The Decalogue was not something new given to Israel, but rather it was the essence of the covenant with Israel (e.g. Ex. 34:28; Deut. 4:13) and it was given so that there would be no misunderstanding through weakened conscience about what God’s moral law was. That this was the case is seen in the general knowledge of the Ten Commandments prior to Sinai in the Pentateuch.
The first commandment declares the exclusivity of Yahweh as the only God to be worshiped and adored (Ex. 20:3) and the second commandment declares how he should be worshiped and also forbids idolatry (Ex. 20:4-6). The first and second commandments are very similar to each other. This was obvious to Adam and Eve as they had perfect knowledge of God prior to the Fall wherein God would walk with them in the Garden. They knew no other God, but the LORD. Cain and Abel both worshiped and knew God, but one was accepted and the other denied. Cain worshiped God, but he broke the second commandment by not worshiping Him rightly (see here for chapter 22 on the Regulative Principle of Worship). He brought that which the Lord had not commanded or that which was not pleasing as a sacrifice to Him and was rejected.
When we read of the patriarchs, we see them also only devoting themselves and worshiping the one true God. When Abraham was called by God, he was an idolater as it was common in his day (Josh. 24:2), but the Lord called and he obeyed. We nowhere read of Abraham having any other god, but rather he held fast to the true God even to the point of offering his own son. He is the One whom Abraham declares to be the judge of all the earth (Gen. 18:25) and who demands from Abraham that he walk blamelessly before Him (Gen. 17:1).
Jacob, when he fled from Laban, unknown to him Rachel, his beloved wife had taken the idols of her father with her (Gen. 31:19). When Laban finds out that Jacob along with his family had fled and the household gods were no more, pursued Jacob and found him. When asked why did Jacob steal Laban’s gods, Jacob’s response was a clear affirmation of his devotion to the only one God. He said, “Anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live” (Gen. 31:32). Here are two sins coupled together: one is theft and the other idolatry. Jacob was ready to put to death the person who had the idols. It was a grievous sin to him because he knew the true God who demands exclusivity from His people.
When God the LORD called Jacob to go to Bethel and dwell there, Jacob follows the call of God with a call to his people to “Put away the foreign gods that are among [them]” (Gen. 35:2). Jacob knew that God is a God Who is jealous and wants His people to be obedient only to Him and worship only Him. The Almighty will not share His glory with idols. He wants to have the full devotion of His people. When the people gave up their idols, at that time it is said that ...
I find especially helpful Calvin's observation on the commandments that when we read, for example, “Honor thy father and thy mother,” it not only applies to our parents, but also to other elders. But more than that, it also means the negative, i.e., you shall not dishonor and shame your elders. “Thou shalt not murder”, for example, also means the negative, meaning: it teaches us to persevere life, to love life, to cherish life and to celebrate life, etc.
These Ten Commandments are summarized in two commandments by our Lord and Master:
Matt. 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Love for God and love for our neighbor, which comes as a result of loving God, is the summary of the Ten Commandments and the Bible. For more on the law, see chapter 19.
After giving various laws in chapters 21-23, then the Lord confirms and establishes His covenant with Israel.
Exod. 24:3-8 Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD. He rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 And he sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the LORD. 6 And Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he threw against the altar. 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
This is similar to what we read in Exodus 19, except that here the Lord inaugurates and establishes the covenant with the children of Israel. The people are told the terms of the covenant and the rules, their response is that they will do all that the Lord has commanded and that they will be obedient. Moses writes the words of the Lord so that they would be unalterable and then establishes the covenant with animal blood. This was a symbol to purify the people and set them apart as the covenant people of God (Heb. 9:18-22). They were to be hol...
A well researched book by two readable authors. Makes a convincing and honest case from both the Holy Scriptures as well as the first four centuries from Christian history.
The biblical case is short and to the point. I love the fact there is always reference back to what he has said or established on earlier pages. Roger Beckwith goes on to demonstrate that the Sabbath was a creation ordinance and as such it is not connected with the Fall. Then he goes on to survey the passages speaking about the Sabbath. Very interesting was chapter 4 where he showed continuities between the Jewish Sabbath and the Lord's Day (the Christian Sabbath). He makes the case that the Lord's Day is the day of the Lord Christ, the day on which He rose and which we keep to celebrate His resurrection. The first part was very well written and argued, although I would have liked it to be longer and more extensive, but oh well!
