Q. 103. What is God’s will for you in the fourth commandment?
A First, that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained, and that, especially on the festive day of rest, I regularly attend the assembly of God’s people to learn what God’s Word teaches, to participate in the sacraments, to pray to God publicly, and to bring Christian offerings for the poor. Second, that every day of my life I rest from my evil ways, let the Lord work in me through his Spirit, and so begin already in this life the eternal Sabbath.
Many of us think about resting when we think about the Sabbath day, but to think about education is becoming increasingly less accepted in our current church culture. Sunday schools, worship services and bible studies are being attended less and less in most Western churches, but these are the very events and places where we can learn more about the gospel and enjoy its life giving reality. While rest is a great thing to enjoy on the Sabbath, so is learning about God and his gospel of Salvation. Whenever Paul went to a new city, he always visited the Synagogue first because it was the place where those desiring to learn about God and his salvation came. May each of us reengage our call to be consistent learners of the gospel and to grow in our faith. Read Acts 13:14, 15:21 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
God instructed Israel through Moses to gather as a regular assembly and to worship together, to offer sacrifices and praise and to ensure that the nation sought the Lord. Families were instructed to make sure their children knew God and his decrees and all were to celebrate the redemption that God brought about for them. This occurred at the three great festivals in the Old Testament but became a regular weekly part of living in the New Testament. Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 12:5-12 and Acts 2:42-47.
There are many ways to learn the Word of God. One can simply hear the Word read a lot, sermons and expositions can be read which explain the word, it can also be meditated upon and memorized. All of these are useful and will find some outlet in the life of a believer though the exact mix of each may be different in each person. Nevertheless, we must know the word if we are to understand our salvation and not be lead astray. Read 1Timothy 4:13-16, Ezra 8:1-8 and Psalm 119:15.
But along with the Word of God, the people of God also have the sacraments to participate in each week. Many evangelical and reformed churches have neglected the Lord’s Supper, one of the sacraments from God, by relegating it to a quarterly observance, but God gave us these gifts as signs and seals for our faith and by regular weekly participation we ensure that gospel is proclaimed and we celebrate and declare the return of Jesus Christ. Read Acts 2:42, 1Corinthians 11:23-26. Let us cherish the rich sensory perceptions the bread and cup bring to the people of God and enjoy their weekly celebration once again. After all, one would never consider cutting out the Word, the prayers or the offerings except for quarterly, so why do we cut out this wonderful aspect of the Sabbath?
Whenever the people of God gathered to worship, they always prayed. The record of these prayers is peppered throughout the Scriptures but large concentrations of these prayers are found in the psalms. These prayers teach us to seek God, thank God, and cry out to God. On a day when we gather to rest from our works and enjoy the holiness God bestows, his people must pray for the strength to continue in the world. Read Exodus 31:13 and 1Thessalonians 5:17.
But just as God has offered us life, so also part of our worship is the offering of life giving gifts to others. Therefore we take offerings and use them to care for the poor and needy in an effort to bring the truth of the gospel to all. Read 2Corinthians 8:1-9 and 1Corinthians 16:2. And as we allow these 4 areas of gospel ministry to infiltrate our lives, we will find the Lord working in and through us each day as he prepares us for an eternal home free of sin and evil.