Why I am now a Sabbatarian, part 2

The Sabbath Commandment is binding on the Christian. I used to object, “but we are not under the Law of Moses! We are under the Law of Christ!”

A few responses:

  • check out my brother’s blog. He basically has come to the same conclusion as me. And my conversation with him as he was working on his seminary paper was the final straw for me that brought me into the Sabbatarian position. You can read his reflections on his paper here
  • Whenever we say “we are not under the Law” we rightly utilize biblical language (Romans 6.15) but do not think deeply enough about what we mean by “under.” Amen, we are not “under” the Law of Moses, but in what way? To simply say “we are not under the Law” therefore, we are not obligated to obey the Sabbath is the same exact line of thinking that liberals use to say “we are not under the Law of Moses, therefore we do not need to obey the homosexuality laws.” And it actually should be the same thing we say about “do not murder” and “do not steal.” We are not “under” the Law as a way to get right with God, or as a way to remain in His favor, or in His promised Land, etc. That is not why we choose not to murder. We’re Christians! We are not obeying the Law out of covenantal obligation, but rather out of Spirit-wrought, faith-filled, Christ-centered love of God.
    • When Paul says “we are not under the Law” he means “we are not under the Old Covenant”
    • But Paul would also say “we are under moral obligation before holy God.”
  • To say “we are under the Law of Christ” is also good, biblical language (Gal 6.2). But what exactly is the “Law of Christ”? Did the Eternal Son not have ownership over the Law of Moses? Was the Law for the Old Covenant people not in some sense Messiah’s Law? If God’s Law given to God’s Covenant people in the Torah does not help God’s Covenant people today know what we are called to do as His Covenant people, what in the world can we trust?
    • Many today would say the Law of Christ is all and only what is revealed in the New Covenant; many would say we obey 9 of the 10 Commandments because those are the ones repeated in the New Testament
      • Does that hermeneutic stand up to careful scrutiny? Would the Sabbath Commandment apply to Christians if it had simply been repeated in the New (and of course we Sabbatarians would say it is repeated in places like Matthew 23.23)?
      • Would a Christian in AD 35 not know that “Do not murder” applied to them until they read it in the Bible or heard it from an Apostle?
  • This whole issue is about trying to figure out how a human being is supposed to know what God requires of them. The bible says even the most biblically illiterate unbeliever still knows of a Moral Law that is given by their Creator (Romans 1.32 and Romans 2.15)

So what is the Biblical evidence that the Sabbath Commandment is written on the heart of every human being? And how did ancient Israel understand that specific Commandment should shape their lives? That is the next two posts


Why I am now a Sabbatarian, part 1

A couple years ago I wrote a series of posts called “It is a sin to not gather on the Lord’s Day.” I have not changed my view on that. But I have changed how I get there biblically. In that series I started off by saying I was not a Sabbatarian. Then about a year ago, I became 50/50 on the issue. Now, though I may always have the attitude of “I could be wrong here,” I am now a Sabbatarian.

I think this is a good thing for me to write about because most of my close theological friends are not Sabbatarians. I graduated from Southern Seminary in 2008, and most (if not all) of my professors are not Sabbatarians– guys like Bruce Ware, Tom Schreiner, Steve Wellum, and Don Whitney. Heck, I have heard Al Mohler is not a Sabbatarian.

Virtual mentors of mine like Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman are not Sabbatarians. My elders at my old church are pretty much all not Sabbatarians as far as I know, including Ryan Fullerton, my favorite preacher in the world. Am I crazy?

My aim in this series is to challenge all of my closest friends to re-think this issue and to challenge current Sabbatarians to think more deeply about application. One of my biggest obstacles to becoming Sabbatarian was that I looked more Sabbatarian in practice than a lot of Sabbatarians I knew personally.

So let me begin with a definition by grabbing from what I said as a non-Sabbatarian a couple years ago:

First, I am not a Sabbatarian, meaning I do not believe the Sabbath Law from the Old Covenant carries over into the New Covenant. If I were, then I would simply say the Fourth Commandment is where God commands us to gather on one day out of the week for worship, and that we can infer from the early church and from the resurrection that the Sabbath has moved from Saturday to Sunday. But as I said, I am not a Sabbatarian.”

Hopefully in obedience to God, today I am a Sabbatarian, meaning I do believe the Sabbath Law from the Old Covenant carries over into the New Covenant. Therefore, I would say the Fourth Commandment is where God commands us to gather on one day out of the week for worship, and we can infer from the early church and from the resurrection that the Sabbath has moved from Saturday to Sunday.

