Program Air Date - 7-8-01



Thanks you for joining us this morning for the Living Word Program. It is always a privilege to have you with us for this time of offering to God. We welcome you to this service for our Creator. Today, we have the opportunity together to worship and praise our God. This morning we will glorify our Lord through songs of praise and through the study of His perfect Word. Won't you do your part to make this time together acceptable in His sight. Now, let's approach our Father's throne in prayer.

This morning we again want to begin by mentioning one of our sister congregations which help financially to make this program possible. Today, I would like to introduce you to the Pleasant Ridge Church of Christ in Lead Hill, Arkansas. This congregation is a newer support of our work, we are happy to have them aboard. We appreciate their like desire to do God's will, as we together reach out to this area with the Gospel of Christ.

If you have opportunity, please take advantage of meeting with these brethren - even this morning. Today, they will assemble together at 10:00 a.m. If you have any questions or need further information about this congregation, please feel free to contact me. We again thank this congregation for their continued support!

It's time to start our praise through song. Won't you join in the first song of the morning, as we sing together, "Footprints Of Jesus!"
(SONG # 1)


Today we find many ideas which are present in the religious world which are not supported by scripture. We have all heard statements like, "It doesn't really matter what one believes," or "It doesn't really matter what church someone attends." Some even go so far as to say, "we all have the right to interpret the scriptures differently, and still be acceptable before God." My question would be, "where on earth do you find such concepts in the Bible? In fact, our Bibles say quite the opposite. Notice with me the words of the inspired Peter in 2 Peter 1:20-21. There he said, "knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." The Holy Scriptures, or Word of God - is directly from God and no one else.

Paul also confirmed this in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, when he said, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." Notice again that ALL scripture is from God to guide men in all walks of life. To "completely and thoroughly equip us." I don't know about you, but that is what I choose to follow!

Wasn't it Jesus who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me," John 14:6. What is this truth? Again, Jesus said, God's Word is truth, John 17:17. Furthermore, Christ proclaimed that, "the truth will make us free," John 8:32.

So if the Word is Truth, and Truth brings us freedom through Christ, what must we follow! Again, I will follow Christ! When will we ever learn that it is not enough to say Lord, Lord! Even Jesus made this point in Matthew 7:21, when He said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." So how do we know if someone is of God? Well, back in verse 20, Jesus also said, we know "by their fruits!"

Finally, I want to mention a verse found in 1 Corinthians 1:10, where the inspired Paul told God's followers what was expected of them. There he said, "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." Does this sound like it matters to God what we believe and what we do? Certainly! Have we forgotten what Jesus prayed for in John 17? He prayed for unity among His believers. Do you remember what He said there? He fervently prayed for His followers, saying, "that they may be one, as We are." Choose to follow God today. Do those things which are according to His Will! And accept to do it His Way! Won't you put your confidence in His Words, which are found in the Bible?

Our topic today will again focus on our series concerning worship! Our specific study of the morning will focus on singing, as we continue to answer the question, "What are the God given avenues of acceptable Worship?" So stay with us this morning and in a few minutes I will return and lead us in our thoughts of the Day. Now it's time to join in our second hymn of the morning, the name of the song, "Kneel At The Cross."
(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Ray Sullins

Thank you for continuing with us this morning. Now we have the opportunity together not only to study God's word, but to conclude the series that we've been looking together at. That is the series on worship. We've looked at many things together and I do appreciate those who have contacted us and let us know how much they appreciate it and how much they've enjoyed the series. We've looked at what worship is, who must be worshipped (that being God), those who are to worship (that being all mankind), also that which is acceptable worship, unacceptable worship. We've also had the opportunity over the last month to look at the ideas of exactly what took place in New Testament worship, such as preaching, prayer, giving, the Lord's Supper, and we find that every first day of the week that the Christians came together to participate in these different acts as we find recorded in several different places throughout the New Testament.

Well this morning, we want to add the final act which is mentioned in the collective worship of the saints in the New Testament, and that is singing praises to God through song. Song has always been a very important part of worship to God. In fact, throughout all Biblical times we find that people sang songs of praise to God throughout the Old and the New Testaments.

As we look at these different examples however, we again must consider what God wants. What was it that He specified, that He requested of His people, and how did they follow it? Well, as in any other area of worship whether we talk about again preaching or prayer or the Lord's Supper or giving or again here singing, we need to do everything according to the pattern. God has given us a way that we can know what is required of us in all areas of life, as we mentioned earlier on in the program this morning. He has given us that word, that Bible that prepares us in all areas of life and fully equips us to know His will, and as we consider that ruler, then we know that we can know exactly what He wants just as maybe a carpenter or builder might use a ruler to understand how many inches or how many feet that he needs to build a certain type of a wall or a structure. Well the same thing is true about religion. In religion, the Bible is that ruler. It is that guide that helps us to know what we should do.

