We often receive questions as the Institute. Most of the time we merely respond to the question without posting in to the site. After some thought, I’ve decided to posted some of our email correspondence on the site. Maybe someone else has the same question. Maybe our answer will help.
To that end, let’s begin with a question about the Sabbath day.
“Do you believe in keeping a day unto the Lord set apart from work to honor and worship the Lord and hear his word in fellowship with other believers every week? Or don’t you think this is necessary?”
Excellent question. Here at the Institute, we definitely believe in setting apart a day to worship the Lord and spend time in fellowship. As the author of Hebrews encourages us:
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” – Hebrews 10:24,25
That said, there are some who believe in honoring a specific day: the Old Testament “Sabbath” observance given to the Hebrews. According to scripture, however, the sabbath rest was fulfilled in Christ; He is our Sabbath rest, that we may rest from the constant struggle to meet the requirements of the law.
“For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed. Now we who have believed enter that rest …” – Hebrews 4:2,3a
Now, some may disagree, saying that the Sabbath day was never specifically abolished by God (as the dietary laws were). Following scripture, we find our answer in the words of the Apostle Paul:
“One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.” – Romans 14:5
So if some wish to honor the Sabbath day, they honor God in their hearts. If others do not wish to do so, they honor God on a different day. Either way, God is honored. As the Apostle Paul says in Romans 14:6:
“He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord.”
Because of our increasingly complex world, however, sometimes the local church must adapt to circumstances, customs or cultural differences. For example, many Churches have Saturday night services aimed at college age students. This keeps them from the temptation of going out and getting drunk and also provides them with fellowship that lasts well beyond the end of the service. Also, in some places where Christianity is outlawed, meeting on Sunday would attract the local authorities. Meeting on another day is safer and allows more freedom in worship.
So, although we meet on Sunday’s to worship and hear the Word of God, neither you nor we are obligated to meet on the day. As long as we set aside time for fellowship and worship, God is honored in it. God is pleased whether we worship at night, hiding from the authorities in secret, worship loudly on Saturday night with modern praise, or worship openly and traditionally on Sunday morning. In all, let God receive the glory.