The Bible and Problems in the Church

Chapter Six

Problems About Worship

What is worship?

Worship is an act of devotion paid either to a creature or the Creator. Worship is an outward expression of an inward sense of praise and inward feeling of need. All worship is not true, for the true God must be worshipped in the true way for one’s worship to be acceptable.

What makes one’s worship acceptable?

The first worship recorded in the Bible was that of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4). Abel offered acceptable worship by faith (Hebrews 11:4). But Cain’s worship was rejected by God. Since faith comes from hearing God’s Word (Romans 10:17), we know that Cain and Abel heard God’s commandment as to how to offer sacrifice. Abel obeyed that command by faith and was accepted; Cain chose his own method of worship and was rejected. Acceptable worship is that which is according to God’s Word. Unacceptable worship is following one’s own wishes or opinions in worship.

What is vain worship?

Jesus said teaching for doctrine the commandments of men makes worship “vain” (Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:7). Worship that is “vain” is empty, worthless, or useless. Following the catechisms, prayer books, and other commandments of men in worship makes worship vain.

What is ignorant worship?

Acts 17:23 shows that the educated and polished people of Athens worshipped in ignorance. They did not know the true God nor the true way to worship Him. They were ignorant of God’s Word. But ignorance is no excuse. Verse 30 shows that these Athenians were commanded to repent of their ignorance. Idol worshippers or other ignorant worshippers today must be taught the Word of God and repent.

Is a Christian allowed to worship family or compound Ju-Ju in private as long as he worships scripturally in public?

Jesus said, “It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10). No man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). Friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). Christians can have no agreement with idols, but must come out from among them and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:16,17). We cannot partake of sacrifice to devils and still have fellowship with God (1 Corinthians 10:20,21). We must have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but must reprove them (Ephesians 5:11). See also Psalm 135:15-18; Isaiah 44:14-20; Acts 17:22-33; Romans 1:22-25; 1 John 5:21.

Can a Christian participate in religious feasts, festivals, and other services of denominational churches?

2 John 9-11 says that those who go beyond and abide not in the doctrine of Christ do not have God. Christians, therefore, must not have fellowship with them nor give approval lest they become partakers in their evil deeds. Romans 16:17 says to mark them who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the apostles’ doctrine and avoid them. Honorable activities in a village which are not religious or connected with any church are good. But a Christian cannot have fellowship in an unscriptural religious activity or church function. The above Bible reasons can be courteously given as an explanation.

What is true worship?

Jesus explained that true worshippers worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23,24). Worship “in spirit” is spiritual worship or worship from one’s spirit or heart. Worship “in truth” is worship within the teachings of God’s Word of Truth. True worship is from the worshipper’s spirit and directed from the Word of God. Unless both of these elements are found in worship, that worship is not true worship. For instance, a shouting, dancing, clapping worshipper might be worshipping from his spirit, but he is not worshipping “in truth.” His efforts are not true worship. On the other hand, a worshipper might know the truth about worship and yet not put his heart into it. He would not be worshipping “in spirit.” True worshippers worship God according to both basic requirements of Jesus — “in spirit and in truth.”

How do church members often fail to worship “in spirit”?

Worship “in spirit” is worship with one’s spirit, or worship from the heart. Since God is a spiritual being, we cannot have contact with Him unless we enter into a spiritual relationship with Him. At every worship service we must bring our spirits into communication with God. This is not easy, for all physical and earthly things must drop from our attention. Our heart must go out to God. When we draw nigh to God, He draws nigh to us (James 4:8). Since God gives us breath and life and all things, and since in Him we live and move and have our being, He is not very far from any one of us (Acts 17:24-28). Unless our worship is a deeply spiritual experience, it is not true spiritual worship. Unless it comes truly from our heart, it is not acceptable to God.

What are the parts of scriptural worship

Acts 2:42 describes the first worship of the church: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” In other New Testament verses the parts of Christian worship are described as: (1) preaching, (2) singing, (3) communing, (4) praying, and (5) giving.

How do Christian worshippers participate in the preaching “in spirit”?

As all true worship must be “in spirit and in truth,” every part of Christian worship must be done in spirit” or from one’s heart. Preaching the Word of God must be done “in spirit.” The preacher must preach the truth “in love” (Ephesians 4:15). If he speaks with the tongues of men and angels and have not love, he is like sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1). Listening to the preaching must also be done “in spirit” or in a spiritual manner. Jesus said, “Take heed therefore how ye hear” (Luke 8:18). We must give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard (Hebrews 2:1). A spirit of reverence must prevail during the preaching of God’s Word (1 Thessalonians 2:13). The preacher is preaching from the words of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13). Spiritual worship cannot be practiced by a person who is talking, laughing, or sleeping during preaching.

