Why Easter Sunday Is Not (and Shouldn’t Be) Drastically Different Than Other Sundays

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I like Resurrection (Easter) Sunday. Primarily for what happened. The first Resurrection Sunday was a pinnacle point in the redemptive history. Its significant has profound implications for today and tomorrow. Hence, as a church this day is an important day, not only for our congregation, but for all Christendom. It is special.

At the same time, it is not greatly different (and shouldn’t be drastically different) than any other Sunday. The minister still calls the “call to worship.” There’s still praying, singing, giving, reading, and preaching like other Sundays.

For churches that regularly preach and teach the gospel, this Sunday is no different (at least not drastically). Our liturgy reflects the cross and resurrection every Sunday, not just this Sunday. The songs we sing and the hymns we cherish reflect the message of resurrection and we do so every Sunday. We pray certain ways every week because of the resurrection. We preach what we preach and the way preach because of the resurrection. We think, we hope, we trust, we choose, and we live every week in light of the resurrection. Hence, for churches that are gospel-driven, this Easter Sunday is not drastically different than other Sundays.

The gospel includes not only what happened on the cross, but what also happened afterwards. Moreover, the redemptive story does not end with resurrection. It further includes the ascension and the future return of Christ. Hence, the gospel or God’s redemptive history includes the fulfillment of the past, and the present and future realities. This belief is nothing new. This is what the churches have been confessing all throughout her history. For instance:

I believe in God the Father… And in Jesus Christ…suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried…the third day he rose again from the dead: He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty: From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

Our weekly confession of faith depends on what happened in the past. For that reason, it has profound implications both presently and eschatologically. Hence, the churches that are true to the gospel regularly preach, teach, sing, pray, serve, fellowship, discipline, and partake and fence the table, not only on Good Friday or Easter Sunday. They do what they do every Sunday precisely because of the gospel. Hence, Easter Sunday is no different than any other Sunday. In fact, to worship on the first day of the week (and doing so every week) is to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:1; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). That is why churches gather on the first day of the week and that is why it is called the Lord’s Day. Thus, every Sunday is Lord’s Day precisely because of Christ’s resurrection. That is why if you are a member of gospel-loving, gospel-preaching, and gospel-driven church, chances are this Easter Sunday is not drastically different than other Sundays.

Don’t Miss Church on Sundays

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Listen to wise counsel from Bishop J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) on why you shouldn’t miss church on Sundays:

Never be absent from God’s house on Sundays, without good reason, – never to miss the Lord’s Supper when administered in our own congregation, – never to let our place be empty when means of grace are going on, this is one way to be a growing and prosperous Christian. the very sermon that we needlessly miss, may contain a precious word in season for our souls. The very assembly for prayer and praise form which we stay away, may be the very gathering that would cheered, and stablished, and quickened our hearts.

Puritan’s Prayer on Lord’s Day Morning

O MAKER AND UPHOLDER OF ALL THINGS,

Day and night are thine; they are also mine from thee-

the night to rid me of the cares of the day,

to refresh my weary body,

to renew my natural strength;

the day to summon me to new activities,

to give me opportunity to glorify thee,

to serve my generation,

to acquire knowledge, holiness, eternal life.

But one day above all days is made especially

for thy honour and my improvement;

The sabbath reminds me of thy rest from creation,

of the resurrection of my saviour,

of his entering into repose,

Thy house is mine,

but I am unworthy to meet thee there,

and am unfit for spiritual service.

When I enter it I come before thee as a sinner,

condemned by conscience and and thy Word,

For I am still in the body and in the wilderness,

ignorant, weak, in danger,

and in need of thine aid.

But encouraged by thy all-sufficient grace

let me go to thy house with a lively hope of meeting thee,

knowing that there thou wilt come to me and give me peace.

My soul is drawn out to thee in longing desires

for thy presence in the sanctuary, at the table,

where all are entertained on a feast of good things;

Let me before the broken elements, emblems of thy dying love,

cry to thee with broken heart for grace and forgiveness.

