A Voice in the
April 4, 1999
Term "the Lord's Day"
One of the prime things the early Church proclaimed, which made the Jewish rulers angry, was Jesus' RESURRECTION. (Act4:2) But Paul proclaims, "But now Christ has risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who slept." (1Cor15:20) The term "firstfruits" indicates that 'more' is to follow. Where Jesus humbled Himself to death on the cross, as a result "God has highly exalted Him, and has given Him a name which is above every name." (Phil2:9)
While we see the early Christian Jewish missionaries going into the synagogues on the Sabbath (Acts13:14,42,15:21,18:4) this was to "reason" with the Jews, to persuade them of the Messiahship of Jesus Christ. But we see a 'new' thing. A meeting on the "first day of the week". (Acts20:7,1Cor16:2,Jn20:19,26) While there is nothing specific in the N.T. instructing Believers to observe the first day of the week (in fact, Paul instructs that each individual should "be fully assured in his own mind" -Rom14:5b-) most who do, refer back to these passages for their cues on the matter.
There are some "7th day" (Sabbath/Saturday) oriented people who will find historical "evidence" to suggest that "the church" adopted "Sunday" because of the church of Rome, and heathen worship of the sun god. But let's face it. All the days of our week are named after some "Roman" deity. It's the "Roman calendar". So, by the same argument, people who observe Saturday, then, could be accused of worshipping "Saturn".
Not to mention, the church of Rome didn't even yet exist when these Scriptures were written. The church of Rome wouldn't even come into being for another two centuries after the Church of Jesus Christ was already observing the "first day" of the week.
The 7th day people also point to how the early Believers worshipped on Saturday whenever they met with Jews in the synagogues. Well, of course they did. Paul reiterated "to the Jews first and also to the Greek" (ro1:16, 2:9-10) If they were to reach the Jews, -where- the Jews were, and -when- the Jews met, did that not indicate 'Saturday'? If they went to a synagogue on Sunday they would find the place empty.
But notice the places listed as the "first day" of the week where places where -GENTILES- were meeting. And they were meeting on Sunday.
Also, a little thing I wonder if most people notice:
Also please notice how in every one of those instances Jesus talks about being "Lord of the Sabbath, in each case He is referenceing how the pharisees were condemning Him for "breaking" the Sabbath. Their ultimate condemnation of Him was that "He does not keep the Sabbath" (Jn9:16) Understand? He is the "Lord" of the Sabbath. He ordained it in the first place, and He can do with it as fits His own agenda.
Thus, I tend to believe that the "first day of the week" glorifies and honors Jesus' -resurrection-. While Jesus' death paid the debt for sin, His resurrection assures Eternal Life. (Rom6:4-5,8, 1Cor15:20,26,55,etc.) While the 7th day commemorates the end of creation (Gen2:3) by God ("Us" -plural) the Resurrection is unique -to- Jesus, ALONE. Salvation comes through no other, but Jesus.(Acts4:12) Thus, the -day- ("first day of the week") He was resurrected is uniquely -His- day ...or, "the Lord's Day"
And one final point: Let's keep in mind that the word "sabbath" means "rest". It was only with regular use that "sabbath" and "Saturday" became viewed synonymously. But most technically speaking, a person can observe "Sabbath" on either Saturday or Sunday (or for that matter, any day of the week that they choose). A person can observe "rest" (Sabbath) on any day they choose.
But, if a person wants to argue with this... Romans 14:5
Just as "individuals" are Saved or lost before God, so is prayer and communion. (This is not to belittle group praying. That's another subject.)
I would enjoy very much your comments regarding group prayer in the above manner. Thank you for your response, and continue your work in carefully dividing the Word of God.
In the storm-tossed sea Paul prayed, "he gave thanks to God before all..." (Acts27:35) In this case, it was obviously a 'testimony' to the unsaved, as he had just also informed them of the vision he had had from God, to the effect that they would come out alive after the ship crashed into the shore.
When the Ark was brought into the newly dedicated temple, Solomon prayed publicly. (1Kg8) He even had a special platform erected for the occasion. (2Chr6:13) And if one reads his prayer, it was obviously -also- a "speech" to -LEAD- the congregation of Israel, assembled there, in the prayer. As he prayed the words audibly, they could obviously pray along. Thus, the prayer of everybody, in this way, could be "united".
By the same token, in public worship, it would seem appropriate for a leader to "lead-out" in prayer, that the rest can "follow-along" ...and as such, the whole congregation can be -united- in prayer.
When a smaller group gets into a "huddle" (like at mid-week prayer meetings when the larger group breaks up into smaller ones) great care should be taken by those praying vocally. Make sure their hearts are actually praying -to- God, and not using the occasion to add some sense of "spirituality" to their own -personal- cause or agenda; or to 'impress' the rest by their own 'spirituality' by the manner in which they spin out their words ...you know, like the "hypocrites" (Mt6:5) But yes...such prayer, by its very nature, will be -different- from that which happens -personally- within one's own heart, between them and God.
If I am asked to lead in 'formal' prayer within a group, I consciously think in terms of how my communication with God will also be understood by those within the group. But such a 'formal' prayer is usually -VERY- DIFFERENT from my own -usual- 'personal' prayer with God...which usually doesn't involve much verbal-grammatical element. (see Rom8:26) My own communion with God is far too 'intimate' to be shared publicly...quite often, there simply are -no- words. Just as a husband and wife would not speak with (or proclaim to) others, the things they communicate with each other in their -own- 'bedroom'.
How to witness?