How is singing to be done “in spirit”?

1 Corinthians 14:15 says singing must be done with the spirit and with the understanding also. It must not be a formality or an empty ritual. It must come from the heart. Ephesians 5:18,19 says to be filled with the Spirit, to sing spiritual songs, and to make melody in one’s heart to the Lord. Colossians 3:16 says to sing with grace in one’s heart to the Lord. Christians must sing meaningfully in praise and devotion to God. Thoughtless or meaningless singing is vain. Our heart and understanding must be in each song, and we must live the truths we sing.

Explain communing “in spirit.”

1 Corinthians 11:27 says, “Whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup unworthily (in an unworthy manner) shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” Verse 29 says, “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily (in an unworthy manner), eateth and drinketh damnation to himself not discerning the Lord’s body.” These verses have nothing to do with whether we are worthy or “feel worthy” to eat and drink. They are talking about a worthy or proper manner in partaking. They stress the kind of attitude or spirit in one’s heart during communion.

How does one pray “in spirit”?

1 Corinthians 14:15 says to pray with the spirit and with the understanding also. Prayers must be sincere, not formal. The thoughts must come from a real sense of longing and need in one’s heart. They must not come from a prayer book or memorized and meaningless phrases. Neither must the one leading prayer try to use big words or vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7,8).

Is giving to be done “in spirit” also?

As giving is a part of Christian worship, it must be done “in spirit and in truth.” Scriptural giving is done every first day out of gratitude for how God has prospered us (1 Corinthians 16:2). We prove the sincerity of our love by our giving (2 Corinthians 8:8). A Christian’s giving must not be done grudgingly or of necessity. This means that giving must be counted a privilege or joy rather than a duty or chore. It must first be purposed in one’s heart; it is a heart-felt gift. It must be done cheerfully and gladly (2 Corinthians 9:7). It is more blessed (more joyful) to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). If we give all our goods to feed the poor, and even give our body to be burned, and have not love, it profits us nothing (1 Corinthians 13:3). Giving is a heart-searching spiritual experience. It is done cheerfully and joyfully with thankfulness in one’s heart. It is done “in spirit” or sincerely with one’s heart.

Is Christian worship to be both congregational and in private?

Christians must not forsake assembling themselves together (Hebrews 10:25). But Christians also need worship in private as well. The early Christians ceased not to teach and preach Jesus daily in the temple and in every house (Acts 5:42). Husbands and wives have the privilege of praying together in the home (1 Peter 3:7). Parents must train their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). Congregational worship cannot replace private worship, and private worship cannot replace public worship. We must meditate upon God’s Word privately as well as publicly (1 Timothy 4:15).

How must preaching in worship be “in truth”?

As each part of worship must be “in spirit,” each must also be “in truth.” Preaching must be within God’s Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15; John 17:17). It must abide in the doctrine of Christ and not go beyond (2 John 9; Revelation 22:18,19). Early Christian worshippers continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42). Preaching from a prayer book or catechism is not “in truth.” Preaching one’s opinion does not enable the hearers to worship “in truth.” Preaching the truth enables worship “in truth.”

How must one’s singing be “in truth”?

Colossians 3:16 says, “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.” This verse shows that singing must come from the word of Christ dwelling in our heart. Our songs must teach and admonish other Christians. All songs, therefore, must be Scriptural songs which teach Scriptural truths. Many denominational hymns do not and must not be sung. Neither can one remain in the truth of God’s Word and use instruments, drums, and dancing in worship. These practices are outside or beyond God’s Word of Truth. We must sing with the spirit and with the understanding also (1 Corinthians 14:15).

How is communion to be done “in truth”?

Scriptural communion is done steadfastly every Lord’s Day (Acts 2:42; 20:7). Outside the truth are denominational plans of monthly, quarterly, or annual communion services. Within the truth of God’s Word communion is a remembrance (1 Corinthians 11:24,25). Outside the truth is the Catholic doctrine of a miracle to change the bread into Jesus’ actual body and the wine into real blood. Catholic communion in one kind (only the bread for “laymen”) is outside the truth. Communion fees are outside the truth. Only by abiding in Bible teaching can communion be “in truth.”

