Sunday, June 4, 2023

Why Do Christians Gather Together?

 What I hope to communicate today is both simple and profound, drawing from the very heart of our faith: the Church gathering exists primarily for fellowship and the sharing of meals. This may sound surprising to some of you, but let's delve into the Scriptures together and discern the truth from the Word of God.

We begin in the early days of the Church, as described in the book of Acts. Acts 2:42 says, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Here we see the first Christians, their hearts ablaze with the newness of their faith, gathering not only to pray and learn but also to break bread — to share meals together. They were devoted to sharing meals together and to fellowshipping together. If we examine the typical modern church gathering, we are devoted to the apostles teaching and then we go home. We thus leave off three fourths of the aims that the early church was devoted to pursuing. We sell ourselves short on fellowship, we sell ourselves short on eating together, we sell ourselves short on praying together and for one another. Because in our modern arrangement we come, we sing, we listen, and we go. There's usually no eating together. There's usually no praying together. There's usually no fellowship together. There is simply the devotion to the Apostle's teaching. This is not good. We often think of the sermon as the main point, the main motive for gathering. We are gathered together to hear a sermon. But eating together was, at the beginning, one of the most primary reasons for gathering together in the first place.

This act of eating together was no casual, peripheral part of their gatherings. It was central to their experience of being a community, a body of believers, the Church. As they ate, they remembered Christ, his sacrifice, and his resurrection. The act of sharing food was symbolic of their shared faith, their shared hope, and their shared love.

Consider, too, the apostle Paul's rebuke of the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 11:20: "When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat." Paul chastised the Corinthians for missing the point of their gatherings. They were not coming together in true fellowship and unity; they were not eating the Lord's supper as a genuine expression of their common faith. They were gathering together to eat together. That was the main reason for gathering. Paul corrects them because the wealthy were not waiting for the poor to get off work and come eat, but they were eating everything available so that when the poor would arrive, there would be nothing left. This was loveless and wrong. But again, why were they meeting? They were meeting to eat and fellowship together.

These examples in Scripture are not isolated instances; they indicate a broader biblical and historical pattern. In Acts 20:7, we read, "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread…" The breaking of bread is at the center of their gathering, and this passage just comes right out and says why they were gathered together, "when we were gathered together to break bread." The breaking of bread is the act that brings them together as a church, as the body of Christ.

Now, you may ask, "If this was the practice of the early church, why do we not see it emphasized today?" For that, we turn to early church history. Documents from the Council of Laodicea, held in the middle of the 4th century, reveal a significant shift. Canon 28 of this council prohibited the practice of hosting "Agape" feasts, communal meals of fellowship, in church buildings. The statement reads, "It is not permitted to hold love feasts, as they are called, in the Lord's Houses, or Churches, nor to eat and to spread couches in the house of God." The reasons for this were complex and involved the misuse of these meals by some factions within the Church. However, it is crucial to note that it was not the principle of shared meals and fellowship that the Council disputed but their practice within the church building.

But should the Church not return to the roots of its earliest traditions? Why does Scripture repeatedly allude to a body which gathered together for the purpose of eating and fellowshipping primarily? Why do we usually not do any of that? We think it's time to fix that aspect of the church gathering, especially as hostility to the body is increasing.

Remember, that our Savior himself used a shared meal to illustrate the new covenant he was establishing. The Last Supper was not a solemn, standalone religious ceremony. It was part of a meal. Jesus literally gathered his disciples so that they could eat together, a Passover feast shared among friends. In this context, Jesus broke the bread and shared the wine, inviting his disciples to remember him in the act of shared eating and drinking.

When we gather as a Church, it should be more than a ritual; it should be a joyful coming together of believers, sharing in the bounty of God’s blessings, breaking bread and building relationships. It should be more like a family reunion than a formal Ted Talk. The Church, in essence, is a fellowship, a community formed around the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus established this fellowship to exist over a table of shared food.

To gather around the table is to affirm that we belong to each other because we belong to Christ. When we eat together, we bear witness to the grace of our Lord, who welcomes all to His table. And so, in the spirit of our Lord's invitation, let us reclaim the tradition of the early Church, the tradition of fellowship, of shared meals, and shared lives.

May we always remember that our gatherings as a Church are not only for prayer, singing, or hearing the Word of God, as vital as these are. They are also for eating together, for fellowship, for sharing our lives in the love of Christ, remembering His sacrifice and celebrating His resurrection. For it is in sharing our bread and our lives that we truly become the body of Christ. We're not trying to downplay the importance of learning the Scriptures or leaning the Apostle's teaching, but I'm trying to show that there are some very important aspects that are being overlooked.

So at New Covenant Church, you will find a group of believers who gather together and attempt to be devoted to all four aspects of the gathering which the early church practiced. Our gathering begins with food and fellowship and prayer for one another, then the Lord's supper, and then singing, and learning from the Scriptures. To these things, we are devoted. If you're looking for a church and want to try something that is a little different, but in a good way, we encourage you to come and experience New Covenant Church.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Richard Barcellos Proves that Reformed Baptists Live on Inconsistency (part 2 of 2)

Last time we looked at an article written by Richard Barcellos showing from Scripture that the Sabbath has been abrogated and has ceased. However, due to his allegiance to the Reformed Confessions of Faith, Barcellos must affirm that the Sabbath has not ceased. So after having correctly examining Hosea and Colossians (and concluding that the Sabbath has ceased) Barcellos must try to find Biblical warrant for the continuance of the Sabbath. He believes he finds it in Isaiah 56. 

Let's look at his argument from the same article that we looked into last time. Remember, his first point was "The Old Testament prophesies the abrogation and cessation of the Sabbath under the New Covenant."  In other words, there is now no more Sabbath. It has come to an end.  But now, as he continues his article, he's going to say that the Old Testament also prophesies the continuation of the Sabbath. According to Barcellos, it prophesies both the end of the Sabbath and the continuation of the Sabbath. Does that sound like contradiction? It is! But let's see how he tries to reason it through. Let's examine his second point. 