To answer -this- question as I rephrased it, I think we look to Scripture. When Philip spoke with the Ethiopian, the "Romans road" did not exist yet. Nor were there the "Four Spiritual Laws" (which, BTW, should not be used. It does not accurately present the Gospel. Please see: "Ol' Time Gospel" (Jan,98) under "Articles" at the website)
Philip asked the man, "do you understand what you're reading?" As the man was reading out of Isaiah. (Acts8) To Nicodemus Jesus spoke of the "New Birth" and explained how it was a "spiritual" birth." (Jn3) From the woman of Samaria Jesus asked for a drink, and explained the fountains of living water. (Jn4) To the Athenians Paul introduced them to the "Unknown God" the Creator.(Acts17)
What is the "sinner's prayer"? "God be merciful to me a sinner" (Lk18:13) But different ones 'prayed' it in different ways. Zacchaeus illustrated that which had -already- happened in his heart by telling how his life was going to change. (Lk19) Job wailed, "I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." (Job42:6) etc.etc. Saul replied, "Who are You, Lord...what will you have me to do?" as God had knocked him off his horse. (Acts9)
The actual words uttered out of the mouth will be as unique as the individual is. God does not see, or have regard for, some 'formula'. He sees the heart. If you are talking with someone, and they come to the Lord...in their heart they probably -already- 'got saved' -before- you ever pull out the -printed- "sinner's prayer" for them to recite after you. But more likely, most people will be saved when they are 'by themselves' ...when it is just them-and-God, as God confronts them, in-their-heart, with the things they've heard...perhaps, even, those things 'you' have been sharing with them.
Just make sure they know about their sin, God's judgment against sin, the need to repent, the need to receive Jesus' payment for their sin through His death, burial and resurrection, and God's mercy and grace to save them when they do come in repentance. Then... let God, through the Holy Spirit, do the rest. We cannot persuade and/or coerce people into the kingdom of heaven. That step comes between them and God.
Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day. (Jn6:44)
Being 'released' from a church?
This is something which seems to be characteristic of many "independent" and/or "Bible" Baptist churches. There is a whole catagory of these, for whom I've recently heard a new term ('new' to me) as "Landmark Baptist". There are variations of their beliefs from group to group, but they can be generically summed up succinctly:
The "baptist church" (which is the only true church of Christ, according to them) began when John the Baptist baptized Jesus. And Jesus established it ("baptists") in Mt16:18. And Jesus gave the pastors superior 'authority" (vs19) They believe that all Believers must be part of a -local- assembly under these pastors, citing Heb10:25, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together" And they typically preach "bring your tithe into the storehouse" (Mal3:10) and insist that this means your "tithe" (which, BTW, the N.T. doesn't teach) must be brought to this -same- 'local' assembly. If a person has been in 'gross sin' the matter must come before the pastor, and confessed to him. And he, along with the board, can place sanctions against him, if need be, depending on the nature of the sin. But in these matters, even the board is in subjection to the pastor as 'final authority.'
'sound anything like the catholic church with their priests and pope?
So, with these mentalities...OF COURSE...they will threaten that ill will befall you if you leave without 'their' permission. It's 'mind-control'. If they are in Scriptural error, you cannot speak against it, because the pastor has this 'mystical' direct-link to God by virtue of his 'position' as pastor. If you leave, they will threaten to not "transfer" your 'church membership' to another church...as though "membership" is some holy grail. And if they simply remove your name from their rolls, the 'force' of that is supposed to convey the notion, almost as though your name had just been stricken from the Lamb's "Book of Life". Like RCC "excommunication".
And, believe me, I know about these things first hand...years ago in a G???C church. When I resigned a position as choir director because of error in the church (starting with the pastor), to be effective after the 'current' seasonal cantata, the pastor visited me to inform me that I should not darken the church doors ever again, and that the only form of communication that would be acceptable from me would be a kneeling and confessing "to -him-", for any future fellowship to be possible. When I communicated the request to have my name removed from the membership roles, the only two options available to me were either by "transfer" or, to be dropped in "bad standing". If you will... a "blot" on my name.
When this incident happened, this pastor became 'friends' with another G???C pastor who had been at odds with me, with whom he had been at odds, as they commiserated with each other over my situation. "And that same day Pilate and Herod became friends with one another, for before they were at enmity between themselves." (Lk23:12)
We are exhorted to "watch those making divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned, and AVOID THEM. For they who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Rom16:17-18)
When the 'voice from Heaven' said, "Come out of her, My people, that you may not be partakers of her sins, and that you may not receive of her plagues." (Rev18:4) it is talking about churches -JUST-LIKE- these.
The question becomes, Do we desire, and fear for, the praise of men? Or do we follow the Lord, based on His clear teachings in Scripture. The parents of the man Jesus healed, who had been born blind, "feared" the Jews, so would not testify; because the threat was 'excommunication' from the temple. (Jn9:22) When the man, himself, spoke boldly, they did exactly that to him. (vs34)
The Scriptures are our plumb-line. (2Tm3:16-17) Not some over-inflated 'pastor' or 'church' -hierarchy-. -CHRIST- is our "Head". (Eph5:23) Some of them will attempt to intimidate with the expression "chain-of-command". But when the apostles said, "we ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts5:29) they were saying this to the high priest and his cohorts.
Ethnic Issues: superiority/intermarriage
God doesn't "regard the face of man" (Gal2:6) [show partiality] And there is also James discusion on this 2:1-6 As Paul speaks to the Athenians, he speaks of "all nations of men of -one-blood-" (Acts17:26) And yet, when He dispersed the languages, He made "boundaries". He separated man into nationalities and ethnicities...but nowhere does He place one above another.