Thursday, October 29, 2015


I'M THINKING____There is not A SINGLE verse in the New Testament that even hints that the PURPOSE of the gathering of the church is for worship. The New Testament text shows that the purpose of the gathering is all of the "One Another" verses. In other words, it is for the horizontal relationships [plural] and NOT the vertical relationship [singular] that the Church gathers on any given occasion. I'm NOT saying to worship as a gathered congregation is WRONG. I'm just saying it is NOT the PRIMARY purpose for the gathered Body of Christ in the New Testament. I'm thinking that's where we are to be today as well. John Piper said this, "The very epistles that are written to help the church be what it ought to be in this age [are] almost totally devoid of…explicit teaching on the specifics of corporate worship" There are some things that I disagree with John Piper about theologically, but NOT this.

I'M THINKING____Many churches today may be reflecting an "Old Covenant" way of thinking about worship rather than a "New Covenant" way of thinking? To "go to" a place and "to do" certain things a certain way, misses the boat on worship entirely as seen in the New Testament. In the Old Testament people DID COME to the Tabernacle/Temple [House of God] to meet with and worship Jehovah a certain way. They did bring such things such as sacrifices and offerings all the while performing their rituals regularly that led eventually to the High Priest entering into His Presence in the Tabernacle or Temple on that one occasion called the Day of Atonement.  

But to see the Church in the New Testament trying to gather IN THAT WAY would be missing the point of the CROSS. Jesus Christ IS HIMSELF our sacrifice, our offering, our feast days, our cleansing, our sanctification, and all the rest that's pictured in the Old Testament Tabernacle OR Temple. Jesus IS our very life! We live DAILY in the presence of God and are to worship DAILY the One Who indwells us by His Holy Spirit. Worship for us is a life of obedience as we're recognizing His presence and enjoying HIM as being our source for All OF LIFE. Then there is a gathering occasionally to encourage and provoke one another.  [See Romans 12:1-2 and Hebrews 10:25]

I'M THINKING____A debate about “music in worship” is a bit silly, if not totally futile. From" no instruments" on one side of the argument [Church of Christ], to those who enjoy what SOME MIGHT CALL "entertainment,” [Lights and Sound, drums and guitars, such as we have in my church called HHBC which they would say qualifies it as entertainment, an assessment with which I disagree] you have a raging debate about which is RIGHT

But my question is WHY does the way someone musically worships matter to us AT ALL?  

In the New Testament music itself is simply NOT addressed, except being seen as a result of the Holy Spirit doing His infilling work. But things like washing feet, serving in love, sharing the Lord's table, teaching the saints and praying for others are addressed as a congregation. We call them the "one-another" verses mentioned in the first paragraph. Even were one to hold to the Old Testament as an example for worship, [I don't, as you can tell] it needs to be remembered that the Israelites many times used drums, trumpet blasts, silence, repetitions, singing, shouting, and numerous other interesting displays to glorify God. Nothing calm, cool or collected about that.

I'M THINKING____Jesus REALLY DID mean something special when He announced that the day has come when those who worship will do so in Spirit and Truth? NO LONGER is worship to be based on doing it a certain way, a certain time or at a certain place. Nor is it supposed to be based on one generation’s “form” of musical worship compared to another. IT IS A WAY OF LIFE!

So, as I read someone say and I paraphrase, whether in a room alone, or with others shouting and jumping with joy, or sitting in silence, or clapping to an electronic synthesizer, or with an organ or piano singing hymns, or just being intoxicated by his love as the Song of Solomon describes it, or even further, when we are reading aloud the Word, or feeding the poor, proclaiming the Good News to  the broken hearted in His name, laughing together, or giving our finances, LET IT ALL BE DONE to the glory of Jesus. We worship because we are reveling in His Grace and enjoying Him and wish to celebrate His matchless GLORY  [Greek "Doxa" meaning His "manifested Presence."]  whether gathered or scattered!

I'M THINKING____Wade Burleson got it right when he said this...

""Worship in many churches is either on life support or is dead. But it has nothing to do with whether saints play guitars versus Steinway pianos, or videos versus violins, or any other differences in style. Though many call the disagreements over 'contemporary' and 'traditional' styles of worship 'wars,' in reality, the REAL war in worship is the "internal battle in me." [All of us!] God calls me to rest in Him, to enjoy Him, TO BE SO captivated and enraptured by His love and grace for me, that I will burst unless I  actively worship God and give expression to what's happening in my soul." 

