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

...omicron;ῦ Δαβὶδ ψαλλέτω ϋμνους);”.[35] In the work referenced above which was a product from the fourth century we read:

…but assemble yourselves together every day, morning and evening, singing psalms and praying in the Lord's house: in the morning saying the sixty-second Psalm, and in the evening the hundred and fortieth, but principally on the Sabbath day. And on the day of our Lord's resurrection, which is The Lord's Day, meet more diligently, sending praise to God that made the universe by Jesus, and sent Him to us, and condescended to let Him suffer, and raised Him from the dead.[36]

2) Hymns are songs of praise to God. Albert Barnes, while admitting that “it is not easy to determine precisely what is the difference in the meaning of the words here”, writes on Ephesians 5:19:

A hymn is properly a song or ode in honour of God. Among the heathen it was a song in honour of some deity. With us now it denotes a short poem, composed for religious service, and sung in praise to God. Such brief poems were common among the heathen, and it was natural that Christians should early introduce and adopt them…One thing is proved clearly by this passage, that there were other compositions used in the praise of God than the Psalms of David; and if it was right then to make use of such compositions, it is now. They were not merely "psalms" that were sung, but there were hymns and odes.[17]

Barnes, who was a Presbyterian in the 19th century, was not an Exclusive Psalmodist and he saw evidence in this passage against Exclusive Psalmody. Lange comments on hymnos saying:

ὕμνος [hymnos] is a song of praise, according to the context (Eph 5:19 : “to the Lord”) and to history (Pliny in Gieseler, Kirchengeschichte, Ι. 1, p. Eph 136: Carmenque Christo quasi Deo dicere secum invicem), to Christ, hence more strictly Christian hymns, songs of Jesus;

Remember also the words of Pliny the Younger concerning the Christians who sang “a hymn to Christ as to a god.”[34]

3) Odes or spiritual songs are things which are about spiritual things. Barnes writes on Ephesians 5:19—

Odes or songs relating to spiritual things in contradistinction from those which were sung in places of festivity and revelry. An ode is properly a short poem or song adapted to be set to music, or to be sung; a lyric poem.[17]

J.P. Lange sees odes as “being more general as regards matter and intended more for individual needs and private use.”[35] Ken Puls notes the importance of the adjective “spiritual” here:

Not all music is composed for worship or should be used for worship. We are to sing music that is the result of the Spirit God working in hearts and cultures and peoples—music that is sanctified for (set apart for and intended for) God’s glory in corporate praise—music that helps us speak truth to one another, teaching, exhorting and encouraging one another.[37]

Finally, John Calvin, commenting on Colossians 3:16, gives the three distinctions as he understands them:

They are commonly distinguished in this way — that a psalm is that, in the singing of which some musical instrument besides the tongue is made use of: a hymn is properly a song of praise, whether it be sung simply with the voice or otherwise; while an ode contains not merely praises, but exhortations and other matters. He would have the songs of Christians, however, to be spiritual, not made up of frivolities and worthless trifles.[12]

We see that the phrase “ps...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 19: Of the Law of God - Commentary

... mind of the ‘Mystery of our redemption by Christ.’ The reason why God instituted the old Sabbath was to be a memorial of the creation; but he has now brought the first day of the week in its room in memory of a more glorious work than creation, which is redemption. Great was the work of creation, but greater was the work of redemption.[32]

Concerning the sanctification of the Lord’s day, the WLC 117 says:

Question 117: How is the sabbath or The Lord's Day to be sanctified?

Answer: The sabbath or Lord's day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day, not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful; and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to betaken up in works of necessity and mercy) in the public and private exercises of God's worship: and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day.[15]

That we are to rest does not imply that we are to do absolutely nothing even if there is a need. This is expressed beautifully by the WLC 119:

Question 119: What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment?

Answer: The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are, all omissions of the duties required, all careless, negligent, and unprofitable performing of them, and being weary of them; all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful; and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations.[15]

We are not to be idle, that is not what it means to sanctify the Sabbath, rather we should be taken up in performing the things of God and the worship of God. It should be our joy to expect eagerly the Lord’s Day every week looking forward to meet the Lord with His people, but all the more to look forward to the eschatological Sabbath in the New Heavens and the New Earth!

The Fifth Commandment

Exod. 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

See also Deut. 5:16.

