By Pastor Tedd Mathis
This is a two-part series. This first installment provides reasons why our Lord is worthy of making Sunday His day. The second installment will provide specific ways as to how we can set apart the Lord’s Day.
God has always directed His people to view and use their time based on who He is and what He has done for them.
God’s nation Israel was to be different from pagan tribes and bring attention to the one true God with their observance of the Sabbath – the last day of a seven-day cycle.
They were to set aside the last day of the week for rest, just as God had rested from all His work on the seventh day (Ex 20:8-11). It was also a day to remind them of His rescuing them from slavery in Egypt and that they were His peculiar people (Dt 5:13-15). While other tribes worshipped false gods attempting to get them to do what they needed and wanted, God’s people were to worship and live according to His sovereignty and His having saved them.
To put it simply: Israel was commanded to set aside the last day of the week to bring public attention to God – His rule over all things and His saving them.
What about today?
Today many live as though they are free to publicly acknowledge God when it fits their schedule. They might worship with others if they think it will get them something they want.
God’s saving grace teaches us differently. Saving grace puts within us a knowledge of Christ and He governs all our life. He calls us to present our bodies as living sacrifices all the time and glorify God in all we do. To do that our Lord gives us a schedule, a weekly routine that begins with a day set aside to honor Him.
When Christ established the New Covenant, those who first came to faith in Him as their Savior and Lord voluntarily set aside the first day of the week (Sunday) as the Lord’s Day (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10). From the law of Christ now written on their hearts, they were saying several things:
+ They were a new creation in Christ, different from how they believed and behaved in the past.
+ They were ‘resting’ in the finished work of Christ on their behalf. They could do so because proof He conquered death for their salvation was His resurrection on the first day of the week.
+ They arranged work schedules (remember, many were slaves) and family life to set aside Sunday as the Lord’s Day. Why? Because Christ had rescued them from bondage to sin and made them God’s children; He was worthy of their doing so.
+ They intentionally chose a day honoring Christ. Jews and Gentiles chose the day that most honored Him as their living head. No longer were they identified by their ethnicity or traditions, together they were identified by Christ (Eph. 2:11-22)!
To put it simply: there is no Fourth Commandment engraved on stone commanding us to set aside a day. There’s an internal law, the Spirit of Christ indwelling believers, propelling us to make Christ preeminent in all things (Colossians 1:18-20).
Many people over 50 can remember their communities respecting Sundays. Schools didn’t organize events on Sunday, businesses were closed. That’s no more. We now live in a secular nation with no respect for Christ. Setting aside Sunday as the Lord’s day will require of us what it required of first-century Christians – a choice, maybe even a costly choice. The world will only distract us, even hinder us. Setting aside Sunday as the Lord’s day is going to have to come from within us. Here are seven ways the Spirit of Christ directs us to do so.
- Because on a Sunday, God demonstrated He had established a new covenant in which by one sacrifice He would forgive all our iniquities and remember our sins no more. Christ’s death, burial and resurrection made the covenant that could only condemn us obsolete (Mt. 28:1; Mk. 16:1-2; Lk. 24:1; Romans 4:25; Hebrews 8:12,13).
- Because Christ’s people are to form together as a local body and commanded not to forsake our gathering together. The most obvious time we gather is the Lord’s Day (Acts 2:41-47; I Cor. 12,13; Hebrews 10:23-25).
- Because our Lord has given His church the gift of pastors who are to feed our minds and instruct us on the same spiritual food together. The most obvious time for this to occur is on the Lord’s Day (Eph 4:11-16; Hebrews 13:17; I Peter 5:1-3).
- Because observing it makes war against the world, our flesh and the devil. God’s people must battle against the world’s deadening amusements and our flesh’s insatiable demand to be immediately gratified. Observing the Lord’s Day makes war against our enemies who defy Christ (Matthew 6:21-24; Mark 4:18,19; 8:34-38; Rom 8:1-17; I Cor. 10:7; II Tim. 4:10; I John 2:15-17).
- Because we are to raise our children in the fear and instruction of the Lord. Observing the Lord’s Day is a significant way parents show their children they identify with the Christ ignored and hated by the world. Faithfully observing the Lord’s Day teaches our children we make a distinction between the pleasures of this fleeting world and knowing Him who is life. Good things to be enjoyed in this life easily become masters, including our children’s activities. Faithfully engaging in the Lord’s Day says much about the temporal state of this life and the all-surpassing value of knowing Christ (Eph. 6:1-3; Matthew 10:33-39; Phil. 3:17-21).
- Because faithfully setting aside Sunday to be with Christ’s people, having people into our home, visiting shut-ins, etc., confirms we love the brethren. It demonstrates we are obedient worshippers of God, not simply consumers like the secular world around us (I John 3:10-12; 4:7, Mark 8:36-38).
- Because setting aside the Lord’s Day prepares us for heaven. While much remains a mystery, we know we will be in the very presence of God. Our attention will be undivided in our awe and delight of Him – all provided by Christ the Lamb. A day each week, together with Christ’s people, fed on the word of God, praising God — a day that makes Christ preeminent — is one way we confirm we long for heaven. Christ’s people come together because of Christ and our hope in Him. We don’t gather due to similar ages, hobbies, color of skin, or incomes. We all set aside the day to identify as Christ’s, waiting His righteous return, judgment, and His bringing us face to face with the Source of all that is right and true and good (Psalm 16:11; 27:4; Psalm 73; Phil. 3:17-21; Titus 2:11-14; Jude 25, 26; Rev. 21,22).
Next installment: Specific ways we can make Sunday the Lord’s Day