Is the Sabbath binding on the New Covenant believer?

Was the command to observe the Sabbath a temporary, ceremonial command which is no longer applicable or binding in the life of the New Covenant believer? Or should New Covenant, Gentiles Christians take special consideration to ‘The Lord’s Day’?

It was J.C. Ryle who said:

From keeping no Sabbath to having no God there is but a flight of steps

This seems to be a hot topic as of late (no pun intended), and is being discussed in a few Reformed circles. Over at my personal blog, I have attempted to write a concise summary of a few points concerning my own position, but over at Illumination, Richard Barcellos is doing a much more in-depth study. I would encourage a thorough reading of his excellent series which I list (up to this point) below:

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36 Comments on “Is the Sabbath binding on the New Covenant believer?”

  1. Pat McGee Says:

    I believe the Lord’s Day is still binding on the believer. It has been a real blessing to come to this understanding. Rich Barcellos is a personal friend and his writings are excellent. I have taught on this topic and it was an especially rewarding thing to do.
    The hard thing about the Lord’s Day is that there is not a specific list of do’s and don’t’s, which the legalist in all of us want. We have to figure it out for ourselves, which has been a real blessing to think upon.

  2. Andrew Walling Says:

    Thanks Nathan. Here’s an interesting quote:

    If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death — whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master — how shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He whom they rightly waited for, being come, raised them from the dead. (Comp. Mat_27:52)
    – Ignatius (Letters to the Magnesians Ch IX)


  3. Nathan:
    Thanks for this post. It will probably help me in writing my paper.
    -Andrew


  4. Nathan,

    Mmmmmm this one could get spicy. I am taking Hebrew in summer school right now and so I seriously do not think I can respond to anybody until later on next week if someone cares to respond to what I say.

    Here are a few thoughts.

    1. The sign of the Old Covenant was the Sabbath. The sign of the New Covenant is the cup (even Dagg stated this or something close to it). The straightforward language of the biblical text is that the Old Covenant is the Old Covenant, not the Old [administration of the One] covenant [of grace] and the straightforward language of the biblical text is that the new covenant is the new covenant, not the new [administration of the One] covenant [of grace]. And neither a desire to “unify” the Bible (according to covenant theology) nor a psychological bent towards trusting in a theology that one thinks is old (i.e. covenant theology) changes this exegetically.

    2. The definite article is there for the seventh day in the Sabbath commandment. Therefore, we are not talking about “one day in seven”, but a particular seventh day–the last day of the week. Accordingly, it is inconsistent to remember “the” seventh day Sabbath on the first day of the week BASED on the example of God resting on the last day of the week of creation.

    3. If one says that the Lord’s Day is the Sabbath, then one is forced to have to say that the Bible goes from the seventh to the first and then BACK to the seventh (which is utterly confusing). Hebrews chapter 4 brings up the imagery of God resting on “the” seventh day to show forth that Christians will enter into their “seventh day” Sabbath rest as well. The order is that God worked first and then rested. The order is that Christians work first and then rest in glory (according to Hebrews four). To say that the Sabbath is the first day communicates that Christians rest FIRST and then work (which utterly contradicts the example of God and what Hebrews four says). And you have this seventh day first (in the Old Covenant), then first day second (in the New Covenant), and then back to seventh day third (in the eschatological rest for believers)thing going on.

    Gene,

    Now you take it easy on me big guy, you know I love you.

    Dustin,

    You might want to join in for me if folk care to interact with what I have said. Pretty please, I’m in Summer School.

    Now boys and girls, y’all play nice 🙂

    Benji Ramsaur


  5. I have often wondered about how much of the push to abolish the 4th commandment comes from the world around us. The reason I say this is it was not long ago that there was not much to do on Sunday’s other than go to church for the believer. But now that there is everything from work to play and everything in between to compete with the Lord’s Day worship the arguments for the Sabbath commandment to be non-binding seem to be more prevalent (just my opinion no statistics to back this up).

    This is not to say that those who thoughtfully see the 4th commandment as not valid for the New Covenant believer are directly influenced by the world I just wonder if the arguments do not gain fuel by other outside influences. The more we have competing interests the more our nature may desire to seek out other than God. I would be the first to tell you that there are those that follow the 4th commandment in a legalistic fashion that do not glorify God in their actions. The goal in this should be to see what God desires from us, even if it is countercultural, than what we desire to see as binding. The argument for freedom in Christ should not minimize the commands that God calls us to follow but the freedom should be in following God’s rules for His glory and thus our freedom.

  6. genembridges Says:

    3. If one says that the Lord’s Day is the Sabbath, then one is forced to have to say that the Bible goes from the seventh to the first and then BACK to the seventh (which is utterly confusing). Hebrews chapter 4 brings up the imagery of God resting on “the” seventh day to show forth that Christians will enter into their “seventh day” Sabbath rest as well. The order is that God worked first and then rested. The order is that Christians work first and then rest in glory (according to Hebrews four). To say that the Sabbath is the first day communicates that Christians rest FIRST and then work (which utterly contradicts the example of God and what Hebrews four says). And you have this seventh day first (in the Old Covenant), then first day second (in the New Covenant), and then back to seventh day third (in the eschatological rest for believers)thing going on.

