Joel Beeke addresses the topic of the 4th commandment and Sabbath observance in his book Puritan Reformed Spirituality. The discussion comes up under the heading of the "third use of the law" (also called the "didactic use of the law"), which reminds us that the law is to be a guide for Christian living.
I provide a few of the grand quotes from the book below. There are a number of thought provoking words that can be gleaned from this chapter. But I'd like to simply offer a word about how a high view of the Lord's Day is good for the soul.
The principle of setting one day aside for God recenters a person. It forces you to live your life in such a way that it revolves around the Lord, and not your sports, work, kids, or personal inclinations. Taking the Sabbath seriously means putting life in order: I have six days to do everything I need and want; I have one day to dedicate myself and my family to God.
The fourth commandment, then, serves as a time out. It slows you down so that you are not racing here and there, running from this or that activity, and pushing your mind/body with more labor or unnecessary activity.
In sum, there is a peace that it naturally (and supernaturally) affords. When you make it your aim to truly set apart (i.e. to make holy) Sunday to the Lord, you reap a benefit of soundness of mind, body, and soul.
Indeed, the whole family is unified and given some degree of peace as each person is brought together and forced to lay aside their typical pursuits that take them in all the different directions which they normally go.
Those who observe the fourth commandment no doubt find that it fulfills the call of Christ which says, "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest."
The following are a few choice quotes from this section of Beeke's book:
"The forces of secularization and the rise of the leisure culture, obsessed with pursuing recreations of all kinds, have extinguished concern for Sabbath observance in the general population."
"Men are destroying themselves because they cannot say no, whether at work or at play. Great spiritual blessings are promised to those who subject themselves to the self-denying discipline of Sabbath observance."
On Hebrews 4.9, which says, "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God," Beeke notes that "because the word he uses for 'rest' is sabbatismos, or 'a keeping of sabbath,' the obligation to observe a weekly Sabbath continues under the gospel."
"Sabbath-keeping became a mark of Christian discipleship in the age of the martyrs, as Maurice Roberts relates: 'One question put to the martyrs before they were put to death was: "Dominicum servasti?" (Do you keep the Lord's Day?).'"
Christ's conflict with the Pharisees must be viewed therefore as a campaign not to destroy but rather to reclaim and restore the Biblical institution of the Sabbath."
"We must engage in those activities which obtain, increase, and express knowledge of the holiness of God, and our own holiness in Christ. [For, as Scripture says,] Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy."
Speaking on Isaiah 58:13-14 Beeke says, "Here the prophet extends the ban on engaging in labor to include the pursuit of our personal recreations and leisure-time activities. Even the words we speak are to be regulated by the commandment."
Employers have the unique opportunity to use their position in the world to influence people for the gospel. It doesn't just have to be limited to playing Christian radio in the background. There are many ways that a company can create an atmosphere where Christ is known and proclaimed.
Here are a few suggestions...
1. Share your company's mission, goals, and philosophy of business.
As a Christian, your business isn't about making profits and bringing home a load of cash. A man of God knows that his calling in life is to serve God and his neighbor. His vocation is merely an extension of that.
So be open about it and let people know it. Hold meetings and gather your employees to go over what you're ultimate reasons are for existing. Share with them how God is saved you and how you want this business to be done for him and his glory. Have handouts that state that your mission is to "Faithfully serve the Savior of men, Jesus Christ, by providing great widgets and customer service."
You don't have to be long or "preachy" in your presentations. Lucid brevity can be quite powerful. You'll also have numerous opportunities if you take the long term approach.
All in all, you want people in your company to be on board with your mission anyway. So why not use this opportunity as a public witness?
2. Meet with your employees individually & build a relationship with them.
Yes, you are a busy. You have work to do too, we understand. But make efforts to connect with someone each week. Take them to lunch or have them into your office for a quick chat.
During that time, you can encourage them and express your gratitude for having them. Most importantly, ask how they are doing, see if there's any needs that they have, and ask how you can be praying for them. And, of course, take a second to pray for them right there.
