Sunday, January 25, 2015

Worshipping God in Preaching

The early church of Christ “continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine” [teaching] (Acts 2:42). This was a part of the first worship service of the church that took place on the Sunday during the Pentecost feast in Jerusalem (Acts 2). This is indicated in the list of other activities that were taking place along with this teaching [i.e. “fellowship, breaking of bread, prayers”].
Preaching is defined as “publicly proclaiming or teaching; delivering a sermon or religious address to an assembled group of people, typically in church.” Preaching has its place throughout the Bible, but always finds priority among God’s people,  especially New Testament Christians, for regular instruction or teaching unto righteousness.
Numerous passages remind us of its purposes:
  • To proclaim and teach of Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:5)
  • To teach all nations / all the world (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16)
  • To hear and believe in the Gospel (Romans 10:13-14)
  • To grow in our faith (Romans 10:17)
  • To grow unto maturity (2 Peter 1:off)
  • To grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18)
  • To become teachers (Hebrews 5:12-14)
  • To be able to defend (1 Peter 3:15)
  • To keep our focus on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2)
  • To stay focused on the prize of Heaven (Philippians 3:14)

J. Winfred Clark wrote an article years ago and then republished in EXPOSITIONS OF THE EXPOSITOR entitled The Fruit of Sound Teaching from Titus 2:1 which reads: “speak thou the things which become sound doctrine.” This article included below reminds us of the place of Gospel Preaching in our worship services and in our daily lives.
The results of the preaching of the Gospel:

There Would Be a Balanced Life (v. 2-10)

If you take the time to read through these verses, you will find those things addressed to each group that would help them to live mature and complete lives of godliness. In fact, you will find the phrase, “in all things” in verse 7, 9, 10. That means one’s life is affected in all things, whether in his talk or his walk, whether in public or in private. Sound teaching will govern his life and lip in all that he does or says.
Not only is there balance in each life in each group, but there is also that balance to be maintained between each group. Note the term “likewise.” This means there is no double standard.

There Will Be a Blameless Life (v. 3-5)

The life that is affected by sound doctrine will be in accord with holiness. Such will mean their speech will be blameless, for they will tell the truth as they are not false accusers. This is in contrast with the reputation of those on the isle of Crete. There will also be temperance as they are able to control themselves.

There Will Be a Beautiful Life (v. 6-10)

In this section, one is able to show by his manner of life what the gospel will produce. His manner of life will attract people to that which produces such. Such a life is attractive and is made to be so by the teaching of Christ. Such a life will be well ordered and properly arranged by the guidelines set forth by sound teaching.
The preaching of the Gospel of Christ affects change to all those who believe (Romans 1:16). May we never take for granted the part of our worship services characterized by preaching and teaching.
~Wayne Rodgers
Clark, J. Winfred. Expositions of the "The Expositor": J. Winfred Clark. Ed. Michael McDaniel. Vol. 1. Memphis, TN: Memphis School of Preaching, 2001. Print.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Worshipping God in Giving

The church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ serves in the greatest mission effort under Heaven. We know that the “Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Money is necessary in carrying out that mission. Therefore, the proper use of money becomes an important theme in the New Testament.
The Bible describes and characterizes the Giver with the following terms: Stewardship, Fellowship, Discipleship, and Love.
Stewardship – Stewards are those that are seen as trustees or caretakers of that which belongs to another. The apostles tell us that we are to be “as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10) and that we must be “faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). Jesus taught of a steward that “had wasted his goods” (Luke 16:1). Like this man we, too, will give an account of our stewardship (Romans 14:12). Stewardship has everything to do with the way we are using, spending, and living. As stewards, God does not allow us to take out all that we want or feel that we need and give what’s left over. Remember, He demands a “first fruit offering” (Leviticus 23:9ff; Matthew 6:25-34). When it comes to our giving each Lord’s Day, it is not a question of how much of our substance we are willing to give, but “how much of what the Lord has entrusted to us shall I keep?”
Fellowship – Fellowship is the idea of cooperation, coordination, mutual participation and joint effort. On that first Pentecost Day after the Lord’s Resurrection, the brand-new Lord’s church (Acts 2:1, 37-38, 41-47) “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (v. 42). Fellowship spans the whole of the Christian’s life by way of love (1 Pet. 1:22; Colossians 2:2), by way of suffering (Galatians 6:2), by way of service (Gal. 2:9-10; Philippians 1:5; 4:6), and by way of our giving (1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8:12-15, NKJV). We learn that “each one” is to give is seen as an individual responsibility (1 Cor. 16:1-2) according what he/she has (2 Cor. 8:12) that there may be an “equality” (2 Cor. 8:14-15). This is each one giving according to their ability taking individual responsibility (equality) in the work to be done. Then one can be said to be “in full fellowship” by doing their part in the Lord’s church.
Discipleship – Discipleship requires self-sacrifice and a willingness to give up the things of the world. Jesus gave this example (Luke 9:57-62) of Himself, but also spoke of His disciples (which includes us, too): “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Mt. 19:27-29). Paul says of Jesus, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). This is written in the context of the discussion of the Corinthians’ giving and again a reminder of a sacrificial life is required to be a disciple of Christ.
Love – Love is the very motivation for our giving. The Macedonians mentioned in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 first “gave of themselves” and then gave out of “their deep poverty.” In that same context, he admonishes the Corinthians “to prove the sincerity of their love” (v. 8, 24). It is true that we are commanded to give, but even more are we commanded to live a faithful life in Christ, which shows to others by our salt and light what is most important is the great redemption work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May we each consider our lives and the work as we give.

