Monday, April 24, 2017

Preacher Andrew's Systematic Theology, Chapter 29: Baptism and the Lord's Supper Part 2

This image is from from The content below is the work of the author. Any unauthorized republication either in part of in whole without the express consent of the author is prohibited.

The Ordinance of The Lord’s Supper

            The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper was instituted the very same night that He was betrayed to be crucified. The ordinance is to be observed in every local church for perpetual remembrance until He comes for His church.
 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. I Corinthians 11:23-26
            In these verses we see that the Lord’s Supper was instituted as a means of commemorating the death of our Saviour. We are remembering the Lord’s death, and it is intended that we remember it until He comes again for His church. At that point, the ordinance will be abolished, for we will be forever in the presence of our Saviour, and will need not be reminded of what He has done for us.
            Partaking of this ordinance is a means by which also the True Christian can grow in Jesus Christ. It is a bond and a pledge of their communion with Him, and with each other. So Paul writes, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.” (I Corinthians 10:16, 17). Also, this practice has a sanctifying effect on the True Christian, for the True Christian understands that “ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils,” (I Corinthians 10:21). The True Christian cannot live in the sins of the world, then come unrepentant before the Lord’s Table and expect blessing. The Lord’s Supper is for the separatist, not the Christian who indulges in the culture, language, and music of the world.
            As the author has stated before, the Lord’s Supper is merely a remembrance of the death of Jesus Christ. There is nothing mystical in the ordinance that transforms the bread into Christ’s flesh or the grape juice into Christ’s blood. Some might try to argue otherwise with Matthew 26:26, 27 – “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it.” “Didn’t he say the bread is his body?”

The Lord’s Supper Merely a Symbol

            Yet it is evident that Christ only meant it is his body in a symbolic sense, for he did not break off a finger and hand it to the disciples. He gave them bread. It could not possibly have become His flesh, for He was standing in front of them. The wine could not have become His blood, for His blood had not yet been shed; it was still coursing through His veins.
            The Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation is instead an abomination before God. It requires that Christ’s blood be shed again and again for sins, but Christ only had to be sacrificed once. “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). The Roman Catholic practice of the Eucharist is a sacrament whereby the participant supposedly obtains a grace that helps him obtain salvation, so then it is a works-based ceremony. The Bible never teaches works salvation, and it is an abomination to Almighty God.
            “He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world,” (I John 2:2). Christ is the one who saves, not the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper has no part in salvation, but it is simply a remembrance of what Christ has done, performed not by those who seek salvation, but by those who have been saved by God’s grace and not their own merit.

The Ceremony of the Lord’s Supper Set forth in Practicality

            “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it,” (Matthew 26:26, 27). Notice first of all how that Jesus Christ blessed the bread and gave thanks for the cup. He sanctified it for its holy use.
            Likewise in the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, the Pastor to this day will pray over the ordinances or appoint a church leader to pray over them for the same reason. This is not a common supper. Therefore, it should be set apart in prayer. I Corinthians 11:24 states, “when he had given thanks, he brake [the bread].” So also, the Pastor will break the bread of the Lord’s Supper before it is distributed to the congregation. Also, just as Jesus Christ took the cup and gave it to His disciples, the Pastor will distribute the grape juice to the congregation.
The denial of the cup to the Christians in attendance, worshipping the elements, lifting them up, or carrying them for adoration, and reserving them for any pretended religious use, are all contrary to the nature of this ordinance, and to the institution of Christ. When Jehovah commanded, “ Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,” (Exudus 20:4, 5) He certainly included the element of the Lord’s Supper as well. They are never to be objects of adoration. It is so done in the Roman Catholic church because “in vain they do worship [God], teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,” (Matthew 15:9).

Symbolic phrasing of the Bread and Cup

            Although there are times, such as in I Corinthians 11:27, where the elements are referred to as the body and blood of Christ, this is meant to be understood in a symbolic sense. This is clear from the context of each passage where they are referenced. The elements, duly set apart for the use ordained by Christ, are always bread and grape juice in substance and nature, and at no time do they transform into any other substance. Nor can it be seen in any verse in the Bible where any such transformation occurs.

