The Lord’s Day Service

So when we come together for the breaking of bread who should we thank? Who died for us? Who shed His blood? Whom are we remembering? – Jesus. Then I think it is best to address Him personally. He loves to hear us

bread-and-wineSome time ago I was talking to some Christian friends. The meeting that they had been going to closed, and they started to break bread at another Christian assembly nearby. They enjoyed the fellowship. The people there were committed (I know that because I know a few who go there), the gospel was preached, and in general they were well taught. But what upset them was the fact that the worship service on Lord’s Day mornings was limited to thanking the Father for His giving the Lord, and for His mercies. They did not even address the Lord Himself.

Admittedly they broke bread at the end of the meeting, whereas our friends were accustomed to breaking bread near the beginning, as we do at our meeting. We come together to break bread. We are to examine ourselves and then eat – that should be beforehand. So we should do it straight away (we just have a hymn to the Lord before doing so, to set us together). I know that in Troas Paul discoursed for hours beforehand, but I guess that was an exception. Paul was not a regular visitor!

So when we come together for the breaking of bread who should we thank? Who died for us? Who shed His blood? Whom are we remembering? – Jesus. Then I think it is best to address Him personally. He loves to hear us. Is it wrong to address the Father? A couple of years ago an elderly, and somewhat senile brother – but absolutely clear in the Lord’s things gave thanks to the Lord before the loaf and to the Father before the cup. That is what they did when he was young. We had a good meting. But I would not do that.

Then after the supper what? Is it not a time to express our love for God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit?

We can speak to the Lord about what He is, and what He has done – a completed work. He did it in view of the joy lying before Him (See Heb 2:12). We can enter into His joy. The first thing the Lord said after the resurrection was ‘Go tell my brethren’ (John 20:17). We can enjoy that relationship. Then He delights in His assembly. The marriage of the Lamb is future, but she is His wife now. And she can commune with Him.

His glory is in the praise of His Father. ‘The true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.’ (John 4:23). Clearly the Father is the object of worship in the Service of praise, and that involves the Holy Spirit.

This brings me to the question of worship to the Spirit. Some have difficulty about it, as there is no direct reference to worshipping the Spirit. Scriptures like ‘Spring up, O well; sing ye unto it’ (Num 21:17) help. Also in Philippians ‘For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit’ (ch. 3:3). Darby says ‘To worship “in spirit” is to worship according to the true nature of God, and in the power of that communion which the Spirit of God gives.’(Collected Writings vol 7- Doctrinal 2 p100 ‘On Worship’). James Taylor Sr. said, ‘If we worship God we worship the Spirit. He has part in the Godhead, and thus it is very simple and very practical, but very true, that the blessed Spirit, as having part in the Godhead, is worshipped’(Ministry – Vol. 67 page 515). It has been said that if you have a best Friend here, surely you can say ‘thank you’ to Him.

Worship should be spontaneous, springing up by the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately we all know so many good phrases and it is easy to string them together forming a well turned out part. Which gives God the most pleasure – the erudite composition, or the simple ‘Thank You Lord’ from a sincere heart?

There has been much good ministry, leading to an orderly progression in the service. But the order is not the thing. There is no liturgy; there are no rules. After all, who is the Minister of the sanctuary? (See Heb 8:2)

PS I have refrained from using the expression’Holy communion’.  It is that, but the expression is often associated with book-read formality.

Sosthenes

October 2015

I Will Lift Up My Eyes to the Hills – Psalm 121

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him (John 4:23).

 

A Song of degrees. 

1Psalm121I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

2My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.

3He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.

4Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.

6The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.

7The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.

8The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

 

It is Lord’s Day morning. Instead of being at the Lord’s Supper, I am sitting beside my bed in hospital, having had a routine prostrate operation. Hopefully, God willing I will be out today. Meanwhile my wife is at the meeting; she will be coming to see me afterwards.

So I spent a little time with the Lord, thanking Him for what He has done, rejoicing in His resurrection and ascension, praising Him for His glory as the Son of God, glad to be one of His brethren and in a vessel which is so precious to Him, His assembly or church, soon to be united to Him in glory. Then I thanked the Holy Spirit for His service, taking the things of our Lord and showing them to us, but worshipping Him too, as being God – no less than the Father and the Son. Then trough Christ we have access by the Spirit to the Father, who sought and found worshippers. I was able to thank the Father for the Son, our blessed Lord who has brought the many sons to glory – and just to think that through grace I am one of those worshippers! I missed being with the brethren, of course, but what a privilege it is to give God praise and worship even from a hospital.

Then I got out my iPad and looked for a ‘morning service’. I found a site where a preacher, an elderly American gentleman, spoke from Psalm 121: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help (v.1). He prayed; he spoke of God’s goodness and the gospel and what Jesus had done and redemption was in His name. Then a woman sang ‘My Redeemer is faithful and true’. After that one would have expected the preacher to give the glory to God. Instead he read a series of letters from persons who had received blessing and ended with asking for money* to be sent to an address in South Dakota. What was the object of his preaching?

I don’t want to be critical. I am sure he loved the Lord and desired the blessing of souls. But surely worship is the object of the preaching. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him (John 4:23).

 

* Let’s face it. What were his costs? What are mine? Pretty well zero! You don’t need a studio/church; you don’t need professional broadcasting equipment; you don’t need trained singers and musicians. A home camera or video recorder, and a web-site or even You-tube are sufficient.

 

Sosthenes

January 2015