This article is written with the purpose of encouraging the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ to make use of the privilege and blessing of evening worship.
It is written acknowledging that there are Biblical reasons why it is not always possible to return for worship on the evening of the Lord’s day.
Though we may not have any direct Biblical command, “You shall return to evening worship,” we have much by way of implication from the Scripture.
Below are seven reasons why the people of God should return for evening worship
1. Because of the Glory of God
God’s glory is the all important matter in life. Paul exhorted the church at Corinth to, do all to the glory of God. (I Corinthians 10:31) The work of the devil is to rob God of His glory - that is his primary purpose. When we are absent without due cause from worship God is being robbed of His glory because God’s glory is displayed in His people. Added to this, if we are not growing as Christians as we should and could, God is being robbed of glory. We cannot be growing as we ought if we are not taking in the Word of God preached.
2. Because of the Presence of Christ
The psalmist writes I love the house where you live, O Lord. The place where Your glory dwells. (Psalm 26:8) God does not live in any building made by the hands of men. He does reside by His Spirit amongst His people. Where Christ’s people are, He is in the midst of them. When we gather for public worship we enjoy the presence of Christ with His people in a way that we cannot enjoy when we are on our own. One way to express our love for Christ is to delight in being where He is in this special way. No right thinking believer would want to snub their Lord and Saviour by absenting themselves without due cause from public worship.
3. Because of the Nature of the Lord’s Day
The Lord’s day is for rest. That rest is not the rest of inactivity but the rest of worship and service. We are commanded to keep the whole day in a holy manner - i.e. set aside for the Lord. We are not to use the Sabbath just as a time to rest our bodies physically. Our primary rest is found in the Lord Jesus Christ, learning of Him and His Word. Through the prophet Isaiah God told His people about the blessing of putting God first. If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on My holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honourable, and if you honour it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord… (Isaiah 58:13& 13a)
Another purpose of the Sabbath is to point us to Christ’s return and the rest that is yet to come. That rest of heaven will be unbroken and worshipping God publicly throughout the Sabbath day as we have opportunity is good practice for the life that is ahead.
The argument that worshipping twice will leave me too tired for my work simply does not stand - we are not to do as we please. When we put Him first He has promised to add to our lives all that we need.
4. Because of our Responsibility to each other
When someone becomes a Christian they are united to the Lord Jesus Christ. That union with Christ means that we are united to other believers. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. (I John 1:3&4) That union with other believers is to be particularly evidenced in our local church. The many one another exhortations call us to love one another and encourage one another. One of the ways that we can do that is by being present at the services for public worship. The writer to the Hebrews makes the direct link between encouraging one another and being present when the church meets. And let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another. (Hebrews 10:24&25) The presence of other believers at public worship is a support to one another as we remind ourselves what is important in our lives. Likewise our absence sends a serious message to other believers, particularly young ones - that we can get along fine without the preaching of God’s Word and the company of the saints.
5. Because of our Witness to the World
The message of the Scripture is that our lives are to display to men and women the glorious light of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16) When we are present at worship we are making an important statement to visitors - the worship of the Lord Jesus Christ is the most important thing in my life. When we are absent visitors note and conclude - there mustn’t be much of importance that is happening here. Our presence at worship says to the world that the proclamation of the Word of God is vital.
There is a secondary dimension to this, in that, as we come under the Word Christ deals with us and uses His Word to make us more like Him and the more like Him we are the more useful we will be in reaching the lost.
6. Because we are Under the Authority of Elders
One of the curses of our day and age is the spirit of individualism that says I will do what suits me and I am accountable to no one but myself. Biblical Christianity is to liberate us from this selfish and self centred mindset. When God in His loving kindness saves us He sets us in a church family. In that church family Christ has delegated His authority to the elders who are called to lead and organise the life of the church.
Elders in every local church will at the end of their lives give account as to how they have led, fed and nurtured the people of God. Our responsibility is to honour those whom God has placed in authority over us. If they have decided before God that public worship is beneficial twice on the Lord’s day then it is our duty to seek to honour them in that. Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them se that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17)
7. Because of our Need
God has designed that the people of God will be built up in their faith through the preaching of the Word of God. We are commanded to let the Word of Christ dwell richly within you. (Colossians 3:16) We are told to be as new born babies that crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.
(I Peter 2:2)
Remember that when these commands were given people had no personal Bible to take home for daily devotions. It was the Word publicly preached that was food for their souls.
Imagine a mother who each day provides two good meals for her family. Would she not be concerned that some of the children were skipping meals? Would the evidence of skipping meals not soon appear in their lives?
Christ desires that we will be set apart for His service in our homes, work places and communities. He has prescribed the means for our sanctification. Sanctify them by the truth, Your word is truth. (John 17:17)
1. Prepare for the Sabbath day by ensuring that you are in bed early on a Saturday evening. Children will need particular help with this.
2. Plan your visiting of family and friends for a Saturday evening and not a Sabbath evening.
3. If you are having friends or family for hospitality ensure that you are organised before hand and have worked out your timing to enable a return for evening worship.
4. Some with children can say that the children are too small to be present in the evening. This may be so for some. But if we are happy to have them out late at the cinema, or on a visit to friends late in the evening can evening worship be too late? It is a matter of priorities.
5. For some who are elderly and find the travelling on a winter’s night too demanding - you should consider speaking with the minister asking if a lift can be arranged. We would be delighted to arrange this.
If men wish the knowledge of Jesus’ resurrection to die out, let them neglect to keep holy the first day of the week, if they desire that event to be everywhere known and remembered let them consecrate that day to the worship of the risen Saviour.