General Observations On The 5th Commandment

This commandment teaches us to honor our parents and those who are over us. We are to honor them and not disrespect or dishonor them. We should render honor to whom it is due because it is right and also because it is for our own good too. Now, dealing with the first four commandments on the first table of the Decalogue we come to the second table concerning our duty toward our fellow man. But we should see these tables as dependent upon each other, for the one who loves God will love their neighbor and the one who truly and sacrificially loves their neighbor loves God. “The fifth commandment requires the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals. (Lev. 19:32; 1 Peter 2:17; Rom. 13:1; Eph. 5:21,22; Eph. 6:1,5,9; Col. 3:19-22; Rom. 12:10)”[23] (Keach, Q&A 70).

Honor is due to our parents because they were the ones who begat us and gave us life and the Lord requires that we honor them. They were the ones who taught us and cared for us and may continue to do so. Although not all parents are good, but still, the Lord requires that we honor them as long as they...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 30: Of the Lord's Supper - Commentary

... Lord's Supper, Communion, because in partaking of it, the faithful have a real and spiritual communion with their Savior as He administers grace to them.

The Breaking Of Bread

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

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.

Significance

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 Lord's Death

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.

Communion With Christ

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 peop...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 1: Of the Holy Scriptures - Commentary

...'s Word (paragraph 5), but also for the saving understanding of those things as are revealed in the Word. The Spirit gives us inward illumination to savor and love the truths revealed in the Word.

There are some things which are not revealed in the Word concerning the circumstances of the worship of God or the government of the church, but are left to be ordered by the light of nature (i.e., common sense) and Christian prudence (wisdom). These are things like the time of worship on The Lord's Day, the type of building or place to worship, how long the service will be, beamer screen or not, or the finances of the church. These are things which the Scripture does not directly or indirectly speak about but are left to Christian wisdom and common sense. Nonetheless, the general rules of the Word are still to be observed in these matters. These are not to be disconnected from the Word just because they are not directly addressed by the Word. See chapter 22 about the elements and circumstances of worship.


The Sufficiency of Scripture

To say that Scripture is sufficient is not to say that it speaks on every topic imaginable or that it tells us everything that we should do and everything which we should not. Rather, the sufficiency of Scripture is defined as Scripture containing everything necessary that God wanted us to know about salvation, faith, and the walk of obedience. Whatever God had deemed necessary for His people to know, He has written for our benefit in Scripture. The primary passage in Scripture which teaches the sufficiency of Scripture is 2 Timothy 3:16:

2Tim. 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 

Here, the Apostle Paul gives us a great and necessary-to-know description of Holy Writ. The Scriptures, all of it, is profitable for teaching us the will of God; for reproving and criticizing us and our actions, because in them God has revealed His perfect Law of righteousness. The Scripture is profitable for correcting us, leading us in the way which we should go and teaching us to walk in the path of the Lord. And finally, the Scripture teaches us righteousness and how we should live before the face of God. Going a verse before, Paul said to Timothy that “the sacred writings...are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2Tim. 3:15). Therefore, in the Scripture as a whole is found the way of righteousness, the way of salvation and the way of obedience. The purpose of God in giving the Scripture is that the man of God may be complete, not lacking anything, but rather be ready and have everything that he needs for every good work. God has given the Scriptures as a blessing to His people and as the way through which He speaks to His Church. Furthermore, He has given the Scriptures so that we may know everything that He wants us to know about Him, the way of salvation and obedience. If the Bible doesn’t speak about a particular issue, I believe we may still discern a general principle from Scripture which we should apply to all areas of life. The Bible was not written to address every issue directly, though, the person who has a biblical worldview will see the world differently in all areas. Sinclair Ferguson writes, “Everything I need to learn in order to live to the glory of God and enjoy him for ever I will find i...


1689 Second Baptist Confession of Faith Highlighted

...ature, that in general a proportion of time, by God's appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in a positive moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven for a sabbath to be kept holy unto him, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called The Lord's Day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished.
  1. Gen. 2:3; Exod. 20:8-11; Mark 2:27-28; Rev. 1:10
  2. John 20:1; Acts 2:1; 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1; Rev. 1:10; Col. 2:16-17
  1. The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employment and recreations, but are also taken up the whole time in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
    1. Exod. 20:8-11; Neh. 13:15-22; Isa. 58:13-14; Rev. 1:10
    2. Matt. 12:1-13; Mark 2:27-28

Chapter 23: Of Lawful Oaths and Vows [Return] [Commentary]