I long for that blissful communion of thy people

in thy eternal house in the perfect kingdom;

These are they that follow the Lamb;

May I be of their company!

 

 

What is a Local Church Doing on the Lord’s Day?

Here are some words from the Puritans in 1647:

Saints by profession, are bound to maintain an holy fellowship and communion in the worship of God, and in performing such other spiritual services as tend to their mutual edification; as also in relieving each other in outward things, according to their several abilities and necessities. Which communion, as God offereth opportunity, is to be extended unto all those who, in every place, call upon the name of the Lord Jesus (Westminster Confession of Faith, 26.2).

The Weekend Is Not All About You

Many long for the weekend to come. For some I don’t blame them.

When most people in the world work 6 days (and even 7 days) a week to barely put food on the table, most of us (North Americans) have the privilege of working only 5 days, namely Monday through Friday. Even at that, many of us complain or look forward to become an escapist. While this may be the reflection of those of the unregenerate, clearly Christians have higher standards in our attitudes and actions when it comes to our vocation. Since I recently blogged on this I don’t want to rehash it here.

I do see the need (even as necessities) for recreation, shopping, chores, entertainment and so on. But at the same time, the weekend is not all about me or you. If you’re interested in some biblical and theological reminder, read here.

Some Aspects of Worship from Exodus 19:10-15

This particular narrative points out a few but very important aspects of worship.

1. It is God who mandates specific regulations on how the people should approach him. That is to say, worship is not carried out whenever, however, wherever, and whoever the people want. Rather, it is God who sets the policy and procedures, not man. That is to say, it not only matters who we worship, but also how we worship.

2. God wants his people to actually spend some time preparing to meet their God (vv. 10-11). In fact, God commanded the people two days of special preparation. Such preparation was both inward and outward preparations. Inward preparations included Scriptural meditations, prayer, singing, confession of sins, repentance, and so on. The outward preparations included getting some adequate physical rest, sleep, personal hygiene, and even taking time to have proper attire for the occasion.

3. God should be approached with fear and reverence. The fact that God had set up bounds indicates that there are limitations, such as what is permissible and what is not permissible, and that there is a consequence if those God-given bounds are ignored, namely, a death penalty (vv. 12-13a).

4. It is God who calls the people to come to him, including when and where (v. 13b). Not only God calls us to salvation, namely, with his effectual call, but also it is God who calls us to a sacrificial and holy worship. For us at Sovereign Grace Bible Church, I usually remind the congregation with a biblical text during the “Call to Worship” that it is God who officially summons us by his word to worship him. It is a wonderful reminder at the onset of worship service that God chose us, we didn’t choose him; he sought us, we didn’t seek him; he first loved us, we didn’t first love God; and he first called us, we didn’t first call him.

Prayer of the Lord’s Day

O LORD MY LORD,

This is thy day, the heavenly ordinance of rest, the open door of worship, the record of Jesus’ resurrection, the seal ofthe Sabbath to come, the day when saints militant and triumphant unite in endless song.

I bless thee for the throne of grace, that here free favour reigns; that open access to it is through the blood of Jesus; that the veil is torn aside and I can enter the holiest and find thee ready to hear, waiting to be gracious,inviting me to pour out my needs, encouraging my desires, promising to give more than I ask or think.

But while I bless thee, shame and confusion are mind: I remember my past misuse of sacred things, my irreverent worship, my base ingratitude, my cold, dull praise.

Sprinkle all my past Sabbaths with the cleansing bloods of Jesus, and may this day witness deep improvement in me.

Give me in rich abundance the blessings the Lord’s Day was designed to impart;

May my heart be fast bound against worldly thoughts or cares;

Flood my mind with peace beyond understanding; may my meditations be sweet, my acts of worship life, liberty, joy, my drink the streams that flow from thy throne, my food the precious Word, my defense the shield of faith, and may my heart be more knit to Jesus.

[Arthur Bennett, “Lord’s Day Eve” in The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1994), 194].