THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date - 2-1-04
LESSON TITLE: THE CHURCH WHICH JESUS BUILT: ""CHRIST'S DESIGN FOR WORSHIP IN HIS CHURCH - PART 2"
Here we are together again on another first day of the week - our Lord's Day! I am so glad you have decided to join us today for another time of service to our God. How blessed we are this morning to again come before the throne of God and participate in acts of worship which laud and magnify His great and holy name. My hope and prayer is that we will each do our part to make this time acceptable in His sight and according to His wondrous and precious will. So as we begin this morning, let's start by talking to our Creator in prayer, will you bow with me!
Let me begin this morning by thanking our viewers in the Aurora, Missouri area. Furthermore, let me encourage you to visit with the congregation which meets in your area, even today. The Aurora Church of Christ has been a long time supporter of this work of our Lord and I know that they would enjoy having you visit with them as they assemble before the throne of God.
This congregation offers many opportunities to worship God, in fact, even this morning at 9:30, they will be gathering for a Bible class - which will be followed by a worship assembly at 10:30. The brethren in Aurora also meet at 6:00 on Sunday evenings, as well as offering a mid week service on Wednesday's at 7:00 p.m. If you are able, please visit with this congregation very soon. If you need any further information about this family of God, please contact their minister Phil Williams at (417)678-4756 or you may contact us and we will do our best to help you get in touch with these brethren.
Well, it's time to join in our first song of the morning, so won't you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together, "I Need Thee Every Hour!"
(SONG # 1)
It's interesting to me that so many in life are looking for the truth and for life eternal - yet they seem to have a hard time finding it. This is evidenced in the fact that many go to the wrong places to find what is really important in life! This is further seen in the fact that many will choose to follow other men, serve their own fleshly desires, or even turn to evil and violence to quench a need that they could better serve in the good things of life.
This morning I mention these things to remind us that there is only one place where we can really find and know the truth, especially in relationship to those things which pertain to eternal life. If you read with me from John 6:68, I think this is the very realization that the apostles had come to in relationship to following Jesus. There we read, "But Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.'" Jesus had just asked His followers if they would leave Him or search for another place to fulfill their need to follow God. And what was their beautiful response, where else can we go - You have the word's of eternal life!"
Do we really believe this? Do we really understand that salvation unto eternal life - is only found in one place and one person - Jesus Christ. This is confirmed to us in Acts 4:12, where Peter again proclaimed, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." I might also add that an earlier verse tell us that He said these things as he was "filled with the Holy Spirit!" So I ask you, have you been searching in the wrong place for truth and eternal life? If so, why not turn to Jesus today to find that right way, and thus obey those things which will reserve you a eternal place in Heaven!
In just a few minutes it will be time to begin our main study of the day. As far as our series, today we will be continuing to talk about, "The Church Which Jesus Built!" The specific lesson of the day will deal with the, "Christ's Design For Worship in His Church - part 2!" So please stay with us and after our next song, I will be leading us in this study from God's Word. Now let's join together in our second song of the day. The name of this hymn, "It Is Well With My Soul."
(SONG # 2)
Speaker: Ray Sullins
Thank you for continuing with us this morning as we now can study God's Word and look even deeper into the concepts of worship as we began last week and really understood more in detail what singing in the Lord's church is all about.
But today, we want to begin by starting back in Genesis. In Genesis chapter 6, we find a story about a man who is well known, Noah. In fact, you might remember that Noah lived in a very wicked and perverse generation which might sound very familiar, but yet Noah was a man after God and a man who was a faithful preacher of righteousness which we read in 2 Peter. But if you'll notice here in chapter 6 here of Genesis, we find that Noah was told by God to do a certain thing and it was specified what he was to do. In fact, you might notice with me as well in verse 14 that he was told to make an ark and to make the ark of gopher wood and then the specific rooms, the levels, the size, and thus and so on were all given about the ark. And what's interesting about the story is that at the end of all things, in verse 22, we read that "Noah did according to all that God had commanded him, so he did."
Brethren, what is it that God wants of us? Today, He wants us to do all that He commands. Not according to our will, but according to His Will.