2. The Old Testament prophesies the perpetuity and continuation of the Sabbath under the New Covenant.

Just as there is evidence from the OT that the Sabbath will be abolished under the New Covenant, so there is evidence that it will continue. At first glance this appears contradictory. But on further investigation, it is not contradictory and, in fact, fits the evidence provided thus far for the creation basis of the Sabbath and its unique place in the Decalogue in its function as moral law. Two passages deserve our attention at this point, Is. 56:1-8 and Jer. 31:33. Isaiah‘s prophecy of the Sabbath under the New Covenant is explicit and Jeremiah‘s is implicit.

So after having affirmed, "the Sabbath has ceased" he now moves to his second point "the Sabbath continues." He recognizes that this "appears contradictory" but let's allow him to explain what he means and why he thinks that the abrogated Sabbath is not abrogated.

He begins by examining Isaiah 56:1-8

Thus says the LORD: Keep justice, and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come, and My righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who lays hold on it; who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD speak, saying, "The LORD has utterly separated me from His people; nor let the eunuch say, "Here I am, a dry tree. For thus says the LORD: "To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, even to them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants--everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant--even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, Yet I will gather to him others besides those who are gathered to him.

Barcellos begins by putting forth the argument that Isaiah is speaking in reference to the days of the New Covenant. I agree, and furthermore I've never heard an argument to the contrary. Isaiah is speaking of the days of the New Covenant is as clear a fact as I can imagine.  The text obviously mentions the keeping of a Sabbath, so maybe it stands to reason that there IS a Sabbath for the New Covenant.  Let's see how Barcellos interprets this text.

The New Testament sees Isaiah‘s prophecy as fulfilled under the New Covenant. However, the privileges, responsibilities, and the people of God foretold there (
Is. 56) are transformed to fit the conditions brought in by the New Covenant. The people of God are transformed due to the New Covenant; the house of God is transformed due to the New Covenant; the burnt offerings, sacrifices, and altar are transformed due to the New Covenant; and the Sabbath is transformed due to the New Covenant (i.e., from the seventh to the first day). Isaiah, as with other OT prophets, accommodates his prophecy to the language of the Old Covenant people, but its NT fulfillment specifies exactly what his prophesy looks like when being fulfilled. 

So Barcellos argues that Isaiah is not speaking in reference to the Old Covenant elements specifically, but uses these elements of the Old Covenant to "accommodate his prophecy to the language of the Old Covenant People." Again, I agree. So when Isaiah uses the words "people" "house" "burnt offerings" "sacrifices" "altar" he is using Old Covenant language to describe new covenant realities. For example, when Barcellos states, "the house of God is transformed due to the New Covenant" he's referencing the change from Old Covenant temple made with sticks and stones into the New Covenant temple made out of human bricks. The New Testament makes this demonstrably clear; "you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 2:5)  This is a clear pattern throughout the New Testament, the Old Testament earthly and physical elements are carried into the New Covenant as SPIRITUAL realities, just as Barcellos has put forth; Isaiah and all the prophets speak in a way that "accommodates the language of the Old Covenant people." The elements of the Old Covenant were simply human/earthly pictures of spiritual/heavenly realities. Barcellos is on the right track here. But Barcellos is going to get inconsistent in his interpretation very quickly. 

According to Isaiah in this passage, the people of the New Covenant will be required to "keep my Sabbath" and "offer burnt offerings and sacrifices on my altar." As Barcellos has acknowledged, and I agree, the prophet is speaking of Old Covenant elements which are simply physical pictures of spiritual realities. And it's exactly at this point that Barcellos becomes inconsistent with his own hermeneutic. He wants to read "keep my Sabbaths" as a literal practice while interpreting "offer burnt offering and sacrifices" as figurative. It seems like he's picking and choosing here. What stops a man from deciding that he wants to consider the Sabbath language as figurative and the offering animal sacrifice as literal? This presents quite the problem for Barcellos. He has to offer an explanation that doesn't allow for literal interpretation of sacrifices offered on altars but demands literal understanding of keeping a Sabbath. He does this in his article by immediately changing his language to obscure the matter. He writes, "the NT sees Isaiah's prophecy as fulfilled under the New Covenant. However, the privileges, responsibilities, and the people of God foretold there are transformed to fit the conditions brought in by the New Covenant. The people of God are transformed due to the New Covenant; the house of God is transformed due to the New Covenant; the burnt offerings, sacrifices, and altar are transformed due to the New Covenant; and the Sabbath is transformed due to the New Covenant." 

In the first part of his article he admitted that the prophets and the Apostle Paul have abrogated the Sabbath, but now he says that the Sabbath has been "transformed." I must ask, which is it?  Is it abrogated? Or is it transformed? Why have you changed your language? If the Sabbath and the Sacrifices have only been transformed, then we need to continue keeping a Sabbath (but perhaps on a different day) and we need to keep offering blood sacrifices, but perhaps with different animals; whereas God had earlier required a bull, we can offer a dog; or whereas before it was overseen by the Levitical class, now these sacrifices can be overseen by a Gentile class of priest. This is what it means to be "transformed."  If it's only transformed, then the practice remains with some change in the elements of the practice. Has God abrogated the sacrificial system and the priesthood of Aaron? Or has he simply transformed it?  Has God abrogated the temple in Jerusalem, or has he transformed it, perhaps he destroyed it so he could do a re-build; maybe add some new paint or a new color curtain? No, certainly, these things have not been transformed, they have been brought to an end. They have been abrogated. Barcellos was fine using the word abrogated when speaking of the Jewish requirement of Sabbathing on the last day of the week, but now as he attempts to promote the continuance of a Sabbath, he no longer wants to use the word abrogated even though using the word transformed would mean that we should rebuild the physical temple in Jerusalem and begin animal sacrifice. If the practices are to continue but simply on a different day or in a different place, then we could simply argue that the Sacrifices were made on Saturday in the temple, but now are to be made on Sunday in the churches. That's what "transformed" means. It's simply a change IN the practice, not a complete abrogation OF the practice. So by saying that all these things are simply transformed and not abrogated, he must still practice them all. He doesn't realize it, but by resurrecting the Sabbath, he has resurrected the whole Old Covenant. But we know the truth. We know that all these things have been brought to and end, they have been abrogated. 

