Sunday, January 14, 2018 am                                            NT Church Index


Worshipping God - 6
When do we come together?


Having examined how to worship, both the attitude and acts of worship we do as we assemble, today we want to address WHEN we assemble.  In this lesson we want to address: 1) Why do we assemble on Sunday? 2) Why do we not assemble on Saturday (the Sabbath)? 3) What about other assemblies?

This lesson will not be exhaustive, but present some of the basics to answer these questions.

 I.                     The First Day of the Week

a.       Why is Sunday important?

                                                   i.      It was the day Jesus arose from the dead – so says all 4 gospels – Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-2 & 9, Luke 24:1, John 20:1.  They mention “the first day of the week.”  Both Matthew and Mark emphasize that it was “after the Sabbath” or “when the Sabbath was past.”   This is significant because in Greek, the word for week in the NT is the same word as Sabbath, however in EVERY instance, it is preceded by “first day of the…”, Or for counting purpose, “first of the Sabbath” meaning the first day leading up to the next Sabbath. 
It is without question a reference to our Sunday. 

                                                 ii.      Jesus met on more than one Sunday after He arose – John 20:19 – later the day Jesus arose, “on the first day of the week” Jesus appeared to the apostles (minus Thomas). 
John 20:26, “after eight days His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them…”  Jesus again appears.  In the language of the time, the 8 days would include the first and last days of counting (Thus from Sunday to Sunday would be 8 days).  
While reasons are not given, it IS interesting that the disciples knew to meet the next Sunday following the resurrection.  COULD they have been so instructed to do?

                                                iii.      The church began on a Sunday – Pentecost (Acts 2).   Acts 2:1 tells us, “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come…” The events occurred on Pentecost. 
The timing of Pentecost is established in Leviticus 23:15-17 declares this feast (AKA, the “feast of weeks” was ALWAYS on a Sunday, “the day AFTER the seventh Sabbath”).
Pentecost was a harvest feast commanded by God (one of 3 annual feasts to be observed) to remember the “first fruits” or feast of harvest. (Exodus 23:16).  It was a ceremony where multiple sacrifices were offered to God.  In time, the feast also had other significance to Jews. 
This explains why Jerusalem was so full on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. 

                                                iv.      There are examples of the church coming together on the first day of the week to worship.

b.       We assemble on the first day of week because we have approved examples that such is what we ought to do – 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, Acts 20:7 – two acts of worship that we ONLY have an example of on the first day of the week.  As we have noted, these are acts of worship to be done weekly. 
NOTICE in Acts 20:6 that Paul arrived in Troas and stayed 7 days.  He met with the disciples (20:7) and departed the next day (Acts 20:11-13).  While not definitive, it is worthy of note that Paul did wait and assembled with the brethren and it WAS on the first day of the week.

c.        Revelation 1:9-10, “the Lord’s day”.  It is generally agreed this is a reference to Sunday, as it is a day distinguished from others.

d.       This is why we come together as the church each Sunday. All of these passages show the significance of this day and why it means so much to us as Christians. 

 II.                   What About the Sabbath?

a.       Some advocate that we should (or can) assemble on Saturday (the Sabbath).  Even more today are dismissive and say the day we assemble doesn’t really matter (many mega-churches, and perhaps others, offer several options on either Saturday or Sunday; Some Catholic churches offer as Saturday evening mass as a convenience for those unable to attend Sunday .)

b.       Why we do not keep the Sabbath.

                                                   i.      They are part of the Law of Moses (the Old Testament) – Exodus 20:8-11.

                                                 ii.      The 10 Commandments was specifically for the Jews – Exodus 20:2, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Deuteronomy 5:1-3 – it was a covenant “with us at Horeb” (Mt. Sinai). It was not “with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive…
Deuteronomy 5:15 as Moses retells the 10 commandments, he gives the reason for Sabbath, And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
Exodus 31:16-17
, as the LORD spoke to Moses on Mt. Sinai He gave instructions as to how the Sabbath was to be kept.  He said, Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.’ ”

Nehemiah 9:13-14, “You came down also on Mount Sinai, And spoke with them from heaven, And gave them just ordinances and true laws, Good statutes and commandments. You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, And commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, By the hand of Moses Your servant.

Ezekiel 20:10-12, “Therefore I made them go out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness. And I gave them My statutes and showed them My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them.’ Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them.