In the worship of the priest over in Leviticus chapter 10, we find some sons of Aaron here who make a bad decision, a very bad decision because as they were leading the worship to God, they chose what the Bible refers to here as a profane or a strange fire, a fire that had not been ordained. Now in their minds, in their thoughts, they might have said, "Well surely it doesn't matter. Fire is fire. The fire has gone out, let us light the fire again and no one will know. Does it really matter?" But God cared. God said it mattered. Why is it that God cared? Because God had said that a certain fire should be used. God had said that the fire should not burn out. God had said that His way was the right way. By rejecting it, what was the outcome of this situation? They were killed by God
We find further stories in the Old Testament. We could spend all day looking at situations where individuals had been commanded in areas not to do certain things such as Uzzah who reached out to keep the ark of the covenant simply from falling off of the ox cart. What was it that God had said? That no man should touch the ark. So when he touched it, had he broken the law? But Ray, it was falling off the cart. Who wouldn't have done that? Had he broken the law? Certainly he had and he paid the ultimate price. He lost his life.
You see, God is a loving, a merciful, a gracious God, but God is as well a God of justice. When we talk about any aspect of the Christian life including worship, what we're trying to understand last week and this week is that worship has a design by God. We've looked at the pattern that God has laid down. We see the Bible doesn't just throw something out there and say, "Do what you want," but it says, "Here's what God wants," and it shows us by command and example and inference that God wants us to do things a certain way and therefore we must obey that. So what happens when we don't? What happens when we don't is the same thing we find under the Old Law. The punishments can be the same because when we add to or take away from the law, then we are doing those things contrary to the Will of God. There are verses in scripture that help us with this idea.
In Galatians 3 and verse 15, Paul there is saying, "Brethren, if I speak in the manner of men though it be only a man's covenant, but yet if it is confirmed..." In other words, if it be a covenant of God, something that is real, what is the outcome, Paul? "No one can annul it and no one can add to it." You can't take away. You can't add to it. Why? Because God has said and given us a pattern to follow. Therefore, why should we add to it? Why should we take away? Brethren, friends, are we so arrogant in our day and time that we feel we know better than God? That we feel somehow that we can have better plans or know how better to worship Him or know what would be more acceptable in His sight or what would sound more as a sweet smelling savor or more pleasing in the aroma that it presents in praise to Him? Are we that arrogant? Have we come to the point where our worship says that we do what feels good, what we want, what entertains us? Have we forgotten the principle that worship is all about God and not us at all? That when we assemble to worship, we're there to praise God, to glorify the creator and teach and admonish one another? It's not about me. It's about God. It's about showing God His power and His majesty and His wonder because we're obeying Him as He has simply asked and knowing that as God, the Creator of all, a man, an individual, a being as He came to the earth knew all things and knows all things. I would say surely God knows better than us what He wants. That's why He's given us the law. That's why He's given us the command. That's why He has given us the pattern and as we looked at last week and saw in places like Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16, that we are to sing and make melody in our hearts to the Lord, and that as we sing and make melody in our hearts to the Lord that we do it to praise our God, to encourage those that hear it and to teach those around us, that we use it as a tool to the glory and praise of God. And what do we use? Our hearts. Our lips. Those things that are in tune with God. Not additions. Not subtractions.
Do we have a pattern? It certainly seems to me that God has asked us to do it that way. So why add to it? Why adulterate it? Why change it? Why marry ourselves to things off this world and religion and put them together as if they work hand in hand when really they don't at all? God simply wants what He asks.
Well today, we want to continue in our lesson to see those other areas of worship that are designed in scripture by God. Designed why? Because either He commands it again, or even He might give example through the New Testament church that they were doing it on a regular basis or that He might infer it or infer that it be done in a certain way.
But now if you'll look with me, we'll begin in Acts chapter 2 and there in Acts chapter 2 we know that is when the church began. And in verse 42 after they had been told to "repent and be baptized," and in verse 41 when "3,000 had been baptized and thus saved." We find in verse 42 that it says, "They continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship and in breaking of bread and in prayers." They continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine and teaching because everything the apostles were giving, we are told in Acts chapter 1 & chapter 2 the Holy Spirit had filled then just as prophecy had told us, just as Jesus had prophesied in John 14, John 15 and John 16 that "the Holy Spirit, the comforter would come and guide them in all things what to say and what to do." We see that fulfillment. Why is it that they were listening and hearing and taking heed and obeying what the apostles said as it was the doctrine of God? Because what they were saying was from God directly. It was His Will. So what were they doing? They were following those doctrines. What were some of those? It says, "Fellowship, getting together, assembling." Hebrews 10:25 tells us "we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together as was the manner of some, but even more as we see the day approaching that Christ would come, gather together, worship God and praise His name." You see again what an opportunity, what a privilege that we have fellowship when we assemble as the children of God.