I wonder why he should change his language from one paragraph to another? In the first part of his article he quoted the prophet who speaking for God says, "I will BRING TO AN END your Sabbath."  The prophet never mentioned a transformation of the Sabbath. He speaks plainly. God will bring it to an end. The prophet's language is consistent with abrogation not transformation. Furthermore, the prophet doesn't just say that the Sabbath will come to an end, but he says that God will put an end to the New Moons, and the Festivals. If Barcellos wishes to be consistent, he's going to have to say that the New Moon celebrations have not really been brought to an end, the Festivals have not really been brought to an end which is why Isaiah continues to speak of "burnt offerings and sacrifices" in the New Covenant. When does Barcellos think those burnt offerings and Sacrifices were required?  During the New Moon and Festivals of course. Again, if you resurrect the Sabbath you have to resurrect all of it. You can't have a hermeneutic which allows for the Sabbath to be resurrected and a different hermeneutic which calls for the abrogation of everything else mentioned in the very same passage. Well, you can, but the inconsistency proves that error is present. If he wishes to be consistent, then he must admit that the prophet declared that God would bring these things to an end. He was very sure of this in the first part of his article saying, "The Old Covenant and all its ceremonies are obsolete and have vanished away (Heb. 8:13). Taking these passages and Col. 2:16 together, they clearly teach that when the Old Covenant goes, the triad of Col. 2:16 goes as well." 

When Barcellos reads Isaiah, he knows and acknowledges that Isaiah is writing in a way that "accommodates his prophecy to the language of the Old Covenant people."  In other words, Barcellos recognizes that Isaiah is speaking figuratively. When Isaiah says, "burnt offerings" he doesn't mean literal burnt offerings will be given in the New Covenant. When he says that God will bring you to his mountain, he's not talking about literally being brought to Mount Sinai. When he says, "sacrifices" he doesn't mean literal sacrifices. We see the  Apostle Paul showing that physical sacrifices were meant to be a figurative picture of "spiritual worship."  In Romans 12 he writes, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." When Paul says, "Present you bodies as a living sacrifice" he's not suggesting that you build an altar and climb on. Likewise, when Isaiah says, "burnt offering" he doesn't mean literal burnt offerings. When he says, "I will bring them to my holy mountain" he doesn't mean a literal mountain that you can climb. As it is written in the new covenant, "you have not come to a mountain that can be touched" but instead we've come to the "heavenly Jerusalem." (Hebrews 12). These physical elements are simply human earthly representations of spiritual realities. The burnt offerings and sacrifices represent our "spiritual worship" the Holy Mountain represents our very real and close proximity to God, our very salvation, the "heavenly Jerusalem." And the Sabbath day represents the rest we find in Christ for his is our rest, the true rest. There are no more burnt offerings or Sacrifices in the New Covenant. Barcellos knows this. To believe and write that the Sacrifices, burnt offerings, mountains, and everything else in the passage is symbolic while the Sabbath is literal is to be obviously inconsistent.  If Barcellos would have stopped at the prophet's proclamation that God has brought the Sabbath to an end, he would have not erred. But when one starts with the theological need to affirm errant Confessions from almost 400 years ago, he will not allow Scripture to speak plainly. So instead, Barcellos affirms the figurative language of Isaiah for every element in the passage except for the Sabbath. This he would have us believe is literal despite the fact that he had earlier proven to us that the Sabbath has been abrogated, just like the Sacrificial system and the need to ascend a literal mountain in Jerusalem for every Jewish festival. If we wish to read Isaiah rightly and consistently, we have to take it as figurative, just as Barcellos confirmed that Isaiah was writing in a way that would "accomodate his prophecy to the language of the Old Covenant People." 

Finally, not only has Barcellos shown himself to be inconsistent in his hermeneutic, and put himself in a position of being unable to argue against continuance of animal Sacrifices, temples in Jerusalem, new moon ceremonies and festival celebrations, but he has also condemned his fellow Christians to hell. If he is correct about the Sabbath being transformed from Saturday to Sunday; if he is correct that it has not been abrogated completely, if he is correct that God abrogated the Sabbath and then later reinstated it; if he is correct that Isaiah tells us to observe a literal Sabbath, then we have to conclude that no one will be saved except Sabbath keepers. This is simply what Isaiah says. To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths... I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off." And again, "everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant--even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar."  In other words, whoever does not keep the Sabbath will NOT be brought to the holy mountain (will not be saved), and whoever does not keep the Sabbath will not be accepted. And whoever does not keep the Sabbath will not be given an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. In other words, in very plain language by Isaiah, the Sabbath breakers do not and will not belong to God. Thus we see that if my understanding is correct, if Sabbath observance was a physical representation of our rest in Christ, then all who are trusting in Christ are considered Sabbath keepers by Isaiah, and will be given an everlasting name and will be brought to God's holy mountain, and their worship will be accepted by God. And ALL who trust in Christ are saved. But if Barcellos is correct, then only those who observe a physical Sabbath day are saved.

So the question has to be asked?  Is Isaiah speaking of a literal Sabbath and a figurative everything else? Or is he speaking of a figurative everything? If all of the Old Covenant elements and images are figurative, then there is no place that prophecies the continuation of a Sabbath and Barcellos must stop at his original conclusion, "The Old Testament prophesies the abrogation and cessation of the Sabbath under the New Covenant." Does he really want to open the door for the renewal of animal Sacrifice, and building of a temple? Does he really want to condemn all non-Sabbatarian Christians to hell? No Dr. Barcellos, you had it right the first time. The Sabbath has been abrogated. There's not a single passage of Scripture that re-institutes it. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Richard Barcellos Proves that Reformed Baptists Live on Inconsistency (part 1 of 2)

A while back I examined a sermon preached by Reformed Baptist leader Dr. James Renihan and highlighted his shocking claim that Christians don't have to keep the Sabbath. Today we will see that his good friend and defender of everything Reformed Baptist, Richard Barcellos agrees with Renihan. According to Barcellos, the Sabbath has been abrogated and has ceased. The clear evidence of this, which Renihan exegeted 
and which Barcellos cites, is Colossians 2:16-17.

Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. (ESV)

Clearly, Paul says that no one is to pass judgment on whether or not a Christian keep a particular holiday or observance since these things were temporarily given to point us to the Christ. The phrase "festival, new moon, or Sabbath" clues us in to the fact that Paul is abolishing the whole Jewish system. Festivals were yearly, new moons were monthly, and the Sabbath was weekly. In other words, Paul is saying, "let no man pass judgment on you... in regard to any holiday whether it be yearly, monthly, or weekly." In fact, this triad of observances, is commonly used throughout the Old Testament and is used as shorthand for the whole Jewish system of observances. One of those Jewish observance was the weekly Sabbath and here Paul tells Christians not to allow anyone to pass judgment on you in regards to this weekly Sabbath. 

Many valiant and athletic attempts of exegetical gymnastics have been made in an effort to explain this text away. Some have tried to argue that the word "Sabbath" here refers to the monthly Sabbaths. Others have tried to claim that "Sabbaths" refers to special Jewish ceremonies. Many have tried to contort the word "Sabbath" away from its simple and true meaning, the weekly observance. But no matter how hard the contortionists try, they just can't make their explanation fit the text. And since they can't make it fit, our friendly Reformed Baptists have finally given up and conceded that Paul is speaking of the weekly Sabbath in this text. So to their credit, Barcellos and Renihan contend, that the Apostle Paul has put an end to the weekly Sabbath.

In an article from his "Reformed Baptist Theological Review" Barcellos approaches the text of Colossians 2 by examining it in light of Old Testament prophecy. And then he goes on to prove that the Sabbath has been abrogated. The article begins:

The Old Testament prophesies the abrogation and cessation of the Sabbath under the New Covenant.

The OT clearly prophesies the abrogation and cessation of ancient Israel‘s Sabbaths. It does so in Hos. 2:11, which says, ―I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her New Moons, her Sabbaths--all her appointed feasts." We will make several observations that bear this out. First, Hosea‘s prophecy is dealing with the days of the New Covenant. The phrase ―in that day" (vv. 16, 18, 21) is used prophetically of New Covenant days in Is. 22:20. Revelation 3:7 quotes Is. 22:22 and     

applies it to Christ.”

What Barcellos is saying is that the prophets of old foretold that when the New Covenant comes, the Sabbath would come to an end. His chosen title for his first paragraph sums it up nicely, “The Old Testament prophesies the abrogation and cessation of the Sabbath under the New Covenant.” I agree completely. The Old Testament does prophesy the abrogation and cessation of the Sabbath under the New Covenant. 

He continues,

Second, Hos. 2:11 clearly prophesies the abrogation of Old Covenant Israel‘s Sabbaths, along with ―all her appointed feasts." Hosea uses a triad of terms (―feast days, New Moons, Sabbaths") that is used many places in the OT (1 Chron. 23:31; 2 Chron. 2:4; 31:3; Neh. 10:33; and Is. 1:13-14). Clearly, he is speaking of the abrogation of Old Covenant ceremonial laws. When the Old Covenant goes, Israel‘s feast days, New Moons, Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts go with it.

Again, I have to agree with Barcellos. Hosea knew that when the New Covenant was inaugurated, that the requirement to keep a Sabbath would pass away. But Barcellos is not content to let Hosea be the lone voice, after all, even Scripture calls for two or three witnesses. So he turns his attention to the New Testament and Colossians 2:16-17.

         Third, the NT confirms this understanding of Hos. 2:11. It uses this triad of terms in Col. 2:16, which says, ―So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths." In the context, Paul is combating those who were attempting to impose Old Covenant ceremonial law on New Covenant Christians. So Col. 2:16 is clear NT language that sees Hosea‘s prophecy as fulfilled. It is of interest to note that Paul uses the plural for Sabbath in Col. 2:16 (σάββατον). It is not too hard to assume that Paul had the OT triad in mind and Hosea‘s prophecy while penning these words. The NT announces the abrogation of the Old Covenant in many places. For instance, 2 Cor. 3:7-18; Gal. 3-4; Eph. 2:14-16; and Heb. 8-10 (cf. esp. 8:6-7, 13; 9:9-10, 15; 10:1, 15-18) are clear that the Old Covenant has been abrogated. 

So there you have it. The Sabbath has been abrogated. There is a good probability that Paul was thinking of Hosea's prophecy of abrogation when he penned the words of Colossians 2 declaring that the abrogation had taken place. The new covenant has brought an end to festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths  (yearly, monthly and weekly). The prophets spoke of it, the Apostle Paul confirms it, and Barcellos affirms its end. He has effectively shown that observing the weekly Sabbath has ceased.

The point has been proven and we should stop here. However, for Barcellos, it cannot be the end of the matter. Barcellos is a Reformed Baptist, and as a Reformed Baptist he is beholden to other scriptures, namely the1689 London Baptist Confession. He has to make the Scripture of the Bible affirm the scripture of the 1689. Therefore, after having proven that the Sabbath day has been abrogated, he has to resurrect this part of the Old Covenant and call Sunday a “new Sabbath day" for the New Covenant. No longer is the Sabbath on Saturday he argues, but it has now moved to Sunday. So in a way, he hasn't been honest. Even though he rightly sees that the Bible is calling for the abrogation and cessation of Sabbath observance, he himself believes that it doesn't. He doesn't actually believe that the Sabbath has ceased, instead he believes that it has been transferred to the first day of the week instead of the seventh day. Here we see some cognitive dissonance in his theology. He declares that it has ceased but will later declare that it didn't cease, it simply moved next door. 