How does one worship in prayer “in truth”?

Praying for unscriptural things is not “in truth.” Some pray for forgiveness and salvation without meeting the conditions in God’s Word. Praying “in truth” is praying as the Bible instructs us to pray: praying with faith (James 1:6,7), without selfishness (James 4:3), with holy hands, and without wrath and doubting (1 Timothy 2:8), with the spirit and the understanding also (1 Corinthians 14:15). Praying “in truth” is praying according to God’s Word of truth.

Must giving also be “in truth”?

Giving by Bible instruction is giving “in truth.” Outside the Bible are assessments, harvest festivals, bazaars, class fees, etc. Please note the previous chapter on covetousness, as true giving must be done within the truth of these Bible teachings to be done “in truth.”

How is Christian worship done “steadfastly”?

Acts 2:42 says the early Christians worshipped “steadfastly.” This means “steadily or without being moved away.” Hebrews 10:25 commands regular assembling together and forbids forsaking church services “as the manner of some is.” Some members are habitually regular in attendance, while the manner of others is to be irregular and unfaithful. God excuses absence when attendance is impossible, but man’s many excuses God will not accept. Worship that is not steadfast is not Scriptural worship.

Should feasting be practiced in worship?

I Corinthians 11:20-22 shows that the members in Corinth had changed the worship into a drunken feast. Paul then says, “What, have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?” (verse 22). Feasting has no place in worship. The Lord’s Supper is altogether different from a social feast. Entertainment and worship cannot be mixed.

Can Christians enjoy eating together apart from the worship?

The first Christians broke bread from house to house and ate their meat with gladness and singleness of heart (Acts 2:46). This was not communion, however, for there is no “meat” in communion. They were enjoying common meals together. Jude 12 mentions “feasts of charity” which Christians must have practiced. Food and fellowship shared among Christians in proper circumstances is upbuilding. But these things must be kept separate from the worship of the church.

What does the word “communion” mean?

Communion is the close association of spirits. Our spirits commune with Christ around the Lord’s table. The Bible says that the cup of blessing which we bless is the communion of the blood of Christ, and the bread which we break is the communion of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16). Communion with Christ is close fellowship with Christ, for the words “communion” and “fellowship” are used interchangeably in 2 Corinthians 6:14. Jesus wants to enter our hearts and sup with us, just as dear friends or relatives enjoy close fellowship around a friendly table (Revelation 3:20). To truly have “communion” in our worship at the Lord’s supper we must, therefore, experience a close and dear association with Christ. Without true spiritual fellowship we have not “communed” with Christ.

What are the Bible names for communion?

They are: “the Lord’s supper” (1 Corinthians 11:20), “the Lord’s table” (1 Corinthians 10:21), “the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42; 20:7), and “the communion” (1 Corinthians 10:16). Each name has a meaning: “the Lord’s table” shows that the remembrance feast is the Lord’s; He began it, authorizes it, and keeps it Himself with us. It is not a human supper but a divine one since it belongs to Christ; it is His. “The breaking of bread” is a way of speaking of the taking of the bread to mean the entire communion. The breaking of bread by friends together stresses the spiritual fellowship enjoyed with our fellow-Christians in a spiritual feast. The meaning of “communion” has been already explained above to mean a close association of our spirits with Christ.

When did Jesus say communion should be taken?

Jesus did not Himself teach how often to keep His communion feast. He left many things to be taught by the apostles after He returned to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit. He promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would guide them “into all truth” (John 16:13). Whatever His apostles bound on earth would be bound in heaven, and whatever they loosed on earth would be loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:19). We, therefore, look at the teaching and example of the apostles as to when to observe communion in the church.

When did the inspired apostles observe communion?

We read of the beginning of the church when the Holy Spirit was sent upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. In Acts 2:42 we learn that the apostles and early Christians kept the “breaking of bread” as a part of their worship “steadfastly” or regularly. In Acts 20:7 we learn that the day of this steadfast or regular worship was “the first day of the week.” Upon the first day of the week the apostles and early Christians assembled steadfastly or regularly to break bread.

How often should communion be taken?

