New Testament Church Worship
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: Ephesians 2:19-21
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. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:16-17
Most Christians today worship in what we know of as churches, but did you know that in the Old Testament the people went to a temple, or a synagogue to worship God bringing their tithes and sacrifices.
For the first 300 years church age believers met at first in Jerusalem in a public space like the outer court of the temple in Acts 2:46. Later they met in smaller groups in houses like the house of Mary, mother of Mark in Acts 12:12. This practice must have been carried on in many cities of the Roman empire. For the most part the church was dependent on members who owned larger houses providing a place for meetings. In Rome, there are indications that early Christians met in other public spaces such as warehouses or apartment buildings. Even when there were several meeting places in a city the Christians had the sense of being one church.
When the New Testament church was formed on the day of Pentecost in A.D. 30, bringing a sacrifice was no longer needed because Jesus the ultimate sacrifice had died as the Lamb of God for the whole world.
John the Baptist declared this;
“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29
Today we are so blessed that not only do we not have to bring a sacrifice, but we have an accepted sacrifice in the Lord Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews wrote;
For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 9:26
But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Hebrews 10:12-14
Worship services in the New Testament consisted of preaching, teaching and singing as the Apostle Paul writes to the church at Colossae. That practice is still being carried on in many of our conservative Bible churches today. It was not until Catholicism came along after 300 A.D. that rituals and ceremonies became common practice in the worship services. This practice was incorporated into the services of other churches, like the Lutheran and Episcopalian churches as well as others. It is important to note however, that we do not worship the Lord outwardly, but inwardly. The worship of God takes place in our hearts and minds. We sing to the Lord songs of praise and worship. We hear God’s word taught and preached and it takes root in our hearts and mind to instruct us how to conduct our lives as we live each day. Daily worship and praise, quite frankly, shows the respect for our God as he so richly deserves.
Salvation: Our Greatest Gift
God’s word reveals to us the greatness of our Creator and of his wondrous love for us. God’s word also reminds us how sinful and unworthy we are of the salvation of the Lord.
SALVATION IS A GIFT RECEIVED BY FAITH ALONE IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
The Apostle Paul describes this so clearly in his writing to the church at Ephesus;
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
The word grace means we do not deserve to be saved. God does not see good in any of us. We are a race of sinners. That is why a person must be born again and become a new person in Jesus Christ. Salvation is a gift of God. It is not earned, deserved or merited in any manner.
In the following passage the Apostle Paul describes all of us;
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. Romans 7:18-20
We are all sinful people and we cannot change who we are. It takes the gospel of Jesus Christ to make us a new person who can both love and serve our Father in heaven. We can be saved by faith (believing) in Jesus Christ as our savior who died for our sins and rose from the dead just as he said he would and has ascended back to his Father in heaven.
Everyone who accepts Jesus as their savior is added to the church of Jesus Christ made up only of born-again believers. This is the true church that will be taken to heaven one day as the bride of Christ forever.
Preach the Word
To the church Jesus gave this message to be published to the entire world;
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:18-20
Known as the Great Commission and found in the four gospels as well as the book of Acts it is the responsibility of every believer to help share the good news, “the gospel” of salvation through Jesus Christ.
The first act of preaching took place on the day of Pentecost fifty days after Jesus had arisen from the dead and ascended back to heaven to be seated at the right hand of God. The scriptures tell us in Acts chapter two that after the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter stood up and began preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to the thousands gathered there, and three thousand souls were saved that day. WOW!
This is the only way for anyone to be saved. They must hear and believe the gospel if they are to be saved. Those who will not hear, or do not hear will not be saved. This is the reason it is our responsibility to get out the gospel so people can be saved. To the church at Rome and at Corinth the Apostle Paul wrote;
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
1Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Today, as in Judaism there are many false professors or false believers. Some are faithful church members while many are not. Being a church member or saying one is a Christian does not make them one. To be a Christian one must repent of their sin and recognize him as their Lord and Savior. Trusting him to save them and committing their life to loving and serving him. No doubt untold thousands die thinking they are going to heaven, but instead too late they discover they had believed in vain. They had “religion,” but religion does not provide salvation. Jesus has already told us of this in Matthew 7:21-23;
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
When you go to church this Sunday and you open the hymn book and start singing will you be singing to the Lord as an act of praise and worship? When the minister begins to preach the Word of God will you be listening, trying to know God better? Will you be receptive to the truth of God’s word and allow it to correct or change the way you live for the glory of God? Will you be mindful that we are told to go to church, not only to grow but to fellowship with other believers.
My friend, in closing let me ask you this question, are you saved? Do you know the Savior the Lord Jesus Christ? Is he the one you are living for? Does your life testify you are really saved? The most important thing in our lives should be making sure we are saved so that one day when we stand before Jesus, our Lord and Savior he can say;
‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy. Matthew 25:23
Heavenly Father we thank you for your precious word that teaches us how we can properly praise and worship you as only you deserve. We thank you for loving sinners so much that you want us to live with you forever and for allowing us to be the future bride of Christ. Most of all thank you for sending Jesus your only son as a sacrifice for us so that “whosoever will” may receive by faith alone your gift of salvation.
Amen, "Loving the Savior" Preacher
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15