What We Believe about the Sabbath
Continuing our series of What We Believe statements, this month we stop at the 3rd Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.” The Sabbath is the day of rest for Christians from work and toil to focus on worship, prayer and meditation. As the Sabbath Command was given, as all Ten Commandments, in Old Testament times, the Sabbath was a sign pointing to the Savior to come (Jesus). Now that Jesus has come, we are not required to observe, as a law, the Sabbath rest.
We do though believe it proper that the Christian assembly keep the ordinance of regular worship, to give praise to God for His many blessings and the gift of salvation, to hear and inwardly digest the Word of God, to receive the sacraments, receive forgiveness, and be in fellowship with other Christians. Yet we do not contend that our obedience to the Sabbath is a work or condition that brings salvation.
When we treat Sunday church attendance as an obligation, expectation, or for a display of personal piety, we can become reluctant, resistant and less than enthusiastic about our Sunday experience. But when we view Sunday worship as a privilege, an opportunity to give thanks and praise to Christ for suffering on the cross and dying for our sins, taking the judgment that would otherwise be reserved for each sinner who violated God’s Law, and satisfying God’s wrath against sin, that all that is needed for the promise of eternal life is faith and belief in Jesus, then it truly becomes a faith response, an honor to attend Sunday worship to give such praise. The sacrifice our Lord made never gets old or outdated. To return our praise weekly is our heart’s delight to do so.
While the Old Testament Command regarding the Sabbath may be abrogated, we are not off the hook in our spiritual calling. The Book of Hebrews tells us: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25. Christians are not meant to be alone, but to come together and strengthen one another, and for those blessings previously mentioned.
The time set aside for corporate worship is under attack from the times we live in. Social events, festivals, sports groups, business opportunities, these once respected Sundays as sacred to families and worship. Now, these encroach Sunday mornings to compete with God for our time, attention and sense of importance.
Here is the eye-opening reality. Assuming the average person sleeps eight hours a night, that leaves sixteen hours over seven days, 112 hours of life to actively live each week. A typical church service is approximately one hour. That’s less than 1% of our week. And when we choose another function, rather than Sunday worship, we say we just can’t squeeze in that 1% for God this week, it’s too much to ask. Again, what a shame to say no to the one who shed His blood and died an agonizing death for the forgiveness of our sins, demonstrating the love of God for all the world. Yet we do not have the time to remember the Sabbath and to keep it holy!
While this Commandment has been fulfilled, the calling of our heart and spirit is there- return our praise to God, giving thanks to Jesus, remembering the Sabbath through worship in our churches. This is what we believe.
If you would like further dialog on what we believe, our church email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Sincere comments and questions please. Our churches are: St. Paul Lutheran church in Fredonia (672-6731), Immanuel Lutheran Church in Gowanda (532-4342), and Trinity Lutheran Church in Silver Creek (934-2002).