The First Day Of The Week

 

 

It’s the First Day of the Week

 

We are assembled here today, because of the fact, that this is the first day of the week.  This is the day of the week, specified in the bible, when Christians came together, and worshipped God as a congregation.   We read these words in  Acts 20, verse 7;  “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.”   

“On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread..”   The phrase “to break bread” is a reference to the partaking of the Lord’s supper.  It’s similar to the words used in  Luke 22:19,  which says;  “And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them, saying;  This is My body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”   Jesus “broke the bread”.

The apostle Paul wrote about it in  Acts 11:23 & 24,  where he says;  “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said;  This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”   

But going back to  Acts 20, verse 7,  the day in which we come together and “break the bread” together, is the first day of the week.   And of course  1 Corinthians 16, verses 1 & 2  tell us that the first day of the week is also the day in which we give our monetary offering to God.  And let me read those verses also;  “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you are to do as well.  On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save as he may prosper, so that no collections need to be made when I come.”   Paul would come to collect this money, which had been stored up, each first day of the week, when the Christians came together as a congregation, to partake of the Lord’s supper, and to worship God.

 

But why the first day of the week?  Why not the second or third, or why not the seventh?  Can’t we worship God on those days as well?  Well of course we can.  We can worship God every day of our lives.  And I hope we DO worship God every day of our lives.  I hope we worship God in prayer, everyday of our lives;  And multiple times every day!

Our prayers, are likened to incense, rising up to God.  In the symbolic words of  Revelation 5:8,  the bible says;  “When He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders, fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”   

When we pray, we are worshipping God;  And our worship rises up to God, as a sweet odor, an incense, if you would.   And we can worship God any day of the week, and at any time of the day, or all day if we so choose.  And it will never get old, to the Lord’s ears.  And we don’t need to assemble with anyone else either.   Because the bible says, in  James 5:16;  “The working prayer of a righteous man avails much!” 

We commonly hear that read as “the effectual prayer of a righteous man avails much”.   But the reason that the prayer is “effectual” is because it is a “working prayer”.   That’s exactly what the word means..  “to work!”   When something works, it’s effective, and it has power, and it accomplishes, and it energizes.  The word has been likened to the electricity flowing through wires, that power something.

The “energizing” prayer of a righteous person accomplishes so much.  And so if just one person’s prayer can accomplish so much, think about how much the prayers of a group of righteous people can accomplish!   The prayers of a whole congregation of the Lord’s people!

Think about it.  When one of our men are leading a prayer, and everyone else listens intently to the prayer, and takes those words into their own heart, and those words become the very thoughts and prayer of each one of us, think of the impact that that can have.  Think of the working power of that prayer, the effectualness, when it’s not just one man praying, but it’s the whole congregation praying!  Just something for you to think about.

 

But why do we come together on the FIRST day of the week to assemble for our congregational worship?  I mean besides the fact that God has authorized us to do so, by giving us those verses of scripture that I already mentioned.  Why did god authorize the FIRST day, as opposed to some other day?

Well, I’d like to give you three reasons WHY, God has authorized, the first day of the week, to be THE day, when Christians assemble for worship.

Reason #1.   The first reason is based upon a principle that God has stressed throughout the bible.  And that is that God desires to be FIRST, in our hearts.   For example, what is the first and foremost commandment, that all other things are dependent upon?   It was stated first in  Deuteronomy 6, verse 5;  “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”   And Jesus reiterated the very same words, in  Mathew 22:37,  and in  Luke 10:27;  “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind..”

The Lord God commanded the sons of Israel, in  Exodus 13, verse 2;  “Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.”   So God not only wants to be first in the hearts of everyone, but concerning Israel, God wanted the first of their offspring to be His!  

And, God tells us in  Proverbs 3, verse 9;  “Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase.”   Some versions say, the “first of thy possessions” or the “first of thy wealth”.   But the point is God deserves and desires, the first!   God doesn’t desire, the “table-scraps”.

And isn’t that really the gist of  1 Corinthians 16, verse 2?   “Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him..”   Upon the first day of the week, we give  the first of our prosperity.

Reason #2.  The second reason that I’d like to suggest, as to WHY God has authorized the first day of the week, as the day when the whole congregation should come together, is because the Lord God first first provided entrance into the church, (into the congregation of Christ, the “church” of Christ)  on the first day of the week.  That’s the day it all began!

