Okay, Albert Barnes is dead, so I didn’t specifically ask him for his help. I am, however, going to quote his commentary, which I hope will serve us in applying a lot of what we have been studying.) ************************************* Learn hence, (1.) that heaven is a place of cessation from wearisome toil. It is to be like the “rest” which God had after the work of creation, (Heb 4:4) See Heb 4:4, and of which that was the type and emblem. There will be employment there, but it will be without fatigue; there will be the occupation of the mind, and of whatever powers we may possess, but without weariness. Here we are often worn down and exhausted. The body sinks under continued toil, and falls into the grave. There the slave will rest from his toil; the man here oppressed

The Rest is Yet to Come

Sabbath Study, Part 34 In Hebrews 3, we are reminded how, during their trial in the wilderness, many of the Israelites hardened their hearts through unbelief, leading the Lord to declare, “They shall not enter My rest” (v. 11)—i.e., the Promised Land. This sobering example from Hebrews 3 prepares the reader for chapter 4, where the author applies the principle of promised rest to the life of the believer found in Christ—and ultimately found in Heaven. Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest , let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard. For we who have believed do enter that rest , as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest ,’” [Ps. 95:11] although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way:

Sunday Collections

Sabbath Study, Part 33 In 1 Corinthians 16, the Apostle Paul gives some instructions regarding another Sunday Sabbath activity: receiving an offering. Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:1, 2) As…the churches of Galatia, so you must do. It seems that a special collection was taken up at Galatia, and Paul is giving the Corinthian church instructions on how to go about doing the same thing, so that he might take the money to the poor among the saints in Jerusalem (see Rom. 15:26). His instructions for the Corinthians were the same as that for the Galatians, including not only the action to be taken, but also the day in which it was to take place. On the first day of the week. Paul is not commanding a corporate meeting on Sunday, he is assuming it.

The First Day of the Week

Sabbath Study, Part 32 In the last two posts, we looked at several instances where Paul and other Christians sought evangelistic opportunities on the Jewish Sabbath. Acts 20 records a different kind of gathering: Paul and other Christians come together and break bread on a Sunday. Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. (Acts 20:7) First day of the week. This phrase can be literally translated, “one of the Sabbaths,” leading some to believe that the Sabbath is still on Saturday and not Sunday. A helpful article by William D. Mounce (author of numerous books, including the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek , and general editor for Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Word s ) helps us see otherwise: “Words are rarely simple; they are usually nuanced and sometimes idiomatic. The fact that every modern translation goes

A River Runs Near It

Sabbath Study, Part 31 There is one Saturday-Sabbath story in the book of Acts that does not take place in a synagogue. In Acts 16, Paul and his fellow missionaries travel to the city of Philippi. It appears that for some reason the city did not have a synagogue. This didn’t stop the Christians from setting out to find a Jewish gathering where they could preach the gospel. And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there. Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And…she and her household were baptized… (Acts 16:13-15) Where prayer was customarily made. This phrase could be translated, “Where there was thought to be a proseuche [i.e., a place of prayer]” (Robert Young). The sense of this phrase is not that the Christians were in the habit of meeting a

Ministering on the Jewish Sabbath

Sabbath Study, Part 30 The book of Acts includes several instances of Christian leaders attending Jewish Sabbath services to share the gospel with those in attendance. Examples include Acts 13:43; 14:1; 16:14; 17:4, 17; and 18:4. These passages mention the presence of religious Gentiles as well as Jews, leading some to believe that Christian and Jew alike celebrated the Sabbath on the same day. Otherwise, why would Gentiles be participating in the Saturday Sabbath? At first, this had been my conclusion as well. After digging deeper, however, I realized that, in order for us to really understand who these non-Jewish worshipers are, we need to understand the different types of Gentiles the New Testament deals with. There are at least three groups: Gentile believers Gentile unbelievers Greek proselytes—i.e., Gentile converts to Judaism (divided by some into two sub-groups: “proselytes of righteousness” and “proselytes at the gate”; the former were more fully integrated into Judaism than t

The Day that Changed Everything

Sabbath Study, Part 29 Jesus was crucified and buried on a Friday. During the Jewish Sabbath, His body remained in the tomb. Early Sunday morning, at the beginning of a new week, Christ arose, victor over sin and death. After first appearing to Mary that morning (Jn. 20:14ff), He met and traveled with two disciples on the road to Emmaus later that day (Lk. 24:13ff). When He vanished from their presence, they realized whom they had been talking with and they immediately returned to Jerusalem. That evening, while they were describing to the other disciples their encounter with the risen Savior (see Lk. 24:36), Jesus appeared to them all. Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” (John 20:19) The first day of the week. John makes a point of mentioning what day it was when Jesus first appeared to them. “Christ ar

Sabbath Preparation

Sabbath Study, Part 28 Jesus, the man characterized by the Pharisees as a sinner (a glutton, a drunkard, and a Sabbath breaker), suffered and died in the place of sinners (including gluttons, drunkards, and Sabbath breakers). Shortly thereafter, Joseph of Arimathea (a member of the Jewish council and a follower of Christ) had the body of Jesus buried in a stone tomb. All this took place on a Friday. That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near. And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. (Luke 23:54-56) That day was the preparation. The hurried manner in which Jesus’ body was taken down and buried is due to the approach of the Sabbath. For the Jews, proper observance of the fourth commandment required preparation before the Sabbath day actually arrived. Once more, their days were reck

Blind Man, Blind Leaders

Sabbath Study, Part 27 In John chapter 9, we read of Jesus passing by a blind man on a Sabbath day and stopping to help. He spit on the ground, made mud with his saliva, and anointed the man’s eyes with the mud. Jesus then told him to wash in the pool of Siloam. When he did so, his sight was completely restored. Eventually, the man was brought to the Pharisees to be examined. They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. (John 9:13-16) They brought him…to the Pharisees. With Jesus repeatedly using the Sabbath observance as an object lesson, it almost seems as though He is tr

The Letter or the Spirit?

