The Worship of the Church – Ron Cosby

Ron Cosby

In John 4:24, Jesus reminds us of the three components that comprise “true worship.” The denominational world agrees with Jesus on two of the three. First, they acknowledge that God seeks those who will worship the one true God instead of idols or false deities. They also agree that true worshipers must worship from the heart. However, they ignore or minimize the third essential aspect of true worship which Jesus has commanded in this text.

Instead of worshiping as God directs, they teach that God has no concern for the items or avenues of worship. The do-as-you-please worship practices of today directly contradict the words of the Master.

We ought to heed the warnings of the past. “Will-worship” or self-chosen worship, as Paul describes it, is sin (Col. 2:23). As an example to others, God sent fire from heaven upon the two sons of Aaron because they substituted their own fire for that which God authorized in worship (Lev. 10:1-2). Notice the words, “…which he commanded them not.” God had not commanded the fire which they offered. They chose to follow their own will in the matter and were destroyed for it.

Though God no longer strikes worshipers dead for worshiping contrary to His will, He has illustrated that He is highly displeased with such high-mindedness.

Since God no longer shows His displeasure in the same manner, having made it clear what He wants, some will mistakenly conclude, “Oh, that was the way it was long ago. God does not care how we worship as long was we are sincere.”

To these Jesus declared,

But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men. Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men. And he said unto them, Full well do ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition (Mark 7:7-9).

Make no mistake. God is not so starved for attention that He will accept anything we offer Him.

Here are the directions that God has commanded for those that worship in truth: We are to pray (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 14:15). Preaching or teaching God’s message is another avenue of worship that we have from God (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 14; Acts 20:7). We are also to give as God has prospered us (1 Cor. 16:1-2). This does not mean we are to be taking up a “love offering” every time the doors are open. The specific instruction is to give “upon the first day of the week.”

Though the denominational world will take up a collection every Sunday, they partake of the Lord’s Supper when it pleases them instead of on the first day of the week. Which has God instructed? First of the week, or when we it pleases the worshiper?

Following the Bible, we have at least two examples of when the apostolic church observed the Lord’s Supper. Those at Troas broke bread (ate the Lord’s Supper) upon the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). In fact, because the apostle Paul arrived a little later than he planned, had to wait a week to worship with those brethren. Now if God allowed men to partake of the communion at any time, then he could have broken bread on Tuesday or Thursday and then continued his journey to Jerusalem. Remember, he was hastening to attend a feast, but waited in Troas until the first day of the week to worship with them and observe the Lord’s Supper.

The inspired custom of the church at Corinth is a second example of when we are to partake of the this important item of worship. Following inspired instructions, they ate the Lord’s Supper when they assembled themselves together and the first day of the week was when they did this (1 Cor. 16:1-2). That’s why he rebuked them for their corruption of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. “When therefore ye assemble yourselves together, it is not possible to eat the Lord’s supper” (1 Cor. 11:20).

Denominational preachers will push their members to give every Sunday but allow them to commune in the Supper when they feel like it. One wonders why they don’t advocate partaking of this most solemn Supper every week and allow their members to take up a collection every quarter or semiannually! As faithful followers of the New Testament, the first day of the week will find us breaking bread and giving.

We call your attention to one last God-given item of worship—singing. This is the only music God has authorized in the New Testament. Ask yourself, “What kind of music did the Christians present to God in the days of the apostles?” History shows they only sang, but we don’t prove our thesis by history. Founders and leaders of denominational groups—John Wesley (Methodist), John Calvin (Presbyterian), and Charles Spurgeon (Baptist), argued in favor of singing, but we do not prove our thesis by what they argued. We only ask for you to read the New Testament, see what Christians did in the first century and then follow their example (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19; 1 Cor. 14:15). What they did pleased God. Adding to what they did will certainly displease God.

The only instrument in Christian worship that pleases God is the heart of man. The passage that teaches we must worship with grace in your hearts also teaches the kind of instrument God commands—the heart (Col. 3:16). You have to add to the Scriptures to include mechanical instruments of music in Christian worship. Jesus warned,

But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men. Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men. And he said unto them, Full well do ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition (Mark 7:7-9).

Let us not offer unto God unauthorized music (Lev. 10:1-2).

Conclusion

A corruption of the worship authorized in the Scriptures means the destruction of the identity of the worshiper as one who worships in truth. It makes one a false worshiper. Martin Luther was wrong when he said, “Now every one can note and tell for himself when he does what is good or what is not good; for if he finds his heart confident that it pleases God, the work is good, even if it were so small a thing as picking up a straw…” (A Treatise on Good Works, p. 22). You will be wrong to practice what Luther taught. God is not so starved for attention that He will accept anything you offer Him. The church of the New Testament offers only the worship God authorizes.

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Author: Editor

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