    A. I’m of the opinion that the 7th day commandment per se is inappropriate for deducing a Sabbatarian theology.

    B. The OT has a theology of the 8th day that is often overlooked. What is that theology?

    C. Likewise, the theology of the 7th day is more complex than the Sabbath itself. It’s true that God worked and rested on the 7th day. I’m also of the opinion that the Fall happened on the 7th day. Jesus “rested” in the tomb on the 7th day too. So, all of the 7th day images are in some sense bound up to sin and death and to eschatology.

    God worked and rested, only to permit the Fall. His seventh day looked toward the end of one covenant era and the beginning of another. Jesus came to end the Old Covenant itself and begin another, the New.

    D. But look @ the 8th day. It was the day of circumcision. Jesus rose on the first day? Yes, but that day is ALSO the 8th day!

    Circumcision is to the OC what the cup (and even baptism and regeneration) are to the NC. The Spirit circumcises the heart. Baptism corresponds to regeneration. The cup is in blood, as circucision is a bloody rite. These are just a few parallels.

    E. To look back on the 7th day is to look back on sin and death and a negative rest; on what is prospective toward the end of the old order, etc. However, to look back on the 8th would be to celebrate life and rest, a reflection on the beginning of the new order, the already and not yet. On the other hand the Sabbath rest of Hebrews is telescoped into all of the Christian life. Every day is a Sabbath; yet every day is work. That’s a standard move, for example, in amillenial eschatology too.

    F. And reversal is not an unusual theme in the Bible anyway, so objecting to Sabbatarianism on that basis strikes me as a bit of special pleading.

    G. So, if one wants to construct a Sabbath theology for the NC, then it should be done on the significance not of the 7th day but the 8th.

  7. Nathan White Says:

    Benji,

    I too do not have time to fully interact with all of your comments, but I found a few of your statements particularly interesting:


    we are not talking about “one day in seven”, but a particular seventh day–the last day of the week. Accordingly, it is inconsistent to remember “the” seventh day Sabbath on the first day of the week BASED on the example of God resting on the last day of the week of creation.

    Specifically, could you tell us what calendar that God was abiding by when He instituted the Sabbath at creation? Can you show how He was on a 7day schedule, like you assume, and if so, why He didn’t just say ‘Saturday’ is holy?

    I say this because the Sabbath command is not for Saturday, nor even the 7th day OF THE WEEK. Instead, the pattern of 6days labor and 1 day of rest is given by God.

    Finally, as an example, consider the sabbath years. When were the sabbath years based on the calendar? Can we look to the Sun, moon, stars, or any calendar to determine when every 7th year is? Obviously, we cannot. If, say, we were to begin obeying the Sabbath years again, we would simply go 6years labor, the 7th year rest.

  8. genembridges Says:

    I say this because the Sabbath command is not for Saturday, nor even the 7th day OF THE WEEK. Instead, the pattern of 6days labor and 1 day of rest is given by God.

    Finally, as an example, consider the sabbath years. When were the sabbath years based on the calendar? Can we look to the Sun, moon, stars, or any calendar to determine when every 7th year is? Obviously, we cannot. If, say, we were to begin obeying the Sabbath years again, we would simply go 6years labor, the 7th year rest

    Just a note here.

    On the one hand, it’s true that the calendar used by God in the creation narrative = 6 days work, 1 day rest.

    On the other, it’s a mistake to read the text from then to the time of writing without recognizing first the principle of continuing revelation, which gets us to the POV of the original recipients.

    The Law, specifically the Book of the Covenant, establishes the liturgical calendar/lunar calendar for the people of Israel. So, how would they have construed a reference to “the 7th day” in the 4th commandment?

    On the one hand, we have the Law as given @ Sinai, which precedes the Book of the Covenant itself. On the other, we have the Law reiterated in Deuteronomy to the second generation, which stands after the Book of the Covenant was given and the calendar established.

    So this raises two questions: Was Israel practicing some sort of Sabbath day prior to Sinai? How, if at all, did this change after the introduction of the liturgical calendar? The way you answer these questions, will define the way you construe the Genesis pattern itself as to a specific day. On the one hand, it reads that the 7th day, whatever that day was compared to a calendar, was the day God rested. On the other hand, the original recipients would have read this as the Sabbath day, and they may well have read it as a specific day. Look to Judaica for the answer, or @ least the best answer we can ascertain with the limited resources available.

    On the other hand, it’s possible to construe specific commandments as eternal principles with the applications, like specific examples of behavior in the giving of the law – not wearing clothes of 2 fibers for example, eg. specifically applications given in the Book of Leviticus, perhaps inclusive of the liturgical calendar, as concrete instances of eternal principles…which would make the actual liturgical day on the calendar nothing more than a concrete instance of an eternal principle – it is on this idea that Sabbatarianism among the Reformed who hold it is predicated.

    That makes the intention of the 4th commandment fixed; its extension is variable. I would add that intention-extension is common enough grammatical principle, so it would cash out in a broader way in this command or any other. The intention is the eternal principle, the extension is the concrete instantiation of the principle, which varies. This is what allowed a Levitical priest to make decisions (like David eating the shewbread) using the Law itself by application.

