Delighting in God: Benefiting from the Lord’s Day – Ministry Spot


I wonder, does this conversation sound familiar? “How’s it going?” “Oh, I’m so busy, crazy busy, I’m swamped, I have just so much going on at the moment.” “I’m crazy busy” is code for “I’m overwhelmed, I’m exhausted, I’m drained, I feel like I’m losing it and I just don’t know how to get my life back.” We are busy. We always seem pressed for time. We are always hurrying from one place to the next, one meeting to the next, and one task to the next. Busy schedules, work, problems, and challenges in life have a way of draining us, wearing us down, and dimming the flame that burns in our hearts for our Lord. We tell ourselves that we really do believe the gospel, but we work as though it all depended on us. With the number of commitments and obligations piling up it is no wonder we feel more fatigued than fulfilled, exhausted than energized, sapped than satisfied. If this is you then I have some good news! God has provided a remedy for your busyness and weariness: a day of rest and worship, restoration and joy.  The Fourth Commandment is basically God saying, “Enjoy this gift!” Jesus said, “The Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). The principle of weaving regular Christ-centred rest and worship into the rhythm of our lives is for our flourishing and God’s glory.  J. C. Ryle said, “The Sabbath is God’s merciful appointment for the common benefit of all mankind…It is given for the good of all…It is not a yoke, but a blessing. It is not a burden, but a mercy…Above all, it is good for souls.” (Knots Untied, 220). So how can we benefit from the Lord’s Day? .

(1) The Lord’s Day Points Us to Christ

As Christians we still need to obey the Fourth Commandment (Matt 5:17), but, like the rest of the Law, we need to see how it finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Paul writes: “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col 2:16-17). As Dane Ortlund points out, Christ is the substance to which the shadows pointed: “He is that of which the sabbath is a shadow; Jesus is the shadow-caster. He doesn’t just forgive our sins; he lets the frenetic RPMs of the heart slow down into calm sanity. And no external circumstance can threaten that rest, as we look to him.” The Sabbath is meant to point us to Christ, the one who gives true, deep, and lasting rest. Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). No amount of sleeping, streaming, shopping, or socialising will provide the rest that we truly need. Returning, resting, and relying on Christ is the only true sabbath of the soul.

(2) The Lord’s Day is a Celebration of Christ’s Victory

In Genesis 2:3 we read that “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” The Sabbath principal was enshrined in the Ten Commandments, both as a reminder of God’s work of creation (Exod 20:8-11) and redemption (Deut 5:12-15). However, in the New Testament we find the church meeting for corporate worship not on the seventh day of the week but on the first. After the resurrection, the day for sacred assembly moved from the Saturday to the Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:1-2). This day was called “the Lord’s Day” (Rev 1:10) because it was the day in which God finished the glorious work of our redemption in Christ, the day of resurrection.  And so just as the Sabbath under the old covenant was a memorial of Israel’s redemption from slavery in Egypt (Deut 5:15), so under the new covenant the Lord’s Day is a memorial of our redemption from slavery to sin. It is thus fitting that we should set apart the first day of the week to join with God’s people to honour and praise our redeemer and to meditate on the work of our redemption (except where a work of necessity may require the setting aside of another day).

(3) The Lord’s Day Weaves Gospel into Our Week

Following on from the previous point, we should delight in the Lord’s Day because it refreshes us at the beginning of the week and assures us of God’s grace and blessing for the rest of the week ahead.  The moving of the Sabbath Day from the last day of the week to the first day ought to remind us that we don’t work to earn our rest, but rather we go out to work from a place of resting. O. Palmer Robertson writes: “The new covenant radically alters the Sabbath perspective. The current believer does not first labor six days, looking hopefully towards rest. Instead, he begins the week by rejoicing in the rest already accomplished by the cosmic event of Christ’s resurrection. Then he enters joyfully into his six days of labor, confident of success through the victory which Christ has already won” (The Christ of the Covenants, 73). This is the gospel logic that we find throughout in the Bible: God graciously provides us with rest (gospel), and then from that place of rest and refreshment we go out and become fruitful and effective for God (our response to the gospel). A Lord’s Day well spent leaves us refreshed and reinvigorated to serve the Lord throughout the week.

(4) The Lord’s Day is a Day of Blessing for God’s People

Fourthly, we benefit from the Lord’s Day because it is a blessed day that the Lord has blessed for us. Genesis 2:3 tells us that “God blessed the seventh day and made it holy.” Theodore VanderGroe observed, “The blessing consists in God’s pronouncement of his blessing upon this day, having promised that he would prosper and bless his people in a special way according to soul and body” (The Christian’s Only Comfort, 2:297).  Thomas Watson points out, “It is not only a day of honour to God, but a day of blessing to us; is not only a day wherein we give God worship, but a day wherein he gives us grace” (The Ten Commandments, 94). We must not approach the Lord’s Day as if were like a Saturday interrupted by church. Nor is the Lord’s Day a Pharisaic idea characterised by legalism, guilt, and negativity. Rather, it is a positive day, a blessed day, a delightful day, a glorious day, a day of worship and adoration, of joy and gladness, of delight and devotion, of rest and refreshment (both spiritual and physical)—a gracious gift of God! The Lord’s Day enables the believer to pull away from his or her worldly responsibilities and obligations, cares and concerns for one day of the week (as Isaiah 58:13-14 reminds us) and instead feast on all who God is for us in Jesus Christ. Calvin said, “We have one definite day of the week which is to be completely spent in hearing God’s word, in prayers and petitions, and in meditating upon his works so that we may rejoice in him” (Sermons on Genesis 1-11, 130). They key to benefiting from the Lord’s Day is celebrating it not out of legalism but love: “On the Sabbath the soul fixes its love on God; and where love is, there is delight” (Watson, The Ten Commandments, 118).

(5) The Lord’s Day Looks Forward in Hope

Finally, we benefit from the Lord’s Day because it is a weekly foretaste of our eternal rest. On this side of glory, we undergo various trials, endure various sorrows, are afflicted with various illnesses, suffer the loss of various loved ones, until finally our weak and frail bodies also fail. The Lord’s Day reminds us that “there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God” (Heb 4:9). Therefore, to benefit from the Lord’s Day we need to cultivate hope in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ “and so begin already in this life the eternal sabbath” (HC, LD 38, Q 103). Oh, and what an eternal sabbath it will be! “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:4). “Remember the sabbath day” means “remember the eternal sabbath.” Robert Murray McCheyne wrote, “A well-spent Sabbath we feel to be a day of heaven on earth” (Memoirs and Remains, 596). Every Lord’s Day should be spent looking forward to the Day of the Lord.  Use the Lord’s Day to meditate on your heavenly home and to stir up your desire for the return of the Lord. The Lord’s Day celebrates Christ’s resurrection and looks forward to the resurrection of all who are in Christ. The Lord’s Day is a day of hope-filled happiness. “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20)