Here are four practical ideas on how to make the Lord’s Day a blessing:
1. Understand the spiritual significance of the Fourth Commandment.
Of the top ten principles that God has given to mankind, one of the ten is that we remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy (Exod 20:8-11). The Christian Sabbath is now the Lord’s Day, the day that Jesus rose from the dead (John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2; Heb 4:9; Rev 1:10). What better time is there to come together to worship him!
To understand the doctrine of the Lord’s Day even better, study Chapter 22 “Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day” in the Second London Baptist Confession and questions 49-51 of Spurgeon’s Catechism, along with the Scriptural proofs.
2. Set apart this day as special.
This is not a call to legalism but holiness. Sabbath keeping is not a “work” that saves! Your conscience will need to lead you in the observance of the Lord’s Day. We do not want to be like the Pharisees who followed “the tradition of the elders” rather than Scripture (see Mark 7:2). We have not been appointed as spies over each other. The Holy Spirit must be our guide.
The Bible allows for acts of mercy (e.g., helping people or animals), necessity (e.g., eating), and piety (e.g., driving to church) on the Lord’s Day (read carefully Matthew 12:1-13; Mark 2:23—3:5; Luke 6:1-10).
We make this day special by intentionally laying aside the things we normally do (and that are not wrong, like our ordinary work) and giving special attention to things that might otherwise get crowded out the rest of the week (e.g., worship, devotion, prayer, spiritual conversations, ministry, rest, and reflection).
For encouragement in this area, consider reading Walter Chantry’s book Call the Sabbath a Delight (Banner of Truth, 1991) or Bruce A. Ray’s Finding Rest in a Restless World (P & R, 2000).
3. Make worship a priority.
In the Old Testament, the Lord instructed his people to set apart the Sabbath for “an holy convocation” (see Leviticus 23:1-3). As noted above, the Scriptural witness is that the New Covenant believers gathered on the first day of the week for worship of the risen Jesus.
On the most practical level, this means making a commitment regularly to be present for the public exercises of the worship of God. In our church, this means, unless providentially hindered, being present for morning worship, the fellowship meal, and the afternoon service in which we share in the Lord’s Supper, the spiritual meal that gives us nourishment for the week ahead. It also means making time for private and family worship on this day.
4. Be intentional in preparation and planning for the Lord’s Day.
It has been said that a good Sunday begins on Saturday evening. Your enjoyment of the Lord’s Day might be helped by going to bed at a reasonable hour on Saturday night. It might also be helped by taking care of “ordinary” matters on Saturday so that Sunday can be set apart. This might include setting out clothing, preparing meals, doing shopping, getting gas for the car, etc.
Sundays may be a good time to visit with extended family, friends, and neighbors. It is a wonderful day to drop by and visit in a nursing or retirement home. These activities can be made part of the spiritual observance of the day. They can also usually be scheduled around the gatherings of the church for worship without being in conflict with them.
Jeffrey T. Riddle, Pastor Christ Reformed Baptist Church Charlottesville, Virginia www.jeffriddle.net