~Wayne Rodgers

Original Source: Roy E. Cogdill's book: New Testament Church

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Worshipping God in Song

What a beautiful picture that is given in Revelation 5:11-14 of the worship in Heaven surrounding the throne of God with “myriads of myriads” of angels raising their voices together in songs of praise!
And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever (Revelation 5:11-14 KJV).
Oh, those sweet songs of praise that garner emotional responses because of their scripture-based teaching (Col. 3:16-17; Eph. 5:18-19), that give us the avenue to give our thanks unto God for his “unspeakable gift” (2 Cor. 9:15), and that bring us so very close to that picture drawn in our minds as we read the verses above and imagine the day when we join in the throng.
We sing because:
  • we are merry (James 5:13)
  • we are thankful (Hebrews 13:15)
  • we are teaching (Colossians 3:16)
  • we are praising God (Ephesians 5:19)
  • we are admonishing one another (Col. 3:16)
  • we acknowledge the authority of God (Romans 15:9)
  • we seek to express comfort, hope, trust, and encouragement (Psalm 23)

As per New Testament instruction, we follow the commands (John 14:15; Colossians 3:17) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:28a) to sing. In so doing, we are blessed with encouragement and teaching from one another and from Sacred Scripture that helps in developing our faith and trust in the Creator. May we each take seriously our worship unto God and sing as if we are bowed down and prostrate before “Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:13).

~Wayne Rodgers

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Why We Should Worship God?

A beatitude found in Revelation 19:9 speaks of a marriage supper. Those who have been "called to the marriage supper of the Lamb" are truly "blessed." We are soon reminded as we read Revelation 19:9 that it is set in a context of Heavenly worship. According to verse one, "a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God" (NKJV). Verse three adds another, "Alleluia." Verse four, twenty elders and the four living creatures fell down worshipping saying, "Alleluia." Verse five, "a voice came from the throne, saying, 'Praise our God, all you His servants and those who fear Him, both small and great!'" The "voice of a great multitude" thunders "Alleluia" in verse six. These beautiful saints (the bride) had been "called" unto this great supper of the Lamb having been arrayed "in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints" (verse 8). While John wished to worship even the messenger [angel] of the Lord (Rev. 1:1), he directs John to "worship God!" This great chapter gives us five reasons that we should worship the Omnipotent Lord God. [Winkler, 10].

We worship because God saves (v. 1), because He is true (v. 2), because He is righteous (v. 2), because He avenges those who have been mistreated while serving Him (v. 2-4), and because He is Omnipotent and Sovereign (v. 6). Whether "small or great" (v. 5), we should offer our worship and praise unto God. The Hebrews writer reminds us "therefore by Him [Jesus Christ, added WR] let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15, NKJV). In Christ and through Christ, we can fulfill what our Father in Heaven seeks: "...the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:23-24). 

Works Referenced:
Winkler, Dan. The Church at Home With God: A Study of Revelation. Tuscaloosa, AL: Winkler Publications, 2006. Print. Life Changing Studies With an Open Bible.