The early church started in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost with Peter and the apostles’ preaching. Preaching and praying were early elements of worship. The church grew to be significant, with 5,000 men, according to Acts 4. That’s not counting women believers. Perhaps another 5,000 could be added to their number.
Observing the practices of the early church, it was seen that the church came together on the first day of the week for worship, Acts 20:7. Remembrance of the Lord Jesus was part of the church’s worship. The disciples gathered to remember the Lord’s body (unleavened bread) and blood (fruit of the vine) shed on the cross at Golgotha. They considered His death, burial, and resurrection. The disciples hoped that their resurrection from the dead would occur. The Apostle Paul stated that belief in the gospel, wherein Jesus died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was essential to salvation. This was explained to the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.
The Apostle Paul’s writing shows that singing was part of worship. He tells the disciples in Ephesus that they were to sing hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs—all the words in Ephesians 5:19 point this out. Singing and making a melody in your hearts were essential to God. The verse references singing, not playing.
Then again, in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, each disciple was to set aside something for the aid of the saints. So, there are five acts of worship: singing, praying, giving, remembrance of the Lord’s Supper, and preaching. These acts were the worship of the saints in the first century. But then, something changed.
Men changed the singing service. Not only did the Saints sing, but they began using instrumental music in worship in addition to singing. This was established around 670 A.D. by “Pope” Vitalian. We should understand that no popes exist in the New Testament –a manufactured device of men thinking they can improve the church’s structure. By changing the practices of the New Testament, man begins to move away from God-authorized services to manufactured services. God means what He says. If He says sing in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, He ordained that. It is not up to man to choose how to worship.
Many churches have worship bands. The song service has become a music concert rather than humble singing from the heart. There are no “special” music groups in the New Testament. Members of congregations of the first century sang together. It’s that simple.
Men are to lead prayers in worship. This is according to 1st Timothy 2:1-13. Yet, today, we find women leading and participating in preaching, praying, and song-worship services. This is the opposite of what God said. As with Jesus’ statement about building a house on the rock that withstands the storms, many churches are building spiritual houses on sand. They will not stand in judgment. Jesus said the wise man built his house on the rock; the foolish man built his house on the sand. See Matthew 7:24-27. It’s wise to listen to and follow Jesus’ teaching.
Should a church advertise to accept donations? 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 teaches that each member was to lay by in store for the aid of the Saints. Today, churches are taking in money for their extra-church activities as if they are selling their services. Churches actively search for donations for their ministry. This is not according to the Bible, the New Testament. No early disciples went around asking for money to support their congregation. Christians met together and gave together.
The aid was for the Saints. Be specific in your reading of 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. The money given was for the assistance of Saints facing disastrous times. For example, we see the church collecting money for the work of the services of the church. Today, church-supported hospitals are devoted to caring for the world’s sick and needy. That’s not in the New Testament. The church is to care for its own.
Should we not help the less fortunate? Of course, we should, but that comes directly from our pockets, not the church’s account.
There are church-supported orphan homes. That’s nowhere in the New Testament. It’s our responsibility to care for our city’s orphans. There are many ways to do that, but taking money from the church’s account is not the way.
Some agencies care for those in need; many exist with tax-payer support. The church is not a societal agency. It is a spiritual organization for the care of men’s souls.
Many women are preaching today. They are in positions of church leadership. That’s not what the New Testament teaches. Women are to learn in silence, not lead. 1 Timothy 2:1-13 reflects this and gives the reason why. Adam was made first, then Eve. It’s a simple construct.
Women may be up in arms about this, but God-loving women respect the position and role they are given. Their gender calls for a different role. Titus 2:2-8 shows women’s roles. Can women lead a Bible class of children? Yes, but it is within the confines of the elder’s/men’s oversight, according to the New Testament.
Women are intelligent, capable people, but God declares that men are to lead and preach. That’s the way God wanted it. To change God’s plans to fit our own is not our prerogative. It may seem like a good idea to us, but we do not have the mind of God except for that which He has given in His word. We know we do God’s will when we stay with the word.
Who changed all these things? People did. In all of Earth’s history, God declares what is to be. It is not up to any person to challenge God or change His will. Otherwise, Matthew 6:10 would read, “Your kingdom come. Our will on earth be done as Yours is in heaven.”
That’s a recipe for spiritual disaster. Only God is God. Don’t argue with Him. Don’t thwart His plans. His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.