In the next installment I will examine the Hermeneutical contortions that Barcellos performs in order to make the Scriptures match the Reformed confessions by trying to prove that a Sabbath day remains in force. He not only has to overcome Hosea's prophecy and Paul's words of abrogation, but he has to overcome his own proper exegesis of those passages. Tune in next time to see his attempt to justify his belief that this abrogated Sabbath still abides as moral imperative upon the lives of Christians everywhere. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Jordan Hall, Sabbatarians, and Arminianism

A few years ago, I had the pleasure to debate Jordan Hall regarding the Sabbath. Before the debate we enjoyed lunch together and I told Jordan that during the debate I would take the gloves off and throw few bare fist theological punches. However when the time came, I relented and went a little softer than I had planned- even though at some point in the evening I did refer to him as a "Sabbatarian Bruce Jenner, who can only self identify as Sabbatarian yet doesn't actually have what it takes to actually be one." So today, I'd like to be a little more direct and say some of the things that I had planned to say on that warm October day in Phoenix. 

Jordan Hal, along with a majority of Sabbatarians, is a Calvinists who thinks that Arminians are inconsistent and wrong in their Soteriology. But would it surprise you to lean that Sabbatarians, like Jordan Hall for example, actually have a lot in common with Arminians? You may ask, "what could Jordan Hall (and all other "Christian Sabbatarians") possibly have in common with Arminians?" After all, the two seem so very different. I think Charles Spurgeon can answer that question.

I've always been a fan of Charles Spurgeon. I love his clever wit and style of examining and communicating theological issues. One particular work of his on Arminian theology has always been one of my favorites. He writes:

You have heard a great many Arminian sermons, I dare say; but you never heard an Arminian prayer! For the saints in prayer appear as one in word, and deed and mind. An Arminian on his knees  prays desperately like a Calvinist. He cannot pray about free-will: there is no room for it... 

Now, when they are preaching and talking very slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when they come to pray, the true thing slips out; they cannot help it. If a man talks very slowly, he may speak in a fine manner; but when he comes to talk fast, the old brogue of his country, where he was born, slips out.

Here, Spurgeon is keying in on an aspect of Christian regeneration, namely; that Christians may have different understandings of certain theological issues, but the Spirit of God at times will not allow certain behavior from his children. They can think that they believe some note of doctrine when they're preaching slowly, but when it comes time to act, the truth comes out. Spurgeon notes this as the "brogue of his country where he was born," but it's more appropriate to think of it as the brogue of the county into which he's been born again. This principle of the Spirit of God not allowing for such error in practice has been noted in different ways throughout history. Spurgeon's observations in this matter are accurate. But this principle does not only apply in the Arminian practice of prayer, but it also applies in the Sabbatarians' practice as well.  Let's look at Spurgeons words again, but this time I will replace the references to Arminianism with Sabbatarianism.  

You have heard a great many Sabbatarian sermons, I dare say; but you never seen a Sabbatarian practice such doctrine! For the saints in practice appear as one in word, and deed and mind. A Sabbatarian in practice would look desperately like a non-Sabbatarian. He cannot practice a Sabbath in the New Covenant, there is no room for it... 

Now, when they are preaching and talking very slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when they come to practice the Sabbath, the true thing slips out; they cannot help it. If a man talks very slowly, he may speak in a fine manner; but when he comes to talk fast, the old brogue of his country, where he was born, slips out.

Both the Arminian and the Sabbatarian are equally contradictory in word and practice. Sure, they may have grand sermons on the need to believe in and practice a Sabbath, but when they come to actually live what they preach, the true thing slips out. They can't help but live as non-Sabbatarians and allow every man to live according to his own conviction (either to observe a Sabbath or not observe). But as soon as they allow men to refuse to observe a Sabbath, they become deniers of the Sabbath doctrine which they profess.

Consider that at the outset of the debate, Jordan Hall made it a point to affirm that I'm his brother in Christ. He also affirms the same for other non-Sabbatarians like John MacArthur, as well as all other Christ honoring New Covenant, and Dispensational Theologians. But he can only do so in direct contradiction to his professed Sabbatarianism. True Biblical Sabbatarianism cannot affirm non-Sabbatarians like myself or John MacArthur or the millions of other non-Sabbatarian believers around the globe. They must label all non-Sabbatarians as false converts and heretics. Here's why.

In Romans 14, Paul says, 

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but do not quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgemnt on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 

See? This passage proves that there is no such thing as a Sabbath. Some believers choose to esteem one day above the rest, but some believers esteem all days alike. Thus, there is no obligation to treat one day above the rest. "This proves that there is no Sabbath." says the Sabbath denier. 

"Not so fast," says the Sabbatarian, "It is evident that these texts are not referring to moral commands, but refer only to the Jewish ceremonial days. The Apostle does not have the Sabbath day in view here. Paul is referring to disputable matters within Christianity such as whether or not a person can in good conscience observe Passover or any other Jewish ceremonial days. The Sabbath command is moral and not one of the disputable matters."

That is how the Sabbatarian vs. non-Sabbatarian arguments go.

So if the non-Sabbatarian is correct in his interpretation of this passage, then the idea of a Christian Sabbath is a disputable matter and each believer is free to practice or not practice as he sees fit. Thus, it's not a moral issue at all, but just one of preference and no one is under any obligation to observe a special day. But if the Sabbatarian is correct here, then this is NOT a disputable matter. The Sabbatarian cannot then allow each man to do as he chooses. He must demand that all Christians observe a weekly Christian Sabbath; for it is a moral matter. But that's not what the Sabbatarian does. Instead, after having argued that Paul does NOT believe the Sabbath to be a disputable matter, he walks away from the text, forgets his argument against the non-Sabbatarians, and then pretends as if the non-Sabbatarian is correct in that it's a disputable matter. He allows each Christian to practice or not practice a Sabbath; thus adopting the non-Sabbatarian interpretation of this passage and admitting by his practice that the Sabbath is indeed not a moral issue. 

Imagine for a moment if we were not speaking about the fourth commandment (the commandment concerning the Sabbath) and isntead, imagine if we were speaking about the first, second, third, or fifth, sixth, seventh, or eighth, or ninth or tenth. Imagine for a moment Paul arguing, "one man esteems the Lord above all the rest, and another esteems all gods alike, let each one be convinced in his own mind."  Or perhaps, "one man esteems one sex for a bride, while the other man esteems both sexes alike." Or how about, "one man esteems one idol above the rest, and another esteems all idols alike?" These of course are moral issues and Paul would never say such a thing regarding moral issues. 