Sabbath Study, Part 26 A couple chapters after healing the lame man by the pool (John 5:1-18), Jesus brings this incident up during His interaction with a Jewish group on the Feast of Booths. Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work [the healing of the man by the pool], and you all marvel. Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:21-24) Jesus answered. “The sabbath day (which is here set before us as a standard of all ceremonies) was not appointed to hinder, but to further and practise God’s works, amongst which the main one is the love of our neighbour” (Geneva Bible Notes). I did one work. According to commentators, Jesus had healed the man a

The Working Prerogative of Jesus

Sabbath Study, Part 25 In Jerusalem, Jesus encounters a man who has been debilitated by an infirmity for 38 years. After asking if he wants to be healed, Jesus proceeds to miraculously restore the man’s health. Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’” Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well. For this reason the Jews persecuted Je

Our Good, God’s Glory

Sabbath Study, Part 24 Because of God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness, it is right for us to ask in humble bewilderment, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Ps. 8:4). Why does God show kindness to sinners by offering them rest (among many other acts of mercy and grace)? The answer to this question is illustrated in our next Sabbath story. Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her, “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. But the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath; and he said to the crowd, “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on th

Works of Mercy

Sabbath Study, Part 23 The preceding incident (Matthew 12:1-8) is immediately followed by another “Sabbath encounter” Jesus had with the Pharisees: Now when He had departed from there, He went into their synagogue. And behold, there was a man who had a withered hand. And they asked Him, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”—that they might accuse Him. Then He said to them, “What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep? Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and it was restored as whole as the other. (Matthew 12:9-13) When He had departed from there. Jesus went into the synagogue on the same day of the previous incident (see Mt. 12:1-8), but it appears that He stayed there—or in the vicinity—for at least a week before this particular instance occurred (see Mr

Works of Necessity

Sabbath Study, Part 22 The book of Mark describes the incident we examined in our last post, but with an additional statement by Jesus that sheds more light on the purpose of the Sabbath: “And He [Jesus] said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’” (Mark 2:27) The Sabbath was made for man. “That is, the Sabbath was intended for the welfare of man; designed to promote his happiness; and not to produce misery, by harsh, unfeeling requirements. It is not to be so interpreted as to produce suffering, by making the necessary supply of wants unlawful. Man was not made for the Sabbath. Man was created first, and then the Sabbath was appointed for his happiness, Ge 2:1-3. . . . The laws are to be interpreted favourably to his real wants and comforts. This authorizes works only of real necessity, not of imaginary wants, or amusement, or common business, and worldly employments” (Albert Barnes, on Matthew 12:6). The functional purpose of the Sabbath is to be of s

Field of Grains

Sabbath Study, Part 21 The New Testament helps flesh out the true nature of the Sabbath rest. It is interesting to note that many of Jesus’ healing miracles were intentionally performed on the Sabbath. There seem to be at least two reasons for this: 1) By expanding (so to speak) on the concept of the Sabbath, Jesus was establishing His divinity, putting Himself on equal footing with God; and 2) Jesus was correcting the misuses and abuses of the Sabbath rest, helping His people to more fully enjoy God’s provision of it. We must not make the mistake of calling Jesus a Sabbath breaker, simply because the Pharisees accused Him of such. They also accused Him of being a glutton and a drunkard (Mt. 11:19). It is easy and convenient for us to say that Jesus broke the Sabbath all the time, but to say that is to side with the viewpoint of the Pharisees. In reality, Christ lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father. No divine law—including the commandment to honor the Sabbath day as holy—was

More Sabbath Blessings

Sabbath Study, Part 20 In Jeremiah 17, there is a lengthy description of Judah’s sin (doubling as a description of the sin of all mankind), followed by Jeremiah’s plea for deliverance. God’s answer begins with an exhortation to honor the Sabbath: Thus says the LORD: “Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem; nor carry a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, nor do any work, but hallow the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers. But they did not obey nor incline their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear nor receive instruction. “And it shall be, if you heed Me carefully,” says the LORD, “to bring no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work in it, then shall enter the gates of this city kings and princes sitting on the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they and their princes, accompanied by the men of Judah and the i

A Delight and Joy

Sabbath Study, Part 19 [Just so there is no confusion: we have not examined, and will not examine, every Old and New Testament passage on the Sabbath. This study, while extensive, is not designed to be exhaustive.] In Isaiah 58, we find a Sabbath passage that helps correct our natural thinking. We are prone to consider the Sabbath command a burden, but we are encouraged to see it for what it really is: a blessing. If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and shall honor [glorify] Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the LORD; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 58:13, 14) If you turn away…from doing your pleasure. There is a kind provision in this prohibition. In our mod

A Sabbath Song

Sabbath Study, Part 18 Of the 150 Psalms, only 1 is listed as being written specifically for the Sabbath. We aren’t going to go through the whole thing, but I wanted to look at the first few verses. A PSALM. A SONG FOR THE SABBATH DAY. It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night, on an instrument of ten strings, on the lute, and on the harp, with harmonious sound. For You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands. O LORD, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep. A senseless man does not know, nor does a fool understand this. (Psalm 92:1-6) A song for the Sabbath day. “The subject is the praise of God; praise is Sabbatic work, the joyful occupation of resting hearts. Since a true Sabbath can only be found in God, it is wise to meditate upon him on the Sabbath day…. The Sabbath was set apart for adoring the Lo