  9. James Kime Says:

    When God rested on the seventh day, he set it apart for himself. Nowhere in the text does it say that God established a creation ordinance. Man was not commanded to rest on the 7th day until God provided the extra manna on the sixth day in the wilderness. Prior to that, we know of no such command.

    Sadly, Rich Barcellos is simply putting forth covenant theology instead of the bible, which is to repeat myself.

  10. genembridges Says:

    A. Actually, the commandment itself can be construed to teach a preexisting Sabbath tradition. “Keep the Sabbath Day…” Since the Book of the Covenant was not yet given, you can construe the command accordingly. You’ll need a supporting argument, not just an assertion about Covenant Theology, to substantiate your assertion.

    B. What we have in the text of Genesis is a covenant. Now, you can argue against that in a typical non-covenantal fashion, but if you do, that commits the word-concept fallacy, since that objection primarily rests on the foundation that a covenant is not present since the word is not.

    C. In 3:3, God blesses the 7th day and sets it apart. For whom? According to Jesus man is not for the Sabbath but the Sabbath for man. How would the original recipients have interpreted that, James, if not as establishing the Sabbath, since the original recipients were the ones who received the Decalogue and the Book of the Covenant?

    D. Your argument would prove too much as well, since if that’s true, there was no Law prior to the giving of the Decalogue; yet we can see each commandment of it violated in the Fall.

    E. Likewise, what we have in Genesis in the creation narrative is also a set of architectonic images. God constructs his Temple, the universe, and Earth, its innermost chamber, with a Garden from the mountains, like the ark of the covenant was to the Tabernacle. So, from the recipients POV, we have license to see the very things here you say do not exist. See, for example, G.K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission.

  11. James Kime Says:

    Gene, you will have to forgive me for not imposing covenantalism on my reading of Genesis and the rest of the bible for that matter. I do not say this to be mean. However, if you did not start with covenant theology, you would never find it in the text of Scripture. John Bunyan had a view similar to yours when he was younger. As he grew in theology though, he came to set that aside. Moving right along.

    A. Exodus 20:8-10a

    “8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath unto Jehovah thy God”

    Remember, as in, from here on out, do not forget. The covenantalist must read backward because of the preconceived notions of moral law being = to the 10 commandments. That is a whole ‘nother issue I won’t tackle tonight.

    Further, you will see in verse 10 again that God says the sabbath is UNTO him. The Jews were to set it apart the sabbath because God set it apart to himself.

    B. If you think the best answer people have in rejecting covenantalism is that the word is not present in the text, then you don’t read or study very much brother. There are several covenants mentioned in the OT. I am just opposed to cramming a 15th century one upon the text.

    A.H. Strong was asked when and where the covenant of works was made. He replied, “In Amsterdam in 1468.” He was far closer to the truth than the WCF.

    C. God set the sabbath apart for himself. That is what Ex. 20:10 says. We shouldn’t have to debate that any further.

    D. I have seen the list of how each command was violated and find it hard to believe that people actually try to teach and/or believe that. It is little more than throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks.

    E. Again, this may be a clever attempt to help covenantalists justify other odd beliefs, but you should stick with the scripture. Be sola scriptura on this one Gene, don’t reference dime store quality books with the same elements of truth in it as dark ages Alchemy.

    Your beliefs should stand or fall with scripture. I hope your ideas have a parachute.

  12. M Burke Says:

    Talk about missing the forest for the trees, James, perhaps if you actually attempted to deal with the arguments Gene has presented rather attempting to proof text verses that aren’t in view of the New Covenant’s teaching on the Sabbath we might take you seriously. Instead this sort of proof-texting does nothing to further the discussion and simply shows that you’re unwilling to delve deeply into Scripture to find the answer. Iron sharpens iron, James, its not meant to bash others out of the discussion.

    Yes, God “set the sabbath apart for himself” etc, but in the NT it is made quite clear that we’re not to be judged or judge on the basis of sabbath keeping. The Gentiles were under different laws than the Jews (culturally) and when the Jews came to Galatia to enforce the Mosaic laws upon them Paul fought them directly.

    Pat McGee – isn’t that what they all say? “Our laws are are a blessing once you start to keep them!” Again, substantive discussion is warranted.

  13. James Kime Says:

    M, I am not sure I follow you. Do you think that I think the sabbath day observance is still binding on believers today? If you do, I don’t.

    I was arguing against the idea that it is a creation ordinance and therefore binding upon all people in all times.

  14. Pat McGee Says:

    The Ten Commandments set down God’s law. God doesn’t change His moral perspective. What was right then is right now. The 4th commandment is also not a ceremonial law plopped down in the middle of 9 other moral laws. God is the Creator of the universe. The law was not just for the Jews. It is universal. It ought to drive us to understand that we cannot perfectly obey it and thereby be driven to trust Christ and it should help us in sanctification.
    It has been my observation that many of the people I know who oppose honoring the Lrod’s Day do so out of a rebellious spirit and do not want to be held accountable. They can also have difficulty in determining what is right or wrong because there is not a specific list of rules as to what a believer can or cannot do. Just a thought.