The early church had communion as a steadfast or regular part of their worship (Acts 2:42). They broke bread “upon the first day of the week” (Acts 20:7). These verse taken together show that communion was taken weekly or regularly on every first day (Sunday) of every week. The exact same words, “upon the first day of the week,” are used to command the time of Christian giving (1 Corinthians 16:2) as to show the example of Christian communion (Acts 20:7). Almost all professed Christians make a regular weekly contribution. But they should likewise observe regular weekly communion for the same reason every first day. 1 Corinthians 11:20-30 shows that the Christians at Corinth took communion as a regular part of their coming together for worship. Prayer books and catechisms written by men teach communion monthly, quarterly, or annually; but the teaching and example of the apostles is for communion every first day of the week.

Must communion be only at night?

Whatever the apostles bound about communion is binding for Christians today, but whatever they loosed (did not bind) is not bound upon Christians today (Matthew 16:19). When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He did so on a Thursday night while He and the apostles were keeping a Jewish Passover supper (Matthew 26:17-30). The apostle Paul had communion in an upper chamber which was three floors high (Acts 20:7-9). But the Bible does not bind the keeping of communion in an upstairs room, and it does not bind the keeping of the supper at night. These things are “loosed,” that is, they are never bound in any of the teachings of the apostles. The thing “bound” is that communion be on the first day. The hour or part of the day is not bound. A “supper” is not always at night. It is anytime that people “sup” or eat and drink (Revelation 3:20). Let no man bind what the apostles did not bind.

Must a clergyman administer communion?

Nowhere does the Bible speak of “clergymen” or “laymen.” These are names men have invented, and they teach ideas that the Bible does not teach. We must speak as the Bible speaks (1 Peter 4:11). When “disciples” (or Christians) came together in Troas to break bread, Paul preached to them (Acts 20:7). Ordinary members can meet and remember Christ in communion without even a preacher present. The Bible never speaks of anyone who had been given special authority or a special license to officiate at the Lord’s Supper. This is the doctrine of men (Matthew 15:9) which robs the communion of its simple meaningfulness for the humblest Christian. The important matter is the one who partakes, not the one who serves the Lord’s Supper.

Is a communion fee scriptural?

A communion fee is another doctrine of men. It is something which catechisms bind, but which the apostles did not bind. Never does the Scripture speak of a fee charged to allow a person to commune with Christ. It is a money scheme which is an addition to the Bible plan of giving (1 Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 22:18,19). Every man must examine himself before communion (1 Corinthians 11:28). No man has the right to charge a fee or refuse communion to a Christian.

Should a Christian commune if he feels unworthy?

Many members omit communion because they feel unworthy. These people misunderstand 1 Corinthians 11:27 which says we must not take communion “unworthily.” The American Standard Version says “in an unworthy manner.” The meaning is that the manner of communing must be a proper manner. This is explained in the whole passage where the proper or worthy manner is: 1. to show forth (or remember) the Lord’s death till He come (1 Corinthians 11:25,26), 2. to examine oneself (verse 18), and 3. to discern or see the Lord’s body (verse 29). To fail to partake in this manner is to partake in an unworthy manner. No one is ever worthy of communion. If Christians were sinless, there would be no need of a saviour or of remembering His death. It is because we are unworthy that we feel the need for the blood of Christ which is given to save sinners (Matthew 26:28).

Must only one cup be used for communion?

In Matthew 26:27 Jesus took “the cup” and gave thanks and gave it to His disciples saying that they should all drink of it. The cup here means the contents or fruit of the vine within the cup (verses 28,29). To say that Jesus bound one cup is to bind where the Bible has not bound. If all must drink the cup itself, instead of its contents, then the cup would have to be broken and its pieces taken by all, which is foolishness. Furthermore, if only one cup is bound upon Christians, then different congregations all over the world would have to all use one large cup, transporting it from church to church all over the world each Lord’s Day. The number of cups is like the time on the Lord’s Day for communion, it is left to the convenience of each congregation to decide. Having many cups is more sanitary and would prevent one member from spreading disease to other members. But Scripturally, one cup or many cups is right. Neither is wrong.

Does having no wine excuse a congregation from communion?

Jesus prepared ahead for the first Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:19). Likewise, Christians must prepare ahead of time for communion. Neglecting to have the bread or wine is no excuse. These must be prepared ahead. Failing to obey is disobedience. Neglect of necessary commandments is sin. By not receiving the spiritual food which communion brings many members in Corinth were weak and sickly, and some even slept (spiritually) (1 Corinthians 11:30). Christians sorely need the strength which fellowship with Christ in communion brings. Failing to provide the necessary materials is inexcusable neglect.

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