The Lord’s Day

The Coffee – For the past week or so, I have been brewing up Green Gold Mountain Coffee with my coworker and friend, Andrew. He recently got back from his honeymoon to St. Lucia with his new wife Andrea and brought it back for us. I had the privilege of being in their wedding and witnessing the beautiful ceremony and marital covenant they made with each other. The coffee has a light and crisp flavor and it has been a great start to my mornings. St. Lucia used to have a vibrant coffee industry. However, with power in the country changing hands frequently in the past, it took a toll on the infrastructure and the farmers in the country and the industry has all but diminished. The growers left are still making great coffee and I hope that the industry within St. Lucia rebounds in the future.

The Theology – Over time, through reading scripture and studying theology, I have grown more convicted in regards to the fourth commandment and the Lord’s Day. It was, and still is, an ongoing learning process. I am continuing to improve and refine my understanding of what exactly The Lord’s Day should entail for a believer, but I am confident that it should be a day of significance for believers and thus I thought that it was worthwhile to study the theological aspects of Sabbatarianism .

I find it important to get some general background on this subject. For this I turned to the Westminster Larger Catechism. First it is important to understand exactly what is the fourth commandment. Westminster Larger Catechism question 115 states: “Which is the fourth commandment? Remember the sabbath, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested in the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath-day and hallowed it”. We know that the early church made reference to the Sabbath day as being the Lord’s Day and started practicing Lord’s Day service on the first day of the week as a remembrance of Christ’s resurrection. However, it should be noted that this ceremonial change does not necessarily note a change in the moral and memorial aspects of the law contained within the fourth commandment.

It is important to further denote what actions are important in showing reverence for the Lord’s Day and what actions should be avoided. Westminster Larger Catechism question 117 states: “How is the sabbath or Lord’s day to be sanctified? The sabbath or Lord’s day is to be sanctified by a 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 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.” It further clarifies with question 119: “What are the sins forbidden in the fourth commandment? 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 with idleness, and doing that which is in itself sinful; and by all needless works, words, and thoughts, about our worldly employments and recreations.” We see in the above points in the catechism that we are called to set aside the the whole day for rest and reflection in the Lord. We are called to turn away and repent from our sins, worship, and be renewed by God. It further states that even some activities and practices that are lawful on other days should be avoided on the Lord’s Day as they can serve as distractions and bring about a lack of reverence for God and impede our reflection and relaxation in God’s grace.

It should be noted that there are varying views and levels of sabbatarianism across denominations and even between churches and individuals within a denomination. As stated above, this is a recent matter of personal conviction for me. It is something that is continuously improved on with greater understanding and study. While I would say I do not fully conform and adhere to strict sabbatarianism, I do believe that the Lord’s Day should be revered and set aside from the other days as a day of worship, fellowship, and renewal of God’s people through attendance at the Sunday service of a local church. However, this should not just be a checkbox item that marks the end of the day. I believe that throughout the day, you should set aside time for rest and reflection and avoid unnecessary tasks and distractions. While meeting for corporate worship with believers at the local church should be the focal point of your Lord’s Day, it is important to have an attitude of reflection and reverence before, during, and after the service.

In preparing for the Lord’s day and the Lord’s Day service, it is important to consider the days leading up to it. It is important to not be idle the other days of the week. Glorify God with your work on these six days to lessen the burden and free up time on the Lord’s Day. Be on top of your work throughout the week, accomplish chores and housework, plan out your weekly meals, and grocery shop. Do tasks that if done on Sunday would allow for unnecessary stresses and distractions to creep in and impede or corrupt your times of reflection, rest, and fellowship on the Sunday. On Saturday nights, try to consistently get adequate rest so you wake up for Sunday well rested and with a clear mind. On your Sunday morning, do activities such as reading scripture or devotionals to focus your mind on the upcoming service. Pray that your mind would be focused on God and not on the world. This is not an exhaustive list of possibilities, or even a checklist of requirements, but items that I have found that are helpful in trying to prepare for the Lord’s day.

The corporate worship service on the Lord’s day is the cornerstone of the day and week for the Christian. It is immensely crucial for a Christian to be plugged into a local church and faithfully attending services at that church when able. The mentoring and guidance I have gotten from the pastors and members at my church, and the rich sermons I have heard have been invaluable to my growth as a believer. This is something much harder to achieve remotely via a podcast or watching videos. However, many Christians have become confused as to what the primary purpose of the Sunday church service. Pastor Jeffrey Meyers does a great job of discussing this in his book: “The Lord’s Service”. He states that people often misunderstand and believe that they go to church to cater to unbelievers, to see the results of new members, to hear warm; feel good messages. While the church is definitely supposed to evangelize and preach the gospel to the nations, the primary purpose of the Sunday Service is not that. Many fall victim to thinking a type of passive participation in aesthetically pleasing performances that makes newcomers feel comfortable and happy should be what brings them to church and keeps them coming. Pastor Meyers brings up 1 Corinthians 14:24-25, that an unbeliever won’t be comforted initially. That they will be “convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you”. The gospel message is sweet to the believer, convicting go the nonbeliever. Christians do not go to Sunday service for the sake of the unbeliever. Sunday services, simply stated are for covenant renewal. We go to be drawn close to God, as he dwells among us. We worship him, we hear the word of God via scripture, we pray, and ideally we take the Lord’s supper and our covenant with God is renewed. We leave Sunday services reinvigorated by the grace of God. I have had the privilege of attending Sunday service at Pastor Meyer’s Church. The service worship and sermons are rich and are designed to bring about this renewal.

As stated above, while the Lord’s day service is the highlight of the day, it is does not mark the end of the day. The Lord’s day is an entire day, and this mindset should carry us from the service back into our homes. After the service we should continue the renewal and rejuvenation process through time set aside for further devotion and reflection on scripture, biblical readings, further study of the sermon, biblical podcasts, worship, and other tasks that will draw us near to God and allow us to rest in him outside of the world. It is also important to spend some time with family and in fellowship with other believers when possible on this day. We are relational beings. We get immense benefit as believers for spending time with fellow Christians gaining encouragement, spiritual growth, and the joy of companionship.

I encourage you to examine scripture and the resources available to determine what the Lord’s Day means to you. Keep in mind that it is a process of continual improvement and that there are many Christians with differing Lord’s Day practices. I encourage you to treat this day with reverence. Set aside some time to attend church service, rest, reflect, and experience renewal in our Lord.

All scriptures from the ESV Bible

Sources:

  • The Westminster Larger Catechism The Presbyterian Committee of Publication – 1939
  • The Lord’s Service: The Grace of Covenant Renewal Worship Jeffrey J. Meyers – Canon Press – 2003

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