In 1887 a Baptist preacher in England named Charles Spurgeon was sick of people turning worship into some kind of circus. He said, ‘The extent to which seer frivolity and utterly inane amusement have been carried in connection with some places of worship would almost exceed belief...there can be no doubt that all sorts of entertainments, as nearly as possible approximating to stage-plays, have been carried on in connection with places of worship, and are at this present time, in high favour. Can these promote holiness, or help in communion with God? Can men come away from such things and plead with God for the salvation of sinners and the sanctification of believers? We loathe to touch the unhallowed subject; it seems so far removed from the walk of faith and the way of heavenly fellowship. In some cases the follies complained of are even beneath the dignity of manhood, and fitter for the region of the imbecile than for thoughtful men’. If Spurgeon thought preachers were acting like clowns in his day, what would he think if he saw the silly hollering and screaming in church services today? In light of the wild commotions in many worship services today, it is good to emphasize the following truths from Scripture: - When Moses drew near to the presence of God at the burning bush, God said, “Put off thy shoes from off thy feet” (Ex. 3:5). - A priest that approached the altar of the Lord in indecent dress was to die for his disrespect toward God (Ex. 28:42-43). - Nadab and Abihu died when they offered strange fire to the Lord (Lev. 10:1-2). - “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about him” (Psa. 89:7). - God told the Israelites that if a son respects his father and a servant honors his master, then they ought to reverence Him (Malachi 1:6). Malachi was talking about the disrespect they showed in worship. - While we are to come boldly to the throne of grace in prayer (Heb. 4:16), this does not mean that we should do so lightly or flippantly. The same book tells us to “serve God with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29). - John fell down at the feet of the angel to worship and was told not to worship this fellow servant (Rev. 22:8-9). Even in trying to worship an angel; John did not jump and yell and try to be cute like some preachers today do in worship services. Instead, he bowed in reverent fear. If John showed this kind of respect toward an angel-misguided though it was-how much more reverence should we show toward God? - Paul told the Corinthian brethren that visitors would think they were crazy if they saw these Christians trying to speak in tongues at the same time (1 Cor. 14:23). He told them to speak one at a time (vv. 27-32) and added that “God is not the author of confusion” (v. 33). The word “confusion” means a disturbance or disorder, and that is exactly what described the worship setting at Corinth. Paul rebuked them and said “Let all things be done decently and in order” (v. 40). Rom. 10:1-3 - Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. Rom. 1:16-17 - For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. What we learn from these two texts is that God’s righteousness is found in the gospel of Christ. When we have zeal apart from knowledge, we establish our own righteousness, and fail to submit to God’s righteousness. Since God’s righteousness is found in the gospel, then when refuse to submit to God’s righteousness, it is the same as refusing to obey the gospel. What will happen to all who refuse to obey the gospel of Christ? 2 Thess. 2: 7-9 - And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power... Our worship is to be in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). We know how we are to worship, and what we are to do from the examples of worship in the New Testament. Jesus said if we love Him, we will ‘keep’ His commandments. (John 14:15) Obedience to Jesus’ commands will not occur without faith as stated in Heb. 11:6, “but without faith it is impossible to please God.” Yet faith without obedience is “dead”, James 2:24. Let us submit to God’s righteousness which is found in the gospel of Christ. This is the only way to truly “love” the Lord.
Our worship is certainly not to be frivolous or a circus. It is not to be offered without reverence, but with zeal that is according to knowledge. Are you disturbed by the frivolity and utterly inane amusement; with all sorts of entertainments, as nearly as possible approximating to stage-plays, have been carried on in connection with worship? We seek only to worship God as revealed in the gospel of Christ. If you share in this desire, we invite you to come examine what worship ought to be like as revealed in the Bible.
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