Eucharist and Transubstantiation a Blasphemy Against God

            The dogma of transubstantiation that teaches that teaches that the elements of the Lord’s Supper are transformed into the literal body and blood of Christ through the blessing of a priest or any other way is repugnant both to the Bible. In Acts 3:20, 21, the Bible teaches that Christ never comes down from heaven in bodily form until the end times – “and he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began,” (Acts 3:20, 21). Therefore, His body cannot be present in the elements, for that would require that He would descend to earth before the appointed time.

            Again, Christ only had to be sacrificed one time. “who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself,” (Hebrews 7:27). Eucharist teaches that Christ must be sacrificed again and again, every single day. How can that be when His one sacrifice was sufficient for the sins of the world? So partakers in the Eucharist are literally eating and drinking damnation to themselves, as the Bible says: “For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body,” (I Corinthians 11:29).

Monday, April 17, 2017

Preacher Andrew's Systematic Theology Chapter 29: Baptism and the Lord's Supper, Part 1

The above image is in the public domain. The work below is that of the author. Any unauthorized reproduction is prohibited without the express, written consent of the author.
There are two ordinances that Jesus Christ gave to the church during His earthly ministry, namely the ordinance of baptism and the ordinance of the Lord’s supper. These are not “sacraments” like those of the Roman Catholic Cult (of which there are seven), because these are not a means of grace obtained by those who partake of them. They are ordinances to be followed by those who love Jesus Christ and desire to do His commandments.
            When Jesus Christ commanded, “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 28:19, 20) He made it clear that the ordinance of baptism is to be observed until He comes back to rapture His church. Likewise, with the Lord’s supper, as we note in I Corinthians 11:26 – “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

Who Administers the Ordinances?

            If we look again at Matthew 28:19, the call is to His disciples. While this commission to bring the Gospel to all nations can be generally applied to all saved individuals, the ordinance of baptism is to be administered by a called, qualified individual in the ministry – a missionary or pastor for example.
            Paul wrote, “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God,” (I Corinthians 4:1). Those engaged in the work of full-time ministry are the stewards of the things of the Lord, including administering the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper.

The Ordinance of Baptism

            Baptism is an ordinance of the dispensation of grace ordained by Jesus Christ. It is an outward sign of the salvation that has been wrought within the believer who is being baptized. It signifies the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and identifies the believer with Him. Colossians 2:12 teaches that the True Christian is “buried with [Christ] in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”
            This is indeed an ordinance and not a sacrament, for the True Christian who is to be baptized has already been saved by the grace of God alone, and therefore his baptism does not add to his salvation or bring him closer to salvation. He is already saved and is merely obeying His Saviour by being baptized.
            “Ah,” says the works-salvation minded critic, “But does it not say in Mark 16:16, ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned,’?”
            Indeed, it does say that. This is where even the most rudimentary knowledge of Greek grammar is helpful. In the Greek language, which is the language Mark was originally written in, the words “shall be saved” go together with the word “believeth,” and not the words “and is baptized.” In other words, we can understand the verse to mean, “He that believeth shall be saved and baptized.” It is assumed that when a sinful soul is saved, he should be baptized. The verse was not written in that order, this author believes, because salvation is God’s responsibility, and baptism the responsibility of the
            The second half of the verse bears this meaning out, for it does not say “he that believeth not and is not baptized shall be damned. It states, “he that believeth not shall be damned.” Baptism has nothing to do with salvation. It is based upon belief in Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness of sins.
            It is unnatural for a child of God to not desire baptism. “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls,” (Acts 2:41). The Bible knows nothing of unbaptized Christians. In the Bible, we see baptism as the next step for the new believer. It is not an option, it is an ordinance from Jesus Christ, and His commandments are not grevious. “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women,” (Acts 8:12).
            “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” (Acts 8:36, 37). These verses in the Bible confirm that baptism is for those who have already been saved, not those seeking salvation. It is unfortunate that modern translations either omit verse 37 or criticize it in a footnote. This shows the weakness of the texts that modern translations rest upon and the superiority of the Authorized King James Bible.
            The Ethiopian Eunuch had been gloriously converted as the Evangelist Philip gave the Gospel to him. Having been saved, he immediate desired to be baptized. This was the same with the beginning of the Corinthian Church in Acts 18:8, “And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.” Notice again that belief comes first, and then baptism. Only saved individuals are to be baptized.

