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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. 49 — Which is the second commandment?

A. — The second commandment is, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exod.20:4-6)

Q. 50. — What is required in the second commandment?

A. — The second commandment requireth the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath appointed in his word. 

Scripture References: Deut. 12:32; Deut.32:46; Matt. 28:20.

Questions:

1. Both the first and second commandments have to do with worship. In what way do they differ?

The first commandment has to do with the object of worship, the true and living God; the second commandment has to do with the means of worship, and the manner in which we worship Him.

2. What are these means of worship?

The means of worship are the ordinances which God has appointed in His word.

3. What are these ordinances?

The Larger Catechism lists these as “prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the word, the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing to Him.” (Q. 108)

4. How are we as Christians to receive these ordinances?

We are to receive them by approving them and embracing them; observing them by doing what is required in them; keeping them pure and entire by keeping them from corruption.

5. What does it mean by not making any graven image?

It means that we are not to attempt to represent God through material objects nor to worship Him through the use of such imagery.

THE JEALOUS GOD

” … for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:5). The word Jealous has changed in meaning somewhat since it was written. For the original word meant “zealous” and signified “righteous zeal.” It is the teaching that He alone has a claim upon the love of His people. 

There are really two senses in which this description of God can be taken. In a good sense He is zealous for His people. He will watch over them, He will protect them, He will defend them against all enemies. His people, who are His through faith in Jesus Christ, are very dear to His heart. As He looks down on His people, sees them in their attempts to walk with Him day by day, He has a tender feeling toward them. He does so want them to get into the stride of walking with Him, never running ahead nor behind, taking each step with a moment by moment knowledge that they are kept in His love. Whatever happens to His people happens to Him, He feels it, has a true feeling of empathy for His children.

There is another sense in which this can be taken. In this sense God is jealous for His people. He is jealous in that He does not want them to worship graven images, or worship false gods, or scurry after those things that would draw them from Himself. It is as if He cannot bear to have a rival in any way. He does not want His children to follow after anything-good or bad-that would hinder their worship of Him. Our love, our highest adoration must be given to Him only.

Daily we need to examine ourselves to see whether or not w. are following hard after Him. There are so many ways that our love can be drawn away. It is good for us to remind ourselves time and time again that He is a jealous God and keep ourselves free from entanglements. We should never give Him cause to be jealous. We should be praying, moment by moment, that He will keep us so close to Him that we will sense the very second our love for Him is being cooled by things contrary to His will for us. If we will but do this He will be jealous of us instead of jealous for us. And then blessings will flow from Him to us, all to His glory.

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vo!. 4 NO.47 (November 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

 

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

Q. 48. — What are we especially taught by these words, “before me,” in the first commandment?

A. — These words, “before me,” in the first commandment, teach us that God, who seeth all things, taketh notice of, and is much displeased with, the sin of having any other god.

Scripture References: I Chron. 28:9; Ps. 44:20-21.

Questions:

1. How is it possible for God to see all things?

It is possible for God is every where present and has infinite understanding. The Bible says, “Can any hide himself in secret places, that I shall not see him? saith the Lord: do not I fill heaven and ,earth?” (Jer. 23:24) He is omniscient (knowing everything) as well as omnipresent (present every where at the same time) – Ps. 139. He knows us with perfect knowledge. o

2. How can Christians commit the sin of having other gods?

Christians can commit this sin by. allowing their interest and their affections to be set upon other things and by allowing those things to hold first place in their thoughts and activities.

3. Why is God so displeased with this sin?

God Is displeased with this sin because He is a jealous and a holy God. The Bible teaches,”I am the Lord, that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.” (Isa.42:8)

4. Should not the fact that He is a jealous and a holy God influence our every action?

Yes, our every action should be influenced by this fact. It should keep us from sin; it should give us a hatred of the very thought of sin; it should quicken us moment by moment to make the prayer as stated in the hymn:

“I want a principle within Of watchful, godly fear,
A sensibility of sin, A pain to feel it near.
Help me the first approach to feel
Of pride or wrong desire;
To catch the wandering of my will,
And quench the kindling fire.”
—Charles Wesley.

THE GOD THAT REVEALETH SECRETS

The knowledge that God sees all things should always be recognized by the believer. It should always be held before him as a ·burning lamp. In Daniel 2:28 we read, “There is a God in heaven, that revealeth secrets.” Now the secrets He revealed in that particular case were for His glory. Many times He acts to His glory too in the revealing of the secrets of our hearts. We can not flee Him, we can not hide anything from Him .. There is certainly a good lesson for the believer in

Francis Thompson’s famous words:

“I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.”

But all the fleeing did no good; God continued “with unhurrying chase, and unperturbed pace.” And God will always continue asking us to be honest with Him, to hide nothing from Him, to go all the way with Him. Through it all there is the knowledge, there should be the knowledge on our hearts, that He is in heaven and He revealeth secrets!

There is still another comfort in the fact that He revealeth secrets. This Is the comfort that some day we will understand His ways. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness. He will make us to understand why He permitted this or that misfortune to come into our ways. He will enable us to see why He delayed so long the coming of His Son, our Savior. He will show us why it was necessary for His true church to be persecuted. 0 blessed Day when the secrets are opened up to us!

The question we have before us is important: Can we be satisfied to live in these days ‘When the counsel of His will is secret? Can we go on day by day trusting Him even when we can not trace the way? Can we live on the one hand knowing that He knows the secrets of our hearts, and on the other hand knowing that there are many things He will not reveal to us? The secret of learning to be content, all to His glory, is found in being able to live ‘With both of these things. The Bible says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Tim. 6:8), May God, the God who revealeth secrets, give us this contentment as we are determined to live before Him with acts of godliness (2 Peter 3:11).

Published By: The SHIELD and SWORD, INC.
Vol. 4 No. 46 (October 1964)
Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn, Editor

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