Jesus calls us to join Him in HIS church.
VIEWPOINT BRIEF BIBLE STUDIES on Worship ... revised 7/31/2007 Welcome to Viewpointís
Worship pages
Ray in 2002

My friends Mattie & Gene Wilson had their picture taken
as their 60th wedding anniversary approached in August 2000. Mattie & Gene Wilson

Viewpoints on When Worship Is NOT Acceptable. Christian baptism is the burial in water of a penitent believer in the risen Jesus Christ. Sinners who repent can be baptized into Christ. Within the body of Christ, we will surely be eager to live as Jesus lived. This includes close fellowship with the living God whose name is “I Am.” We speak of walking with God as being “worship” (See Romans 12:1,2). Paul says that our LIVES are our worship, and Curtis Dickinson comments about this fact in Viewpoint Study #88.

      Some imagine that worship takes place only in a “worship center” and needs to be led by a “worship leader.” It doesnít. It isnít. It takes place wherever a person comes humbly before God in awe. It often doesnít happen in “worship services” in “worship centers.” A recent discussion on this subject is Viewpoint Study #87 between a thoughtful questioner and Ray Downen.

      A recent Lookout article by Russ Blowers of Indianapolis says, “Worship -- Far more than a matter of style.” See my comments about the article and about Christian worship in Viewpoint Study #77. Note there also comments by Buff Scott on contemporary worship. And copied articles at Viewpoint Study #98 by Nat Hentoff (on contemporary human slavery) and Thomas Sowell (on pseudo-science).

      We who have chosen to walk with Jesus will worship both the Lord Jesus and His Father, who also is God. Paul urges us to worship by serving. In Romans 12:1,2, he writes for our guidance, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing, and perfect will (NIV). He does not say that we are obliged to attend worship services one or more times per week where someone else “leads worship” while we watch. He says we are to worship by serving, by using our strength and abilities to do work that God calls us to do here on earth.

      This work is spoken of by Paul also in Ephesians 2:8-10. “...For we are Godís workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” At baptism, we enter into new life which consists of a lifetime of serving God by serving Godís people through using our talents for Him.

      Serving God includes becoming part of a congregation of Christians who all seek to help one another and strengthen one another, who work together for Jesus. Our joint assemblies are by some thought to be where Christian service begins and ends. It isnít. You will want to consider Cecil Hookís suggestions -- Viewpoint Study #39 and Study #51 will give you good things to think about. Our service for God is NOT done by clergymen and “worship leaders.” And itís not mainly done in a church building. Itís done whereever people who need our love and help are, and many of them are seldom in church buildings.

      Long before Jesus came to earth, Godís people worshipped. Many instructions for their worship, and examples of them worshipping together are found in the Old Testament scriptures. Are Christians Jews? Do Christians worship in the same ways Jews did and do? I suggest the answer is NO, we do not worship just like Jews did and do. As Christians, we primarily worship the SON of God rather than the FATHER God. Jews did not and do not do so. Our Christian worship is not identical to Jewish worship even though both love and honor the God of Creation. This is discussed in Viewpoint Study #27-30, and, from a slightly different perspective, in Viewpoint Study #11, Study #34, and Study #38. Study #34 includes a study by R. L. Kilpatrick on Ritualism.

      A brother suggests my comments in Viewpoint Study #11 might have been more kindly expressed. You may be interested to consider his view (in Study #64), which is more charitable and gracious than mine. In that connection, I have strong views about appropriate music for Christians to choose to sing, which are discussed in Viewpoint Study #24 and follow-up in Studies #35 & #42 .

      Should “worship services” replace evangelism? Some say yes. I say no. Viewpoint Study #46 speaks to this question. Simon J. Dahlman has ideas about appropriate Christian worship you can read in Viewpoint Study #61. And itís possible that some of our observances of Christmas may actually be worship of demons! Youíll want to read Tom Woodyís thoughtful suggestions in Viewpoint Tract QFL002.

      Does God set up “authorized acts of worship” for Christians? This is considered in Viewpoint Study #43, and in Studies #44 and #45. Those who teach there must be authority for each act of worship Christians perform are apt to think of singing as a duty for us rather than a pleasure. And some of them say the singing, if with God in mind (and what Christian is supposed to NOT have God in mind throughout the day?), must be done without any musical instruments being involved other than the human voice. Dwaine Dunning writes about this anti-instrument view in Viewpoint Study #60.

      We want to worship God in spirit and truth.

