HOW SPIRITUALLY SPECIAL IS SUNDAY FOR YOU?
I had an interesting conversation last Saturday with a man who, with his wife, was operating a booth at a craft fair in a touristy little town in the Southwest. They were selling some beautiful, rather high-end jewelry, supplementing the income they made from the already good paying jobs they worked during the week. Having already exchanged some pleasantries, and having noticed the distinctly Christian motif of some of the jewelry on display, I asked him if he was a Christian.
“Oh yes, he said, “my wife and I are both Christians, and we love the Lord,” “Do you go to church anywhere around here? “ I asked. The question seemed to make him nervous. He thought for a minute, then gave me the name of a church – one of those kinds of names that seems to say, “See if you can guess what we believe and teach here.” Then he said, “We rarely make it to church because we operate our stand on Sundays.” Then, flicking the fingers of one hand back and forth between himself and myself like a policeman directing traffic, he said, “My Bible teaches me that what’s going on right now between us here is church.”
“Really,” I wanted to ask, “What kind of Bible do you have that tells you that?” But I didn’t. I’ve heard this sort of thing too many times, and have found out almost every time, that it is an exercise in futility to do so. One thing that the Bible really does teach is that we shouldn’t answer some people according to their folly (Prov. 26:4).
We live in a “the Bible says what I want it to say” generation of professed Christianity; a day when perhaps the majority of professed believers think subjectively, not objectively, about truth. Therefore they do that which is “right in their own eyes” (Jud. 21:25) concerning a great many things in contrast to, and in proud defiance of, plainly stated Bible truth that has been held in common by Christians for centuries. Sunday is one of those “things” that modern day believers have put their own construct on, creating “wiggle room” for themselves of universe-sized proportion.
Full disclosure: I know that there are biblical, God-acceptable reasons, why a person may not be able to observe the Lord’s Day (Sunday) in strict accordance with what the Bible teaches in terms of its being a day of rest to be especially set aside to assemble together in church capacity for public worship. I know that people can have a legalistic view about Sunday observance wherein they make it an ongoing work necessary for salvation. But there’s a difference between legalism and the obedience to God and His Word that the grace that brings salvation generates in a believer’s heart and life (Titus 2:11-15).
Sunday is meant to be a day of rest for the Christian. Not “rest” in the sense of recreation, but rest in the sense of setting aside time for spiritual leisure. Many, if not most Christians are either unable or unwilling to distinguish between recreation and leisure. Celebrating Christ’s resurrection is part and parcel of the “rest,” the spiritual leisure, that God wants us to enjoy as we assemble together in church capacity on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1, 2; Heb. 10:25). Thomas Watson (1620-1686) had the following to say about Sunday, which he refers to as the Christians “Sabbath” in contrast to Saturday, the Jewish “Sabbath:”
"The reason why God instituted the old Sabbath was to be a memorial of the creation; but he has now brought the first day of the week in its room in memory of a more glorious work than creation, which is redemption. Great was the work of creation, but greater was the work of redemption. As it was said, ‘The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former.’ Hag 2: 9. So the glory of the redemption was greater than the glory of the creation. Great wisdom was seen in making us, but more miraculous wisdom in saving us. Great power was seen in bringing us out of nothing, but greater power in helping us when we were worse than nothing. It cost more to redeem than to create us. In creation it was but speaking a word (Psa 148: 5); in redeeming there was shedding of blood. 1 Pet 1: 19. Creation was the work of God’s fingers, Psa 8: 3, redemption was the work of his arm. Luke 1: 51. In creation, God gave us ourselves; in the redemption, he gave us himself. By creation, we have life in Adam; by redemption, we have life in Christ. Col 3: 3. By creation, we had a right to an earthly paradise: by redemption, we have a title to a heavenly kingdom. Christ might well change the seventh day of the week into the first, as it puts us in mind of our redemption, which is a more glorious work than creation.
"The use I shall make of this is, that we should have the Christian Sabbath, we now celebrate, in high veneration. The Jews called the Sabbath, ‘The desire of days, and the queen of days.’ This day we must call a ‘delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable.’ Isa 58: 13. Metal that has the king’s stamp upon it is honourable, and of great value. God has set his royal stamp upon the Sabbath; it is the Sabbath of the Lord, and this makes it honourable. We should look upon this day as the best day in the week. What the phoenix is among birds, what the sun is among planets the Lord’s-day is among other days. ‘This is the day which the Lord has made.’ Psa 118: 24. God has made all the days, but he has blessed this. As Jacob got the blessing from his brother, so the Sabbath got the blessing from all other days in the week. It is a day in which we converse in a special manner with God. The Jews called the Sabbath ‘a day of light;’ so on this day the Sun of Righteousness shines upon the soul.
The Sabbath is the market-day of the soul, the cream of time. It is the day of Christ’s rising from the grave, and the Holy Ghost’s descending upon the earth. It is perfumed with the sweet odour of prayer, which goes up to heaven as incense. On this day the manna falls, that is angels’ food. This is the soul’s festival-day, on which the graces act their part: the other days of the week are most employed about earth, this day about heaven; then you gather straw, now pearl. Now Christ takes the soul up into the mount, and gives it transfiguring sights of glory. Now he leads his spouse into the wine-cellar, and displays the banner of his love. Now he gives her his spiced wine, and the juice of the pomegranate. Cant 2: 4, 8: 2.
The Lord usually reveals himself more to the soul on this day. The apostle John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s-day. Rev 1: 10. He was carried up on this day in divine raptures towards heaven. This day a Christian is in the altitudes; he walks with God, and takes as it were a turn with him in heaven. 1 John 1: 3. On this day holy affections are quickened; the stock of grace is improved; corruptions are weakened; and Satan falls like lightning before the majesty of the word. Christ wrought most of his miracles upon the Sabbath; so he does still: dead souls are raised and hearts of stone are made flesh. How highly should we esteem and reverence this day! It is more precious than rubies. God has anointed it with the oil of gladness above its fellows. On the Sabbath we are doing angels’ work, our tongues are tuned to God’s praises. The Sabbath on earth is a shadow and type of the glorious rest and eternal Sabbath we hope for in heaven, when God shall be the temple, and the Lamb shall be the light of it. Rev 21: 22, 23."
Modern Christianity seems to see Sunday as a day to go to church and/or mow grass, roam the malls, watch football or get some extra sleep, etc. This is a spiritually degenerative state of affairs. Christians, for centuries, did not view Sunday this way. Their thinking was more in line with that of Thomas Watson than with that of the gentleman I met last Friday in the touristy town out West.