Does The Fourth Commandment Matter?

Do we need the fourth commandment today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I wrote about the Ten Commandments and said that I don’t think the fourth one applies to all of us seeing as I don’t think it can be known from general revelation. However, does that mean it is absolutely useless? Not at all. Does it have any place for us today? Indeed, it does.

For one thing, the commandment reminds us that one day of the week is to be separate from all the others. Pastors and those who do a large portion of their job on that day can be excused and use another day. We can also say that if all medical personnel and others were to stop one day a week, we would all be in trouble. (I definitely know that not everyone in our nation is Christian, but this is hypothetical)

Also, Jesus makes it clear that at least some work is done on the Sabbath in the New Testament. Animals are led to where it is that they can get a drink of water and their basic needs are taken care of. Naturally, if there is an emergency on the Sabbath day, you are allowed to work then to stop that crisis. Whatever role we give to the Sabbath, as Jesus says, man was not made for the Sabbath. Sabbath was made for man.

In that sense, we could say the Sabbath was not meant to be a duty really. It was meant to be a gift. Consider what God was saying to Israel. “Work hard those six days a week, but on the seventh, make sure you don’t work. I’ll make sure you’re taken care of then.”

That would be a major reprieve, but at the same time, it would be a major test of trust for the people. For us today, that would not be an issue really. We can have food stored in our refrigerators and pantries and clothes stored in our closets and money stored in the banks. The average person back in that day did not have that.

Sometimes we think it is hard to trust God when times are bad. Could it perhaps be the opposite? We don’t know how to trust God today because too often times are good and the mildest thing that throws us out of our comfort zone would be seen as laughable to the people back then?

For me, when Sunday comes, one thing I do is take a break from online debates. The rest of the world can handle it that day if they want to. If someone emails me a question, I don’t answer it until the next day. Of course, there would be valid exceptions. If someone asked me something in person at church, I would likely help, and if Mormons came to my church, as has happened at a church I used to attend, I would likely say something then, but those are the exceptions.

The day is to be holy meaning it is set apart. It is different from the other days of the week. It is also the way God did things. If God doesn’t work on one day, it’s quite arrogant of us to think we have to work all seven days.

The commandment is not meant to be a burden. It’s to be a joy. It’s a shame that when we get to the time of Jesus, it looks like it had been turned into a burden.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Christmas on Sunday

Should we go to church on Christmas? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

So there’s been a lot of talk I’ve seen on Facebook about Christmas being on a Sunday this year. I do know a lot of churches are having Christmas Eve services, which is fairly common. I don’t remember going to them growing up since my parents were the ones in charge and we always went to two different houses on Christmas Eve. I know my ex-wife and I didn’t on our first Christmas Eve together, but we were also going on a deep drive through snow.

Now this year, I do plan on going to my church for Christmas. I understand we’re going to not have the regular Sunday School aspect, which is fine with me, but I plan on attending the service. There are some people who are thinking we shouldn’t have church this year on Christmas because people will want to be with their families.

Churches normally are open on Christmas day for a service and also people usually do want to spend Christmas with their families. Both of those make sense. Somehow, when Christmas falls on Sunday, it seems strange to some people to think you’d go to church.

Which is kind of odd. We’re only celebrating the birth of the Son of God into the world. It’s strange to go to the very place where that is celebrated?

However, we could also consider this a Romans 14 matter. Perhaps someone’s family has non-Christians that will absolutely refuse to go to church at all and maybe one doesn’t want to avoid any sort of drama. That would be up to each person to decide based on the kind of skeptic in their family they are dealing with. It could also be a great time to get someone to church so they can hopefully learn something more about the message of salvation.

For me, I am going to church and my family is going to be celebrating on Eastern time. They will have to wait another hour likely for me then, but I don’t think there will be much problem with that. I am staying in New Orleans for Christmas and we have said we are going to use our Echo devices so we can see each other and open gifts that way.

If we treat this as a Romans 14 matter, then we should also say that each person should be fully convinced in his own mind. For me, the idea of missing church doesn’t really make sense, but at the same time, I don’t want to look down my nose at someone who is missing. It would be horrible to be celebrating the birth of Christ while practicing the sin of satan after all.

People will be discussing their reasons back and forth for what they do and there are many factors to consider. Again, let each be fully convinced in his own mind. For me, I am going to be going to my service that day and the gifts, God willing, will still be waiting for me when I get home and the family will still be there. They’ll do just fine.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

The Need For Rest

How important is it to just take a break? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last Sunday, my pastor gave a wonderful sermon on the need for rest in our generation where we have devices that can keep us in touch with all of the world. This is definitely so for those of us in ministry because we can be tempted to say “This is the work of God. How dare we stop in our work?” Many of us who do not see ourselves under the Jewish Law might look at the Sabbath command and think that that was something for them back then and we don’t really need it today. While I’m not advocating that we should all rest on Saturday, I am advocating that we all take a day to rest and frankly, while most will do so on Sunday, for a pastor, it will obviously have to be another day of the week.

Since I’m not a pastor leading a church I do take a break on Sundays. I don’t do debates on Facebook and I don’t do debates on blogs. That is a day for me to get away. If someone comes to me with a question, I will ask them if they can get back to me on Monday. This is time that I need to wind down. Honestly, debates and questions can wear you out after a time. My day of rest is the day that I do not have to be owing to anyone. I will often spend it with a book or listening to the latest episode of Unbelievable? Usually when I do that, I will be going through a game at the same time.

What that activity of rest tells us is that we are not in charge of the world. We are not the saviors of the world. You see, I realize that there are several several people who are doing apologetics just like I am. This is the work of God and God was doing it before I came on the scene and He’ll be doing it after I leave this scene. God is not dependent on me in anyway. Rest is a humble reminder of that. It’s a reminder that to get to serve in the Kingdom is a gift of grace in itself. Yet God is not a kind of taskmaster that expects us to work 24/7. He knows that we need to rest.

Along those lines, I want to remind you that if you’re in ministry, it’s important to not have your ministry be what you’re married to. If you are a married person, there are many people that can do the work of ministry that you do, but there is only one person who is married to your spouse. If you’re a man, no one else can be the husband of your wife. If you’re a woman, no one else can be the wife of your husband. With regard to children, if you’re a woman, no one else can be the mother to your children. If you’re a man, no one else can be the father to your children. These are responsibilities you’re directly assigned in Ephesians. If you succeed at everything else but are not the spouse or parent you need to be, then overall you have failed in ministry.

Therefore, if you are a spouse, make sure that your spouse comes before your ministry. If you are a parent, make sure your children also come before your ministry. Ministry is not an excuse to not do the things you’ve been commanded to do. In fact, it should be a greater call for you to do them. How will people take your ministry seriously if they know that you are not responsibly caring for your own family?

So Sunday is my day to take a break. I advise you to pick one and stick with it. The world can wait and your other duties will be there the next day. You need to take time for you lest you burn out. God didn’t make you to run forever. Rest.

In Christ,
Nick Peters