Lord Day

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 60. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified? 

A. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

Scripture References: Lev. 23:3; Ps. 92:1-2; Luke 4:16; Matt. 12:11-12; Jer. 17:21,22.

Questions:

1. What do we mean ·by sanctifying the Sabbath?

The Sabbath is sanctified by God in that He made it holy. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by man by man’s keeping it holy, by his using it for other purposes than his regular employments.

2.
What two things are we to do on the Sabbath day?

We are given permission by God to do two things: holy resting and holy worship.

3.
From what are we to rest on the Sabbath day?

We are to rest from all things that are not of necessity and mercy. This means that we are to rest even from things that are not sinful; that are lawful on other days, such as worldly employments and recreations.

4. When we speak of “holy worship” do we mean we must spend all day in church?

No, it is not meant that all day must be spent in church but it is meant that we should spend our time in either public or private worship. It should be a time for our souls to be renewed by God as we worship Him in prayer, Bible study, family worship.

5.
Would you say it is alright to rest the body on the Sabbath day?

Yes, it would be well within the keeping of the commandment to rest the body. This is one of the reasons for the Sabbath day for God knew in the beginning that the body would need one day of rest out of seven.

6.
Should there be any preparation for the Sabbath day?

Yes, there should be both physical and spiritual preparation. For example, everything possible should be done prior to the day in the physical realm so that the day might be spent as unto Him. Our devotional article speaks of the spiritual preparation.

PREPARATION FOR THE SABBATH

The family is gathered in church on Sunday morning. The service is about to start. The minister asks a question, asks it even before the Invocation. He asks, “How many of you have taken time to prepare your souls for this, the Lord’s Day?” How would we answer such a question; what would have been our answer last Sunday morning?

There has been much said regarding the keeping of the Sabbath day, and this is proper. Indeed, our country is guilty of breaking it time and time again and born again Christians are joining in. But possibly some emphasis should be put on the matter of preparation for the day. There seems to be little said about this important aspect. It might well be there would be less breaking of the Sabbath if there was more preparation for it!

How can we prepare for the Sabbath day? What things would be important for us to do in order that we might be better prepared to spend the day as the Lord would have us to spend it? The following list might be helpful as we seek to live unto Him in this area:

1. Dedicate the day to the Lord beforehand and rejoice at the prospect of it. Recognize this is truly the Lord’s Day. We should seek, by His grace, to make it a special day of blessing to our souls.

2. Use a good portion of the time on Saturday evening for a spiritual retreat. Closet yourself with the Word, with prayer, filling your soul with the things that be of God. Recognize that your heart needs to be cleansed from the things of the world, necessary things possibly, but things that have entered in to choke the Word.

3. Use some time for meditation. Instead of only reading the Word and praying, think on the things of God and of God Himself. Think on His works, on His holiness, on the wonderful fact of redemption, on the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

4. Pray for the minister, pray that he will be prepared for the preaching of the Word, the primary means of grace. Hold him up before the Throne of Grace, pray that he will be a fit vessel for the Master’s use.

It is time that God’s people, His saved, prepare themselves for the Lord’s Day and its activities. As the people of Israel had to wash their bodies before the law was presented to them, so should the believers in Christ prepare their souls for the Lord’s Day. (Ex. 19:10). Think of what the result could be in His work if His people were to make some spiritual retreats in preparation for His day!

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 55 (July 1965)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 59. — Which day of the seven hath God appointed to be the weekly Sabbath?

A. — From the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of world, which is the Christian Sabbath.

Scripture References: Gen. 2:3; Luke 23:56; Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:1,2; John 20: 19-26

Questions:

1. Why was the seventh day appointed by God as the Sabbath day?

The seventh day was appointed as the sabbath day because it was the day he rested from the works of creation.

2. When did God appoint that day as the sabbath?

He appointed the seventh day as the sabbath right after his works of creation. (See Gen. 2 :2).

3.
How long was the seventh day to be observed as the sabbath day?

It was to be observed as the sabbath day until Christ rose from the dead. (See Matt. 28:1).

4. What day was to be observed from that time, according to the Word of God?

The first day of the week was to be observed and is to be observed by Christians until the end of the world.

