THE WORSHIP OF THE N.T. CHURCH
July 1, 1991 Issue
by Jimmie C. Smith
According to the book of Acts (which is the book of conversions), worship followed conversion as surely as salvation followed obedience. Whenever men obeyed the Gospel (Acts 2:38, 41) they recognized their responsibility to exalt God before the world through worship; v. 42 "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." v. 47 "PRAISING GOD, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
From the very beginning then we are introduced to the corporate (i.e. united, or combined) worship of the church (body). The church clearly understood their purpose of worshipping and praising God, for they worshipped God in Jerusalem when the Church came into existence and they continued so to worship God everywhere they went regardless of the time, place or circumstances. The attitude "I don't think God expects me to worship except on Sunday morning" was NONEXISTENT! The church of Christ was a worshipping fellowship and the great book of Acts portrays this truth with crystal clarity.
The early church was a worshipping church before it was an evangelistic church, the book of Acts demonstrates this with great force. "Worship" is more than a "thought." It implies an expression of worthiness, honor, praise or exaltation. In brief, let it be said that "worship" means ACTS of reverence paid to Deity. Worship is MORE than a mere attitude of heart or feeling. It is an action prescribed by the Lord which comes from the sincere heart of the worshipper. If not, then there could not have been "vain worship -- Matt 15:8-9;" "will worship --Col 2:20-23;" "worship in ignorance -- Acts 17:23," or even "true worship -- Jno 4:23-24."
The Lord's Standard: Jno 4:21-24.
The Savior said: "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet in Jerusalem, worship the Father." John 4:21.
John 4:23-24 "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."
There are three necessary elements specified here in order to meet God's approval.
(1) It must be directed unto God. "Must worship 'Him"' .. right object!
(2) It must be done "in spirit." i.e. we must have the right motive expressing the true sentiment of our actions.
(3) That act must be "in Truth," or according to God's word, which is the truth, for Christ said (Jno 17:17) "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth." i.e... right WAY.
Thus you have OBJECT; MOTIVE; and WAY.
There is no escape: If you leave out the object (God) no matter how conscientious you may be, it is vain. Then you may offer what God demands to the proper object, yet if your motive is wrong the worship will be also. Your Object on the other hand may be right, and the Motive correct, yet if the Way is incorrect, so is the worship because you've left out an essential element.
There can be no act of worship acceptable unto God almighty unless the Lord Jesus Christ has commanded that specific act to be done.
This is the reason "patriotic songs" such as "God bless the USA" were so out of character when sung in denominational services during the recent gulf war. They lacked the element "in truth - i.e. the WAY" in that they were not Spiritual Songs (Eph 5:19) and were not thus authorized (Col 3:17). In themselves, no more harmless than "hand washing" (which we all do, numerous times per day) but which "innocent" act would render our worship "vain" (Matt. 15:9).
Jimmie C. Smith 1991 OPA Main Page HOME