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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

How Ministers Break the Sabbath.  Huh?

A few years ago, someone was curious as to how, with my view of the Sabbath, what anyone could do to break the 4th commandment.  I wondered for a minute why he wanted to know, unless he was making a list, checking it twice, to feed his own transgression of Colossians 2:16, 17, not seeing the Fourth Commandment ceremonies are no more binding on Christians than bloody sacrifices were.  The body is Christ.

Seeing as it is never the weak who are offended by how someone keeps or doesn’t keep the Sabbath, I decided that it would be good to address the consciences of those strong Christians who are very super careful lest the weak be turned out of the way and stop at McDonalds on their way home from church, I thought of the many, many ways that Sabbath breakers disrupt the peace of the Lord’s Day.  Because I think that worship trumps physical rest on the Sabbath [for we rest to worship, not worship to rest], I thought that the sin of corrupting worship would be worse than those who disturbed somebody’s sleep.

I thought I would start with preachers, for they can do very much to set the tone.   Because the Heidelberg Catechism is very clear that the purpose for our Sabbath gatherings concerns the ministry of the word of God:

Q103:  What does God require in the fourth Commandment?
 A103:  In the first place, God wills that the ministry of the Gospel and schools be maintained,[1] and that I, especially on the day of rest, diligently attend church [2] to learn the Word of God,[3] to use the holy sacraments,[4] to call publicly upon the Lord,[5] and to give Christian alms.[6] In the second place, that all the days of my life I rest from my evil works, allow the Lord to work in me by His Spirit, and thus begin in this life the everlasting sabbath.[7]

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the foundation of the rest that God has given to His people   Hence, the day of worship is the day of rest because it is there that we learn of our rest and learn how to know the Lord who calls us to come to Him and He will give us rest.  Hence, the minister must be very careful not to disrupt the message of Gospel of Christ, lest the people of God be turned aside to ceremonies and fleshly things that cannot give rest.

It is very important that the church and the ministry provide a rich opportunity for people to learn the word of God, that children be catechized, and the families gather to worship the Lord.  This must always be the focus of the Fourth Commandment.  The peace and rest that the soul finds in Christ must remain for all ages, even when the Commandment is stripped of Jewish ceremonies.

Hence, I would suggest that any minister guilty of any of the following practices is in violation of the Fourth Commandment and guilty of profaning the Rest of the Lord.   There may be a book end to this article, indicated those sins that are common to the people of God with respect to the Fourth Commandment.

This is the short list.  You may expand it as your conscience tweaks you:

By loafing all week, not visiting the flock, not doing careful study and being boring in the pulpit, delivering up dead homilies on gnats.

By not weeping with those that weep nor rejoicing with those that rejoice. Unconcern and   indifference to the real needs of the flock. Worrying more about your legacy and reputation than the good of the church. Bullying the weak.

By seeking first of all to preserve your station. Selling the gospel for salary, security, and position. By ancestor worship rather than the Lord Jesus. By tribal attitudes that downgrade other ethnic groups.   [See my article on Tribal Christianity] By Bible whipping those who don't agree with you.  By preaching yourselves and your own wisdom; By showing off;

By preaching to advance a private agenda.  Using the Bible to support your own ambition and desires.  By Bible-whipping those who disagree with you.

By cruelty to the poor and needy and weak in the faith;   By  thinking that laying down the law will reform the life; By binding the church to your own private interpretations of Scripture.

By incessant meddling in other peoples' affairs.

By adding to the Scriptures;  By taking away from the Scriptures.  By preaching the dreams of your own heart.

By misinterpretation of Scripture to fit your preconceived conclusions.  By indulging private sins and lusts; by covetousness; by agitation of soul.

By drunkenness anytime. By prayerlessness. By not praying for the Holy Spirit. By trusting in your  own wisdom, experience, reason.

By bullying. By striving. By railing. By insult and name-calling. By self-indulgence and self-vindication. By making excuses for your own profanation of the sabbath in any of these things by your own carelessness in the Gospel

By playing fast and loose with the constitutions and creeds of the church, which are foundational for the peace of rest of the church.   By claiming legitimacy for de facto and self-affirmed positions which have never been legally adopting as part of the creeds or constitutions, thus attacking the foundations of the peace of the church.
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By seeking your own. By not suffering long. By not being kind.  By railing [did I already say that?]. By having no mercy.  By mistreating your wives or children. By failure in any of the nine other commandments, but pretending otherwise, then whipping people with the law.

By being a  workaholic, not spending time for games and recreation with your family,   By not taking your responsibility as a husband and establishing the peace of Christ in your home.  By being a truant and not dealing with bullies and strife in the church to the destruction of your wife and family and permanent damage to their view of the Gospel and the church as a battleground rather than a place of rest in Christ.

By putting people to sleep because you haven't prepared a new sermon since the first five years after seminary. By choosing where you will minister because of personal desire rather than the  need of the church; or because of the salary; or because you have family there; or because the weather is nice; or because there are rich people there; or a thousand other unworthy motives.

By pretending you believe the Bible, but have reservations and do not tend to your own personal devotions and prayer. By mental and spiritual and physical laziness and the internal unrest that comes with it.

By being bigoted and incessantly critical of other denominations and ministers. By coddling the
rich and arrogant.  Holding grudges and slandering other ministers.

By not defending slandered ministers. By not squelching slander, the very work of the devil, and the chief reason for strife and unrest in churches.

By indulging your children. By indulging your wife and relatives. By forming or abetting factions in the church or denomination. By not praying for enemies. For not turning the other cheek.   For showing partiality to your friends and supporters and turning your back on those who dare to disagree with you.

By not preaching Christ crucified or people will accuse you of pietism.  By not preaching and practicing faith, hope, and charity, lest people think you are a mystic.

By bring arid, dry, intellectual sermons that suck the sap out of the soul lest people think you are a Pentecostal, or worse, a Baptist.  By making much ado about candles lest people think you are a Lutheran, or worse, a Catholic.

By preaching against those who do not keep the day as you deem proper, in direct violation of Colossians 2:16,17 which makes it a matter of liberty.

By not telling the people that a man must be born again to see the kingdom of God; that they are secure if ceremonies have been performed, rituals observed, and creeds affirmed even though nothing is known of their content or life, lest people think you are “puritan,” or worse, an enthusiast or Methodist.

By not preaching that people should live holy lives, lest people think you are a perfectionist.

By bringing your gift to the altar knowing that you are estranged from a brother.

By bringing your gift to the altar knowing you have done wrong to a brother.

By holding grudges.

By these things and a thousand others like them, the peace of the church--the true sabbath day is destroyed and the worship is profaned.

The hands of the minister that should be raised in blessing become raised in cursing according to    Malachi:

"And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to  heart.  Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces."
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