Tony Jones, Emerging Church minister who argues for open-marriages,
as well as polyamory.
Moral issues are not disputable matters, they are not open for personal interpretation, and a person cannot veer from these issues and still be called a Christian. A Christian cannot say, "you have your moral code and I have mine and we can disagree" or "you have your many gods and I have my one, but we can disagree" or "you have your polyamorous poligamous bisexual marriage and I have my monogamous heterosexual one, but we can disagree." Nope! That's not possible! The only correct response would be, "this is not a disputable matter! This is a moral matter based on the moral command of God and you must repent of your sin or else you are demonstrating that you are cut off from Christ!" And the Scripture affirms this as true, "for no one who abides in God keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him." (1 John 3:6)

So why doesn't the Sabbatarian respond that way? Why doesn't he say, "this is not a disputable matter, you must repent!"  After all, when he's preaching or talking slowly, he's very clear, "this is not a disputable matter, the Sabbath is a moral obligation given by God, and it is a perpetual, and moral obligation, binding on all men!" But we know that's not what happens when it comes to actual practice. Instead, they wish to clearly and unequivocally assert that it is a disputable matter (which is of course the non-Sabbatarian position).

Thus, although Spurgeon was a Sabbatarian himself, he would have to assert of the Sabbatarians, "
when they are preaching and talking very slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when they come to practice the Sabbath, the true thing slips out; they cannot help it. If a man talks very slowly, he may speak in a fine manner; but when he comes to talk fast, the old brogue of his country, where he was born, slips out."

In order to hold to the Sabbath doctrine, the Sabbatarian must tell the non-Sabbatarian that just like all other moral issues, Sabbath doctrine is not a disputable matter. Do Christians allow for disagreement on commands such as adultery, and idolatry? Of course not! But for the Sabbatarian and Arminian alike, he has to allow his practice to remain completely divorced from and unaffected by his belief.  For if he wished to be consistent, the Sabbatarian must tell all non-Sabbatarians that if there is no repentance from his immoral Sabbath breaking ways, there is no communion with Christ. Isn't that what he believes about idolatry? And adultery? And murder? And every other commandment? Why then does he make an exception regarding the 4th commandment? Could it be that "when they are preaching and talking very slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when they come to practice the Sabbath, the true thing slips out?" 

Clayton Jennings 
Let's look at a living example. Jordan Hall and his ministry have written extensively about Clayton Jennings, a popular minister and speaker who also happens to be an unrepentant sexual predator, and noted his lack of repentance for sexual sin and has labeled him as a false professor of Christianity. They write, "we also would covet your prayers for Jennings, that he might find saving faith that leads to repentance."1 Why does the Pulpit and Pen deem Jennings to be in need of saving faith? After all, Jennings repeatedly and consistently professes himself to be a Christian. He even preaches and teaches at churches. Why then does Jordan Hall and the Pulpit and Pen ministry label him as a false brother?  They do so because he persists in breaking the 7th commandment without repentance. Now, it's true that Jennings also consistently breaks the 4th commandment regarding Sabbath keeping far more frequently and repeatedly than he breaks the 7th commandment regarding adultery, but for some reason, Hall doesn't seem to care about his breaking of the 4th commandment so much. I have yet to see a single article from Hall or his ministry, condemning Clayton Jennings or any other ministers who refuse to keep a Sabbath. But of course the lack of repentance towards breaking of the 7th commandment necessitates a handing over to Satan and calling him a false brother.  

In order to highlight the extreme failure of Sabbatarians in this matter, imagine for a moment that Jennings was not only guilty of sexual immorality himself, but also was also teaching thousands of people that they could do the same. How would Hall respond in this matter? Would he sit quietly while this man was teaching thousands that they are free to break one of the Ten Commandments? I doubt that any Sabbatarian, with or without a watch-blog ministry, would sit quietly while a popular pastor taught that they could cast off the 7th commandment, or any other commandment. So what about pastors who not only rejects Sabbath observance for himself, but he openly and actively teaches others that they too can cast off that commandment?  How do Sabbatarians relate to those who not only persists in breaking the 4th commandment themselves, but teach others that they may do the same; let's say someone like John MacArthur? For example, in a Sermon about Sabbath doctrine, MacArthur told his congregation, "
Don’t let anybody hold you to the sabbath.  It was part of the system that included the temple, the priesthood, the sacrifices.  It’s gone.  It was only the shadow, not the substance."2 Imagine the outcry if MacArthur would have said, "don't let anybody hold you to the 2nd commandment about not making idols." Or "don't let anybody hold you the 7th commandment about not committing adultery."  Had he said something about any of the other nine commandments, no doubt Hall would have written an article about MacArthur's apostasy. But in this case, the Spirit of God testifies to Hall and other Sabbatarians about the reality of the abrogation of the Sabbath, and they continue to embrace one another as brothers should. 

Thus, Jordan is careful to make sure to communicate to the wider Christian body that non-Sabbatarian men like John MacArthur are his brothers in Christ.  His reasoning?  Because MacArthur thinks Sunday is a special day and refers to it as "the Lord's Day."3 But for MacArthur, "the Lord's Day" is not a Sabbath and he considers himself free to work and to play on the Sabbath 4, both of which are popularly accepted Sabbath violations, one of which Hall considers to be a Sabbath violation (working).  But, why the double standard? Why write extensively about one minister's breaking of the 7th commandment and remain silent in regard to the persistent breaking of the 4th? Especially when it includes not just the breaking of the command but the teaching of others to do the same? This is sin upon sin. This is egregious! He should be condemned far more harshly than someone like Clayton Jennings. But of course, in practice, this isn't what happens. In the case of MacArthur specifically, Hall accepts his Sabbath breaking because he appreciates that MacArthur calls Sunday "the Lord's Day," but such acrobatics just won't do. Again, imagine the man in Israel about to be put to death for having collected sticks on the Sabbath protesting, "but I'm not guilty of breaking the Sabbath, I call today 'the Lord's Day!'" Such an excuse will not do. Nor could I see Moses protesting, "but Lord, sure he was picking up sticks and breaking your Sabbath, but the day is special to him and he calls it 'your day.'" No. Such a thing could have never happened.  Sabbatarians may dutifully proclaim the moral obligation of Sabbath keeping, "when he is preaching and talking very slowly the Sabbath is binding on all; but when he comes to practice that doctrine, the true thing slips out; he cannot help it."

