What is Acceptable Worship to God?

God is the creator of all things, and most of us have no trouble believing famous Biblical stories such as Noah and the Ark, Moses and the Ten Commandments, and Daniel in the Lion's Den. We believe these passages from God's Word because they are recorded in the Bible. We respect our Creator by accepting His Word as truth, and we do not add to these passages or take from them. Why then do we have so much trouble accepting His Word as truth when pertaining to acceptable worship to God? God Almighty has given us instructions on how to worship Him. How can we ignore His simple instructions and expect to be acceptable? God honors His perfect Laws, and not man's feeble attempts to stray from His instructions. Why don't we just do what He asks? What does He require of us? Only God has given us instructions for everything pertaining to life and godliness (II Peter 1:3). Rather than follow the thousands of doctrines of men, we should all want to follow the simple instructions from Almighty God. Since the Bible has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (II Peter 1:3), we do not need any instruction except from the Bible. The following portions of His word tell us this. (All of the indented, bulletted paragraphs are complete passages from the New King James Version of God's Word. The non-indented paragraphs are from me, and are not Scripture. However, the passages from God's Word cannot be disputed.)

The Bible is All That We Need

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.------II Timothy 3:16-17 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.------James 1:25 As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.-----II Peter 1:3 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."------John 8:31-32

From the previous passages, we can easily understand that God's Word, the Bible, is perfect. It makes us complete, and it makes us free. If we believe the Bible to be true, than we will believe the previous passages and recognize that the Bible is the best guide that we have for worshiping God. Even though the Bible is the superior guide for worshiping God, most religious people feel that some of God's Laws are a little outdated. Man is intent to change God's simple, perfect instructions by "spicing them up" to draw a bigger crowd. Does God approve of man's ignorance of His Holy instructions? Is it OK to just leave out some of the aspects of worship that fickle man sees as "inconvenient" or "silly"? Can we change the rules?

We Cannot Distort God's Word
We know that the Bible is all that we need to be complete and do God's will. Not only does God tell us that His word is all that we need—He tells us that any attempts to please Him, using anything but the Bible, is evil and in vain:

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For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.------Revelation 22:18-19 "You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."------Deuteronomy 4:2 "Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it."------Deuteronomy 12:32 Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.-----Proverbs 30:5-6 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.------II Timothy 4:3-4 And Jesus said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God."------Luke 16:15 That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.------Ephesians 4:14 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.------I Timothy 4:12

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There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.-----Proverbs 14:12 Jesus said, "These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrine the commandments of men."------Matthew 15:8-9

From the previous passages of Scripture, we can definitely be sure that God is only satisfied with our worship if we follow the Bible only, with none of man's feeble additives.

The Old Testament Does Not Bind Us Today
What are God's instructions for worship? We know that we have to use God's word or our worship is in vain. Do we worship according to the Old Testament or the New one? The church was started in the New Testament. Should Old Testament laws be binding for the Lord's people today? The next passages show us that none of the Old Testament is in effect now:

For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness. For the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. By so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.------Hebrews 7:18-19,22 But now Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if the first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.------Hebrews 8:6-7 In that Christ says, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.------Hebrews 8:13

The Old Testament Was Written for Our Learning
We now know that the Old Testament is exactly what the name implies—old. Not even the Ten Commandments are in effect since Jesus died. The Lord tells us through Paul that the Old Testament must not be forgotten, though:

For whatsoever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.-----Romans 15:4

Did Christ Die for Many Churches?
God tells us the answer in His word:
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Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.------Acts 2:47 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.-----Acts 5:11 As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.------Acts 8:3

Christ built His church (Matthew 16:18). Christ died for His church. Christ died for those that follow His gospel as revealed in the New Testament. Christ did not die for those that follow any of man's fickle changes to His perfect gospel (Galatians 1:8-9). Did people ask the apostles what church they attended? The apostles were part of THE CHURCH. Denominations have divided from the church to satisfy some of man's problems with God's perfect instructions. If you are part of a denomination, why not give up your denominational name and only wear the name of Christ instead of Smith, Wesley, or White. Why not simply be a Christian? You should become part of THE CHURCH because it was founded by Christ, not some imperfect man.