Also, is mentioned here however, the breaking of bread. In 1 Corinthians chapter 11, we are well told by Paul about how to the Corinthian church that they were instructed to know what the Lord's Supper was all about, to know why it was instituted, to know what it meant when they took of these wondrous and precious emblems of Jesus Christ. There beginning in verse 23, it begins to say that "those things that had been levered by Jesus Himself now were being practiced by the church." And what were those things? That the body be taken. That it be eaten. The bread representing the shedding of the body on the cross. That the blood be taken in representation again through the fruit of the vine in knowing that it is the fruit of the vine, the blood there and once again that we are cleansed with, that we are bought and paid for with a price, that even the church itself has been purchased with, Acts 20:28. So again, the Lord's Supper is an important factor in the life of a Christian.
But you might go also with me to the book of Acts again, chapter 20 and verse 7 because there we find out when they were doing it. In fact, as Paul had been traveling around, he seemed to actually stop in Troaz for many days so that he might be there on the first day of the week. Why do you think? Because he wanted to worship with the brethren on the Lord's day. In verse 7 it says, "And on the first day of the week when the disciples came together...," When they were coming together, everyone knew it was the Lord's day! What did they do? "They came together," it says, "to break bread." To break bread. To partake of the Lord's Supper, the most precious emblems that again remind us of Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross and why we're here, why we're the children of God, why we're the heirs of God. It's that blood that was shed, the powerful blood of Christ that we remember and the sacrifice and the pain and the agony of our Savior for my sake and for your sake. What greater act could we do on the first day of every week than as they assembled, also assemble and partake of those emblems to remember the precious death of Jesus Christ for you and for me. Oh how wondrous it is to know that we have the privilege and the opportunity to do these things just as they did in the New Testament.
I might also mention here in the same verse that it goes on to say that "as they were gathered to break bread on the first day of the week that Paul ready to depart the next day spoke to them and committed a message." He was preaching the Word of God. Just as back in Acts chapter 2, "they were standing fast on the apostle's doctrines," and later it says in those verses that "day to day they were studying the Word of God and proclaiming it and preaching it and learning it." Why? So they could be more of what God wanted. Why else would we want to assemble than why the New Testament did? To hear the Word of God proclaimed. Could we assemble and not study about God? It would seem not even to make sense, would it? Why? Because we have an example here that the New Testament church was coming together on the first day of the week to break bread as well as to hear the Word of God proclaimed.
Back in Acts chapter 2, we find in the same verse, verse 42, where it goes on to say that "one of those apostle's doctrines that had been given by the Holy Spirit to them, from God the Father was also prayer." Many verses in the Bible deal with prayer. Many examples of individual prayer, of collective prayer by the church. Verses even further like Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing." Being those that rejoice always and come before the throne of God and know that our petitions are heard and not only heard, but they are heard to the glory of God. Yes, we come together to pray, because how else do we communicate and talk with our God than through prayer? Well by singing and other methods, but it is prayer that we intimately become before the throne of God and make our petitions or requests and thank Him for being who He is.
The final thing we find about worship in example of the New Testament church is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 16 where "Paul gives a command," it says here, "concerning the collection of the saints as he has been given order to other churches such as in Galatia," as he says in verse 1, (1 Corinthians 16), but then in verse 2 notice what he says. "On the first day of the week, let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he has prospered, that there be no collections when I come." Why on the first day of the week? That's when they were assembling. That's when they were coming together. That's when they were as the church gathering for what purpose? To sing praises to God. To partake of the Lord's Supper. To pray to their God and speak to Him in prayer. To also be able to give of their means and to hear the Word of God proclaimed so that they might grow and learn and know more about His precious Will that they must enact and we must enact in each of our lives to be pleasing in His sight.
You see, the worship of the church is a very important thing and it does matter how we worship so that our worship is not in vain. Will you not choose today as I and others to worship God purely and unadulterated in the way that God has required you through His Word. And why? So that in the end we might all receive the precious glories and the rewards including the wonderful home in heaven with our God for eternity.
(SONG # 3 - "I Know That My Redeemer Lives!")
May I again take this opportunity to thank you for joining us today. I hope our time together has been an encouragement and thus a blessing to us all. Please remember that you are invited back to join us every first day of the week, at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this time of Worship before God!
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Again, how wondrous it is to have a plan from God on what He requires in proper worship. May we always worship our Creator in spirit and truth so that we may be found acceptable in His Sight!