Now in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament, many obeyed the guide but many rejected it. Even sometimes those of God who were very faithful in believing Him and striving to do many things according to His will would still reject Him because they would do things contrary and reject what He had specifically said. In other words, a specific command.

One example I remember is found in Leviticus chapter 10. In chapter 10, verses 1 and 2 we find there the story of Nadab and Abihu, men who believed in God, who were worshipping God as they had been commanded to and helping others there who were of Israel to worship God. But it says there in verse 1 that they offered up a profane or a strange fire and when they did this, we find in verse 2 that God actually smote them. He devoured them with a fire from heaven. Why? Because verse 1 tells us that they did something which was not commanded by God. Well you might say again, "Why would God do that? They believed in the right God. They were His priests. They were worshipping in all other areas which was right, but in this one area, they offered a strange fire. God devoured and consumed and destroyed them. Why? Because they broke one commandment, one commandment.

Now again, this helps me to understand what God desires of me. He wants me to follow His will and He wants me to do the best I can do according to what He has said, not according to what I feel or what a church feels or what my friend feels or what my neighbor feels, but again what He feels according to what we have been given in the Bible. How have we been given it in the Bible? Well, in the New Testament we find many commands that are given to us, how we are commanded to not only love God but to follow His will. In fact, that's how we show that we love Him, (John 14 and verse 15). Not only commands, but examples were given there. Not only Christians or maybe apostles, but also the churches of that day and time left us an example through scripture that we might follow them. Now how do we know that they were doing what was right? Well, it was approved of by the apostles. We know that Acts chapter 2 tells us that they continued steadfastly in the apostle's doctrines. Well if the New Testament church did something and Paul said it was right, or they were doing what Paul had instructed them to do that was right, then again we find that as a divinely approved example that you and I must also follow if you are being pleasing to God.

We find also many inferences, those ideas which maybe are inferred through scripture saying that because "this Christian or because Paul was this type of a man." That inference would be also acceptable to God. We would desire the very same thing. So again, let's look to the commands. Let's look to the examples. Let's look to the inferences that are found there in the scripture so that we might know what God expects again in relationship to singing songs of praise.

In the New Testament, as we look there again, song was very important. The primary two verses that help us to understand what God wanted of His New Testament Christians are found first of all in the book of Ephesians. If you'll turn there, Ephesians chapter 5 and verse 19 as it says there, "Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Now here we have an idea of singing. He says, "Speak to one another." Talking to each other. How? In psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Making melody where? In your heart. In your heart to the Lord. What a beautiful verse this is here because it tells us that we must do something to God in order that we be approved of again by Him.

A few books over there in Colossians chapter 3 and verse 16, notice what is further said by the apostle Paul to the Colossian church. He said, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." Here again, we have that same idea: singing songs of praise to God. Notice here the idea once again, admonishing one another. Back in Ephesians, we saw speaking one to another. Here again in both of these verses, we find not only the wording but the implication from the Greek that is a reciprocal thing. You sing to me and I sing to you, that collectively we praise God through what we do together. Well, isn't that what it's all about. All of our acts of worship that we have seen together have been to praise God. In fact as we have looked at every act, we know that the primary purpose of worship is praising Him. But not only praising Him, but also as we find here in Colossians 3, they did it for what reason? Notice with me as it says there that they might teach. Teaching one another through song. Have you ever thought about that? When you sing a praise to God and you're singing and others are singing, you are teaching through the words that you are speaking about Christ. Not only teaching but we have here the idea of admonishing. Singing is also something that encourages and edifies us and builds us up in the Lord. When we put all these things together again the primary purpose is what? To magnify the Almighty Creator in heaven. Is the main goal that I be encouraged or that I might gain something in some way physically? Certainly not. Is the main goal that I might teach someone else? Certainly not. Those are by-products of what we do when we praise God. But certainly they are all important in making me a strong Christian in helping me to be everything that God wants me to do. That's why again we find in the Bible that the New Testament church as well as according to history was one that sang praises. They lifted their voice on a weekly basis praising their God, so that they might magnify again Him, teach one another and also be encouraged through this act of worship together that they participated in.

Now as we consider again worship, as we again consider the pattern that we talked about, how again do we know what God wants? Well, we've been given the example. Haven't we just read the example of what the New Testament church was doing. Well certainly. We see that they were singing from the heart. They were singing from the heart. The Greek there again says, "plucking the heart strings." Plucking that heart chord, the mind, the soul, the essence of man, giving praise to God. Again, we find here such a beautiful experience that takes place when we do again as God has commanded us in our lives.

