These were more noble... ...in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
- Acts 17:11
|Biblical Acts Of Worship|
|Written by Jay Yeager|
|Thursday, 12 February 2009 02:39|
“BIBLICAL ACTS OF WORSHIP”
(By Jay Yeager)
“Biblical acts of worship”. The Bible has a great deal to say about worship, both negative and positive. Needless to say, God is very interested in worship, because He fully expects to be the object of that worship. He who created us wants our devotion, not in a worship that we invent, but a submission to the worship He governs. Not you, not I, but God will tell us how He desires for us to worship Him! To demonstrate how serious this matter is, God shows us how He views worship offered without His approval or authority.
Israel was engaged in what they no doubt called worship offered unto God. On the other end of that so-called worship, God only heard the noise of their worship. “Take away from me the noise of thy songs…” (Amos 5:23). What they called worship was merely noise in the sight of God!
There are many who offer lip service to God. In other words, they say the right things, but worship that proceeds no further than the mouth is not worship at all. In words that none could fail to understand, Jesus labels pretentious worship as empty. “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying this people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:7-9).
To trust in an object is more than absurd, it is useless. A lifeless figure cannot bless those who serve it, nor curse those who refuse to. “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not, eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths” (Psalms 135:15-17).
The apostle Paul in the city of Athens said; “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:23). To attempt to worship God without knowing who God is or how to offer that worship according to His will, is ignorant worship.
There is one worship that is stated by the Son of God as being true worship: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). While our focus for this lesson will be on Biblical Acts of Worship, one cannot speak of true worship without acknowledging that there is more involved than any one item. In fact, to omit any item of true worship is to surrender acceptable worship!
True worship must have the correct object - God
The Bible speaks of those who were so vain in their own imagination that they thought themselves worthy of worship. In Daniel’s day, King Darius was foolishly flattered at the suggestion that none should offer petitions to God or man, save to him for thirty days (Daniel 6:7). The enemies of Daniel were able to trap the king with the arrogance of his own mind, in order to have reason to accuse Daniel of wrong doing (Daniel 6:5-9).
The lions’ den, where God protected Daniel from any harm, did more than prove that God was with Daniel, it humbled king Darius who had forgotten his place. Hear him, “I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end” (Daniel 6:26).
King Herod, in his folly, did nothing to refrain those who cried that Herod spoke with the voice of a god, and not of a man (Acts 12:22). In short, Herod accepted their homage, a reverence that belongs to God alone. His death ought to sound a bell of warning to any and all who would be pompous enough to allow others to bow down before them (Acts 12:23). The apostle Peter faced with a similar situation absolutely refused to allow it to happen. “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man” (Acts 10:25-26).
The apostle John, no doubt overwhelmed by all that he was privileged to see and hear, momentarily forgot himself and fell at the feet of an angel; however, the angel was having no part of it. “And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God” (Revelation 22:8-9). God,, the Father is the object of our worship!
True worship must be in spirit (sincere from the heart)
The attitude of the worshipper is vital to acceptable worship. The human heart is involved in every act of Christian worship. Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). Now, if we love God with all of our being, surely that will be evident in our worship offered unto him.
Reverence - we will have the proper reverence. In a time when reverence toward God is sadly lacking in our society, that lack is glaringly apparent in the fact that just the mention of God creates uproar in many places. Yet among us there must be that awe and reverence. “But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silent before him” (Habakkuk 2:20). “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and reverend is his name” (Psalms 111:9).
Joy - David said, “I was glad when they said unto me; Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalms 122:1). There is a joy that accompanies Christianity. “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” (I John 1:4). “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8). When people visit and see the true worshippers of God that joy should be evident to them.
Gratitude - we are worshipping our creator, he who gave us life twice. Our souls were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), who formed the spirit within us (Zechariah 12:1). Then through the sacrifice of his Son (II Corinthians 5:21), and our obedience to Christ (Hebrews 5:9), we were born again (I Peter 1:23). We need to be ever so grateful “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (II Corinthians 9:15).
True worship must be according to truth
The Acts of Christian Worship - Giving
God the giver
God, the owner
Perhaps you may be thinking, “What does that have to do with giving in worship?” Beloved, it establishes that we exist only because of God. All that we are, and all that we have, we owe to the Almighty who made it possible. A vital piece of information when it comes to giving, we are not giving what is ours, but what is rightfully his.
Man, the ungrateful
Man, the worshipper
Some thoughts for man, the worshipper
God’s financial plan for the church
Giving is an act of worship in which:
A tenth? The basement of the Old Testament law would seem to me as the minimum for those who have been given so much. Please, do not lose your soul by robbing God. He has promised to take care of those who put the kingdom first (Matthew 6:33).
