Archive for May, 2011

A paper I wrote in my last days of highschool. Keep in mind that after reading this paper a year later from writing it, I realize there was so much more I could have said and things I might change, but knowledge and wisdom come with experience and time, so bear with me.

Many people today believe that we should make worship services fit the times in order to bring people to Christ. Why? Because the traditional form of worship doesn’t seem to be “working.” Individuals want results in their churches, and they want it now. It’s as if everyone is racing to see who can “convert” the most people in the least amount of time. While we can’t just crawl into a hole, cross our fingers, and hope everything turns out alright in the end, we aren’t going to get very far by changing the gospel so that it fits different individuals’ needs.

At this time I will present two arguments on why I believe that Christians should not have “contemporary” worship services in order to “reach” postmodernists.

My first argument for not having contemporary worship services in order to reach postmodernists has to do with worship: the purpose of worship, the focus of worship, and the blessings of proper worship.

So what is the purpose of worship? The purpose of worship is to glorify God. It is for believers to come together to worship God corporately. In his book Postmodern Times, Gene Edward Veith says, “…as those who worshiped in traditional churches were always reminded, it [worship] is a matter of being gathered into His cross.”1 Psalm 100 calls us to worship the Lord. “Come into his presence with singing . . .enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!” (v. 2b, 4a) The purpose of worship is to enter into the Lord’s presence and praise Him.

Knowing the purpose of worship should make it plain as to whom we should focus on when we worship. If our purpose is to come into God’s presence, then when we meet together we should be focusing on God. Sadly, in contemporary services the focus tends to be on man. The focus is placed on how the service makes you feel, what you come away with, or how much your desire is gratified. It’s all about man not God. Because people believe worship should be focused on them, they look for entertainment in worship.

“Our tendency in the postmodern age is to evaluate everything in terms of its entertainment value. Judging a worship service according to how entertaining it is misses the point…worship is not entertainment, but coming into the presence of a holy God. A relationship with Christ is not contingent upon how good we feel.”

One of the ways in which postmodernists entertain in worship is with church praise bands, or worship bands. Music is a powerful tool in engaging our emotions. Praise bands perform contemporary music and therefore it appeals to the crowds because they can relate to it. This idea seems intriguing when Robert Godfrey explains that people believe that making church services entertaining will bring unbelievers into Christianity. It seems to be a very effective mode of evangelism. Godfrey goes on to say, however, that while there certainly is nothing wrong with evangelism, church services on Sunday mornings are not the place for this.

“Faithful worship where the primary purpose is the meeting of God with his people through His word, may well have the secondary result that unbelievers will come to faith. But worship must not be constructed for the unbeliever. Rather, it is for God and the church.”

When we come to worship we are in the presence of a holy God and our emphasis should be on Him. God promises us that if we remember what we have come to do, then He will bless us.
Through proper worship come the blessings of joy in the Lord and strength to go forth in His grace. The Holy Spirit imparts the blessings to believers as they receive the Word of God and partake of the sacraments.

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob…” Isaiah 58:13, 14

My Second reason for not having contemporary worship services in order to reach postmodernists has to do with sin. In contemporary worship services people are told that they can be saved and all their sins will be forgiven if they just accept Christ. Individuals are called to step forward and invite Christ into their hearts. This is a false teaching. It causes people to believe that salvation is something they can obtain; all you have to do is make a choice. But Paul tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
These same people are led to believe that after they have “accepted” Christ, they never have to do anything else in their Christian walk. They falsely believe that because they have accepted Christ they are saved forever, that they can continue on in their wicked ways and never go to church again. This is all a false view of sin and salvation. In his book Holiness, J. C. Ryle says there is more to Christianity than realizing our sinfulness. Once we have convinced someone of their sin, we need to also shine the light on their Savior.

“When. . .our conscience is really awake and alive, I find it hard to believe that a sensuous ceremonial Christianity will thoroughly satisfy us . . . Music, and flowers, and candles, and incense, and banners, and processions, and beautiful vestments and confessionals and man-made ceremonies of a semi-Romish character, may do well enough for him under certain conditions. But once let him “awake and rise from the dead,” and he will not rest content with these things. . .once let him see his sin, and he must see his Saviour. . .he hungers and thirsts, and he must have nothing less than the bread of life.”

In order to come to Christ, people must be made aware of their sin, but once they are aware of it, they must all learn of Jesus’ work on the cross, and they must continue to grow in sanctification and grace. Christians grow in grace through the reading of the word of God, and hearing it preached among other means. That being said, it is easy to see that worship services are not to persuade us of our sin over and over again, but to help us to grow in the salvation we have already been given.

In 1 Corinthians 14:24-25, Paul warns against changing worship in order to entertain unbelievers. He says an unbeliever is more likely to be convicted of sin and to come and worship God if our worship is righteous and according to God’s word.

“If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.”

It is not through bringing in worship teams and entertaining that we draw people to Christ. It is through the revealing of sin and our need for Christ, the proclaiming of God’s wonderful salvation through Christ’s death on the cross, and the gathering of believers in corporate worship.

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Read this:

Romans 11 (New International Version)

The Remnant of Israel

1 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
7 What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, 8 as it is written:

“God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that could not see
and ears that could not hear,
to this very day.”

9 And David says:

“May their table become a snare and a trap,
a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
10 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent forever.”

Ingrafted Branches

11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!
13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry 14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

All Israel Will Be Saved

25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written:
“The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
27 And this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”

28 As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29 for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32 For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Doxology

33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
36 For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Now read it again, this time soaking it up, drinking it in and stopping every few verses to consider what you’ve just read. Are you in awe yet of God’s foreknowledge and power and lovingkindness and faithfulness? Listen to what Paul is saying! ‘…and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root…’ You, my friend, should take heart; you have been shown mercy after mercy and kindness after kindness; YOU have become a branch of the tree of Life! The tree of Life. With this promise given to us, we can truly say, ‘to him be the glory forever, amen and amen!’

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