5. How can we be sure that the first day is to be observed as the sabbath?

We can be sure because it was instituted by Jesus Christ and has been observed by Christians ever since that time.

6. Is there any correlation between the sabbath of the Old Testament and the sabbath instituted after the resurrection of Christ?

Yes, there is a correlation in that God rested on the seventh day after his work of creation and Christ rested on the first day after going through the suffering that brought about man’s redemption. (Heb. 4:10).

7. Are there other Scriptural proofs of the first day of the week being the new Sabbath?

Yes, there are other proofs such as the Lord putting his name on the first day; Paul speaking of taking the collection on the first day of the week; the disciples being assembled together on the first day of the week. (Rev. 1:10; I Cor. 16:1,2; John 20:19; Acts 20:7).

“REMEMBER”

“Remember the sabbath day … ” It is true that so many people today are forgetting this commandment. Times have certainly changed since Emperor Constantine declared the first Sunday blue laws in 321 A.D. He required all courts, towns, and workshops to be at rest on the Lord’s Day. Today the church has a new ritual. It is the Sunday Absentee ritual of the lake, of the open road, of amusements, of army drill. Relatively few seem to be remembering the sabbath and to be concerned with the fourth commandment.

There is still another meaning to the world “Remember”. It is quite significant that this is the only commandment that begins. with this word. It is as if God knew this was one man would tend to forget. But in addition to how we should spend the day, the word “remember” should bring to our minds two great works: creation and redemption.

The work of creation should be brought to our minds since the sabbath of the Old Testament started when the Lord God rested the seventh day. Every sabbath day it would be good for us to start the day by meditating on creation. Our Shorter Catechism’s definition puts it so well: “The word of creation is God’s making all things of nothing, by the word of His power, in the space of six days, and all very good.” How wonderful it is to think on His power and this beautiful world He created.

The work of redemption should be brought to our minds since the Lord Jesus rose from the dead on the first day after going through the suffering. He shed His blood on Calvary’s Tree for you and me. In one way we can say that redemption exceeds creation. Creation was a monument of God’s power; redemption was a monument of God’s love. Think once again: “He was made sin for us.” (2 Cor. 5:21). He died willingly. He loved us. His death, His redemption is everlasting~ These things should melt our hearts, should cause tears to come to our eyes, as we think of how very many times we neglect Him and dishonor His Name. The mediation of Christ and His wonderful love manifested in His redeeming us is something for us to think about on the Lord’s Day.

“Remember the sabbath day … ” This is a good way to start the Lord’s Day. Possibly if more would start the day remembering the works of creation and redemption there would be less breaking of the Sabbath!

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 54 (June 1965)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 57. — Which is the fourth commandment?

A. — The fourth commandment is, Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maid servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Q. 58. — What is required in the fourth commandment?

A. — The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as he hath appointed in his word; expressly one whole day In seven to be a holy Sabbath to himself.

Scripture References: Lev. 19:30; Deut. 5:12; Isa.56:2-7.

Questions:

1. How does this commandment apply to worship?

This commandment speaks of the time of worship and naturally follows the first three commandments. The first spoke of the object of worship, the second of the means of worship, the third of the manner of worship.

2. How can one decide what times should be kept for public worship?

The only times that are to be kept for public worship are the times appointed in the Word of God. It is not right before God to add other times, or holy days, to the Word.

3. What does the Bible tell us is the time set aside for worship?

The Bible teaches that one whole day (a day of twenty-four hours) is set aside for the worship of the holy God.

4. What is meant by the word “Sabbath”?

The word “Sabbath” is a Hebrew word, signifying “rest”, as is taught in Heb. 4:9.

5. Why does our question call it a “holy Sabbath”?

It is a “holy” Sabbath because it has been consecrated and set apart by God.

