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Worship in the Church

Worship in churches of Christ centers in five items, the same as in the first-century church. We believe the pattern is important. Jesus said, "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). From this statement we learn three things:

1) Our worship must be directed to the right object ... God;

2) It must be prompted by the right spirit;

3) It must be according to truth.

To worship God according to truth is to worship him according to his Word, because his Word is truth (John 17:17). Therefore, we must not exclude any item found in his Word, and we must not include any item not found in his Word.

In matters of religion we are to walk by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Since faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), anything not authorized by the Bible cannot be done by faith ... and whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

The five items of worship observed by the first-century church were singing, praying, preaching, giving, and eating the Lord's Supper.

If you are acquainted with churches of Christ you are probably aware that in two of these items our practice is different from that of most religious groups. So permit me to focus on these two, and state our reasons for what we do.

A Cappella Singing

One of the things people most frequently notice about churches of Christ is that we sing without the use of mechanical instruments of music -- a cappella singing is the only music used in our worship.

Simply stated, here is the reason: we are seeking to worship according to the instructions of the New Testament. The New Testament leaves instrumental music out, therefore, we believe it right and safe to leave it out, too. If we used the mechanical instrument we would have to do so without New Testament authority.

There are only 8 verses in the New Testament on the subject of music in worship. Here they are:

"And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives" (Matthew 26:30).

" about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God ..."(Acts 16:25).

"Therefore I will praise Thee among the Gentiles, and sing to thy name" (Romans 15:9).

". . . I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also" (1 Corinthians 14:15).

". . . be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart" (Ephesians 5:18,19).

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16).

"I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto Thee" (Hebrews 2:12).

"Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise" (James 5:13).

The mechanical instrument of music is conspicuously absent in these passages.

Historically, the first appearance of instrumental music in church worship was not until the sixth century A.D., and there was no general practicing of it until after the eighth century.

Instrumental music was strongly opposed by such religious leaders as John Calvin, John Wesley and Charles Spurgeon because of its absence in the New Testament.

Weekly Observance of The Lord's Supper

Another place where you may have noticed a difference between churches of Christ and other religious groups is in the Lord's Supper. This memorial supper was inaugurated by Jesus on the night of his betrayal (Matthew 26:26-28). It is observed by Christians in memory of the Lord's death (1 Corinthians 11:24,25). The emblems - unleavened bread and fruit of the vine - symbolize the body and blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:16



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