The Worship of the Lord's Church
by Dave Brown
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Please read this article first, and then for additional articles on the worship of the Lord's church click any of the following:
Giving The Lord's Supper Music in Worship Preaching Prayer
The Worship of the Lord's Church
We understand that there is a sense in which the Christian's entire individual existence should be worship to God. In this article we are not talking about our day to day lives; we are concerned with what we bind upon each other when we come together as commanded in Hebrews 10:25: "... and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works; 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."
As with the work of the church, it is essential that we have authority for the worship that we teach and bind each other to do in collective action, and that we respect the silence of the scriptures in this regard. As recorded in John 4:23-24, Jesus said: "But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such doth the Father seek to be his worshipers. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
There are five acts of worship that are authorized in the New Testament for Christians to observe in their worship:
The Lord's Supper
Preaching the Gospel
This page contains articles under each of these major headings -- scroll down to the subject of interest. The order of the articles is in no way to emphasize the importance of one over the other. All elements of worship are necessary and they all are important in our service to God.
The Lord's Supper
An Outline of Passages that Relate to the Lord's Supper
Author Unknown (Please notify us if you know the author of this outline
A. The Meaning of the Supper
1. It is a memorial (1 Corinthians 11:23-25; Matthew 26:26-28).
a. We eat the bread in memory of His body, the cup (fruit of the vine) in memory of His blood.
b. "... in remembrance of me" includes all aspects of Jesus' life, death, burial and resurrection.
2. It is a proclamation (1 Corinthians 11:26).
a. Each time we partake we proclaim our faith in both His death and resurrection.
b. The proclamation is both to the world and to our fellow Christians
3. It is a communion (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
a. It is a communion both with the Lord and with those in His body (Christians).
b. The word communion and fellowship both mean sharing
B. The Observance of the Supper
1. It should be done with reverence (1 Corinthians 11:27, 29).
a. To do otherwise would be to partake in an “unworthy manner.”
b. As an example, the Corinthians had turned the Lord's Supper into a common meal.
2. It should be done with self-examination (1 Corinthians 11:28).
a. It should cause us to ask, “Does my life show appreciation for His sacrifice?”
b. If not, we should repent prior to partaking
3. It should be done with other Christians (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:17, 20, 33).
a. We commune not just with the Lord, but with one another.
b. We share not only the bread and fruit of the vine, but also our convictions.
4. It should be done often (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:17-22).
a. The evidence in the Bible is that it was done weekly.
b. There is absolutely no reason justifying not following this pattern today.
Can We Both Sing and Play Musical Instruments?
by Bryan Gibson
“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” (Colossians 3:16).
The above passage gives a command: sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord. And we are told what to sing: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. But consider this question: When we sing these psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to the Lord, can we use an instrument of music to accompany us, like a piano, organ, guitar, etc.? Would it be pleasing to God for us to play on these instruments while singing these songs?
To find out whether or not something is pleasing to God, we need to look in God’s word—the Bible. From reading passages like Psalms 150 and 2 Chronicles 29:25, it would appear that God did want His people to play as well as sing. But not so fast. The problem with these two passages is that they are in the Old Testament and have to do with Old Testament worship. Are we prepared to restore Old Testament worship, with the daily animal sacrifices, the burning of incense, the separate priesthood, etc.? Of course, the reason we can’t restore any of this is that the Old Law, or the Law of Moses, has been taken out of the way. While we can certainly benefit from the many lessons taught in the Old Testament, it is no longer a source of authority for us today. Please verify this by reading Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:14-16; Colossians 2:13-14, 16-17; Hebrews 9:16-17. So to find out whether or not we can use instruments in our worship today, we must look to the New Testament.
When we search through the New Testament, we find at least four different instruments mentioned: the trumpet, the flute, the harp, and the cymbal (see 1 Corinthians 13:1; 14:7-9, 15; 15:51-52; Revelation 8:2, 6, 13; 9:14; and others). But here is what else we find. There is nothing said in any of these passages about the use of these instruments in the worship we are to offer to God. We are not asking whether or not it is right to ever play these instruments (separate and apart from the worship of the church). Here we are only concerned with whether or not we can use them in worship to God, that is, when we sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to the Lord.