The Church is the Body of Christ
Different churches are not mentioned in the Bible. However, there are over 60 instances of the phrase, "the church" in the New Testament. The church is Christ's body:

And Jesus is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.-----Colossians 1:18 And God put all things under His feet, and gave Christ to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.------Ephesians 1:22-23 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.-----Colossians 1:24

Jesus Bought His Church With His Blood
The church was purchased with Christ's blood, a perfect sacrifice for sins:

"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood."------Acts 20:28

Christ's Church is Not Divided Into Denominations
As we discussed before, Christ's church is not divided. God is against division:

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.-----I Corinthians 1:10 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.------I Corinthians 12:13 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.------Ephesians 4:4-6 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.------Colossians 3:15

There cannot be any divisions, or denominations, of Christ's true church. If we will follow only the New Testament examples of Christ and His church, we will be the pure non-denominational, un-denominational, and anti-denominational true church that is Jesus' church.

How Does the Church Worship?
1) Prayer Through Christ
God has instructed us to pray to Him through Jesus Christ. We only have the privilege of praying directly to God because of the sacrifice of Jesus. Christ is our one mediator between God and ourselves:

For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,------I Timothy 2:5-6

Instead of telling us to ask Jesus in prayer, Jesus Himself has told us that we must ask through His name:

Jesus said, "And whatever you ask in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, keep My commankments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever------John 14:13-16

So many religious groups encourage followers to pray to dead people of the past. This is supported nowhere in the Scriptures, so according to the Bible, this must be the commandment of some man, which is vain. Other groups encourage followers to pray to Jesus to let Him "come into their hearts." The Bible never tells us to pray to Jesus. God only tells His people to pray to Him through Christ Jesus. Notice in all of the following passages that we pray to God, not dead people or Christ:

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Peter said, "Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity." Then Simon answered and said, "Pray to the Lord for me, that none of the things which you have spoken may come upon me."------Acts 8:22-24 [Cornelius], a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.------Acts 10:2 Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God by the church.------Acts 12:5 Brethren, my [Paul] heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.------Romans 10:1 Judge among yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?------I Corinthians 11:13 Now I [Paul] pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified.------II Corinthians 13:7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;------Philippians 4:6 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,------Colossians 1:3

There are many other examples of God telling us to pray to Him—not Jesus, and certainly not dead people of the past.

2) Teaching About Christ
All must be taught the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ to be saved. Therefore, every worship service of the Lord's church has teaching.

3) Communion With Christ
The church has the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week, which is Sunday. God writes through Paul about the church at Troas in Acts 20:7:

Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.------Acts 20:7

We know that the church described in the previous verse is the church that we are all striving to become. Remember that God is only satisfied with the worship of the church that does not worship according to the doctrine of men. In the last Scripture, we see that the church came together on the first day of the week to break bread. Why did they come together? They came together to break bread, or partake of the Lord's Supper.

What Does the Communion With Christ Mean?
God tells us:

This cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?------I Corinthians 10:16 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.------I Corinthians 11:26

How Often Should We Commune With Christ?
Many denominational groups believe that frequent proclaimation of the Lord's death is not important. However, the Bible tells us that the purpose of the church coming together on Sunday is to break bread and celebrate Christ's saving sacrifice. God did not say to break bread on the first day of the month, or quarter, or on Saturday. He told us that the church does it on Sunday. Instead of relying on a manmade timetable, the true church will partake of the Lord's Supper as much as Scripturally possible, so that Christ's death can be proclaimed. Christ's church breaks bread on every first day of the week.

4) Offering Money to Lead Others to Christ
The church worships by giving an offering of money. This money is given so that the Lord's saving message might be heard by all:

On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper.------I Corinthians 16:2

How Often Should We Give?
Read the previous verse again. Notice that the church at Corinth is instructed to give on the first day of the week. God used this exact same phrase to describe the Lord's Supper in Acts 20:7. Since God gave the same conditions for communion and the offering, we should partake in communion just as often as the offering. Isn't this the only solution that fits God's instructions? Many denominational men would have us believe that we should give money 2 or 3 times a week, but partake of communion with our Savior only once every 3 months. Doesn't God tell us to do them both on the first day of the week? Therefore, the church that follows God's word will obey His instructions for worship on every Sunday. How can we worship unless we do these things? If these are not done every Sunday, are we worshiping God completely? We must use all of the opportunities God has given us to worship Him at every chance.