Mode of Baptism

            A saved believer is to be baptized by total immersion in water. The skeptic will say that there is no specific mode given to us in the Bible, yet this author will argue that the baptism of Jesus Christ demonstrates clearly that He was immersed fully in water, as a demonstration to the church of how baptisms were to be performed.
            “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him,” (Matthew 3:16) [bold type mine]. You will notice how Jesus Christ went up out of the water. This is not that he was coming up from the river after being baptized, for then the author would have written “out of the river.” Instead, he writes that Christ came “out of the water.” In other words, He had just been immersed, and as He came out of that immersion, the heavens were opened unto Him.
            It is obvious that this was John’s method of baptism, not only with Christ, but with all that he baptized. “And John also was baptizing in Ænon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.” (John 3:23). If John were baptizing by sprinkling or pouring, why would he need much water? He would only need a small pond. Yet He needed much water, because he needed enough to baptize by full immersion. This is the only method of baptism that we see in the Bible.
            Likewise, with Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch we read, “And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him,” (Acts 8:38). They had to go down into the water. They didn’t stand in the shallow end of the river bank and sprinkle or pour. They had to go out into the water so that Philip could fully immerse him in water.

In the Name of the Trinity

            Despite the claims of the cult of Oneness Pentecostalism, believers are to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19, 20). Oneness Pentecostals like to point out that believers were only baptized in Jesus’ name in Acts 19:9, but it does not state that they were not baptized in the Father and Holy Spirit’s name as well. Nor is that the emphasis of the passage. Cults love to major on trivial matters, and this cult seeks to emphasize one member of the Trinity to the detriment of the other two. Christ’s commandment is just as true today as it was when He first gave it. Believers are to be baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

            When a True Christian is baptized, it is understood also that he is baptized into the local church that is baptizing him. This is because baptism is an ordinance of the church. This is why, again, it is to be performed by qualified ministers, and not just any Christian.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Preacher Andrew's Systematic Theology Chapter 28: The Communion of the Saints

