That’s how most Christians identify the first day of the week. Early churches, which we read of in the book of Acts, met on that day to worship the Lord together. Paul wrote to first-century churches that when they met on the first day of the week, they should set aside an offering. (I Cor. 16:1,2)
Before Calvary, the weekly day of rest and worship was called the Sabbath because it was the seventh day, and God ordained that man should rest one day in seven. God gave us the prototype of this day in the first week of the world when, having created the heavens and earth and all that is therein, including man, God rested from His labors on the seventh day.
When God called a people who were to be peculiar and holy for His glory, He gave them ten commandments. (Exodus 20) One of those commandments was that they were to sanctify one day in seven, the Sabbath, as a day of rest. This was part of the Old Testament revelatory and regulatory law. No work was to be done on this day: it was a day hallowed unto God.
“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17) Jesus Christ, the only man (the God-man) who ever fully kept the law, fulfilled the law and the regulatory aspect of it was abolished. In Christ, we are free from the law, which served as a “school master” to bring us to Christ. It served its purpose well but no longer regulates (with its 613 commands following the 10 commandments) every aspect of the believer’s walk and work, dress and diet. However, the universal principle ordained of God before the law was given on Mt. Sinai and codified in the law of God—i.e., the “one day in seven as a day of rest”—still obtains as part of the order of the universe. He who follows God’s example, and sets aside one day in seven as a day of rest, is wise.
For those who are members of His Body, the Church, we recognize that there is more to keeping the one day than merely resting. We come together to praise the Lord of creation and to worship Him with prayer, preaching and praise. It is a day of worship. We celebrate what He has done for us, what He is doing through us, and what He will one day do for us when He comes to call us to Himself.
Are you benefitting from practicing this one day in seven principle? Is it truly a day that you cherish? Is it your favorite day of the week? Do you treasure the time when, on the first day of the week, you once again assemble with your family of faith and sing praises, lift up prayers and receive food from the Word of God? We pretty much took these gifts for granted until about the end of March 2020 when, due to the worldwide Covid 19 pandemic, public gatherings, including most worshipping assemblies, were shut down for some time. We then realized how precious those privileges were and how very much we missed them every Lord’s Day. Watching the streamed messages delivered by faithful shepherds of the flock, though it was an immeasurable blessing, just did not take the place of face-to-face fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ.
Blessed are the children whose parents have prioritized the one day in seven principle! They will grow up having spiritual foundations and moral moorings that will stand them in good stead all the days of their lives.
Blessed is the nation whose people shut down the work week for a day of physical and spiritual refreshment. Our nation was once a land where church bells called congregations apart for a day of edification and spiritual nourishment. In 1979, when we moved to Indianapolis, there were a number of stores and businesses that still respected so-called “blue laws,” and their retail establishments were closed for business on Sundays. But it was not long before that changed and one could hardly find a store that was closed on Sunday, as is the case today.
Sunday School and Sunday worship were part and parcel of the strongest days of America’s history. Preaching and music and revival meetings and Bible Schools and camp meetings—all have been part of the great religious heritage of this nation, which God has allowed to become one of the superpowers of the universe. Our faith in God, our honoring of His Word, preaching the gospel and sending it through great missionary endeavors to the uttermost parts of the world, and our hallowing of the first day of the week—all have been vital components in the mix that made America the giant that it became.
But giants fall. In proportion to our desecrating of His holy day, we can almost trace the spiritual slippage of America. Church attendance shot up dramatically after 9-11 for about two weeks. People trekked back to church to hear a word from God. But soon things got back to “normal.” Weekends in the woods or on the beaches or at the flea-markets or visiting relatives or just shuffling around the house lazily replaced reverent seeking after God by setting aside the first day of the week—the day upon which His Son rose from the grave triumphant over death and hell—as a day of worship.
A Gallup poll in the early 1990s found that 32% of American adults at that time claimed to be “reborn.” When asked if they attended church regularly, the figure dropped to 8%. When asked if they were “regenerate” and had the Christian character and desire to make a difference in the world, the figures plummeted to 1 or 2%. It is safe to assume that the figures today are not an improvement on that late-20th century polling data.
For far too many, even those who name Christ as Lord, Sunday has become Funday. Instead of a day of worship, it has become a day of “workship” or a day to do whatever one wants. Christ’s church suffers today because we bought into the spirit of the age and have compromised our reverence for the Lord’s Day. We have enjoyed our pursuits. We have cultivated our personal interests. Sports, of course, is huge. We have seen the world. But we have too often sacrificed our weekly appointment with the One who loved us so much that He gave His Son, His only begotten Son, to die for the remission of our sins.
It would be well, then, for each of us to evaluate our view of Sunday. Is it high on your list of special days? Do you honor the Lord with rest and worship on the Lord’s Day?