Our editor told me of a sign that was posted in the front lawn of a denominational church that read: "Sleep In This Sunday...Worship With Us Saturday at 6:00!" How convenient! Why bother? Why not worship at home before the TV with a televangelist? Sing, pray, listen, and mail in a small contribution. There you have it -- finished for the week. Again: how convenient!
Is this not what modern "Christianity" is all about? Make serving God and worshiping Him as painless as possible. Yes, "painless"! God, His Will, and His Way has become a burden to modern society. Worshipers want mail-in contributions, drive-up communion, choirs to sing for them, a hired evangelist to visit for them, a brief service with a short sermon, and some Starbucks coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts to help them endure an entire period of worship.
This is summed up in a computerized message on a church sign that flashes: "Traditional Worship, 9:30, Contemporary Worship 10:30." This church is saying to the world: We will design our worship to please you; we will update it to appeal to your sensual needs; we will plan it around the demands of God's creature rather than the Creator.
This is all right if believers are NOT determined to worship by faith according to truth. When God's people are not willing to return to the Biblical worship of the first-century church, they may as well follow their own dictates and practices.
Faith: -- The Biblical account of God-oriented worship reflects divine principles of acceptable worship. Cain and Abel demonstrate that man's offering to God in worship must be based on faith (Heb. 11:4). Man of his own wisdom, as Cain, doesn't decide how or what he will offer to God. To be acceptable to God he believes what God authorizes, yields to faith in obedience, and worships according to truth (Jno. 4:24). GOD determines how He is to be honored, how He is to be served, how He is to be worshiped!
Nadab and Abihu, chosen priests in Israel, learned this lesson the hard way. God authorized the burning of incense in the tabernacle from the hot coals on the altar of sacrifice (Lev. 10:1,2; 16:12). They, as modern worshipers who assume that "worship is worship," decided, "fire is fire" and chose their own fire for lighting the incense. Their worship incensed God and He sent fire from heaven to destroy them. Moses explains: They offered "fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them."
The Old Testament abounds with examples of disobedience, which were written
for our example and our learning (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11). Jesus reinforced
this point in His discussion with the Pharisees about their worship, which was
based on the "traditions of the elders" -- not God's Word (Matt. 15:1-9).
There Jesus said: You "transgress the commandment of God because of your
traditions," "you have made the commandment of God of no effect by
your traditions," and "in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines
the commandments of men."
Truth: -- Jesus' point is that worship of God must not only be "in spirit" but must also be "in truth" (Jno. 4:24). Truth is what God has said (Jno. 17:17). God's utterances furnish man completely (2 Tim. 3:16,17).
We marvel at brethren who for no reason other than convenience gather around the table of the Lord on Saturday night for the remembrance of Christ's death. Both faith and truth reveal that first century Christians assembled to break bread as a memorial to Jesus on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Even Paul, who was hastening to get to Jerusalem, waited seven days in Troas to assemble with these brethren. Why did they not, for convenience sake, do it Wednesday or Thursday, and let Paul get on with his journey (Acts 20:6,16)?
Faith and truth further teach that there was something special about the first day of the week: the day Jesus conquered death, met with His disciples on two occasions after the resurrection, His kingdom was inaugurated, and the disciples regularly assembled (Jno. 20:1-10,19,26; Acts 2;1 -- Pentecost 1 Cor. 16:1,2). Even the earliest writings of disciples after the second century reflect this unvarying practice.
Brethren, it is evident, observe the Lord's Supper on Saturday evening for convenience. This practice cannot be justified on the basis of faith and truth. "On the first day of the week" (en mia ton sabbaton, Acts 20:7), the phrase Luke used, is not "on the Sabbath day" (en sabbato, Jno. 5:16) -- a different phrase. If men are permitted to modernize worship to fit today's mood and times, then what limits beyond the Bible can any man place on worship? The humanistic approach to God, His church, and worship says to the world that Christianity can be whatever man chooses.
How sad! More than that -- how evil and sinful. "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God" (2 Jno. 9).
By L.A. Stauffer in Biblical Insights, Vol. 6, No. 7, July 2006.
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