Students of the Bible are aware that the Church of Christ is the greatest design of God compared to any dispensations. The presentation in these articles is to show the greatness of the church by noticing some of the things respecting it. Previously attention was given to show the terms of becoming a member of the church demonstrate the greatness of God’s design. Presently examination of scriptural worship shall be called to your attention.
GOD’S DESIGN SHINES THROUGH SCRIPTURAL WORSHIP
A challenge often heard from the ranks of atheism is why does an all-powerful God (as Christians claim Him to be,) need the worship of men??? The answer is—He doesn’t! Worship is not an ego trip for God; it is a time of refreshing for men. Every act of worship stipulated for us in the word of God will—if done correctly—lift us spiritually, mentality and emotionally.
WORSHIP IS SOMETHING A CHRISTIAND MUST DO UPON CONVERSION
There are some things the Christian becomes proficient in little by little and day by day as He serves God through Jesus Christ. For instance as we go along we are to add to our faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity until these are not only in us but are in us abundantly. We are to strive to grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ until we reach the point that we give Him His deserved glory (II Pet. 1:5-8 & 3:18). However, worship is not in that classification. Upon conversion we immediately begin to worship completely. If we fail to do all things requited in worship we fail to please God. Likewise if there is anything we add to worship then we have added to our own destruction and to the displeasure of God’s wisdom.
The first converts to Christianity under apostolic preaching numbered about three thousand. When Peter had preached we are informed, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousands souls.””(Acts 2:41). Notice carefully what next takes place, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers…Praising God.” (Vs. 42 & 47). The Apostles’ doctrine—is the teaching or instruction by inspiration they presented to the disciples. Fellowship reminds us of the sharing with one another by laying by in store on the first day of the week to aid in preaching the gospel and attending to the needs of the saints. Breaking of bread—is eating of the supper Jesus set forth in the world for His people to remember is suffering ending in death, when the disciples communed by partaking of the bread and drinking from the cup containing the liquid Jesus authorized to represent His blood. Prayers—does not refer to their private supplications in which they most assuredly engaged, rather it is the public petitions they offered in their public worship to God. Praising God reminds us that they sang praises to God Almighty for dispatching His only begotten Son to take our place redeeming us from the iniquitous way we formerly traveled. Then as now these avenues of worship encourage and edify, fill us with praise and appreciation for God and for one another as servants of Christ Jesus our Lord and our precious Savior. No wonder there was left no time to spare for each disciple to gather with others in worship. Each of these will be emphasized later.
WORSHIP MUST BE STEADFASTLY CONTINUED
We aren’t told that these “worshipped” one time and that finished it. Nor is it said that they worship once in a while or when it was convenient, rather it was something they gave preeminence too. Worship was now a foxed part of their life as “they continued steadfastly” in worship (Acts 2:42), the meaning of which is attending to, remaining by, not leaving or forsaking. It is true that these were suddenly converted, suddenly added to the church, and would very quickly be exposed to trials and persecution yet there is no evidence that they ever forsook or neglected worship on the first day of the week. It is true that some disciples later on neglected worship and went back to their former religious practice, but nothing is ever said that the faithful rejected their worship—they were steadfast in it.
There is no doubt in my mind that some of these heard Jesus’ great Sermon On The Mountain where He stated a principle to those looking for the Kingdom to appear. Jesus declared “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness” (Mt. 6:33). These knew the kingdom is the church (Mt. 16:18-19, Col. 1:13-18, Heb. 12:22-28), They had sought the kingdom and by obeying the commandments issued by the Apostle Peter in the stead of Christ, they were now members of the church—citizens of the kingdom. Nothing, absolutely nothing could rival this privilege in their heart and life. Once men and women today accept this principle as sinners and seek the kingdom every little mental conflict that arises will not dissuade them. But, those failing to accept this principle linger and languish at every little matter arising in life. Worship cannot be set aside. We have an appointment on the Lord’s Day and that appointment means we will meet with the local church for worship.
How many Christians are slothful in worship? I have heard enough excuses to forsake worship that if I should take pen in hand and write them on my pant leg it could not contain them all. To name a few
`1. I can’t get there on time. You get to work and other activities on time.
- I don’t have a thing to wear. It’s the heart not the clothes that count. Some attended with vile raiment Js. 2:1-6.
- I have no way to go. We find a way to get other places we wish to go. Lk. 19:1-4
- It not interesting. Maybe you are hungry for the wrong things Mt. 5:6.
- I have to work. Some changed jobs to obey the Lord Mt. 4:18-22.
- My feelings have been hurt. Perhaps you should use that as an opportunity to do good Mt. 18:15-17.
