The Lord’s Day Alliance of the United States is the name of this organization. It is a coordinating agency, once of various Protestant ecclesiastical organizations, now of “Christian” churches, since the Roman Catholic church is included in its representation, It has been established for the cultivation and maintenance of the first day of the week as a day of rest, renewal, worship and religious education. As we read further in the Alliance brochure we learn that the first day of the week is regarded as much more than merely a day of rest and renewal, etc., for such a day could be on any day of the week, whereas observance of the Lord’s Day could not. This is obviously implied in the name of the organization. That first day is also said to be “the Sabbath Day,” a justifiable designation and valid synonym for “the Lord’s Day,” Judaism, Seventh Day Adventism and Dispensationalism to the contrary not withstanding. For the fourth commandment, rightly understood, is a perpetual law.
The Alliance organized in 1888 with six major denominations participating: Presbyterian, U.S.A., United Presbyterian, Presbyterian, U.S., Reformed Church of America, Baptist and Methodist. Today, the denominational representation is as high as fifteen, including Christian Reformed, Reformed Episcopal, United Church of Christ and Roman Catholic. The presence of the latter representation is indicative of the amalgamatizing spirit of modem ecumenicalism. For the hierarchical church is not known for ever having maintained a comprehensive Sabbath day program. Two worship services, Sunday School and young people’s societies convening every Lord’s day have always been as unknown to it as they are now to practically all liberal churches. Rather it is known for its early morning masses which allow the whole day for worldly pursuits. Apparently, the desirability of Roman Catholic representation on the Alliance’s board of managers is not because of any strong reputation for Sabbath keeping, but as a legislative power source in lobbying for Blue Laws and Sabbath regulations in the state.
The Alliance claims that “the Divine command to keep one day in seven as the Sabbath Day. . . was addressed to all people . . .” Reference is, of course, to the fourth commandment. This, in turn, has its roots in the creation ordinance. The Sabbath was instituted with the creation. It therefore does not have origin in Judaism. “The Sabbath was made for man,” not merely for some particular race or provincial aggregation. Whereas man has apostatized far from any concern for the Sabbath, nevertheless, “from the beginning it was not so.” As a result of the Fall, Sabbath observance throughout the world early began to become a rarity, if not an oddity, and Sabbath breaking the prevalent practice. Still, the Sabbath, as well as the creation ordinance of marriage, was kept by the covenant people, who originally were not Semitic, but Sethite. A sign of that covenant the Sabbath was and is (Ex. 31:13, 17). The basic significance of the Sabbath, therefore, is covenantal. It signifies that God is essentially a covenant God who eternally lives an intertheistic, Trinitarian covenant life, and dwells with His people in the friendship of Sabbath rest. There in the idea of the covenant we have the key to unlock the secret to understanding the “spiritual dynamics” involved in the Sabbath. Although the Sabbath does have a creational and therefore an apparently universalistic origin, it nevertheless has, actually, a fundamentally particularistic character. This is evident in the fact that it was always divinely imposed on a people who stood in relation to God by covenant. Sabbatarians are of necessity of the party of God! Then no evidence is there that the Sabbath command was addressed to all people. The command was addressed to a redeemed people, as is patent from the authority of Exodus 15 and Exodus 16:23-30 (which reveal, incidentally, that the Sabbath is not geographically of Sinaitic origin—it is Edenic), and then from its formal legislation at Sinai (Exodus 19:4-6; Exodus 20:2, 8-11). History reveals that the heathen adversaries of God’s church “did mock at her Sabbaths” (Lam. 1:7). It also reveals the fact that the heathen of Tyre established in Jerusalem fish markets and merchandise marts which they opened on the Sabbath to lure Israel into profanation of the Sabbath. These adversaries were not admonished to keep the Sabbath. They were rather forcibly ejected from the city and banished from its very environs (Neh. 13:16-21).
