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Three Views of Sunday
February 13, 2005
I assume that almost no one reading this needs to be persuaded to attend church. Beyond your good habit of church attendance, however, how do you decide what else you should or should not do on Sunday?
When it comes to making such decisions, I understand there to be three major views among Christians, One is the Christian Sabbath view. This view says that the Fourth Commandment - “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…” (Exodus 20:8-11) - is a perpetual, moral law of God and remains intact under the New Covenant. Instead of a Saturday Sabbath as in the Old Covenant, Christians observe the Sabbath on Sunday in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Except for the ceremonial aspects of the Jewish Sabbath, all other Sabbath laws should be embraced by Christians today, just as much as any of the other Ten Commandments.
The Lord’s Day View points to texts like Colossians 2:16-17 and Hebrews 4:9-10, arguing that the Sabbath was “a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:17). Like the Day of Atonement, the Sabbath pointed to Christ. Jesus Christ is the true Sabbath, And when we rest from (that is, stop relying upon) our good works as the way to be right with God, and rest by faith in the finished work of Christ on our behalf, we “keep the Sabbath” (or rather, Christ keeps it perfectly for us). Among those who take this view is a wide range of perspectives on what - in addition to public worship - it means to observe the Lord’s Day.
However, most Christians apparently prefer a third position. I call it the Oblivious view. In other words, these believers go to church, but beyond that they’ve never considered whether the Bible has anything to say about what else they should or shouldn’t do on Sunday. They make their decisions about these things based far more upon cultural influences than upon the Bible or anything else. The “culture” that influences their actions may be their church culture or the general culture, but the primary influence is culture nonetheless. If just about everyone in their church commonly shops for groceries or goes to the mall on Sunday afternoon, then they will probably feel comfortable doing the same things themselves. And if most everyone in the culture at large seems to be watching football on Sunday, then they won’t think twice about turning on the game after Sunday dinner.
I want to encourage you to base your decisions about your Lord’s Days activities - whatever they may be - more intentionally upon the Bible. That’s what a Christian really wants to do in everything, isn’t it? It’s also closer to true spirituality to acknowledge the authority of Scripture over how you spend your Sunday. Study the issue, be persuaded in your own mind, and then act accordingly. Believe that it’s always more blessed by God and glorifying to God to choose to live biblically.
The preceding article was “borrowed” (ie plagarized) from Simplify Your Spiritual Life by Don Whitney. Don is an occasional reader of this site so I hope he just happens to miss this one! If he does read it, I hope to mollify him by expressing to others that this is an excellent book and one you really ought to purchase.
I have expressed in the past that I still have trouble deciding what I believe about Sunday. I was raised in the Sabbath view but now attend a church where those who are deliberate about studying the issue arrive at the Lord’s Day view, but as in most churches, I suspect most have never even realized there was an issue to study! I appreciated Don’s counsel in this chapter which tells us that ignorance is never pleasing to God. We all owe it to Him and to ourselves and our families to study the issue and arrive at a Biblical conclusion.
May the Lord of the Sabbath bless you on this Lord’s Day, and may you not be oblivious to His blessings.