Program Air Date - 5-20-01



Good morning and thank you for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. We are excited to have you with us for this time of offering and encouragement, as we participate in the things of God. We are glad that you have joined us for this worship to our Savior.

Our commitment this morning is to give glory to the Creator through the singing of songs of praise and through the study of His Word. I hope and pray that each of us will do our part to make this service acceptable in His sight. Now will you bow with me in prayer.

This week we would like to mention another congregation which helps in making the Living Word Program possible, each Lord's Day morning. The Berryville Church of Christ in Berryville, Arkansas, has been a long time supporter of this effort for Christ. We really appreciate this fine congregation for their like-desire to see the gospel of Christ taken to the whole world. Please take advantage of the opportunity this morning to meet with this family of God. At 9:30, they will begin with a Bible study and then at 10:20, they will have a morning worship assembly. On Sunday evening at 6:00, they will again come together for worship. This congregation also offers a mid-week service at 7:00 each Wednesday evening. If you have any questions or need further information about this congregation, please feel free to contact me or their minister, Keith Olbricht. Their telephone number is: 1-870-423-3068. Isn't it wonderful in this life to have friends? In fact, if you think about it, life would be a lonely experience without friends around us who care about us and show love to us. This morning we want to begin our songs of praise by singing a song which talks about the greatest friend we can have in this life or in any to come. So, at this time, won't you join in with the congregation as we sing together the song called, "There's Not A Friend Like Jesus."
(SONG # 1)


Friendship is an important topic in the Word of God. In fact, we see that Jesus instructed us to be friendly if we want to be befriended by others. I remember in the Old Testament probably one of the most famous friendships every mentioned in the Bible. That is the friendship between Jonathan and David. Jonathan was the son of Saul, David's main enemy. Yet they nurtured a friendship which we can all learn a lot from. In 1 Samuel 18:3, we read the following, "Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul." Notice here that a true friend loves the other as their own self.

Sounds familiar doesn't it. Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 22:39. There He clarifies for us the second and greatest commandment which we are all to follow. That verse says, "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'"

We must all learn to be true neighbors and friends, by treating others as we want to be treated and by loving others as we love ourselves. If we can learn this lesson from God's Word and apply it in our lives - just think how much better our lives would be with those types of relationships in them. The wise man Solomon concluded, "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother," Proverbs 18:24. Are you proving yourself to be friendly? Do you treat your friends like brothers? Why not follow this example of Jesus and be found pleasing in His sight.

Today, our specific topic will be considering the question, "What Is Acceptable Worship?" This is our next lesson in our series on Worship. So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together I will return with this study from God's Word. The name of our next hymn is, "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms!"
(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Ray Sullins

Thank you for continuing with us this morning. We again have the privilege to look into the pages of God's word and consider another important lesson on a very important topic. That is worship. So far together we've looked at "What is worship?" in trying to understand exactly what it is all about from a Biblical standpoint. We've been able to see that God is the one that should be worshipped. We've been able to see that all men should be those who are involved or who participate in worship and we've also had the opportunity to be able to see that as Christians we must realize that there is a certain thing or a such thing as unacceptable worship. So it does make a difference how we worship our God.

That's where we pick up this morning in our discussion because today we want to really talk and focus primarily on what worship truly is. In other words, that which is acceptable. Last week, brother Powell dealt with those things which were unacceptable and briefly mentioned a few things about what made worship acceptable. But today, we want to expand on that a bit more so we can truly understand how we can be sure that our worship is what God expects for it to be.

If you'll look with me first of all in the book of Matthew, I want to begin there because there we are reminded really about this whole topic that we are considering, that is worship, and how again important it is that we do worship according to a certain way, a certain pattern. And if you'll look there in the book of Matthew chapter 15, in verse 8 it says there in the words of Jesus Christ, "These people draw near to me with their mouth and they honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from me." Here, the concept very clearly that individuals who were using their mouths, individuals whose hearts were not really in it were going through the motions. They were doing what seemed to have been right and was right, but it wasn't acceptable because the heart wasn't right. That's why it goes on in verse 9 to talk about the vain worship that we discussed last week. The vain worship, why? Because it is done according to the teachings or the doctrines of men. Again, if something is the doctrine of man, something is a teaching of man, that would imply that it's not of Christ. It's something that is added to or that has been taken away from. You and I know in the book of Revelation 22 that it tells us clearly there near the end of the chapter about verses 18 through 20 that we can "not add to, we can not take away from the word of God."

As well as in the book of Galatians chapter 3, about the middle of that chapter we find again this concept that "if we have a confirmed covenant of God, we should not add to it, we should not annul anything from it." So we need to do things God's way. We need to follow things as He has asked us to and I think that's what we find throughout the scriptures from the very beginning again all the way through to the New Testament.