You will be showing real care for them and, when they do have problems, they may seek you out. This can lead to greater opportunities to share the truth of Christ with them.
3. Bring your pastor in and introduce him to your employees
As an entrepreneur you know the power of networking. As a pastor, I can say that it's difficult to get out and meet new people. Evangelism is tough because I'm typically interacting with Christians. The good news is that Christian businessmen can help build bridges between their employees and their church by having their pastor in from time to time.
Introduce your pastor at a company meeting. Let him come to the company picnic. Every quarter or so, have him walk with you through the company and have a quick chat with your labor force. Connect him individually with those who are under your leadership.
If you know that one certain person is having some problems (maybe in their marriage, children), tell them that your pastor can be of help. Have your pastor pray for them right there on the floor of the shop. Let them feel that they have a network of care and counsel at their disposal.
4. Provide Biblical counseling
Want to have your employees get over their drug addiction? Why not offer them meetings with a biblical counselor? Are they consistently late? They likely have issues/habits with which a biblical counselor could help.
Keep in mind too that Biblical counselors have as their first goal sharing the gospel with their counselees. If they are unbelievers, then the counselor will spend a great deal of time pointing out that this is their greatest need (and that their current problem is due to their failure to love and honor God).
If there are fees, perhaps you can cover them. You may even be able to provide incentives for them to meet with those counselors too. The key is connecting your workforce with godly advisors.
5. Hold seminars and studies.
Some companies have safety meetings, health seminars, or conferences on planning for retirement. Similar information could be given for parenting, marriage, addiction, or money management.
All you need to do is consider the needs of your laborers. Maybe a 3 week study on depression would help several in your midst. Or how about some classes on anger?
If your company isn't big enough to hold a seminar, no sweat. Let it be a small group Bible study. Or, if you really want to go all out, coordinate it with other businesses, involve churches, or invite the wider community. It could even be a function put on by your church, but held at your business location.
6. Take employees to Christian business functions
Does your town have a Christian business leader group that meets for prayer or Bible study? Ask one of your workers to attend with you. Doing this will give them a chance to hear God's word or see the love and care Christians have.
While at these meetings introduce your employees to the other members of the group. You can help them make good contact with the other mature men and women who attend. So, not only can they hear the message and witness the testimonies, they can begin to make meaningful connections with other solid Christian people.
These are just a few effective ways to use your business and position as a means of introducing your personnel to Christ. The thing to remember is that God has placed you in a position of authority and that gives you special opportunities as a leader.
Are there things that you've done that have influenced the workforce for the Lord? What have you done to disciple employees or connect your company to the church? Post your ideas below!
Who made you?
A. God made me
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
You formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
You may take your blocks and stack them up to make a tall tower. You may draw a picture with your markers and put it on your refrigerator door. These are your creations and they are wonderful things.
But who made you? God did! You are one of his wonderful creations. Before the beginning of time, God planned to create you and all your family. Then, at just the right time, he made you. He made your body and gave you a soul that will live forever. Deep within your mommy’s tummy he fashioned you together and made you into the person you are today.
I hope this catechism question helps you see how special you are! For the Lord didn’t make just anyone, he made you. He took special care to make you just the way you are. What’s more, there’s no one in the world like you. You are God’s unique creation. That makes you very special! Whenever you get sad, just remember this happy thought: God made me!
Also remember that you belong to God. The tower you built with your blocks is yours. So is the picture you drew. You created it, and it belongs to you.
In the same way, you belong to God. You are his special treasure. Don’t ever forget that he is your creator God, and you are his special creation.
Things to discuss
What are things that are unique about you? (Hint: personality traits, physical characteristics, certain looks you make or talents you have, clothes you wear, styles, games you like, etc.)
Things to do
With an ink pad or marker, color your children’s fingers. Have them put their finger prints on a sheet of paper. Talk about how are they different and how are they the same. Explain how God made each person’s print unique.
