Yes, They'll Know We Are Christians by Our Love


(Spectrumbot) #1

Worship is something that is profoundly personal and yet often experienced through the body of Christ, the church, in weekly services. Personal devotions are as much a part of worship as gatherings of like-minded believers, but we often don’t use the term worship to describe our daily devotions. Worship simply put, is adoration or praise to God. How we choose to “do” worship can vary greatly based on the ethnic make-up of your church body, the geographical location, or generational composition of your church. However, in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, you would be hard pressed to find a large variance in the elements of the ceremony. There are of course differences in appearance, style, and languages, but for the most part, offering, song service, prayer, children’s story, and a sermon are all elements that almost any Adventist can find welcoming.

Ellen White writes “As a part of religious service, singing is as much an act of worship as is prayer. Indeed, many a song is prayer. If the child is taught to realize this, he will think more of the meaning of the words he sings and will be more susceptible to their power.”[1] She is here implying that the words and their meaning are to be the focus of our worship and the power in the words are to be based on Biblical truths brought forth in song. These promises are to be a song in our hearts, singing of love and justice, new songs of his righteousness, and anthems sung for all eternity from the heavenly choir and the elders.[2] In Revelation 4, we find a song that will be sung throughout eternity with the words, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come”. Giving glory to God, honor, and thanks to Him who sits on the throne is an act of perpetual worship, with the same lyrics forever and ever.

The Bible, however, does not prescribe a specific order of ceremony, outside of the tabernacle, instead giving guidelines to the tenor and focus of worship. The methodology we often use as the church body to create our liturgy is more about conforming to ritualistic human tradition: usually based on what we think we should not do, rather than a prescribed order or style of ceremony from any biblical source.

Instrumentation, particularly, has been a source of contention to many as personal preferences and opinions are often used to supplant gospel guidance. Drums are an easy target because of the association with “worldly music.” However, in Psalms 150, we are called to give praise and worship with the timbrel (a kind of drum), clashing cymbals, and even dancing. While this does not speak of a church service in particular, it speaks clearly of worship, with verse two saying “praise God in His sanctuary”.

Many a person has pointed out that these are all examples given outside of the tabernacle service and thus outside of what church should be doing during a “worship” service. However, if we are to follow the Biblical example down to the letter on what should be done in church, where is the breaking of bread as in Acts, where is the selling our houses and homes, giving to the church to divide it amongst each as they have need? Cannot the direct and materially tangible service to our fellow man be a real and effective form of worship that every person irrespective of their position, age, race, or sex can accomplish? Should this form of unity in worship by service be the focus of our energy and effort instead of whether or not we sing all stanzas of a hymn written by a Catholic, or just verses one and three?

So, what are we to say then is worship in today’s modern church? Can worship involve different cultural instruments, dress, and practices? Can worship involve different instruments, songs that were written after 1940, or the active participation of all church members in weekly outreach and service? Should we adhere to the “frozen chosen” moniker or can we find Holy Unity in worship not in stylistic changes or mandates but rather in the desire to serve each other as Christ serves the church?

As a member of the church who has seen the vast majority of my peers actively driven away from the church by parishioners more focused on the color of the drapes than the tone of worship, I would challenge us to change our perspective on what is worship. We as a church body must look farther and deeper into the Word and ask ourselves if we often are placing our personal opinions in place of Holy scripture. Committing our own thoughts and ideas into a heretical “thus saith the Lord” type of attitude and placing ourselves into dangerous territory of supplanting God on His throne.

I would hope and pray that we can be as Jesus said “One, even as I and the Father are One.” – John 17:21-23

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord

And we pray that our unity will one day be restored

And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love

Yes, they'll know we are Christians by our love.

Tyler Cantrell works at Wisconsin Academy teaching courses in geography, world history, American history, American government, economics, videography, and emergency preparedness.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

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[1] E.G. White, Education, 168.

[2] Psalms 98, 101, 150, Revelation 14.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9275

#2

Give glory to God"
What does it mean and how is it accomplished?

Worship God
What does it mean and how is it accomplished?


(William Noel) #3

The answer is simple: Ask God to give you encounters with His love and power and you’ll have lots of reasons to give glory to God, which is the core element of worship.


