Wednesday, February 20, 2019

A First-Day Sabbath Primer

Again and again, I encounter sincere but misguided believers, who think that the church has made some grave error in observing the first day of the week as the Lord's holy day of worship. For some of them, this is because the Spirit's stirring up of their hearts unto love of the Lord and His law has not been met with sound instruction or clear biblical thinking.
Here is a very basic primer, intended to help such as these. I have no delusions that it will satisfy those who are vociferously hostile to the Christian Sabbath. 
Hebrews 4:9 says that there remains a Sabbatismon for the people of God. But the day of observance is established by the Lord Himself as the first day of the week. 
Between the resurrection and the ascension, the disciples literally gathered w/Christ whenever He walked through the wall or appeared out of thin air. Scripture tells us of this happening only on the first day of the week. 
During the apostolic period, 1Cor 14 tells us that corporate worship was dependent upon immediate revelation of the Spirit not only for preaching but also for prayers and even songs. 1Cor and 2Cor both tell us that the Spirit chose to do this on the first day of the week. 
When Paul was racing to Jerusalem so speedily that he wouldn't even take time to go inland from Miletus, he still took an entire day to worship at Troas. On the first day of the week. 
By the time John writes Revelation, he can write "the Lord's Day," and all the churches know what he is talking about. The first day of the week. 
There is still a weekly Sabbath, and God Himself has blessed and hallowed it as the first day of the week. 
Incidentally, the new creation hearkens back to the unfallen creation. Adam's first full day was a Sabbath!

What would you like our Lord's Day keeping to look like?

Obviously, even Calvin had not achieved everything for which he had a strongly biblical desire, such as weekly Supper, by the time he died. And this is exactly right, because no congregation should ever be directed by the whims of an individual (and certainly never by the whims of a congregation!), but always by the Scripture-convicted decisions of a body of elders.

But I've been asked, so here it is. I'm very grateful to God for the growth and maturation over the last year and half--especially among the group that generally tries to keep the bulk of the day well in fellowship with the Lord together.

9:00 a.m. breakfast starts
9:15 a.m. class starts (breakfast continues)
10:15 a.m. class ends
10:45 a.m. announcements and catechism recitations

[11a.m. standing]
Call to Worship
Pastoral Invocation/Adoration/Confession/Thanksgiving (prayer)
     (elder-led, and study-prepared, but still extemporaneous, not a prescripted form prayer)
Scripture Song 
     (metrical psalm/paraphrase/etc--from the passage that called to worship)
Serial Reading
     (extended reading from just one book, with couple sentence elder summary of the teaching)
Lord's Prayer
Reading out of sermon text

[11:30a.m.--12:15p.m. sermon]

[12:15p.m.--standing again]
Song of response, singing that which was just opened from Scripture

[12:20p.m. congregation files out, meditating upon Word and Sacrament, observing silence until arrival in the Fellowship Hall]

12:30 p.m. lunch begins
    (concerted effort at intergenerational interaction, with adults leading children in
    sermon review, and other Lord's-Day-intentional conversation)
1:15 p.m. catechism class (1/2 hour)
1:15 p.m. concurrent class (communicants/new-members/Q&A/whatever)

[2p.m. standing]
Call to Worship
Pastoral Invocation
Scripture Song 
Second Serial Reading
     (extended reading from just one book, with couple sentence elder summary of the teaching)
Reading out of sermon text

[2:15p.m. - 2:45p.m sermon]

All come to the front, where the long tables are prepared with the elements
     Those who have difficulty standing sit along front row
     Others stand at angle, on either side of the tables, permitting as many as possible to be at table
     Non-communicant children stand with their parents
     Non-communicant adults sit in 2nd, 3rd row, etc.
Pastoral prayer 
    (again, elder-led, extemporaneous, asking for application of the sermon 
    and other pressing spiritual needs, including the conversion/obedience of the state,
    the welfare of the church around the world, and spiritual good to be done in current earthly trials,
    concluding with prayer for benefit from the sacrament)
Lord's Supper
    (immediately following the prayer of thanks/blessing: simply read out the words of institution 
    and announce the sacramental benefit in a sentence or two, followed by immediate partaking
    in response to and laying hold of the benefit by faith, without additional mystic quietness,
    first for the bread, and again for the wine)
Benediction at the Table

[AFTERPARTY--party/feast hosted by different congregation household each week, including early supper, a few hours of fellowship, and dispersal to homes so that each household can conclude the day with family review/thanksgiving/prayer and retire to bed in good season to have extra sleep and/or early start on the Monday morning]


--"Offering" moved out of the service, since there's no real Bible mandate for it as part of worship
--Creed/confession recitation moved out for same reason
--Supper weekly, in the afternoon service, but swapping the services once each month for those providentially hindered from afternoon attendance
--All form prayers removed

A pastor can dream

Saturday, February 9, 2019

190209FW Prov 9:1-6 - Feasting at Wisdom's House

Family worship lesson from the "Proverb of the day"--Proverbs 9:1-6. Wisdom invites us to feast in hear spacious, strong house at hear richly supplied table of strength, health, and joy. This word picture of a life shaped by wonder at the Lord and worship of the Lord reminds us of how silly and foolish we would be to live any other way.

Friday, February 8, 2019

190209FW Genesis 4:6-24 - Getting Killed by Sin or Killing Sin by Grace?

Family worship teaching time from Genesis 4:6-24, preparing for the coming Lord's Day morning sermon. Cain was challenged to be killing his sin, or it would kill him. Alas, he indulged his sin, which turned out to be not so much against his brother as it was against the God of glory and grace. Sadly, we find that we are able to consider ourselves quite glorious while descending into ever more heinous depths of sin.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

190208FW John 8:31-59 - Knowing Our Slavery to Know Our Savior

Family worship teaching time from John 8:31-59, the gospel reading in Lord's Day morning's worship. Jesus is talking to people who agreed with certain facts about Him... UNTIL He began to point out that they need Him to be almighty God and their only deliverance from slavery and escape from death. Suddenly, they would rather curse Him and kill Him than continue to agree with Him. Oh how dangerous is spiritual pride, that would keep us from the only Savior!

190207FW 2Cor 1:23-2:11 - Christ's Stops Satan through Our Fellowship

Family Worship teaching time, following up upon the epistle reading from 2Corinthians 1:23-2:11 in Lord's Day morning worship. The Lord Jesus has given church members and officers the privilege of being gladdened by one another, as He uses us in one another's lives for good. Satan's attacks on us include both keeping us from doing the hard work of grieving one another when necessary for confrontation or rebuke, and the sometimes harder work of restoring relationship and demonstrating affection once repentance has occurred. In this passage, we learn the kind of fellowship by which Christ designs to defeat the devil in our churches!

Monday, February 4, 2019

190205FW Hebrews 12:22-13:4 - Heaven-and-Earth-Shaking Worship

Family worship teaching time, following up upon Hebrews 12:22-13:4 from the Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin in the Lord's Day morning worship service. In corporate worship, the Lord brings us by faith into the great worship assembly in glory. From there, He speaks to us by His living Word in the preaching, preparing us to receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken!

190204FW 2Timothy 2:19 - Assurance's Firm Foundation from God: Election and Sanctification

Family Worship teaching time, following up upon the Lord's Day morning sermon from 2Timothy 2:19. The Church and true believers will be preserved--a truth that is sealed to us by election and sanctification. Since the Lord has chosen His people in Christ from all eternity, they cannot ultimately fall. And, the fact that He is sanctifying them (causing them, by His Spirit, to use the means of grace and find them fruitful for departing from sin) demonstrates that He is surely saving them.