Worship is a very serious topic. I am deeply concerned and troubled about the current worship trends. In a recent discussion among some Christian ministers, I heard one make the statement, “You can never negotiate the gospel message. It is non-negotiable.”
Worship Style is Not Negotiable
Like the gospel message, worship style is not negotiable. Why do I say that? Because God has plainly lain out the kind of worship man is to follow.
“And it shall come to pass [If the Word says it will come to pass, you can believe it will come to pass,] that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 66:23. Heaven is God’s throne. What will take place in heaven at His throne? I see an important word; the key word in this reading is “worship.”
We are going to worship God in heaven. As I began to think about this message, I turned to my wife, Marjorie, and I said, “I cannot believe this. What are we thinking about as a people?”
After reading Isaiah 66, some serious questions must be asked:
Is Jesus coming soon?
What kind of worship will we attend in heaven?
Will we have the type of worship that is being promoted on the videos, “Are you ready for Church?” and “Are You Ready for Worship?” If you have not seen these videos, you need to see them. [Editor’s Note: These videos are available from Steps to Life.]
Will we have the type of worship displayed by the youth at the General Conference session in Toronto, Canada? It was worse, as far as I am concerned, because it went to every nook and corner of the world. So the answer is, absolutely not! We will not have that kind of worship in heaven.
Where do the General Conference leaders get the idea that we will have the type of worship in heaven or in the new earth that consists of dancing around, clapping hands and playing drums? Will this be the style of worship in the new church and the true church in heaven? No, it will not.
Habakkuk 2:20 says, “…the Lord is in His holy temple. let all the earth keep silence before Him.”
God Gave the Order of His Service
“…God Himself gave the order of His service, exalting it high above everything of a temporal nature.” Child Guidance, 540. Is that not a powerful statement?
A great man of the Bible spoke of the sacredness of the place where the Lord dwells. “And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place!” What did he say? “How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Genesis 28:16, 17.
Think of the General Conference session and of the “Are You Ready for Worship?” video in context with this text. Would God want to attend such a place? “God is high and holy; and to the humble, believing soul, His house on earth, the place where His people meet for worship, is as the gate of heaven.” The Faith I Live By, 188. As the gate of heaven!
What will heaven be like? Have we ever thought about that? If we did, would we act like we are doing in our churches across this country today?
Our Church, a Sanctuary?
Is our church a sanctuary? Is it a place set aside for worship? Is God supposed to be there? “And let them [He is speaking here of the people.] make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” Exodus 25:8.
“Those who assemble to worship Him should put away every evil thing. [Did they put away every evil thing on those videos or at the General Conference session? I do not think so.] Unless they worship Him in spirit and truth and in the beauty of holiness [Do you want to guess what is written next?], their coming together will be of no avail.” The Faith I Live, 189. In other words, He cannot place a blessing on it.
Totally Unacceptable to God
This is what we need to consider. With a turning away from Scripture and from the Spirit of Prophecy explanations of the true worship of God in His holy temple, there has come in a worship style that is totally unacceptable to God.
The current style of worship and of music are driving, and will drive, the presence of the Lord away. I believe that! God, in His time, will deal with the irreverence. What is the problem? Many have forgotten that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (See Psalm 111:10 and Proverbs 9:10.) O worship the Lord in holiness.
The Gate of Heaven
“…the Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:20. Does that not mean reverence to you? “God Himself gave the order of His service, exalting it high above everything of a temporal nature.” The Faith I Live By, 189. Now notice this: “God is high and holy; and to the humble, believing soul, His house on earth, the place [sanctuary, church, a place of worship] where His people meet for worship, is as the gate of heaven.” Ibid., 188.
Does that sound like church is a boring place to be? My wife and I have watched the video—”Are You Ready for Church?”—and have witnessed over two hours of the last of the General Conference session regarding the method of worship by the young people with the puppet show that was shown to all the world. Then Jan Paulson, (President of the General Conference) put his blessing on it and had prayer, encouraging them to move forward with it. My heart aches!
It is Not Okay!
I have never been so concerned as to where the Seventh-day Adventist Church is headed in confusion and the wrong type of worship that will be used, as I now am. How many will be misled by this? What concerns me is if down the road you will not hear, “Well, the Conference does it.” “The leaders do it, so it must be okay.” The only thing is, it is not okay because the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy say it is not.
Many Seventh-day Adventists have lost sight of respecting the unseen presence of God the Father, Christ and the angels in our midst at worship time. I got to thinking and it has just struck me so powerfully.
Remember Exodus 3:5 where God instructed Moses to take off his shoes and told him that he was standing on holy ground? The ground was made holy by the presence of God. Who are we, then, to say we will do as we please? How does God feel about it? Look at Joshua 5:15. God told Joshua the same thing: “Remove your shoes.” Why? “You are on holy ground.”
