| New Testament Christians
are commanded to assemble together on the first day of the week
to worship God (Acts 20:7; Heb. 10:25; 1 Cor. 16:2), and God
has given us specific things to do so we can praise Him and grow
in the faith. We come together primarily to worship God, but
in the process we learn more about Him and remember all the glorious
things He has done for us. We increase our faith, we fellowship
with one another, we encourage one another, and we show our love
God has given us a pattern to follow so we may know our worship to Him is pleasing and accepted. Just as Noah followed the pattern to build the ark (Heb. 11:7), and Moses followed the pattern to build the tabernacle (Heb. 8:5); we must follow the New Testament pattern for worship. God has the right to be worshipped as He wishes, and He has given us a pattern of worship that He knows will be beneficial for us as well. We have no right or authority to altar God's plans and commandments. The apostle John wrote, "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments" (1 John 2:3). Just like we can know "that we know God," we can also know we are worshiping Him properly by obeying His commandments. The knowledge of pleasing God through proper worship is one of our greatest benefits. Being emotionally touched by worship is a blessing, but knowing we did it according to God's will should make us feel the greatest of all.
As we study the New Testament, we find five acts of worship that were utilized by Christians when they assembled together on the first day of the week. Let's consider God's pattern for worship, and work diligently to worship Him "in spirit and truth" (John 4:24).
1. We come together to pray. The first century church was a praying church. The church of Christ was established on Pentecost and Luke records that "they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). There are numerous commands and examples in the New Testament exhorting us to pray when we come together (1 Tim. 2:1-8; 1 Thess. 5:17).
2. We come together to sing. Christians are to sing together as a congregation in order to praise God and teach one another. Paul told the Colossians, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, sing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Col. 3:16).
3. We come together to preach, teach, and study God's word. The church is the "pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15); and we are to come together in order to learn more about God and the truth of His word. God's word gives us everything we need to live in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16,17; 2 Pet. 1:3), and we come together to hear that word preached (2 Tim. 4:2).
4. We come together to give back to the Lord. Paul commanded the church at Corinth to contribute weekly to a church treasury. He said, "On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper" (1 Cor. 16:2). We have the opportunity each week to give back to the Lord a portion of what He has blessed us with.
5. We come together to partake of the Lord's Supper. In Matthew 26:26-30, Jesus established the Lord's Supper. Paul spoke of the importance of the continual observance of the communion in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29. We are to partake of the supper every first day of the week (Acts 2:42; 20:7) to remember the death of our Lord. Every week we partake, we are remembering the greatness of His death, and looking forward to when He returns in glory.
As we study the "sum" of the New Testament, we find that these five acts of corporate worship constitute God's pattern for us to follow every Sunday when we assemble together. God has revealed his divine pattern for worshipping Him. Let us do so to His glory. -Ed