The second part has 9 chapters devoted to a historical study about the Sabbath and the Lord's Day. It is very interesting to many how many early references there are to the Christian observance of the Lord's Day as the day of worship. The New Testament has a handful of passages speaking about the Lord's Day (first day of the week), but apparently, in the mind of the early Christians, these passages were a firm foundation to show them that Sunday was the day of worship, the kyriake hemera! Dr. Stott makes a good survey of various pre-400 AD writings in these chapters. There are things which the Fathers believed that I don't agree with, neither do Beckwith nor Stott. But they are honest to lay out their views honestly and clearly. For example, although the observance of the Lord's Day is directly connected to the Fourth Commandment in the mind of the Christian Sabbatarian, the early Fathers, according to Stott, do not make a direct connection with it. As Christian Sabbatarians we believe that the Sabbath was instituted in the Garden and given to Adam to keep, but the Fathers did not agree or say that Adam had to keep a Sabbath, but some of them connected it with the existence of sin (i.e. trouble, sin in our lives and the need for rest). Stott lays these views out honestly and makes some observations on them. It is still amazing to me how much Christians wrote and said about the Lord's Day, although there were but a handful of passages on it in the New Testament. It goes to show that what is insignificant in our modern eyes, was more than enough for the early church. It was enough that the Lord Christ rose on the Lord's Day, for the Lord's Day to be considered the day of rest and worship--a holy day.
His chapter on Eusebius of Caesarea (8) is very interesting. He tries to demonstrate that Eusebius tried to systematize and summarize the doctrines about the Lord's Day and the Sabbath which the Fathers taught. He was the systemizer of the Christian Sunday. He speaks of the Lord transferring the feast of the Sabbath to the first day and so on. Clearly connecting the Lord's Day with the Sabbath.
Overall, a very good and well argued book. I will certainly go back to it and check some stuff again!
Seeing that this book was published in 1978 it would be hard to come by, but fear not! An online (scanned) version is available here....
Dr. Robert Paul Martin
The Christian Sabbath
Its Redemptive-Historical Foundation, Present Obligation, and Practical Observance
"A masterpiece and a biblically grounded book" is how I would describe this amazing work. He engaged with those with whom he disagrees. He demonstrate a spirit of love and respect toward those with whom he disagrees. The tone is never harsh.
He grounds the Sabbath in Creation, goes to every major text in the Old Testament concerning the Sabbath. Demonstrates his ability in linguistics and in his knowledge of various interpretations of some texts. The footnotes are just great!
He then goes on to make a case for Sabbath observance under the New Covenant, but he does this by first going to major texts on the abiding validity of the Law in the New Covenant. He goes on to demonstrate our Lord's teaching on the Sabbath. He never did abrogated it, but cleared it from Pharisaic legalism. He has two chapters on works of piety and necessity and works of mercy.
He then moves to consider four misused texts: Rom 14:5-6; Gal 4:9-11; Eph 2:14-15; Col 2:16. He makes a case that none of these texts speak of the abrogation of the moral duty of observing one day out of seven as a Sabbath already established at Creation. He then moves on to consider Hebrews 4:9 wherein we are clearly told that there is still, for the New Covenant people of God, an obligation of Sabbath-keeping.
Until now he had not made a case for the change of the day. His book was about the Christian Sabbath, but what he argued for until now was the seventh-day Sabbath. To be sure, he made passing remarks on the change of the day. But he treats the change of the day in two chapters. The first one is dedicated to "the Apostolic Witness" where he examines the resurrection and the resurrection appearances as the prime reason for the change of the day, the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), the gathering of the church on the first day to break bread and have Paul preached to them (Acts 20:7), the gathering of alms on the first day (1Cor 16:1-2) and finally, the Lord's Day (Rev 1:10). In my opinion, he makes a good case for the change of the day from these passages and also from his treatment of the abiding Sabbath from Hebrews 4:9.
Then he moves to the post-apostolic testimony to the Lord's Day. He notes that often the word Sabbath was retrained for the Jewish Sabbath and was not frequently used for Sunday. Rather, from the earliest times, the expression "the Lord's Day" was used for the first day of the week on which Christ rose.
Finally, he moves on in the last part (3) to teach us how we should observe the Sabbath. He is careful in his suggestions and what He may say and deduce from God's Word. His desire is not to bind consciences where God has not bound them, but carefully give guidelines and suggestions.
Overall, I very much enjoyed reading this book and I used it a lot in my own study for the 1689 Baptist Confession's chapter 22 on the Sabbath (sections 7-8). It is detailed, it is biblical and it is written in a loving and respectful tone. What more can we expect? Get it and read it already!...
In addition to the problems with Historic Premillennialism, which are common with Dispensationalism, I see the following problems with this system.
It is obviously a recent innovation starting with John Nelson Darby in the 1830’s and is certainly not confessional. Dispensationalists reject Covenant Theology (chapter 7), the abiding validity of the moral Law of God (chapter 19), the Christian Sabbath (chapter 22), and the eschatology of the Confession (chapter 31) among other things. But the biblical problems are greater.