- It is too far. Read about the Eunuch and consider how far he went to worship Acts 8.
- I have company to come in on Sundays. Who comes first Christ or company Jn. 21:15-17.
- Things aren’t run to suit me. Have you offered suggestions to improve things? It would not be run at all if everyone missed like you.
- I don’t like the preacher or teacher. If we dislike a fireman personally would we refuse a ladder he held up to us?
- I have obligations to family members (children, parents, brothers, sisters etc.). Jesus addressed that directly Mt. 10:37.
- There are activities that I want to be involved in or that my children participate in. Mt. 16:24,
- I don’t feel well. It is possible that one is too sick to attend worship. I should ask myself this question—Will I feel worse if I attend? Or perhaps I will feel better. What if it were Monday would I go to school or work feeling this way?
- I may miss worship, but I do other things. It’s not enough to keep a part Js. 2:10.
- I am no worse than those who are faithful to attend worship. Small consolation it is to be numbered among the lost Mt. 7:13-14.
- I want to take a trip or vacation. I should plan to be at a place where disciples gather for worship Heb. 10:25, Acts 20:7.
When we get right down to the nitty-gritty the reason most people are not faithful in worship is because they do not want too or they choose to do other things. I found this little piece somewhere (I don’t recall), more than fifty years ago. You can tell it is dated, but it could be presently addressed to the Tylenol or Aleve Companies.
LETTER TO AN ASPIRIN COMPANY
Dear Mr. Bayer:
You manufacture aspirins that relieve suffering, colds and fevers. The mixture used in your tablets make it possible for people to get out of bed and fight off headaches, muscle spasms, back aches and bad nerves. I notice that they work wonders on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays and especially well on Saturdays. But, people who take them on Sundays seem to get no relief. They cannot get rid of their aches and pains making it possible for them to attend worship on the Lord’s Day. Is it possible for you to examine your tablets and put an ingredient in it that will work on Sunday too?
People can be sick on Sunday morning, but there is indeed such a things as a “Sunday Morning” headache. However, more often than not excuses offered for missing worship are just that “excuses.” Do you think that others could not offer excuses or find other things to do if they wished to miss? I heard this story some years ago, I don’t know whether it is true, however, it illustrates the point. “Two men arose early one Sunday morning to go fishing. The fish were biting and after a while they heard a church bell ring. One of the men said, ‘Oh, we’ve become so involved that we have missed worship.’ The other men relied, ‘well, I could not have gone anyway, my wife is sick.”
Before leaving this Point I want to remind each reader that the early church assembled every First Day Of The Week to worship.
- The new converts to Christ occurred on the day of Pentecost. Immediately these disciples began to worship God through Christ (Acts 2:1, 41, 42, 47). Pentecost always came on the first day of the week (Lev. 23:15-616), as it was on the morrow after the seventh Sabbath. The Sabbath being the seventh day means that Pentecost was on the first day. Therefore, the newly established church of Christ worshipped on the first day of the week.
- The church at Troas assembled on the first day of the week to break bread (Acts 20:7). Breaking bread was the Lord’s Supper (I Cor. 10:16-17). Thus they assembled to eat the Lord’s Supper (Worship) on the first day of the week. I might mention just here the language involved. The passage says “upon the first day.” Does this mean every first day? I am reminded of Moses commandment to Israel “remember the Sabbath.” We all know that meant every Sabbath—the Sabbath. Therefore upon the first day means every first day—if not why not? There has never been a week without a first day. When the first day comes we are to be with disciples to worship.
- The church at Corinth came together to eat the Lord’s Supper (I Cor. 11:17-34). Although the day of their gathering is not named here (that being well understood), the day is later specified when they came together (I Cor. 16:2)) and that day was the first day of the week.
- Another fact of interest is the Galatian church. Paul gave orders to them as he did at Corinth (I Cor. 16:1-2) which involved them in a gathering together on the first day of the week. An order is a rule, regulation or command. So, religious service or worship was an order to be obeyed on the first day of the week.
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is: but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Heb. 10:25). The time of their assembling is not named, however, it would be impossible assemble or to neglect the assembly if there was not a specific time. So, it implies a specific day. And although the day is not in this passage we have seen from other passage the day the writer was speaking of. It was the day Christians gather for worship—the first day of the week. When the Lord commands us to do something if we fail to do it we have sinned against His commandment—we have sinned against Him. When the Lord commands us not to do something and we go ahead and do it we have violated His command—have violated our relation to the Lord. Here He says, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves” if we forsake the assembly we have sinned.
Barney Owens 1705