  15. James Kime Says:

    Your thought doesn’t square with scripture though Pat. If the 10 commandments are the moral, unchanging law (and they aren’t) for all of God’s people for all time, why are you advocating a change? Any change at all is a change of the supposedly moral, unchanging law. So really, you are an antinomian observer of the sabbath command.

    Instead of actually keeping the sabbath the way God said to, you are okay with changing it and then heaping unbiblical requirements on others and then calling them rebellious. Reminds me of the pharisees.

    According to scripture, the sabbath was the sign of the covenant God made with the people he led out of egypt.

  16. Pat McGee Says:

    The early church moved the Lord’s Day to the first day of the week. I didn’t. Take it up with the early church.
    I merely observed that the people I know who have issues with the Lord’s Day tend to be rebellious in that and other areas.
    One who says the ten commandments are not unchanging has the onus of proving that scripturally. Please show me in the Word where God eliminates even one of the commandments.
    Mr. Kine, since you do not know me, I consider it inappropriate for you to engage me in name calling.
    The pharisees created laws that God did not and then bound them on the Jews. That is pharisaism. In fact, they tried to make laws that narrowed the scope so they believed they could on their own merits be justified in God’s eyes. The pharisees could not get a grip on the enormity of the commandments and far-encompassing they are. They kept narrowing it down to a list of do’s and don’t’s they made up, rather than simply trying to obey what God had said. Nothing I have said is extrabiblical or pharisaical.

  17. James Kime Says:

    I am wondering how fruitful this is. I point out that the sabbath is the sign of the OC and how Jesus hung the 10 commandments by the 2 commandments. Only crickets in the background.

    Pat, if you try and bind believers to obedience of a sabbath day observance, you are a pharisee, as the NT shouts that we are not under the OC law, but the NC law. Btw, I don’t have to “know” you to understand your bad theology.

  18. genembridges Says:

    Gene, you will have to forgive me for not imposing covenantalism on my reading of Genesis and the rest of the bible for that matter. I do not say this to be mean. However, if you did not start with covenant theology, you would never find it in the text of Scripture. John Bunyan had a view similar to yours when he was younger. As he grew in theology though, he came to set that aside. Moving right along.

    When you have to make a polemic move like this in the beginning of your post, you’re, by definition, exposing the weakness of your hand. I could just as easily accuse you of trying to establish an unstable compromise between dispensationalism and covenantalism, but I’ve not done that. I suggest you make the attempt to do the same.

    I’d add that John Bunyan was opposed to the SEVENTH DAY Sabbath, eg. the celebration of the Sabbath on the 7th day. It’s a shallow reading of Bunyan not to know that. He wrote against Bradbourne. Bradbourne stands in a direct genealogical line of ascent from me, so, you see, I know more about this issue than most, because I know Bradbourne’s views.

    Remember, as in, from here on out, do not forget. The covenantalist must read backward because of the preconceived notions of moral law being = to the 10 commandments. That is a whole ‘nother issue I won’t tackle tonight.

    Further, you will see in verse 10 again that God says the sabbath is UNTO him. The Jews were to set it apart the sabbath because God set it apart to himself.

    This nonresponsive. The same audience that received the 4th commandmant, received the Book of Genesis. So, we need to read the text with their understanding in mind. That is why he reads the book “backward.” To borrow a turn of phrase, if you think that it’s his beliefs about the Decalogue and the moral law that drive this, you don’t understand covenantalism. If that’s what you think, then perhaps you can show us some representative covenant theologians that argue that we should do this for the reason you state.

    You’re reading the text as if Exodus follows Genesis. That’s simply untrue. Genesis is written retrospectively. The point of Genesis is to, among other things, establish the divine right of Israel to the land. The point of Genesis is to establish the genealogical line of Israel all the way back to Adam. When they read about Judah and Tamar, they aren’t going to say, “incest isn’t a sin then.” Rather, they are going to say, “That’s a sin!” Why? Because the Levitical code names it as such.

    If you think the best answer people have in rejecting covenantalism is that the word is not present in the text, then you don’t read or study very much brother. There are several covenants mentioned in the OT. I am just opposed to cramming a 15th century one upon the text.

    A.H. Strong was asked when and where the covenant of works was made. He replied, “In Amsterdam in 1468.” He was far closer to the truth than the WCF.

    A. Actually, James, I know this because I’ve seen this at work before in the same discussions with representatives from dispensationalism and NCT.

    B. I’ve also seen it argued from others within CT. It’s a common move among those who reject either covenant theology or the covenant of works/creation to raise that objection.

    C. So, I’m taking my cue from the self-understanding of representatives from your side of the aisle. Typically, classes on biblical theology in Reformed seminaries will go into this and name specific opponents.

    D. If you think that Strong was correct, you’ll have to prove his assertion. By the way Strong was talking about historical theology, and he was demonstrably wrong. Any student of historical theology would know this. One can find the Covenant of Creation as far back as Bullinger, Ursinus, and Rollock. These antedate Westminster by at least a century.

    C. God set the sabbath apart for himself. That is what Ex. 20:10 says. We shouldn’t have to debate that any further.

    The Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath.

