Saturday, January 11, 2014

Back to Basics

            2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Believing that the Bible is the very Word of God, the Church should have no other creed or guide or manifesto in what a Christian is and how a Christian should worship.

One Authority

When we call ourselves Christians, we are acknowledging Christ as our Savior and Lord. Our allegiance and obedience are owed to Him.

Christ has All Authority Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

Jesus is our authority when it comes to religion. And He established one church.  No pope, no council, no committee is permitted to make decisions regarding worship.  Christ is our head priest.

Colossians 1:18  And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

Ephesians 4:4-6  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Worship in the Church

If there is truly One Church, then why do we see so many churches out there in the world teaching so many different doctrines?  Denominations formed when people (not God) decided to worship in completely different ways.  “Worship God in any way that makes you happy, as long as you are worshiping God, then you are OK,” is the philosophy that most people have toward religion today.

Thankfully, we are blessed to live in a nation where that is legally an option.  However, in worship, we are not seeking to please ourselves or our government.  Our worship is to be directed toward God and God alone.   Therefore, shouldn’t the recipient of our worship be able to determine the type of worship He wishes to receive?  Reading and studying the Bible is the only way to know the Will of God. 

Worship CAN be in Vain

Matthew 15:9 - The people mentioned in this verse were worshiping God by the “commandments of men.”  Whatever these people were doing was not pleasing to God because it was not directed by God. 

Leviticus 10:1-2 - In the Old Testament, Nadab and Abihu died because they offered “strange fire” in their sacrifice to God.  To Nadab and Abihu it may have seemed that any type of fire would do or that maybe “strange fire” was better.  But God had given special instructions in what type of fire to use and when those instructions weren’t followed, He wasn’t pleased.  Nadab and Abihu were punished because of their inability to follow God’s instructions for worship.   

We cannot “go beyond” God’s authority in our worship without disobeying God’s will.

2 John 1:9-11 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.”

Matthew 15:8-9 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

Anytime that man decides how God should be worshipped is deviation from God’s Word.  If we were to add anything or take anything away from God’s worship, we are essentially adding to or taking away from the Word of God! 

Revelation 22:18-19 refers to the Revelation letter, but I think it could apply to the rest of the Bible as a whole - “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

True Worship

John 4:24 “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

To quote a workbook we used in Bible study years ago, “To worship in spirit is to worship from the heart.  It involves understanding, meaning, and feeling.” 

How can we worship God in truth?  If God can be worshiped incorrectly, then how could we know how to worship Him?  God has provided us with the Bible which we accept as His divinely inspired Word.  

In reading and studying the Bible we learn the Will of God and how He expects us to worship Him.            

Acceptable Methods of Worship
  •  Assembling with the Saints
We must assemble with the Church in order to properly worship God.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
  • Teaching/Preaching
Matthew 28:20 “Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

John 6:45 “It is written in the prophets,  ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.”
Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”  (How could they know the apostles’ doctrine without studying?)

Acts 20:7 “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

This is why we offer Bible classes and have sermons preached.  In reading and studying the Bible we learn the Will of God and what it is to live a Christian life. 
  • Prayer 
Prayer is to be a part of our lives as individual Christians, but is also a method  of worship we engage in when we come together as a Church.

Ephesians 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—"

Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

Acts 12:5 “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.
  • Singing
This is where a lot of churches begin to differ in their doctrine.  There is no reference to instrumental music in the worship of the first-century church. 

Looking at secular history, we see that “the first recorded example of a musical instrument in Christian worship was an organ introduced by Pope Vitalian into a cathedral in Rome in 666." Another source states that  "Pope Vitalian is related to have first introduced organs into some of the churches of Western Europe about 670 but the earliest trustworthy account is that of one sent as a present by the Greek emperor Constantine Copronymus to Pepin, king of Franks in 755" (American Encyclopedia, Volume 12, p. 688).   In fact, the very word A Capella which today is defined as “vocal music” is literally translated from Italian as “in the manner of the chapel/church.”  This implies that at one time the only method of musical worship in ALL denominations of Christian worship was vocal.  Someone somewhere added something to God’s Word along the way. 

Looking to our authority, the Bible, we see no evidence of instrumental music being used in the early Church. 

Ephesians 5:19 “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” 

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

We could spend all day discussing this one aspect of worship and there are several other scriptures in which we see the early church using only vocal singing to worship God: Matthew 26:30, Mark 14:26, Acts 16:25, Romans 15:9, 1 Corinthians 14:15, Hebrews 2:12 and 13:15, James 5:13.

Instrumental music may sound nice to the ears of the human listener, but God is the one we are seeking to please, not man and there is no evidence of a Christian church using instrumental music in the New Testament.  One might argue:  “But the Bible doesn't specifically say ‘Thou shalt not use instrumental music’ anywhere either.”  This is true, but there are plenty of things that the Bible doesn't specifically say that we know is wrong through common sense. 

Using logic and deductive reasoning from the evidence provided in the scriptures, I think that it is safe to say that for some reason God does not intend for us to use instrumental music in our worship.  We can infer this even without His explicit forbidding of it.
  • The Lord’s Supper
This is probably the single most important act of worship that a Christian engages in.  The memorial feast, the communion in Christ’s memory is to be taken every week on the first day of the week

Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.”

Acts 20:7 “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

1 Corinthians 11:23-30 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.  Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
  • Giving 
Through our giving, the work of the church continues.  We are commanded to give not only in that manner, but also to help those who are in need.

1 Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

This is the only way that we see the church raising money.  We see no authorization for the selling of products or baked-goods door-to-door or bingo or any other fund-raisers. 


We have learned today that in order for our worship to be acceptable, it must be on God’s terms.  It is possible to know what God expects of us by reading the Bible which is, after all, God’s Word. 

There are things that people add and take away to God’s ways and plans, but they ultimately do so in vain.

Why does God want things done His Way?  

            Isaiah 55:8-9  For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

To put it simply:  God knows better than we do.  Whether it is the proper way to worship Him or the proper way to save our souls, God knows better than we do and we must submit our obedience to His divine will.

            Likewise, there is a proper way to be saved, to be forgiven of sins and to become a child of God…

The Plan of Salvation

John 14:6; Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me..."

1.)  Hear the Word
Luke 11:28, Romans 10:17

2.)  Believe
John 12:46, Hebrews 11:6, Mark 16:16

3.)  Repent
Acts 2:38, Acts 17:30, Romans 3:23-24

4.)  Confess
Romans 10:9-10, 1 John 4:15

5.)  Be Baptized
Acts 2:38, Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:16

6.)  Live Faithfully
Romans 6:1-4, Matthew 7:24-27, James 1:22-25, Revelation 2:10

2 Corinthians 6:2 -TODAY is the day of Salvation!
    For He says: “ In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”  Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

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