(William Noel) #4

Discussions about the music used in the worship services at the tabernacle in the wilderness and the Temple in Jerusalem miss an essential point that I learned from an Orthodox Jewish rabbi: the activities inside and outside were very different. What happened inside the tabernacle and the inner parts of the temple was quiet because it was one-on-one as the individual found forgiveness and reconciliation with God. But outside on the Sabbath and at the times of the morning and evening sacrifices there was a large volume of singing and music that encouraged and enabled people to celebrate the great love of God, His wonderful mercies to them and His great and indescribable works. So any discussion of what is “proper” music to be used in a worship service is based on an false concept.


#5

Giving glory to God is far deeper in meaning than the stated "asking God for love encounters." This, or these if you prefer, are dealt with in separate Scriptures. This special mention of giving glory to God relates to the time of the end in which multitudes will claim their allegiance to God, yet God will specifically state, "I never knew you" MATT 7:21- 23.

In this same chapter in Matthew, we find one of the criteria by which we may know if a leader of person of influence is genuine. We tend to think in terms of “by their fruits,” and even popular tele-evangelists like Benny Hinn have asked that he be judged by that standard. But the Bible also gives us another standard which must also be recognized as valid. I’m referring to Isaiah 8:20 of course. Yet do we not see multitudes who follow these popular speakers on television also trumpet this love gospel. It’s as if the “all you need is love” from the popular secular song has been Christianized somehow.

That perhaps, more than some other aspects, is the aim of the Jesus now, the Jesus Only movement among us. Vital as it is to have a loving relationship with Jesus, it has been stolen by a concept or a movement that talks a lot about love, yet it is missing in the one ingredient necessary for that love to be a relationship, and not a mere one-sided claim. The apostles understood this. John the baptist understood this. The Old Testament saints understood this. The apostle Paul in Romans 13 verses 8 and 10 states quite plainly that the law is fulfilled when we love as we ought. We should have no doubt about which law he refers to as he quotes some of it.

In the book of Revelation, there are four praises to God, each one being stronger than the one before. The first is in REV 1:6 which is a two-fold praise. In chapter 4 verses 9-11 the praise is three-fold )Vs11). In chapter 5 in verse 13 the praise is four-fold, and the praise in Revelation 7:12 is seven-fold.

No-one is more deserving of such praise because He as at infinite cost won us back to Him. He gave up His dominion and all glory in heaven, lived a life of poverty, And in running the risk of total failure and eternal loss, he gave up His life on the cross. How we should praise Him, for all glory, and power and dominion are rightfully His.

But all this is not the setting of the text in Revelation 14:7 as part of the three angels’ messages.

The setting of the first angels’ message in which we are to give glory to God is found in our devotion to Him because of what He has done for us.

But again can we not say that down through the ages, some men have loved and held God with reverence and awe? Have they not given glory to God as the maker of heaven and earth? Introduced into this theme is the insertion of “give glory to Him for (or because) the hour of His judgment is come. (quick note: some translations insert “has” instead of “is” come in this text. The Greek is in the present tense continuous, so “is” rather than the past tense, “has” is more fitting)

Living in a time which foretells that “all the world will wonder after the beast” we are challenged to give glory to God instead. We are living in a day and age in which the Scripture does not paint a pretty picture of Christians.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 2 TIM 3:1-7.

It’s easy to dismiss this section as referring to “those out there.” But a closer look and it is clear it refers to members of the Christian church. It would be fair to say that, by their life, they are not giving glory to God. They are claiming something that deep down they are not. God is not interested in mere declarations of love, God wants to see that love demonstrated in the life of the Christian.

During the time God led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, they rebelled many times. They rebelled over worship, over the vegetarian diet God wanted for them, and over trusting in Him to supply all their needs. If an outsider was looking in, he would not gather for a moment that they were giving glory to God in much of anything. Thankfully there was a few who were prepared to trust God for everything. Trust Him that whatever He said He would do, whatever He said was possible in His power, He was able to accomplish.

This has a parallel to the setting of this Revelation 14 declaration. God has said that He is able to keep us from falling (Jude 24), that He is able to accomplish a character renewal in us beyond what we think possible (EPH 3:20), and that trusting in God completely means He can do all things in and trough us (PHIL 4:13), so that the Christian may be complete in Jesus (2 TIM 3:17).

