"THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT" The Worship Of The Church - I INTRODUCTION 1. Our previous lesson examined the organization of the church, in which... a. A clear pattern emerges that illustrates its simplicity and Divine Wisdom b. A congregation, when completely organized, consisted of: 1) Bishops to oversee the local congregation (also called elders, pastors) 2) Deacons to serve the congregation in its work 3) Saints, i.e., the members of the congregation -- As indicated in Paul's address to the church at Philippi - Ph 1:1 c. Authority was carefully limited 1) A plurality of bishops in each church prevented one-man rule 2) Charged to shepherd the flock of God among them, bishops were prevented from exercising authority over more than one congregation -- Thus the potential spread of error was severely hindered 2. In this lesson and the one to follow, we shall examine the worship of the church... a. For this too can help us identify "The Church Jesus Built" b. For certainly those who "continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine" today will worship in the same manner as did the early Christians under the instruction of Christ and His apostles 3. It is important to appreciate that not all worship is acceptable to God... a. There is "vain worship" - Mt 15:7-9 b. There is "ignorant worship" - Ac 17:22-23 c. There is "will (self-imposed) worship" - Co 2:20-23 -- We should seek to offer what Jesus described as "true worship" (see below) [What can we learn about the worship of the church? Consider some thoughts regarding "the nature of worship" in the church...] I. THEIR WORSHIP WAS "IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH" A. THE TIME HAD COME FOR A NEW KIND OF WORSHIP... 1. As Jesus explained to the Samaritan woman at the well - Jn 4: 23-24 2. In which people are to worship the Father "in spirit and truth" 3. In which those who seek to worship Him "must worship in spirit and truth" B. WORSHIPPING GOD IN "SPIRIT"... 1. Some understand this to mean "to do so with sincerity, from the heart" a. But this does not fit in with the idea that Jesus is making a contrast between OT and NT worship - cf. Jn 4:19-24 b. And sincerity was required under the OT - Deu 6:4-7 ; Isa 1:10-18 2. I suggest that to worship in spirit means to offer "spiritual worship" a. I.e., in contrast to worship that is physical or fleshly b. This contrast is in harmony with the context 1) Jesus began by saying "God is Spirit" 2) Therefore the worship of Him is to be "spiritual", that is, in keeping with His nature c. This interpretation is in harmony with what we learn elsewhere about the contrast between OT and NT worship 1) He 9:1-10 teaches that OT worship consisted of FLESHLY ordinances; e.g.: a) A physical structure (tabernacle) b) Special clothing for priests c) Lampstands d) Burning of incense e) Instruments of music f) Animal sacrifices -- All of which appealed to the PHYSICAL senses 2) But NT worship is focused toward the SPIRITUAL side of man: a) God's temple is spiritual, made up of Christians - 1 Co 3:16 ; Ep 2:19-22 b) All Christians are priests, offering up spiritual sacrifices - 1 Pe 2:5 ,9; Ro 12:1 ; He 13:15 c) Our prayers are as sweet incense - Re 5:8 d) Our music is making melody with the HEART - Ep 5:19 3) The physical ordinances of the OT were to last until a "time of reformation" - He 9:9-10 (which has occurred with the coming of the New Covenant) -- To "worship in spirit", then, is to offer up "spiritual" worship as taught in the NT and not the "physical" worship as found in the OT C. WORSHIPPING GOD IN "TRUTH"... 1. Some understand this to worship according to the commands of God a. Certainly we should do this b. But again, this is no contrast to what God expected in the OT - cf. Deu 5:32-33 c. Jesus admitted that the Jews had been right in their worship - Jn 4:22 -- So the contrast is NOT between "TRUE" and "FALSE" worship 2. The contrast is between that which is "TRUE" (or real), and that which had been a "SHADOW" (or type) pointing toward the true! a. Many elements of OT worship were simply a "shadow" of what was to come 1) The Tabernacle was a symbol or type - He 9:8-9 2) The Law with its worship was only a "shadow" of that which was to come - He 10:1 b. Christ is now in the TRUE tabernacle (heaven)- He 9:11-12 , 24 1) Therefore we should expect the worship of the TRUE to be different from that of the SHADOW 2) And we have already seen that to be the case: a) The OT worship, which was but a SHADOW, was PHYSICAL in nature b) But N. T. worship, which God now expects of "true worshipers", is according to the TRUE realities (God is Spirit, Christ in heaven) and is therefore SPIRITUAL in nature -- To "worship in truth", then, is to offer up the "true", "spiritual" worship as taught in the NT, and not the "physical" worship in the OT which was but a "shadow" [When we consider "the elements of worship" in our next lesson, I trust we shall see that the worship in the early church was indeed spiritual in its focus. But before we conclude this study, two more things can be said about "the nature of worship" in the church...] II. THEIR WORSHIP WAS FOR EDIFICATION A. WORSHIP WAS CERTAINLY DIRECTED TO GOD... 1. As we will see later, they sang "hymns" - cf. Ep 5:19 2. The definition of "hymn" is a song of praise to God -- As God's creatures, especially those created in His image and redeemed by His Son, the Creator is the primary focus of any worship service - e.g., Re 4:9-11 B. WORSHIP WAS ALSO TO BUILD UP EACH OTHER... 1. As Paul instructed the church in Corinth - 1 Co 14:26 a. All things were to be done "for edification" b. That is, for the purpose of "building up" 2. Note that in regards to singing... a. They were "speaking to one another..." as well as to the Lord - Ep 5:19 b. They were "teaching and admonishing one another" - Co 3:16 3. Note the true source of their edification... a. Not the music or melody of the songs themselves b. But the words of the songs which taught and admonished them -- For "spiritual worship" is designed to impact the spiritual side of man, not his fleshly side [Worship in the church should therefore edify or build up those engaged in it, not by what may sound good to the ears (the flesh), but by words that impact the heart of man (the spirit). Sadly, it is easy for us to more interested in the melody and beat of a song, than the actual words! But those seeking true edification will be careful to note the difference. Finally...] III. THEIR WORSHIP WAS DONE DECENTLY AND IN ORDER A. THE CHURCH IN CORINTH HAD A PROBLEM... 1. At a time in which Christians enjoyed the gifts of tongues (speaking in a foreign language), those in Corinth were misusing them a. Tongues were designed to be a sign for unbelievers - 1 Co 14:22 b. They were speaking without interpreters, and all at once - 1 Co 14:23 2. Therefore Paul commanded them to do things decently and in order... a. They were to speak one at a time, and no more than three - 1 Co 14:27 b. If there were no interpreter, they were to remain silent - 1 Co 14:28 -- Thus they were to do things "decently and in order" - 1 Co 14:40 B. WORSHIPPING DECENTLY AND IN ORDER... 1. Worship that is "decent" is that which... a. Is done "in a seemly manner"; i.e., fitting for the occasion b. Glorifies God by offering up "spiritual worship" (worship in keeping with His nature; not necessarily what we want) - cf. Jn 4:23-24 c. Edifies the brethren by teaching and admonishing them - cf. 1 Co 14:26 2. Worship that is "in order" is that which... a. Follows "a fixed arrangement"; i.e., not totally spontaneous - e.g., 1 Co 14:27 b. Contributes to peace, not confusion - cf. 1 Co 14:33 CONCLUSION 1. When we consider "the elements of worship" in our next lesson... a. We will see how they are consistent with "the nature of worship" b. That what the worship of the early church was indeed done: 1) In spirit and truth 2) For the purpose of edification 3) Decently and in order 2. Remember, not all worship is acceptable to God. Worship based upon... a. The doctrines of men is "vain worship" - Mt 15:7-9 b. A lack of understanding of God's nature is "ignorant worship" - Ac 17:22-23 c. What we think is best is "will worship" (self-imposed religion), and of no true value in overcoming the flesh - Co 2:20-23 Let those who seek to be a part of "The Church Jesus Built" listen closely to the Master... "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (Jn 4:23-24 ) Are we "true worshipers" of the Father?