This week we resume our sermon series “What Do Baptists Believe?”. We have been briefly reviewing the 18 doctrinal statements found in the Baptist Faith and Message (2000). Together these statements represent the foundational beliefs of the Southern Baptist denomination. The aim of this series is to remind and teach us specifically what Baptists believe, in hopes that we can be further unified around our core values and strengthened to serve Christ more effectively. Today we will look at 2 statements - The Lord’s Day followed by The Kingdom.
The first day of the week is the Lord's Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It
commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead and should include exercises of worship and
spiritual devotion, both public and private. Activities on the Lord's Day should be commensurate with
the Christian's conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
As Christians, we recognize the Lord's Day as the first day of the week. On our calendars this is, of course, Sunday. But for centuries the people of God worshiped on Saturday, and many religions still do today - most notably the Jews. What accounts for the change, and does Sunday worship violate the law of the Sabbath found in the 10 Commandments?
The reason that Christians recognize Sunday - the first day of the week - as their day of worship is to memorialize the resurrection of Jesus Christ. All four gospel writers clearly state that Jesus arose from the grave in the early morning hours of the "first day of the week". As such, Sunday worship shows a special remembrance of and pays a tribute to the bodily resurrection of our Lord.
The New Testament church met on "the first day of the week" for corporate worship and fellowship. This practice, among others, distinguished them from the Jews who rejected the notion that Christ was the risen Messiah. As such, Jewish people continued to worship on the seventh day of the week - the Sabbath day in accordance with Mosaic Law.
The 4th Commandment states "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." The key to understanding this command is to know that the word "Sabbath" derives from the Hebrew word "sabat" which means to rest or cease from work. The command is not directed at a particular day of the week, but rather that one day out of every week should be set aside to rest from one's labor and to worship God. Whether that day be Saturday or Sunday is not issue - rather, honoring God by observing a weekly day of rest and worship is what we are commanded to do.
And so, as Christians we honor this commandment in both letter and spirit, we remember the resurrection of Jesus, and we continue the practice of the early church by meeting together for corporate worship and fellowship on the first day of the week, Sunday, the Lord's Day.
The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular
kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of
salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ. Christians ought to
pray and to labor that the Kingdom may come and God's will be done on earth. The full consummation
of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age.
God is creator of the whole universe - both the heavens and the earth. His reigns over everything, and all of creation is under His authority. However, when the Bible speaks of the kingdom of God it most often refers to only those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Born again believers make up the citizenry of God's glorious and enduring kingdom.
The kingdom of God was instituted when the Son - Jesus Christ - came to earth. His herald, John the Baptist, often alerted the people that the kingdom of God was at hand. Jesus himself stated to his critics that by His presence "the kingdom is in your midst". Where Christ is, there also is His kingdom. It is a spiritual kingdom, characterized by salvation, and it stands in stark contrast to the kingdom of this world.
Satan has been granted a season to rule over the earth, and has established his own kingdom of darkness and sinfulness. Therefore, at the present time there are two diametrically opposed kingdoms - the earthly Satanic kingdom and the spiritual Godly kingdom - engaged in an epic confrontation. This all out warfare takes place in the spiritual realm and can be seen manifested in the wreckage of the physical realm. The battles being fought are all too real and the battlefields are the very hearts of men.
The kingdom of God will be consummated - or brought to its full completion - when Christ returns at His second coming. At this time, Satan and his forces will be crushed, his kingdom will be utterly destroyed, and he along with all of those who've stood with him will be eternally damned. As Christians on this fallen earth, while the battle rages on, we are in a real sense "trapped behind enemy lines". But praise be to God, at the return of Christ our Lord will be victorious and His kingdom will be established unshakable and eternal.