The Staunch Calvinist

"Absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God." - Jonathan Edwards


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1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 22: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day - Commentary

  • ^ Martin, The Christian Sabbath. p. 369.
  • ^ Ibid., p. 365.
  • ...

    1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 26: Of the Church - Commentary

    ...a house with an “upper room” (Acts 20:8). But they were gathered as a church to celebrate the Lord’s Supper and to hear Paul “talk” to them. Not only do we see a very early example of Christians gathering together, but they that to celebrate the ordinances of Christ and to hear the preaching of the Word of God. Hebrews 10:25 even encourages us not to neglect “to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” See chapter 22:7-8 for more on the Day Of Worship in the New Covenant. See also below for a little more on the church as gathered.

    In addition to what we’ve said and argued concerning the spiritual condition of the church’s membership, we may also note how they are referred to. They are called disciples (Acts 6:1-2, 7; 9:1, 19, 26, 38; 11:29; 14:20-21). This is how Christ chose to refer to His people. A disciple is someone who has a teacher. Christ said, “you have one teacher,” referring to Himself, “and you are all brothers” (Matt. 23:8). A disciple does not merely learn things from his teacher, but a disciple likewise imitates his teacher. Therefore, our Teacher says, “It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher” (Matt. 10:25). Furthermore, he made it very clear that the cost of discipleship is everything. He said, ​“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 ​Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27). This is the calling of every true Christian and church member. In fact, the church is also the place where discipleship takes form.

    Those church members are also designated as “the believers” (Acts 5:14; 10:45; 15:5). They identified with the crucified-risen Messiah. In Acts, we read of people belonging to a church. So, “Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church” (Acts 12:1). The author did not refer to people belonging to the universal church, but to the church at Jerusalem. They belonged to a particular congregation or society of people. So we also read that people were added to the churches. The 3000 converts on Pentecost “were added”, presumably, to the church. For to what else were they added? Since they were able to identify that there were 3000 converts and later 5000 more (or 2000, making the total number of the disciples 5000), it would not be strange to think that there was some list of membership (see 1 Tim. 5:9 a reference to a list of widows). There was a discernable way of telling if someone belonged to a particular church or not. We will delve a little more into the question of membership in the next paragraph. Believers were added to the existing body of believers. Thus, “the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47; cf. Acts 5:14; 11:24).

    In this way, the presence and prominence of the local church are shown in the New Testament, including what kind of persons made up its membership and the places of their meeting.

    Purpose of the Local Church

    Seeing how much the New Testament speaks of the church and of the local church in particular, then we are led to ask concerning the purpose of the church in the world. That the church is an institution and creation of the Lord Jesus is His own testimony (Matt. 16:18), but why? The Confession gives two purposes, namely, “mutual edification, and the d...

    A Short Review of Beckwith's & Stott's This Is The Day

    ...e 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