That, I put to you is the real giving glory to God. Representing God as a fully committed Christian, so that they world will recognize their love for God first of all, and their love for each other as a natural outflowing of that most important love.

In 2 COR 5:14 we read that the “love of Christ constraineth us.” Now today, we tend to use the word, constrain different than years ago. At the time of writing the KJV the word “constraineth” in this setting meant to draw with an irresistible love, a love that impels and urges. If we demonstrate that kind of love, shall we not give glory to God? This will mean we are willing to place God’s will about our own selfish interests.


(William Noel) #6

Your devotion to specific doctrines is laudable but leaves me wondering how much experience you’ve actually had with the immensity and power of God’s amazing love for you, or how many of His wonderful and marvelous works you have been eyewitness to.

The greatest of all doctrines in scripture is this: God LOVES me and He loved me before I knew I needed Him. Jesus loved people first, foremost and always and taught them only after they had fallen in love with Him. People responded to the great love they experienced from Him and were drawn to become followers. They praised God because of how their lives were changed by having encounters with Him and it should be the same for us.

In contrast with that there is a deeply-entrenched concept in Adventism that a person cannot love God unless they first learn all the major doctrines and are obedient to them. It is possible to discover God’s love in the doctrines, but that’s doing things backwards from the ministry method of Jesus. Our worship should not be defined by the order of service in the church bulletin or your understanding of a list of doctrines that you use to measure whether or not they are truly or properly worshiping God. Rather, it arises from a heart overflowing because we have had new experiences with His love and we are compelled to express our praise and adoration to Him because we have been seen experienced His marvelous and powerful works. God does not license us to judge the worship of others. Rather, He allows us to hear the praise and worship of others being expressed to Him so our hearts will also be drawn into loving Him more.

Have encounters with God’s love and you will have reason to worship Him!


#7

Seems simplistic , not simple.

What does EG White say is the highest form of worship?
What does Martin Luther say is the highest form of worship?

What is really trivial is spending time in a SS class discussing different forms of music, prayers, rituals & sacraments.

The abstract, ambiguous, obscure teaching will be repeated …again.


(William Noel) #8

It seems simplistic until you’ve had an encounter with God and find praise erupting from deep in your soul. The people who met Jesus were changed by the encounters with him and they were so effusive in expressing their praise and adoration that the Jewish leaders demanded Jesus tell His followers to be quiet. Do you remember His answer? If they were quiet the rocks would cry-out!

Out of curiosity, I just did a search for the word “praise” in the book of Psalms and found that David speaks of praising God 121 times. If it was that important for David, what makes you think it would be any less essential to us today?


(Lynden Williams) #9

We, as Adventists, tend to limit the size and manor of the group that will be redeemed. That tent will be much larger and will encompass a far more diverse group of people, who all meet the criteria that God has set out. “That we love one another”. You can say what ever you want about religion, about worship, but salvation is totally based on LOVE.


#10

What does that mean…“based”?

Is saying it is totally based on love all that needs to be said?

What about those who say “it is all about Jesus”
or “It is all about grace” or “it is all about a relationship”?


#11

Yes but that can also be just lip service.

What about listening/obeying is better than the fat of rams?


#12

One can use SOP to limit the size of redeemed to the number of lost angels.

Factor in that only 8 got on the ark.

Also…
And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? 1 Pet 4:18
Don’t forget what Jesus said…

“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few…” MATT 7:14

Estimates are that 108 billion people have lived on Earth since creation.

EG White stated that less than 1 in 20 SDA were ready for Christ to come again

How many of the 20 million SDA want Jesus to come back and are fit to live with each other?


(William Noel) #13

The worship of God is not lip service and effective spiritual instruction requires dialogue between a teacher and student, not just sitting silently. For example, Paul’s all-night meeting with the believers before leaving Troas is often used as an example of him using sermons when the verse actually says that he “held a dialogue” with them. That was an exchange between a teacher and students so it was nothing like a modern sermon. Also, it appears you didn’t check 1 Sam. 15:22 before linking listening and obeying. “Harken” begins with hearing that is followed by an active response.


(Spectrumbot) #14

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