    By the way, if the Sabbath is not a creation ordinance, using your logic, neither is marriage, yet Christ and Paul both state otherwise.

    I have seen the list of how each command was violated and find it hard to believe that people actually try to teach and/or believe that. It is little more than throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks.

    Then you’re not as well versed in this subject as you presume yourself to be, since the LBCF2 specifically says that the law violated in the Fall was the same lav given @ Sinai.

    1. Adam and Eve both broke a covenant with God. It’s obvious they broke the first commandment. This goes without saying. All sin violates the first commandment.

    2. Eve listened to the serpent and enticed Adam to join her. In terms of the Pentateuch and Israel’s history his foreshadows, among other things, the actions of the Moabite/Midianite women after Balaam’s curse and the donkey in Balaam’s discourse. So the serpent in the Garden becomes the idol they obeyed rather than God, and man was enticed to idolatry by woman, and the serpent spoke like the donkey. All of these are sure indications they broke the second commandment. Satan of course is the personality behind the serpent.

    Incidentally, the Abomination of Desolation, corrupt priests, and other such images in Scripture are all a riff on this same theme: The serpent is in the Garden, and not just the Garden as a garden but the Garden as the Tabernacle and in the center of the Garden among the trees. Ergo, they communicate idea that the serpent is in the Holy of Holies they way he was among the trees in the Garden, but I digress. Follow that image in Scripture and you get a very strong picture of false teacher in the church, they are serpents in the temple of God, and if they are elders, they’re in the “holy of holies” (the position of greatest authority teaching the Word of God). What God thinks of the serpent he thinks of these false teachers, but again, I digress.

    3. Did they break the 3rd? From a narrative standpoint, Adam had assented to the commands themselves since he named the animals and accepted his wife. So, what we have here is the breaking of an oath/vow. If marriage vows were broken, we can also say that God’s name is taken in vain, as they are made before God. That’s the framework of the 3rd commandment.

    4. Notice that Eve is gathering fruit on the narrative Sabbath. Strictly speaking, this is work, but we already know work was allowed on the Sabbath the way it was allowed for priests. What happened, however is that she broke the Sabbath by disobeying the Lord, not by working, but by taking the forbidden fruit. Ditto for Adam

    5. Father and mother? It’s tempting to say, “No,” but Luke 2:38 says that Adam is the son of God. So, Adam is disobeying his father, God, and Eve, one flesh with him in marriage does the same through the marriage covenant as well as her own sin.

    6. Murder? Remember the penalty for eating the tree? In the day you eat of it, you will surely die. Eve knew this. She ate the tree. She committed “suicide.” Not only that, she gave the fruit to Adam. Adam ate it and committed suicide too. What’s more, he did it knowing full God had said, “You will surely die,” and he appears to have allowed his wife to go first anyway. The first murder then is not really Cain killing Abel. It’s here, where our First Parents sought to kill each other and Adam in particular, knowing the most, chose to kill his wife and, as we know from Romans 5, all of their children in him.

    7. Adultery? We have here as unseemly as it sounds a threeway. The serpent is also an image associated with sexual sin in ancient culture. Women are associated with serpents when they are involved in temple prostitution. This is a common idea. Eve goes along with the serpent instead of Adam. She is violating her marriage covenant (thus violating the 3rd commandment as well). Then, she lured Adam to eat too. The image generated is that of a pagan prostitute (like a Midianite woman) luring an Israelite man (of the covenant people) into a sexual act to worship the idol, as they did at Peor. Peor’s sin cut off an entire generation. Let’s not forget also that the covenant relation between Israel (and the church) and God (and Christ) is that of a husband and wife. So, Adam commits adultery against the Lord, and joins his wife in a threeway of sorts with the serpent. Notice that Adam totally fails on his marriage vows here too.

    8 and 10. Stealing and coveting go hand in hand. God had forbidden them to eat of the fruit. Thus, they are stealing His fruit in His own garden in the holiest place in the Garden. They may as well have decided to take the manna out of the ark of the covenant. Notice also the description of the fruit. It was appealing to the eyes. The tree was desirable to make one wise. She coveted the fruit and the tree. Adam, who was with her, joined her.

    9. Bearing false witness. Yep, they broke this one too. When the serpent asked questions, Eve didn’t exactly give the right answers. Now, we could chalk that up to innocence and ignorance. But what about Adam? And notice that before God gives His verdict, He interviews them. Each blames another, and neither Adam nor Eve tell the whole truth. “Yeah I ate, but….” False witness, obviously.

    So, in that one sin, they broke the whole Decalogue.

    E. Again, this may be a clever attempt to help covenantalists justify other odd beliefs, but you should stick with the scripture. Be sola scriptura on this one Gene, don’t reference dime store quality books with the same elements of truth in it as dark ages Alchemy.

    Your beliefs should stand or fall with scripture. I hope your ideas have a parachute.

    A. I can and have in the past demonstrated my views on the creation covenant from Scripture. They are in the archives @ Triablogue, and you can find it there.

    All the elements of a covenant are there: The name of the guarantor, the name of the receptor, an imposition, stipulation, astipulation, and you even have a tabernacle in the Garden of Eden. That motif is picked up continually as a basic fixture in the Temple/Tabernacle theology of the OT. Now, where you have all these elements you have a covenant. If you think that there is no covenant made, then you’ll have to demonstrate it from the text. I am more than able to demonstrate it exists.

