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Position Paper on Sabbatarianism (2017)

We, the elders of the Flint Reformed Baptist Church, after prayerful searching of the Scriptures and discussion conclude the following three affirmations and denials concerning the doctrine of the Sabbath.

I: We affirm that Sunday, the day that Jesus rose from the dead, is the Lord’s Day.

We deny that Sunday is the new Christian Sabbath.

We believe that Sunday has not replaced Saturday as the sabbath. Rather Sunday, the day that Christ rose from the dead, is the Lord's Day. The view that Sunday is the new Christian Sabbath does not rest on any explicit text in the New Testament. All Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament, some numerous times, except the Fourth Commandment. In Acts 15, when the Jerusalem Council decided what would be required of Gentile believers in the church, they did not require them to observe the Sabbath. The apostles never commanded anyone to observe the Sabbath. They never chastised anyone for failing to observe the Sabbath. They never warned believers about Sabbath violations. They never encouraged believers to hold to the Sabbath. As a result of this, we see the Sabbath command as a part of the superseded Mosaic covenant and the Lord’s Day as a different type of day, a day of assembly and worship. The Sabbath was the sign of the Mosaic covenant. The Mosaic covenant with the Sabbath as its covenant sign are no longer applicable now that the new covenant of Jesus Christ has come. The early roots of Christians worshipping on Sunday as the Lord's Day are observed in scripture and verified by the universal practice of churches in the second century.

II: We affirm that the Christian faithfully keeps the Sabbath today by spiritually resting in Christ, letting Him bear our heavy burdens, trusting Him for salvation, and committing our lives to him in service, then remaining faithful in lifelong loyalty to Him rather than committing apostasy.1

We deny the Christian faithfully keeps the Sabbath today by adhering to Old Testament regulations governing Sabbath observances.

In Colossians 2:16-17, the Apostle Paul states, “ Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” This shows that the Sabbath points to Christ and is fulfilled in Him. The word for shadow in Greek that Paul uses to describe the Sabbath is the same term the author of Hebrews used to describe Old Testament sacrifices. The sacrifices were a type and shadow fulfilled in Christ and the Sabbath was a type and shadow fulfilled in Christ.

We do not believe that the Sabbath has no significance for Christians in the new covenant. It was a shadow of the substance that is found in Christ. In the book of Hebrews, it is shown that Old Covenant Sabbath rest points forward to the end-time rest Christians will enjoy in heaven. In Hebrews 4, Christians are exhorted to “enter in” to the Sabbath rest provided by Christ. We believe this is done by trusting Christ as the one who fulfilled the law in our place, giving to him our heavy burdens, (Matthew 11:29), and following him as our Lord as opposed to sin as our lord.

III: We affirm that a member of Flint Reformed Baptist Church ought to prioritize attending services on the Lord’s Day in obedience to Hebrews 10:25, in order to follow the church covenant, and out of love for God and their fellow believers within the church.

We deny that obedience to the fourth commandment is the proper basis to exhort people to attend Sunday services.

The Elders strongly believe in the importance of attending corporate worship services on the Lord’s Day. However, the basis by which we exhort members is not Sabbath-keeping since the Sabbath has been fulfilled in Christ. Rather, Hebrews 10:25 clearly commands Christians that they are not to neglect meeting together. While this text does not describe the frequency that believers are to meet, it is clear that unless hindered by the providential work of God, attendance at the main corporate gathering should be the norm. It is to be expected that sickness, the occasional vacation, and perhaps work will occasionally prevent one from being a part of corporate worship, but we believe that this absence is to be the occasional exception as opposed to a common trend. All members of Flint Reformed Baptist Church also sign a covenant where they pledge, among other things, to be faithful in attending the church’s gatherings. In addition to this, participation in corporate worship ought to be the desire of the individual who truly loves God and their fellow brothers and sisters in the church.

As J.C. Ryle admonished, “Never to be absent from God’s house on Sundays, without good reason-never to miss the Lord’s Supper when administered in our own congregation-never to let our place be empty when means of grace are going on, this is one way to be a growing and prosperous Christian. The very sermon that we needlessly miss, may contain a precious word in season for our souls. The very assembly for prayer from which we stay away, may be the very gathering that would have cheered, established, and revived our hearts. We little know how dependent our spiritual health is on little, regular, habitual helps, and how much we suffer if we miss our medicine.”

With regards to how to spend the rest of the Lord’s Day beyond the corporate gatherings, the Elders believe this is best left up to the individual’s conscience. Forbidding work or recreation on the Lord’s Day would be without biblical mandate. While wisdom might dictate a time of preparation before a worship service or reflection after a worship service, it is unbiblical to create and impose a list of rules and regulations that one must abstain from on the Lord’s Day.

Sabbatarianism Message

1 Craig Blomberg (2011). Perspectives on the Sabbath: Four Views p.). Eugene, OR: B&H Academic.
Nashville, TN