Wednesday, December 19, 2018

2018.12.19 Worship Wednesday - The Day of Worship, Chapter 7-9

On these Worship Wednesdays, we are reading The Day of Worship: Reassessing the Christian Life in Light of the Sabbath by Ryan McGraw. 

In chapter 7, McGraw demonstrated that Jesus's own exposition of the 6th commandment establishes for us how to understand and apply any of the ten commandments, and specifically the 4th commandment.

Just as Jesus demonstrates that the 6th commandment includes the positive commandment to love our neighbor, so also the 4th commandment includes not just the prohibition ("do no work") but especially focuses upon the positive commandment, "Remember the Sabbath to consecrate it."

Just as the 6th commandment forbids hatred in the heart and requires love in the heart, so also the 4th commandment requires delighting in the day.

Just as the 6th commandment forbids speech of hatred and requires speech of love toward our neighbor, so also the 4th commandment requires that our speech on the Lord's Day be consecrated speech.

Just as the 6th commandment required consideration of others' ability to worship ("don't sacrifice unreconciled"), so also most obviously the 4th commandment requires consideration of others (which keeps us from justifying employing others).

In chapter 8, McGraw moves onto some practical considerations. He is diligent to point out that this is a book of principles, not details--that proactively attending to what the day is for will be the process by which we arrive at our particular habit of keeping God's holy day. He had made illustrative applications throughout the book, to show how this would work in practice.

Here, he adds a couple areas of pastoral advice, including the necessity of preparing in advance, the preference of corporate worship over private, and the need to answer all detail questions from the standpoint of "what best helps me keep the day according to the purpose for the day?"

Finally, in chapter 9, McGraw tackles the question of whether or not this approach to the 4th commandment is legalistic. Happily, he works to define terms first. Legalism is not either carefulness about or emphasis upon obeying God's commandments. If this were true, then the Holy Spirit would be a legalist!

Rather, legalism is altering (whether by addition or subtraction) God's commandments with our own, or believing that we can be righteous in God's sight by how well we do, or that we can grow in holiness by virtue of how hard we work. In fact,  the person who wants to subtract some part of consecrating the Lord's Day is a legalist, and the one who looks down upon others who aren't as enlightened about it as he is to do whatever he wishes on the Lord's Day is a legalist.

The solution to legalism is to love God's law because we love Him Himself, the God of the law, and to be grateful that part of what Jesus has won for us is that we shall surely be made like Him by His Spirit. Thus, without subtracting in the least from God's law, we come to it from a joyful standpoint of love and liberty.

If our view of any part of God's law is sound, then we will be viewing it as pervasive and comprehensive and something that is impossible to perfectly do in this life--but also as something in which we delight and to which we look forward to being perfectly conformed in glory. Is this how we view Lord's Day keeping? Or are we legalists?

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