Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE DAY OF GIVING”

First Corinthians 16.1-2

 

Have you ever thought about the differences that exist between Judaism and Christianity? In this day of ecumenism that we live in, where everyone wants to get together for a giant group hug to pretend there are no differences that exist between us, we tend to overlook real and substantial obstacles to legitimate unity between people of different faiths.

For example: Do we have much of anything in common with Hindus and Mormons, who actually believe there are many gods, and who deny that there is only one God? We have our humanity in common with them, and our sinfulness. However, we have no religious or spiritual faith system common ground with Hindus and Mormons who believe in many gods, or with pantheistic Buddhists who essentially believe in no gods.

It has become politically expedient to downplay the differences between Christianity and Islam these days, with everyone proclaiming that Islam is one of the world’s great religions, and that Islam is a religion of peace. It is the only religion in the world that embraces the slaughter of innocents by means of suicide bombing and airline skyjacking as a guaranteed way of entering paradise, but it is still said to be a religion of peace.

In point of fact, the Allah of Islam is not the same god as the God of the Hebrew Scriptures and the God of Christianity. We Christians embrace the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and hold that our Savior, Jesus Christ, is the Messiah foretold in the Jewish scriptures, the eternal Son of the one true and living God.

Perhaps you noticed the full-page advertisement in the New York Times last week. I am sorry I cannot show it to you, since it was accidentally thrown out. However, the advertisement was in connection with Christmas, and was a public relations ploy that attempted to highlight the things Christians and Muslims supposedly have in common, including really good feelings about Jesus. What was central to the ad, however, and I am sure what most people completely missed, was the phrase that read, “God without association.” When a Muslim declares that God is without association what he means is that God has no Son, that Jesus is not the Son of God. Therefore, you see, they are talking out of both sides of their mouths when they claim to honor Jesus, all the while denying that what He said about His relationship with His heavenly Father is true.

The only thing Christianity has in common with Islam is that they are faith systems that are devoted to one being. The reality is that the one being Christianity is devoted to is the God of the Bible, the one and only God who exists in the form of three divine persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, while the being Islam is devoted to is the creature once recognized to be the moon god of their ancient pantheon of idols during Mohammed’s day, whose name is Allah.

That which Christianity has in common with Judaism, on the other hand, distills down to two essentials: First, we worship the same God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Israel, the Creator of the universe and everything that exists within the universe. As well, we hold as inspired and true the Hebrew Scriptures, what we refer to as the Old Testament, what Paul termed in Romans 1.2 as “the holy scriptures.” Christians generally have a love for the Jewish people, because they are God’s covenant people, because “unto them were committed the oracles of God,” Romans 3.2, and because it was through the Jewish people that our Lord Jesus Christ stepped into time from eternity in the form of a man, born of a Jewish virgin.

Despite those important matters, however, there are great and profound differences between Christians and Jews, insurmountable differences despite our commitment to their eternal welfare. For one thing, Judaism denies the essential Trinitarian nature of God as He has revealed Himself. Because of that, of course, Judaism thoroughly rejects Jesus as Israel’s Messiah and as the Savior from sins. They neither recognize Him as God’s only begotten Son or as our sin-bearer Who died in our stead on the cross.

Though such theological issues as these are most important, the most obvious difference between Judaism and Christianity has to do with the day of giving. Judaism embraces the Sabbath, while all but a very small minority of Christians worships on the first day of the week, which is Sunday. From the time of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring on the Day of Pentecost, Christians characteristically gathered daily for instruction, for fellowship, to take meals together, and to evangelize the lost.

Acts 2.46 is a verse that is familiar to most of you, and shows the pattern for Christian activity throughout the apostolic era: “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.”

However, it is the Christian day for giving that most obviously distinguishes Christianity from Judaism, with the Christian day of giving designated to be Sunday and with Judaism’s commitment to the Sabbath.

Today we concern ourselves with the day of giving, but looking first at the Sabbath and then Sunday.

 

First, CONSIDER THE ABSOLUTE SANCTITY OF THE SABBATH

 

Genesis chapter one records the creative acts of God in the beginning, in six literal 24-hour days. On what we now know to be Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, God created the time-space-matter continuum and everything that exists . . . ex nihilo, from nothing. He literally spoke creation into existence and it was so. Genesis 2.1-3 tells us what happened next:

 

1      Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

2      And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

3      And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

 

Listen to the comment on this passage from a Jewish Hebrew scholar:

 

The ascending order of Creation, and the “six-plus-one” literary pattern that determines the presentation of the narrative, dictates that the seventh day be the momentous climax. Man is indeed the pinnacle of Creation, but central to the cosmogonic drama is the work of God, the solo performer. The account of Creation opened with a statement about God; it will now close with a statement about God. The seventh day is the Lord’s Day, through which all the creativity of the preceding days achieves fulfillment. The threefold repetition of the day number indicates its paramount importance within the cosmic whole. The seventh day is in polar contrast to the other six days, which are filled with creative activity. Its distinctive character is the desistance from labor and its infusion with blessing and sanctity. . . Its blessed and sacred character is a cosmic reality entirely independent of human effort.