Extra: Make each print into the head of a stick figure. Decorate it with your child’s specific features, i.e. hair, ears, eyes, etc.
Things to sing
God made me; God made me
In my Bible book it says that God made me.
-Cedermont Kids, Toddler Tunes
The title says it all. You can read the blogs and buy the latest books, but leadership does not consist of any one particular gimmick or trick. It's about the multifaceted gem we commonly call character.
Some will say that leadership is about the ability to motivate or communicate. These are certainly elements of a good leader, but at their base these are items which pertain to one's behavior.
A good leader communicates well because he recognizes that it is a form of love towards his neighbor. He wants those on his team to thrive and be successful, so he is considerate of what things they need to know. He speaks clearly and calmly because it rises out of righteousness.
He is a motivator because he expresses gratitude, humility, and loyalty. People will listen because they know he will not cheat them, burn them, or lead them somewhere he himself will not go.
Leadership is about service, sacrifice, and wisdom. These are qualities that belong to Christ, the Great Shepherd of the Sheep (i.e. the leader, par excellence).
To be sure, some people will not follow leaders, but leaders will lead nonetheless. That's because they are men of principle, not popularity. People will hate certain leaders. While that may be grieved, it will not dissuade a good leader from his work. For good leaders are seeking righteousness and not man's approval.
Leaders build good teams because leaders understand love and relationships. Leaders get things done because they understand duty, diligence, and dignity. Leaders will reflect, rethink, and redo because they believe in the moral underpinnings of what they have before them.
To be sure, leaders make mistakes too. They fail and they offend, but they know the importance of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. This is why I have often said that leaders lead even in their errors. They will lead by means of confessing their mistake and their attempts to correct it.
Whence comes this kind of leadership? It is born out of humility, honor, and the commitment to doing what is right.
A man who breaks his commitments, lies, cheats, steals will never be a leader. Someone who cuts corners or puts in a halfsy job will not be promoted. A gossip will be abandoned, and those who seek self promotion will have trouble keeping people around him.
But a man of integrity, he will move up. People will rally behind him. Hearts will become attached to the one whose heart is true.
Thus, let it be heard: Leadership isn't about being witty, it is about wisdom. It is not about charisma; it is about character. Those who will be leaders will be those who love what is pure and do what is right.
A few months ago I sat with two men and discussed the ministry over lunch. One was a young pastor, having been ordained and in the ministry for a short time. The other was his intern; a young fellow who was assisting and beginning his preparations for the ministry.
The pastor asked me what advice I would give his intern as he prepares for the ministry. I responded by saying, "If you can do anything else, do it."
This answer encapsulated two things. First, it has in focus the fact that a man must be impelled to preach and pastor. That is to say, he must have that drive that Jeremiah had wherein he had a fire in his bones that could not be put out. It is the heart of the Apostle Paul who was compelled to preach and said, "Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel."
In sum, I mean that there is nothing else he can do. Sales will not fit him. Mechanics is not satisfying, however noble that calling may be for others. There is simply a compulsion that rages within him to the exclusion of everything else.
Secondly, when I say "If you can do anything else, do it," I express something of the pain of the pastorate. Church leadership is difficult and fraught with all kinds of sorrow. Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet for good reason. You cannot downgrade in any way the hardships Paul faced either.
The pastorate comes with tears. Over the years I have lost several of my best friends. They were not only parishioners for whom I prayed and labored, neither were they simply endeared colleagues and co-laborers. They were people with whom I spent absurd amounts of time and had a bosom bond. We shared our lives and laughed together. Then, in almost an instant, they were against me and gone.
Such loss was worse than a friend dying because they were very much alive. They were alienated not by death, but by hatred and faction. I readily confess that it would be better to have lost them to death, because we could part in peace and a spirit of unity. But the losses I experienced were deeper and harder.