In fact, if we go back to some of the very first who had come before the throne of God, we know that Adam and Eve were rejected by God because of what they did towards actions, not obeying God. And even their sons, Cain and Abel. You might remember that they came before God and worshipped. One's worship acceptable, Abel. But one's rejected, that is Cain's. And as we look at this example, we find again here exactly what we're talking about. Why was Abel's acceptable? Well, we go back over into the Hebrew letter, Hebrews 11 and we find there that it was acceptable because he did it by faith. He offered it by faith. Well here there was a problem with Cain's because he had offered something that was not according to faith, either in the right way or either in the attitude that he had used just as we read here in the book of Matthew.

You might think of some other examples that are also mentioned such as Noah. Noah built an altar and worshipped God after he was saved from the flood. What about Abraham? Abraham often came before God and worshipped Him. Isaac. Jacob. Jacob was one who was a worshipper before God. We can go on from there and mention some and think of some that we know doubt have heard many times before. The priests, Nadab and Abihu. They worshipped God unacceptably. But we see the Israelites there even at that day worshipped God in the tabernacle and later in the temple as it was built in Jerusalem. Not only this but we can continue our story and understand that David, a great man of God continually throughout every day of his life offered worship through song and through poems and through praise to God. He was a worshipper on an individual basis, just as many others came together collectively to worship as a group. In the New Testament it is no different. Example after example we find of individuals who worshipped God. Different apostles that came and worshipped according to the will of God and then we also find not only the apostles but we also find churches that were told to worship and how to worship according to the will of God. It's interesting when we consider these different churches that always they were striving to do what God had said in the way that He had said it. That is what caused worship to be acceptable. Many times such as in the Corinthian letter, there in 1 Corinthians10 and 11 and so on, we find there that there are examples of those who were worshipping God. The right thing was being done but they were going beyond. They were hungry so they were coming together and using the Lord's Supper as a common meal.

So again, it is so important that we understand what is acceptable worship. To truly understand the thought there, we must go to the primary verse that I think tells us the answer because it is from God Himself, that is Deity, the son of God, as He was on the earth. Turn with me then to Matthew chapter 4. We want to read to very familiar verses together as we again understand this concept of what is acceptable worship. There again, it says, Matthew chapter 4 verses 23 and 24, "And when Jesus went to Galilee..." Excuse me, in John chapter 4. I knew there that that was not the right one. Just a few gospel accounts over, the gospel account according to John chapter 4:23, 24. Now let's read the verses properly saying, "But the hour is coming and now is when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is a spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth." We have two avenues really that are mentioned here that are so important to our worship, but really before that we have two aspects which are mentioned.

First of all, God, God being a spirit. God being a Father in heaven that requires worship. The other is the one who is to worship, the true worshipper as is mentioned here in verse 23 and also in verse 24. God being the one to be worshipped, the true worshipper must do what? What is it that is required of him? Well here in both of these verse we have clarified for us the importance of being people who worship God in spirit and in truth. What do these words mean? Well, the concept spirit here. We're not talking about the Holy Spirit. In fact, if you were to look into the scripture, the passages, the Bible that you're looking at, you'll notice that most likely it's not capitalized because here the spirit is again more the essence or really the attitude of man. So in spirit.

And then the truth. That aspect is very easy to understand, because when we say something is true, it is right. If something is true, it is according to God. It is according to His truth, what He has designed, what He has asked. So if we put these two ideas together and we understand them properly, then we see here a true worshipper is one who worships in spirit with the right attitude from the heart. Remember what we read back in Matthew 15? They weren't worshipping from the heart. They were going through the acts but their hearts were not right. It was following something else besides what God had designed. Well here we find that the heart must be right. You see, we can be individuals who go through every act as God has designed. We can be followers of God who really go through singing and prayer and the Lord's Supper and all those things that have been commanded such as preaching and giving. But then if our heart is not there, if we give grudgingly or not of the right heart, the right attitude, the right spirit. Is our worship acceptable? Certainly not.

But then we can go on to say, "What about the right way?" Well again and a very, very important thing. The right way, the way that we worship is so important because here we must find what God desires. Now how do we find that in the scripture? Well, very easily because we must look there to see what God has to say. There are many ways that God shows us His revelation, shows us what He would have us to do. The first being that which is obvious, command. He commanded us through many of the inspired writers what should be done, specifically saying, "Do this." Saying singing, saying prayer is necessary, saying there are many things that we must involve ourselves into as aspects of worship. But then we not only have a command that can be given but examples. Often the New Testament church would practice something. Why would they practice it? Well, we can go simply back to Acts chapter 2 and understand very clearly why they were doing what they were doing. It says there that they were continuing steadfastly in the apostle's doctrine, the teachings, the doctrines that the apostles did. What was it that the apostles were teaching the people? Well, obviously that which the spirit gave them directly from the Father. So when we see the New Testament church was involved in something or doing something that was authorized or commanded or something that was proper before God according to His will, that example again should be one that is followed, that is as a command that we must follow. An inference is something also that is very, very important. We have many things that are inferred in scripture that again we find clearly because there we might have direction that was given. We might have Paul saying that in certain circumstances he chose to do this because this would please God. So it infers that in order to be again what God would have us to be, we should also focus as He did. Just as he said, "I will focus on the cross." As he says, "I will press on towards those things that are proper and right." We have here a good inference to us that if we do the same, we will be pleasing to God.

