Sermon of the week: “Remember the Sabbath” by Phil Johnson.

Your sermon of the week is Remember the Sabbath. This is part five of a fantastic series on The Ten Commandments by Phil Johnson. Look for the next installment in two weeks.

17 thoughts on “Sermon of the week: “Remember the Sabbath” by Phil Johnson.

  1. Is the position that we need to observe it? I don’t have time to listen.. but if so.. please read “Sunday is not the Sabbath” on my blog – 8thday4life. If the 4th commandment is binding – you need to be Jew or discover the New Covenant 🙂


  2. @8thday,

    If you don’t have time to listen, why make a drive-by comment touting your own point of view? Many reformed covenantal Christians see the legitimate application of the entire Decalogue to life on this planet. Jews see it differently, as do SDA folk. Chapter 22 of the 1689 London Baptist Confession is good reading on this:


  3. The ceremonial aspects of Sabbath (as per Collosians 2:16,17) were met by the reality of Christ’s sacrifice. But that part of the commandment which memorialises creation was written in stone, and is that part I believe, that Jesus said was never to be done away with (Matt 5:17). As the ceremonial law was done away at the cross, so all sacrifices and circumcision etc ceased. But the Sabbath had only certain ceremonial aspects attached to it, those aspects which were instituted after sin, the first being that sacrifice which clothed Adam and Eve. But the Sabbath itself, the specific day which was given as the fourth commandment, was instituted before sin, set in stone at Sinai, and as Isaiah says will be celebrated throughout all eternity.
    As far as Romans 14 is concerned, sometimes it’s helpful to carefully notice what a Bible text does not say, as well as what it does say. Verses 5 and 6 say nothing about the worship of the Sabbath. They simply talk about regarding a day. To say this particular day is the Sabbath, is an unwarranted assumption. Romans 14:1 sets the tone for the entire passage, indicating that the discussion focuses on “doubtful disputations” (KJV), or disputes on doubtful matters. Is the seventh-day Sabbath set apart by God at Creation (Genesis 2:1–3), placed within the heart of the moral law (Exodus 20:8–11), a doubtful matter? Throughout the book of Acts there were most assuredly many doubtful disputations regarding circumcision, but the Sabbath? Not one. Anywhere. By anyone! In fact the Christians kept the Sabbath, as well as the Greeks or Gentiles, and history tells us that the early church only began keeping Sunday in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and then only in Rome and Alexandria.

    The key to our passage is found in Romans 14:6, which states, “He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks” (KJV). The issue revolved around fast days, not Sabbath days. Some Jewish Christians believed there was particular merit in fasting on certain days. They judged others by their own standards. The Pharisees fasted at least twice a week and boasted about it (Luke 18:12). In Romans 14, Paul is pointing out that to fast or not to fast on a certain day is a matter of individual conscience, not a matter of God’s command.

    I find that Johnson is somewhat inconsistent in his own argument. He rightly says that there is no Biblical foundation for Sunday, yet calls it the “Lord’s Day”? He then also rightly, speaks of the importance of physical rest, but encourages the listener to have that rest on Sunday, for which there is, again, no Biblical foundation.


  4. The Bible nowhere labels the weekly Jewish Sabbath as “the Lord’s day.” Church history and the Bible together testify that the designation of the phrase “the Lord’s day” was already in common use among Christ-followers before the end of the first century. Think about it! What blessing and/or fellowship would the early Christians in Jerusalem have had from attending ritual services pointing to the Christ Event that the Jews readily denied? Why would any early Christian observe the ceremonial fourth commandment (with its shewbread and special sacrificial requirements) that pointed to Jesus, the true Sabbath Rest? Moreover, the weekly Sabbath shewbread pointed to Jesus, the Bread of Life, and the special, Sabbath animal sacrifices pointed to Jesus, the Lamb of God (see Col. 2:16,17). When the sacrifices ceased, the shadows ended as well. To still insist upon observing any shadow pointing to the Cross would actually deny the reality of Christ.

