Tag Archives: worship

Brethren We Have Met To Worship By Michael J. Findley


Our last post stated that throughout the United States, churches are worshiping golden calves. It is much easier to point out what we are doing wrong than what we should be doing. What is true and proper worship?

Since this question has been asked and answered repeatedly for nearly 2,000 years, there are many and detailed answers. Since most modern Americans do not like the answers, you might not have heard these before.

The church began in the Temple built by Herod, also known as the second temple. While the vision of Peter and the Jerusalem Council recorded in Acts 15 both clearly point out that Gentile believers are not under the whole law, Christians followed Jewish synagogue rituals.

These rituals included men separated from women and children during the service, daily services, Sabbath services lasting from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday, almsgiving to the poor separate from the synagogue, antiphonal singing, that is one group singing a phrase which was then repeated by another group, lengthy Scripture reading (the Old Testament), woman wearing garments where only their faces, hands and feet were visible, special services which lasted five hours, tithes which were obligatory and had to be paid. Some of these practices had little to do with the biblical Law of Moses, and the Spirit of God clearly grants us freedom. But our freedom is not to do whatever we want. God grants us the freedom to worship God in the manner which bring Him the greatest possible glory.

Paul wrote that the Corinthians should remember me in all things, and you keep the doctrines as I delivered them to you. I Corinthians 11:2 But if anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor the churches of God. But in enjoining this, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together in the church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and I partly believe it. I Corinthians 11:16-18

So Paul teaches us in this chapter that as believers, we are to come together to pray, publicly read God’s Word, teach doctrine, baptize and celebrate the Lord’s Supper. There are several disagreements over the Lord’s Supper and baptism but these disagreements are well over a thousand years old. The disagreements over the Lord’s Supper and baptism are part of the traditions of the church and this blog will not have any affect on any of those different beliefs. What day we should come together has only been an issue for the last 2-300 years, yet this issue, like baptism and the Lord’s Supper and are fixed in most believer’s minds and this blog will not matter on the issue of what day we should come together to worship.

The church which claims to represent Jesus Christ in the United States of America must do several things to regain the power of God. She must return to a life of holiness and purity, return to teaching the Word of God and forsake the standards of this world in public worship. These are interlinked, interconnected. We will find that attempting partial obedience will not fill our churches with the power of God.

The word repentance means to turn from our own course, our own thoughts and our own actions and turn to God’s instructions, plans, desires. Once we do that, the average Christian in the United States will find that he has sold himself into slavery. The first step of repentance is get out of debt. The Secular Humanist plan to get out of debt is to increase income. While an increase in income can help some people get out of debt, for many people attempting to get out of debt by increasing income is either not possible or is simply destructive. The pursuit of wealth can destroy health, spiritual life, relationships and rarely produces the wealth you are seeking.

The correct course of action is to trust in the Lord and reduce expenses. While this sounds contradictory, it is God’s plan. Some people do need to change occupations to properly serve the Lord, but many find that they need to fundamentally change the way they live.

Debt slavery has destroyed churches as well as individuals and families. Organizations such as churches and schools who obligate themselves through debt are pressured to do whatever is necessary to keep people attending to keep money flowing to keep paying the debt obligations. Often (usually) this means failing to take proper disciplinary action, failure to preach against certain sins or promoting “popular” speakers, programs, organizations, etc. just to keep from losing money.

Therefore I solemnly witness before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who is going to judge the living and the dead according to His appearance and His kingdom, preach the Word, be instant in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine. For a time will be when they will not endure sound doctrine, but they will heap up teachers to themselves according to their own lusts, tickling the ear. And they will turn away their ears from the truth and will be turned to myths. 2 Timothy 4:1-4

First and foremost organizations which call themselves “churches” must return to preaching the Word of God. The cry I heard growing up was how can a few hours of the Word of God taught in church each week compete with the Secular Humanist indoctrination of all day every day in schools, TV, movies, etc. While that was a very legitimate concern, the answer of the American church was to give up and invite Secular Humanism into the church. Programs such as AWANA, Bible Memory Association, Navigators, and Teen Challenge which teach Bible Memory used to be far more prominent in churches. Bible memorization is commanded in the Word of God.

Throughout the Word of God the emphasis is on personal holiness. God also expects us to give Him our best. While the doors of every church should be open to unbelievers to “come as you are” believers in most churches dress and act like the world. Why are we surprised when young women dress like harlots when they are simply copying the dress of their parents? While the Bible does not give a detailed definition of modesty, that subject is rarely mentioned in modern American pulpits.
Our language needs to be not only pure and wholesome, but encouraging and uplifting. Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Colossians 4:6 The individual believer must also be knowledgeable, always ready to give an answer of hope that lies within us.

