For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Captive Thoughts” is dedicated to bringing every thought captive to Christ through the study of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, with primary focus on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. This effort is a compilation of several years of catechetical study conducted at Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Westminster, California, by its Christian Education Committee and the author of this site.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q59


The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q43-62) is The Means of Grace: The Commandments: The First Table. (see Harmony Index)
As we continue our study of the Sabbath, we consider especially the New Testament change from the last day of the week to the first as the Lord’s Day.
There is much to consider on this point, and we need to approach our time of study prayerfully, as Paul prayed for the church in the first chapter of his letter to the Ephesians, that “the eyes of [our] understanding being enlightened; that [we] may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance [is] in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which [our Father] worked in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” It is this resurrection reality that gives us reason to glory and rejoice in each Lord’s Day that our God has so mercifully given to his people.
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WSC Q59. 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[a]; and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sabbath[b].
[a] Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 20:11
[b] Mark 2:27-28; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10
Question 59 asks which day of the week God has designated as the Sabbath, and answers that from the beginning of the world until the resurrection of Christ God established the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. From that time until the end of the world, the first day of the week is the Christian Sabbath.
Comments and considerations:
As we have already seen, the Sabbath principle is one of rest—resting in God’s providential care, his blessings upon our labors for our daily bread. We saw how Israel, as they wandered in the wilderness before reaching the Promise Land, were given a unique and heavenly supply of food. That manna pointed forward to the day when the true Bread of Life would bring a better rest. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). Until that critical point in history, the Sabbath was enjoyed at the end of the week. But that changed at the resurrection of our Lord. Note the verses our fathers used to support this teaching:
And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:28
Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. Acts 20:7
On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. 1 Cor. 16:2
We could add others like this: “Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (John 20:19-20).
The Sabbath is now called the Lord’s Day, looking back to redemption accomplished, rather than forward in anticipation. It is rest for the lost and weary, and strength for the labors “in Christ” at the start of the week. Now we await a new chapter of redemptive history, his second coming, and the call to glory and the eternal rest. This is the Sabbath celebration we now enjoy.
I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”
I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. Rev. 1:9-11,18
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.     Read Ex. 31:12-13, 17. The Sabbath was a picture of the rest we would have in Christ. From the time of creation until the Savior came, people looked ahead to the rest the Lord Jesus would give them. On which day of the week did the OT Sabbath occur, and what did God’s people looked forward to in the Sabbath? (1)
2.     During Israel’s wilderness journey, God provided food; the manna was supplied and gathered each day, for each day’s need. It could not be kept more than one day or it spoiled, except for one exception. What was that exception and why? Read Ex. 16:23-30.
3.     Until a specific point in history, Israel observed the Sabbath as a day of rest at the end of the week. But an event occurred which caused the church to begin to meet for their Sabbath rest on the first day of the week. What was that event? See Luke 24:1-8 and John 20:19-20.
4.     The resurrection of Jesus is a significant event, marking the victory over death purchased with Christ’s atoning work on the cross, the completion of the work of salvation for God’s people. It is called the Lord’s Day, as he is central to the Sabbath and the true rest for the lost and weary sinner. See Rev. 1:9-11.
5.     The Sabbath is now the first day of the week, as the church looks back at the finished work of Christ in procuring salvation; these truths give us strength and purpose as we begin our weekly endeavors. See Acts 20:7 and 1 Cor. 16:1-2.
Answer:
1)  The last day of the week, and the covenant promise of the coming Messiah. Now that Christ has come, the Sabbath begins our week, and we look back on what he has done for us and anticipate his return.


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