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  • Chad Werkhoven

1 Corinthians 16:1-2 - The Lord's Day

You're missing out on blessings because you're too tired to rest.


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Read 1 Corinthians 16:1-2

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Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 103

Q. What is God’s will for you

in the fourth commandment?


A. First,

that the gospel ministry

and education for it

be maintained,

and that, especially on

the festive day of rest,

I regularly attend the assembly of God’s people

to learn what God’s Word teaches,

to participate in the sacraments,

to pray to God publicly,

and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.


Second,

that every day of my life

I rest from my evil ways,

let the Lord work in me through his Spirit,

and so begin already in this life the eternal Sabbath.

 

Summary

As Reformed people, we're used to pointing to a specific chapter and verse in the Bible as the foundation for every belief and practice we have. This is a good thing! We're people who firmly stand on the Word of God so that we don't get "blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming (Ephesians 4:14)."


So it may seem odd that we don't have a specific Biblical command one of our bedrock practices - to rest on the first day of the week, rather than the seventh day of the week as God demonstrated after creation, a pattern modeled by His covenant people for thousands of years. But the fourth commandment only stipulates that people follow a pattern of six days of labor followed by a Sabbath day on the seventh; it never specifies whether that day of rest ought to be the first, third or last day of the week according to a calendar.


But we do have Biblical grounds to stand on for designating the first day of the week as our day of worship. Granted, these grounds we read here in 1 Corinthians 16 are not as prominent and glorious as our scriptural proof we have for our doctrines of grace, but they're solid none the less. Just as the Israelites followed a pattern set for them, so do we.


The point of today's passage is not necessarily to codify Sunday as the day of worship, it's to emphasize the need to take collections for the Church in an orderly and consistent way. Paul tells the Corinthians (and subsequently us) to take that collection each time they come together to meet for worship - on the first day of every week. This isn't the only clue that the New Testament gives us that from the earliest days of the Church, the designated meeting day was Sunday.


But why this shift? It's because of what happened on the first day of the week two thousand years ago: the central event in all of history and the source of all of our hope and joy: our Savior stepped out of the grave, having conquered sin and death.


From that day forward, Christians have been meeting together on what John designated as the Lord's Day (Rev. 1:10).



Dig Deeper


The sad reality is that the worship in far too many North American churches has become anemic, tired, and completely lacking in energy. Certainly there's lots of reasons for this, but one reason that's becoming clearer to me is that we've conflated the concepts of Sabbath and the Lord's Day.


Now certainly there's rest to be found as God's people gather to unload the burden of their sin and be comforted by the grace found in His Word. Our activities on Sunday afternoon ought to be noticeably slower paced than the other days of the week; many of us look forward to a nap after church. Our catechism is right to refer to the Lord's Day as a day of rest.


But it's a festive day of rest. We've seen this past week that we're the ones who are blessed as we gather to worship God. That blessing fully comes by grace alone, but it takes hard work to fully appreciate the benefits of this blessing. The more time and energy (= work) you put into reading, singing, praying and listening to God's Word, the more blessing you will receive. It takes lots of hard work to "maintain the gospel ministry and education for it" as the Catechism reminds us.


The fourth commandment requires you to labor for six days and then rest. This does not mean "do your own stuff for six days and then get all of your rest in the pew on the seventh (or skip the pew altogether)." You know this doesn't work, and if you're exhausted all the time, this is probably why.


Try following the pattern we looked at earlier this week in which your day of rest begins already on Saturday (remember - it's called Sabado in Spanish) so that you're rested and ready to do the hard but holy work of worshipping God on the Lord's Day (Domingo) and see how much more energy you have after a couple of weeks of this pattern.



  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who has commanded us to care for and support the Lord's people;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Ask God for the resolve to change your weekly pattern so you have the energy you need to properly rest on the Lord's Day.

  • ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:

 

Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - 2 Timothy 3

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