But turn with me if you will to the gospel according to John, because there we find the words of Christ as He tried to help the followers of that day as well as us today understand exactly what He expects of those who worship again. And we have read this verse before in our very first lesson together. But there in verse 24 of chapter 4 again, the gospel of John. He said, "God is a spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. You see here again that attitude, that way that we do it is so important to God because when He sees inside of us in our hearts, He knows why we are doing it. He knows if we're doing it to praise Him or for some other reason that really is unacceptable. He knows the inside of man. He doesn't see as man sees. He doesn't see the outward appearance only. He sees the heart of man. So we've got to do it with the right attitude. But here he also mentions that we must do what? We must do it as we worship with the right truth, in spirit and in truth. Well as we find truth, what does truth mean? Well, it's the way we do it. If something is true, it's right. Isn't it? If something is truth, it's believable. It's accordingly. Accordingly to what? According to the word of God. Here again, in spirit, the right attitude we do it. The right truth we must do it. Now I think that's also why Paul also would have said something very, very important to the Corinthians found over in 1st Corinthians chapter 14. Here again, a very edifying verse helping us to understand what it's all about as we worship God, as he said there. What is the conclusion then? "I will pray with the spirit. I will pray with the understanding and I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the understanding." Here again, Paul said, "the attitude. I will sing from the depths of my soul to praise my God. But not only just sing, but to praise Him. But when I do it, I'm going to mean what I'm doing. I'm going to understand. It's not going to be some jibber jabber or something that I'm doing in a flippant way or some way that doesn't matter before Him. It's going to be something again that is from the depths of my soul. A meaningful thing that is understandable, audible." And it has to be understandable, doesn't it? You might say, "Well why, Ray?" We've already found out in the book of Colossians 3:16 that it's also done to teach and admonish.

Now a lot of people today as we look around the religious world use many different acts in their songs of praise, many different items to do it. Well, a lot of us might even use instruments. Isn't that true in the religious world? But is that what God really provides? Is that what He says is acceptable? Now let me ask you this question. And I love instruments. I love the beauty of song. I love to turn on my radio and hear these. But, when we pluck the string of a guitar, when we beat a drum, how do I understand that? Is it an audible type thing that is understandable? Can I teach with that note that is plucked on the guitar? Can I teach, or somehow cause someone to understand? Yes, maybe they'll be encouraged because of the beauty of it. But what about the teaching? What about the understanding? Where is it? Well you see again, the point I'm trying to make is that the primary purpose of song again is something that is understandable because God has to hear what we mean. He can't just hear some sound and say, "Well maybe he'll know because of what we're doing." It says it should be understood for my sake, so that I know why I love God, as we sing songs. I love God because He gave Himself for me. As we sing praises, and we say that, "I know what I mean. God knows what I mean. And everybody who hears who is around me, understands it and collectively we are taught and encouraged and edified together." Again, following the pattern. Following the pattern that God has given us so that we might be acceptable not only before Him but so that we might set the example in a reciprocal way, teaching and admonishing each other through psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, plucking the heart strings and encouraging one another.

What beautiful opportunities we have as Christians we have to obey what God has said. And really if we go back into history, we find that this is exactly what was done. You can go back to many different works, many different authors throughout history and find again that the primary mode of singing was done with the mouth, with the heart. In fact, I would suggest to you to do that and to find out what history says about instruments and choirs and things which were introduced much later in worship to God. In fact, it wasn't until about the 4th or 5th century that these things were introduced by individuals from the manly standpoint, not from God's aspect. Where do we read about them in the New Testament? We don't find them. Where do we read about them in the examples? Are they commanded? Do we have them in examples in the church? Are they inferred? Certainly not. Nowhere in the New Testament. That's why we might find a man here named Lyman Coleman who was a historian, not of the church of Christ, but really of a denomination. He said the prevailing mode of singing during the 1st century was congregational. The whole congregation united their voices in sacred songs of praise, in strings suitable to their ability. The most ancient and the most common mode of singing is confessedly the whole assembly, men, women and children blending their voices in the songs of praise in a great congregation. And why? Why again? So that we can praise God, so that we can teach one another, so that we can be admonished and edified and so that everything done as Paul said can be done in the "right spirit and understood" so that all involved, myself, God and others can all benefit from this wondrous act of worship, that again will help us to be what we need to be. When people see us worshipping God and praising Him through our teachings and prayer and through giving of our means and through all these acts such as the Lord's Supper and song, they again see the glory of God in us. They see Christ in us. And when we do these things, they know that we truly are serious about what God says because #1 we're doing them, and because #2 we're doing them according to the word of God. When you put those things together, in spirit and in truth, then we're doing what God has asked.

My question to you this morning, are you worshipping God in all the areas as He has asked and commanded you through His word?
(SONG # 3 - "Let The Lower Lights Be Burning!")


Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today for the Living Word program. I hope and trust, that together we have all benefited from this service to our Lord. Let me also invite you to join us every Lord's Day morning at 7:30 as we give this time to our Creator.

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May we all realize the importance of singing praises to God through song, but may we also realize the importance of doing this act of worship in accordance to His Word!
(Program closing)