The above image is in the public domain. The work below is that of the author. Any unauthorized reproduction without the express written consent of the author is prohibited.
            John 1:16 states, “And of [Christ’s] fulness have we all received, and grace for grace.” In this simple sentence is given the glorious doctrine of the communion of the saints, the idea that True Christians have fellowship in the graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory of Jesus Christ because His Spirit unites them to Him through faith as their head. This is the idea behind Romans 6:5, 6 – “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” The True Christian is planted in Christ, and partakes of the fulness of Christ.
Communion with Christ
            “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death,” (Philippians 3:10). The power of Christ’s resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings are two important aspects of Christ’s life that the True Christian is united to. The fellowship of the sufferings of Christ is a blessed fellowship, but one most professing believers are unwilling to enter in to. The more of this world a believer possesses, the more he is willing to give up in order to possess them, and so the dark one can easily tempt such an one to betray even his faith in order to keep his possessions and positions in the world. Yet the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings is a necessary fellowship for every believer, and a most wonderful fellowship. As Christ suffered, so must the True Christian also be willing to suffer for His Lord.
            “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ,” (I John 1:3). Trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation gives the soul blessed fellowship with Jesus Christ. It is the beginning of a lifelong fellowship without end. The True Christian is united with Christ, not as being one person with Him, but as entering into fellowship in the graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory of Jesus Christ.
Communion with Fellow Believers
            “Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s,” (I Corinthians 3:21-23).  The True Christian will find blessed fellowship with other True Christians because they are in Christ, and abide in His love, and therefore love other True Christians. “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal,” (I Corinthians 12:7). When two True Christians come together, they know each other already, for they have the Spirit of God. This author recalls fondly meeting a Korean Christian in Detroit International Airport. Though neither of us spoke the other’s language, we found a warmth and fellowship because we each knew the other followed Christ.
            “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love,” (Ephesians 4:15, 16). Love is the essence of True Christian fellowship. I dislike seeing social media arguments between two professing Christians where each is trying to debunk a doctrine the other believes in. Most of the time, the comments are made without charity, and each person is listening not to understand, but listening to reply. It benefits no one and they look like fools. There is no fellowship here, and I often wonder about the spiritual standing of such people.
            True Christians are truly obligated to publicly and privately display the gifts and graces of True Christian fellowship. It was through this fellowship that the Apostle Paul was “comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me,” (Romans 1:12). We are commanded in Galatians 6:10, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” The author takes this as an imperative, and not a suggestion. If two Christians are in disagreement, this needs to be settled as soon as possible for the sake of True Christian fellowship and therefore the glory of God.
            Paul instructed the Thessalonians to “comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do…warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men,” (I Thessalonians 5:11, 14). Sadly, much discord continues in the church today because of the unwillingness of ministers to effectively warn the unruly, and the unwillingness of the saints to comfort the feebleminded and support the weak. Moreover, there is a tremendous lack of patience among the professing saints of God!
            It is greatly discouraging to walk into almost any Fundamental church in America and find the topic of conversation on the football game or March Madness, the latest television show, etc. and not the things of the Lord. Because the culture of this evil world has taken possession of the hearts of so many professing believers, there is little commitment toward fellow believers in the church. Some churches create programs to fill the void, and it gives certain people in the church jobs and responsibilities, but it does nothing to foster the spirit of charity in the hearts of those who come in to warm the pews. Let us focus less on the things of the world and more upon provoking each other to a mutual good inwardly and outwardly!
            “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end,” (Hebrews 3:12-14). How do True Christians prove themselves to be in the faith and not get caught up in the world? Through the communion of the saints! Through beholding Christ, looking always to Him, and therefore encouraging other True Christians to do the same! “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching,” (Hebrews 10:24, 25).
            This is an inward provoking, exhorting each other to greater spirituality. There is also an outward provoking to good works: “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judæa: which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul,” (Acts 11:29, 30). We see here that the spiritual leaders of the church in Antioch set their minds to send money to those in Jerusalem who would be affected by a famine. They encouraged the rest of the church to do this. True Christians must do good works and thereby be an example, that others would do the same thing!
            The communion of saints extends from the church into the home as well. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” (Ephesians 6:4). Children are to be brought into the faith through their parents (such was the case of the author), and are to be instructed in the things of the Lord, so that they have a spiritual, rather than worldly mindset.
            As this author is writing, news is breaking of another heartbreaking school shooting in nearby San Bernardino, California. The reason for this shooting is that God has completely been cast out of public school teachings. Where God is not, hope is not, and death is. This is the reason why this author urges all parents to homeschool their children, or if that proves impossible, at the very least, enroll them in a Christian school. The reader must do all that he can to instruct his children in the ways of Godliness!
For the body is not one member, but many.  If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.  And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
               In the above verses we can tell that every True member of Christ’s body (the church) is necessary. This is the greatest exposition on the communion of the saints yet. Each member is needed for the edification of each other, and when the communion is damaged either by affliction or iniquity, the entire body suffers because one member is wounded. It is a sick church indeed that has a member hurt and the main body of the church goes on without any notice whatever.

Yet the True Christian is not obligated to give all of his goods into a collective socialism. While early Christians did sell land and give the proceeds to the church, it was done willingly, not forcibly. When Peter rebuked Ananias for lying about the price he received for the land he sold, he asked him, “Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?” (Acts 5:4).  In Ephesians 4:28, Paul writes, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” True Christians are to do good as they see fit through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and as the Lord prospers them. In this way, they will further the communion of the saints!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Preacher Andrew's Systematic Theology, Chapter 27: Church Worship, Part 2

The image above is in the public domain. The work below is that of the author. Any unauthorized reproduction, either in part or whole is prohibited without the express, written consent of the author.

Emphasis in Worship

            The emphasis in the worship service should not be placed on the music, but upon the preaching of the Word of God. This statement might seem abhorrent to many a worship leader, but the simple fact is that the Bible clearly states that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” (Romans 10:17). Faith does not come by singing or by hearing inspirational and emotion-evoking music. Filling the church-members and visitors with the feeling that they really worshipped is not at all important. Rather, teaching them the doctrines of the Word of God and bringing some to faith in Christ by such doctrinal preaching is important – Very important! Singing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs has its place, but a worship service should not be an hour of music followed by fifteen or twenty minutes of a sermonette. “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe,” (I Corinthians 1:21).
            If it is by the foolishness of preaching that souls are saved, let us give preaching its proper emphasis. The late revivalist Leonard Ravenhill stated that when you preach sermonettes, you get Christianettes who go outside and smoke cigarettes. The meaning there being that if Christians are taught a small amount of doctrine in a minimal amount of time every Sunday, they have no way to grow in Christ, for they have no instruction. Why not give thirty minutes to the song service, and at least an hour for the preaching? Most people will give two or three hours to a ball game, and two hours to a movie they want to see. Why not give God at least that much time for a sermon? This author does not think it is asking too much at all.