    Truly, the Decalogue could not a summary of the 613 laws of the Torah without having at least one ceremonial law in it. After all, most the 613 laws of the Torah were ritual, civil, and judicial laws. The word “sabbath” does not even occur in the entire books of Genesis and Revelation. The Edenic Sabbath was meant to be perpetual (with no “evening and morning” ascribed to it). However, sin entered in and the perpetual Sabbath was broken. Obviously, Adam didn’t need any special, physical rest on the very first full day of his life. Furthermore, the Genesis account does not mandate human beings to keep a certain day, and it does not say that God Himself rested every seventh day thereafter. When accused of Sabbath breaking, Jesus made it clear that both He and the Father were “working” on the Sabbath (John 5:17, 18). John specifically stated in verse 18 that Jesus broke the Sabbath. Importantly, Jesus did not deny that He was breaking the festal, weekly Sabbath. The man at the pool of Bethesda could have easily been healed on another day. It was not an emergency since the man had already been an invalid for 38 years (verse 5).

    Since the Edenic Sabbath was a part of creation, it obviously did not exist beforehand. Thus, the fourth commandment has no moral element to it because moral laws are in force 24/7 (every nanosecond of time) from eternity–not merely once a week. Significantly, the NT Scriptures never mention “Sabbath breaking” in any list of sins. The weekly, festal Sabbath given on Mount Sinai was merely a picture or shadow of the divine rest to come with the Messiah/Redeemer, and it was given exclusively to the “sons of Israel” (Lev. 23:1; Deut. 5:3). Scripture could not clearer on this topic. It is impossible to rightly observe the weekly Sabbath without the Levitical system being fully in place (the same fact holds true for the tithing codes as well).

    A former SDA minister,

    Dennis J. Fischer


  5. Dennis J. Fisher wrote

    “Significantly, the NT Scriptures never mention ‘Sabbath breaking’ in any list of sins.”

    This is true.

    A follow up point I have or a question really is why is it that those who preach the “Lord’s Day” as being the Sabbath do not issue church discipline for their countless members within their fellowship who regularly and openly break the “Lord’s Day” and do not rest in accord with the command? Why is it that one can be an open “Sabbath breaker” and not be disciplined, where if one were an open adulterer or murderer (as an example), they would be disciplined such that if they did not repent, they would be kicked out of the church.

    My contention is that if the “Lord’s Day” (which I do not see anywhere taught in Scripture but rather as a tradition) is truly a command in equal weight to the other 9 commandments, then it is hypocrisy to not disciple those who violate it, whether due to work, play or personal conviction that such a command is not binding. Here, at least the Puritans and Geneva were consistent in their theology where I rarely see such consistency in the reformed church.


  6. brother Michael,

    I can’t speak to the consistency or lack thereof as far as discipline goes for local churches which hold to Lord’s Day Sabbatarianism, but to your other point the concept of the “Lord’s Day” is taught in Scripture in the following passages:

    Acts 20:7 – “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.” The “first day of the week” referenced is analagous to our Sunday, because the Sabbath was the last day of the week (which is analagous to our Saturday).

    1 Cor. 16:2 –“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.” The Apostolic offering plate! :0)

    Revelation 1:10 – “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet”… John was making reference here to the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, which is analagous to Sunday on our calendar.

    And of course there are many other passages one could cite since the Synoptic Gospels all agree with one witness that the Lord’s resurrection occurred on the first day of the week, which is analagous to our Sunday; or “the Lord’s Day” as the Apostle John calls it in Rev. 1:10.

    And while it is a Biblical concept, it is simultaneously traditional for the visible professing church to gather corporately on Sunday in imitation of the apostolic example. It has been convincingly argued by many that this is a case where praxis follows doxy.

