. Restoring the Lord's Day (Part 1)



The aim of my sermon today is to reverse a trend as far as the Lord’s Day is concerned where the Lord’s Day has now become My Day, Outing Day, Relax Day, Shopping Day or Family Day. If we have something left and there is nothing else we could have planned we will donate it to the Lord. We all remember the era where shops were closed on Sundays, only certain people worked, no sport was played on Sundays as it was the Lord’s Day. It all changed, and sadly this worldly mindset that now exists has Captured the Lord’s Day, and it is worse than the State Capture that we are so worried about. For the Lord’s Day to be captured by the world, it means that our hearts have been captured in the first place. The State Capture has an impact on the material world, while the Capture of the Lord’s Day has a spiritual effect that will be damning and catastrophic in the long run. I am not a pessimist and I am not a legalist, and in the end the Lord’s Day is not about me or Logos or any church for that matter. But I am extremely worried about the trend, as people are becoming more and more desensitised as far as what we are doing with the Lord’s Day is concerned.


Potentially, we can experience what we see in the Lutheran Church in Germany where their churches now have 1% attendance of their membership on Sundays while 60% of the population declare that they are religious. This figure is higher, but many declare that they are not religious as the government deducts 9% off your income to be given directly to the denominations you declare on your return. A nice 9.3 billion Euro industry.


Immediately we can argue, but every day for us is the same as the other days. And then, we are not under law but under grace. And then also, the old argument, my calf has fallen into the pit. But when this happens time and again, either get rid of the calf or close the pit. It is as bad as the person who cannot be at work because his mother had now died for the 8th time.


Many have concluded that since we are no longer under the restrictions of the Sabbath, and we aren't, we are also under no obligation to respect the Lord’s Day. This just isn’t so! In the next two sermons, we are going to see that Sunday is the Lord’s Day. As such, it is a day when God’s people should dedicate themselves to the Lord and to corporate worship. Sure, it is a day of rest, but not a day of sleeping, but a day of resting from work, ceasing work. Just like God who did not sleep on the 7th day, He rested from creating any further. I love what T. Dewitt Talmadge says – "Our bodies are seven day clocks and they need to be wound up, and if they are not wound up, they will run down into the grave. God didn’t give this Commandment (of rest) to interfere with our pleasure, but to insure our physical and spiritual health!” How do we wind them up? Physically, through rest and spiritually through corporate worship.


Today and next Sunday, I want to show you why Sunday is the Lord’s Day and what is required from us.


The first thing we need to do is to look at Psalm 118 where I want to show you that the Lord’s Day represents an entire new day and a very special day.


Point 1. It is a new day.


Maybe one of the most familiar verses in the Bible to most Christians is Psalm 118:24 (ESV)24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Now most people when they think about that verse think that this verse simply refers to every day that is given to us by God’s grace. There is no doubt that it is correct to think in such a way as the Lord is the maker of every day. But there is something very interesting here when we see this statement in its context. If you were to read all the verses leading up to this one, the Psalmist is giving thanks for physical deliverance, but now he is giving a word that has to do with spiritual deliverance.


Look at what the Psalmist writes in Psalm 118:19-26 (ESV) 19 Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it. 21 I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation. 22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save us, we pray, O Lord! O Lord, we pray, give us success! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We bless you from the house of the Lord.”

Now do we notice some very familiar words from the New Testament? When Jesus made His triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, what were they saying? “26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” and where is He blessed from? “We bless you from the house of the Lord.” This was prophesied by the Son of David.


But there is another statement in this context that is found more than once in the New Testament and that is verse 22: 22The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;” It is also called a capstone.


Now what is this image that is referred to in this context because you do not find it explained in the Old Testament except for here, so where does the imagery come from? It came from Jewish tradition back in the time when the temple of Solomon was constructed. They had the stone cutters cut the stone for the temple at the quarry and then they would transport the stones to the site of the temple and there they would construct the temple. One day a stone arrived that did not seem to fit the building. So, they set it aside. Finally, there came a place where there was need for a special stone, it was to be a capstone, the corner stone. They sent word to the cutters that they do not have that stone. The reply came back from the quarries that they had already sent it. After a while they found the old stone that was rejected and discovered that this very stone was the cornerstone.


The stone that the builders rejected. That stone became the cornerstone. Now what reference does this have to our sermon? Jesus quotes this about Himself in Matthew 21:33-45 (ESV) 33 “Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. 34 When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. 35 And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. 36 Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. 37 Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. 40 When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” 41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” 42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? (Psalm 118:23-24) 43 Therefore I tell you (Chief Priests and Pharisees), the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. 44 And the one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they perceived that he was speaking about them.”


There is a new day coming Jesus said, a time for a new building. It is called the spiritual church, something new. And He, the stone that the builders rejected will become the cornerstone. He will be the chief stone for this new building. In that context of Psalm 118 this new thing is talked about in terms of a new day. “This is the day that the Lord has made.” The question is, what day does the Psalmist prophetically write about? What day was this that all that Jesus was talking about was made plain?


What day was it that it was declared plainly that He is the Son of God, that the stone that the builders rejected is indeed the cornerstone?


It was the day of His resurrection.


