Tuesday, May 25, 2010 - Sanctity of Worship John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Christ tells us that we are to worship the Lord thy God in “spirit and in truth.”The fact that he tells us to worship in truth means that we can know the truth in regards to how we worship God. It really is that simple. Yet there are hundreds of congregations that bring innovations to worship which are simply not authorized in the New Testament.
I want to share two articles with you that deal with the following subjects:
* Is Clapping of Hands in Worship Appropriate? * Children's church
These articles are written by Godly men that have a long track record of standing for the truth.
Is Clapping of Hands Appropriate in Worship? - T.Pierce Brown
The question was raised primarily in reference to applauding at a baptismal service. The one who asked it remarked that it seemed to him that it was equivalent to saying "Amen" at the end of someone's prayer, and merely indicated approval of what was being done. If it were merely equivalent to taking his hand and saying, "I rejoice in your obedience," I would have no objection to it. However, it involves other significant principles.
Let us examine some and try to arrive at a scriptural answer to the question. When we say "scriptural answer" we do not claim that we know a scripture that deals directly with the question, for if there was an approved example of early Christians doing it, or a command that indicated the propriety of it, we would not need to discuss the matter. If we could find a scripture that said, "Do not clap hands" we would not need to discuss the matter. So we must examine principles and scriptures that deal with broader matters, and strive to make logical application of them.
First, let us look at the assumption that the clapping of hands is no more than simply expressing agreement with a statement or action, as "Amen" might be. When an audience claps and shouts approval of Michael Jackson's performance, would it evidence about the same thing if the audience said, "Amen?"
The basic meaning of "Amen" is "may it be so." It has various nuances in other contexts, but the basic idea is approval of what another has said. The basic purpose of clapping of hands in our society is to show approval of a person's performance, involving his skill or ability.
When a person is baptized properly, it is approved of God and by all subjects of God. When a person prays appropriately, takes the Lord's Supper or sings properly, the same thing is true. Should we applaud at any or all of those times? If not, why?
Note two or three significant things. If a professional singer performs and the audience applauds, they are normally applauding the performance of the musician. Is there anything in God's word that leads one to assume that when a person leads a song, leads a prayer, or preaches in worship, his performance is to be applauded? Is he, or his performance the center of attention? Or should our attention be on the message and the Christ whom the message should exalt?
In fact, if one applauded when a person got through leading a prayer at the Lord's supper and removed the top of the containers of the fruit of the vine, would anyone know whether you were applauding the beautiful way he led the prayer, the superb flourish with which he removed the lid without banging it against the table, or the fact that Jesus died for us? Is either of them the fit subject for applause? Just because you said, "Amen" when he offered the prayer, and approved of what went on, assuming that God also approved of it, would you advocate applause at that point? If the argument about clapping hands being equivalent to saying "amen" were valid, you would. If you had been standing at the foot of the cross when Jesus died, and knew the purpose for which He died, would you have approved of his loving sacrifice? If so, would it have been appropriate for you to applaud as the soldier thrust his spear into the side of our Lord? If you can see why not, it should not be too difficult for you to see why not in the other cases mentioned.
There are other principles involved. The performance of a singer or pianist on the stage is supposed to be a performance which calls attention to the skill or ability of the artist who is performing. Thus, it is appropriate to applaud or withhold applause in terms of how you valued the skill or ability of the performer. That is not true with reference to the act of baptism, preaching, prayer, singing in worship, or waiting on the Lord's Table. If one applauded at a baptism, he might be applauding the skill with which the baptizer put the person under the water without getting himself wet. I saw a person baptize another on one occasion by grabbing him around the throat with both hands and bending him backwards with no other support. I might have applauded the fact that he came up alive without being strangled or choked to death. But my point here is that applause always calls attention to the performers of the act, whatever the act may be. At a baptism, preaching, praying, etc. we should be calling attention to the grace and love of the Savior who authorized those acts. When a preacher is preaching and I say, "Amen," I am not calling attention to the performance of the preacher, but to the message which exalts Christ. When a person is praying, and I say, "Amen" I am not calling attention to the beauty or eloquence of his phraseology, but to the validity and worth of his petition. If I applauded, I would be calling attention to his performance. This is inappropriate, and has no place in an assembly for the worship of God. When a person is baptized, I approve of his action, if it is in obedience to the command of the Lord, who said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). I also approve of the action of the person doing the baptizing, if he is doing it by the authority of Christ, in the way Christ commanded, for the purpose Christ ordained. If applauding by clapping of the hands was nothing more than a way of saying, "I'm glad he did that, for it glorifies God," I would have no objection to it. But since God's word gives no indication that He wants to be glorified in that way, and since that kind of applause is always used to call attention to the performers of the act rather than to God, or the God ordained purpose of the act, I object to it.
