Volume 1 March 15, 2002 Issue 3

In this issue of Diligence we are continuing our study of "a peculiar people".

Followers of Christ are peculiar in Worship

The collective worship has always gained a lot of attention. Our admonition to not forsake meeting together as stated in Hebrews 10:25 indicates the influence we can have on one another in a group setting. Fortunately God did not leave us without instructions concerning what we should do when we meet together in worship. There is little doubt that the early church sang, prayed, had communion, gave of their means and exhorted one another through preaching. Please read Acts 20:7, I Corinthians 16:2, and Ephesians 5:19-20.

The Church was originally and should presently be peculiar in worship. The fact that the worship service is open to the public gives opportunity to demonstrate Biblical worship to the community. (I Corinthians 14:22-40) The focus should be the orderly worship of God — not the entertainment of non-believers who might be present.

Today by contrast many religious groups use worship services as a tool to attract non-believers. These services are designed for evangelistic outreach rather than worshiping God. This requires the addition of many activities that serve to entice the non-believer. Groups go to varying extents to accomplish the goal of drawing a crowd. This may include full orchestras, praise rock bands, praise teams, drama troupes and even dancing. A recent Cincinnati Enquirer article dated 1/18/2002 stated "Sacred dance... is now a regular feature in the church scene. ...The practice is a logical form of worship. Dance and religion are a natural mix." The extent to which mankind will go in order to appeal to the senses is only limited by imagination and available talent. Using this thought process would mean that those churches that have the greatest pool of talent would offer more spiritual worship than a smaller church would be able to offer. This is obviously absurd.

Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." NIV

The purpose of Biblical worship is to praise God not make sure that every possible talent that He has given to people is used as a part of our collective worship. The Devil strives to convince Christians that the Gospel is no longer adequate to attract people. Satan would tell us that it is now necessary to have a hook much like a main attraction at a theater. Conceivably it may be the attraction that one is converted to rather than the Gospel. It should be a concern to us that religious leaders are pressured to be dynamic and exciting to the world rather than remain the peculiar people of the Bible. Godís ways do not always seem logical to man as is noted in the following Scriptures:

Isaiah 55:8-9 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." KJV

Proverbs 14:12 "There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end leads to death." NIV

Christ himself was described as being unattractive to the world in Isaiah 53:2-3.

"...He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not." NIV

The physical was not the attraction, but rather His message. If God had wanted mankind to be attracted to Christ because of His appearance to manís senses, He could have made it so. If God had wanted mankind to be attracted to His Church due to appearance rather than the message of salvation, He would have given us dynamic methods to accomplish that end. But there are only the simple elements of worship that we mentioned earlier — a cappella singing, praying, sharing the Lordís Supper, giving and preaching. Church leaders are often tempted to introduce into our worship services those things that might be emotionally charged in order to appeal to our sensual nature. This is often justified as an improvement in order to be more attractive to the world and therefore be able to reach more souls. This temptation is a result of wanting to serve our fleshly lusts more than wanting to maintain the pure and simple devotion to God that we see practiced by first century Christians. Unfortunately falling victim to this temptation also often leads to division in the Church.

As we just read in Isaiah 55 and Proverbs 14, we do not need to understand why God planned His church to be peculiar from what the world might expect it to be. We must only have faith to believe that God knows what is best even in todayís world. He gave us no indication that we should attempt to enhance our worship beyond the simple forms we observe in the New Testament.

In todayís "post modern Christian era" introducing into our collective worship service, anything that differs from the New Testament pattern of worship, is an attempt to replace Biblical worship with a substitute that appeals to those who either do not accept or do not understand the Scriptural way to worship. Unfortunately in the process of doing this non-believers do not see how to worship God in the scriptural manner but instead are filled with a false sense of awe that is created by music, drama, "holy entertainment" and speech that appeals to their senses. The result is an "US" focused religion rather than a "God" focused religion. God expects us to worship Him in the simple manner He has prescribed, not in a way that we conclude is acceptable to our own lusts and sensual pleasures.

God has not changed. Note in the Old Testament how God dealt with those who did not do things his way even when it seemed logical to man.

Leviticus 10:1-2 "Aaronís sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, contrary to His command. So fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord." NIV

In this next Scripture, God had previously instructed that no one was to touch the Ark of the Covenant. (Numbers 4:15) Look at the results of this seemingly minor (and logical to man) infraction of Godís command in I Chronicles 13:9-10.

"When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord's anger burned against Uzzah, and He struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God." NIV

Today we live in a country that is consumed by the desire to have our own way and wanting every thing to be pleasing to our senses. Satanís influence in churches creates a never-ending progression of changes in an attempt to make worship services appealing to the masses. Worship referenced in the New Testament is timeless. Adhering to the timeless pattern is unique in almost any time period. Those seeking salvation should find the simple uncomplicated nature of our worship the same as it appears in Scripture. The greatest gift we can give to a lost soul is following practices that are evidenced in Scripture.

Let us repeat. The more one cares about what God thinks the less one cares about what men think.

The Garden of Eden Genesis 3:1-4

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He (the serpent) said to the woman, 'Did God really say, you must not eat from any tree in the garden?'"

Note that this is the first time the Devil enters the book of Genesis. And this is the first time that he opens his mouth. Therefore it is important to see what he says since it tells us a lot about him. His very first words were:

"Did God really say... ."

So what's he doing? He is putting a question mark over God! He's casting doubt on the Word of God.

"And the woman said to the serpent, 'we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, you must not eat from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"

Now since the serpent had already been successful in casting doubt over the Word of God he then says,

"you will not surely die… for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Anytime anyone comes to you and starts to say "Did God really say…?" and they cast doubt on the Word of God just listen in the background and you will hear the hissing of the serpent. He always wants you to doubt God's Word and the minute you do, you are headed on a path that's going to lead to destruction and you don't want to take it!

"Diligence" is a publication of:
Dennis and Sherri Owens — Cincinnati, Ohio