After all these things, the real dividing line still comes down to music. It was said of the American church for over 200 years that Christians had their Bibles in one hand and their hymnbooks in the other. Many unbelievers were more afraid of the hymnbooks than the Bible, because the words of the American hymns taught the words of the Bible in a way that was easy to understand. TV advertising copied the style of Gospel songs because they made an impression and the concepts were easily memorized.
Paul commanded both the Colossians and the Ephesians to be speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. The question the Anabaptists, Mennonites, Lutherans, Reformers and church of England all asked 500 years ago was how this was to be obeyed. They had no electronic recordings, electronic instruments or electronic amplification. Otherwise, they were not so different from us.

The first conclusion they all agreed to was that the music must glorify and teach the Word of God. While “teaching the Word of God” means different things to different people, there was quite a concern over instrumental music without any words. Since the first recorded church manual in the 2nd Century AD, how much music should there be in a service and how should it be divided between congregational and “professional musicians,” that is soloists, musical groups and instruments.

They drew some nearly universal conclusions. There is room for great variety in our freedom in Christ and this allows for occasional exceptions to each of the following guidelines. Congregational singing should be predominate. Most of the music should be as simple as possible, so as many people as possible will understand the words. The words are the most important part of music and they should reinforce the teachings of the Word of God. Whenever possible, they should reinforce the teachings of that sermon. There should be a balance between, psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. This means that the majority of music in any given service will be older traditional music because the church is two thousand years old. The style of music must not bring the world into the church.

The only serious conflicts are the last two points. If you simply do not like any form of traditional music, then the question is why? Traditional music can mean no instruments at all, country/western style, “hillbilly” or southern gospel style, orchestral, piano and organ, a single guitar, an electronic keyboard, chanting and bells. Are you unable to tolerate any of these?

The last point, “must not bring the world into the church”, centers around volume and rhythmic beat. Electronic amplification is used by the world to overwhelm make people accept a message they often do not even understand. It is often called sensory overload. While much about music is subjective and many techniques depend on how they are used, the concept of getting a message across by overwhelming people through volume is sin. God wants us to love Him emotionally, but where does the Word of God give us permission to bypass our rational nature and allow our emotions to overwhelm us? Yes, that happens sometimes as part of life, but to create an environment to overwhelm an audience using volume every service, several times a service? The addition of flashing lights, vibrations and scented smoke adds to the sensory overload.

When used by secular musicians, they openly claim that their techniques are designed to break down sexual inhibitions and cause an emotional acceptance of whatever message the musician wants. How do these techniques Glorify God?

Image from Morguefile “Ladyheart”
Scripture quotations are from the eSword modern King James Version

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The Busy One

Though Solomon warns us of the dangers of sloth in Proverbs 6:6-11, The Busy One is an Arabic title for Satan based on Job 1:7 And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

Every American, even if he is hates Christianity, knows Solomon’s admonition Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat (food) in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard: when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep: Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little fording of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man. From a child I have heard the phrase “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”

But just “being busy” does not put us in good standing with the LORD. In our culture Be still, and know that I am God. is often taken as a sign of laziness while being busy is exalted. Resting in the LORD is not laziness.

Satan is very busy. Though the title The Busy One is not the exact wording of Job 1:7, it is the right idea. We can never be busy enough to outwork Satan. Satan, like the LORD, never sleeps nor slumbers. He is looking for weaknesses we do not even know about ourselves.

When we are too busy for God we are doing the work of Satan. The work of Satan distracts us when we should be worshiping. The Law commands the Children of Israel to stop working and worship Him every Sabbath, on feast days and special occasions. While laziness is condemned, working to the neglect of worshiping God is following The Busy One.


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The Greatest Commandment

“Master Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40

Everything we do, every decision we make must have these two guiding principles. Does it glorify God? Does it show that I love my neighbor as myself? This blog post is inspired by a variety of topics that come across my Facebook page.

People have said in many different ways that they want their Facebook experience to be, in effect, “light and fluffy.” They don’t want to talk about religion or politics. A cute picture or a funny story receives many, sometimes hundreds of “likes,” reposts, and comments. Sometimes we like and repost such things too. But important posts, prayer requests for persecuted Christians or links to important news items, rarely show any evidence that anyone has even seen them.

As believers in Christ Jesus, we are not keeping these two commandments when we keep our lives “light and fluffy.” As believers, we are part of the Church, engaged in warfare. As believers we are faced with daily choices. Are our bodies temples of the Holy Spirit, or are they simply, as the Secular Humanist bumper stickers claim, amusement parks?

The Scriptures have detailed teaching about how a church should conduct itself and what it should expect of its membership, and vice-versa. Failure to follow these Scriptures is sin. A church or an individual needs to condemn failure to follow clear Scriptures or the making up of practices the Scriptures do not teach or allow for.