If you have thought it appropriate to applaud at a baptism, because you are merely showing gladness or approval of the act, and still think so, then try to give a sound and sensible answer to the question, "At what place in the worship or service of God would you not want to applaud by clapping the hands, since you should approve of every scriptural act?" Should it be done after the songs, after the reading and/or prayer, after the Lord's supper, after the sermon, or any time and every time you feel like rejoicing?
Showing approval by saying "amen" is specifically authorized by scripture (1 Cor. 14:16). The New Testament contains fifty examples of "amen" being used to solemnly confirm a prayer, blessing, statement of praise or statement of truth. No authorization or example of clapping hands to show approval or for any other purpose is found.
CHILDREN'S CHURCH - Dennis Gulledge
I walk into a place of meeting and pass a classroom where children are assembled. "Children¹s church" has begun. A bulletin article reads, "It was proposed that we see if there is an interest in having a Children's Church'S" It seems to be a common thing nowadays. The Bible has nothing to say about "Children's Church." Inherent in the title is its own deficiency. The Lord created his church, and that should be sufficient. That the church met together in one assembly is not questioned (1 Cor. 11:20; 14:23). There is no divine authority for a "Children's Church," and a dozen reasons cannot alter God's pattern for his church.Arguments for having "Children's Church" are usually based on the needs of the child. It is believed that a child does not get much out of "regular worship." It is proposed, therefore, that worship be adapted to the child¹s own age level and interest. Also, getting the kids out of the auditorium makes for quieter worship."Children's Church" is another way of breaking up the family. One of the blessings of the worship assembly is the family unity that it entails. The inside article, written by Lester Kamp, is excellent in that it counsels parents in ways to assist children in getting more out of worship. When the entire church can come together to worship God as he directs there will be meaning and growth for everyone from the babies to the oldest!
CHILDREN IN WORSHIP - Lester Kamp
One of our main goals in life is to help our children and other young people to become Christians who are faithful to God¹s Word and active in His kingdom, the church. We want to "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). We want them to know the joy of knowing, serving and worshiping the Lord. Our children should be taught why we worship, how we worship, and how to make our worship most effective. Here are a few ideas that will help us train our children to be good worshipers.
1. Set a good example. Children need to see you worship and the joy it brings to your life. You need to come to the worship assemblies regularly with an attitude of joy and anticipation not with a sense of drudgery or obligation. You need to sing, bow in prayer, listen intently to the sermon, give joyfully, and partake of the Lord Supper meditatively. Children will follow your example, so set the right kind.
2. Prepare the child. Before Sunday, talk to your child about how to act in the assembly. Tell the child why we pray, sing, give, partake of the Lord's Supper weekly, and listen to a sermon. As you would in preparing him for school, make sure the child gets enough rest the night before to be awake and alert on Sunday.
3. Involve the child. When singing, help him locate the page of the song. With your finger on his book, point to the word as we sing. Encourage your child to sing even though he may not always sing the right words. When the sermon is delivered, help the child locate the Scriptures cited and/or encourage him to write them down. This impresses upon the child the importance of paying attention. It also stresses that worship is active and not passive.
4. Avoid disturbances. Make sure that your child has gone to the restroom and for a drink of water before the worship service begins. Traffic in and out of the auditorium during worship is both unnecessary (with but few exceptions) and disruptive to the worship of many.
5. Sit up toward the front. Don¹t follow the natural tendency to sit in the back so that your child does not disturb others. Think positively. Sit close to the front so that your child can see and hear what is happening. You'll be amazed at how much better he will behave when you sit toward the front, and how much more meaningful worship will be to you too.
6. Follow through. Reinforce your child's learning by discussing various aspects of the worship period afterwards.
7. Be patient. Children will not act like adults, but with patience and love, they can be taught to love God and worship Him from the heart. This process will take time, but it will be time well spent. The time to begin is now, regardless of how young your child is.
These articles I have shared get to the heart of the matter. I know there are many people who feel there is nothing wrong with children’s worship (or whatever it might be called at their place of worship), but I submit for your consideration the following excerpt from my lesson on worship in the Lord’s church.
Please always remember that what we do is not about what we like or want, but what God desires of us.
