The greatest single event in the history of the world happened on the first day of the week! Jesus was raised from the dead. This is an historical fact evidenced by eyewitness testimony and an empty tomb. On the first day of the week assurance was given to all humanity that the salvation longed for was available and heaven as the home of the faithful child of God was [is] guaranteed. God guaranteed it by raising Jesus from the dead.
In the life of the early church the first day of the week was significant. No doubt its significance was tied directly to the resurrection of Jesus. But actions of the early church also centered on the first day of the week. No longer was the Sabbath a requirement for righteousness. In fact, Paul said no man could judge us in regard to the Sabbath (Colossians 2:16). The first day of the week was the day central to the worship life of the church. They did gather at other times but the first day of the week was the time they were instructed to gather for specific purposes.
Paul instructed the Corinthians to ‘lay by in store’ on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1,2). He was not giving them the command to meet on the first day, but to lay by in store. They were accustomed to assembling on the first day already. Paul was giving additional instruction for their specific activity during that assembly. Just in his first letter to Corinth he speaks of these actions during the assembly: partaking of the Lord’s Supper (11:17ff); singing and praying (14:15); prophesying (14:26-33) and now giving [‘laying by in store’]. The first day of the week, the day we call Sunday, was the day the church gathered together to worship God and encourage one another. What a dramatic change from the Sabbath Day [Saturday] to the first day [Sunday]. But yet this change of day was not a significant problem within the early church. They learned from the apostles and prophets and followed their inspired instructions. Today we are to do the same.
The instructions of the New Testament are to be handed faithfully from generation to generation (2 Timothy 2:2). No man has the authority to change the will of God given through the apostles and prophets of the New Testament. This does not just apply to the day of our assembling but extends to the actions of the day. We are to gather and pray together, as a body, on the first day. This is God’s will for his children and it is his will that all become children of his (2 Peter 3:8,9). We are to lay by in store [give] on the first day as we are assembled. We are to sing. We are to listen to the Word of God proclaimed. We are to partake of the Lord’s Supper. We cannot pick and choose between these, nor can we add other actions. These were authorized by God and cannot be changed by man [consider carefully Revelation 22:18,19; Deuteronomy 6:1-9; 29:29].
The first day is significant to the Lord, and to Christians. It is a day when God’s children take time to assemble with the purpose of worshiping God and encouraging one another. No other event in life should hinder the faithful child of God. No compromise can be made.
Consider the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection gives assurance to all men and great hope to the redeemed. But, the redeemed must continue to live in accordance with the new covenant mediated by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 9:15). How do you view Jesus and the resurrection? What are your actions on the first day of the week? As long as each week has the first day [which will never cease], so the children of God are to fulfill his will for the first day of the week.
By Greg Weston
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