    Perhaps Spurgeon best summed up the joy and wonder of gathering together with the Lord’s people in the Lord’s house on the Lord’s Day when he said:

    “We gather together on the first rather than the seventh day of the week because redemption is even a greater work than creation and more worthy of commemoration and because the rest which followed creation is far outdone by the rest which ensues upon the completion of redemption. Like the Apostles, we meet on the first day of the week and hope that Jesus may stand in our midst and say, `Peace be unto you.’ Our Lord has lifted the Sabbath from the old and rusty hinges where on the law had placed it long before and set it on the new golden hinges which His love has fashioned. He has placed our rest day not at the end of a week of toil but at the beginning of the rest which remaineth for the people of God. Every first day of the week we should meditate on the rising of our Lord and seek to enter into the fellowship with Him in His risen life.”

    He’s right, and this is the reason why believers, in step with the example of Scripture, invite our friends, family, and acquantances to join us in our local houses of worship in honor of the risen King on Sunday, the Lord’s Day.

    All this being said clearly “one man esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike” (Rom. 14:5[a]); but speaking for myself I truly look forward to the Lord’s Day each week, even as I await the Day of the Lord, observing the day for the sake of worship, and not worship for the sake of the day (Rom. 14:6).

    But “let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5[b]); that each might fully enjoy his own principle and practice undisturbed in the light of Scripture and conscience.

    In Christ,


  7. CD – I’m not denying that Christians met on the first day of the week. What I am saying is that these verses you quoted do not equate to Sabbath law as preached by “Lord’s Day” advocates. This being a cessation of all work for a 24 hour period. I find no such teaching in the NT nor a holding of Christians accountable to such a law. Many Christians on the first day of the week actually worked as they were slaves.


  8. “When accused of Sabbath breaking, Jesus made it clear that both He and the Father were “working” on the Sabbath (John 5:17, 18).”


    “John specifically stated in verse 18 that Jesus broke the Sabbath.”

    That’s your lie. It is one thing to be accused by liars of breaking the Sabbath or its Commandment; it’s another thing to really break it.

    “Importantly, Jesus did not deny that He was breaking the festal, weekly Sabbath.”

    Certainly He would not stoop so low as to admit guilty of something He didn’t do; it would be for Jesus to have lied. So are you accusing Jesus of breaking also the Ninth Commandment?

    “The man at the pool of Bethesda could have easily been healed on another day.”

    SURE! But Jesus chose to heal him on a Sabbath Day! No, on THE Sabbath Day! Isn’t THAT, “important” to know?! Or is the Word of God useless and meaningless information?

    “It was not an emergency since the man had already been an invalid for 38 years (verse 5).”

    Everyone should see that. So you mean Jesus used the occasion to illustrate his disobedience to and disrespect for the Fourth Commandment?! What about insulting the Father?

    But Dennis Fischer won’t admit that everything Jesus really did was to magnify God’s Law— Jesus in fact showing the people the “reviving” and “resting-up” of Himself “On the Sabbath Day” WHEREIN in fact God ULTIMATELY FOUND HIS REST AND WHEREUPON ULTIMATELY HE FOUNDED HIS DAY OF REST, “The Lord’s Day”?!

    Dennis Fischer, how unfortunate you threw the baby out with the bath water.


    Dennis Fischer:
    “…Jesus, the true Sabbath Rest?…”


    You are demeaning both Jesus the Author of the Rest of God, and, the Rest of God which is Christ, by calling Jesus, the “Sabbath Rest” of God.

    Nevertheless, Christ is BOTH God’s Rest in Living Fullness of his Person, AND the Sabbath-rest of God indeed THROUGH HAVING RAISED FROM THE DEAD “ON THE SABBATH DAY”.


    It’s nice to have one’s own field day. When no one contends, I mean… how mean!!


    Dennis Fisher:

    ……….. Church history and the Bible together testify that the designation of the phrase “the Lord’s day” was already in common use among Christ-followers before the end of the first century. ……………..


    I cordially invite you dear man, to present HERE, one single or more cases of such “designations”, “before the end of the first century”.

