I hope to keep this as simple as possible. The early church was pretty much made up of Jews who had accepted Christ as the Messiah. There was of course the new and major acceptance by these Jews that Christ was the promised Messiah and that salvation was found only in Him. They continued to worship in the Jewish fashion for several years in some places but in time added a few things to distinguish themselves as followers of Christ. People of the way as we became to know them in later writings. Added were the Lord’s Supper, they gathered daily for prayer and fellowship, preaching and teaching. A major change was the moving of the worship services from the Jewish Sabbath to the first day of the week because it was the day of the resurrection. An interesting fact here is that from the very inception of this new Christianity the synagogue was in full power of its various functions. There came a time that Christians were no longer allowed to worship in the synagogues. The early Christians had always viewed themselves as a Jewish sect and this set in motion some changes in the order of worship. They did maintain the same rites as their Jewish counterparts with changes coming as Christian Scripture became available. To fully understand the changes that occurred over time, go to the link at the end of this blog. While the New Testament does not offer many details on the order of worship or leadership in the churches earliest days there are some things we do know. When the time came that they were no longer able to worship in the synagogues, they began to meet in homes. We are able to find some order of worship in the books of Acts, Corinthians, Colossians to name just a few. There would be singing of Hymns and psalms, prayer, vocal thanksgiving and instruction.
Paul, in his writing to the church in Corinth, describes two types of Christian gathering – one is the Lord’s Supper (cf. 1 Cor 10:16-17; 11:20-29) or the ceremonial community meal; a second gathering was the Prophetic Assembly, which included both singing and thanksgiving in unknown languages, with interpretation (for purpose of edification), and prophecy (cf. 1 Cor 14:1-33).(Dr. D W. Ekstrand)
Some things never change, we might enhance them some, to better preach and teach the word but the core of it all is the church being called, our calling, to take the word to the people of God. Do not pass lightly over the phrase people of God, for He is the creator of all things and people of God means just that. We are to go to all people not just those who we are comfortable with or places that are convenient for us. Back to last weeks blog. Can we even perceive how difficult we have made this church thing in today’s world? All the groups, labels and social pressure that confronts our planning, going forth with the word and serving the needs of our communities. Time never makes anything simpler. We can reduce decades to X, Y, Z but take several paragraphs to turn a scripture to our needs. The church has grown beyond what we read about in the New Testament, we still celebrate the Lord’s Supper and it is true that we seek to add to His Kingdom by proclaiming the Word of God and looking to Jesus Christ as the way to our salvation.
So to sum up….we need more than religion. Salvation is not a group activity. It requires a personal relationship between the person and God, and through His son Jesus Christ. I am trying to stay away from the buzz words of today’s religion and are calling you back to The Way. The church has indicated these past years that it is becoming more and more fluid in its interpretation of scripture and is finding itself a captive of societal changes that are weakening its ability to respond to its calling.
Matthew 18: 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
Remember to sing the hymns, psalms, pray earnestly for the Holy Spirit to guide, giving thanks for everything, study the word and celebrate the Lord’s Supper often…. Jesus Christ has risen! Every thing else is just details that will change…It is the way we do church…
Thank you for joining me in the pew this week. Please take time to read the excellent article that was a source of the information in today’s blog. Go to the link below
Life is Good