. . . as we read in Exodus 31:13, 16, and 17, the Sabbath is a distinctively Israelite ordinance, a token of the eternal covenant between God and Israel. Its enactment would be out of place before the arrival of Israel on the scene of history.

Nevertheless, there cannot be any doubt that the text provides the unspoken foundation for the future institution of the Sabbath. Not only is the vocabulary of the present passage interwoven with other Pentateuchal references to the Sabbath, but the connection with Creation is made explicit in the first version of the Ten Commandments, given in Exodus 20:8-11. “Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God.... For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. . . and hallowed it.” The biblical institution of the weekly Sabbath is unparalleled in the ancient world. In fact, the concept of a seven-day week is unique to Israel, as is also, so far, the seven-day cosmogonic tradition . . .The Sabbath thus underlines the fundamental idea of Israelite monotheism: that God is wholly outside of nature.[1]

 

Turn, now, to Exodus 20.8-11:

8      Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

9      Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

10     But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

11     For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

 

Again, some excerpts from the same scholar’s comments on this passage:

With the Creation as its rationale (as also reiterated in Exodus 31:13-17), the seventh day of each week is invested with blessing and holiness. It is an integral part of the divinely ordained cosmic order and exists independent of human effort. For this reason it is described here as “a sabbath of the LORD Your God.”

The Sabbath is wholly an Israelite innovation. There is nothing analogous to it in the entire ancient Near Eastern world. This is surprising since seven-day units of time are well known through out the region. Yet the Sabbath is the sole exception to the otherwise universal practice of basing all the major units of time—months and seasons, as well as years—on the phases of the moon and solar cycle. The Sabbath, in other words, is completely dissociated from the movement of celestial bodies. This singularity, together with Creation as the basis for the institution, expresses the quintessential idea of Israel’s monotheism: God is entirely outside of and sovereign over nature. . . It is fitting that the law of the seventh day commences with the seventh letter of the Hebrew alphabet. . . Its intrinsic sacred character derives from God. By following a pattern of living and observance in conformity with that intrinsic holiness, Israel transforms its mundane existence into a spiritual experience one day a week. Texts like Hosea 2:13 and Isaiah 58:13-14 show that already in biblical times the Sabbath was a day of “rejoicing” and “delight.” It was these aspects of the day that rabbinic authorities sought to intensify in making the Sabbath “the cornerstone of Judaism.”

 

I realize you might think I am going into far more detail than you desire, but my purpose is to show you how strongly the Jewish identity is associated with Sabbath observance. No wonder, then, that those occasions when Jesus “began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat” on the Sabbath, Matthew 12.1, or to heal on the Sabbath, Mark 3.2, they accused Him of wrongdoing that was punishable by death. They did not understand, and refused to even consider, that He is Lord of the Sabbath, Mark 2.28.

Reaching far beyond the institution of the Mosaic Law at the foot of Mount Sinai, the Sabbath has for its foundation the day following God’s creation of all things in six literal days.

 

Now, CONSIDER THE APOSTOLIC SWITCH TO SUNDAY

 

The text for my message today is First Corinthians 16.1-2. Please turn there at this time. When you find that passage, stand, and read along with me while I read aloud:

 

1      Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

2      Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

 

It is very clear from this passage that by virtue of an apostolic directive to churches in Galatia and Achaia, which included this church in Corinth, their giving was to take place on Sunday. Since it was also on Sunday that the saints gathered together to break bread and for Paul to preach to them, Acts 20.7, we can reasonably conclude that it was under the leadership of the apostles that Christians began to worship, not on Saturday as the Jewish people had for centuries and centuries, but on the first day of the week, on Sunday.

To be sure, in the earliest days of Christianity the brethren met daily. Acts 5.42 reads, “And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” However, that was in the beginning, following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, when many new Christians from other parts of the world were converted to Christ and received intensive instruction and training from the apostles, while being supported by the brethren in and around Jerusalem.

Once they were scattered by persecution, however, they had to support themselves in the communities in which they lived, and were able to gather the congregations of each locale only once a week. What day would that be? What day should that be? Keeping in mind that the vast majority of those early believers were Jewish Christians, and that all the apostolic band were Jewish believers, how utterly astonishing it is that the apostle Paul, the personal envoy of the Lord Jesus Christ, would direct churches to perform their giving on Sunday, meaning of course that they conducted their weekly worship on that same day.

My friends, for God’s people to change their day of worship from Saturday to Sunday, from the Sabbath to the first day of the week, were an incredible turn about. For the most legitimate of reasons, God’s people had worshiped on the seventh day for thousands of years. Yet now, unless you doubt that the Apostle Paul spoke with inspired authority, God’s plan is for His people to worship Him by various means, including giving, on the first day!