6. Is this particular commandment a part of the ceremonial law or the moral law?

This particular commandment is a part of the moral law and is to be kept by all nations and throughout all generations. It has never been annulled. The Lord Jesus Christ gave testimony to it. He is our Lord and He is also “Lord of the Sabbath”. (Luke 6:5)

A COMPROMISE OF THE CHURCH

In the church of today there are many compromises. In many denominations it is becoming evident that the teaching of the Word of God is less and less recognized as the only infallible rule of faith and practice. It is to the shame of the church that this is true. However, there is another dangerous compromise taking place in the church. This is the compromise allowed in the realm of Sabbath observance, a compromise that is allowing secularism to make great inroads in the church.

It would seem that the commandment, in its practical application, has in effect been rewritten by many to read: “Remember one hour on Sunday morning to keep it holy.” In many churches of today it has been rewritten again to read: “Remember one hour early on Sunday morning to keep it holy”, the convenient early morning service enabling a person to get his “keeping of the commandment” out of the way so he can enjoy the rest of the day in recreation and pleasure. To this type of person the Church means very little, and to the church this type of person means very little.

Church history has quite a lesson to teach us in this regard. Church historians have reported many times that there is a connection between the lack of keeping the commandment the Sabbath and the lack of power in the church. It is the right that such a connection should exist. The Christian’s primary reason for observing the Lord’s Day is the spiritual blessings and privileges that flow from it. They flow from it because the Christian is keeping the commandment of his Lord, a commandment that abides to this day.

The prophets of old spoke out against Israel for her sins and included the “profaning of the Sabbath” as one of the sins which was bringing judgment on the nation. Indeed, such prophets are needed today! Christians are looking more and more to the week-end as an invitation to the secular pursuits, rather than an invitation to the spiritual pursuits. Lip service, by attending one service, is not enough. The Christian Sabbath is a spiritual bulwark to the individual and to the nation. It has been so ordained by God.

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 53 (May 1965)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 56. — What is the reason annexed to the third commandment?

A. — The reason annexed to the third commandment is that however the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous judgment.

Scripture References: Deut. 28:58-59; Ps.139:20; Ps.83:18; Zech 5:3.

Questions:

1. Why is it that breakers of this commandment might escape punishment
from men?

The breakers of this commandment might escape punishment from men because so many times those in authority are just as guilty as those who break the commandment. It is so many times a case of the natural man dealing with the natural man and the things of God are bypassed.

2. Who are they that take the Lord’s name in vain?

The Bible teaches that those who take His name in vain are his avowed enemies. (Ps. 139:20).

3. What should be one of the greatest motivators to hinder us from taking His name in vain?

As believers simply the words “the Lord our God” in this question should motivate us toward recognizing His glory and this should fill us with reverence and a godly fear. It should burden our hearts with guilt if we should break this commandment.

4. Will those who take the name of the Lord in vain escape judgment?

Those who break this commandment will not escape judgment, because God is righteous and has promised that they will be punished.

5. Would you call His promise a threat?

Yes, it could be called a threat in that divine vengeance is aimed against the person breaking the commandment.

6. When will those who break this commandment be punished?

There are two times the breakers of this commandment could be punished. Sometimes they are punished in this life as is seen in Deut. 28:58, 59. Sometimes the punishment will not be given until the hereafter. However, it is certain they will be punished.


A WATCH ON OUR LIPS

“Set a watch, 0 Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.” (Ps. 141:3). This verse is an excellent prayer, as we consider this particular commandment of the Lord. When the Bible says, “The Lord will not hold him guiltless”, regarding taking His name in vain, we should all take heed and seek to honor the Lord with our lips at all times. The question is: Are we afraid of speaking anything that might dishonor our Lord? Certainly we should be, for this is one way in which God’s glory is defiled, and as believers our responsibility here is apparent. In an old Presbyterian Prayer Book is found the following prayer:

“Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, we confess to Thee, that in many times and ways, by thought, word, and deed, we have exceedingly sinned against Thee; And are no more worthy to be called Thy children. But we humbly beseech Thee, 0 holy and loving Father, of Thy great mercy in Christ Jesus our Lord, to forgive us our offenses, and henceforth grant us true repentance and newness of life, to the honor and glory of Thy Name. Amen.”

