January 29: Van Horn on Westminster Doctrines

“To God’s Glory” : A Practical Study of a Doctrine of the Westminster Standards.
by Rev. Leonard T. Van Horn

THE SUBJECT : Preparation for the Lord’s Day.

THE BIBLE VERSES TO READ : Lev. 21:3; Ps. 92:1-2; Luke 4:16; Matt. 12:11-12; Jer. 17:21-22.

REFERENCE TO THE STANDARDS : Confession – Ch. XXI; Larger Catechism – Q. 116 & 117; Shorter Catechism – Q. 59 & 60.

Let us use an illustration that might help us. The family is gathered together in church on the Lord’s Day. The service is about to start. The Pastor asks a question, asks it even before the Invocation. He asks, “How many of you have taken time to prepare your souls for this, the Lord’s Day?”

Is this question a pertinent question? Is it a Biblical question? The answer to both questions has much to do with our lives before our Lord. Our God made the Sabbath holy and it is to be sanctified by man by man’s keeping it holy.

There has been much said and written regarding the keeping of the Lord’s Day and it is good and proper to do so. There is a real need of such today for too many professing believers in our country are guilty of breaking it time and time again. The ways of professing believers have changed radically in the past forty to fifty years in this regard.

Today there are too many works done on the Lord’s Day that are not the works of mercy as taught by our Lord. Many believers feel they have accomplished much for the Lord if they go to God’s House on Sunday morning. After fulfilling this they feel free to use the rest of the day in any way they see fit, usually in all sorts of recreation.

What has happened to God’s children in this generation to change their attitudes towards the Lord’s Day? Possibly the difficulty is that they do not think in terms of preparing themselves for the Lord’s Day. Today we hear very little teaching regarding this aspect of the Lord’s Day. There is much taught regarding Sunday being the Lord’s Day, but very little taught about preparing for the Lord’s Day. It might well be there would be less breaking of the Lord’s Day if there was a Biblical preparation for it.

How can we best prepare for the Lord’s Day? What things would be important for us to do in order that we might be in the condition the Lord would have us, as we come to His church on His Day? The following list might be helpful as we seek to live to His glory in this area of our lives:

1. We should dedicate the day to the Lord beforehand and rejoice at the prospect of it. It is a day He has prepared for us, it is truly His day, it is not our day. We should seek, by His grace, to make of it a special day of blessing to our souls.

2. We should use a good portion of the time on Saturday evening for a spiritual retreat. This should be a time of going into our “prayer closet” and there study God’s Word. Possibly this could be on the Sunday School lesson or on some other passage that has caught our attention and needs special study. Or, we could call the Pastor and ask him what the Scripture reading is for his sermon and study this. We could use the time in our “closet” for prayer, for filling our hearts with the things that be of God. The time could be used for confession and repenting of sin. These things that would choke the Word the next day should be faced before our Lord in all honesty.

3. We should use some time for meditation. Spending time thinking on God and the things of God is always helpful to our spiritual lives. “Be still, and know that I am God” is an important admonition in God’s Word. We can think on His works, His holiness, on the glorious fact of redemption, on the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Time spent in such pursuits will be honored by Him for they are all to His glory.

4. We should take some time to pray for the Pastor so he will be prepared to teach and preach God’s Word. The Pastor is preparing for a hard day, a day of awesome responsibility. We should hold him up before the Throne of Grace, praying that he will be a fit vessel for the Master’s use.

It is time that God’s people, those whom He has saved, prepare themselves for the Lord’s Day and its activities. As the people of Israel had to wash their bodies before the law was presented to them, so should the believers in Christ prepare their souls for the Lord’s Day (Ex. 19:10).

Our Lord has commanded us to spend one day of seven in rest from all unnecessary work. Certainly, we recognize that what He commands He expects us to obey. Further, if we do not obey in this regard He has promised we shall reap what we sow. If we do not submit to Him in this area He will cause us to submit and many times His methods are not to our liking. And if we prepare for it correctly, we will be more prone to observe it correctly.

Many years ago, as children, we learned a little poem that is filled with Biblical principles:

“A Sabbath well spent,
Brings a week of content,
And strength for the toils of the morrow.
But a Sabbath profaned,
What’er may be gained,
Is a certain forerunner of sorrow.”

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