The Lord’s Day is special. It is the only day of the week where most of us get a break from the normal rhythms of our life. It is also a day when we get a small foretaste of eternity. Richard Baxter provides a great reminder of this when he said, “What fitter day to ascend to heaven, than that on which He arose from earth, and fully triumphed over death and hell. Use your Sabbaths as steps to glory, till you have passed them all, and are there arrived.” What a blessing that Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is.
When I think about what should take place on a typical Lord’s Day I find myself coming up with at least 8 things that should be present each week.
The Lord’s Day is the Lord’s day. It is about celebrating the resurrection of our Lord. It is about worshiping Him and Him alone. This is how the day should begin and end. It is an entire day that is set aside for this primary purpose; exalting the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We must do it with our words, our actions, and our attitudes. If you are not doing this primarily then you are not truly taking this day seriously. The day must be a day of exaltation of our Lord.
This word simply means “to expose.” It means to comprehensively explain an idea. Primarily this will be done through preaching. Expository preaching is simple, but effective. It simply means that you read the Word, explain the Word as it would have been understood in its original context by careful exegesis, and apply the original meaning of the Word to the listening audience of today. Expository preaching may look and sound different according to the preacher, but this is what we should be listening to on any given Lord’s Day coming from the pulpit. It is through proper exposition that we find the bread of life and the living water that we need.
Part of the pastor’s job is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4). While this can be done during a Wednesday prayer service or a Tuesday morning bible study, it should be a part of the Lord’s Day, as well. In the hearing of prayers, it should equip us better to pray. In the singing of songs, it should equip us for personal worship. In the giving of offering, it should equip us to give sacrificially every day of our life. The Lord’s Day should be a day of equipping.
Edification should be part of our normal Lord’s Day as well. To edify means to build someone up. In the Christian life it has to do with building the character of a person. This is typically done through teaching but it is also done by the ordinary means of grace. It can also take place through good and godly conversation with a wiser brother or sister before or after church. This, no doubt, can and should take place at time other than on Sunday, but the Lord’s Day provides a unique opportunity for it. It is the one day when your closest brothers and sisters in Christ are gathered together. It is when the things of God are at the forefront of our minds. The Lord’s Day is a good day to be built up. It is a good day for the work of edification.
Exhortation is what sets teaching apart from preaching. Most often teaching is more about the transfer of information. The preacher wants you not only to understand the information, but also has a deep desire for you to do what has been taught. This is where exhortation comes in. To exhort means “to urgently call the listener to respond.” A mother may exhort her son to clear his room before his father gets home. A coach may exhort their athlete to push through with two more reps while bench-pressing, believing that those reps is what will push the team over the edge in victory. Yet, for Christians, we should go to church with an expectation of being exhorted from the Word. The Lord’s Day is a day for exhortation.
There should not be a more encouraging day on your calendar each week than Sunday. When we go to church we get to meet with our spiritual family. We get to fellowship, to serve, to worship in song on the Lord’s Day. We get fed by the Word in Sunday school or small groups. We get to pray for one another. We get to feast upon the Word through preaching. In all these ways, the Lord’s Day should be a day of great encouragement.
To evangelize literally means “to announce or declare the good news.” This good news is that Jesus has come to set the captives free and to save all who believe in him. He came to die for his bride, the church, by providing himself as the perfect, blameless, and righteous substitute. He stood in their place and took the just wrath that his people deserved. Yet, he didn’t stay dead. He rose from the dead on the third day as our victorious and conquering King. The good news is that for all who profess Jesus as Lord and repent of their sins shall be saved. The Lord’s Day is all about celebrating this. It is a day where, through the proclamation of the gospel, those who have not yet bent their knee to Christ are evangelized. Historically, it has been a day when many in the church have purposefully set aside time to evangelize their neighbors and friends. It is the one day when the evangelion (Greek for “the good news”) should be shared from the pulpit to the neighborhood park.
You may have heard that the Lord’s Day is supposed to be a day of rest. This is a hold over for the seventh day Sabbath that we find rooted in creation and then codified in the law of God to Israel. According to Hebrews 4:9-11, the Christian’s Sabbath rest is now ultimately in Christ and not the seventh day of the week. We are not bound to the Old Covenant’s demands of Sabbath keeping as Israel was, although many of the principles still apply for the Lord’s Day. Just as God rested on the seventh day of creation after working for six days, so man was meant for both work and rest. Just as Israel was commanded not to work on the Sabbath but to rest and worship, man was meant to rest from his normal work and worship the Lord on it. The Lord’s Day is the day set aside to do that for most of us (duties of necessity and mercy aside). Sunday should not look like every other day. This is not what the Lord intended for his people. Matthew 12:8 teaches us that the Sabbath (and by extension, the Lord’s Day) was made for man’s benefit, not to enslave man. It is made as a day for us to rest and worship to rejuvenate both our physical body and our spiritual soul. Thus, the Lord’s Day, even if it is filled with morning worship, evening worship, and fellowship in between, is supposed to look different than the other six days the Lord has given us. It is supposed to be a day of ease for the soul, even if the day tires the body at times.
The Lord’s Day is a gift to God’s people. It is not to be a burden but seen as a blessing. Remember that as you are preparing this Sunday: a gift, a blessing. Be reminded of the 8 “E’s” of the Lord’s Day and enjoy (a 9th “E”) every second of it. You will never regret it.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Adam B. Burrell