God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth.John 4:24 ASV
Worship is as old as the human race, but in the long history of mortal events only two ways to worship God have ever been discovered.
These are: God’s revealed way, and any other way that man might have devised himself.
A glance at both is appropriate.
I. God’s way to worship.
People are commanded to worship God, and it is simply inconceivable that God has not instructed men how to obey this commandment (Revelation 14:7).
Of the ancient tabernacle, only a type of the worship men offer today, God said to Moses, “See that thou make all things according to the pattern” (Hebrews 8:5), and there is no way to avoid the application of this to Christian worship.
Why else should it have been in the book of Hebrews?
And what is the New Testament pattern of Christian worship?
“The things which are written” (1 Corinthians 4:6) reveal that the New Testament churches:
Offered prayers to God through Christ (Acts 2:46).
Observed the Lord’s supper (Acts 20:7).
Gave of their means (1 Corinthians 16:2).
Taught the sacred Scriptures (Acts 2:46).
Sang certain kinds of songs (Colossians 3:16).
If this is not God’s pattern of worship, what is it?
II. Man’s way of worshipping.
This has varied in time, place, and circumstance; but a survey of the entire field of worship, as it has developed since the foundation of Christianity, reveals numerous activities, ceremonies, doctrines, commandments, and devices unknown to the Bible, as well as alterations, restrictions, additions, subtractions and substitutions with reference to the things that are revealed.
It would be nearly impossible to list all the human changes, additives, and aberrations inflicted upon Christianity by the historical church, but a complete list is not necessary.
The partial list below will show what is meant:
Auricular confession, baptizing of images, baptizing of bells, baptizing of infants, baptism of desire, baptism for the dead, burning of incense, canonization of saints, celibacy of the clergy, communion under one kind, elevation of the host, extreme unction, invocation of saints, lighting of blessed lamps and candles, Lenten fasts and ceremonies, monasticism, orders of monks and nuns, societies of Jesus, purgatory, prayers for souls in purgatory, paschal candles, priestly robes and vestments, holy paraphernalia, penance, redemption of penances, pouring for baptism, sprinkling for baptism, the rosary of the Virgin Mary, the sale of indulgences, the sacrifice of the mass, sacrifices for the dead, the sign of the cross, the separation of clergy and laity, tradition received on a level with the word of God, the doctrine of transubstantiation, and of consubstantiation, the sprinkling of holy water, the stored-up merit of dead saints, works of supererogation, the use of mechanical instruments of music, ceremonies of Ash Wednesday, the development of a hierarchical system of earthly church government, etc., etc.
Now this writer has never met a person, throughout a lifetime of discussing Christianity, who would deny that at least some of the above deviations from God’s pattern of worship are sinful.
But, of course, the thing that makes any one of them sinful MAKES THEM ALL SO!
They were not first spoken by the Lord (Hebrews 2:3).
Their authority derives not from God but from men.