"THE CHURCH JESUS BUILT"
INTRODUCTION 1. In seeking to better understand "The Church Jesus Built", we are looking at the worship of the church as revealed in the New Testament 2. The preceding lesson made the following observations about the nature of worship in the early church... a. Their worship was in spirit and truth - Jn 4:23-24 b. Their worship was for edification - 1Co 14:26 c. Their worship was to be done decently and in order - 1Co 14:40 3. In determining what was meant to worship God in spirit and truth, I suggested that... a. It involved worship in keeping with God's nature (God is Spirit, our worship is to be spiritual) b. It would be different from the "fleshly ordinances" of the Old Testament which were a shadow of that which is true (or real) 4. This lesson will identify the elements of worship as described in the NT... a. I.e., the activities in which the early church engaged in their worship b. With some observations about their "spiritual" nature in contrast to OT worship [Let's begin by noticing...] I. ACTIVITIES IN THE WORSHIP OF THE CHURCH A. THEY OBSERVED THE LORD'S SUPPER... 1. As commanded by the Lord and His apostles a. A memorial feast instituted by Jesus Himself - Lk 22:14-20 b. Taught to the churches by the apostles - 1Co 11:23-29 c. In this memorial they remembered: 1) The sinless body offered on the cross 2) The blood shed to provide forgiveness for their sins d. In this memorial they proclaimed their faith in the efficacy of the Lord's death 2. On the first day of the week a. As described in Ac 20:7 b. One can infer from this passage that they were doing this every week c. Other passages certainly indicate they were assembling regularly on the first day of the week - e.g., 1Co 16:1-2 B. THEY GAVE TO MEET CERTAIN NEEDS... 1. The church was noted for its love for one another a. As exemplified in the church at Jerusalem - cf. Ac 2:44,45;4:32-35 b. Such love went beyond those in the local congregation - Ac 11:27-30 2. A weekly collection was instituted a. To provide for the needs of the saints - 1Co 16:1-2 b. Principles were taught to determine how much one should give 1) "As he may prosper" - 1Co 16:2 2) Whatever is given with "a willing mind" - 2Co 8:12 3) "According to what one has" - 2Co 8:12-13 4) "As he purposes (plans) in his heart" - 2Co 9:7 5) Whatever one can give "cheerfully", not "grudgingly" or "of necessity" - 2Co 9:7 6) Keeping in mind the principle of "sowing and reaping" - 2Co 9:6,8 3. Funds so collected were used to help needy Christians, including those who devoted their lives to preaching the gospel - cf. 2Co 11:8,9; Php 4:10-18 C. THEY LISTENED TO THE WORD... 1. They were noted for their attention to the Word a. The church in Jerusalem "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine..." - Ac 2:42 b. As ambassadors of Christ, the apostles' words were taken very seriously - cf. 1Co 14:37; 1Th 2:13 2. They therefore used their assemblies to hear God's Word a. As when Paul spoke at Troas - Ac 20:7 b. Or when letters from the apostles had been received - cf. Co 4:16 D. THEY OFFERED PRAYERS AND SONGS... 1. Prayers were offered in their assemblies a. As indicated in 1Co 14:15-17 b. Especially in times of trouble - cf. Ac 12:5,12 2. Songs were sung when they were together a. Using psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to speak to one another - Ep 5:19 b. Using the same to teach and admonish one another - Col 3:16 [Such were the activities in which the Christians engaged in the worship of the early church. But in what way was their worship any more "spiritual" than that seen in the Old Testament? Let me suggest a few observations regarding...] II. THE SPIRITUAL NATURE OF THEIR WORSHIP A. CONTRAST THE LORD'S SUPPER WITH O.T. SACRIFICES... 1. The OT required elaborate ritual in offering various sacrifices, which certainly involved the physical senses (sight, sound, smell, touch) 2. The Supper, a memorial of Christ's sacrifice, involves the mind more than the senses a. Requiring meditation rather than much in the way of physical action b. Involving a time for reflection, self-examination B. CONTRAST THEIR GIVING WITH O.T. TITHING... 1. The OT required a specific amount (a tithe, or ten percent), which could easily be given in a perfunctory manner 2. Giving in the NT was based upon principles requiring careful thought and proper attitudes a. As one prospered and purposed in their heart b. Cheerfully, without grudging obligation C. CONTRAST THEIR SINGING WITH O.T. MUSIC... 1. Mechanical instruments were used in the OT to accompany praise to God 2. In NT worship, the instrument they used was the "heart", not the "harp" a. Upon which they were to "make melody" - cf. Ep 5:19 b. In which they were to sing "with grace" - cf. Col 3:16 D. CONTRAST OTHER ELEMENTS OF WORSHIP... 1. The OT required: a. A physical tabernacle (temple) b. Separate priesthood c. Special garments d. Burning of incense e. Elaborate ceremonies, special feast days 2. In NT worship: a. The temple is the people of God - 1Co 3:16-17; Ep 2:20-22 b. All Christians are priests - 1Pe 2:5,9 c. They adorned themselves with Christ - Ga 3:27; Col 3:5-14 d. Their prayers were as incense - Re 5:8 e. Observance of feast days was a cause of concern - Ga 4:10, 11; Col 2:16,17 CONCLUSION 1. The worship in the early church was simple, and it was spiritual... a. Certainly simple in contrast with the worship of the Old Covenant b. Designed to encourage the worship of God with the inner man, not to make an impression on the outer man -- Not to say that the outer man was not affected, but the priority was on the spiritual 2. This was especially true in regards to the use of mechanical instruments of music... a. "... the first Christians were of too spiritual a fiber to substitute lifeless instruments for or to use them to accompany the human voice." - Catholic Encyclopedia b. "The execution of Byzantine church music by instruments, or even the accompaniment of sacred chanting by instruments was ruled out by the Eastern Fathers as being incompatible with the pure, solemn, spiritual character of the religion of Christ." - Constantine Cavarnos, Byzantine Sacred Music c. "Musical instruments in celebrating the praises of God would be no more suitable than the burning of incense, the lighting up of lamps, the restoration of the other shadows of the law. The Papists, therefore, have foolishly borrowed this, as well as many other things, from the Jews. Men who are fond of outward pomp may delight in that noise; but the simplicity which God recommends to us by the apostle is far more pleasing to Him." - John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, Vol. I, p. 539 3. Sadly, many today think that to become more "spiritual" requires innovation (change)... a. Such as mechanical instruments, clapping, burning of incense, theatrical productions b. But such things appeal to the fleshly side of man, rather than to his spiritual side! -- When one looks to the OT for the kind of worship they offer, they are taking a step backward, not forward to true spirituality! 4. Some complain that simple singing and worship is outdated and boring... a. But the "fleshly ordinances" of the OT are older than the "spiritual worship" of the NT! b. If we find the spiritual worship of the NT boring, is that not a sad commentary on our own spiritual condition? 1) The melody of a song may only be a simple chant... 2) But if the words of the song present spiritual truths, how can that be boring? -- Is it really outdated, or simply challenging to those seeking to entertain themselves? In "The Church Jesus Built", the worship will seek to worship God the way Jesus instructs, again noting His words: "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) Is our worship "in spirit and truth"?The Elements Of Worship In The Church