The Word of God clearly commands us not to fellowship with believers living in open sin. Though it grieves God’s heart, some people in positions of church leadership are living in open sin. Sadder still, unbelievers mock and ridicule the Word of God in the majority of the church buildings of Western Europe and the United States. We can neither glorify God nor love our neighbor in these services. We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help us discern exactly what type of ministry we should join and support.

But some people say they won’t go to a church service if it does not meet their “needs,” whatever that means. Would you attend a church where men were segregated from women and children? What about a service without pews or chairs, where you had to stand for the entire service? What about a church that met in a different place each service because of threats on the worshipers’ lives?

There are three standards in the word of God for choosing to fellowship and support a local work by joining in membership. First, does it preach the Word of God? This means the whole council of God, not just what I want to hear. Second, is there a place for ministry? If the abilities and gifts God has blessed you with cannot be used in one fellowship, seek out another place where they can be used. Third, can I faithfully attend the services? The perfect fit a thousand miles from your house is not such a perfect fit.

These should not be such high standards. Instead, Christian Churches are filled with people “whose god is their appetites.” Philippians 3:9. These people will only attend a church which meets their appetites. The sad part is, what might be acceptable for one believer, might be a stumbling block and a sin for another believer.

The following is a brief list of some of the issues we have seen which cause people to leave a church. 1) The church is not the right size. These are “Goldilocks” Christians. This church is too big. This church is too small. They go through life forever searching for the church that is “just right.” 2) The music or worship service is not “contemporary” enough. They often tie this to other issues. They say the church is cold, unfriendly, judgmental, sometimes after attending for years and suddenly discovering that all these things have bothered them for years. Do they really mean to say, “I hate this church and I know this church hates me because I hate its music”? 3) The Church isn’t “giving” enough. What they usually mean by this is that other members are not giving them enough. 4) The Church is “legalistic.” This word is so overused that it has lost it’s meaning. In the Bible the word legalism simply means works salvation. Sometimes people simply mean that this particular church has standards they do not like.

So maybe our facebook pages, and our churches, and our lives, should not consist of what is light and fluffy, of what is pleasing to us, but rather of things that fulfill the Greatest Commandment.


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All Glorious Within

Psalm 45 is a beautiful passage of Scripture. It describes a king which certainly seems to be the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In verse nine it begins to talk about women, and there are lessons for Christian women and their earthly relationships with men and others in the descriptions found here.

First, though, we witness the anointing of the king with “oil of gladness.” The scents from his garments are of “myrrh, aloes and cassia.” The mentions of these and the “ivory palaces” are stirring descriptions of beauty for multiple senses — touch, sight, smell, and a delight for the emotions as well. It’s easy to see why “they have made thee glad.” Woman, this man and his dwelling-place are being prepared for you, as if for you alone. Are you blessed, or what?

This Psalm is aiming toward a point, and I think that point is a “pre-echo,” if you will, of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Sure enough, verse nine states that “Kings’ daughters were among thy honorable women,” (attendants at a wedding) and the queen is on his right hand, in gold of Ophir.

Mention of Ophir goes all the way back to Genesis and it is an ancient source of the highest-quality gold. I think that could mean that Christ loved His Bride from ancient times and set aside ornaments for her wedding day just as God planned salvation “before the foundation of the world.”

Verse ten is another “pre-echo,” this time of the statement of Christ that if one does not love father and mother more than Him, or even hate them, he is not worthy to be a disciple. So the daughter, or bride, is urged to “forget thine own people, and thy father’s house.” Just after the creation of Eve, before there were mothers or fathers, or perhaps even houses, Adam says that a man will leave these things and “cleave” to his wife.

The passage says that by doing this, the bride will cause her king to “greatly desire thy beauty.” She will be irresistible to her man as she is wholly committed to Him alone. And verse twelve has a great by-product of being the king’s bride. She gets presents! Tyre is certainly not known historically or biblically for being a good or godly kingdom, but its princess will have to show respect for this bride. All the richest and most powerful kingdoms on Earth want to get on her good side.

Now we get to the really good part! Verses thirteen and fourteen say “The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold. She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework.” I’m told that “within” means within her chamber, that is, while she’s getting ready for the wedding. She gets to put on wrought gold and that magnificent tapestry brocade you see in ancient portraits. No sweatpants, no bluejeans, no sir! The king’s daughter, who is now also the wife of a king, shines like the sun in the most beautiful and best workmanship. She is glorious, mind you, not glitzy. No bling here. The virgins, young girls, follow her, and you can bet they follow her example of godly beauty, too because they are accompanying her to her Lord and theirs with “gladness and rejoicing.”

Like many Scriptures this is a “here and now” as well as prophetic passage. The godly earthly queen will have children who can take the place of her forefathers as princes, leaders of kingdoms. In our sinful world we too often see children fall away from following their parents’ example and teaching. Not so here. The influence of this godly queen is solid because she worships her Lord with her whole heart. The memory of a woman who can produce generations of godly children will always be praised.

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