Archive for November, 2007

Weekend Fun: Yes, we have finally hit bottom

In our wacky attempt to put the “fun” back into fundamentalism we have brought you a special tribute dedicated to all the preachers who once wore parachute pants or had a teased mullet. Turn up your speakers and enjoy . . .if possible.

Is the Sabbath for everyone?

“It was at Sinai that the observance of Sabbath could be instituted, because there God made a covenant with his people. The meaning of this law, like all the moral laws expressed in the Ten Commandments, had been revealed from the beginning. But the difference was that the enjoyment of the Sabbath has been possible only for unfallen humans, whereas the other nine commandments were binding upon all people from the beginning. It was only after God formed a nation of redeemed people that he could impose Sabbath observance consonant with the meaning of the day.

And so the fourth commandment is unique in the Decalogue. The Sabbath was never imposed on any people other than Israel. All the other commands express eternal and moral principles that are binding on all of God’s creatures; they were not altered at the fall. Nor have they been set aside in the New Testament. They all find ratification in the New Testament–all except the commandment of the Sabbath. Unger says, ‘Nowhere is Sabbath keeping every imposed upon a Christian in this age of grace.Indeed, the very opposite is true.'” (Allen Ross, “Holiness to the Lord”,398).

Is Sunday the Sabbath?

After working through the text of Leviticus 23:1-3 Allen Ross concludes:

“So then, the primary application of this passage must be worded in light of the fulfillment of the law in Christ. In expounding the text of Leviticus the expositor may declare that the believer shows allegiance to the covenant by sharing the Sabbath rest of God–but for the Christian that means living one’s entire life in the rest that Christ provided. Christians may have grown accustomed to going to church on Sunday morning, but that is not keeping the Sabbath. Making one day more holy than another is not living in the fulfillment of the promises or according to the teaching on sanctification. When Christians truly understand what it means to sanctify their lives to God–their time, their talents, their activities, their priorities–then they will find greater blessing and greater fulfillment in their Christian lives, and then they will begin to enjoy what God has planned in his Sabbath rest” (Allen P. Ross, “Holiness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus,” 406).

Is the Sabbath abolished?

“Jesus claimed that “the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (Mk. 2:28); he could therefore abolish the sabbath, and he did in fact do so, for the New Covenant which he brought abrogated the Old Covenant, of which the sabbath was the sign. The Christian Sunday is not in any sense a continuation of the Jewish sabbath. The latter closed the week, but the Christian Sunday opens the week in the new era by commemorating the Resurrection of our Lord, and the appearances of the risen Christ, and by directing our attention to the future, when he will come again. And yet Sunday does symbolize the fulfillment of those promises which the sabbath foreshadowed. Like all the other promises of the Old Testament, these promises too are realized not in an institution, but in the person of Christ: it is he who fulfills the entire Law. Sunday is the “Lord’s Day,” the day of him who lightens our burdens (Mt. 11:28), through whom, with whom and in whom we enter into God’s own rest (Heb. 4:1-11)” [R. de. Vaux, “Ancient Israel: Its Life and Institutions,” trans. by J. McHugh, 2 vols.(New York: McGraw Hill, 1961), 2:483].

Remember the Sabbath?

I will be preaching about the sabbath this Sunday as an introductory set-up for Matthew chapter 12. If someone would have asked me over ten years ago why we worship on Sunday, I would have said something like Sunday is the NT replacement for the OT sabbath command. I would have more or less agreed with the Westminster Confession and its baptist step-child, the 2nd London Confession which all refer to the Sabbath as

“a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all
ages, He has particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to
be kept holy unto him: which, from the beginning of the world to the
resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week: and, from the
resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week,
which, in Scripture, is called the Lord’s Day, and is to be continued
to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath” (Westminster Confession, chap. 21, VII).

There is an obscure literary gem that was published in 1982 called From Sabbath to Lord’s Day (edited by D. A. Carson) that now exists in a reprint edition from Wipf and Stock Publishers. Carson along with notable scholars like Richard Bauckman, A. T. Lincoln, and others go after the sabbath replacement idea that has dominated evangelical thinking for hundreds of years. It is both corrective and instructive on many levels.

Negatively the authors deny:
(1) that the NT unambiguously develops a transfer theology from Sabbath to Sunday
(2) that the OT links the Sabbath command to a creation ordinance, thus making it a permanent norm
(3) that Sunday observance arose in the second century rather than in the apostolic Church
(4) that the NT develops patterns of continuity and discontinuity to the OT law on the basis of the paradigm: moral/civil/ceremonial distinctions.

Positively they affirm:
(1) Sunday worship arose in the NT period
(2) Sunday worship was not perceived as the Sabbath in NT times.

I highly recommend this thorough and well-argued treatment of a thorny issue.

On Choosing What to Preach Next…

I find myself at one of those challenging moments of pastoral ministry – what to preach next. So far in my short tenure as pastor-teacher I have taught through John, James and the Prayers of Paul. Along the way there were some topical sermons, but not many. I overwhelming prefer to preach through a book as every topical sermon I’ve prepared is haunted by the question, “What am I NOT saying that I should be?”

In these preaching endeavors there was some connection between the books that aided the choice. John to James: believing faith to a living faith; James to Paul: pray for one another to how Paul prayed for other believers. I am burdened to preach from the O.T. but this is by far the weakest area in my toolbox. Narrative preaching is challenging for me.

So I would like this thread to be an open forum. How do those here who preach choose their next text? For those who read ET and are not regular teachers in their church, what input would you give your pastor on this subject, if he asked you?

Extra Credit: Since I’ve opened up a rather large topic here I thing it’s appropriate, especially during this season, to ask the same questions related to holiday specific messages. Do you preach thematic messages around the holidays and if so, how do you you avoid potential monotony?

I trust the interaction will be profitable for all.

I Have a Son!

Jude MacArthur Kolstad was born on Thanksgiving day! He is 9 pounds 12 ounces (a big boy) and is 21 inches long.

The Lord answered so many prayers along the way. Dr. Jim did the C-section which was a blessing since he is a Christian doctor. He had me pray before the surgery and was playing Christian music during the operation. I really appreciated his Christian testimony!

Praise God and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!   Thanks for your prayers.

Caleb, Andrea, Evelyn, and Jude

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