By Paul Williams
One of the first things strangers notice when they assemble with a church of Christ to worship God is the absence of man-made musical instruments. The second is that every Lord’s Day the Lord’s Supper is served. And the third is that except on the Lord’s Day there are no collections taken.
These three things distinguish the worship of the Lords church from the worship of most denominations. They are not things devised by men for the purpose of making the church different, however. They are the result of following what Christ has given the church to do.
Must Have Authority
An important Bible principle is to do only those things in which we can find authority Testament. The Apostle Paul Colossians 3:17, “Whatsoever ye or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” To do something in the name of a person we must first have that person’s permission. Therefore, we must have the authority of Christ through His word in the New Testament before we can practice anything in religion and be acceptable to Him.
It is not enough that a particular practice not be specifically condemned. If I send my child to the store for milk, he knows that he is not to buy anything but milk. I do not have to tell him not to buy ice cream and candy. The fact that I tell him to buy milk only is enough to exclude all other kinds of food. And when the Lord gives us authority to perform certain things in worship to Him, the fact that He left out other practices is enough to tell us that these other practices are not acceptable to Him. We cannot perform things not authorized and do them in the name of Jesus Christ. And whatsoever we do in word or in deed, we must do all in His name.
The New Testament contains many commands and examples teaching the church of God to sing praises to God and to teach and admonish one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19). However, there is no authority for playing on a musical instrument to God. God commanded instrumental music in the Old Testament, but not in the New. Although there is no specific prohibition of the use of musical instruments in the New Testament, the fact that singing is the only kind of music authorized in the New Testament is all we need to know that other kinds of music are not pleasing to God when used in worship. To worship God in song in the name of Jesus Christ, we have no choice but to singand to sing only. Consequently when you attend the worship of a church of Christ you will find all singing praises to God, teaching and admonishing in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs. You will find no piano or organ because there is no authority for these in the New Testament.
The Lord’s Supper
It is for this same reason that we partake of the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week. The Lord’s Supper was given by Christ to be observed by Christians in the assembly
(1 Cor. 11:23-34). In Acts 20:7 there is the example of the church at Troas meeting upon the first day of the week to break bread that is, to eat the Lord’s Supper. If you will read the passage carefully, you will see that the church was in the habit of meeting every first day of the week for that purpose.
This apostolic example shows that God is pleased with weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper. There is not one shred of authority for eating it on any other day of the week, or for eating it once a month, once a quarter, or twice a year. Therefore, in keeping with the creed-book of the church, the New Testament, the Lord’s church cheerfully and obediently eats the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week.
Taking up a public collection for the work of the church is commended in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. In this passage it says, “Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store.” Consequently, churches of Christ give an opportunity for the members of the church to give upon the first day of the week.
When there are services on other days of the week, no collections are taken on those days. Only upon the Lord’s Day are we to lay by in store.
And only Christians are asked to give. Churches of Christ do not beg the businessmen of the city or the listeners to a radio broadcast to support their work. The New Testament plainly teaches that the members of the church are the ones to give for the support of the work of the church. Christians are to givenot to beg others to give in their place.
There are two other items, which also can be classed as worship. One is prayer. Christians are to pray in faith, nothing doubting, in the name of Jesus Christ according to His will. Public and private prayer are to be offerednot to any “saint” or any woman, but to God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The other is teaching and studying the word of God. It is often observed that preachers in the church of Christ are easier to understand than some others. The reason is that the preachers stick to the things revealed in the word of God, as God tells us to do, and leave off politics and speculative doctrines. A careful attempt to explain the scriptures is made.
We invite you to attend and find out for yourself.
The worship of churches of Christ is determined by what God has shown He desired from His people. We do not presume that we can please Him by offering worship, which He has not commanded. God rejected worship in Old Testament times when it was not offered in the way He commanded. (See Leviticus 10:1-2). We do not want Him to reject our worship.
We invite you to attend where God is honored by obedience. You will find a friendly welcome when you come.