When and why did Sunday night and Wednesday night services begin?
No historical facts have been found that relate when and why Lord’s Day evening and Wednesday evening services began. However, some conclusions may be drawn from what is known. Lord’s Day evening services may have sprung from disagreement over whether in Acts 20:7 “the first day of the week” is based on Roman time or Jewish time. Whichever time standard was used, it is certain that the disciples met on what they considered to be and what Luke recorded as “the first day of the week.” The fact that Paul continued his preaching until midnight leads some to conclude that Jewish time was used and thus the first day of the week began at 6:00 P.M. when Sabbath ended. Others argue that evening communion was practiced in the evening even under Roman time because 1) the Lord’s Supper was instituted in the evening and 2) the evening was the time of meeting because many of the early Christians were not their own masters and they could not control their days. Today’s preachers may long for days of old when worship hours were not controlled by the clock. Most likely, however, it was at the urging of the brethren who wanted to take advantage of the presence of the great apostle Paul that stretched his discourse until midnight.
Wednesday night meetings were originally called “prayer meetings,” most likely arising because brethren felt the need of more congregational prayers. It was, and still is, intended as a time to “recharge spiritual batteries.” The time was selected by elders or, in their absence, the congregation. The day was likely chosen because it was in the middle of the week, half-way between Lord’s Days. It gradually turned from a prayer service to a bible study hour, usually preceded or followed by a time of singing, praying, and a brief lesson from the Scripture.
Many “main-stream” denominations have eliminated not only Wednesday evening meetings, but Sunday evening as well, because their members would not attend. It is striking that as their members demonstrated greater and greater need for spiritual edification, their leaders responded by providing fewer and fewer opportunities. Some mega-churches are trying to correct waning Lord’s Day morning attendance by having services on Saturday night, as one mega-church advertised, for those who don’t want to mess up their Sundays. Our world is in sorry shape because it has kept lowering the standards of truth and morality so that more and more people can live up to it or down to it depending on your point of view. It is sad to see some churches becoming more and more like the world.
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)