When we look at the passages in the New Testament that have something to say about the worship we are to offer to God today, specifically the music we offer in worship, we find no mention of the use of any instrument. Read the following passages for yourself: Acts 16:25; Romans 15:8-9; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 2:11-12; Hebrews 13:15; James 5:13. We have already seen that instruments are mentioned throughout the New Testament, so they were readily available. But in the passages that have to do with what we are to offer to God, we are simply taught to sing. To use an instrument, we would have to go beyond God’s word, or add to it, and we cannot do that (2 John 1:9; 1 Cor. 4:6; Revelation 22:18-19). Jesus commanded: “Follow Me,” not, “Run ahead of Me.”
“Why Don’t You Use Instrumental Music?”
Author Unknown (please notify us if you know the author of this article)
Frequently we are asked about our practice of singing a cappella in our worship services. Or, we have heard the comment: "you are the group that does not believe in music." Misconceptions abound. At the outset of this article titled with a question, let us assure readers that bible-based churches believe in worshiping using the exact type of music as specified in the New Testament. The absence of an instrument is not a gimmick to make us stick out as being different.
But we understand, folks are curious. They want to know why we don’t have instrumental music. The practice in totally bible-based churches is different—they are not like the majority of other religious groups. What is the reason? People really want to know, and they deserve and answer (1 Peter 3:15). So let us respond to the question: “Why don’t you have instrumental music?”
With no intention to be flippant, we might very well respond with a counter-question: “Why should we?” That’s fair, isn’t it? Those who think that instrumental music is right and proper ought to be able to tell us why they think so. Should we do it just because all other religious groups do it? When we ask for a reason to do it, the typical responses are:
“We really like instrumental music.” Be careful here—remember that our goal is to please God, not men, not even ourselves (Gal.1:10).
“Well, everyone else is doing it.” Anyone who thinks that this proves the acceptability of a thing needs to be reminded that Jesus said the majority of people (even the majority of “religious” people) will be condemned in the day of judgment. Read Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23.
“God gave certain people musical talent, and they ought to be able to use it.” If this logic works, then the man who is a talented auto mechanic would be justified in rebuilding a car engine during the worship services, too. And the surgeon who wants to glorify God could do an appendectomy before the assembled congregation. Perhaps this is the reason for having entertainment performances and magic shows in the assemblies. But surely we can see the flawed thinking behind this argument.
“They used instruments in the Old Testament.” True, but we are no longer under that law (Col. 2:14-16). We need to find our authority in the New Testament—and there is none.
In the final analysis, everything we do religiously must be based on the authority of the Lord (Col. 3:17). If we cannot defend a practice by appealing to the Scriptures, then we ought not to do it. There is simply no New Testament authority for the use of instrumental music in our worship, and that should not only settle the case for instruments of music, but for any other innovations that are in the minds of men.
Let Us Pray
by Bryan Gibson
March 5, 2010
“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Here are some attributes of God, which should encourage faithful Christians everywhere to keep on praying.
God has great power, so much so that “by the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of heaven by the breath of his mouth” (Psalms 33:6). We “stand in awe of Him, for he spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalms 33:8-9). No need to worry if God is capable of answering all my prayers, or even all the prayers of faithful Christians everywhere. If we were to all pray at the same time, and all make different requests, it still would not tax Him in the least.
God has great compassion and loving kindness. “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, long suffering and abundant in mercy and truth” (Psalms 86:15). “How precious is your loving kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings” (Psalms 36:7). God does not just have the power to help us; He wants to help—because He cares.
God has infinite knowledge and understanding—“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite” (Psalms 147:5). That being the case, how can He not know what is best for us? Remember, His perfect understanding even includes that which is yet to happen. We ask for things sometimes, only because we know (or think) we need it right now. We don’t always think about what that means for us “down the road.” Aren’t we glad that God knows, and that what He gives us won’t hurt us in the long run?
God’s infinite knowledge and understanding extends to every single individual. “The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works” (Psalms 33:13-15). God does not just know what mankind in general needs; He knows what each one of us needs. Everyone’s situation is just a little bit different—that’s no problem for God. He keeps up with all His children, and He knows what’s best for each one.
God is faithful, meaning among other things that He’s always available. “I will lift up my eyes to the hills; from whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalms 121:1-4). Ever needed help and had a hard time getting in touch with family or friends? That’s never an issue with God. Call upon Him any time—He never sleeps; He never takes a break; He never goes “out of town.”
