Fittingly, the final chapter in Sinclair Ferguson’s fine book In Christ Alone (Reformation Trust, 2007) is titled “Sabbath Rest”. In it he traces the four stages the sabbath has for man in the history of redemption, following the Word of God in Hebrews 4 (creation, fall, salvation, glory).
On this Sunday-sabbath night, I post Ferguson’s treatment of that last stage, realizing it also ties in well with my previous quote today. May these words also serve to strengthen us to run our race in this week, with all its toils and troubles, knowing the perfect rest that awaits us.
But we have not yet reached the goal. We still struggle to rest from the labors of the flesh; we still must ‘be diligent to enter that rest’ (Heb.4:11). That is why the weekly nature of the Sabbath continues as a reminder that we are not yet home with the Father. And since this rest is ours only through union with Christ in His death and resurrection, our struggles to refuse the old life and enjoy the new will continue until glory.
But one may ask, ‘How does this impact my Sundays as a Christian?’
For one thing, this view of the Sabbath helps us regulate the whole week. Sunday is ‘Father’s Day,’ and we have an appointment to meet Him. The child who asks, ‘How short can the meeting be?’ has a dysfunctional relationship problem – not an intellectual, theological problem. Something is amiss in his fellowship with God.
This view of the Lord’s Day also usually helps us deal in a non-legalistic way with the questions that ask, ‘Is it ok to do_____ on Sunday since I don’t have any time to do it in the rest of the week? If this is the way we phrase the question, the problem is not how we use Sunday, it is how we are misusing the rest of the week.
This view of the Lord’s Day also helps us see it as a foretaste of heaven. And it teaches us that if the worship, fellowship, ministry, and outreach of our churches do not give expression to that, something is seriously amiss.
Hebrews teaches us that eternal glory is a Sabbath rest. Every day, all day, will be ‘Father’s Day’! Thus, if here and now we learn the pleasures of a God-given weekly rhythm, it will no longer seem strange to us that the eternal glory can be described as a prolonged Sabbath! (Kindle ed.)