Wade goes on to say...

"Worship is an inner [spiritual] health made audible. If there is no soul-tingling, mind-bending, emotion-touching, will-transforming enjoyment of God, then there is no soul-tingling, mind-bending, emotion-touching, will-transforming worship of God! Worship of God is non-existent when enjoyment of God is non-existent. Sure, I can sing songs, play music, and 'do church,' but if there is no understanding of what it means to be fully satisfied in God, then there will be no desire on my part to publicly express my praise and gratitude in real worship of God." [Privately OR Corporately!]

Paul here...

I'M THINKING____I'll just quit typing and have a moment of worship myself.


Paul B.


John said...

Thank you Paul. What a great post. See my comment on Wade's blog.

Aussie John said...


You and Wade are cooking with gas! I hope that means to you what it does in Australia.

I'M THINKING ___ that your writing this is an act of worship.

ScottShaver said...

The thing amazing me is why people don't get this. Thanks Paul

Rex Ray said...


I believe a group of Christians having a weenie roast in the woods for fun are having a HORIZONTAL RELATIONSHIP.

“…where there are two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:20 NLT)

When that same group goes to church representing followers of Jesus, then they have a VERTICAL RELATIONSHIP.

Paul Burleson said...


First, let me say thank you for commenting.

Second, I would assume when on a weiner roast with friends or family having great horizontal fellowship, my vertical relationship with God would not be non-existent. Likewise, I'm assuming when I'm with gathered believers on a Sunday morning having a great vertical fellowship with God, my horizontal relationships would not be non-existent as well. You would agree I'm sure.

Third, I'm hoping my post made clear that HAVING vertical or horizontal relationships is NOT the issue I was writing about. Which relationship is the purposeful emphasis of a gathered group of believers on the Lord's day is what my post addresses. THAT'S when the "one another" verses become the focus is what I was attempting to address. If I DIDN'T say that clearly I want to state it now.

Finally, the context of the verse you quoted is probably NOT referring to worship, although I would agree with you that where ANY number gather His Presence is guaranteed. This verse, if I understand the context correctly, is a promise that when a Christian has a problem and needs to confront someone about it and finds the person confronted unwilling to deal with it and they have to take someone with them for another confrontation, they can rest assured that God is with them IN A VERY SPECIAL WAY!

Great promise! I've been able to rest on that verse several times when trying to solve problems between believers.

Again, thanks for commenting as always.

Rex Ray said...


You’re right…good points.

BTW 605 people have done the slide, but they like the 30 foot seesaw best that puts the long end 16 feet in the air.

Aussie John said...


I THINK it is a mistake to ever conclude that our vertical relationship with God is so tenuous that having "a weiner roast" with friends would somehow be the time to put our vertical relationship on hold.

I THINK to consider any part of life as anything other than worship is a mistake.

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your SPIRITUAL WORSHIP. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect".

Only on Sunday?

I know from experience, and the comments of traditional church members, that there is a wide opinion that Sunday corporate worship services are worship, and the rest of the week is "my time". In other words Sunday is for my vertical relationship, and the rest of the week is for my horizontal relationships.

The way we live and relate to others is the evidence of our vertical relationship!

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

With these two "bookends"_____ "I THINK to consider any part of life as anything other than worship is a mistake."

And, "The way we live and relate to others is the evidence of our vertical relationship!"_____

you could place between them everything else anyone wants to say about true worship.


Rex Ray said...

Aussie John,

You seemed to have missed my agreeing with Paul’s comment that Christians have a ‘vertical relationship’ and a ‘horizontal relationship’ at the same time when in church or on a wiener roast.

Christ’ request that Christians love one another is a 24-7 deal, but I think keeping the Sabbath Day Holy is different than the rest of the week.

Today my ‘vertical’ was interrupted while taking the Lord’s Supper because in grasping the juice container with two fingers, I had another dripping juice that would be taken by some unsuspecting Christian. I could have taken two but I didn’t know which one it was.

That was not as bad as several years ago; it took four of us to remove the lid for the juice. There was laughter. The worst was about fifty years ago. We were singing and something flew five feet from my mouth into a plate of crackers. I thought people would scream but no one noticed. I was given the plate. I felt like a zombie but there was no complaint. Thereafter the crackers were covered with a cloth.