Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 14 Logos since 31 July 2017 . Restoring the Lord's Day (Part 2)

. Restoring the Lord's Day (Part 2)

RESTORING THE LORD'S DAY (PART 2)

 

Today is part 2 of a single sermon which I would have preferred to preach as one, as history teaches us that a bunch of people who were there last week are not with us today.

 

Why am I preaching this sermon? Is my aim simply to increase attendance on Sunday? That by the way is a by-product of my aim. I believe many Christians have forgotten the true meaning of The Lord’s Day and it has become their day to do whatever and however and how often they want to do just what their hearts desire. It is a matter of the heart, and I believe that many hearts of Christians as well as the Lord’s Day has been captured by the world. And if we do not wake up, it will get worse and worse.

 

We saw in Psalm 118:24 (ESV) that 24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” We also saw that while every day should be the Lord’s Day for us, this verse is prophetic in referring to the first day of the week, as the day when Jesus rose, as we understand the context of the stone the builders rejected on the cross, became the cornerstone through the resurrection.

 

We saw then in the first place that this is a New Day, and it is a Chosen day. Without further ado, we march on to our third point.

Point 3. It is a confirmed day.

 

Now, many of us hate history and believe we must not dig up old cows, but it is critical. Church history does not share the authority of scripture, but it does tell us how Scripture was interpreted and understood in the early New Testament period. What we see in the early church is that they met on the first day of the week.

 

For example, the Didache that was written at the end of the first century says this: “on the Lord’s own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks.”

In the Epistle of Barnabas around AD 70 is says this “finally he sayeth the present Sabbaths are not acceptable to me, I shall make a new beginning of the 8th day. That is the beginning of another world wherefore also we keep the Lord’s day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose from the dead.” So, there is a clear connection between the Lord’s day and the day Jesus rose from the dead, which explains John’s usage of that term in Revelation.

 

Ignatius writing around AD 110 writes this “if then those who walked in the ancient practices attain unto newness of hope no longer observe the Sabbaths but fashioning their lives after the Lord’s day on which our life also rose through Him that we may be found disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ our only teacher.”

Justin Martyr writing in AD 135 wrote this: “Sunday is the day upon which we all hold our communion assembly because it is the first day on which God had brought a change in the darkness and matter and made the world and Jesus Christ our Saviour on that day rose from the dead, and on that day called Sunday all who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place where the memoirs of the apostles and writings are read as long as time permits.”

Clement of Alexandria writing in AD 194 wrote this: “the old Sabbath day has become nothing more than a working day.”

Eusebius of Caesarea writing in AD 315 “the churches throughout the rest of the world observe the practice that has prevailed from Apostolic tradition until the present time so that it would not be proper to terminate our fast on any other day but the resurrection day of our Saviour.”

 

It was at this same time that a decree was sent out to all the bishops in the area that the “mystery of the resurrection should be celebrated on no other day than the Lord’s day.”

 

So you do not just have the New Testament evidence which is the final word, but you have the statements and examples of our early believers that give us all the evidence that the Early New Testament church gathered together on the first day of the week which was a Sunday. And in all of these statements that I read, none considered it to be a Sabbath Day just on a new day. It was just a day of great celebration because it was the day the Lord had made and we were to rejoice and be glad in it because it was the day upon which God raised His Son from the dead.

 

Point 4. It is a meaningful day.

 

Is there anything in the Sabbath from a moral point of view that we carry over to the Sunday? There are two ways to answer this. Firstly we need to say an emphatic no, not directly. But secondly, we need to acknowledge that from a moral point of view there is a likeness between the two days. There are some moral principles from New Testament teaching contained in the Lord’s Day that are also found in the Sabbath day before it’s distortion by the Jews. What was the broader purpose of the Sabbath Day?

 

4.1 It was a day for worship.

 

Something that is clear throughout the New Testament is that the Lord’s Day is a day set aside for believers for worship. Now remember, we cannot expect the world to celebrate the Lord’s Day with us. The notion by some governments to force all people to adhere to so called Lord’s Day rules is wrong. I have sympathy with the Atheist who complained about church bells waking him up early in the morning. It is sad that he is an atheist but our bells were not meant for him. He is right when he says that Christians must just use their alarm clocks. The Apostles didn’t go around ringing bells to get people to worship. No, the people gave themselves freely to the teaching of the Apostles.

 

Let me quote Lewis Chafer again. He says: “The unsaved sustain no relation to the Lord’s Day, since that day belongs only to the New Creation, and therefore the pressing of the observance of a religious day upon that individual who is unsaved, is misleading in the extreme; for it tends to the utter confusion of the gospel of grace. God is not calling on the unsaved to keep a day to which they could in no way be related. The issue between God and the sinner is the one issue which the new gospel of grace has raised and imposed. It is a question as to whether he will believe on the Lord Jesus Christ unto forgiveness and eternal life.” We do not force communion or baptism upon an unbeliever; let’s not force a day upon them.

 

To the government I will say for example, close the alcohol section in Supermarkets if you so desire on a Sunday, close it every day for that matter, but not because Sunday is the Lord’s Day, because by closing it, it does not bring you one centimetre closer to the righteousness that Christ alone can give.