Commenting on First Corinthians 16.1, the renowned Princeton theologian, Charles Hodge, comments: “This is the language of authority. For although these contributions were voluntary, and were required to be made cheerfully, 2 Cor. 9.7, yet they were a duty, and therefore both the collection itself; and the mode in which it should be accomplished, were proper subjects for apostolic direction.”[2]

Thus, we see from the earliest days of Christianity that our day for giving is not Saturday, but Sunday, not the last day of the week, but the first, not the Sabbath as in days gone by, but the beginning of the new week. This day of worship and giving have been all but universally recognized by Christens down through the ages from the times of the apostles to this present day, and not by common practice only. It is irrefutably established in the New Testament that this is God’s plan for His people in this present era.

 

But Why? CONSIDER THE REASONS FOR SUNDAY INSTEAD OF SATURDAY

 

“The collection was to be made every Lord’s day; every one was to contribute, and the contributions were to be in proportion to the means of the giver. These are the three principles which the apostle had established among the churches of Galatia, and which he urged the Corinthians to adopt.”[3]

Consider the reasons, and they must certainly be powerful ones, why the weekly day of worship was changed from the Sabbath to Sunday, why our prescribed day of giving is clearly shown to be Sunday:

First, it was obviously on a Sunday that our Lord Jesus Christ chose to show Himself to His disciples, John 20.19: “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” Looking down to John 20.26, “And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.” Thus, two Sundays in a row, by the Jewish way of reckoning days, the Lord Jesus Christ met with His disciples. He chose Sundays, not Sabbath days, to meet with His followers following His resurrection. That is a good reason for Sunday worship.

Next, it appears that the Apostle John in Revelation 1.10 refers to Sunday as the Lord’s Day. Thus, it seems that the Apostle John recognized Sunday as the day that was to be set apart for the service of the Lord. That is a good reason, too.

Third, as mentioned before, Acts 20.7 provides evidence that Sunday was from the beginning of the Christian era the day on which Christians, who were still then mostly Jewish Christians, assembled for worship. Who would know if they did not know?

Fourth, throughout the entire Christian era, in both the east and west of Christendom, it has been the uniform practice of professing Christians to worship and to give on Sundays, seeming to have irrefutable apostolic authority for their practice. How do you argue with Paul on this?

Finally, the most powerful argument for Sunday observance over against Sabbath observance is related to the event, which Sunday worship (and its accompanying practice of giving) is designed to commemorate. Again quoting Hodge, “The sanctification of the seventh day of the week was intended to keep in mind the great truth of the creation of the world, on which the whole system of revealed religion was founded; and as Christianity is founded on the resurrection of Christ, the day on which Christ rose became for that reason the Christian Sabbath.”[4]

 

The first Christians to observe Sunday worship instead of Sabbath worship were Jewish Christians. If you keep in mind how deeply entrenched Sabbath worship was in the Jewish mind and heart, you will realize that only the most powerful of reasons could have persuaded those early believers to worship and to give on Sunday instead of Saturday. My own persuasion is that the fact of the Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead on Sunday, the first day of the week, was a miracle of such staggering import, an act displaying such astonishing power, that it was beyond question essential for the resurrection to be forever commemorated on the very day of the week it occurred.

Yes, God rested on the seventh day from creating this whole world, from creating this old world. However, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ on the first day signifies all things becoming new, the beginning of a new order. That is also why, I think, the Apostle Paul directed that giving be done on the first day of the week. It would hardly be appropriate for the saints to gather each Sunday, but to then give to the cause of Christ some other day. That is why I have always urged people to give each and every Sunday.

Perhaps you are a day laborer and are paid at the end of each day. Maybe you are paid bi-weekly or semi-monthly. You may even be one whose pay arrives on a monthly basis. We certainly do not know how or when the Corinthians received their income, or the Galatians. However, we do know when they were told to give, which was the same day Paul told everyone else to give. They were told to give on Sunday, an example you and I should certainly follow.

As well, mom and dad, let me urge you to train your children to obey scripture in this matter, by giving each child a dollar a week to place into an offering envelope, to fill out their own name and the amount when they are old enough to do so, and to continue that training practice until your children are old enough to earn their own money, at which time you continue to supervise their giving until they are on their own.

Our beliefs are not the same as other belief systems. We believe differently than those who embrace Islam, and Judaism, and the other religions. We embrace a savior Who died for us on the cross to take away our sins, and Who rose from the dead the first day of the week. That is why we go to church every Sunday.

That is also why we give every Sunday. Our intent is to distinguish ourselves from other religions, as those early Jewish Christians distinguished themselves from those who continued to practice Judaism, an incomplete religion without a savior and without access to God.

So, as you honor the Lord with the first fruits of your increase, do so by faithfully attending church on the first day of the week, and by giving on the first day of the week.



[1] See footnotes for Genesis 2.1-3 in Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis - The JPS Torah Commentary, (Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989), pages 14-15.

[2] Charles Hodge, Commentary On The First Epistle To The Corinthians, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Reprint, 1976), page 362.

[3] Ibid., page 363.

[4] Ibid.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org