    B. Sola Scriptura does not negate the use of a theology text. Perhaps when you can get the definition of Sola Scriptura correct, you should consider engaging me again.

    C. I see that ad homineum invective is substituting for argument from you, James. That’s very scholarly of you. It also tells me you’re relying more on what this than engaging what was actually stated.

    D. And nowhere in this thread have I taken a particular view of the Sabbath. In fact, I’m quite able to present all 3 views at issue. What you’ve done is provide us with a stellar example of drawing conclusions about what another believes and then proceeding to refute those conclusions.

    Any change at all is a change of the supposedly moral, unchanging law. So really, you are an antinomian observer of the sabbath command.

    I’ve seen this before, from atheists no less, when they are argue that all the Pentateuchal code is moral law and absolute and unchanging. What we have in the OT is a series of concrete explempla of unchanging principles. The priniciples are embodied in the Decalogue, which functions as the prologue to the covenant. The exemplars hang on one or more of the Commandments.

    You’ve provided us with a stellar example of the illicit totality transfer fallacy. What changes are the concrete applications/exemplums of unchanging principles, not the principles themselves.

    You can’t seem to engage the argument from the opposing side without begging the question in your favor. The argument is not that the Decalogue is the whole of the moral law in every way, rather it is the essence of the Law. Apparently, you don’t understand the distinction between essence and accident nor the principles of continuity and discontinuity involved. If you think that CT is an invention of the High Orthodox Reformed era as you alluded to above, then you need to be able to engage CT on those grounds.

    Neither do you seem to understand that it is NCT, not CT, which makes the Decalogue the statement of the Old Covenant. In CT, the Decalogue transcends the Old Covenant.

  19. James Kime Says:

    Wow, where do I even begin. You seem to want the last word Gene, so I won’t stop you.

    While it is true that Bunyan was opposed to the 7th day sabbath, he was also opposed to the belief that the sabbath was a binding requirement on believers today as it was in the OC.

    You want to establish a point from silence by appealing to something else explicitly stated.

    You said, “By the way, if the Sabbath is not a creation ordinance, using your logic, neither is marriage, yet Christ and Paul both state otherwise.”

    Go back and study logic Gene. Christ and Paul state that marriage is a creation ordinance. The sabbath is NEVER spoken of in those terms. Quite the opposite actually. The sabbath was the SIGN of the OC. We are not bound to the sign of a superior covenant (Abrahamic), but you want to bind people to an inferior covenant (Mosaic). How very covenantal of you.

    You then say, “Then you’re not as well versed in this subject as you presume yourself to be, since the LBCF2 specifically says that the law violated in the Fall was the same lav given @ Sinai.”

    I don’t get my marching orders from confessions of faith. As much as I value them, they are just the attempts of men to explain the bible, they are NOT the bible. I find the need to remind covenantalists of that time and again. Since the Bible doesn’t say that the law violated in the fall was the same law given at sinai, I don’t think I will believe that point.

    I am just glad I am not the one who has tried to put forth the idea that Adam and Eve broke the 10 commandments by their sin in the fall. Your explanations truly prove that covenantalism is a most remarkable system that is thoroughly thought through and yet has nothing to do with Scripture. Your need to pull in imagery which is horrible guesswork and not actual exegesis is sickening. But hey, you are so much smarter than me.

    Regarding the covenant in the garden, I would be more than happy to debate that with you. I cannot and will not even try in this thread. Your assumptions though are expected and typical.

    You then say, “Sola Scriptura does not negate the use of a theology text.”

    I am aware, and I agree. My problem with covenantalism is that it is not a system exegeted from the text of scripture but rather it is a system imposed upon the scripture.

    You then say, “I see that ad homineum invective is substituting for argument from you, James. That’s very scholarly of you. It also tells me you’re relying more on what this than engaging what was actually stated.”

    Gene, I have done this so many times. I don’t know why I allow myself to get frustrated at the hackjob efforts of CTers to explain scripture. It got old when the puppies at FIDE-O couldn’t answer questions I asked them. I have found it the same at all other pro-CT blogs. It is real easy to beat up armininians. It is quite harder when someone who has actually read the bible comes along.

    You think the sabbath is a creation ordinance. Am I right or wrong Gene?

    You said, “I’ve seen this before, from atheists no less, when they are argue that all the Pentateuchal code is moral law and absolute and unchanging.”

    How great is this – the smartest one here sinks to the level of guilt by association. The OC was all moral law Gene. How you can hack out your 10 commandment view and not see that the OC was all moral, I will never figure out.

    You said, “What changes are the concrete applications/exemplums of unchanging principles, not the principles themselves.”

    This is so easy to prove wrong. I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt here, but I don’t think you have actually studied through the OC law very well and compared it to NC law. You are welcome to start a thread somewhere and send me the link to it. I will join. Let us just stick to this point though.

    You conclude with, “In CT, the Decalogue transcends the Old Covenant.”

    I know this. What have I said that gives you the idea I thought CT was different from what you said?