IN these and other passages we can see the Sabbath was for the children of Israel.  Instituted at Mt. Sinai for them. 

                                                iii.      The prophets declared that the Old Law was going to be replaced.  Jeremiah 31:31 speaks of a new covenant.

                                                iv.      We are not under the Law of Moses today – Colossian 2:13-14 tells us that Jesus wiped out the handwriting of requirements and nailed it to the cross.
NOTE: The LOM includes the 10 commandments.  Deuteronomy 4:13 – it was the 10 commandments that was written on stone. 
2 Corinthians 3:5-7 described the Old law as a letter that kills (in contrast with the new covenant that gives life).  Vs. 7 notes that this “ministry of death was “written and engraved on stones…”  Therefore, the Old Law INCLUDES the 10 commandments which was done away with. 

Hebrews 8:6-13, which quotes Jeremiah 31:31ff declares that in Jesus we have a new and better covenant. 
Matthew 5:17-18 – Jesus came to fulfill the Law and He did!
Many other passages explain this as well – Ephesians 2:11-16, Galatians 3-5, Romans 7:1-6, etc.

                                                  v.      There is NO New Testament passage calling for Christians to keep the Sabbath.  As we have seen they DID assemble on Sunday. 
The ONLY mention of the Sabbath AFTER Acts is Colossians 2:16, a passage where Paul is warning brethren to not let them be judged (possibly condemned) by keeping matters of the Old Law (especially binding them upon others).   In fact, the context (Colossians 2:13-17) is describing how the Old Law has been done away with.  Vs. 17 Paul noted that it “a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”
AFTER Pentecost, the Sabbath is mentioned 8 times in the book of Acts, each of them dealing with Paul meeting on the Sabbath to reason with Jews to teach them the truth.  It was not about Christians assembling to worship God.

                                                vi.      While there are arguments made by those advocating the Sabbath, (distinguishing between the moral and ceremonial laws of Moses – see above observations about 2 Corinthians 3 and what the Law included; an appeal to Genesis 2:1-3 – God blessed the seventh day and rested – Moses wrote this after the Law was established explaining what God did, etc.) they misapply scripture, both in context and in wording. Time will not permit a discussion of these at this time, but they CAN be answered.

c.        What is wrong with teaching or demanding we assemble on the Sabbath? 
It is keeping a portion of the Old Law.  Heed Galatians 5:4.
It is NOT following the pattern we have for the NT church.

 III.                 Do we need to assemble?

a.       The first day of the week – we have already established that there are acts of worship that require assembling on the first day of the week.  We have examples and commands. 

b.       We are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together - Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us to exhort one another, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. 

c.        It is clear God WANTS us to prefer one another and encourage one another.  While there are other ways to do this, certainly one way is planned times where the saints come together.

d.       Worship is about God – never forget this.  When we assemble, we are worshipping God.  We have noted we do this by following His instructions and obeying Him.  The assembly is part of that. 

e.       Why would one who professes to follow God NOT want to assemble?  Preferring and being with our brethren is a spiritual indicator.

f.         What about other services? Wednesdays, Bible studies, Gospel meetings, etc.?
No there’s not a passage of scripture that calls for a mid-week service, but as part of the Lord’s body, if it is something we have determined to do together (and that such is NOT without authority), again if the church is important to us, we will want to be a part of that. 
Consider the blessing of a mid-week service where in the midst of a week full of struggles and dealings with the world take pause to give God some time and encourage our brethren.
It is also an indicator of what or whom you prefer. 
IN so doing we show how much God means to us (giving Him more than the mere minimum, seeking Him and His kingdom FIRST – Matthew 6:33); how much our brethren mean to us; to be strengthened spiritually.  EVERY assembly, when approached with a proper attitude builds us up. 
Hebrews 10:25 does NOT specify WHICH assembling we are not to forsake!

g.       Warning: We should not overemphasize worship.  By this I do not mean emphasizing our need to assemble, BUT thinking that such is all one needs to do.  While assembling is a barometer, it is only a portion of the Christian’s life. 

h.       Thought: Do we see the church as important?  If so, we will invest in her.  And what we invest will determine what we get out of it.  We ought to think about this when it comes to assembling, AND in other matters concerning the church.
ASK yourself:  What would happen to this church if everyone were just like me?


These are some thoughts on when we assemble.  May our motives and actions be pure.  May we strive to have the attitude that David had: I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go into the house of the Lord.”   How