Saturday, May 30, 2009

Why I Worship On Sunday

A number of months ago I received an email from a friend who recommended a blog that he has begun reading by Neil Cole. Neil is one of the leaders of the organic church movement and in one of his blogs he asks if attending Sunday services is really all that important. He uses scripture and so called history to prove his point that it is not. You can read Mr. Cole’s specific blog at

I agree with many of the things that Mr. Cole says about abuses that we see in our Sunday worship some 200 centuries since the founding of the Church, but I also disagree with some of his conclusions.

First we must consider what the climate was like for the first century church and what would happen to the church in 3 short centuries of time. Yes, Mr. Cole is correct that many of the gatherings were in homes. And you can read the description of what one of their meetings was like if you pick up a copy of “Going To Church In The First Century” by Robert Banks. In this book Banks accurately describes what a normal worship event was like in many towns and cities throughout the Roman Empire.

But we also know that many believers also met in larger buildings when they were not being persecuted. In the beginning chapters of the book of Acts we find over 100 people together in an upper room holding a prayer meeting. In fact at one time over 500 people witnessed Jesus after His resurrection (see 1 Cor.). We don’t know if this was an open air event or held in a building.

We also see that the Jerusalem church had many people coming together for common meals. When the problem arose regarding the care of the Grecian widows during the meal times 7 men were chosen to act as waiters at the tables to ensure that everyone received their portion of the meal. (We did something similar during our Christmas Breakfast here at Grace. We were concerned about some of the young children in the front of the line taking more then they could eat and there being nothing left for those who were at the end.) So we limited the portions one could take the first time through the line.

The second issue and perhaps the more important issue is: “Should a church meet on the first day of the week?

To this I again would look to the fact that the early believers meet throughout the week as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. But I would also point out that special emphasis is placed on meeting on the first day of the week, primarily to commemorate and celebrate Christ’s resurrection from the dead on the first day of the week. (Matthew 28:1) I would further point out that Mr. Cole is correct that the passage in 1 Corinthians 16:2 is speaking about the church collecting an offering for the Jerusalem believers who were suffering a drought and many were impoverished. While the passage does not say that believers gathered for worship on the first day, it has to be implied in the passage. Otherwise we have people who have worked a long day coming together to simply drop off their offering and nothing more. (Un)common sense would suggest that this time could and would make perfect sense for a worship service to happen. Also in Acts 20:7 it is recorded that the disciples in Europe gathered together to break bread (code word for communion) and to hear Paul speak. This seemed the natural thing to do. In my thinking it becomes obvious the Sunday worship was a common occurance.

Another thoughts regarding the Gospels is that all four Gospels indicate that the Resurrection was discovered early in the morning on the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). Six of the eight appearances of Christ to his followers after the Resurrection took place on the first day: to Mary Magdalene (John 20:1–18), to the women bringing spices to anoint Jesus’ body (Matt. 28:7–10), to two disciples on the Emmaus road (Luke 24:13–33), to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34), to the ten disciples when Thomas was absent (John 20:19–23; cf. Luke 24:36–49), and possibly (although the text uses the phrase “after eight days”) to the eleven disciples when Thomas was present (John 20:24–29). These appearances of Christ on the first day were sufficient to set it apart as a day of particular significance. If the crucifixion of Jesus took place on the sixth day of the week (Friday), as is traditionally held, then the day of Pentecost that year was also on the first day of the week, since it falls fifty days after Passover (which would have coincided with the Sabbath). If so, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles also occurred on the Lord’s Day (Acts 2:1–4).

A couple of final thoughts on the subject, this one also taken from the ancient church. Justin Martyr (c. 100–165) explains that the church chose this day for worship because it was both the first day of Creation and the day of the resurrection of Christ. Thus the Lord’s Day contrasts with the Sabbath in a second respect closely related to the Resurrection. Whereas the Sabbath, or seventh day, marked God’s resting from his creative activity (Gen. 2:1–2), the Lord’s Day is a day of “new creation.” By worshiping on the first day of the week, the Christian church is making a statement about the new beginning God has made in Jesus Christ and the people of the new covenant (2 Cor. 5:17; Rev. 21:1–5).

The church practiced something called the 8th day of the week. The counting of the survivors of the flood with attention to the fact that there were “eight” (
i.e., Noah and his wife, his three sons and their wives, Gen 7:13) is attested elsewhere in early Christian literature (cf. 2 Pet 2:5; Theophilus, AdAutol 3.19; Sib. Or. 1.280–81), where “eight” was sometimes given a symbolic significance (e.g., representing Sunday, “the eighth day,” in which Christ rose from the dead: Justin, Dial. 138.1–2; cf. also Barn. 15.9)[3] They believed that the 1st day of the week was the beginning of creation and that like the first creation the new creation began on the 1st day of the week with the resurrection of the Lord. Additionally they saw the first day of the new creation or the 8th day of the week to be the culmination of God’s creation by the new creation that begins to set right the fall of the first creation because of our parents Adam & Eve.

In the early church the number eight held special significance in the understanding of numbers. Just as the number 3 = equaled God (ie trinity) and 4 = creation then 3 + 4 = 7 = completion. The number 8 = resurrection and recreation or new creation. For examples of the number eight and how it means recreation see 1 Peter 3:20 and 2 Peter 2:5.

I firmly believe that we honor not only our Lord’s resurrection but His recreation of a fallen world by worshiping on Sunday the first day of the week!

A part of the re-created order, I’m

Pastor Val

[1]Robert Webber, The Biblical Foundations of Christian Worship, 1st ed. (Nashville, Tenn.: Star Song Pub. Group, 1993), 196.
[2]Robert Webber, The Biblical Foundations of Christian Worship, 1st ed. (Nashville, Tenn.: Star Song Pub. Group, 1993), 196.
i.e. id est, that is
cf. confer, compare
Sib. Or. Sibylline Oracles
e.g. exempli gratia, for example
Dial. Dialogue with Trypho
Barn. Barnabas
[3]J. Ramsey Michaels, vol. 49, Word Biblical Commentary : 1 Peter, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 212.

No comments: