What Saith The Scripture?
"Understandest what thou readest?" (Acts 8:30)
James W. Adams
Is Attendance at Both Services on Lord's Day Mandatory?
Does the Lord command us to meet both morning and evening on the Lord's Day? If we have sung, prayed, been taught, had communion, and given of our means at the morning service, must we, according to Acts 20:7, also attend the evening service? J.O.A.B., Nigeria.
This question is from one of the native Christians in Nigeria, but it is a question often found on the lips of members of the body of Christ everywhere. In my judgment it implies a legalistic attitude toward the gospel of Christ and in one degree or another betrays the spirit of a hireling. A hireling does only what he is paid to do, that and no more. Some professed Christians serve the Lord like this. They want to do enough to miss the fire of eternal Hell and barely get into Heaven. Beyond this, they are interested in doing nothing. The man who really loves the Lord and realizes that he is a sinner saved by grace understands that the most and best he can do falls far short of what he can and ought to do - that, at the best, he is one who has done only "those things which are commanded, that which was his duty to do," hence is only an "unprofitable servant." (Luke 17:7-10.) Therefore, the man who loves the Lord and understands his own imperfections and sinfulness will want to do all he can; he will desire to give his Savior the first and the best, not the niggardly remnants of his time, devotion, and money expended in the service of self.
With these remarks as a preface, we are ready to consider an answer to the question. Acts 20: 7 teaches that the primitive disciples met on the first day of the week for the purpose of breaking bread. It says nothing about a "morning and evening service," hence "according to it," our querist can determine nothing with regard to the solution to his problem. But Acts 20:7 is not the only Scripture which bears upon this matter. Paul exhorted apostatizing Judean Christians not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, because, in the assemblies, they were provided the opportunity to exhort one another, thus provoking one another to love and good works and circumventing their turning loose their profession of faith. By so doing, they would prevent a willful turning away from Christ to Divine judgment and the destructive power of God's fiery indignation (Heb. 10:23-27.) The assembling of this passage cannot be limited to the Lord's Day assembly, either morning or evening or both. The assembling of God's people is a Divine provision for their edification and an antidote to apostasy. To "forsake" these assemblies is eternally disastrous. To neglect them is to court infidelity and to "mock" (Gal. 6:7, 8) the provisions of Divine grace for our good.
Besides the above considerations, the first day of the week is the "Lord's Day" (Rev. 1: 10). The expression "Lord's Day" means "of or belonging to the Lord." If one spends two hours only of that day in service to Christ and in reference to things spiritual and eternal and the rest of it in reference to self and our present, earthly, temporal existence, has he really acknowledged, in his practice, the special, Divine ownership of that day as contrasted with the other six days of the week? I do not believe he has. If someone is disposed to contend that he has, I should like to examine the premises on the basis of which such a conclusion is reached. True, the Lord's Day is not the Sabbath or even a Sabbath, but it is a day specially belonging to the Lord and should, as far as is possible, be spent in his service and, in a special way, for his glory. Running into the meeting-house fifteen minutes late for the worship, eating a little bread and sipping a little fruit of the vine, and running out when the last "amen" is said, as though to a fire, until the next first day of the week is come, as many do, could hardly be regarded as honoring the first day of the week as "the Lord's Day."
Yet, in spite of these things, we must be careful not to sit in judgment on the conduct of another person relative to attendance in all assemblies. Why a person is not present is extremely important. We cannot always know what these reasons are. Every Christian must, unless unavoidably prevented, meet with the saints at least once upon the Lord's Day to break bread. Whether his failure to attend other assemblies on the Lord's Day is or is not pleasing to God would depend upon his reasons and his attitude.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 19, pp. 6-7