    I’m waiting…


    Show me please how there are “The ceremonial aspects of Sabbath (as per Collosians 2:16,17) “. It’s nonsense. It speaks of TRUE, CHRISTIAN, “Sabbaths’-Feast” and assures and “comforts” those Sabbath-keepers “Do not you let anybody condemn you in eating and drinking (spiritually of Jesus Christ) whether with regard to FEAST OF month’s or OF Sabbath’s.”

    NO incidence of Christians who “met” or “came together on the First Day of the week” exists in the Scriptures. Translations that say so in Acts 20:7 CORRUPTED the text in order to create the semblance of Sunday-worship.

    The Perfect Participle actually means that the group of missionaries “had had been assembly-ing before for the Lord’s Supper and while having been assembly-ing together STILL on the First Day of the week, Paul discussed matters with them because next morning he was to depart on journey.”

    Now prove my wrong or lying, or the translators are proven wrong and lying!


  9. Coram Deo:

    “And of course there are many other passages one could cite since the Synoptic Gospels all agree with one witness that the Lord’s resurrection occurred on the first day of the week, which is analagous to our Sunday; or “the Lord’s Day” as the Apostle John calls it in Rev. 1:10.”


    Easier averred than illustrated!

    Quote those texts you so boast with!


  10. Kevin, the problem is not whether we are up for the truth. The problem comes when people come here with no intention other than spreading their own teachings. That shows no teachable spirit. Thanks for stopping by though.


  11. John specifically stated in verse 18 that Jesus broke the Sabbath.

    If one did not read the actual verses and the context, one would assume John was advocating that Jesus broke the Sabbath. But, here’s the actual verse (NKJV):

    18 Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. John 5:18

    John was stating the corrupted mindset of the Jewish leaders in those days – the Jews wanted to kill Jesus because 1) He broke the 4th commandment and 2) He was a blasphemer making Himself equal with GOD. They were wrong on both accounts, because if Christ did break the 4th commandment the how could a sinner be our Savior? Notice a few verses earlier what their man made law stated:

    10 The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.”

    They perverted the Sabbath day by regulating it with man made rules. Similar, to what we witness today – Jews aren’t allowed to push elevator buttons on the Sabbath. But, Christ tried to correct their mindset by asking the Jewish leaders a thought provoking question:

    Then Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one thing: Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy?” Luke 6:9

    Jesus “works” on the Sabbath were of healing, compassion and love for the poor, sick and destitute for which there is no condemnation. So the Jews simply had it all wrong.

    The second point above is self explanatory, Jesus spoke the truth regarding his relationship with the Father. He was not a blasphemer, they again had it wrong.

    Regarding the relevance of the seventh day Sabbath today, yes, the seventh day Sabbath was given to Israel in Mt. Sinai, therefore some Christians mistakenly call it the “Jewish Sabbath”. However, as Jesus is the ultimate authority on any subject – He has the final say ( a servant/student is not above his master/teacher Matthew 10:24, this includes Paul, Peter, Spurgeon), he clearly expanded the scope of Sabbath remembrance to all humanity, not just the Jews:

    And He said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Mark 2:27

    For, if the Sabbath was only a Jewish institution as argued by many Christians, then Christ should have clearly said the “truth”, but he did not. Rather, He clearly expanded it’s scope. Similar, to His role as not just Savior to the Jews:

    You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. John 4:22

    but the whole world John 3:16.


  12. The word of God said if you love me keep my commandment. and if you agree with me that the remaining 9 commandment is still in important to Christians today then the fourth commandment is no exception. To me the main reason why God used the word “Remember” is because He who see the future of mankind knows there will come a time when men will intentionally forget. It is a pity though how we intentionally trample on the Lord’s word all under the umbrella of “grace” forgetting Rom 6:1-2


  13. I have been reading the various comments and just in short want to say that scriptures tells us that in the last days you will have scoffers an men putting forth their own ideas so a few of us who do fully understand this should pray that those who have itching ears will allow the Holy Spirit to speak to them a d not listen to what men says.


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