9/28/98 -- This comment was received from Rick Prugh, also of Missouri --
To: outreach (Ray Downen)
Date sent: Mon, 28 Sep 1998
Subject: Re: A Viewpoint on 9/26/98 -- Study #44

Ray, Those who feel that a prescribed, regulated worship service exists for us who are practicing New Testament Christianity seem to ignore Hebrews 8:13-9:10. That passage SPECIFICALLY states that regulated worship acts belonged to the Old Covenant, which has passed away with the establishment of the New Covenant. Until I began my escape from legalism, I never saw that clear teaching in Hebrews. I guess that shows that scripture is often interpreted by the color of the glasses through which you are reading. Your brother in Christ, Rick Prugh

<< And Consider this study about religious cattle -- >>


Usually when Christians use the expression, “sacred cow,” they are referring to a religious practice that has no more Scriptural support than the reverence ascribed to cows in India. To apply this term to a Christian practice is to make a serious charge, because religious error ordinarily brings undesirable consequences with it. This is especially true in India. Cows wander about eating valuable grain that could be converted to food for Indiaís masses of people who are loved by God. And since cows are religious objects they are not eaten, which further deprives the Indians of needful protein.

Generally we Christians are loose in our usage of, “sacred cow,” until it is applied against one of our own religious practices. Then it becomes a horse of another color. Then it becomes an attack on Christianity. It becomes a frontal attack on the Bible and a denial of the Gospel. Ordinarily such an attack is viewed as a slap in the face which no self-respecting dueler would ignore, and the line of battle is drawn. Such is our attitude toward an attack on any of our own treasured beliefs.

I trust that before the red gauntlet of battle is thrown down, you will hear me out on what I believe to be one of our “sacred cows.” Reference is made to our “worship services.” As they are presently conducted they are spectator events the same as were the sacrificial rites performed by the priests under the old covenant. Todayís worship services are completely draped in old covenant pattern. The temple is replaced by an elaborate cathedral. The robed priest figure is replaced by the pulpit minister, and tithing to God's temple is replaced with passing the plate. The Bible clearly indicates, in Jeremiah 31:31-33, that new covenant worship is to be different, but where is the difference? Many of todayís “worship services” have become rehashes of old covenant priestly worship.

One sad aspect of this is that many walk away from these services convinced that they have offered up true, new covenant worship in spirit and in truth in spite of the fact that Jesus taught that true worship of the new covenant would not be the worship that is offered up at a particular place. See John 4:21-24. And Paul, by the Spirit, made this even clearer when he described new covenant worship as being the living sacrifice of Christians in their everyday lives (Romans 12:2), also directing that in our assemblies everything should be done “for edification” (1 Corinthians 14:26). If worship services were to be after the order of the new covenant, shouldnít this have been the place to command it?

The expression, “worship service” is not scriptural. A similar expression also not even once found in the Christian Scriptures is “in worship,” in reference to any Christian assembly. One would imagine that, as much as we use these expressions, you would be able to find them in the New Testament writings. James went one step further when he wrote that new covenant religion is caring for the needy and keeping ones self unspotted from the world. If religious worship services were to be a part of new covenant worship, shouldnít the apostle have here prescribed it?

The indisputable fact of the matter is that there is not a single example of Christians conducting worship services as we know them. There is not one example of Christians assembling to worship. Yet, in spite of these very clear Bible principles there is one denominated religious organization which claims to be the only church that offers up worship in spirit and in truth. It is a matter of fact that this worship, to them, is the performance of five specific rituals in their Sunday worship service. So, theirs also is a spectator event and a rehash of old covenant worship.

New covenant worship is not the performing of rituals on designated days. It is the every day, every hour, every minute offering up of our lives as living sacrifices. This involves a constant worshipful attitude of heart. This is the new covenant worship ushered in by Jesus. It is a very individual matter. The old forms and rituals were nailed to the cross. New covenant worship cannot be accomplished by the performance of rituals in a worship service.

Does it then follow that we should dispense with public assemblies of Christians? Certainly not! What it does suggest is that we consider what the Bible says is the purpose for assembling and compare it to our present-day practices. This would eliminate most of the divisive issues Satan has interjected into our thinking related to worship. There are very few passages, if any, which can serve as patterns which must be followed in the “corporate assembly.”

The information in Ephesians 5:19, though often used as an absolute pattern for assemblies, is directed at individuals. The singing there referred to is to be directed to one another. Probably the most applicable information is in Hebrews 10:25. Notice that the inspired writer urges them to think of ways (use their minds) to build one another up to love and good works. This passage does not provide much for our pattern-keeping brethren. It clearly spells out the God-ordained purpose for assembling and it does not remotely suggest anything at all about worship services.

This passage is impossible to refute by the “silence injunction” advocates. This passage leaves it up to the brethren as to what will be done in the assembly. This passage has far reaching implications, for it touches on our precious freedom in Christ. It liberates us from the structured spectator mentality that holds us in bondage during the typical worship service. It allows us to participate with input of our own thinking. The honest inquirer might then ask, “How is this possible in an assembly of over two hundred saints?” (or 2,000 or more). And the answer is, “It is not possible in any large assembly.”" Itís probably not even possible in an assembly of over twenty-five. Give it some thought! Examples of “worship services” are not found in the New Testament.

Please consider these thoughts. I believe them to be true to the Word.

Neal Griffin -- 10514 Bar X Trail -- Helotes, Texas 78023

<< Youíre invited to visit Nealís web site >>

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