In our previous installment, we began considering some of the errors in the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF), a document that defines much of the doctrine for numerous Reformed Presbyterian denominations. You will recall my background and association with the WCF, and you also recall my admonition that not just the WCF contains error, but most all doctrinal systems. As you read this, consider studying the tenets you were raised with, regardless of the denomination and see if very similar errors are not part of the doctrines you were inculcated with.
Now, let’s consider,
Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day
I. The light of nature shows that there is a God, who has lordship and sovereignty over all, is good, and does good unto all, and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart, and with all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.
This chapter begins with a good paragraph and particularly an excellent bolded sentence that will become the undoing of the latter part of the chapter. Be sure to read that sentence again as we will come back to it!
II. Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to Him alone; not to angels, saints, or any other creature: and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.
No real issues here, but they are coming.
III. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men: and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of His Spirit, according to His will, with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love and perseverance; and, if vocal, in a known tongue.
Again, no problems here.
IV. Prayer is to be made for things lawful; and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter: but not for the dead, nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.
Continues to sound good.
V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear, the sound preaching and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith and reverence, singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: beside religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.
Largely good, though I ought to take up some debate with ‘preaching’ as that is a decidedly Greek/Western construct. See George Barna and Frank Viola’s Pagan Christianity, chapters four and five.
Further, ‘sacraments instituted by Christ’ is problematic on the grounds that He didn’t institute new sacraments. He added depth to the Feasts He gave on Mt. Sinai, but, we’ll leave this alone and go for the major error in this chapter.
VI. Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the Gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed: but God is to be worshipped everywhere, in spirit and truth; as, in private families daily, and in secret, each one by himself; so, more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or wilfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by His Word or providence, calls thereunto.
Again, no major quibble. These next two paragraphs, however, are doozies.
VII. As it is 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 has 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.
Hasatan’s (Hebrew for ‘the Adversary’, ie.e, Satan) strategy in the Garden of Eden was to mix a little bit of falsehood with the truth and thereby alter the Commandment of God enough to cause Adam and Eve to walk in disobedience. Now, I have no doubt the framers of the WCF meant well and were only walking in the traditions they were taught, still, the result is codifying for their followers an error that is clearly false.
They begin well with acknowledging multiple points of truth. They say, “God… in His Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, He has particularly appointed one day…” Rightly, they state,
- God gave the commandment,
- It is recorded in His Word,
- It is a moral commandment,
- It is a perpetual commandment binding on all men in all ages,
- And, that commandment particularly appoints one day.
And, then, the little falsehood slips in by rephrasing what the Word of God actually says:
“one day in seven”
God’s Word actually is far more precise and explicit. No less than nine times, He says,
“the SEVENTH DAY.”
This is very specific and never ever changed anywhere in His Word. Every instance of this commandment is listed and touched on in my post titled, Christians, Please Help Me Understand. By using ‘one day in seven,’ the WCF divines insert falsehood into the Word of God by saying, ‘hath God said?‘
Can God ‘unsanctify’ the ‘sanctified?’
Already, the rest of the paragraph completely falls apart, but I’ll make it clear. Their next statement is,
He has 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,
In fact, nowhere ever in Scripture is a change of day prophesied or indicated. While the atoning death and resurrection of Messiah is a MAJOR event, at no point ever are we told that this changes anything with regard to the day YHVH set apart for worship. As previously mentioned, He commanded the seventh day (NOT “one in seven”) nine separate times and He never changed that commandment. I even offered $10,000 to anyone who could show me a verse where He changed it…. No takers, but plenty of lookers!
The idea that there was a change of day at the resurrection is purely a man-made construct entirely unsupported by Scripture. The WCF may present it as fact, but they have not a single verse to stand on. Every evidence of worship in the New Testament takes place on the Sabbath, even those explicitly involving “Greeks” or “Gentiles.” Some point errantly to the ‘first day of the week’ phrase as evidence, but that is fraught with problems and proves exactly nothing as I demonstrated in ‘First Day of the Week…’ Acts 20:7.
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.
Now, based on the false tradition of a ‘First day’ existing and being Scriptural, the reader is given more false assumptions.
‘…in Scripture, is called the Lord’s Day…’
Anachronistically, the idea of a Sunday or ‘Christian Sabbath’ is then applied to a verse in Revelation when Yeshua Himself said He was Lord of the Sabbath, and context proves He is speaking of the seventh-day Sabbath. (See Matt 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5) Notice, the WCF names or repeats a name for the day, ‘Christian Sabbath,’ an idea entirely absent from Scripture.
Simply, the entire paragraph (VII) collapses under the bright light of Scripture and the traditions it is rooted in are exposed. Gross error by overturning God’s Law and supplanting it with a man-made false construct that was not widely accepted until enforced by the weight of the Constantinian sword in the 4th century. Now for the last paragraph.
VIII. This Sabbath is to be kept holy unto the Lord when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest all the 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 and private exercises of His worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.
As we saw with some parts of the first part of this series, the paragraph is right and correct, but because their definition of ‘Sabbath’ is in error, the Sabbath they speak of in this paragraph is wrong.
In the first part of this series, I cautioned that even if you do not and have never adhered to the Westminster Confession of Faith, consider that most likely the doctrines you were raised with in the Christian Church are quite similar to this document and are also in error. Therefore, don’t look at the WCF and be smug, rather, let us use the example to encourage ourselves to more closely examine what we have been taught and hold them to the light of Scripture.
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I think tackling the WCF is definitely a worthwhile endeavor Pete. I’m glad someone got around to it before I did. (I can’t find the time!) For those who may not realize, there’s actually a lot of common ground between Reformed folks & us Messianics, so I think your point about us not getting too smug is a good one — I think it’s always a good idea to make sure we’re not losing sight of these areas of agreement. In the grand scheme of things, these are brethren who hold *very* closely to the inspiration of the Bible, agree with most of the fundamentals that we would agree with (death, resurrection, substitutionary atonement, etc.) and get a lot right — though as you point out above, some manmade traditions have indeed crept in.
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Indeed, there is much agreement, but the blog nders of tradition in
Indeed, there is much agreement, but the blinders of tradition in the pulpits are not easily challenged. May Abba open eyes and bring His people to repentant fullness of truth.
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