What is Our Authority in Worship?

What kind of worship does God desire? We must know what Scripture says so we can be pleasing to God (John 14:15).
We must have Scriptural authority for all that we do in worship (Colossians 3:17). Jesus said that we “must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24, NKJV). Therefore, our worship must seek to make a spiritual connection with God and be as he has authorized.

Scripture is explicit in its warnings not to tamper with the purity of the word of God. Paul wrote that we must not “think beyond what is written” (1 Corinthians 4:6). Likewise, we are warned not to take away from or add to the word of God (Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19).

As we approach this question, we must be very clear that we are presently under the New Covenant or Testament. The Old and New Testaments are distinctive and served different functions. The Old Covenant led to the coming of the New (Hebrews 8-9). The New leads to the end of time.

Jesus came to fulfill the law and begin a New Covenant in his blood (Matthew 5:18; Matthew 26:28). When his blood was shed on the cross, forgiveness of sins came to man ushering in the New Covenant (Hebrews 9:13-14; Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25). The previous Covenant, while still important for study, no longer has bearing on us in a legal sense (Romans 15:4). The Law of Moses ceases to be the law guiding the lives of men. We are now under the law of Christ.

The New Testament is now in force and this includes the New Testament teaching on worship. The form of worship under the Old Testament no longer has any bearing on God’s people. What David or anyone else did in the Old Testament is no longer the model for our worship to God. We have no right to go back to the Old Covenant and select what we wish to keep. Two testaments cannot be in force at the same time (Hebrews 9:16-17). We must serve under the covenant that will judge us on the last day.

Scripture is clear that worship can be improper. Nadab and Abihu were struck dead for their unauthorized worship (Leviticus 10:1-2). Cain was rejected by God because his worship was from a sinful heart (Genesis 4). The Christians in Corinth were reprimanded for improperly conducting the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-34). God desires worship by his authority (John 4:24). Neither Jesus nor the Holy Spirit saw fit to act on their own authority (John 14:10; John 16:13). Accordingly, we do not have the right to do so either.

In churches throughout America, the standard for worship is not what God desires, but what man finds enjoyable. Standards of popularity, pleasure and atmosphere are fleshly standards. God is the source of our worship (John 4:24). He is the only one who has the authority to decide what worship he will approve. All other worship is vanity (Matthew 15:8-9).

Man is sinful and weak (Romans 3:10,23). To seek to please men at the expense of God’s will is to appeal to the wrong authority. What men find appealing or soothing is immaterial. God’s will is not rendered obsolete by the passing fancies of the public. It stands tall, firm and unchanged by the passage of time. The unchangeable nature of God is an extraordinary blessing that we must embrace.

2 thoughts on “What is Our Authority in Worship?

  1. No comment but a question.
    You say toward the end of paragraph 6…
    “Two testaments cannot be in force at the same time ( Hebrews 9:16-17).
    I don’t see the connection between the statement and the reference given. Please clarify for me.
    Thank you

  2. Hello, Peggy and thank you for reading Forthright. I appreciate your willingness to study. The reference in the overall context of the article, addresses the end of the first and beginning of the second covenant.
    Looking at 9:16-17 by themselves can possibly lead to some confusion. Examining the broader argument we see that the author is saying that the Old Covenant ended because it was superseded by a better covenant (Hebrews 8:6,13).
    Hebrews makes this argument almost from beginning to end. Chapters 8-10 are in-depth studies of the covenants in order to prove which covenant is in force today.
    9:15 establishes clearly that Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant. Proving this, he says in 9:16-17 that even in secular law, a will (or covenant) is binding after a person has died. Jesus had to die before the New Covenant could be enacted. Before that it has no legal standing.
    The Old Covenant ended when Jesus died and the New Covenant came into being. Both covenants cannot be in force at the same time. The new will has been put into force. The previous one is no longer binding.
    The Old Testament is still very important (Romans 15:4). However, it is no longer the law we live under today as Christians.
    I hope this helps and does not make it worse. 🙂
    Richard Mansel

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