The Silence of the Scriptures, and Our Worship
Jesus said, in Luke 4, verse 8; “..It is written; You shall worship the Lord thy God, and Him only, shall you serve.” The bible isn’t silent about worshipping God. “It is written; You SHALL worship, the Lord thy God..”
And it’s also written, in John 4:24; “God is Spirit, an those who worship Him, MUST worship in spirit, and in truth.”
It’s not only written, that we SHALL worship God, but it’s also written HOW, we MUST worship Him. “In Spirit”, in other words, from our inner being; And “In Truth”, in other words, according to God’s instructions, found in His word. “Thy word, is truth.” (John 17:17)
What if Luke 4, verse 8, were the only verse that existed, concerning worshipping God? “You SHALL worship the Lord thy God.” If that were the case, then the “silence of the scriptures” on that matter, would indeed give us total freedom, to worship God, in any way we choose, as long as it didn’t violate any other commands of God, like maybe commands concerning morality, or something like that.
Bu that’s not the case; That’s not the only verse that exists, concerning our worship of God. We have John 4:24, which tells us HOW to worship, namely.. “In spirit, and in truth”. And since “truth” is God’s word, our worship must be according to God’s word.
Therefore, as we read the various verses of scripture, that specify, what the “truth” is, as to how we should worship God, we find that God’s word is NOT permissive, because it’s not silent; But rather, God’s word is restrictive; It’s restrictive, because it’s NOT silent, and it’s restrictive, because it IS specific.
And therefore, since God’s word is indeed specific, we now have a charge laid against us; We are charged with obeying, the “truth” which is specified, in order for our worship to be acceptable to Him. So then, what if we DO obey, the specific instructions, as to how to worship, we fulfill God’s commands, but then we add OTHER methods of worship, besides what’s specified, is that acceptable to God? We’ve obeyed the specified instructions, we’ve done God’s will; Do we then have the freedom, and the permission, to go ahead and worship God, by additional methods, which He has NOT specified? The simple answer is, NO!
Worship Can Be Vain !
We need to always remember, that according to Jesus, it is indeed possible to “worship in vain”. How do you do that, someone might ask? How do you “worship in vain”? Vain, means.. worthless, and useless. What would make our worship of God, worthless, and useless?
Well, God’s tells us precisely what would make our worship useless, and vain; Jesus said, in Mathew 15, verse 9; “But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as their doctrines, the precepts of men.” So, by using the precepts, or in other words, by using the thoughts and ideas of men, as your teaching, as to how to worship the Lord, you WILL make your worship vain.
The thoughts and the ideas of men, as to what would constitute, “the worship of God”, is NOT, “the truth” from God. It’s only the imagination of men. That’s all it is.
Man uses his imagination, often, to try to come up “unique”, and “uplifting”, and “thrilling”, and “exciting”, and “imaginative”, ways, by which to worship God. But these “imaginative ways”, are the ways that please him, the man, they’re NOT the ways that the bible has prescribed, as being, “pleasing to God”. Therefore, they’re vain! They’re worthless, as methods of worship.
The people who come up with their own ideas like that, obviously don’t believe, and don’t understand, that “The way of man is not within himself.” And that, “It’s not in man who walks, to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23)
We all need to understand, and simply accept the words God, in Isaiah 55, verse 8 & 9; “For My thoughts, are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, My ways, saith Jehovah. For, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts, than your thoughts.”
That’s so simple, isn’t it? Is it man’s pride that makes it so hard for him to accept that? Is it man’s pride that makes him so determined, to always be trying to come up with “a better way”? It must be, because there’s no other reasonable explanation, and man simply will not stop doing it!
Here’s the simple conclusion to the matter; If you can find a particular method of worshipping God, spoken of in the pages of the bible, then that is worshipping in truth; But, if you cannot find a particular method of worship, in the bible, then that method, is nothing more than a “precept of men”, and it is vain and useless, in the worship of God.
What Methods of Worship, Does God Specify ?
So let’s look at the bible, and get God’s thoughts, on exactly HOW, we are instructed to worship Him. The bible isn’t silent about it. Wouldn’t that be a sneaky trick, to command us to worship according to “the truth”, and then not tell us what the truth is? But God isn’t sneaky, about anything. I’s the devil who’s the sneaky one. The spirit of the devil, is the spirit, that tries to convince us, that OUR ways, are just as good as God’s ways.
