Thoughts on Lord’s Day Observance
George Rose (1873-1965) was a Baptist pastor in Tamworth Road, Croydon, in the years leading up to the Second World War. His biography has just been reprinted entitled Remembered Mercies Recorded (Gospel Standard Trust Publications, 376 pages). From 1933 he issued a Monthly Circular in which he wrote a message to his congregation, and those messages have been collected by James North and republished as a book entitled Pastoral Counsel (Gospel Standard Trust Publications,145 pages). The following article is taken from that book and is typical of the gracious counsel and wisdom of Pastor Rose.
God, in his wisdom and mercy, has granted us one day in seven as a needful rest from the labours of the week, and since New Testament times the people of God have observed the first day of the week – the day that the Lord Jesus rose from the dead – as the one to devote to His worship and service. That man should rest one day in seven is the merciful provision of the beneficent Creator; and, if observed as prescribed in God’s Word, is an inestimable blessing, while all infringement of his commandment is detrimental.
The Lord’s Day should be devoted as far as possible to his worship. ‘Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together’ is the precept binding upon all who fear God, and have opportunity to do so. When gracious obedience is rendered to it, and the Lord’s presence and blessing are realised, it enables one to say, ‘For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness’ (Psa. 84:10). A right observance of the Lord’s service is very needful, and I wish in love to point out a few things which, if practised, will mar the service of God, grieve the Holy Spirit, and make the worship of God more or less profitless; and I hope you may have grace bestowed to give these few thoughts your serious attention. If we know what is right, very little good will result if it is not reduced to practice.
Never leave work for Sunday that can be done on Saturday. The day does not belong to us, and should not be encroached upon with secular things which, by foresight and method, can be done on another day. Works of necessity and mercy may be done. The Lord Jesus went about doing good on the Sabbath days as well as at other times, and he said, ‘It is lawful to do well on the Sabbath days’ (Matt. 12:l2). All work which can be done with tender conscience and in the fear of God can be done.
As far as in your power, attend the house of God on his day, to worship him with prayer, praise and attendance on the preaching of the gospel. It is our highest privilege to come where Jesus has promised to be: ‘For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matt. 18:20). Six days are lawfully given to the affairs of this life, to provide for the body, but the things that pertain to God, and the welfare of the soul, are much more important. The things of time pass away, and perish with the using, but the things of God are permanent, and will never pass away. If we worship God in spirit and in truth here, we shall worship him in heaven for ever. If we have grace here, we shall be received into glory hereafter. The soul that is quickened by the Holy Spirit wants to feed upon Jesus Christ as the bread of God. The Lord in mercy has said, speaking of his house: ‘I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her poor with bread. I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy’ (Psa. 132:15, 16).
Never gossip in the house of God. We should not talk about people or worldly business, on the way to, or in, the house of God, or when going away from the service. This is a fruitful cause of barrenness of soul, because it is grieving to the Holy Spirit. ‘Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few’ (Eccles. 5:1, 2).
We should seek to have our mind instantly centred upon the solemn fact that we are before him of whom it is written, ‘God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him’ (Psa. 89:7). As far as possible avoid being late for the opening part of the service. A little perseverance, rising in good time, and method in the domestic arrangements, will prevent the greater part of late coming. We do not know what part of the service will be blessed, and for our own sake, as well as not to disturb the devotions of other worshippers, this should be an incentive to early attendance. It is better to arrive a little time previous to the commencement of the service, so that, if favoured with a spirit of prayer for yourself, for the congregation, and the minister, you may seek that the ‘word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified,’ and that, being detached from earthly things, you may be prepared to worship God in the beauty of holiness. After the service, retire quietly to your homes to meditate on what you have heard, and examine your state before God, in the light of the scriptural truth you have heard from the word of God.
Do not look about the congregation to see who are there, and how they are dressed. Our business should be with God and our own heart, and to that we should attend. Look rather to the cross of Christ, and seek to be clothed with humility, that we may be ready in all things to glorify God. We cannot be devotional unless our minds are fixed upon the object of our worship; we cannot attend to God when gazing about the congregation. Let us remember what by our presence we profess to be doing, and act accordingly.
Make no visits for pleasure, and give no invitations except such as where conversation and time may be occupied to the glory of God and the edification of our souls.
If in this way, so briefly outlined, we spend the Lord’s Day, with his blessing it will be a weekly preparation for that blessed eternal Sabbath of rest from in, and of heavenly, holy service. ‘And his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads’ (Rev. 22:3, 4).
I hope that you will receive these few lines in the spirit in which they are written.
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