The presence of God in the worship service today is openly violated by many. I hear now, quite often, the statement, “Church is boring, dull, dead.” Brother and Sister, I am going to tell you to be careful. I urge you, be careful of these words. If our daily relationship to God is on a personal, consecrated basis (Did you catch that?) church worship will not be boring.
Church is not a nightclub. A church is not a place to have fun and games. It is a place to reverence God. If the service is boring, then the people who make up the church are doing something wrong, and they might need to look at how they are addressing God. There may need to be a change in the worship service to make it proven and acceptable worship to God and of God, rather than acceptable to man or to the congregation.
Let me share a deep concern that I have. This concern is based upon the thinking of many church people today regarding how they worship, their respect for church worship and so forth.
What would you do, how would our members react if we had to offer animal sacrifices? Are you thankful that you do not have to do this?
“‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.’ Romans 12:1 …Every morning and evening a lamb of a year old was burned upon the altar, with its appropriate meat offering, thus symbolizing the daily consecration of the nation to Jehovah, and their constant dependence upon the atoning blood of Christ. God expressly directed that every offering presented for the service of the sanctuary should be [perfect] ‘without blemish…’ Only an offering ‘without blemish’ could be a symbol of His perfect purity who was to offer Himself as ‘a Lamb without blemish and without spot.’ 1 Peter 1:19. The apostle Paul points to these sacrifices as an illustration of what the followers of Christ are to become.” The Faith I Live By, 196.
Morning and Evening Prayer
Are we one of these followers? We are to become perfect! He says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.… The hours appointed for the morning and the evening sacrifice were regarded as sacred, and they came to be observed as the set time for worship throughout the Jewish nation…. In this custom, Christians have an example for morning and evening prayer.” Ibid.
Should we still do that? “While God condemns a mere round of ceremonies, without the spirit of worship, He looks with great pleasure upon those who love Him, bowing morning and evening to seek pardon for sins committed, to present their requests for needed blessings.” Ibid.
What do we get from this? If you had to bring a lamb when you came to church, what kind of lamb would you have to bring? You would have to bring one without blemish. Would He accept anything less? No. The question is, Would you like to have to do that every Sabbath?
So let us go a little bit farther with this. We are told we are to keep silent before Him; “The house is the sanctuary for the family.…” Ibid.,189. What house? “The house is the sanctuary for the family, and the closet or the grove the most retired place for individual worship; but the church is the sanctuary for the congregation.” Ibid. So, in other words, there needs to be a little sanctuary in your home. Our home should be a place where angels love to dwell. (See The Adventist Home, 19, 426.)
“In the name of Jesus we may come before Him with confidence, but we must not approach Him with the boldness of presumption. [Oh, it does not make any difference. He will enjoy what I am doing here, jumping around and clapping my hands, as long as I am praising Him.], as though He were on a level with ourselves.” The Faith I Live By, 189. That is the problem. He is not on the same level we are.
“There are those who address the great and all-powerful and holy God, who dwelleth in light unapproachable, as they would address an equal, or even an inferior. There are those who conduct themselves in His house as they would not presume to do in the audience– chamber of an earthy ruler.” Ibid. Do you get that picture? These earthly rulers, like the Queen of England, when people go near them, they reverence them, do they not?
“These should remember that they are in His sight whom seraphim adore. Those who assemble to worship Him should put away every evil thing. Unless they worship Him in spirit and truth and in the beauty of holiness, their coming together will be of no avail.” Ibid.
So you only have a form, but notice the next sentence. “It is your privilege, dear young friends, to glorify God upon the earth. In order to do this, you must direct your minds away from things that are superficial, frivolous, and unimportant, to those that are of eternal worth.” Ibid.
This has to do with the sanctuary. Jacob said the Lord is in this place. He realized the Lord was there. “True reverence for God is inspired by a sense of His infinite greatness and a realization of His presence….. [Not by jumping up and down!] God is high and holy; and to the humble, believing soul, His house on earth, the place where His people meet for worship, is as the gate of heaven. The song of praise, the words spoken by Christ’s ministers, are God’s appointed agencies to prepare a people for the church above.” Ibid., 188. There we will go from one Sabbath to another worshiping Him.
Is that the kind of worship that we have been talking about? Is that the kind of worship we are going to get ready and take with us? No. “The song of praise, the words spoken by Christ’s ministers, are God’s appointed agencies to prepare a people for the church above, for that loftier worship into which there can enter nothing that is impure.… God sees every [How much? All!.] irreverent thought or action, and it is registered in the books of heaven.” Ibid.
Those things that we saw in the videos and at the General Conference session, did that skip detection? “Nothing is hid from His all–searching eye. If you have formed in any degree the habit of inattention and indifference in the house of God, exercise the powers you have to correct it…. Practice reverence until it becomes a part of yourself.” Ibid.