To be sure, such can be the lot of any Christian. This is not merely indicative of leadership, but it is expressive of it. Leaders will be called to "endure hardship." There is a reason why Paul tells Timothy to be a good soldier. The metaphor of being at war and bombarded with hostility is a threat that should not be overlooked.
So I reiterate: if you can do anything else, do it. The ministry is not for the faint of heart.
I've started a series of articles on Christian parenting in the Hopewell Weekly. As such, I'm pursuing a number of parenting books, including Shepherding a Child's Heart, by Tedd Tripp and Give them Grace, by Elyse Fitzpatrick.
Both books talk about the danger of moralism, that is, training your children with law and not with grace. Our duty as parents is not just to make them good and control behavior, but to help them understand the gospel in the midst of their behavior problems.
I appreciate the lessons in these books. They are extremely valuable. But want to add one more-- one from which only Presbyterians can benefit. Presbyterians have an advantage when it comes to presenting grace to their children. It lies in the fact that our children are sealed with the sign of grace at the very outset of their lives. In other words, our children have been baptized as infants.
Baptism is a testimony of God's grace. It confirms the fact that God is pleased to wash away our sins and welcome us into His fold. It reminds us that salvation is of the Lord and that we are completely powerless and undeserving. This is beautifully testified to in an infant baptism. Grace flows down upon the head of a weak, wretched sinner in his/her diapers.
Here is the key for parenting: this sign and seal continues to be a useful tool as they grow up. Baptism isn't supposed to be something that is forgotten or disposed of with the changing of their baptismal diaper. Children need to be reminded of it continually through their life. It's reality and meaning should be impressed upon them repeatedly as they grow up. Or, as the Westminster Confession says, their baptism should be "improved" over the whole course of their lives.
Here's what I mean: Let's say Johnny is duking it out with his little brother. You come in and peel Johnny off and rescue the younger sibling from being pummelled. Now, of course, Johnny needs disciplined. He needs to be told that his anger is sinful and his actions are wrong. He needs exhorted to love his brother and treat him with respect. But Johnny also needs the gospel.
Johnny needs to be reminded that the Lord is gracious and willing to forgive. He needs to understand that through Christ reformation is possible.
This is where his baptism is useful. Why should Johnny be kind to his brother? "You've been baptized," a parent can say. "Johnny, remember that you've been baptized. The Lord has promised salvation. The Lord washes away sin." "The Lord has put his mark upon you. The Lord has graciously taken you as His own and set you apart unto Him."
Lectures are good. Conversations needed. But verbal communication often fails and your earnest exhortations can fall on deaf ears. This is where the sacraments are so keenly applicable. The eye (or the mind's eye, as the case may be) can see. The image of water, the sign of God's covenant, the visible memorial of Christ' precious blood, can still have the power to humble and induce true service.
In sum, I wish to exhort those of us not to be baptistic in our parenting. We have the advantage of a powerful means of grace. We present children for baptism that they may know grace from the very first moments of their lives. We as parents should then let it echo on down through their days. As long as they are in our household, we should hold forth the promises of their baptism.
A tool for Christian nurture is at our disposal. Let us use it profusely, and let grace of it ring forth loud and clear.
Do not be anxious. Fear not. Let not your heart be troubled. Do not be weighed down with the cares of life.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Easier said than done, right?
The Bible is replete with commands not to worry. The admonitions against it are so clear and repetative that one can easily become worried about becoming worried!
But God's word is clear: We must wage war on worry. We have a duty to not let ourselves be distracted with it or dominated by it.
But how do we do this? How can we experience sanctification in this area?
The first step is to confess it and take responsibility for it. That is to say, when thoughts begin to race around in our minds and we become obsessed with particular situations (real or fantasized), we must own up to the fact that we are in sin. We are disobeying God.
One of the reasons anxiety persists in our lives is because we fail in this, the most simple and basic part of repentance. Instead of turning to God, we will do one of the following:
1. We blame others - I'm worried because my kid is 10 minutes past curfew. My boss was supposed to tell me if I got the promotion last week. It's not my fault I'm strung out, right? Wrong. You may worry about others, but they are not the cause of your worries. Your anxiety is due only to your own sinful proclivity. Don't pass the buck onto them.
