Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Archive 9a Why twice?

This article appeared in Grace magazine some years ago. Similar points are made in the opening article in the latest Banner mag.

Sadly, we hear increasingly of churches giving up having two preaching meetings on the Lord’s Day. Thankfully most Grace churches continue to have two meetings and sometimes more. Yet not everyone wants to be at both meetings. Let me introduce you to that exotic but hardly rare species of churchgoer sometimes known as The Oncer.
Oncers come in 3 main varieties. Most common are Morning Oncers. They are very faithful on a Lord’s Day morning, never miss. But as for any later meetings they are nowhere to be seen. Of course, sometimes older people are a little weary or wary of venturing out at night. Legitimate duties keep some away but, sad to say, even when a lift is arranged or circumstances change the Morning Oncer often still refuses to venture out a second time. Evening Oncers are rarer but, especially in some parts of the country where the tradition is strong, you will see such people without fail in the evening or afternoon meeting though they hardly ever come in the morning. Most exotic of all are Random Oncers. With these you never know quite what will happen until the day is over. If they are not there in the morning they may be there in the evening, but then again, you may not see them at all.
Such people are often unbelievers but plenty of men and women who profess faith in Christ almost never think of coming along to church twice on the Lord’s Day, even though there are always two meetings and they are well able to come to both. The idea of coming twice on the Lord’s Day is a form of fanaticism they dare not contemplate. When I was converted as a teenager, no-one told me to come to both Sunday meetings I just assumed it was the right thing to do. Not everyone finds it so simple. What arguments might induce them to come more often?
1. Remember, each meeting is a ‘public means of grace’. Therefore all healthy believers will want to be at both. At church the Word of God is read and expounded, the sacraments of the Lord’s Supper and baptism are often administered, there is prayer and praise and fellowship. All these are means of receiving blessing from God. How odd that any serious believer should deliberately throw up half the opportunities they have for such things each Lord’s Day.
2. It is a Scriptural command to meet often with God’s people. Hebrews 10:25 shows us that there were problems with attendance even in the earliest days. However, the writer urges his readers not to give up meeting together as some have done but to do so more and more as you see the Day approaching. The nearer we get to the Day of Judgment and the Lord’s Return the more eager we ought to be to meet with God’s people.
3. Coming to both meetings will greatly help you to honour the Lord’s Day. Christians certainly differ in their understanding of the Lord’s Day but there is a general recognition that Sunday should be different, separate from the other days of the week. Surely this should be so not merely for part of the day but for the whole day. If you properly prepare yourself for and properly take part in the two meetings, you will find that most of your day has been wisely filled. One sometimes wonders what Oncers do with the rest of their day.

To be continued

No comments: