By Jim Miller
The scriptures teach that for one to become a Christian and be added to the Lords church that a man must hear (Matt. 17:5), believe (Jn. 8:24), repent (Acts 17:30, confess (Rom. 10:9-10) and then be baptized (Mk. 16:16). This is the simple plan that God put in place for our salvation. We must then begin to live obedient lives and remain faithful unto death (1 Cor. 15:58).
That doesn't sound to hard does it?
God also through the Holy Spirit gave the apostles instructions on how and when we are to worship. No better example of scriptural worship can be given than that of the Scriptures themselves. The New Testament church was led by the apostles under the headship of Christ (Eph. 1:22, 23; Col. 1:18) as the Scriptures were being written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We can be assured that we are on safe ground when we imitate approved apostolic examples (Phil. 4:9). The true and faithful disciple of Christ will attempt to follow these scriptural patterns and not invent unscriptural ideas or follow traditional practices which are not rooted in God's word.
So what do the scriptures teach?
Prayer: Worshiping people are praying people, as were the early disciples. ". . . prayer was made earnestly of the church unto God. . ." (Acts 12:5). "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). Please read also: Romans 15:30; Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6; 1 Thess. 5:17.
Singing: Worshiping people are people who sing. New Testament Christians sang as they worshiped. If the apostles and early Christians were guided by the Holy Spirit in their worship, it should strike us as significant that the Holy Spirit did not authorize anything but vocal music. Note carefully these passages: Matt. 26:30 (Mk. 14:26); Acts 16:25; Rom. 15:9; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12 and As. 5:13). We can know that our worship is scriptural when we sing praises to God.
Lord's Supper: Before ascending back to heaven, Jesus gave the apostles instruction about a memorial feast to be observed "in the kingdom" (Matt. 26:29). He shared this first supper with them and, through the apostles, set it in the church for regular observance (Acts 2:42). From scripture we learn that the early disciples, with apostles present, ate the supper regularly on the first day of the week. No other day is authorized. Every week has a "first day." Scriptural worship includes eating the Lord's supper upon the first day of the week, every week.
Giving: Worshiping people are people who give to the Lord. New Testament Christians were liberal in their giving. The New Testament does not state any given amount. Rather, the principle is given that we are under a better covenant with better promises (Heb. 8:6), having a better sacrifice (Heb. 9:23). We are to give accordingly, with abounding liberality (2 Cor. 8:2), with a ready mind (8:12), not sparingly (9:6) but cheerfully (9:7). Such giving is to take place on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:1, 2), as is the Lord's supper.
Teaching or Preaching: New Testament worship, it is not only "to make obeisance, do reverence," but also "to serve, to render religious service or homage." Preaching God's word can be correctly understood as an act of worship in the light of this definition. While teaching and preaching are directed toward men, it is an act of service to God. Paul felt an obligation toward God to preach to lost men and said, "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel" (1 Cor. 9:16). He considered preaching the gospel to be a stewardship entrusted to him from God (v. 17). Other passages that stress the importance of this act are: Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 5:42; 8:4; Acts 15:35; 1 Cor. 15:1ff; Gal. 1:6-9; Eph. 2:17; 3:8; Col. 1:23; 2 Tim. 2:2.
God requires nothing more than this when we come together on the first day of the week. It is that simple. I will be the first to say I do not believe we spend enough time in these acts of worship but, that is my opinion.
We also see that the first century Christians met from house to house during the week. I believe this was to strengthen one another and help one another remain obedient. We now choose to meet midweek and Sunday evenings. These simple instructions, blueprint, examples, patterns whatever you want to call them are what is required, nothing more and nothing less.
As simple as this is to understand still some will not accept it. Some will not be happy unless they ad their human beliefs and practices. Some will take away key commands in order to please themselves.
I ask you today will you follow God's teaching? Will you come back to the simple truth? I pray you will.