1.6. Some will say there is nothing unscriptural about Youth Worship, Junior Worship, Children’s Bible Hour, or whatever it may be called.WRONG!The controversy over split assemblies does not deal with the actions that take place within the worship service, though in some instances it could and should; but with the very nature of the assembly itself.The controversy is: WHAT IS THE ASSEMBLY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT?The very essence, the very being of the assembly is the controversy.Split assemblies is the removal of all or part of the children (or any other group) from the worship service of the Lord’s church to another part of the building for a separate service for either part or the entire duration of the service. 1.6.1.When the question of the assembly and its necessity is brought up, the first passage that comes to mind is Hebrew 10:23-25. 220.127.116.11. Paul shows the central position of the assembly to the Christian life.It is not to be forsaken; there is not to be a choice made not to attend.To forsake the assembly is to forsake the church, which is to forsake Christ. 18.104.22.168. This passage contains a direct command: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” 22.214.171.124. The word assemble comes from one Greek word, episunagoge.It means to assemble together.It occurs only twice in the New Testament, Hebrews 10:25 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1.Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament defines it “a gathering together in one place.”The direct command of the Scriptures is for each congregation to assemble together in one place. 126.96.36.199. Not only do we have the direct command, we have examples illustrating the command.The most common word in describing the assembly of the saints is sunerchomai.This word means to come together and is used 34 times in the New Testament (1 Cor. 11:17, 18, 20, 33, 34; 14:23, 26).It is interesting to note that the same word translated “come together” in reference to the local church assembling is the same word translated “come together” of conjugal cohabitation in reference to a husband and wife in a marriage.It is not possible for a husband and wife to “come together” if they are not both in the same place at the same time.The uses and definitions of sunerchomai should be sufficient to establish the fact that in accordance with the command to assemble together, the early church assembled itself together in one place as one group.We have a direct command for the local church to assemble itself together in one place as one group, and an approved apostolic example illustrating compliance with the command of the local congregation assembling itself together in one place as one group. 188.8.131.52. James 2:2 makes reference to the assembly of Christians.The word translated assembly here is sunagoge.This word occurs 57 times in the New Testament, once as “assembly”, once as “congregation”, and 55 times as synagogue.It means, “an assembling together”.The assembly of which James spoke was the meeting of the church.It was the gathering together of the members of the local congregation. 184.108.40.206. The basic concept or principle of our worship to God is revealed in the scriptures.The five avenues of worship are specified in their basic nature and will be discussed in detail in the next section.It would be strange if every avenue of worship contained in the assembly was specified, and yet the very nature of the assembly itself was not.However, even as every avenue of worship is specified, so is the assembly itself.The assembly of the saints was, and is, the coming together of the members of the local congregation into one place as one group in order to provoke one another unto love and good works, offering praise and thanksgiving unto God. 1.6.2.Are split assemblies unscriptural 220.127.116.11. To be unscriptural, they would have to add to the command and/or example or subtract from those commands and/or examples, or it would have to violate a negative command.Split assemblies shall be simply our original premise – the separation of some of those in attendance of a congregation for the assembly, and placing them in a separate worship group, meeting, or assembly, for all or part of the time of the main assembly. 18.104.22.168.1. Does the Bible directly command split assemblies?NO 22.214.171.124.2. Does the Bible contain an explicit approved example of split assemblies?NO 126.96.36.199.3. Does the Bible by expedient implication allow for split assemblies?NO 188.8.131.52.3.1. Assemble together (Heb. 10:25) 184.108.40.206.3.2. Assemble in one place (1 Cor. 11:20) 220.127.116.11.3.3. The separation of some individuals is a disassembling, not an assembling together.It violates the example of assembling together by dividing by two. 18.104.22.168.3.4. It is an addition to the command by making two assemblies out of one, and a subtraction from the command by removing some of the individuals from the assembly. 22.214.171.124.3.5. Where does the scriptures ever authorize the removal from the assembly of some adults to oversee or teach children?It doesn’t! 126.96.36.199.4. James 2:1-6, James rebukes the saints for showing partiality in the assembly by separating the rich and poor.If such a separation of rich and poor was condemned, can separation between young and old, or any other groups be pleasing to God? 188.8.131.52. The opposition to split assemblies is not based upon matters of judgment, opinion, custom or tradition, but because they violate the nature of the assembly as revealed in the New Testament. 1.6.3.What some will argue to justify split assemblies 184.108.40.206. “It is used to teach children how to behave in worship.”What better place to teach children the proper spirit and demeanor than in the assembly where they can observe mature Christians worshipping their Creator.Also, who is given the responsibility for teaching children?(Prov. 22:6, Eph. 6:4) 220.127.116.11. “Children can and will learn more on their own level than with the adults.”Worship is not just about learning; it is a time of pouring out the heart and soul in adoration and thanksgiving unto God.Worship is an act that is directed toward God, not man. 18.104.22.168. “If split assemblies are wrong, so are Bible classes.”Bible classes are not, and never have been the assembly; they are expedient to carry out the command to teach (Matt. 28:20).
May God bless you as you continue to grow in His Word.