  1. A lawful oath is a part of religious worship, wherein the person swearing in truth, righteousness, and judgement, solemnly calleth God to witness what he sweareth, and to judge him according to the truth or falseness thereof.
    1. Deut. 10:20; Exod. 20:7; Lev. 19:12; 2 Chron. 6:22-23; 2 Cor. 1:23
  1. The name of God only is that by which men ought to swear; and therein it is to be used, with all holy fear and reverence; therefore to swear vainly or rashly by that glorious and dreadful name, or to swear at all by any other thing, is sinful, and to be abhorred; yet as in matter of weight and moment, for confirmation of truth, and ending all strife, an oath is warranted by the word of God; so a lawful oath being imposed by lawful authority in such matters, ought to be taken.
    1. Deut. 6:13; Exod. 20:7; Jer. 5:7
    2. Heb. 6:13-16; Gen. 24:3; 47:30-31; 50:25; 1 Kings 17:1; Neh. 13:25; 5:12; Ezra 10:5; Num. 5:19.21; 1 Kings 8:31; Exod. 22:11; Isa. 45:23; 65:16; Matt. 26:62-64; Rom. 1:9; 2 Cor. 1:23; Acts 18:18
  1. Whosoever taketh an oath warranted by the Word of God, ought duly to consider the weightiness of so solemn an act, and therein to avouch nothing but what he knoweth to be truth; for that by rash, false, and vain oaths, the Lord is provoked, and for them this land mourns.
    1. Exod. 20:7; Lev. 19:12; Num. 30:2; Jer 4:2; 23:10
  1. An oath is to be taken in the plain and common sense of the words, without equivocation or mental reservation.
    1. Ps. 24:4; Jer. 4:2
  1. A vow, which is not to be made to any creature, but to God alone, is to be made and performed with all religious care and faithfulness; but popish monastical vows of perpetual single life, professed poverty, and regular obedience, are so far from being degrees of higher perfection, that they are superstitious and sinful snares, in which no Christian may entangle himself.
    1. Num. 30:2-3; Ps. 76:11; Jer. 44:25-26
    2. Num. 30:2; Ps. 61:8; 66:13-14; Eccles 5:4-6; Isa. 19:21
    3. 1 Cor. 6:18 with 7:2, 9; 1 Tim. 4:3; Eph. 4:28; 1 Cor. 7:23; Matt. 19:11-12

Chapter 24: Of the Civil Magistrate ...


1689 Baptist Confession Chapter 28: Of Baptism and the Lord's Supper - Commentary

...he church leaders. Therefore, having them baptize a person or administer the Lord's Supper, is much more authoritative than a regular member. Philip, for example, who was not an elder, baptized the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:38). I do not advise people to go and baptize others outside the church. That is not my point. But rather, my point is that I see nothing in the Bible (I am open for change) which restricts the administration of the ordinances to elders alone.

As for the Lord's Table, the disciples in the early church in Jerusalem, it seems, were regularly celebrating it (e.g. Acts 2:42). But the Lord's Supper was especially celebrated on The Lord's Day in the corporate gathering of God's people (Acts 20:7). The people of God were gathered on the first day in Troas to celebrate the Lord's Supper. The Corinthians, when they came "together as a church” (1Cor. 11:18) observed the Lord's Supper (1Cor. 11:20). This would indicate that the Lord's Supper is generally to be administered on The Lord's Day in the corporate gathering of God's people. The Lord's Supper should not be celebrated by one person, but rather in a gathering of more people. There may be occasions when a group would want to celebrate the Lord's Supper outside of the gathering of the church, or a sick brother or sister not in the corporate gathering may want to partake of the Lord's Table. I do not see any prohibition of such a thing. But we should note that the common, regular, and normal observance of the Lord's Supper is within the corporate gathering of God's people on The Lord's Day.

In conclusion, we give the words of Bob Carr:

While there is nothing in the Bible that says that only ministers may administer the ordinances, surely it is reasonable to believe that the baptism of new disciples and the serving of the elements of the Lord’s Supper ought to be under the supervision of the ministers. Ordinarily, they will administer the ordinances themselves. There may be unusual circumstances, however, under which they may delegate the tasks to other men selected by them and recognized by the congregation. The wording of the Confession at this point provides for appropriate flexibility.[4]

 

Footnotes

  1. ^ Many Scriptural references have been supplied by Samuel Waldron's Modern Exposition of 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith which was apparently supplied by the Westminster Confession of Faith 1646.
  2. a, b A. H. Strong. Systematic Theology: A Compendium Designed For The Use Of Theological Students. (London: Pickering & Inglis, 1970. Originally, 1907). p. 930.
  3. ^ Summarized from  The Seven Sacraments. The Roman Catholic Chaplaincy.
  4. ^ Bob Carr. The London Baptist Confession of Faith | Exposition of Chapter 28.
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A Short Review of Beckwith's & Stott's This Is The Day

.... Beckwith and Wilfrid Stott

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

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A Review Of Robert Martin's The Christian Sabbath

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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!

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