  20. I don’t know whether you guys crack me up or make me dizzy.

    Now, take what I am about to say as I am playing with kid gloves.

    I might come back on interact more with what some of you guys have said later on (I have a paper due tommorrow).

    I have not read all of the comments but the overall impression I get is that you guys have to do some serious gymnastics to try and prove what you are saying.

    “8th day”, Come on Gene. What sense does it make to say that we are to observe an 8th or 1st day Sabbath WHILE WE AWAIT OUR SEVENTH DAY SABBATH?

    There is not a lick of pleading in my spirit. My position feels very easy and natural to believe from the biblical text–The seventh day Sabbath of creation is a picture of the eschatological seventh day Sabbath that believers will one day enter into (Heb. 4).

    Gene, you said “God worked and rested, only to permit the Fall. His seventh day looked toward the end of one covenant era and the beginning of another. Jesus came to end the Old Covenant itself and begin another, the New. ”

    Where do you get this from? This looks to me to have about as much exegetical evidence as the, ahem, “probation period” of Adam in the Genesis account.

    You said “To look back on the 7th day is to look back on sin and death and a negative rest;”

    Unbelievable. Brother, you are mighty intelligent, but how you can read the positive account of the seventh day rest of God in Hebrews four and still see it as negative is beyond me.

    It’s glorious Gene!!!!!!!!

    And the only thing I can figure out that stops you from seeing this is a very strong commitmment to Covenant Theology.

    Nathan, you said “Specifically, could you tell us what calendar that God was abiding by when He instituted the Sabbath at creation? Can you show how He was on a 7day schedule, like you assume, and if so, why He didn’t just say ‘Saturday’ is holy?”

    Well, I’m not sure if I would go along with what I think you might mean by “instituted”, but I look at the interpretation of the creation account in the ten commandments and in Hebrews four and both tell me that God rested on the seventh day. So, I don’t really feel the need to bring up any long and elaborate explanation for your question. It’s pretty easy in my eyes.

    Well fellers, I wish I could get you to see that you will not fall apart if the puritans or the “1689” got some things wrong.

    It’s far better too admit that than to try mental gymnastics to justify awaiting your seventh day eschatological rest while you practice resting on some other day than, well, seven.

    You guys kinda remind of the story a PCA elder told me one time. He said that he heard this guy keep on saying about people in the church– “They don’t know the ‘story'”. And the PCA elder told me that he wanted to take that man’s mouth by the hand and say “Can you say ‘gospel'”

    I want to take you guys by the mouth and say “Can you say ‘New’ Covenant'”

    But I realize that even if I accomplished this, you guys would still mean “The New [administration of the one] covenant [of grace]”

    I just can’t win with you guys:)


  21. Hey, could one of you guys attempt to show, from exegesis, Paul dividing the law into civil, ceremonial, and moral law?

    I want to break out some popcorn.

    🙂

    [the kid gloves are still on]


  22. Nathan,

    Think of it this way:

    Work first, then rest (creation)

    Work first, then rest (Sabbath command)

    Work first, then rest (years)

    Work first, then rest (Christ)

    Work first, then rest (eschatological rest)

    Now, let’s look at the other view.

    Work first, then rest (creation)

    Work first, then rest (Sabbath command)

    Work first, then rest (years)

    Work first, then rest (Christ)

    Rest first, then work (First day Sabbatarian) ooops!

    Work first, then rest (eschatological rest)

    Now, which one do you think is more natural?

  23. Nathan White Says:

    James,

    Under the ‘about this site’ page in the upper right hand corner, we have a few rules concerning commenting. In my opinion, as the administrator of this site, you’re comments have not fallen under the category of Eph. 4:29 and the respectful and loving attitude scripture instructs us to use. You have been an instigator and haven’t brought any worthwhile discussion to the table here. Please reconsider your tone before you post again –(and that does not mean that you cannot disagree with Gene). Thank you

  24. Nathan White Says:

    Benji,

    You haven’t answered my question, which was actually very simple: where did God describe the sabbath as being the 7th day OF THE WEEK, and what calendar was God using in the creation account? Did He really begin His work on Sunday, or was it maybe Monday or Tuesday??

    Your other comments about the law, although humorous if one interprets scripture with the glasses of a NCT system that is probably younger than you are, do not provide enough substance to challenge any view that has currently been set forth.

  25. James Kime Says:

    Nathan, although you did not direct your questions to me, I will answer them.

    In Exodus 20, God commands a rest on the seventh day because he had finished his labor in six days. From my understanding, it has been the common view of all history that there are seven days for the next period of time, the week. The sabbath completed the week. The idea is based on creation itself. In Daniel 9, there is the vision of 70 7s, or 70 weeks.

    Do you know of some reason to think that a week is anything other than 7 days? Certainly the bible only presents the one view.

    Regarding the issue of the law, how exactly does the supposed newness of theology have anything to do with how correct it is? I see CTers do that time and again, but usually when they want to refer to Dispensationalism or NCT. They typically (as you do) ignore the newness of CT as a system.

    Perhaps you could trace back the newness of the threefold division of the OC law for us. I know the answer.

    Anyway, it is the assumption of CTers that the law can actually be divided and something that has never been shown. It is just another of the dirty little secrets of CT.

