I should rephrase the question to be more precise – is it a sin to intentionally schedule something unnecessary in place of the assembly of believers?
I realize that much could be said for the descriptor “unnecessary.” Some must miss church for necessary reasons. Their occupation is to save lives, uphold the law, etc. I could go on, but, for the purpose of keeping this article relatively brief, I will leave it at that.
My answer would be yes, it is sin to intentionally schedule something unnecessary in place of the assembly of believers. I make this conclusion for two reasons.
First, we should meet together every week with our local church because it was clearly the pattern of the churches in the New Testament.
The first churches met every week on Sundays, a precedent that we as believers are to follow today. Luke began his description of a trip by Paul to Troas in this way: “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, he talked with them” (Acts 20:7). If Luke’s description of Paul’s activities at Troas were representative of what took place in churches in general, the early assembly of a local church typically included the Lord’s Supper and the preaching of God’s Word.1
Similarly, Paul encouraged the Corinthians to make a collection for him according to how he had previously instructed the Galatian churches (cf. 1 Cor 16:1): “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come” (1 Cor 16:2). Paul expected them to meet on Sundays and could instruct collections accordingly. Though the collection he commanded may have been of a more private nature at first,2 the command to do so was for the purpose of not collecting funds as a gathered assembly when Paul stayed with the church.3 Collections aside, 1 Cor 16:2 assumes Christians would assemble on the first day of the week.
My simple point from these two examples4 is this: if the NT description of the early churches was to meet on Sunday every week, I think it is fair to say that we should do the same today. But, you may say, that’s only a description and not a prescription. Descriptions only go so far, and I grant this point. But, what is helpful is that Scripture also gives a command that pertains to the weekly assembling of believers as well. And that will be a matter to discuss in my next post.
- John B. Polhill, Acts (NAC 26; Broadman & Holman, 1995), 419. [↩]
- Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (NICNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 813. [↩]
- David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians (BECNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 753–54. [↩]
- A third text often brought into this discussion is Rev 1:10. John is described to have a vision on “the Lord’s Day,” which is likely a reference to the first day of the week on which the Lord Jesus rose from the grave (cf. Matt 28:1). [↩]