I used to object, “but we are not under the Law of Moses! We are under the Law of Christ!” Obviously, that held a lot of weight for me for a long time. So let’s think about that a little next post.


Let’s get past the technicalities

Imagine two church members have a conflict (imagine that!), and they both sin against each other, and never reconcile over the conflict. And now imagine that you get wind of this from one of the parties. I would exhort you with Ephesians 4.1-3: “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Let that be your guide, among many other big NT ideas, to help you wade through this situation to bring about a stronger unity in the Body of Christ.

No need to worry about:

  • Is this gossip? Gossip is 99% of the time in the heart of the speaker, that is between them and God.
  • Should I be hearing this? It doesn’t matter; you just heard it.
  • Should I tell them they need to go back to that person one one one in order to follow Matthew 18? Once there is a two-way conflict, it is no longer a true Matthew 18 situation. Matthew 18 is a situation that envisions one person has sinned against another, not a situation in which both have sinned.

Let’s just get past all the technicalities and help each other for Heaven’s sake! Let big, clear principles of love, faith, and unity of the Spirit be your guide and simply help people work through these things. Do not leave it up to somebody else. In God’s providence, if you have heard about the situation, it is YOUR responsibility to walk in a manner worthy of our high calling.

And then if you need help thinking through it still, ask one of your elders for wisdom. And no, you’re not gossiping if you do that!


What is a Calvinist?

Many Christians would equate Calvinism with Reformed Theology. They are not one and the same. All Reformed Theologians are Calvinists, but not all Calvinists are Reformed. If you are a Calvinist, cool. But if you do not hold to some form of Covenant Theology and/or if you are not in a Reformed church, then you are not Reformed. And hey, it’s ok, who cares about labels? Just, if you are going to use labels, use them rightly.

The word “Calvinist” comes from the name of the great Reformer, John Calvin, and Calvinism is a summary of his teachings on the doctrine of salvation. Please remember that the historical term “Calvinism” only has to do with the doctrine of salvation. John Calvin has taught me about as much theology as anyone in the history of the Church, but I disagree with him on a few things. Calvinism does not mean you believe all things John Calvin.

Calvinism was also a consensus of teachings among many pastors in Europe in 1618, in response to a guy named Jacob Arminius, whose teachings started becoming popular. This was about 50 years after John Calvin died, and it is worth noting that Arminius thought Calvin was a fabulous teacher. But the point here is Calvinism has come to us historically as a polemic against Arminianism, which is why the way the teachings are often worded sound strange to a lot of Christians. Here is a brief explanation about the five points of Calvinism:

  1. Total Depravity- mankind is wholly (totally) unable to make any move toward real righteousness without the grace of God (Genesis 6.5; Psalm 14; Romans 3.9-20).
  2. Unconditional Election- how then can anyone be saved? As I just said, they need the grace of God. And God has graciously chosen to save many people from before the foundation of the world, not because He foresaw anything good in them (it is unconditional), but wholly by grace alone (Deuteronomy 9.4-5; Romans 9.1-18; Ephesians 1.4)
  3. Limited Atonement- God then sent His Son to purchase those elect to be His holy bride. The purpose of the atoning death of Christ was to actually purchase their salvation. He paid the penalty for their sins, bought the work of the Spirit for them, bought their new hearts for them, bought their justification, sanctification, and glorification. In other words, this is an actual atonement. Limited Atonement is a little bit of a redundant phrase in that you simply have to understand what “atone” means to understand this work is not on behalf of every single human being, but rather for the incredibly large number of undeserving sinners God chose before the foundation of the world (Jeremiah 31.31-34; Luke 22.20; John 10.11)
  4. Irresistible Grace- God then sent the Spirit to draw all those Jesus paid for to Himself. He effectually calls them to salvation through the preaching of the gospel. It is grace in that it is undeserved. It is irresistible in that this is a reference to the mysterious work of the Spirit to blow on whomever He wishes, but when He blows, people are awakened to spiritual life (John 3.5-8; John 6.44; Romans 8.30)
  5. Perseverance of the Saints- All whom the Spirit truly regenerates will grow in sanctification until they become perfectly like Christ on the last day. Anyone who professes faith but falls away– and never returns to Christ– was never born again to begin with (John 6.44; Romans 8.30; 1 John 2.19)

If you want to find out more about these great truths, and about a growing movement of Christians in America who are upholding these truths, come watch the Calvinist documentary with us tomorrow at 5pm. I am a Calvinist, and you should be too!