And that works fine with a lot of people, but not with people who love, and care, about “the truth”. So let’s look at the truth; Let’s look at the various methods that God’s word has given us, either by command, or by example, by which we can acceptably worship Him.
I think the first and foremost way in which to worship God, is in prayer. Whenever we pray, we’re worshipping God. Whether it’s in a worship assembly, or if it’s simply at home, or even out somewhere else, it doesn’t matter, it’s still worshipping God. It’s bowing down to God, in subjection, and in obedience to His word. “Pray without ceasing”, the bible says in Philippians 5:17.
But let’s look at 1 Corinthians chapter 14, for an example of praying, as an “act” of worship, in the assembly. We use the phrase, “an act of worship”, but it’s simply “a method”, or “a way” of worshipping God. But once again, it has to be “a way” that the bible authorizes, either by giving us a direct command to do so, or by leaving us an approved example, of Christians doing so. If we don’t have either one or the other of those two things, a command or an example, it would simply be something that man has thought up, and therefore wouldn’t be authorized by God. It would be vain, and worthless.
The bible doesn’t give us, a whole lot of information, about, how the congregation is supposed to worship. But 1 Corinthians chapter 14, is a chapter, that is pretty much devoted to speaking about the worship assembly. It does a lot of talking about the use of miraculous, spiritual gifts, but the context is within the worship assembly. And so it’s useful for us to use this chapter, to help us see exactly what IS authorized by God, in our worship assemblies.
Another chapter that’s useful in this respect, is 1 Corinthians chapter 11, where it deals with the Lord’s supper. Chapter 16, verses 1 thru 3, are useful when dealing with our giving, as an authorized method of worship.
So we’ve got a few verses from 1 Corinthians Chapter 11, and then almost all of Chapter 14, and then a couple verses from Chapter 16; And beside that, there’s a couple of verses from the book of Acts, and a couple verses from Ephesians and Colossians, and that’s about it.
Like I said, the bible doesn’t give us, a whole lot of information, concerning the methods, that we’re to use, in our worship of God. But that’s Ok; The bible says what it says, and we should be content with that, and be happy with it, and satisfied with it, and NOT think, that we need to come up with other, and more methods, of worshipping God, that come from our own imaginations; All of which methods, amount to nothing more, than merely, “doctrines of men”, which are condemned, by Jesus, and by God.
Do all Things According to the Pattern
God reminds us, of the instructions that He gave to Moses, concerning the tabernacle in the wilderness. He says in Hebrews 8, verse 5; “See to it, that you make all things according to the pattern shown to you on the mountain.” And since God is reminding us of that principle, we surely can’t say that we didn’t know, that doing all things according to what the Lord has said, indeed IS, “a principle” that he expects us to follow, and live by.
That reminder right there, along with the words of Jesus, when He said that “In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines, the precepts of men”, should be all, anyone needs to know, in order to understand, that we dare not rely on our own imaginations, when it comes to our worship of God, or when it comes to anything, having to do with our relationship with God.
And so, I mentioned that prayer is a part of our worship to God. And to see the authorization for that in our worship assembly, we need only to read the words of 1 Corinthians 14, verses 14 & 15; “For if I pray (in the worship assembly) with a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also..”
Now, that very same verse, teaches us that singing, is another method of worshipping God, that is authorized in the worship assembly; Because that verse (verse 15) goes on to say; “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.”
Now listen to verse 26, of this chapter (chapter 14) “What is the outcome brethren? When you come together.. (in the assembly) ..each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”
Now, some of the things named there, no longer exist among Christians; Things like “revelations, and tongues, and interpretations. They were indeed authorized as methods of worship, in the first century congregations, but those miraculous gifts no longer exist, and so they’re no longer a part of a Christian worship assembly. And the proof, right from the scriptures, that those gifts, and therefore those methods of worship no longer exist, is a study that we can get into at another time. But right now, we want to look at what other methods of worship DO exist, and what methods ARE authorized in the bible.
So besides those things that no longer exist, verse 26 also said; “..each one has a psalm, has a teaching”. The reading of the “psalms”, was evidently a common method of worship, in the assembly; As was bible “teaching”, and they obviously have full authorization from God. Therefore, reading from the bible, and teaching from the bible, are authorized methods of worshipping God, in the worship assembly.