  26. James Kime Says:

    Just think of the slippery slope guys.

  27. Pat McGee Says:

    Moral law is unchanging. It is a reflection of who God is. He is unchanging. So is His moral law.
    In Acts the council of Jerusalem eliminated the ceremonial law. Take it up with the church fathers.
    We do not live in Israel under a theocracy. We are obliged to obey civil law to the extent that it does not violate God’s law.

  28. James Kime Says:

    Pat, can you actually give a biblical definition of the moral law and where it is found in the bible?

    Take it up with the church fathers.

    No where in all the bible do we find a division of the law. You give me any law you want, and I will show you how it is moral.

  29. Nathan White Says:

    James,

    This is your second warning. If you violate the rules again, which are clearly posted, then you will no longer be allowed to comment here.

    The topic of this post has nothing to do with the divisions of the law. Demanding us to show the division from exegesis, or whatever, is off topic, antagonistic, and frankly, just plain ridiculous. You act as if we haven’t dealt with this issue or as if you’re new ideas actually present a problem for Covenant theologians. Asking us to defend an argument that has not been made from this post just shows that you’re not interested in edifying discussion but rather arguing over ‘words and names’.

    Sadly, I have yet to see a comment from you where you actually make a positive contribution to the discussion. Please reconsider the rules before you post again.


  30. Nathan,

    Even if we did not call the days of creation a “week” but a set of seven days [or whatever you want to call them]. It still does not change the fact that the Sabbath command within the ten commandments based resting on the last day of a set of seven days on the last day of the set of seven days found at creation.

    Therefore, how can you justifiably rest on the first day of a set of seven days based on the Sabbath command that based resting on the Sabbath on the last day of a set of seven days?

    Also, how can you justifiably rest on the first day of a set of seven days as you wait for your seventh day in glory that is pictured for you on the seventh day of the set of seven days in the creation story?

    Also, remember that Covenant theology did not come around, if I remember correctly, until the late 15th century. Therefore, I wonder what you would think about some believer, back in the 15th or 16th century, walking up to a believer who adheres to CT (or leans in that direction) and saying “How could this CT be valid for we have not had it for well over 1400 years of church history?”

    Also, any which way you might want to cut it, a justifiable theology still must ultimately be based on the Bible itself (whether that theology be old or new).

    God Bless

    Benji Ramsaur

  31. Nathan White Says:

    Benji,

    I simply wanted to point out that your presupposition, that God had somehow blessed ‘Saturday’ above other days, was rooted in a shallow look into the real issues. I posted links to other articles instead of making my own argument so you could research this stuff on your own –I didn’t intend to get into a full discussion on these things here, even though I am confident that I can defend them from the clear teaching of scripture.

    Nevertheless, are you really going to argue that Sunday is the first day of the week in this society (or has been for 2000 years)? The workweek begins when? Sundays or Mondays? The weekend ends when? On Saturday night or Sunday nigh? Conscience and practice sure speak much louder than your words.

    Regarding CT –nice try, you sound like a Catholic who is pointing out the justification by faith (the 5 solas) didn’t even appear until Luther. That’s about as much weight as your argument above holds.

  32. James Kime Says:

    Nathan, whatever point you think you are trying to make has no actual bearing on this discussion. The command to rest on the seventh day is no longer binding. CTers are forced to modify the command and apply it to the first day of the week.

    What Benji said about CT is the exact equivalent to what you said about NCT.


  33. Nathan,

    With the internet having so much old theology on it, I’m sure it would be easy for you to cut and paste the earliest primary resource quotes you know of that affirms covenant theology.

    Could you provide these for us?

    Quotes that show “the Old [administration of the one] Covenant [of grace] and the New [administration of the one] Covenant [of grace]” logic?

    It would be interesting to see how far back it does go if it goes further than what I was told, if I remember correctly, by a solid Baptist History prof. who teaches at one of the SBC seminaries.

    God Bless

    Benji Ramsaur


  34. Nathan,

    Alright, let’s throw out the names of days altogether. CT still teaches to rest on the “1st day” all the while the Bible speaks about the “7th day”–at creation, in the ten commandments, and in connection with our eschatological rest.

    God Bless

    Benji Ramsaur

  35. Nathan White Says:

    OK–

    I’m shutting down comments on this post. Seems like James hasn’t gotten the point (much less Ephesians 4:29), and continues to take cheap shots at us for not wanting to debate something that isn’t the topic of this post. James, I will continue to delete your comments until you can be graceful and on-topic with your words here at SBF. We desire loving, graceful, and edifying discussion, to the benefit of all who read. Argumentative, condescending rhetoric, berating, and supercilious comments, all of which you have displayed here, are not appropriate for this forum.

    Benji, like I explained to James, I’d love to thoroughly debunk NCT here, but the old covenant and the law is not the topic of this post. I would encourage you to look elsewhere for the time being, and there maybe you can see how Eph 6:1-2, for example, by itself renders your argument powerless. In addition, until you can demonstrate that the Lord blessed SATURDAY and Saturday only as the Sabbath, well, then, you haven’t made a valid point –nor understood mine.
    Grace to you all~


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