The Primary Motive of Music Selection[1]

            The primary motive in selecting worship music for many in church leadership is personal pleasure. People tend to sing music that they personally like. The difficulty in this is that everyone has different personal tastes, and the music preferences of any man are therefore unreliable. Rather, Christian leaders must select music according to the pleasure of God. The first question in selecting worship music should always be, “Will God be pleased with our selection?”
            The Israelites thought they had a great worship system that everyone enjoyed, and it must have come as a great shock for them to hear Jehovah Sabaoth say, “When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them,” (Isaiah 1:12-14). Surely this is how Jehovah feels about much of the rock-infused worship in modern-day churches today, as well as the doctrine-less emotion based praise and worship songs!
            When the determining factor in selecting worship music is whether it is enjoyed by Jehovah God, there is a wonderful side effect: God’s people begin to love what God loves! Hymns steeped in doctrine become precious to all who attend the services, and the music teaches the people to follow the Lord. Now, their hearts are prepared to hear and respond to the preaching of the Word of God.

The Outcome of Worship

            “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness,” (I Corinthians 1:23, 24). The Bible is very clear that the object of worship is that hearts will be convicted by the Word of God. Some will repent and believe the Gospel. Those who are saved should be corrected and guided by doctrine. Many will reject the message preached, but that is their choice, and the Word of God has still done its job to convict them. If a person walks away from the church service knowing they were convicted by the Holy-Spirit, it is a truth-based outcome. This is the outcome that the Lord desires. Someone who comes away from a church service with the feeling that they really worshipped God is a person who is basing their experience on emotion rather than truth. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth,” (III John 4). Worship must be based upon truth. Let us, as Christians, desire to worship God as He would be worshipped, let us love the things that He loves, and hate the things that He hates.

[1] Much of what I have written here is taken directly from a chart found in Dan Lucarini’s book, Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement: Confessions of a Former Worship Leader, page 120. The book was published by Evangelical Press out of Carlisle, PA in 2002. In this author’s estimation, this book is the best publication about worship music and the author wholeheartedly recommends it to the reader.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Preacher Andrew's Systematic Theology, Chapter 27: Church Worship, Part 1

The work below is that of the author. Any unauthorized reproduction either in part or in whole is prohibited without the express, written consent of the author.

Now that we have studied both the universal and local church, we have a foundation upon which we can build our understanding of worship. Depending on the reader’s background, he may expect different things when he walks into a church building. He may expect rigid, sour faced men on one side, and dour, hatted women on the other while the organ plays Psalm 135 (for some, that organ might already be an abomination!). He may expect a man leading the singing running up and down the altar, encouraging everyone to sing “Hold the Fort!” while amens and hallelujahs ring out and men in their finest Sunday suits (And red Trump hats) wave their Bible in the air, waving that answer back to heaven.
Others yet might expect to see theater chairs instead of pews, a disco ball hanging from the stage, a rock combo set up, a screen displaying Shout to the Lord, and a multi-media display for all to see. A worship leader in torn jeans and a t-shirt, complete with a choke collar and earring, and everyone in the audience with hands raised and eyes closed feel the warmth and power of the spirit moving through them as one.
Yes, these descriptions are a bit facetious. However, the author does hope that it will help the reader understand that people have different presuppositions as to how church worship is supposed to go. Yet worship is not to be based upon our presuppositions, or what we would like it to be. It is not to be based upon our feelings. It is to be based upon doctrine, and God has said much in His Word about how He is to be worshiped.