The story is told in  Acts chapter 2, beginning in verse 1;  “When the Day of Pentecost (the first day of the week) had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”   That’s talking about the apostles being gathered together in one place, with one purpose in mind.  They were awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit of God, to come and to guide them, and to empower them.

Jesus had told them in  Acts 1, verse 4;  “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift the Father promised, which you have heard from Me.”  And then Jesus said in  verse 8;  “But you shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit has come upon you;  And you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”  

So there they were, in one place, and with one accord.   And the Holy Spirit came upon them, just as Jesus had promised, and they were given the ability to speak in “tongues”, in languages that they had never before learned.  But the thousands of people who were gathered in Jerusalem for the celebration of Pentecost, knew the languages, and they knew what the apostles were saying.  And the multitudes of people said, in  verse 11;  “..we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God!”

And then Peter went on to preach the gospel to the crowd.  And for the very first time in human history, the requirements for the forgiveness of sins, through the blood of Jesus Christ, was revealed.  And the doors to the kingdom of God we’re opened, first to the Jews, but then shortly afterwards, to the Gentiles also.  Believe in God, believe in the Christ, be willing to confess that faith, repent of your sins, and be baptized  (immersed in water, signifying a burial and a resurrection)  for the purpose of allowing God to wash away your sins, and you are the added by God Himself, to the kingdom of Christ, the “church” of Christ, the body of the saved.  And it all began on the first day of the week, on the first Pentecost after Jesus’ death on the cross.

 

Reason #3.  Now here’s the third reason that I want to give you, as to WHY God authorized the first day of the week, as the day when Christians should assemble as a congregation, to worship God.   The fist day of the week, was the day upon which Jesus, was resurrected from the dead!   And maybe this is the most compelling reason of them all.  It’s certainly the most compelling reason why so many people attend some kind of church service on this particular first day of the week.  It’s the day that the world calls “Easter”.

The resurrection of Jesus, is without a doubt, one of the grandest events, if not THE grandest event, to ever take place, in the history of mankind.   The crucifixion of Jesus was indeed a “grand event”, even though it wasn’t a very joyous event.  But it was indeed a grand event!  It was when Jesus shed His blood, to bring the offer of forgiveness to all mankind.

1 John 2, verse 2  tells us that Jesus is  “.. the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.”

The blood of Jesus, which was shed on the cross, is the blood which established the new covenant.  Jesus said in  Mathew 26, verse 28;  “For this is My blood of the covenant, which is being poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.”   

And as Jesus hung on that cross, and seconds before He breathed His last breath, He said;  “It is finished”.    (John 19. verse 30)   The work of Jesus, in becoming the sacrifice for the sins of the world, was finished.  In  Revelation 13, verse 8,  the bible speaks of Jesus, as  “..the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”   And of course that’s a figurative statement.  God’s sacrificial plan, which was formed from eternity, had finally been completed, it was finished.

But God’s entire plan wasn’t quite finished yet.  The sacrifice was made, but you might say, the best was yet to come.  What am I referring to as “the best”?  Well, I’m of course referring to the resurrection of the lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, but resurrected on the first day of the week!

In closing, let me read to you  Luke 24, verses 1 thru 5;  “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared.  And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but having entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  And it came to pass, that while they are perplexed about this, behold, two men in dazzling garments stood by them;  And as the women were terrified, and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them; Why are you seeking the living One, among the dead?”   

The resurrection from the dead, of Jesus the Christ.  Was that the greatest event in human history?   It very well may have been!

 

And so, why did God authorize one specific day of the week, the first day of the week,  for His children to assemble themselves in worship to Him?   Was it because God has always desired the first of everything from us?   Or was it because the kingdom of Christ, the “church” of Christ, was formally opened to man, on the first day of the week?  Or was it because the Savior of the world Himself, the “first fruits of them that have fallen asleep”, was raised  from the dead, on the first day of the week?

I believe that it was for all of those reasons, that God chose to have us, come together as Christ’s spiritual body, to be nourished, and to be strengthened, and to grow in Christ.  And so how many days of the year do we come together and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ?  Is it one day a year, or two or three days a year?  No, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, 52 times a year, on every first day of the week.  Because that’s what God has authorized us to do, and so that’s what we do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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