You know, I cannot play a piano but my wife can. Why? She has done something that I have not done. She has practiced! Anybody who can play a piano has to spend many hours in practice. And here it says we are to practice. “Practice reverence until it becomes a part of you.”
If we had to carry out the sacrificial services today, how many people would be attending with the mindset of what this has just said to us? How does this compare with the slackness many are showing in worshiping God today? How many would come to worship if they had to sacrifice an animal? If we have a hard time coming to church and recognizing that it is the place where God’s presence dwells, and if we find it is a chore, what would we think about bringing an animal?
You know about the sanctuary service. Did everybody roam around in the olden times, just wherever they wanted to, go in when they wanted, and bring whatever animal they wanted to bring? No, they did not.
I hear a lot of times that we are too stern; we are too rigid, and we want too much order. But I tell you, God is a God of order. Are we thankful that Jesus was willing to sacrifice His blood once and for all? Are we thankful enough that we, as worshipers, show Jesus reverence for the love that He has shown for us?
Worship Services an Abomination
It would not be easy for me to bring a little innocent lamb. I will admit that. But the Lamb has already been slain. I do not have to do that. Are you getting my point here? We have been carrying on services in our churches across this country that are nothing but an abomination!
Hebrews 9:13, 14 tells us of the continually applied blood.”‘For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ… purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?’ [The] Redeemer… urges them to accept the salvation He offers them. The heifer, having been slain in a most solemn manner, the priest, clothed in pure white garments, took the blood in his hands as it issued from the body of the victim and cast it toward the temple seven times.…” The Faith I Live By, 200.
Are you not so thankful as we read this that Christ has made the sacrifice and we do not have to do it? “The body of the heifer was burned to ashes, which signified a whole and ample sacrifice.… This ceremony was repeated several times… and was done as a purification from sin. Thus Christ, in His own spotless righteousness, after shedding His precious blood, enters into the holy place to cleanse the sanctuary. And there the crimson current is brought into the service of reconciling God to man. Some may look upon this slaying of the heifer as a meaningless ceremony. [I am not so sure but what if this were done today we would say, “It is too big a deal. Let us just cut it out.”], but it was done by the command of God and bears a deep significance that has not lost its application to the present time.… If it was necessary in ancient times for the unclean to be purified by the blood of sprinkling, how essential for those living in the perils of the last days [Are we?], and exposed to the temptations of Satan, to have the blood of Christ applied to their [our] hearts daily.” Ibid., 200.
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Hebrews 9:12.
I want to paint the scene here again. “In the spring of A.D. 31, Christ, the true Sacrifice, was offered on Calvary. When Christ on the cross cried out, ‘It is finished,’ the veil of the temple was rent in twain. This veil was significant to the Jewish nation. It was of most costly material, of purple and gold, and was of great length and breadth. At the moment when Christ breathed His last, there were witnesses in the temple who beheld the strong, heavy material rent by unseen hands from top to bottom. This act signified to the heavenly universe, and to a world corrupted by sin. [Is this world corrupted by sin today?] that a new and living way had been opened to the fallen race, that all sacrificial offerings terminated in the one great offering of the Son of God.” The Faith I Live By, 201.
Those who are promoting such services need to have a new look, a new realization that Christ died for them individually. Acts 5:29 says, “…We ought to obey God rather than men.” Can we not at least, as people called out of darkness to the marvelous light, worship God in a manner that will lead to eternal life?
Take a Long, Hard Look
I am speaking plainly here. I believe with all my heart that there is a great need for independent, home churches to take a hard look at the manner in which they address the matter of how to worship God in His holy temple. What you will do with it is up to you. I hope and pray that you will take this and heed it. We have to become converted people, dear ones. I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know one thing, and that is that the Lord has laid a heavy burden on my heart.
With the worship I saw on the “Are You Ready for Worship?” and “Are You Ready for Church?” videos and the General Conference session, “Worship Decorum,” I think we, as a people, need an altar call. I know this one thing for sure, in the not too distant future, God is going to deal with this situation, whether we like it or not.
The world is sick, it is dying. Recently there were one thousand earthquakes in one day. This is unheard of. In the past, a thousand earthquakes probably would not happen in 30 years.
People are killing. People have all kinds of beliefs. We need to return to the Word of God. The sad part is, God called a people; He called Seventh-day Adventists out of darkness into light, and we are beginning to make a miserable mess of it. He is going to poll each one of us individually, to see where we stand.
Jesus is coming. He is going to come whether we like it or not, whether we are ready or not. We can have all of the opinionated ideas we want, but unless they are based upon God’s Word they are useless.
We need to be studying line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. The Bible has not been written in a consecutive type order. You have to search. If we study line upon line, and precept upon precept, the Holy Spirit will show us what truth is and what life is.