There will come a day in the not too distant future in which a Christian who is committed to loving Christ by keeping His commandments will be accused of not being a Christian at all, simply because that Christian refuses to attend a Super Bowl Party.
This is where evangelicals are headed with Randy Alcorn leading the way. He is promoting Football Sunday which is a ministry devoted to sharing the testimonies of the many football players in the NFL. They even have a special program for your church to use during the church’s hosted Super Bowl Party. They boast that last year, because of these testimonies, more than 20,000 people have come to Christ. Well, at least that many had emotional responses.
I seriously doubt that 20,000 people came to know Christ in a saving, born-again way, simply because those who are putting on such events, are violating God’s holy word when it comes to the Sabbath/Lord’s Day, and using means to bring people to Christ not ordained by Christ to do so. On top of that, saying that these 20,000 people came to know Christ in such an easy manner, really lowers the bar on what it means to be a Christian. This happens all the time in evangelical circles. Some star mentions a generic god, and people want to ascribe Christianity to them.
We should be very cautious in doing so. Jesus was. There were a lot of people in His day who had emotional responses to His ministry, even mentioning God in the most biblical of ways, but they were not His followers. We should be careful about using the simplistic methods that Alcorn is suggesting, especially since what he is suggesting is actually causing people to sin in breaking the Fourth Commandment.
In other words, in encouraging these parties, we are breaking the Sabbath command, in missing worship, in recreation on the holy day, in working on that day, in encouraging others to work on that day, especially when it involves missing worship. These NFL players are working on the LORD’s day, and encouraging others to miss worship so that they can attend these games. Remember, there is no biblical reason for these games to be held on Sunday. There is no biblical reason to justify these games at all. To try and throw a few testimonies into the mix, is like Nadab and Abihu adding strange fire to the worship of God. It is destructive in nature.
Alcorn claims that there are many faithful Christians who play in the NFL. No, there are not. Faithful Christians don’t miss out on worship on the LORD’s day. Faithful Christians know and understand God’s moral Law. Faithful Christians not only know the moral Law, but delight in keeping it and would do nothing to discourage anyone else from keeping it. Faithful Christians know that in order to love the Lord, their God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind, that they must know and keep the first four commandments of the moral Law. Faithful Christians also know not to bow down in Baal worship as they do when the participate in an industry that is set on causing others to stumble.
According to Alcorn, the NFL players are giving their testimonies, leading others to Christ. What is wrong with this? Simply put, the Apostle Paul preached Christ, not himself. We are not to preach ourselves in leading others to Christ. We are to preach Christ crucified. Preaching is the means given to the church by which He will make Himself known to His elect. Not our own testimonies.
But I guess I should take solace in the fact that Alcorn doesn’t call these NFL players Christians. He calls them “Christ-followers.” This is the new and trendy way to identify oneself as aligning with Christ, but not in a way that is uncool, you know, like one who actually holds to what Christ says when it comes to His Law. Let me remind you.
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-19)(Emphasis added).
We must understand that the LORD really does take keeping the Sabbath/LORD’s day seriously. He went to the cross because we are Sabbath breakers by nature. He redeemed us and gave us His Spirit so that we can become Sabbath keepers, not breakers.
The Sabbath rest is an important aspect of our salvation and it was ordained before the fall of Adam in the garden. So to think that it was something that we can dismiss in the new covenant, is to misunderstand the Sabbath. Not only does the Sabbath rest point back to God’s creation of all things, AND to the redemption we have in Christ which was foreshadowed by the redemption of the people out of Egypt, but also points forward to the rest we will have with Christ in heaven.
That eternal rest will be much more fulfilling and blessed than anything we can imagine. And we act in faith by keeping the LORD’s day. We live as those who are looking to that day when we are with Christ. We live as those who know that there is nothing more important in this world than keeping and honoring the commands our loving Savior has given to us.
Christians who dismiss it because they are under the impression that since there was no clear repeating of the command in the New Testament, then it must not apply. This way of interpreting God’s word is backward. The way to understand God’s word is that if He commands something, unless there is a clear reversal of that command, the command is always binding upon all. Given that in Hebrews, the writer is showing that we still have a Sabbath rest, should make it clear enough that we are still to keep the LORD’s day in view of that Sabbath rest to come. In fact, to not practice and keep the LORD’s day is a sign of disobedience (Hebrews 4:1-11).
In view of all this, let us look at the Larger Catechism of the Westminster Confession of Faith for how it is that we are to observe the LORD’s day:
Q. 117. How is the sabbath or the Lord’s day to be sanctified?
A. The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by an holy resting all the day, not only from such works as are at all times sinful, but even from such worldly employments and recreations as are on other days lawful; and making it our delight to spend the whole time (except so much of it as is to be taken up in works of necessity and mercy) in the public and private exercises of God’s worship: and, to that end, we are to prepare our hearts, and with such foresight, diligence, and moderation, to dispose and seasonably dispatch our worldly business, that we may be the more free and fit for the duties of that day.
And here is the explanation of the sins forbidden in the commandment:
Q. 119. What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the fourth commandment are, all omissions of the duties required, all careless, negligent, and unprofitable performing of them, and being weary of them; all profaning the day by idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful; and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations.
I wish that men like Randy Alcorn would give some thought to what he promotes. It’s sad when supposed ministers of the gospel so violate God’s word in their misguided attempt to reach the lost. And it is misguided.
Let us not join Alcorn in his sinfulness. Let us be those who see God’s Law as precious, holy, and His clear revelation on how it is that we are to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. And let us not shy away from calling ourselves what we are to be: Christians! Which means, “little Christs.”