Sunday, December 24, 2017 am                                            NT Church 2017 Index


Worship and the Church (3)
Worshipping God in Truth


We are continuing our study of the NT church.  We are in the midst of a study of its worship.  We have defined worship noting that it involves God as its object, both a proper attitude as well as actions.  We noted it is a work of the church.  And last week we addressed worshipping God in spirit – that is, with a proper attitude.  We noted that God demands purity of heart and proper motives in our worship.  We also noted that each of the acts of worship included the heart.   Today, we continue our study by noting HOW we are to worship God in truth.

In this lesson we want to examine the 5 acts of worship we can engage in when we assemble together and notice how each act is discussed in the New Testament.

 I.                     Worship in Truth

a.       God has always demanded we worship properly.  He gives us a pattern.  This is manifested from the beginning.  Even in Genesis 4, the first sacrifice, it is implied there was a pattern.  Abel followed it and Cain did not. 

b.       The Bible condemns corrupted and vain worship, etc.   Again, from the beginning, we see this.
Matthew 15:7-9, when we create and bind manmade traditions, it makes our worship to God vain.
1 Corinthians 11:18-22 – what they were doing was NOT the Lord’s Supper.  They were condemned.
1 Corinthians 14 – their lack of orderliness and competitive attitudes and actions were condemned by God.
Colossians 2:23 speaks of self-imposed religion and false humility, etc.  The KJV uses the expression, “will worship” meaning one who worships according to his own will rather than God’s will. 

c.        True worship includes:
Only following the New Testament pattern – the Old Law was nailed to the cross.  Ephesians 2:14-15, Colossians 2:14, etc.  Even John 4:22-24 – the context, the hour is coming…
Following the pattern He has given us – God’s instructions about HOW to worship Him is not an accident.  We must respect the boundaries of scripture – 1 Corinthians 4:6
Colossians 3:17 tells us that whatever we do, it must be “in the name of the Lord.

d.       As the church, let us ensure that all is in place to worship truthfully.  Facilitate our singing together, leaders to orderly conduct the service, removal of distractions, etc.

e.       Do not fellowship those who are practicing or teaching error – Ephesians 5:11, Romans 16:17-18, etc.

f.         There are 5 acts of worship recorded in the NT that Christians engaged in.  Study and preaching of the word, prayer, singing, the Lord’s Supper and giving.  Some of these were done publicly, others could be done both privately and publicly.  But in the assembly, when we worship God, there are guidelines we need to follow.  Consider each act of worship.

 II.                   Prayer –

a.       Prayer is a privilege for Christians that is often taken for granted.   It is the prayers of the godly that God hears (answers).  This is true of all our prayers, including those offered when we assemble together.

b.       A simple description of prayer is: Speaking to God in a manner He prescribed for us to do so.

c.        Christians in the first century also prayed when they assembled together – Acts 2:42, 1 Corinthians 14:14-15, Acts 12:5, 4:23-31, etc.

d.       In our worship services we typically offer several prayers to God.  We begin our service with a prayer, we have a “main prayer”, prayers for the Lord’s Supper and possibly giving, and a closing prayer.  Sometimes more are added to these as warranted (for brethren that respond to the invitation).

e.       Public prayers involve:

                                                   i.      Praising God – Acts 2:47, Matt. 6:9 – as Jesus taught us how to pray He began with hallowing God.

                                                 ii.      Thanksgiving – Colossians 4:2, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;” 1 Timothy 2:1-2 supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks be made for all men.

                                                iii.      Praying for one another – James 5:16

                                                iv.      Making requests of God – Matthew 6:11, 13 – our daily bread, lead us not into temptation, etc.
Opportunities to reach the lost, for our brethren who are wandering away. 

                                                  v.      Forgiveness of sins – Matthew 6:12

                                                vi.      In Jesus name – 1 Timothy 2:5, He is our Mediator; 1 John 2:1-2 – He is our advocate.
Colossians 3:17 says we give thanks to God the Father “through Him.”.
Ephesians 5:20, “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

f.         Thoughts on public prayer

                                                   i.      We must be reverent – while a particular position is not specified, a reverent heart is.   Typically, we show respect by closing our eyes and bowing our heads.

                                                 ii.      It should be appropriate –for the occasion – general prayers should be for all, specific prayers consider their purpose (Lord’s Supper, giving, closing prayer, intercessions for a struggling brother, etc.)  In the end, we should be able to say, “Amen” (1 Cor. 14:16).

                                                iii.      Avoid vain repetitions (Matt. 6:7) - Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees as loving to be heard for their many words (Matt. 6:5, Matt. 23:14, etc.).  Prayer needs to be from the heart and not for the purpose of letting others know how gifted you are in your prayers.

 III.                 Lord’s Supper

a.       1 Corinthians 11:23-26 finds Paul addressing the Lord’s Supper in Corinth.  In this text he observes that it was something they WERE to be doing, but he also notes that what they were doing was NOT the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:20).  Their attitude was wrong, and their actions were equally wrong. 

b.       The Lord’s Supper is to be offered:

                                                   i.      On the first day of the week – Acts 20:7. A study of the New Testament shows definitively that saints assembled every Sunday to worship God.  While the word “every” is not used in Acts 20:7, we find frequency which necessarily implies they did it weekly.

                                                 ii.      It was done when they assembled together – Acts 20:7, the disciples came together.
1 Corinthians 11:17, 20ff.  The context lends to it being an act of the assembly. 
Vs. 33-34 also imply this as Paul says, “Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.” (1 Corinthians 11:33–34)

                                                iii.      It was not a full meal, but a memorial using (unleavened) bread and fruit of the vine – again 1 Corinthians 11:22 points out that they can eat in their homes.  THEN, Paul emphasizes the elements to be used and their purpose.
Furthermore, the account of the institution of this memorial by Jesus shows that.  While it was during the Passover meal that the elements were introduced, we note they were NOT a part of that meal but distinguished.  Luke 22:19-20 shows this as Jesus took the cup “after supper” and gave it to them.  (Note: Both Matt. 26:26-27 and Mark 14:22-23 state that Jesus took bread “as they were eating” – we can reconcile these statements by observing that Jesus took elements that were part of the supper and set them aside and instituted the Lord’s Supper afterward – cf. Luke 22:17).

                                                iv.      With each element, there was giving of thanks – keeping the memorial solemn (i.e. not part of a festive meal) – Matthew 26:26, 27.

c.        The Lord’s Supper is a memorial of the death of Jesus for our sins.  We must keep this in mind as we partake. 1 Corinthians 11:27-31 warns us of partaking of this in an unworthy manner, “not discerning the Lord’s body.”  

d.       While not mandated in scripture, typically we offer a song and sometimes a scripture reading or a short talk to help us focus on this important act of worship. 

e.       In it, we proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26)

To Be Continued in our next lesson