RATHER THAN ON THE SABBATH SHE WORSHIPS ON THE
by Roy H. Lanier, Jr.
The Church of the Lord Jesus
meets on the first day of the week for regular worship. At that time, she eats
the Lord's Supper in memory of the death and resurrection of Jesus, she has a
time for exhorting and teaching God's word. She also worships in other ways when
assembled, in the songs, prayers and contribution. The Lord's church meets on
Sundays for some very special reasons.
WHY WORSHIP ON SUNDAY?
First, churches worship on
Sundays because some special events happened on that day.
1. Jesus rose on the first day
of the week (Mark 16:9). This verse states, "Now when he was risen early on the
first day of the week. . . "
2. The Holy Spirit came upon
the apostles that day. "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were
all together in one place. . . And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and
began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts
2:1-4)." This day of "Pentecost" literally means "fifty days." It was a special
feast of the Jewish Law which was to be observed fifty days after their Passover
Feast. It is to be "on the morrow, after the sabbath" (Leviticus 23:11, 15). So,
the day on which the apostles received the Holy Spirit and began their work in
preaching the gospel was on a Sunday.
3. The church of the Lord Jesus
Christ began that day. When the apostles began to preach salvation in the name
of Christ, men repented and were baptized into Christ (Acts 2:37-42). They were
added together in fellowship and began to evangelize the entire world. From this
moment on in the New Testament, one can see a change, for the Church of the Lord
was now in existence.
4. The churches met on Sunday
to remember, in a special meal of worship, the death and resurrection of Jesus
5. These churches continued to
meet throughout the years on Sundays, and were given additional instructions
about other things. They were told to "lay by in store" on this first day (1 Cor.
16:1-2). They were also to use this time for "exhorting one another" (Hebrews
Second, the churches of Christ
worship on Sundays because of a very important principle. Jesus said when his
disciples went into all the world, they were to teach the disciples "to observe
all things, whatsoever I commanded you . . ." (Matt. 28:20). Now, when one sees
the early churches observing the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week, it
follows that the apostles taught them to do so. If the apostles thus taught them
to eat the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week, it was done in order to
follow the commandments of Jesus. So, the example of the churches in the New
Testament is very important, as they were being taught personally by the
Third, the evidence of
historians is overwhelming that the churches met on Sundays for worship in honor
1. Ignatius of Antioch said,
"Let every friend of Christ keep the Lord's Day as a festival, the resurrection
day, the queen and chief of all days (of the week)."1 Ignatius lived between 376
A.D. and 108 A.D. and is known as a reputable historian.
2. Justin Martyr lived between
100 and 165 A.D. He said, "And on the day called Sunday, all who live in the
cities and the country gather together to one place. . . bread and wine and
water are brought. . . there is a distribution to each, and a participation of
that over which thanks have been given. . . But Sunday is the day on which we
all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God. . . made
the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead."2
Justin shows the practices of the early congregations continued on into the
These scholars, along with many
others, can be quoted to show the practice of the early centuries. They do not
give us sacred teaching; they only show how the early Christians worshipped.
THE OLD TESTAMENT SABBATH
It is true the Law of Moses
taught the Jews to "remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" (Exodus 20:8).
This covenant was one given the Israelites only (Deuteronomy 5:1-3, 12-15). It
was a sign between God and Israel, the children descended from Abraham (Ex.
31:17). It was the seventh day, a day on which the Jews were to rest (Ex.
20:9-10). They did not know about nor observe the sabbath day until they were
given the Law at Mount Sinai, when they left Egypt with Moses (Nehemiah
9:13-14). It was right for the Jews to observe the sabbath, but this law was not
given to Christians. In fact, Christians are taught in specific terms not to
follow the Law of Moses (Romans 7:1-6). That law was fulfilled and ceased at the
cross (Ephesians 2:14-16); Colossians 2:14). If Christians follow Jesus, they
will follow his new covenant (Hebrews 8:6-8). And, under this new covenant,
Jesus led the early Christians to worship on Sundays.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH?
It teaches a worship assembly
on the first day of the week, Sunday. On that day Christians remember the
sacrifice of Jesus, they exhort one another, they give of their means, they sing
If we intend to imitate them
and restore the practices of the early churches, we will meet on Sunday and
worship the Lord also.
1 The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol.
I, page 63.
2 The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol.
I, page 186.
When did the New Testament
churches assemble for the Lord's Supper?
When did Paul instruct churches
Does this indicate a regular
practice of churches in meeting?
What event does the Lord's
When was Jesus raised?
What was the day when churches
assembled according to historians?
If we imitate the early
churches and restore their practice, when would we assemble?