The Sabbath and its undeniable and indispensable benefits are for man in covenant relation to God. To lay claim to Sabbath, or Lord’s Day, rights and benefits is to claim covenant relation to God. To this right, man in heathendom or in modem pagan (Pelagian) civilization, has no right. The covenant is embracive of only those connected to Almighty God by relation of friendship, those to whom He says, “Ye are My friends.” This does not mean that the man who fails to observe the Sabbath is excused from dedicating the day to the Lord, and that on the supposed ground, “he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth regard it” (Rom. 14:6). For all men are bound to keep the law of God, though it be not addressed to all people, and though some never had heard of it. Ignorance of the law is neither God’s fault nor man’s excuse. Man rebelled against God and His law from ever since incapable of doing any good. But though man has lost his ability to obey, God has not forfeited His right to demand perfect, personal and perpetual obedience. In illustration, many of the heathen do not pray. Further, what we have said being true, they are not able to pray (II Cor. 3:5). Even if they did pray, their prayer would be an abomination to the Lord (Prov. 15:8; Prov. 28:9). Yet God’s fury is poured out on them for not praying (Jer. 10:25). The same applies to Sabbath-keeping. God holds all who keep not this law as Sabbath-breakers.
The “purpose” of this movement is expressed as follows: “The Lord’s Day Alliance believes that the nature of man demands that he have at least one day in seven for renewal of body, mind and spirit if he is to function efficiently the other six days. This is strongly substantiated by Jesus’ words, ‘The Sabbath was made for man. . . ‘ (Mark 2:27).” Actually, this is only the statement of an opinion held, not a declaration of purpose, either of an organization or of the Sabbath itself. A mere opinion it is, one which does not necessarily require more than passing notice, and one based on no foundation higher than “the nature of man.” This anthropocentric opinion is drawn from what the nature of man is supposed to demand, as though the law of God only or especially demands what is indispensable to human nature. It certainly cannot be the main purpose of a Christian organization, to say nothing of the Sabbath itself, to provide for, physical, mental and spiritual renewal after a rigorous and enterprising hexaemeron. It cannot be the main purpose of either a Christian organization, or of the Sabbath, to secure such renewal that man may “function efficiently.” Man’s chief end, and therefore the Sabbath’s too, is to glorify God. Everything is to be regarded as means to that end.
In another, and later, brochure the purpose of the Alliance is so stated as to lead one to believe that the former intended statement of purpose suffers from typographical omission, especially of what follows. “The object of the Alliance is to promote the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day (the civil Sunday being also recognized in the Constitution of the United States, Art. I, Sec. 7, par. 2) as the Christian day of renewal and worship according to the Scriptures; and for that purpose to gather and diffuse information, to publish documents, to use the press, to cause public addresses to be made and to use other means as shall be expedient and proper to the end that the blessings of the Lord’s Day shall be secured for all people.” (By-Laws) It is further stated that “its primary function (is) educative rather than legislative” in order to understand “the spiritual dynamics present in a day set aside for worship, renewal and service. The Alliance is the only national organization whose chief responsibility is the providing of this understanding.” That the “blessing of the Lord’s day shall be secured for all people,” according to the context in which these words appear, means all people of the United States. This, of course, is a common grace idea, temporal blessings accruing to the natural man as the result of firm establishment of the Christian day of worship in the land. The reprobate, who, according to Scripture already considered, are regarded as Sabbath-breakers, may also receive Sabbath day blessings. But the biblical record shows that Tyrian despoilers of the Sabbath are not blessed, but under the curse of divine wrath (Neh. 13).
The chief responsibility of this national organization is to provide “for understanding the spiritual dynamics present in a day set aside for worship . . ,” whatever that means. “Spiritual dynamics” are left undefined. But if we were to define them, we could not do better than we have implied in our third paragraph, and than that which we have in what the Lord demands for the proper observance of His day as expressed in the following two points. “First, that the ministry of the Gospel. and the schools be maintained; and that I, especially on the Sabbath, that is on the day of rest, diligently frequent the church of God, to hear His Word, to use the sacraments, publicly to call upon the Lord, and contribute to the relief of the poor, as becomes a Christian. Secondly, that all the days of my life I cease from my evil works, and yield myself to the Lord, to work by His Holy Spirit in me, and thus begin in this life the eternal Sabbath” (HC, 103). Surely the dynamics latent in the Sabbath day must be discoverable in the contents of these two points. They have for centuries been declared to the skies not by a mere national organization, but by the international, universal, truly ecumenical movement of the Reformed churches in the world. This has been done, too, not for “development of our nation,” much less to “maintain a sound economical structure and keep democracy afloat,” but as far as the whole body of Christ is concerned, “that we may testify by the whole of our conduct our gratitude to God for His blessings, and that He may be praised by us; also that everyone may be assured in himself of his faith, by the fruits thereof; and that by our godly conversation, others may be gained to Christ” (ibid., 86).