God is righteous. “In Your faithfulness answer me, and in Your righteousness” (Psalms 143:1). If there was even a hint of unrighteousness in God, He might occasionally lead us down the wrong path. No need to worry, for because of His righteousness, we can be confident that His answers will always keep us in the path of righteousness.
Editorial comment: the article above is on prayer in general as opposed to it being an act of worship in the church. You are right to seed New Testament authority for such an act of worship and we appreciate this attitude of inquiry. Here are some of the passages that authorize prayer when we gather together in His name:
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers
And when they had prayed , the place was shaken wherein they were gathered together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
And when they had appointed for them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they had believed.
And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down and prayed with them all.
10 In love of the brethren be tenderly affectioned one to another; in honor preferring one another;
11 in diligence not slothful; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
12 rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing stedfastly in prayer ;
13 communicating to the necessities of the saints; given to hospitality.
Now I beseech you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me;
1 Timothy 2:1-2
1 I exhort therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers , intercessions, thanksgivings, be made for all men;
2 for kings and all that are in high place; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and gravity.
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
18 with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints,
Click here for other articles on giving.
Outline: Giving Honor to God
Author Unknown (please inform us if you know the author of this article)
Honor Jehovah with thy substance, And with the first-fruits of all thine increase:
So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, And thy vats shall overflow with new wine.
The most definitive command in the New Testament with regard to giving is in ...
1 Corinthians 16:1-2
1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye.
2 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.
While the specific collection under consideration had to do with their benevolence to the poor Christians in the area of Judea, the principles stated here are quite clear:
- All local churches had this responsibility;
- Collections were to be made only on the first day of the week when they assembled themselves together;
- "As we may prosper" implies that the amount we give might vary, but it should be a pre-planned amount in any event, and not subject to whim,
- "No collections be made when I come" implies that this the contribution should not be the result of special appeals and pressure on individuals, which would defeat the idea of a free will offering.
Let us realize that what we give to God is not just our money. All that we have and all good things that we are come from God who made us. For most people who work for an hourly or monthly salary, our money is a stored up part of our life, and the sacrifice is the time that it took for us to earn what we give. Let us consider three aspects as we consider the rest of the outline:
- Honoring God is done with our best, our "first fruits" of increase (earliest usually being the best of harvest).
- To honor Him is to increase one's own blessings, as taught in Malachi 3 and 2 Corinthians 9.
- We must apply biblical principles related to presenting our best efforts in divine service.
I. Priority of the Kingdom
The kingdom of God must come first in my life, Mt. 6:33. Whatever God requires must receive the priority demanded by His person, character and worthiness. If spiritual matters are more important than physical ones, then my approach (attitude, manner) to them must also receive priority.
II. Sanctification to God
My life must be dedicated to Him, Romans 12:1-2. Because God's mercy is the motivating factor, I should desire to "present" it to Him. Only His standards apply; they alone are holy and acceptable.
III. Voluntary Effort
There must be first a willing mind, as Paul observed of the Macedonan Christians:
2 Corinthians 8:3-5
3 For according to their power, I bear witness, yea and beyond their power, (they gave) of their own accord,
4 beseeching us with much entreaty in regard of this grace and the fellowship in the ministering to the saints:
5 and (this), not as we had hoped, but first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us through the will of God.
Acts 5:11 shows that we can give large amounts to the Lord with first giving ourselves, while the story of the widow's mites (Mt. 12:41-44) shows that we can give of ourselves without necessarily making large monetary contributions. Going on with Paul's instructions to the Corinthians ...
2 Corinthians 8:7-9
7 But as ye abound in everything, (in) faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and (in) all earnestness, and (in) your love to us, (see) that ye abound in this grace also.
8 I speak not by way of commandment, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity also of your love.
9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich.
We do not generally think of our giving as being a reflection of the grace of God that has been given to us, but the above passage shows that it is. Paul's appeal to them to abound in this grace as in others, measuring the sincerity of their love as a reflection of Christ's self-sacrifice.
IV. Best to God
Nothing defiled or tainted was allowed to pertain to divine service, Leviticus 22:21, 25, 32. God must be hallowed (treated as holy, reverend) among His people by their acceptable offerings. God does not want the profit of ill-gotten gain. He expects us to be honest in our dealings and to do good works for necessary uses (Titus 3:14).
V. Human standards condemn some efforts
God is worthy of at least as much honor as the governor, Malachi 1:6-8. If we would not think of treating our human superiors in such a shoddy way, then we ought not to satisfy ourselves with such a level of divine service. This applies to attitude, diligence, punctuality, zeal, attire, etc.
VI. Personal Investment
I should never offer to God something that I have not personally sacrificed, 2 Samuel 24:24. What I have received and would otherwise use, can be a sacrifice to God. What I would relegate to the trash heap (time, money, possession, effort), I should not consider as sacrifice.
VII. Reverence Due to God
To be in God's presence is special, requiring special preparation, Exodus 3:5; 1 Peter 2:5. Christians are God's holy priesthood, holy nation, and special people, that they might show forth His excellencies (1 Peter 2:9). In God's instructions to the priests of the Old Testament, the Lord ordered special garments and observance to prepare themselves and the sacrifices for offering to Him. Unconsidered worship and unkempt appearance, fit for the ball field or yard work, does not belong in divine service. While God has given no uniform, the principles here considered show that we ought to think higher of Him than to approach Him with inferior efforts and in shabby, ragged, or showy, or indecent clothing, when we can easily do better.
Some Common Practices Failing to Meet the Standard of Our Best:
- Leaving decisions about time and money given to the Lord until little of either remains: This results in God getting the leftovers, not our best.
- An indifferent approach to the service of God, because of the failure to dedicate oneself to Him in the spirit of self-sacrifice: To many, religion is what we can get, not what we can give to the Lord.
- The necessity of constant reminding coaxing, and persuading, because one's neglect of the voluntary spirit that ought to characterize all under Christ's reign: Too much elders' and preachers' attention is consumed by a small segment of unconverted people in local churches.
- Wearing ourselves out on Saturday, so that we have little stamina or steadfastness left for spiritual pursuits on the Lord's Day: The practice of many Christians in bygone years, as they used Saturday, and especially Saturday night, to prepare clothes, shoes, meals, and themselves for that special occasion of worship, probably ought to be revived in many homes.
- Let us not forget that it is the Lord's Day. Too many view Sunday as just another day, and its events as commonplace.
- Viewing the public services of the congregation as mundane, trivial events: lukewarm attitudes, shabby dress, late arrival, and half-hearted worship betray the thinking that an occasion of worship is not so special.
- Misunderstanding worship as a time of performance, entertainment, or inferior endeavor: In view of the reverence that God is due and our gladness in His august presence, anything less than our best degrades God, belittles fellow saints, reflects poorly on ourselves, and denigrates the awe and dignity of the occasion.
Preaching the Gospel
Preaching that Pleases God (1 Thessalonians 2:1-12)
by Bryan Gibson
June 3, 2010
I started preaching about 28 years ago, and since that time I have relied heavily on the following passage. Read it carefully, and then look at the important lessons taught within.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12: For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. (2) But even after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. (3) For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. (4) But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts. (5) For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak for covetousness—God is witness. (6) Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, when we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. (7) But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. (8) So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. (9) For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. (10) You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; (11) as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, (12) that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
The Content of our Teaching
No surprise here, it’s “the gospel of God” (vv. 2, 8, 9). Sermons that feature just a little gospel and a whole lot of something else—they may please some people, but they won’t build faith (Romans 10:17) and they won’t save souls (Romans 1:16-17).
The Motive Behind our Teaching
We should never preach in order to please men (v. 4), or to gain glory for ourselves (v. 6). If either is our motive, we will eventually compromise the truth, and we just can’t let that happen. It’s not money we’re after either (v. 5), but souls (v. 8). We preach in order to please God (v. 4), and what keeps us going is the longing we have for the souls of others to be saved (v. 8).
The Manner of our Teaching
Balance is the key. We must be bold (v. 2), because the truth won’t always be popular. The delicate nature of some souls may require us to be “gentle…just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children” (v. 7). Other situations call for more firmness, “as a father does his own children” (v. 11). Sometimes we need to exhort, sometimes we need to comfort, and sometimes we need to charge (v. 11). The faithful preacher always strives to find the proper balance.
Teaching is accomplished both by word and by deed, and so we should behave “devoutly and justly and blamelessly” (v. 10).
What a joy to see those whom we have taught “walk worthy of God” (v. 12), and an even greater joy for them to be “in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming” (v. 19).
What are the conditions of salvation given by Jesus?
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