The Worship of the Church
The Church of the Bible, Lesson 8 of 13
The church is made up of the saved. Its purpose is to worship and serve God through Jesus Christ. Paul said, "And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3:17).
There are three kinds of worship in the New Testament. First, we read of ignorant worship. When Paul was in the midst of Mar's hill in Athens, he saw many idols around him. He then said, "For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. What therefore ye worship in ignorance, this I set forth unto you" (Acts 17:23). Those people worshiped ignorantly then. Many do the same today. Millions bow down to idols and images. Many millions more are following various religious practices out of ignorance of the Bible.
Second, the Bible speaks of those whose worship is vain. Christ said, "But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men" (Matthew 15:9). The majority of people worship in this way today. They worship the Lord, it is true, but their worship is vain or void. Why? Because it is according to the teachings and traditions of men. It is not according to the will of God.
Third, the word of God speaks of true worship that is, worship which is in spirit and truth. We read the words of Christ, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). This is the only kind of worship that God will accept. This was true in the days of Christ and it is true in our present day. To worship God in spirit means to do it in humility and understanding. To worship in truth means to worship as it is written in the New Testament. God does not force anyone to worship Him. Those who worship Him must do so on His terms.
What kind of worship is the Lord's church to engage in? Not ignorant worship. Neither can it be according to the doctrines and commandments of men. It must be in spirit and in truth to be acceptable to God. The New Testament shows us from direct commands and examples that the early church engaged in these five ways of worship:
1. They assembled to study. Timothy had been taught the Bible from childhood (2 Timothy 3:15). Paul exhorted him as a young preacher, " Give diligence (study) to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). This would apply to all Christians and especially as they gather for worship. This is a time in which God speaks to His children through His Word. In Acts 20:7 we read of Paul preaching to the brethren as a way of studying the Word of God.
2. They prayed. After the people had obeyed the Lord on the day of Pentecost, we read, "And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42). Through prayer, the Lord's people have the opportunity to speak to their Father in heaven. What Christian would think of assembling with other Christians for worship and not engaging in prayer?
3. They sang praises. Paul wrote to his brethren, "speaking one to another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:19). Also read Colossians 3:16 and Hebrews 13:15. There are two kinds of music. One is vocal and the other is instrumental. What kind of music does God want? He asks for vocal music. Paul says that we are to make "melody with your heart to the Lord." This does away with instrumental music. The early Christians sang praises to God. Centuries later man added instrumental music. God has not ordained it. God will not accept it. Christians cannot praise God with instrumental music any more than they can praise him with mechanical prayers.
4. They assembled to partake of the Lord's Supper. We have an example of this in Acts 20:7. In Matthew 26:26-28 and 1 Corinthians 11, we are taught to partake of the bread in remembrance of the body of Christ. We then are to partake of the cup, or fruit of the vine, in remembrance of the blood of Christ. Even now we are to do this every Sunday.
5. They gave of their money. Paul commanded the brethren in Galatia and in Corinth, "Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come" (1 Corinthians 16:2). Also read 2 Corinthians 9:7. These early Christians met on the first day of each week (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2) to worship God. They were warned, "not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day drawing nigh" (Hebrews 10:25). Christians today are to do the same acts of worship on the same day.
The worship of the church is simple and to the point. Yet many stumble at its simplicity. They think it should be long and drawn out. They think there should be much tradition and formality. They believe in going through monotonous actions, and the repetition of prayers. But this is not so. God has revealed His will concerning worship. It is not given to man to change it at all. It cannot be added to or subtracted from. The Lord pronounced a curse upon those who do so (Revelation 22:18-19). God has spoken. His people must obey. Then, and only then, can God be worshiped, praised, and honored.
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