The Christian Sabbath
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
God commanded His people to “keep holy the Sabbath Day.” The “Sabbath Day” was changed by the Apostolic Church to the First Day, Sunday. The Church refers to Sunday as the Lord’s Day. Each Lord’s Day is a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christians set apart (keep holy) the first day of the week because Christians live in response to God’s grace. Therefore, Christians live under God’s word. The fourth commandment is central to all who call upon the name of the Lord! We who are of the household of God worship Him because He sought each of us to worship Him in spirit and in truth.
I wrote an article in 2012 which asked Christians a question. The question was, “Why go to Church?” The question was directed to those who have been born again by the Spirit of God. God’s word reveals His order of salvation by declaring: His effectual call; His act of regeneration; His conversion; His justification; His adoption; His sanctification; and His glorification. This represents God’s logical order of salvation. (CF: Romans 8:29-30)
Note that man’s will is not part of this logical order. Every action is God’s alone. Even the work of God’s free grace that is called sanctification is God working on the inside of the one who has been justified.
One of the primary evidences of God’s work of free grace in sanctification is that person’s desire to worship Him. Therefore, my question from 2012 remains, but slightly re-phrased. “Christian, why do you go to Church?” God makes Christians demonstrated by God’s order of salvation above. The Apostle Paul defined a Christian as one who is “in Christ.” Those who are “in Christ” are made “new creations”, 2Corinthians 5:17.
Christians, those made “new creations” don’t simply go to church. Christians are the church. The visible church, the one we see, is defined as those who profess faith in Jesus Christ and their children. Yet, there is a divine mandate for each member of the body of Christ to gather together to worship Him. Note the key verb in my previous sentence. Christians gather on the Lord’s Day, Sunday, to WORSHIP Him!
This is truly the heart of the matter. God made every one for worship. Men and woman will worship someone or something. Worship means to bow down to and serve the object of worship. The object of our worship is God. For Christians, there is only one reason to gather on Sunday. It is to worship God!
The worship manual of the Old Testament Church and the New Testament Church, the book of Psalms gives the answer to my question. Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”‘ God places in each believer a desire to gather with God’s people to declare His praises and to hear Him speak both in the reading of Scripture and in the Proclamation of Scripture. As a result, believers are edified or if you choose to use this word, fed.
God commanded corporate worship. But, it is more than a command. Worship is the primary desire of a Christian. The command and desire to worship carries blessings to the believer. God speaks to us in worship as we read His word and preach it. God meets us in our need as we confess our sins to Him and pray to Him. God continues to change us from the inside out to be more like Christ as we worship Him.
I believe every Christian should ask himself this question, “Why do you go to Church?” The answers heard most often are: “I’m looking for a place where I’m fed (meaning to be satisfied).” Or, “I’m looking for a place where my children are offered ‘relevant’ programs.” Or, “I’m looking for a place for my age group so that I have something in common with most of the people.” Or, a favorite one, “I’m looking for a place that has a praise band that plays uplifting music.” These responses have something in common. They are all man-centered. Without realizing it, they say, “I go to church to meet my felt needs.” We like to “feel” good about ourselves. God-centered worship is convicting. It is not comfortable to meet the God who is Holy, holy, holy, Isaiah 6:3
I urge you to ask yourself the “Church” question and get ready for God’s conviction!