Not only that but we have the other area that really falls outside the commands and those things that have been designed directly from truth, or what God has said doctrinally is required. And then we would fall into the area of expediency. There are some areas that just aren't covered by the Lord. There are areas that we have been told to go into all the world, but He didn't say how we should go. He didn't say if we should drive or take a horse and a cart or whether we should take a mule or He didn't say whether we should get on an airplane or ride a boat. So we need to go to the world, but we can use our wisdom, that which has been provided for us by Him to know what is the best way, the most effective way to go to the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. So let's look into the Bible. Let's study it, and let's understand what is the truth that is from God. We can understand it. We can know it, because the Bible tells us that "all scripture has been given to us to guide us into everything, to teach us all things," 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. It completely thoroughly furnishes us into all good works. We have what we need to tell us the commands, to give us an example that we should follow through those of the early church or the churches themselves, and to help us with inferences through the things that people did that were approved of by God that obviously would be approved of if we did them in our own lives.

So we have seen this morning already that as Christians we must be those that worship God and understand that in worshipping Him, we must do it with the right attitude, the right heart and we must do it obviously in the right way, because when we do these things we know that God can be completely satisfied in all that He has asked us to do. Why? Because we're doing it as He has said, not as Ray has said or as a church has said, but again as we can confirm through the word of God. Isn't it always so much more comforting to you as a follower of God when you can say, "I do this because God says it right here in the Bible, because He has told me to." Or, "I don't do that because I don't find it in this book that God has given me." Isn't that much better than saying, "Well, I do it because I like it. I do it because it feels good." Let's be very, very careful about worship that is not designed according to truth or pattern, according to what God has laid out in the scripture, and furthermore, let's make sure that whenever we worship God and we follow those guidelines that He has established, that we do it in a way that really shows us and shows the world and shows Him that we want to do it with all of our heart in the way that He has commanded us to.

You know as human beings, we have a lot to be thankful for. We have a lot that we should give to our God. We have a lot that we should offer to Him because as Christians we need to be prepared for this worship and I think that is what I will summarize with this morning as we discuss together this topic of worship. In trying to understand the importance that we be prepared, that we have a good night's rest and come together and do what God has asked in spirit and in truth, that we come together as individuals who are well prepared in mind to focus on God, not on another God or a different God, but the one and only true God, that we be individuals that are there to glorify and praise Him and to edify and encourage those who are around us, again in the way that He has asked us to, that we come together to be unified, to be one in all these things that He has asked us to, to be of the same mind, the same judgment as Paul said in so many of his letters to those in who wrote, to those in which he wrote in the 1st century. And if we as Christians come together as we read there in Ephesians chapter 4 verses 3 and following, in order that we might worship the one true God, that we might know the true son, the true spirit, that we might have the true hope and follow the one faith, the one baptism, and we do again that which is designed by God through command, through example, through inference. Then surely, surely we can be those who know that we are pleasing to God. You see, there are no questions when we do it His way. There are no wonderings as to whether we have done something right or wrong. You know, I've always said that if you have to ask if I should, or ask a question in relationship to many things, that shows you right off that there's a big question mark as to whether you should do it. Often when I say, "Well, does God really want me to do it?" That shows me right off that probably it's something that is very, very questionable at best. So in all things, let's make sure that we are in harmony with God, His will, harmony with one another, working together, humbling ourselves before His throne in His presence, making sure that He knows that everything we do is according to His will. And why does He know it's according to His will? He knows because He sees it in our actions. He sees it in what we do and what we say. He sees that our lips and our hearts honor Him because they do things according to spirit and in truth just as we have designed in the Bible. Are you today worshipping God acceptably according to the will as designed in His word?

(SONG # 3 - "Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus!")


Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.

Now let me ask if you have any questions or comments about today's lesson? Maybe, you would like a free transcript or a free cassette tape of this program? Possibly, we could assist you with free Bible materials or free Bible correspondence courses? No matter what your need is, please contact us at the following address:

The Living Word
2540 N. Kansas Expressway
Springfield, Mo. 65803

Many of these materials are also available on our web sight:
That address is:

Or if you prefer, you may call us at:

May we do our part to make sure that our worship is acceptable to God! Understanding that the only place to find the proper answers are in His Word - The Bible!
(Program closing)