How Scripture's Authority Shapes What We Do On Sunday Morning
The most wonderful, important, and special day of the week is the day we gather with the Lord’s people to worship God. We humbly and happily do not neglect to meet together and encourage one another, as it is our habit of doing, all the more as we see the Day drawing near (Heb. 10:25).
But how do we decide what to do on this day? How do we, as a church, decide what we should do when we gather together to worship on Sunday?*
Well, quite simply, we don’t decide. God does—and God has. He has decided how we are to worship him and instructed us in his Word.
It’s clear through a plain reading of the Bible there are wrong ways to worship God. Not every way is right, and not every offering is one God accepts. Cain, Aichan, Nadab and Abihu, Ananias and Sapphira—all these accounts serve as loud reminders there are ways to worship that God rejects.
The book of Revelation begins with such conclusions, as the Lord Jesus walks through his churches and assesses them. He doesn’t assess the churches by the hottest trend or the results of the latest Barna Group poll. No, Jesus judges his churches according to his own wisdom (Rev. 2–3).
What we consistently see is there are faithful ways to worship God and unfaithful ways to attempt to worship God. How are we to know the difference? How could we obey, unless we’re told how? How could we abstain, unless we are warned?
We shouldn’t search articles (even this one) before we search the Scriptures. God’s ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts. God’s Word offers God’s wisdom concerning God’s worship. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and for training in righteousness, that the people of God may be complete and equipped for every good work.(2 Tim. 3:16–17).
Is this not what we are seeking from the Lord during our gatherings? To know and hear from God, to be taught, to be reproved, corrected, trained, built up, and equipped? To be a church the Lord looks favorably upon, we shouldn’t be asking what do we want to do, but what has God said we should do in his Word? Hear the words of Isaiah: “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isa. 66:2).
If God has called us to pastor, he hasn’t called us to implement our personal vision for the church, but to implement his revealed will for the church. Of course there will be differences in how these things happen based on the men who are leading their congregations. However, all of those differences should be happily governed and subordinately positioned under the Word of God.
Recall the Great Commission: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18–20). It’s interesting that so many people overly personalize this text. Many act as if his aim here is merely addressed to a person, not to us as a people. Many seem to think this only applies to personal holiness (the way we are to live as individuals) and not to our corporate holiness (how we ought to live as a church). But this is not so. The primary audience of the Bible is not a single person but God’s gathered people. We express his final authority when we express allegiance to what he has commanded in his Word.
This is why we shouldn’t do things on Sunday the Bible hasn’t called us to do. To do so suggests we can improve on what God has spoken. We should be reading the Bible publicly because the Word of God says so (1 Tim. 4:13). We should be preaching and teaching the Bible because the Word of God says so (2 Tim. 4:1–2). We should be singing the truths of the Bible because the Word of God says so (Col. 3:16). We should be partaking of the Lord’s Supper and when appropriate baptizing people because the Word of God says so (1 Cor. 11:18–26; Matt 28:19). We should be praying what God would have us to pray because the Word of God says so (Matt. 6:9–13, 1 Tim. 2:1–8). We should be giving, encouraging, serving, and gathering together physically—all because the Word of God says so (Heb. 10:25; 1 Pet. 4:10–11).
As people come to our churches, we can have confidence we are worshipping the true God in a true way—in spirit and in truth. This confidence cannot rest in the wisdom of man or the bright ideas of the pastor. This confidence is necessarily tethered to our ability to worship God according to the Word of God.
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Ps. 119:9). If this is true for us as individuals, does it not also apply to us as a gathering of individuals on Sunday?
*We know and understand that there are churches prevented from gathering regularly because of persecution. This is not intended to discourage them. This article is written from a context and to a context that assumes an unhindered freedom to living peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way.