Before you think that I’m thumb sucking here, look with me at Acts 4 and notice what Peter says: Acts 4:8-12 (ESV) 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”


Peter says the very one namely Jesus Christ whom they rejected and crucified is the chief cornerstone who was raised from the dead by God. This is a great day; this is a new day, the day that Jesus was raised from the dead because on that day the rejected stone became the chief corner stone. And this is the day on which the early believers began to worship. So, Sunday is not a new Sabbath. It is not the old day simply moved one day forward. This is a new day all together. It is special, it is unique, it is glorious, it is to be celebrated, it is to be used for God’s glory, it is to be used for corporate worship, it is not your day, it is not a holiday, family day, day to lie in because of a hard week. It is a new day all together, the day that the Lord has made. The Sabbath is fulfilled in Christ both now and in a future day of Messianic rest, but what we have now is something altogether new just like the church of Jesus Christ is something altogether new, and the day that we worship on, celebrates that He was raised from the dead on this day.


That is why Sunday is not a joyless day of observance – it is a joyful day of celebration. Every Sunday that we meet on we joyfully celebrate the fact that we serve a risen Saviour. He indeed is the cornerstone even though he was the stone that the builders rejected. “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”


So, the first thing we see is that it is a new day. It is not an old day with a new significance. It is an altogether new day.


Point 2. It is a chosen day.

I don’t believe that the early Christians simply sat around and said, hey - why don’t we meet on a Sunday, because after all this was the day of our Lord’s resurrection. I do believe that the connection was there. There is clear evidence that God led them in that connection. He led them to this day as a day that they would gather for worship and instruction. It is undeniable that those early Christians began to worship on the first day of the week. Just about every important event recorded in the New Testament that has important religious significance fell on Sunday. James Montgomery Boice quotes a man named Lewis Chafer who picks out eleven of these events. I want to mention 12 to you which I believe are critical in proving that the first day of the week is of major significance.


The first and most critical event is the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ on a Sunday. The day Jesus rose Christianity was born.

Secondly it was on the first day of the week He announces His ascension to His Father to Mary Magdalene.  Remember what Jesus says to Mary Magdalene on that day when He met with her in the garden. We read it in John 20:17 (ESV) 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” There are some interpretive issues here which I will not bore you with today. Some believe that Christ made mane ascensions to the Father and that 40 days passed between His appearance to Mary and to the disciples. Other’s see it as eminent.

Thirdly, it was on the evening of the first day, that very day the disciples were behind locked doors and Jesus came and stood among them and gave His peace to them. It says in John 20:19 (ESV) 19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

Fourthly it was on the first day of the week that He commissions them for evangelism. John 20:21 (ESV) 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”

Fifthly, it was on the first day of the week that He gave them the foretaste and promise of the Holy Spirit who would come in His fullness on the day of Pentecost. John 20:22 (ESV) 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

Sixthly it was on the first day of the week that Christ appeared to Thomas with the disciples exactly a week after He first appeared to His disciples. Remember Thomas would not believe that Christ was resurrected unless he could put his fingers in Christ’s wounds.  We see in John 20:26-27 (ESV) 26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

Seventhly, it was on the first day of the week that He first broke bread with His disciples after the resurrection. Firstly, you see Him breaking bread with the men who were on the road to Emmaus and then that evening still on the first day He broke bread with His disciples.

Eighthly, it is on this very first day of the week that Christ opened their understanding to the Scriptures. This happened again to the men on the road to Emmaus but look now at Luke 24:44-45 (ESV) 44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” Do you realize that we follow our Saviour’s lead when we gather on the first day of the week for the reading of Scripture? I know He does this every day, but is this not exactly what we ask from Him every first day of the week and that is to open our minds that we may understand the Scriptures.

Ninthly, it was on the first day of the week seven weeks after the resurrection on Pentecost that the Holy Spirit was given to the church for this age. Leviticus 23:16 Pentecost tells us when it should be. Pente being 5 was to be fifty days after the Passover. So, after the Sabbath at the end of the Passover plus 7 x 7 weeks we arrive at 49 days, plus one day for the 50 and we find ourselves on Sunday.

Tenthly, it was on the first day of the week that Paul gathered believers together for worship. You see this in Acts 20:7 (ESV) 7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.” This was that special occasion when the young man fell out of the window and died. Paul raised him from the dead, brought him back and kept on speaking till daybreak.

The eleventh example is that it was on the first day of the week that the Corinthian church and the Galatian churches were to set aside their offerings. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 (ESV) 1 Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.”

The twelfth example is in the Book of Revelation where we read that John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day and how Jesus revealed Himself to John in His resurrection glory. He also reveals to him the present state of the churches as well as the future plan of God for the rest of the age.


It is astounding that each of these 12 things happened on the first day of the week. There is no evidence that the early believers ever gathered on the Sabbath. They were gathered together, they were given an understanding of the Scriptures, they gathered offerings on the first day of the week, they broke bread on the first day of the week, they remembered and rejoiced in the one who died for them and was raised for them on the first day of the week. And that same privilege is ours.


So, this is not just a new day, this is a chosen day set forth by God for Christian worship. Next week we will see that it is a confirmed day and a meaningful day.

And I firmly believe that the extent to which we will love Christ will dictate our commitment to this day.



Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: - 21 May 2017