The observation that Sabbatarians resemble Arminians in this way is not new. In his book, In Defense of Jesus, the New Lawgiver, John Reisinger notes, 

"The next time someone insists that the Sabbath is a moral commandment just as binding on a Christian today as it was when first given to Israel, ask this question: Exactly what must a person do before your church will discipline him or her for Sabbath breaking? After a moment of silence, ask if the church has ever disciplined someone for breaking the Sabbath commandment. When he or she says no, then say, “You must have a church filled with extremely conscientious Sabbath-keepers or else you have a very hypocritical leadership that treats a moral commandment of God as if it had a nose of wax that could be twisted to mean anything any individual wanted it to mean.”

In other words, every member's Sabbath doctrine must match the pastor's view of the Sabbath in all points, or else be excommunicated from the church as someone who does not know God. Is this claim too extreme to be believable? It shouldn't be. It is standard Biblical doctrine. Jordan Hall confirms this in a Facebook exchange between him and I. 

To the left is a screenshot of the interaction. Jordan begins by quoting the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith regarding what God requires from men every Sunday. I saw this post and asked, "what should be done with those who unrepentantly break the Sabbath?" Hall answers, "They should be handed over to Satan, that they may be taught." The phrase "handed over to Satan" comes from 1 Corinthians 5 and is the Scriptural instruction to be carried out on a man who has been urepentantly having sex with his father's wife. In the passage, Paul argues that anyone who calls himself a Christian "brother" and yet engages in unrepentant sin is to be put out of the church and not to be numbered among the believing Christians. 

So we know that Hall rightly sees Sabbath breaking as no different than sexual immorality, such as the type of sexual immorality for which he calls Clayton Jennings to repent and considers him a false brother. Here we see that Hall is being very consistent in his theology of penology. Although this is very surprising since the 1689 London Baptist Confession from which he quotes here condemns Hall himself as a Sabbath breaker for playing basketball with friends on Sunday. As he speaks slowly in sermons and on Facebook, he says the right thing concerning consistent Sabbath doctrine and rightful penalties, but when it comes to practice, the old brogue of his heavenly country cannot help but slip out. So he calls Sabbath breakers (ironically, himself included) brothers. Surprised that he verbalized such a consistent penal theology for Sabbath breaking, I asked, "Are you referencing 1 Corinthians 5?" and he replied, "Sure. It's the same for any unrepentant sin." Now consider the two facts together. One, Sabbath breakers are to be handed over to Satan, and two, even if Sabbath breakers give Sunday a beautiful title like "the Lord's Day," Sabbath breaking is still Sabbath breaking. There's no excuse for it. There's no reason for Sabbatarians to allow for such unrepentant sin in the church simply because they say "today is the Lord's Day" while they go about breaking it, especially when someone like John MacArthur hold such extensive influence over thousands of other Christians, telling them that they can ignore any Sabbath command because the Sabbath is "gone." Again, what would Hall say if MacArthur said, "feel free to commit adultery because that commandment is gone?" It is highly unlikely that Hall would support such a man simply because he gives marriage a beautiful title such as "the Lord's union." To call it "the Lord's Union" while at the same time ignoring what the union requires is nothing but bold faced hypocrisy, and the same applies to the Sabbath. 

Depiction of Jan Hus (right) at the council of
Constance where he was excommunicated and
declared a heretic. 

Now a seemingly easy solution to this problem is for Hall and other Sabbatarians to simply respond by declaring me and all other non-Sabbatarian Christians, false believers, heretics, those who are "to be handed over to Satan." But the problem is far more troublesome for the Sabbatarian. Because if he hands non-Sabbatarians over to Satan for Sabbath breaking, then he also has to hand over all of his fellow Sabbatarians to Satan as well. This is because there exist no two Sabbatarians who agree on what the Christian Sabbath requires. And because they don't agree, they must consider one another to be guilty of unrepentant and immoral Sabbath breaking. 

Image result for soccer girlConsider the Sabbatarian who thinks it's perfectly  to play in an organized sporting event after church. According to Hall, she is a Sabbath breaker who should cease her unrepentant Sabbath breaking ways or else be handed over to Satan. All this despite the fact that she considers herself a genuine Sabbatarian who simply disagrees with Jordan's personal opinion on what is permissible on the Sabbath. But there's no room for disagreement on this issue. If Hall is correct and playing in organized sports is a breaking of the Sabbath, then she is guilty of unrepentant Sabbath breaking and should be "handed over to Satan." Morality has no room for each man to hold his own opinion. It doesn't matter if she's a Sabbatarian or not. It only matters what the Sabbath does and does not require. If it requires abstinence from organized sports then anyone who partakes in them is guilty of Sabbath breaking. Again, she must be handed over to Satan. 
The commandment breaker is not allowed to have her own personal interpretation of the commandment. 

But the issue becomes even more problematic for the Sabbatarian because conversely, while he believes that it is acceptable to play sports on Sunday, she thinks it sinful to travel on the Sabbath because, flight attendants, pilots, tarmac directors, tower control officials, baggage handlers, clerks, repairmen, and many more have to work on the Sabbath in order for Hall to enjoy the luxury of immediate travel. Therefore, she must hand Hall over to Satan because she believes he too is in violation of the Sabbath. The Sabbath command not only prohibits an individual from working but, according to many Sabbatarians, it also prohibits an individual from asking others to do the work for him. So just as he is to hand her over to Satan for playing in organized sports, she will be handing him over to Satan for traveling on the Sabbath. But of course there's disagreement on what types of travel are permissible as well, and some Sabbatarians will condemn her for putting gas in her car while on her way to her sporting event. Without question, there is disagreement on all issues. 

