Acceptable worship is not our choice

“…and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28).  What is acceptable worship?  Is it acceptable to worship outside of the church building?  Is it acceptable to dance in the auditorium, speak in tongues, and have women preachers?  What about using musical instruments in the worship service and taking communion every quarter?  Can we eat and drink in the auditorium, and can we have kid’s church?  Can we attend in shorts and a tee shirt, or should we wear a suit and tie?  Can women have braided hair and fine jewelry, and should they remain silent in church?  Is playing a movie scene as part of the sermon acceptable, and what about the offering – is 10% a requirement or something that is a matter of personal choice?  The list of what is acceptable or not is seemingly endless, and most people seem to take the stance of “If I think it is so, it must be so” or “I have seen other churches do it, so it has to be OK.”

That is a dangerous position to take since not studying the Bible and coming to a scripturally sound conclusion may end very badly.  Not only for the person introducing practices contrary to the will of God but also the entire congregation.  No one is going to be able to say, “I would not have done that if it were not for the church leadership that told us it was OK” on the Day of Judgment.  We are not given church leaders to have them study the Bible and then relay its meaning to us.  Instead, we are given the Bible so that we can read it, study it, and make sure we do as commanded.  Josh. 1:8 puts it this way, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

Even when we attend church, we are responsible for ensuring that what we hear is correct.  Acts 17:11, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”  The responsibility for due diligence is ours, and we should never blindly believe what we hear.  The importance of self-study cannot be overemphasized, but far too many people are “scripturally lazy” and just drink whatever is given to them, sometimes risking their salvation in the process.   Too many churches are focused on numerical growth at the expense of Christ’s doctrines.  Leaders chase numbers for personal financial satisfaction and status, while individuals want to be part of a “big” church.  The chase for money and fame or the ignorant decision to do something because someone else does it never has and will never constitute sound reasoning.  What needs to happen is careful study and earnest prayer before decisions are made regarding what orderly worship is.

We should never make the mistake of thinking that we can decide how God should be worshipped.  The choice is not yours or mine.  It is not us but God who decides how we should worship Him, and we have the manual for that in the form of the New Testament.  The problem is that many are so intent on personal satisfaction that they will disguise or do away with anything that does meet their emotional desires.   If we could do whatever we wanted, the Pauline epistles and the rest of the NT would be a whole lot shorter.  Even back in the church’s infancy, man put his own desires over that of God and wrecked acceptable worship. Don’t believe me? – just read 1 Corinthians.  We need to look upward and not inward when deciding what to include in our worship practices.  Instead of personal agendas, political correctness, or the desire to fill pews by pleasing man, we should study His word and pray for clarity on those weighty matters of acceptable worship.

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