Why Sunday Is the Lord’s Day

Lord's Day
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Do you know the difference between the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day, as far as what the Bible teaches us about them?  Dr. John MacArthur teaches, (in this video message titled, “Why Sunday Is the Lord’s Day”),  the day of the week that is to be recognized as the Sabbath, and if that is the same day we call Sunday.  This message helps us to know the Bible’s clear teaching regarding how a Christian is to view Sunday, the 1st day of the week.



DISCLAIMER: All that you will read below is portions of what you will hear from his message – taken word for word – from the transcript of his sermon.


One of the things that we need to understand is the importance of worship, and we, in looking at the importance of worship, want to understand how Sunday fits into that, how the Lord’s Day fits into that.

And I gave a message on the Sabbath, because there are people who are confused about the Sabbath, and tonight I want to talk to you a little bit about the Lord’s Day. It’s not going to be along message, or a long service, for that matter, but I do want to let you know what the Scripture has to say because I think it’s so important. Now, this is Sunday, right? And you’re here. And we’re always here on Sunday and there’s a reason for that; it didn’t happen by accident.

It’s a pattern. It’s not only a pattern here at Grace Community Church, it’s pretty much a pattern in churches everywhere in the United States. It’s been the time-honored traditional pattern, and it goes back, and back, and back, and back, and back, and all the way back to the New Testament time. The people of God, the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, have worshiped on Sunday.

Go to Colossians 2 for a minute. We’re just going to follow through some scriptures, and I’ll kind of let you draw the conclusion. Colossians 2:16: “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”


Remember what I told you last time about the Sabbath day? It is gone, right? It is gone.


So, whatever we’re talking about on Sunday, we’re not talking about the Sabbath. The Sabbath was the seventh day of the week. It was instituted under the Mosaic law, between the fall of man and Moses. There were no Sabbath laws. There was no Sabbath observance. That came in the Mosaic law. Centuries went by; none of the patriarchs had any kind of Sabbath laws. On the seventh day, after creation, you remember, God rested and God blessed that day.

Why? As a day that would always be a memorial to the fact that God had created the universe in six days, so the seventh day was always going to be a reminder of God as our Creator. And we worked through that in our last session. Every Saturday that comes along – which is the seventh day of the week, Sunday being the first day of the week – every Saturday that comes along is a good day for us to remember, first of all, God is Creator. And we have that in our heritage.

We also suggested to you that when the Mosaic law came along, God ordained a Sabbath day for the people to observe and to obey God, and God put some restraints on them to remind them of their sinfulness. So, every Saturday that comes along kind of has a two-fold role; it causes us to remember God as Creator, and to remember how sinful we really are – and truly we are sinful. But the Sabbath is gone. Colossians 2:16 and 17: “Don’t let anybody hold you to a Sabbath day.” It’s gone.

It is part of Judaism that has been replaced by the new covenant, and the new covenant has a completely different day. Saturday, as I said, reminds us of God as Creator and God as law-giver, and it reminds us of the beauty of God’s creation, the magnificence of His creation, and the sinfulness of our own hearts. But when you come to the new covenant, you have a new kind of observation, not observing God as Creator, not observing God as law-giver, but in the new covenant God is defining Himself as what? Savior.

So, the new covenant has its own day, a day in which we focus on God as our Savior. Now, let’s see how this kind of all kind of happened. Go to the end of the gospel of Matthew; end of the gospel of Matthew. Suffice it to say, the argument from history is that the church has taken this seriously; that the church has made an issue out of Sunday since the New Testament times. Here we are, 2,000 years later, and the church is still meeting on Sunday; I would say it’s pretty deeply embedded.

The Mosaic law for the seventh day is passed away.


It is the worst thing possible for people who call themselves Christians to take restrictions intended for the Mosaic Sabbath and try to impose them on Sunday.


That’s opposite the intention of our Lord. Don’t let anybody hold you to a Sabbath day. You’re not under the Mosaic law anymore. You’re not under the constraints, and ceremonies, and restrictions, and restraints of the Mosaic law. We have a new day. We left Judaism behind. We left the Sabbath behind. We left the leaders of Israel behind. We have a new covenant. We have new ministers of that new covenant and we have a new day. It’s not like the Mosaic Sabbath; not at all.

Oh, you can still, I think, think of the seventh day, (which is Saturday), in a sense, as the day that reminds us that the Lord created everything in six days. I think that’s a wonderful thing to do. You can still be reminded that it was the law of God that came down on people’s heads with regard to the Sabbath, and it’s good to remember that you’re a sinner. But there’s nothing in the New Testament that takes old covenant restrictions and restraints from the Mosaic Sabbath and imposes them on Sunday, the first day of the week. It’s not a day to be infused with restrictions and restraints borrowed from the Mosaic law. That’s always the issue with covenant theology. They don’t know where things end and where new things begin.

Well, eventually this first day became so precious to the church that it got its own name. Turn to Revelation chapter 1 – got its own name.

John – in verse 9 – is on the isle of Patmos because of the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus, because he’s been exiled there by the enemies of the gospel. And he says in verse 10: “I was in the Spirit on” –  what? – “the Lord’s Day” – on the Lord’s Day. Some people think this means “the Day of the Lord,” the eschatological day of judgment. Hardly; John did not experience the final Day of the Lord judgment on the island of Patmos.

Besides, the Day of the Lordtē hēmera tou kuriou – is a distinct phrase; the Lord’s Day is tē kuriakē hēmera – completely different phrase used only here. This is not the eschatological Day of the Lord; this is a non-eschatological statement. This is the Lord’s Day, and he doesn’t even give an explanation.

This title for Sunday is commonly found in many, many early Christian writings, has continued through all church history, even down to the present.

I don’t call Sunday, Sunday; I call it the Lord’s Day. You hear me say that a lot – the Lord’s Day, the Lord’s Day. It was on the Lord’s Day that John received his vision. His first vision was of Jesus the Lord of the church, right? What does he say there? “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, the sound of a trumpet.”

He turns around and sees Christ ministering in the candlesticks, Christ ministering in His church. This is the Lord of the church serving His church, and he got the vision of the Lord moving in His church on Sunday. The Lord is the one who initiated that vision and He initiated it on a Sunday, on the Lord’s Day. John had a lot of visions in the book of Revelation. None of them is identified with a day, none of them; this is the only one.


This is the Lord’s Day, because this is resurrection day, this is Holy Spirit day. It’s not the Lord’s morning. It’s not the Lord’s afternoon. It’s not the Lord’s evening. It’s not the Lord’s hour. It’s the Lord’s Day.


What does that mean to you?


That doesn’t mean you can’t do some work in the afternoon. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some recreation, some fellowship, and do some other things.


It just means there’s a day that God Himself has ordained for you to focus primarily on the glory of your salvation. Take every opportunity you can to fill it with worship, and praise, and fellowship, and divine truth. We’re not – we’re not under the old covenant regulations. We’re not under a system of condemnation. We don’t need shadows. We have the reality, the true rest in Christ. And this is a day to rest; and not to rest in the sense of celebrating creation, but to rest in the sense of celebrating new creation: salvation.


So, rather than ask, what shouldn’t I do on Sunday, ask, what should I do? What is my love for Christ asking me to do? What does my heart for Him ask me to do?


I’m not forbidden to work on the Lord’s Day. I’m not forbidden to play on the Lord’s Day. But the high ground is to say, this is a day of all days in which I will find my greatest delight. And what is my greatest delight? My greatest delight is to worship and fellowship with God’s people. And you can’t do that if you just bring your body here without your heart.


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