First of all, its novel idea that the Church and Israel are a separate people of God. From the earliest times of the Church, the Church saw itself as coming in place of Israel as the people of God. Dispensationalists derogatorily refer to this as Replacement Theology. Call it what you want, the Scriptures teach that the Church, Jewish and Gentile believers, are the Israel of God and the history of Christian theology up to Darby proves this. If you would read the old commentators, they would always refer to the Old Testament prophecies of restoration and prosperity as relating to the Church as the singular people of God. No doubt, a lot of the commentators saw also a latter day restoration of Israel (e.g. John Gill does this very often), but not as a separate people of God. But there came a change with the prominence of Dispensationalism, and the promises of God to His Church were taken away and given to an earthly and fleshly people, i.e., only to physical descendants of Abraham. They contended that we must separate Israel and the Church. They are not one people, but two different peoples of God, one heavenly and the other earthly with two separate plans. To defend this novel teaching, Dispensationalists do not allow the New Testament to interpret the Old. It is our belief that the New Testament should take precedence over the Old, not because the Old was not inspired or the New is more inspired. Rather, it is our belief that there is a greater clarity in the New Testament than in the Old. The Old was filled with types and shadows, but in the New we have the reality in Christ. Moreover, the interpretation of the Apostles of the Old Testament is the correct interpretation of the Old Testament, not the “literal” interpretation of Dispensationalists. Let me give you a few examples.
In Galatians 3, the Apostle Paul interprets the Abrahamic Covenant to have had promises made to Abraham to his singular Offspring who is Christ (Gal. 3:16). Then he goes on to say that “if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise” (Gal. 3:29). Also,
Gal. 3:7-9 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.
It is the teaching of Dispensationalism that the Abrahamic Covenant forms the basis that Israel must remain as the people of God and is always entitled to the Promised Land, and that Israel has not yet attained to the (complete) fulfillment of that promise. But this is contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture that all the promises were indeed fulfilled to Israel (e.g. Josh. 21:43-45) which were made to the physical seed. Yet, as we saw...
This is the first designation of the Lord's Supper in the New Testament. It is used in Luke 24:35; Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17. The early Christians were continually celebrating the Lord's Supper in the manner which their Lord did. As Christ took bread and broke it, so the Christians called this ordinance the breaking of bread, which reminded them of Christ's body given for them. Notice that in Acts 20:7, the purpose of the Church gathering on the Lord's Day, is to break bread. They were gathered on the Christian Sabbath, as a Church, to celebrate the Lord's Supper.
Eucharist means thanksgiving and refers to the words of Christ in Luke 22:19 before breaking and distributing the bread to His disciples. The Greek verb for giving thanks is εὐχαριστήσας (eucharistēsas). There is no doubt that thanksgiving should play a fundamental part as we celebrate the Lord's Supper, thinking of the work of Christ and receiving the benefits thereof anew in a spiritual and close communion with our Savior. But unfortunately, this name is closely associated with the abominable sacrifice of the Mass, therefore, it is not used by Protestants.
There are several things which are signified by the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is not a dead ritual, but a sign and a token, which signifies and grants grace to those who already believe (see Means Of Grace below). Here are the things which the Lord's Supper signifies.
The most obvious thing that the Lord's Supper signifies is the Lord's sacrificial death on behalf of His people. His body was broken and His blood was shed for His people so as to redeemed them from sin. The Lord's Supper reminds the Christian of the pivotal event of history when our Lord died on that cross to take away our sin and bear in Himself the punishment thereof. Therefore, whenever we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we are reminded of the work of Christ on behalf of His people in His vicarious death on the cross. As we are reminded of that work we are also receiving new graces and appreciation of that glorious work of redemption. This is especially true when the Lord's Supper is preceded by a confession of sin. As we think of Christ's atonement, we are reminded that all our sins have been washed away and we have been given the perfect righteousness of Christ instead of our filthy rags. In this ordinance, we have signified for us that Christ shed His blood and His body was broken for our sake, so as to forgive us of every sin. Both the ones we did before our regeneration and after our regeneration, even the ones which we confessed before participating in the Lord's Supper.
In rejection of the Roman Catholic and Lutheran understanding of Christ's presence in the Supper, the Reformed understand Christ's presence to be spiritual. Roman Catholics are fond of expressing Christ's presence in words like "real" and "literal." In contrast, we affirm that there is a real spiritual presence of Christ. The bread and wine, remain as they are, and there's not a single change in them. But these elements symbolize Christ's body and blood. The presence of Christ is not in the bread and wine but in the faith of believers. Christ is especially present among His gathered people in the Lord's Supper. He ministers to us ...