Does it matter whether I have been through it or not?

I know everyone means well. But it is an attack on the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture.

What I am talking about is the understandable thought that experience helps more than anything else, even more than knowing the Bible.

Imagine someone loses a loved one to a tragic death. And in their church they have a friend who loves them very much, and knows the Bible very well. They also have another friend in their church who loves them just as much as the first friend, and knows the Bible just as well as the first friend, but also lost a loved one last year to a tragic death. Is it a no-brainer for you? Clearly, the first person they should talk to is the one who has the experience that could help!

Well, it’s a no brainer for me too: it doesn’t matter! Both are going to help equally! (plus, in the real world, you can talk to both, but that’s beside the point)

2 Peter 1.3-4: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises.” I just want you to notice how a Christian gains all things for “life and godliness”; it comes through the knowledge of God.

If you know God through the Bible, that will give you everything you need to grow in things pertaining to eternal life and things pertaining to godliness. If you know God through the Bible, that will give you everything you need to counsel others toward life and godliness.

I would challenge you: the next time you face a difficult challenge, and a godly Christian offers to help you through it, and even if they’ve been through the same kind of thing as you, what you need to think is NOT, “I’m so glad I’m talking to someone who knows exactly what I’ve been through,” BUT RATHER, “I’m so glad I’m talking to someone who knows God.”

What we need to suffer well or to fight sin is not someone who has suffered imperfectly or who has also fought similar sins. We need Someone who suffered for us and defeated sin. The best help is the person who points you to that Person.

Waiehu Community Church

I am very pleased to announce that Kailua Baptist Church is partnering with Immanuel Baptist Church (Louisville, KY) and Kahului Baptist Church (Maui) in an effort to plant a church in Waiehu, Maui. The two men who will be leading the charge are Rocky Komatsu (one of our elders) and Jay Haynes (one of Immanuel’s elders).

The plan is for them to move to Maui in January (less than three months from now) and spend about a year as members of Kahului Baptist, cast vision, recruit core members, do outreach in Waiehu, and in early 2019 start a worship gathering there. This of course is all under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and subject to change as He wills, but that is the plan for now.

They are both great gospel preachers, under no illusion that God promises a church will happen, but full of faith and are very biblical in their thinking. We all agree that there is a need for a healthy, evangelical church there, and so this does seem like a good and wise endeavor.

Please consider:

  1. adding the Waiehu church plant effort to your regular prayer list
  2. giving financially to further the gospel in that area
  3. going with them to be a part of their core team

For more info, check out their website here

Sabbatical reflections

A few reflections over the last three months:

  1. A pastor is truly on-call 24-7:   I have always known this, but this was the first time in eight years that I felt that weight lifted off, a weight that I personally did not realize was there until it wasn’t. This is not a complaint on my part. This is just a statement of reality. And it is why, though no church is mandated to do this, it is a good and kind thing for a church to grant periodic sabbaticals to pastors.
  2. Stay-at-home moms are so awesome:   For about two of the three months I was a stay-at-home dad, doing more of the cooking, picking up our younger daughter from school, helping our older daughter transition into college, and doing more cleaning than I normally do (which was still less cleaning than my wife does, and she just started back to work this school year!). Then for about two weeks I did some care taking for my dad. All in all, I did less than all our stay-at-home moms do at much lower quality, and I was drained. Thank God for these moms! (this is not to say anything negative about moms who work outside the home, just a note of encouragement towards those society often looks down upon)
  3. God is doing good things in other churches: we got to visit several churches over the sabbatical, and I am so thankful for the work of faithful preachers and Christians all over our island. The gospel is going forth on Oahu! There is basically a healthy local church in every corner of our island. Praise God!
  4. God is doing good things in our church- as I got to observe KBC at a little further “distance” than usual, I realize how blessed our church is. We have many faithful teachers, connections with other faithful teachers, our people love the Word, they love God, love each other, and are trying to grow in holiness more and more. Our church is Reformed, and constantly being reformed for God’s glory. Even something like our weekly Communion is something so refreshing each week (it stood out to me when we did not have communion at every church we visited; it felt incomplete). KBC is blessed by God!
  5. I love my church- Out of the 12 weeks, I believe we were away 6 of those weeks. It was good to visit other churches. And even the weeks I was there, it was a bit awkward for everyone (i.e., “should I talk to him? should I bother him?” etc.). Now, being “back back”, I am so thankful for the faith family God has given me.

Time to go prep for a sermon and do other pastoral things…