Making this a daily prayer would be good for us all. And yet, there is danger involved in the speech of the believer. The Bible states the danger very well: “This people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me.” (lsa. 29:13). The danger is ever present that we talk a good religion, but because our hearts are not right before the Lord we neglect to follow His ways. We are eager to be heard by others who love the Lord, but inwardly we are saying “No!” to Him as He deals with self inside our hearts. Indeed, our prayer should be for Him to set a watch before our mouths, and for the Holy Spirit to increasingly minister to our hearts.

The third commandment makes it plain that we will pay for dishonoring Him with our lips. The payment will be in this life or in the next. We know full well that the unbeliever will be punished, but sometimes we forget that we too will have to suffer. May God help us that our words may ever glorify Him, words lifting high the Lord Jesus Christ to a wicked and perverse generation! (Ps. 19:14).

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 52 (April 1965)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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STUDIES IN THE WESTMINSTER SHORTER CATECHISM
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

Q. 55. — What is forbidden in the third commandment?

A. — The third commandment forbiddeth all profaning or abusing of anything whereby God maketh himself known.

Scripture References: Mal. 2:2; Isa. 5:12; Ps. 139.20; James 1:13; Matt. 26:74.

Questions:

1. In what ways does God make Himself known?

As we learned in the prior commandment, He makes Himself known by His names, titles, attributes, ordinances, word and works.

2. How are these ways profaned or abused by man?

They are abused “by blasphemy, perjury, sinful cursings, oaths, vows and lots” (Larger Catechism, Question 113)

3. How can man profane God’s names, titles and attributes?

Man can profane these when he thinks hatred toward God; when he speaks irreverently toward God; when he swears by the name of God in a wicked way; when he blasphemes the name of God; when he curses himself or others in the name of God; when he uses the the name of the Lord in superstitious ways.

4. How can man profane His ordinances?

Man can profane the ordinances of God by being irreverent or irreverent or irregular in His attendance upon them; by attending to them not in the spirit but being in the flesh by allowing His mind to wander; by having a false and insincere profession of their faith in Christ and still partaking of them.

5. How can man profane His word?

Man can profane the word of God by denying parts of the Word or by perverting it; by teaching false doctrine as it pertains to the Word; by misapplying the Word of God.

6. How can man profane His works?

Man can profane His works by using His body in the wrong way; by being forgetful of God’s mercy and wonderful works to the children of men; by murmering against the Lord in the midst of adversity.

TAKING HEED TO THE WORD

One of the greatest responsibilities-and privileges-of the born again believer is that of taking heed to the Word. James tells us, “Let every man be swift to hear …. ” (James 1:19). This particular commandment, the third, is pertinent to us as each Lord’s Day and each Wednesday evening we go to hear the Word of God preached. Jeremy Taylor once said, “When the word of God is read or preached to you, be sure you be of a ready heart and mind, free from worldly cares and thoughts, diligent to hear, careful to mark, studious to remember, and desirous to practice all that is commanded, and to live according to it; do not hear from any other end but to become better in your life, and to be instructed in every good work, and to increase in the love and service of God.” (The Rule and Exercises of Holy Living, p. 181).

Many times the Christian misses what the Lord has for him In the worship service because he comes unprepared. In the same first chapter of James there is a suggested outline regarding the duties of the Christian in his attendance at the house of God. Verse 21 tells hlm of his duties before the sermon: that Gf laying apart anything of filth, of sin. Verse 21 also tells him of his duties during the sermon: that of receiving with meekness the engrafted (implanted) word. Verse 22 tells him of his duties after the sermon: that of being a doer of the Word and not a hearer only. God’s people will receive far more benefit from the preaching of the word of God, and will be able to apply it more effectively, if they have prepared their hearts beforehand for the hearing of the word.

How do we prepare ourselves for the hearing of the Word? So many times on the Lord’s Day our preparation consists of reading the Sunday paper, of sleeping late, of neglecting prayer and study of the Word. It is to be wondered what the result would be if the church on the Lord’s Day were filled with Christians who had actively prepared themselves for the preaching of the Word. Christians who had come with willing and obedient heart; with a deep-seated desire to hear the Word; with hearts in tune with the Almighty, Sovereign God. Indeed, the result would be a doing of the duties set forth in the Word, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God.

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 51 (March, 1965)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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