So just from that one chapter, Chapter 14, we have scripture reading and teaching, and praying, and singing, as authorized methods of worship. And concerning our singing, the bible is not silent about WHAT to sing. In Ephesians 5, verse 19, and also in Colossians 3, verse 16, the instructions are given, to sing.. “Psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs”. So then that specification, leaves out the singing of any other types of songs.
Now let’s go back to 1 Corinthians, this time to Chapter 16, and specifically, verses 1 & 2. Here are instructions to be followed, and obeyed, on the first day of the week; “Now, concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the congregations of Galatia, so also do you; Upon the first day of the week, let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.” So then, there is a fourth method of worship, authorized by God, to be done on the first day of the week, in the worship assembly.
Now let’s back up to 1 Corinthians, chapter 11. And let me read verses 18 thru 20; “First of all, when you come together in an assembly, I hear that there are divisions among you, and that part, I believe. For it is also necessary, that there be factions among you, so that also the approved, may become evident among you. Therefore, when you come together in one place, it is NOT, to eat the Lord’s supper.”
Paul says that, because of all the divisions, and all the factions that exist among you, your coming together, “in one place”, in other words, in a worship assembly, is NOT for the purpose of eating the Lord’s supper. Now I’ve said this over and over again in the past, but every time we read these verses, we need to remember this fact; And it just takes a little bit of common sense to understand; That when Paul says, that “when YOU come together, in one place, it is NOT to eat the Lord’s supper”, he is obviously implying that eating the Lord’s supper, was SUPPOSED to be the purpose, for their “coming together”! But with all the divisiveness that existed among them, the Lord’s supper was NO LONGER, their true purpose for assembling.
Partaking of the Lord’s supper, is one of the authorized methods, of worshipping God, but the Corinthians had failed in their worship, by turning that “God ordained” method, of spiritual worship, into a greedy physical meal, for their own fleshly lusts.
Acts 20, verse 7, confirms, that at least ONE, of the purposes, for coming together on the first day of the week, was to partake of the Lord’s supper. That verse says; “And on the first of the week, when we had come together, to break bread..” And then the rest of that verse, confirms another one, of the bible authorized methods of worship, which is that of teaching the word of God, like we saw from 1 Corinthians 14, verse 26.
So, the rest of Acts 20, verse 7 says; “..Paul PREACHED to them, intending to depart on the morrow, and prolonged his message until mid night.” Paul didn’t just “talk” to the brethren on that first day of the week, even though that’s how some versions translate it. My American Standard version says; “..He discoursed with them..” A “discourse”, that’s what Paul delivered; Paul “preached” to the congregation, in that first day of the week worship assembly.
Listen to how the word is used in Acts 17:17; “So he REASONED in the synagogue, with the Jews, and the devout persons; And in the marketplace, every day, with them that met him.” Paul went everywhere preaching the word!
Here’s what it says in Acts 18, verse 4; “And he reasoned in the synagogues, every sabbath, and persuaded Jews and Greeks.” Paul preached the gospel didn’t He? In the synagogues, in the marketplace, an in the worship assembly, on the first day of the week.
And here’s one last verse from the book of Acts, pertaining to methods of worship. The bible says, in Acts 2, verse 42; “And they continued steadfastly, in the apostles teaching, and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” So then once again in that verse, “the breaking of bread” which of course is the Lord’s supper, and also “prayers” are given as examples of how Christians worshipped God.
The bible is NOT silent, on how we should worship God. It’s not even silent on how NOT to worship God! Worshipping God, according to the “precepts of men”, is exactly how NOT to worship God! ANYTHING, and EVERYTHING that is not according to the word of God, is a precept of men. And that’s as plain as it gets. I didn’t make it up; I’ve simply taken the words of the bible, the words of God, and applied a little bit of common sense, and come up with the only logical conclusion possible. Not necessarily the only conclusion, but the only LOGICAL conclusion.
The bible commands us; “You shall worship the Lord thy God”; It tells us to worship “in truth”; It tells us that “Thy word is truth”; It tells us WHAT that truth is; And it tells us that teaching the “precepts of men”, results in “vain worship”. There is, only one logical conclusion, and that one conclusion is..
There are five methods of worship, which are authorized by God, and given to us, through command and/or example, in the new testament. And any, and all, OTHER methods of worship, that God is silent about, amount to nothing more than, “the precepts of men.” And when they teach, and practice their own “precepts”, their own “ideas”, which stem from their own imaginations, then their worship, is vain.