The Christian Sabbath or The Lord's Day
The Westminster Confession of Faith states in Chapter 21,
Section 7, "As it is of the law of nature that, in general, a
due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in
His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment,
binding all men in all ages, He hath particularly appointed one
day in seven for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto Him: which
from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ,
was the last day of the week; and, from the resurrection of
Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which in
Scripture is called the Lord's Day, and is to be continued to
the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath."
The Free Presbyterian Church heartily agrees with this
succinct summary of Scripture regarding the duty of man to
observe one day in seven as God's day. The Confession correctly
presents the basic premise of the fourth commandment--that a
seventh of the time allotted to man is to be observed as a sabbath
or day of rest (which is the meaning of the word "sabbath").
It should be carefully noted that the fourth commandment
not only stipulates that one day in seven is the Lord's, but
it is also written in such a way as to permit the change of
the actual day of the week for the observance of the Sabbath
without violating the commandment itself. This commandment
does not say that man is to remember "the seventh day to
keep it holy," but he is to "remember the sabbath day to keep
it holy." We point this out because of the error of many in
insisting that the word sabbath means "seventh." It does not.
As already noted, the word "sabbath" means rest or cessation.
The Lord simply commands us to keep holy the day of rest.
Moreover, the fourth commandment does not state that "the
seventh day of the week is the sabbath." Rather, it states that
"the seventh day is the sabbath." In other words, by the term
"the seventh day" the Lord speaks of the day following the
six days of labor, whatever those six days of labour
might be. Therefore, by this clear language, the fourth
commandment was written so as to allow a change of the day
for the observance of the sabbath without in any way violating
The resurrection of Christ ushered in the change of day for
the observance of the sabbath. One might wonder why the first
Christians, who were Jews themselves, suddenly began to meet
for worship on the first day of the week. The explanation can
only be attributed to our Lord's rising from the dead on that
first day to signify the finished work of redemption. Thus the
principle of the fourth commandment--one day in seven being
the Lord's--remained unviolated, while the keeping of that day
took on a much fuller meaning that it had in Old Testament
times. The Christian Sabbath or the Lord's Day, continues to
be not only a memorial of God's finished work at creation, but it
is also a memorial of Christ's finished work of redemption.
"There remaineth therefore a keeping of sabbath [the
literal rendering of the original text] to the people of God..."
(Hebrews 4:9). We believe therefore that the observing of
one day in seven is still binding on mankind. The Lord has
graciously given us six days for work and recreation -- we
are not to rob Him of the other, the sabbath day. The Free
Presbyterian Church therefore holds that since the believer is
"not without law to God, but under the law to Christ..." (1 Cor.
9:21), he is to sanctify the Sabbath "by a holy resting all that
day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as
are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the
public and private exercises of God's worship, except so much
as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy."
(Shorter Catechism, 60).