The Day of Worship

            God is very specific in His Word about when He is to be worshipped by the local church. Let the reader understand right off, that the author speaks here of corporate worship, not individual worship, which should be at all times. God has specifically set aside Sunday as the day He is to be worshipped (see chapter 22). Immediately, the author hears the hiss of the Seventh Day Adventist in his ear, saying “Oh no, Saturday is the day of worship, for that is in the Ten Commandments!”
            Yet when we observe Acts 20:7, we read just the opposite is true: “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” They met on the first day of the week, which is Sunday. The early church began to observe Sunday as the Sabbath to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the church has been doing so ever since. Let no cult or deceitful person convince the reader otherwise.
            Many Bible Baptist and Fundamental Baptist churches have not only a Sunday morning worship service, but also a Sunday afternoon or evening service and a midweek service as well. Although it is not commanded in Scripture, it is certainly not forbidden. The zeal of the early church was such that “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers…And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,” (Acts 2:42, 46).
            These zealous believers had just seen revival through the preaching of the recent Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and they couldn’t get enough of Christ. This should be our attitude in worship so that when the doors of the church are open, we seek to be there. For these early believers, there was no excuse such as “the game is on,” or “I’m too tired,” or “It’s too much trouble with all of my children!” They came because they wanted to worship Jesus Christ!

The Division of Worship

            For practical reasons, most churches divide the worship service into a time of worship in song and worship through hearing and responding to the preaching of the Bible. Different churches will give different time to each of these divisions of worship, but the emphasis should be upon the preaching of the Word of God, for God’s Word always has top priority (Psalm 138:2).
            Three times in the Bible, God commands all people to worship Him in the beauty of holiness (I Chronicles 16:29, Psalm 29:2, Psalm 96:9). If God repeated this commandment three times, it must be very important! What do we know of holiness? We know that God Himself if holy, and man is sinful. There is no holiness naturally in the heart of man. Therefore, it would be unwise to incorporate into the worship of God the pagan practices, music, noise, distraction, and cultural influence of the world.
            In worship, the Bible teaches we are to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God,” (Romans 12:2). There are certain music styles that are absolutely conformed to this world and cannot be used to worship God because they are unholy.
            II Corinthians 6:14-18 states, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
What more can the author add, except to say, what does Contemporary “Christian” music have to do with real worship? It borrows from all of the philosophies and music styles of worldly, rock-and-roll, Satanic musicians. The hypnotic drums and loud noise create an almost trance like state in a person, who might unwittingly think is the work of the Holy Spirit, when indeed it is the work of counterfeit spirits influencing that person. The True Christian ought not to have anything to do with this form of “worship.”
            The Pastor in the pulpit must also regard the holiness of God as he preaches God’s Word. There should be holy reverence when he reads from it, and he must keep his language free from all forms of vulgar language. There is no need for a minister of God to debase the language of the pulpit to “be relevant.” God’s Word is always relevant, and the preaching of it ought to reflect the difference between the language of heaven and the language of the world.

The Primary Purpose of Worship Music

            The trendy and edgy megachurch industry will often promote CCM music as a means to “usher people into the presence of God.” This then becomes the primary purpose of worship music. Now the hypnotic beat of the drums, the noise and rhythm of the music serve to fill the participant with a wonder and awe at what is surely the very presence of God. So we see many people with eyes closed and arms outstretched, seeming to hypnotically receive this presence within themselves.
            Except, of course, for the fact that the believer is always in the presence of God. “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there,” (Psalm 139:8). This verse is very specific in showing that there is no place the believer can be without God’s presence. So, the need for the drums, the rhythm, and all musical elements creating that within the believer seems superfluous. It becomes much more a self-gratifying pursuit, which is the opposite of worship.
            Also, to create an atmosphere using music and other media presentations where the presence of God seems to be felt is entirely a subjective creation of man, and not an objective creation of God.  It is man’s attempt at substituting the creation for the creator as an object of worship, so that the feeling of God’s presence is worshiped more than God Himself. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” (Exodus 20:3), is a clear cut Law. The Christian cannot cross this line in the spirit of “worship.”
            So then, we know that the primary use of music in worship is not to usher worshipers into God’s presence. What is the primary use of music in worship? “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,” (Colossians 3:16). From the Bible, we see that Paul’s desire for worshippers of the Lord was that the Word of Christ would be so entrenched in them that no man could root it out. To that end, Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs were to be employed to teach and admonish each other toward the things of the Word of God. The primary use of worship is to prepare the heart of man to receive the preaching from the Word of God!

            This makes for a Christ-centered service instead of a man-centered service. The emphasis is not a subjective one, where someone feels God’s presence, and the worshipped is placed at the center of worship receiving good feelings. Rather, Christ is placed in the center of Worship when proper Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are used in worship to bring hearts to the preaching of God’s Word. Then, Christ has the preeminence in the meeting, as He should. “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence,” (Colossians 1:18).