 

Now the Lord’s Day for us as believers is not with restrictions about food and fires and travel and blood sacrifices and all that as seen with the Sabbath. But we do find New Testament commands that the saints are to gather together, that they were not to forsake the assembling of themselves together but that we are to exhort one another all the more as we see the day approaching. Wouldn’t we all agree that we are closer to the Lord’s return than we’ve ever been? Our gathering should be more urgent, shouldn’t it? So far from being unfaithful to the fellowship of the saints we should make sure that we are exhorting each other more and more. Morally speaking, this is a day that ought to be respected in terms of worship. Every day is a day for private worship, but there is this one day that we set aside for corporate worship.

 

4.2 It was a day of delight and instruction.

The Law of Moses and as much as they had of the Old Testament was read on the Sabbath. They celebrated and they learned. That’s what we are to do on the Lord’s Day. We are to delight in the Lord and this is the day that we are to gather together for the instruction that comes from the Word of God. You are not celebrating the Lord’s Day if you are not enjoying it.  If we are too pre-occupied with other things how will we set our hearts upon the Word of God?

 

We must be careful to think that because we are not under law that we have license to do just what we want to. What can I do on the Lord’s Day if I am not under law? The answer is simple; you can do whatever you want to as long as it is not sin. But, there is a deeper issue here, and that is the balances, and you need to listen to me very carefully.

 

Let me explain what happens. Anyone who does not trust fully in the completed work of Christ will do one of two things. Firstly, some will create laws because the righteousness that comes from Christ is insufficient and by law-keeping they demonstrate their own righteousness. Secondly, others will abuse the grace they have received and they will do whatever they want to without consideration of the deeper Biblical principles.

 

The simple question is this. If this is the Lord ’s Day, and not my day, how can I best and properly celebrate the Lord’s Day? So then. Can I mow the lawn on a Sunday? Yes, you can because you are not under law. But being under grace would you not rather gather with God’s people, and worship and rest and listen to the Word of God. You see, if it is the Lord’s Day it should be lived in whatever manner that will most honour and glorify the Lord Jesus. James Boice says regarding the freedom we have on a Sunday: ”If you take that to mean that you are in a rush to get out of church, I will almost rather have you view the day legalistically.”

 

He is right. Firstly, if you hear the excuses we hear as pastors why people are not going to be in worship, excuses you will not hear in any other place, then I agree with Boice, I would rather have you view the day legalistically. Secondly, if you see the inconsistencies in people’s reasons why they are not going to be in worship and under the scriptures and delighting in the Lord then I will rather have people view the day legalistically.

 

We are more legalistic about Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day than the Lord’s Day. We spend money on these days because the world tells us to.

 

Somebody confessed to me a few years ago that they had so easily stayed away on a Sunday morning and evening from worship because they had to study. Well, I’m not under law and I am allowed to study. But when the person sat back and calculated the hours they broke away from their studies on the Lord’s day for meals, watching TV, going to a shop and just having a break, that person could have been in both services on a Sunday and still have had a three hour break away from the studies.

 

God never meant for us to treat His Word lightly. So, on the day that His Word is being declared we are to prepare our minds and our hearts and we are to be present. We are to come into this place ready to hear the Words of the Living God. So, you are not breaking the law if you do other stuff on a Sunday, because you are not under law. The issue is this. How is your relationship with the Lord? If you say good, and you tell me you will rather fish or work or swim on the Lord’s day than being with God’s people around the Word of God and in worship, then I question your real relationship with Him.

 

4.3 It was a day of rest.

 

I believe this is true for us of a Sunday as well. Even as we understand our rest is in Jesus, Sunday is a great day of rest for us. I don’t mean rest physically, although you might do that as well. A Sunday is as someone once said that few minutes between two boxing rounds when you cease fighting and get refreshed. We are encouraged, we are taught and we benefit from each other’s fellowship. What a wonderful day of rest.

 

This is a great day of rest for us and in that way, it is like the Sabbath. Isn’t it wonderful to know that this is the day that the Lord has made, and we are to rejoice and be glad in it, and we are to enjoy it and rest in it. God has given us a day by example on which we are to gather together, worship Him, delight in Him, receive instruction from Him, rest in the sense that we are prepared to receive the Word of God, and refreshed in our walk with Him. All of it celebrates the fact that we have a risen Saviour who came to this earth to fulfil the law, who died on the cross in our stead, who was raised from the dead and ascended back to the Father and presented His merits on our behalf. His blood answers for the forgiveness of all our sins and His righteousness answers for our acceptance with God, and every day we are to celebrate that but on this day, we are to gather together and celebrate that.

 

May we not take this day lightly, but may we enjoy it for all that God meant for it to be to His church for the chief end of man as the Catechisms say is “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.”

 

Sunday is a great day for us to step back from life and look at all the blessings we have enjoyed over the last 6 days. This practice will keep us current in our praise and in our thanksgiving. Let’s remember that it is a new day, it is a chosen day, it is a confirmed day and it is a meaningful day. Do your part to make it meaningful, by considering it, planning for it and enjoying it.

 

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: - 28 May 2017