In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul compares and contrasts Adam and Christ. “In Adam all die … in Christ all will be made alive” (v. 22). Paul also refers to Christ as “the second man” and “the last Adam” (vv. 45, 47). The first Adam is the first man of God’s first creation. The last Adam is the beginning of God’s new creation. The first man was “of the earth, a man of dust”; the second man is “of heaven” (v. 47).
To the first Adam, God gave a special day, the Sabbath day (Gen. 2:2–3). To the last Adam, God gave a special day, the Lord’s Day (Rev. 1:10). The relationship between the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day is like the relationship between Adam and Christ. The relationship between them is one of shadow and reality or type and fulfillment. As Adam is a type of Christ, so too, the Sabbath is a type that points forward to and is fulfilled in the Lord’s Day. But the Lord’s Day is only a partial fulfillment of the Sabbath; its ultimate fulfillment is the consummate Sabbath of the eschaton.
When God created Adam, he gave him the Sabbath day to remind him of his identity and of his destination. As the image of God, he imitated God by working six days and resting on the seventh. Thus, the Sabbath day reminded him of his identity. It also reminded him of where he was going. It pointed forward to his destination: the eternal Sabbath; that is, the heavenly, unceasing rest in the age to come.
The weekly day of rest was the earthly counterpart or type of the heavenly rest that Adam would have entered had he been obedient to God. The earthly Sabbath was a temporary ordinance that would end at the consummation, when the shadow would give way to the reality. The weekly Sabbath would give way to the ultimate Sabbath. It would end because the reality of what it represented would be possessed.
When Christ, the new Adam, rose from the dead, he entered into that eternal, heavenly rest. By his personal, exact, and entire obedience, he attained what the first Adam would have attained had he been obedient. Christ, in his resurrection from the dead, received eternal life and glorification, which the first Adam never had. He entered a state of glory, the same state that we will enter when Christ returns.
However, believers are already “a new creation” because we have been united to the risen Christ, the beginning of God’s new creation. “The old [what we were in Adam] has passed away; behold the new [what we are in Christ] has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). We are no longer dead in our sins; we have been made alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:1–10). Hence, we no longer live according to the old, sinful nature, but according to the resurrection life of the new nature.
And that’s why the Lord’s Day is so significant for the Christian. It’s the day of resurrection; it’s the day of new creation. The saints in the Old Testament worshiped on Saturday because the new creation had not dawned. They worshiped on the Sabbath of the first creation, the Sabbath of the first Adam. We, however, worship on the first day of the week because it’s the day of the new creation, which emerged with the resurrection of Christ, the last Adam.
The Lord’s Day reminds us of our new identity in Christ, and worshiping on the Lord’s Day reorders our life in light of our new identity. It also points us forward to what we will become when Christ returns and gathers us to himself. When we gather for worship on the Lord’s Day, we experience a foretaste of what’s going to happen at the end of the world. Thus, the Lord’s Day orients our life toward the world to come. It teaches us to live as strangers and aliens on earth, to live as pilgrims seeking a better country, a heavenly one. It teaches us not to set our hopes on attaining paradise on earth but to fix our eyes on the risen and ascended Christ (cf. Col. 3:1–4).
Thus, worship on the Lord’s Day is absolutely essential to the spiritual health and well-being of the church and of every believer. It reorders our life in light of your union to Christ. It reorients our life away from earthly and temporary things toward the heavenly and eternal. And it redirects our steps away from the old order and toward the new order, the age of Christ and the Holy Spirit by whom and in whom we live.