The Acts of Christian Worship – The Lord’s Supper
There are a number of memorials given in the Bible for a variety of reasons:
But the death of Christ is a memorial that surpasses all others. This memorial is referred to in the scriptures as:
There are so many things in the New Testament about the death of Jesus Christ. I offer a few for our sober reflection:
The Lord’s Supper was instituted by none other than Jesus himself, on the very night that he would be betrayed into the hands of those who sought his death (Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:19-20; Mark 14:22-25). “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:19-20).
“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (I Corinthians 11:23-26).
The significance should escape none. The memorial has nothing to do with his birth (Christmas) or his resurrection (Easter). The Lord’s Supper was given by Jesus as a memorial to be observed by faithful Christians to show forth his death until he comes again. The elements are unleavened bread (Mark 14:22) and fruit of the vine (Matthew 26:29). How often? Every first day of the week (Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1-2), with our focus back on Calvary and the sacrifice made on our behalf (I Corinthians 11:27-30).
The Acts of Christian Worship – Singing
Beloved, the battle rages even as we speak over the use of instrumental music in Christian worship, and some among us are waving the white flag of surrender and acceptance. I frankly admit, I have nothing unique or profound to offer that would serve as a solution acceptable to all. Nor would I attempt to find a middle ground upon which everyone holding differing views could agree. Not because I do not desire unity on this point, but because there is no middle ground. Either instrumental music is acceptable in the sight of God, or it is not.
Those who advocate the use of instrumental music in Christian worship declare confidently that God is pleased with their use. If such is true, we in the Lord’s church have failed to do all that is pleasing to God. However, before we rush to the nearest music department to purchase an organ, bells, guitar and chimes, would I be labeled as overly cautious to ask how they know instrumental music in Christian worship is pleasing God? Surely you would agree that simply saying it is pleasing to God does not make it so. The Bible clearly forbids that sort of acceptance (I Corinthians 4:6; I Thessalonians 5:21).
The first and most frequent answer offered is, “They used instrumental music in the Old Testament” (Psalms 150:1-6). I am not unaware of their use in the Old Testament, which proves little to nothing, for the same ones who point to the Old Testament for justification of instrumental music, would refuse to accept other practices originating from the same source; such as, animal sacrifice (Leviticus 9), feast days (Leviticus 23), stoning (Numbers 15:32-36) and polygamy (I Kings 11:3; et al).
The apostle Paul dealt with those guilty of the same fatal error; namely, seeking justification by the Old Testament (Acts 15:1). Concerning them, he penned by inspiration these words, “To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Galatians 2:5). To emphasize that point in unmistakable terms, the Bible issues a clear warning to those who attempt to justify their religious practices by the Old Testament. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).
The study of the Old Testament ought to thrill the soul of every sincere Bible student, for God has recorded tremendous lessons for our learning and admonition (Romans 15:4; I Corinthians 10:6-11). But brethren, the Old Testament is not our authority – Jesus Christ is (Matthew 17:1-5; 28:18; John 12:48; Colossians 3:17; Hebrews 1:1-2; et al). The serious question is this; what is authorized by Christ, and thus meet the criteria of worship according to truth? The following is a list of all the passages that deal with worship or praise offered unto God in the New Testament:
“And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:30).
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25).
“And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto they name” (Romans 15:9).
“What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” (I Corinthians 14:15).
“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).
“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).
“Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” (Hebrews 2:12).
“Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms” (James 5:13).
Folks, in every single case they sang and the melody was made in the human heart. That simply means this; Jesus does not authorize the use of instrumental music in Christian worship; therefore, it does not meet the criteria of true worship, and that ought to settle the matter for every honest soul.
The Acts of Christian Worship - Prayer
By way of introduction, let us notice some of the fundamentals of prayer. Prayer is a matter of teaching; the disciples of Jesus wanted to learn how to pray (Luke 11:1). Now, this question, why did they need to be taught? They prayed in the Old Testament:
Here is the answer - Jesus was teaching something very new to them, the privilege of calling God “Father”, and they wanted to know more about it. Two things we need to bear in mind as we go forward:
When one becomes a child of God, they have the right and privilege to address God as “our Father which art in heaven”. In other words, prayer is a restricted privilege (Ephesians 1:3).
When the church assembled for worship, they prayed
Setting aside the miraculous gifts connected to the first century church, in I Corinthians 14:14-16 we find this: When the church assembled for worship, they prayed. That prayer was led, and the one leading the prayer was to pray in such a way that every member present could say amen at the conclusion of that prayer. What are some of the things the one leading the prayer ought to petition God for?
The Acts of Christian Worship – Preaching
“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).
“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7).
“For this cause have I sent unto Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church” (I Corinthians 4:17).
There is nothing on earth today that can begin to compare to the word of God, no soul is free from the force of its teaching. Moreover, to make known the manifold wisdom of God is a tremendous responsibility that has been entrusted to the church (Ephesians 3:10-11). Brethren, we dare not fail in our mission to preach the word of God faithfully (II Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:1). The following is a sample of what faithful preaching can accomplish in the assembly of the saints:
“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).