Regarding the Sabbath, our Confession states, “The sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and order in their common affairs aforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all day, from their own works, words and thoughts, about their worldly employments and recreations, but also are taken up the whole time in the public exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and worship” (2nd London Baptist Conf. of 1689).
Our Confession is a Puritan statement of faith. In other words, as subscribers of the 1689 Confession we are openly Puritan in our theology. The Puritans believed that observing of the Sabbath was absolutely essential for the spiritual wellbeing of the church. And for the majority of Protestant churches since the Reformation, the Sabbath has been consistently taught and practiced. Sadly, we have seen a great shift in the commitment of the modern church to the Sabbath.
Robert Godfrey states in his series on the history of the Christian church, “Of all the changes we’ve seen in the last fifty years in Protestant churches, probably the most surprising is the near disappearance of the Sabbath as a theological conviction. Most conservative Protestant churches that fifty years ago would have had both morning and evening worship on the Sabbath Day, now there is only a morning service. Think about the implication of this. It means that most Christians in Protestant America are hearing half the sermons they used to hear. How can people possibly be as well instructed and well-informed if they are going to half as many services a year. The level of Biblical knowledge among lay Protestants in this country in the last fifty years as diminished dramatically.”
Godfrey makes a good point. Our culture knows nothing of Sunday as a holy day. Sadly, the vast majority of Christians today have abandoned the Sabbath, with sad consequences. Even some who claim to hold to the 1689 Confession of Faith deny the words, “but also are taken up the whole time in the public exercise of worship.” The temptation is great for us to conform to the world around us. May the words of the Apostles ring loudly upon our ears, “We must obey God rather than men.” Or may we hear God’s words through Isaiah, “If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on my holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and honor it, desisting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure, And speaking your own word, Then you will take delight in the LORD, And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, For the mouth of the LORD has spoken” (Isaiah 58:13).