The Worship of the Church #1
The Doctrine of the Church - Lesson # 9
I. Some basic assumptions and definitions
A. Worship defined
1. Broadly - as all of life, thus, everything a Christian does should be done in humility, reverence, and obedience - Rom. 12:1-2
2. Narrowly - praise and adoration given to God as deity
B. Not everything the church does in the assembly is worship in the narrow sense of the word. We encourage one another, have fellowship, teach one another and, for example, make announcements.
C. In the narrower sense of the word "worship," the church engages in worship at times other than the assembly.
D. Theological presuppositions for worship
1. God exists and want us to worship him. How does the nature of God place defining parameters upon worship? - Jn. 4:24; Heb. 12:28-29; 1 Jn. 1:5
2. Mankind is God's creation and we, as creatures, need to worship - Acts 17:27
3. Christ's atonement makes us able to approach God in worship - Heb. 10:19-22.
4. We have the obligation to purify ourselves by right living before we approach God in worship - Ps. 15:1-5.
5. Since Christian worship is the worship of a community, we need to be right with our fellow man before we attempt to approach God in worship - Mt. 5:23-24.
6. The church is the temple where God dwells, so the place or the building is not significant for Christian worship - Jn. 4:21-24; Acts 7:48; 17:24-25.
II. Worship and priesthood
A. "Priest" is one of those terms which Christians share with Christ.
B. Christ is our high priest. Each Christian is a priest also.
C. As priests, what kind of sacrifices do we offer to God in worship? - Rom. 12:1-2; Heb. 13:15-16; Phil. 2:17; 4:18; 1 Pet. 2:1-5
III. Some misunderstandings of worship in relation to the assembly (from Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ, 227-29)
A. The external or mechanical interpretation. "Worship may be understood as formal religious exercises. Many think of worship as items to be performed in order to fulfill a duty....By doing certain things people improve their heavenly credit rating....The concern here is with the reason behind these things, why we do them. What is the attitude toward their doing? Is it the mere fulfilling of an obligation, the rote performance of certain acts, or is it the response to a gracious God?" (Ibid., 227).
B. The individualistic interpretation. Here worship is viewed as a private matter of one's own devotional meditation. The father of a friend of mine used to tell his son that he could worship God just as good in his fishing boat in the middle of a lake as he could in the assembly on Sunday. While we can worship God individually, Christian worship is not limited to this. It is the united worship of a community, a family of believers, acting together. "The Lord's Supper is to be compared not to eating alone in a restaurant full of people but to a community or family meal, where the being together is as important as the eating (1 Cor. 10:17; 11:33)" (Ibid., 228).
C. The emotional uplift interpretation. Those who follow this line of thought look for what makes them feel good. Instead of worship being something offered by us to God, humans are the recipient and focus of worship, thus worship is secularized. Such a worshiper might say: "I didn't get anything out of church today, so I am not coming back, or maybe I will go elsewhere."
D. The performance interpretation. This view makes most of the congregation into observers and the worship leaders (preacher, song leader, prayer leaders) into the performers. The period of worship becomes either a time to show off one's talents or the time to watch and rate another's performance.
E. "These misunderstandings, like most misunderstandings, have an element of truth in them and grow out of aspects in the assembly: the members should be present, they should meditate, they will be blessed spiritually by being present, and everything should be done as well as the participants are capable. The fuller truth is that the assembly is to be spiritual, corporate, instructive, and directed toward God. It should be an occasion that raises the consciousness of God and focuses attention on others" (Ibid., 229).
F. Another misunderstanding of worship in relation to the assembly is that it is primarily to be a time for evangelism. The practice of "offering the invitation" in the assembly is less than two centuries old. It sprang out of revivalism on the American frontier. In the New Testament church evangelism was more an occasional by-product of the assembly, not its purpose and function toward which the constituent parts needed to be directed (1 Cor. 14:24-25). When the assembly is continually focused on evangelism, the direction of one's mind is going to be horizontal (directed toward people) and not vertical (directed toward God). The result will be that, to the extent that this is true, worship will be eliminated from our assemblies.
IV. Proper attitudes
A. Jn. 4:24; Heb. 10:22; 12:28
B. List some proper attitudes on the part of one who wants to worship God.
A. What can we do in our assemblies in order to better worship God?
B. Memory verse - Jn. 4:24