The Office Finger Guns GIF
Possible footage of Sabbatarians accusing one another

This is why every Sabbatarian is guilty of Sabbath breaking in the eyes of every other Sabbatarian. This is why everyone of them is logically forced to point the finger at one another and hand all the others over to Satan. No one adopts the exact standards as another. In fact, we saw above that Hall does not even agree with himself. In one moment he quotes the 1689 LBC which forbids recreation, and the next moment he says that recreation is permissible. They all adopt their own, and so no one agrees. Therefore, they are all Sabbath breakers in one another's eyes and they all have to point the finger of judgment and call for repentance, everyone to another. (And yes, Christians are called to judge one another and is Paul's thesis in 1 Corinthians 5). 

In all seriousness, the only person that a Sabbatarian would be able to consider a true Sabbath observer is oneself. I am not deliberately attempting to make a reductio ad absurdum argument, it's just that the logic requires a universal condemnation of all others.  According to all other Sabbatarians, the only true Sabbatarian can be one's self. The reason for the infinite number of opinions on what the Sabbath requires is because it is not just a question of can I play sports or not. But it explodes exponentially into questions of  whether or not one can go out to eat on a Sunday, or if one can drive on a tollway (I know a pastor who refuses to do so), or when the Sabbath begins and ends? Does it begin at Sundown according to the Biblical precedent, or the modern practice of midnight?

And what happens when one travels into a different time zone? Is their home timezone indicative of the Sabbath or the new timezone where they now reside? What about men who live up north where daylight can last for months? How can they observe Sabbath from sundown to sundown? How long does the Sabbath last? Is it 24 hours? Is it only daylight hours? Is it only until the church service is over (a famous pastor whom Hall looks up to once told me that it ends once the church service is over)? These questions of time and duration have never been agreed upon. There are also disagreements about or whether one is permitted to read the newspaper, listen to secular radio, watch secular TV, read non-religious books, go out to eat, use Facebook, use a phone, use running water, use public transportation, take a nap, visit friends, buy or sell, or even shave their face. What if I don't take advantage of a day of preparation before hand? Does failing to observe the day of preparation constitute a breaking of the Sabbath itself? (The 1689 London Baptist confession teaches that failing to prepare for the Sabbath is a breaking of the Sabbath). Can I celebrate birthdays? Hall has preached that birthdays cannot be celebrated on the Sabbath.  What about weddings? My previous church would not allow for weddings. The disagreements between Sabbatarians abound. 

Questions like these abound, and no one agrees perfectly with any other. Every Sabbatarian is a Sabbath breaker at some point in the eyes of every other Sabbatarian.  Because of this reality, Scripture requires them to hand one another over to Satan. Jordan Hall is right, "it's the same for any unrepentant sin." And this is exactly the point that I am trying to make. It is the same. You won't find me saying this very often in a discussion about the Sabbath, but I agree completely with Hall!  Sabbath breakers should be treated the same way every other rebellious unrepentant sinner is treated. So why does Hall (and all other Sabbatarians) always abandon his theology at this point and go out of his way to embrace Sabbath breakers as Christian brothers? They can only do so in contradiction to their professed theology. When they are preaching or talking slowly, they profess the most ardent and sincere Sabbath doctrine, but when it comes to practice, the true brogue of their heavenly home cannot help but slip out, and they accept all Sabbath breakers who profess Christ.

Thus, like the Arminian, the Sabbatarian has a real problem with consistency. And Jordan Hall's response to me during the debate; "I may be bad at practicing a Sabbath, but that doesn't mean that there isn't one" doesn't really answer the problem at hand. It's not just that he's bad at practicing a Sabbath, it's that he cannot practice a Sabbath. Well, he could, but if he did he would have to label all non-Sabbatarians as heretics who should be "handed over to Satan." As we have seen, this includes Christian brothers like myself as well as a dearly loved brothers of his such as John MacArthur, and even all other professed Sabbatarians who disagree with Hall's personal list of Sabbath obligations and prohibitions. And according to Hall's own profession of the 1689 LBC, he would have to even hand himself over to Satan for playing a friendly game of basketball on the Sabbath.5

Even if Sabbatarians could find a reason to maintain the bond of fellowship with one another, they cannot consistently embrace those who verbally and actively cast off the Sabbath command. They have to hand us over to Satan. Imagine for a moment if all Sabbatarians actually did so. They would be claiming that the only ones who belong to Christ are those who call themselves Sabbath keepers (a very tiny number). To employ their doctrine would reveal that our salvation is literally tied to the keeping of holy days; in this case the keeping of the Christian Sabbath. This is the Galatian heresy. Fortunately for the Church, Sabbatarians, just like Arminians, don't actually put their profession into practice. " For when he is preaching and talking very slowly, there may be wrong doctrine; but when he comes to practice that doctrine, the true thing slips out; he cannot help it."

The Sabbatarian and the Arminian alike may preach and profess a belief in certain doctrine, but the Spirit of God cannot help but shine through when it comes time to practice. When it comes time for prayer, the Arminian abandons his theology and prays like a Calvinist. And when it comes time to practice the Sabbath, the Sabbatarian abandons his theology and embraces his brothers. You have heard a great many Sabbatarian sermons, I dare say; but you never seen a Sabbatarian practice their doctrine! 

5   . . . after the public exercises of God’s worship are over, the work of the Sabbath is not over; but we must retire to our families (not seek our pleasure in the fields, or in vain company) and there repeat over what we have heard, catechise and instruct children and servants, sing Psalms, pray with our families, and whilst we moderately make use of any creature refreshment, we must discourse of the things of God. We ought also to take time in the evening to retire into secret, and there examine ourselves as to the carriage of our hearts before God in the day; labour in meditation to get the Word wrought more thoroughly upon our hearts; we must also endeavour to pour out our hearts before God in secret prayer, humbly confessing sin, earnestly and believingly requesting pardon and further supplies of grace, and thankfully praising God for all His mercies, especially for His Son Jesus Christ, and the gospel privileges which we have in and by Him. In such variety of holy exercises we may spend the whole Sabbath, which we should make as long as we can. And when the day is at an end, we should long for the Sabbath in heaven, which will never have an end.