2. We minimize it - To many people, worry is not a sin. We don't want to admit that it is a transgression against God and a form of disobedience. We'd rather think of it as "deep concern" or think of ourselves as having a full heart. But we must be true to Scripture and recognize that it is indeed an offense to our Lord.
3. We excuse it - I have a right to be worried, after all I'm his father/mother. I'm a worrier; it's just who I am. Someone has to be concerned around here. We will come up with all kinds of justifications. We will rationalize our sin into perfect reasonableness. But the truth is, we do not have a right or excuse to be all hot and bothered about anything.
4. We think we have no power over it - I can't stop it. I've been this way all my life. It is a disorder. I can only cope and make do. This is the defeatist mentality. Its saying that redemption isn't possible, so why even try repenting? In the words of Churchill, "Never, never, never give up." The Lord has not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
5. We gloss over it - For many, worry isn't even considered to be a sin. They don't think of it as being a real infraction against God's law. It could be thought of as a problem or struggle that they have, but not a sin. But Scripture is clear: it is a grave error and serious offense to God. It must be confessed and repented of.
If we are ever going to seek victory over worry, we must wage war on it. This means we must first come to terms with it and own up to it before God. As we begin taking responsibility for our sin and acknowledging our failures to God, we will be well on our way to victory in that battle.
Emotions are God’s creation. They are part of who we are as creatures who were made in his image. We see something of emotional joy and excitement in the very first couple, when Adam first set eyes on Eve and exclaimed, “This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,” etc.
Christ, in his earthly life, demonstrates the beauty and place of human emotion. He wept and was considered the ‘Man of Sorrows.’ He reclined at table and attended festivals, which implies that he laughed and was merry. He delighted to do God’s will and displayed righteous anger as he confronted the irreligious practices of his day.
In the fall our emotions became subject to sin and misery. God’s curse would produce in man sorrow and sin resulted in a new range of feelings: sadness, anger, despair, loneliness, etc.
Part of the corruption is that we begin to follow our emotions, rather than God’s word. Just as Eve found delight in the fruit and ate of it, we can let our feelings be the guide of our behavior instead of God's word.
Part of our redemption is having our emotions conform to Christ and being subject to God’s will. Part of our sanctification is taking control of our emotions and dictating how they operate.
We are not to follow our feelings or let our emotions dictate our actions. Instead, we are commanded to put our hope in God (Psalm 130), rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 4:4), grieve over sin (James 4:9), be righteously angry, and not let our anger cause us to fall into sin (Eph. 4:26), etc.
At the same time we should recognize that emotions can be indications of a deeper problems in our lives; issues of sin and misbehavior.
For instance, a depressed person is one who has excessive sadness or emotionally low. It may be that they lack joy and vibrancy because they have acted (or reacted) wrongly in some situation. They become melancholy because they are not living the way God would have them. Their sullen state, in this case, is evidence that they need deeper change or redemption.
Another example may be anger. Anger is usually an evidence of deeper issues of selfishness or self-centeredness. One becomes enraged because they do not get what they want or they lack control.
To be sure, there can be expressions of righteous anger. But in many cases, the emotion of anger, is representative of a heart that is out of align with God.
Question 4: How and why did God create us?
God created us male and female in his own image to know him, love him, live with him, and glorify him. And it is right that we who were created by God should live to his glory.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
In a day where we are considered meaningless blobs of plasma that have no purpose in life and don’t know which bathroom to use, this catechism sums up for us a few hallmark truths.
If there was ever a thing we needed in our day, it is a good anthropology (i.e. understanding of man). Who are we? What are we? What in the world are we doing on this planet?
This catechism question helps us to put it straight. It tells us three things about ourselves. It tells us that God has given us dignity, definition, and direction.
