Summary: Why does the Christian church meet on Sunday? There are compelling reasons.
What’s In a Day?
March 5, 2005
We are in a very exciting time for our little church, here in Cornwall. We are in our final month as renters, and we are about to do something very new for our church and for most of our denomination, in fact- move into our own building. The next few months are very important for us. They are months when we, because of Jesus’ guiding us to such, need to be clarifying who we are, what we’re for, and how we’re going to go about doing the work of the church, with Jesus as the head, here in Cornwall. Remember, that I am not the head, and no one in the congregation is the head- Jesus is the head of our church, and we’re all along as brothers and sisters, wanting to assist in His work.
What is the church for? What is the grand over-arching responsibility or opportunity of the church? Jesus told us, prior to his departure to heaven, that the church is to go and make disciples of all people and to help people into relationship with Him.
Please turn to Lk.14.15-24- here we have an exciting story, given by Jesus, to illustrate the process of helping people to the God family. This story, without question, is allegorical of the process that God has been involved in for centuries. Let’s read it together.
The mission of the church is to reach out to people where they are, in the places they are in, the attitudes they are in, and the frame of mind and understanding that they are in. The apostle Paul was particularly good at this- with one outstanding example being how he reached to the very minds of people:
Acts 17.22-32- in another place, he declared that he would reach, in whatever way would help, to each individual and group he encountered- 1 Cor.9.19-23.
In addition, based on what Jesus tells us, through his story and what Paul tells us, we’re not to make it more difficult than it already is for individuals to come to Christ. We understand that God is powerfully at work- Jn.6.44- no one will cross the line to faith unless God is involved, but we must not add to what is necessary, or seems to be necessary, to cross the line- Ro.10.8- the word is near, v.9-13. We must not add extras or make the process more difficult. In fact, Jesus indicated, in telling the servant to go out and compel people to come, that they were not given time to ‘clean up’, or anything like that- nothing was given but the invitation.
Today, we need to look at one area in whish we can be guilty of adding something that makes it more difficult for God to bring people that we touch, to Himself. This is one area that is difficult for us to even consider, but which can be a great impediment to our coming alongside Jesus in His work in Cornwall. This has to do with the simple matter of the day we meet for church. (I want to ask each of you to take a deep breath, listen, and follow the scriptures and ideas that we need to consider together today.) There are some things we need to understand, on this subject, so that we, together, can make the decision that will enable us to be as greatly effective as possible here.
We have to look at historical and biblical Christianity, today, and understand what they did with regard to their day for worship, and reasons for why they did it. We’ve never put a lot of stock in historical Christianity, but we need to, because the church didn’t just start here in Cornwall, and it didn’t start in Eugene, Oregon in 1934- it began in 31 AD, in Jerusalem, and has extended from there.
Matt.16.18- Jesus declared it and this is one incredible reality of life from there.
First of all, let’s look at the early church- a great example and our example, in so many ways. There is a constant cry, in Christian circles, to become more like the early church. Let’s see their example.
Acts 20.7- without question, there is no command to meet together as a church on Sunday. Instead, the basis upon which churches meet Sunday is that meeting on Sunday was the practice of the early church. This is the only place that records the church meeting on Sunday, and some object to this, on the basis that it is a singular reference. However, this is the only place in scripture that specifically records on which day the early church met together, and how this is recorded is important to understand.
Luke is recording a narrative of events in the early church, but it is not true to imagine that he is only recording narrative. One of Luke’s purposes for writing is to instruct the early churches in apostolic teaching. Luke records only those events that would best accomplish this goal. And it is not so much the number of references to this or that practice that establishes a pattern. Rather, it is the way in which the practice is presented. Luke’s mention of this declares an assumption that this was an ongoing practice. He says, literally, “On the first day of the week, having come together to break bread.” The Greek conveys that the point is not simply that the church met together, and incidentally this week it happened to be on Sunday. Rather, Luke’s statement is more accurately stated as, “On the first day of the week, when we came together to break bread,” implying a definite link between meeting together as a church and meeting together on Sunday.