On which day should Christians worship?

When is the proper day to worship? The 4th Commandment in the Old Testament, teaches, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8). God created everything that exists, by the power of His spoken word. He created everything ex nihilo "out of nothing" and He did it in 6 literal days. About the 7th day, Exodus explains, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy” (20:11). Thus the 7th (or Sabbath), day was instituted, by the Lord, as a day of rest and worship. Everyone was to follow God’s pattern and work for 6 days and rest on the 7th. It was a day of refreshment physically as well as spiritually. Why then do we worship on other days rather than Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath? Why is it that Sunday, the 1st day of the week, has become the customary day of worship? Who changed this? Those in the Old Testament were under the covenant of the Law. It was a strict command of the Mosaic Law that the Sabbath be observed as the holy day of rest. One group of religious leaders in Jesus day, were the Pharisees. They were a very legalistic sect in many ways. They were very strict about keeping the Sabbath day holy and they were correct about refraining from any work, however, they added to the Law legalistic customs and traditions, to the point that it was illegal to not only walk long distances, but also even to do good and helpful deeds. They accused Jesus, Himself, of even breaking the Sabbath law on many occasions, such as when He performed miraculous healings, (Mark 1:21,-28; Mark 1:29-31; John 5:1-18; Mark 3:1-6; Luke 13:10-17; Luke 14;1-6; John 9:1-16). Jesus, in many confrontations with them, called them heretics (Luke 13:15), and on at least one occasion said, “And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME. BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.” (Mark 7:6-7).

The Lord Jesus despised this false worship and said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28). God established a day of rest on the Sabbath day, to benefit us, and glorify Himself; He did not intend for us to worship Him with our mouths and bodies in a legalistic fashion, but rather with our hearts, faithfully, humbly, and willingly. Jesus also said, “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” He had the power over the Sabbath day and if anyone could authorize a change of the day, it was Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. After the perfect atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross, believers are no longer held under the covenant of the law we are now saved by God’s grace, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). However, we are still to obey the laws and the moral principles articulated in the commandment, “Keep the Sabbath day holy” are reaffirmed in the New Testament. The difference is the day in which it was done, the Jewish Sabbath, is no longer found to be the strict set day to rest and worship. After Jesus Christ’s resurrection, which took place on the first day of the week (Luke 24:1), there is no reference of Him meeting with His disciples together on the Jewish Sabbath day. Something had changed…something had changed them… It is understood that after His resurrection Jesus began appearing to His disciples and others on subsequent Sundays (the 1st day of the week). A week after the resurrection He appears to His disciples (John 20:26). It is often calculated that Jesus’ ascension occurred on Sunday. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descends on believers, in Acts 1:3, it is Sunday, the first day of the week, 50 days after the Passover. This appears to give the Disciples and Apostles the new model for worship. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Let no one judge you concerning food or drink, or in regard to a feast, new moon, or Sabbaths, which are a shadow of coming things, but the body belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17) The Apostles of the early church repeatedly gathered on the first day of the week rather than the Jewish Sabbath. “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered

together to break bread…” (Acts 20:7). Paul taught that the collection of tithes be taken on the first day of the week, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.” (1st Corinthians 16:2). It is also understood that John was speaking of Sunday in Revelation 1:10, “The Lord’s day”. It appears that the early church agreed with meeting on Sunday rather than the Sabbath. Ignatius of Antioch in 110 A.D. wrote, “have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in observance of the Lord's Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death.” Ignatius was the overseer of the church in Antioch. Justin Martyr in A.D. 150 wrote, “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.” It is because of these reasons that Christians worship on Sunday rather than the Jewish Sabbath. God wants willing servants to present true genuine worship to Him. It is not the day of the week that that is significant, because it is more than that. It involves the “How”, it is the intent and condition of your heart and that you set aside a day to rest in Christ Jesus and worship Him in “Spirit and Truth” (John 4:24). Essentially, it has become the first day of the week, thus Sunday is the common day of rest and worship. Yet, above all, let this one day remind us that God is the Lord of all of our days; He holds all seven of them. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

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