I. Gives us dignity in regards to our humanity
Evolution has taught that we are nothing more than random accidents. We came up from the primordial slime and are really no different than grass or the cows that chew it. It means you have no dignity or worth. You cut the grass and eat cows, why not mow down humans and eat them?
Jean Paul Sartre said it doesn’t matter if you help the old lady cross the road, or run her down. What matters is that you choose. If man has no worth, why not abort him?
Self-esteem movement stabs itself in the back. They try to teach you that you are special and should feel good about yourself. But if you are a meaningless bag of goo, there’s not much to feel good about, is there?
This is why Christianity is distinct and needed. According to our original design, we are special. We have immense worth. We are created in the image of God and that means there is something quite unique about us.
There’s not space to go into what exactly this entails right now, but it is enough to say that we reflect something of God’s character and bear something of God’s likeness. We are not divine, of course; we are definitely human. But God’s likeness is displayed in us and that sets us apart from all other things in creation.
II. Gives us definition in regards to our gender
Yes, that’s right. We find out which bathroom we are supposed to use. We understand that God’s word clears up all the confusion when it comes to today’s gender wars. Guys are guys; girls are girls.
Today people are saying that you have to choose which you are (boy or girl, or non-binary, or bi-sexual) and figure out what you feel like. It is almost like pulling up to the drive through at McDonalds and determining which on the menu you prefer.
If you have an evolutionary worldview, that makes sense. It is terrible. It is destructive. It is not in the least bit healthy. But that is a logical conclusion of that worldview.
But that worldview is wrong. The truth is you do not self-identify. It is not up to you or your feelings. God defines the sexes and he sets the boundaries, just as he sets the boundaries of the ocean or makes a difference between the sun and the moon.
In sum, when it comes to one of the most important questions in life: that is who you are, who you are to marry, and where you go to the bathroom, God doesn’t leave us in the dark. The answer is plain because God has given us a definitive answer in his word.
So you see, because of what Scripture tells us, we have dignity and definition. But there's one other thing we have, and that is direction.
III. Gives us direction in regards to our lives
The Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what we should be when we grow up. But it does give us some general guidance. It at least points us in the right direction by telling us that we are to glorify God.
God is to be served and our gifts and graces are supposed to be put in service to him. If you are preaching the gospel or inventing transistors or welding metal, this is to be done for God.
It is not to be done for your wife. It is not to be done for your kids or your boss. All that you do, whether you eat or drink, is to be done for God.
How important it is that our lives be lived in subservience to him! Why? Because you can't glorify God if you are not doing what he commands.
One of the things that has been on my mind lately is that young, zealous faith. I want to see people who have that youthful zeal for God. A kind of person who says with vigor, “God is supreme. My life revolves around God. His worship, his honor, his glory is what I seek. And I want nothing else in this world.”
That is the direction we are supposed to be heading. And if you put that first--if the Lord is your pursuit, then you are definitely heading in the right of way.
Almighty God and Heavenly Father,
You are the king of kings, to whom all are accountable and from whom all earthly powers derive their authority.
We beseech you today to grant your favor upon these your servants, that they may be fitly suited to conduct their business and fulfill all righteousness in their actions.
To that end, allow them to behold with great humility the offices they hold. May you set before them the awe of your having set them over a multitude of people and be humbled by the great power with which you have invested them.
May they revere you and regard your Name as set in the heavens. And let them duly esteem the fact that, by your Sovereign will, they have become stewards of the divine scepter. And with this recollection, may you endow them with the graces fit for their service.
Allow them to dutifully carry out justice with all equity. Let them have no partiality, but let them judge with right judgment, allowing men full opportunity to live, work, and worship.
Give them an awareness of their own limitations and sinful propensity. And guard their hearts from temptation.
As they have charge over other people’s money, let them handle it with care, not seeking selfish gain or lacking in integrity.
Grant them divine wisdom that they may keep their eyes ever upon your law. And so let them govern according to your precepts and commands, and not their own devices.
For this we ask in the Name of our High King and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
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