Jerry C. Brewer
When Jereboam erected his altar at Bethel, it served a short term purpose to make worship convenient for the ten northern tribes, and a long term purpose of consolidating and perpetuating his own kingdom (1 Kings 12:26-29). The innovations he introduced in worship were of no concern to him. It mattered not that they violated God’s law given through Moses. The only thing that mattered to Jereboam was his desire for power and to please his people in order to achieve that end.
In the 3,000 years since Jereboam’s arrogant repudiation of God-ordained worship, men have not changed. Jereboam’s spirit lives on today. Even among the people of God there are those today who would change and desecrate the simple worship of the New Testament church in the name of “renewal.” Like children in the market place, change agents pipe the tunes of “contemporary worship” while spiritual dunces dance themselves silly. Saying, “Worship is a celebration,” modern Jereboams perpetuate themselves in power by entertaining the masses which fills their pews with biblical illiterates. Their ovine followers get what they want and the modern Jereboams maintain their power and influence over them.
Worship is Not “Celebration”
True worship was defined by Jesus Christ in His conversation with the Samaritan woman at Sychar. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Jesus’ definition of true worship is really no different than that which God expected in the Old Testament. Even then, true worship had to be “in spirit”—from a sincere heart (1 Sam 15:22), and “in truth”, or as God’s word directed and directs (John 17:17). Whatever is not authorized as worship in the word of God is not acceptable to Him (Col. 3:17). On the other hand, the form of worship may be authorized, but is rejected if it is not “in spirit.”
Like Jereboam, who made two golden calves for his people to worship and told them, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (1 Ki. 12:28). His heirs today could not have introduced their innovations without redefining what New Testament worship is. Today’s Jereboams call it “a celebration” in order to institute practices foreign to God’s word. What the denominational world calls “worship” today is nothing more than show business in Sunday clothes. True worship is a solemn rendering of homage to the Eternal God who made and sustains us, not a noisy, raucous, hand-clapping, laughing, shouting, experiential, holly roller event that panders to the participants’ base instincts. Of this kind of foolishness, brother Lester Kamp wrote,
Brethren, the world is lost in sin and is steeped in the love of pleasure. The world cannot be saved by entertainment, by ‘playing’ them in. The world must be taught the gospel (Rom. 1:16). God has chosen the ‘foolishness of preaching’ as the means by which the world can be saved (1 Cor. 1:21); He has not chosen ‘plays’ and other forms of entertainment to convert the world. Entertainment is not going to keep the church saved either. What is needed in the church is ‘all the counsel of God’ (Acts 20:27). We need to stop ‘playing’ and return to ‘preaching’ (“And They Rose Up To Play,” Matters of The Faith, Vol. 4, No. 3, Oct.-Dec., 1998, p. 3).
Strong says proskuneo, the word which is translated worship means, “…to kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand; to fawn or crouch; to prostrate oneself in homage (do reverence to, adore); worship” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Greek Dictionary of The New Testament, p. 61). This word is rendered as worship 35 times in the New Testament, and in every instance the concept is reverence toward God, characterized by solemnity and emptying of oneself, as Moses did at the burning bush in Midian. “Worship” is not synonymous with “celebration” or entertainment, but a time for prostration of sincere hearts before God with thanksgiving for His great love. The word celebration and, variants thereof, is found only three times in all the Bible (Lev. 23:32, 41; Isa. 38:18) and in none of these refers to God-ordained worship.
Our town—and the world for that matter—is filled with the abomination of “entertainment” in place of true worship and in their festering, fermented ignorance, parents, elders, preachers and “youth ministers” think they’ve discovered something new in concerts and drama. But all they’ve simply imbibed the spirit of Jereboam to consolidate their positions and please tickling ears. If folks are “fiddled into the church” we have to keep on “fiddling” or they will “fiddle out.” True worship is not entertainment and entertainment is not true worship.