Should We Tithe?
Some believe that we must give a certain percentage, such as 10%, of our earnings to be acceptable. This was true for the Jewish people in the Old Testament. It is not an instruction for the church, because the church was established during the New Testament. We have already noted that Christ made the Old Testament obsolete. Here is the amount of offering that God tells the church to give:
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On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper.------I Corinthians 16:2 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.------II Corinthians 9:6-7

God has not given Christians any instructions to tithe. Those that follow this practice should stop giving out of necessity, holding to the Old 10% rule. The New Law tells Christians to simply give cheerfully.

5) Singing About Christ
Christ's church worships by singing. The New Testament tells us that we should sing:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with gladness in your hearts to the Lord.------Colossians 3:16

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Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.------Ephesians 5:19 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God.------Acts 16:25 For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.------Romans 15:9 I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with understanding.------I Corinthians 14:15 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mt. of Olives.-----Matthew 26:30 Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.------James 5:13 In the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to you.------Hebrews 2:12

Should We Worship With Choirs?
We cannot add to God's word and be acceptable. From the passages mentioned earlier in our study, we know that God is satisfied with those that worship Him in truth. God's word is truth. The previous 8 verses tell us to sing, but nothing is said about choirs. Those verses tell us to sing to worship. Watching someone else sing is not worship. Since watching a choir is not supported by God's word, it must be the commandment of some man, which is vain worship. God specifically instructs the church to sing.

Should We Worship With Musical Instruments?
Many follow the doctrines of men that authorize organs and harps and other musical instruments. This is also not supported by New Testament Scripture. God was worshiped this way in the unprofitable, imperfect, obsolete Old Testament. These people were given strict instructions by God:

And he stationed the Levites in the house of the Lord with cymbals, with stringed instruments, and with harps, according to the commandment of David, of Gad the king's seer, and of Nathan the prophet; for thus was the commandment of the Lord by His prophets. The Levites stood with the instruments of David, and the priests with the trumpets. Then Hezekiah commanded them to offer the burnt offering on the altar. And when the song of the Lord also began, with the trumpets and with the instruments of David king of Israel. So all the assembly worshipped, the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded; all this continued until the burnt offering was finished.------II Chronicles 29:25-28

These people were all Jewish, and they also sacrificed bulls and other animals. Are you Jewish? Do you worship God by sacrificing animals? This was an Old Testament example of God's instructions to God's people.

The church worships according to the New Testament. Just as God specified harps and cymbals in the Old Testament, He specifies singing for us today. We cannot add to His word and be acceptable. Therefore, the church that has been bought with Christ's blood is satisfied just worshiping according to God's commandments of singing. It's odd that so many religious bodies will add instruments to worship, but yet none will add steamed carrots and Jello to the Lord's Supper. Musical instruments are parts of worship commanded by men, and so they are used in vain.

Where Can We Find Christ's True Church?
Christ's Church can be found where a group of Christians are worshiping according to the Bible. The instructions for worship have been given by God in His Word. Christianity is a simple faith. If you are a member of a denomination, why not give up your man-made name and be simply called "Christian"? Christ began His church 1970 years ago. Christ did not die for man-made, denominational organizations. He died for His church. If a church worships according to the instructions given in the New Testament, it is truly part of Christ's church. Most churches of Christ worship according to the instructions given in God's Word. Therefore, they qualify as true churches. Churches of Christ that fit the Scriptural mold have not divided away—they are not denominations. They have honestly tried to become the true church that Christ bought with His blood. However, some churches of Christ have fallen into denominational practices, and taken the wide gate that leads to destruction. You should avoid these along with all denominations. Always be on the alert for un-Scriptural practices. It is your responsibility to follow God's instructions for worship. Try to find a sound church of Christ in your area. I implore you to look to God's word in all things. Please take the time to check all of the doctrine of your place of worship to see if it qualifies as Christ's church. If it does not, you must take responsibility for your soul and find a group of un-erring Christians. Good luck and God bless.