Attitudes Toward Worship in the Book of Acts

Attitudes Toward Worship in the Book of Acts
February 16, 2020
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Passage: Acts 2:41
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Let's look at some attitudes toward worship in the book of Acts. The book of Acts teaches us about the trials, tribulations and triumphs of the early church. Acts should teach us how to hold the same level of dedication that they held. When you think of the various things they went through in the first century, the things that happened to the early Christians, no matter what they stood firm.

The book of Acts we see also reveals the divine pattern for worship and godly living.

The word worship, is found in total thirteen times in the book of Acts. As one proceeds through the book you find various types of worship. It's important to note that not all of the types mentioned were endorsed by the apostles, nor by God.

The Attitude Regarding the Importance of Worship

The first members of the church, the first Christians were converted Jews. There is no doubt that worship was very important to the lives of the Jews.

  • Acts 2:1,5

Pentecost was one of the three feasts that all Jewish men were required to attend each year. So, men from all over the world were there in Jerusalem to worship God. It's in this setting that the apostles, Peter, preached the first gospel sermon.

We can see how important it was for them by the distance that some of them traveled. Those who traveled from Rome to Jerusalem traveled 1000, by sea, by land would have been longer. And, we read of as many as 15 countries represented in Jerusalem on that day.

  • Acts 8:27

We read of a man of Ethiopia who had traveled to Jerusalem to worship.

Here's a man who had left central Africa, crossed over Egypt, and the Mediterranean coast, and across to Jerusalem. It's interesting to note that as a eunuch he would not have been able to enter the temple to worship. Yet, for him, his attitude shows that it was important for him to go to Jerusalem to worship God.

We know that Philip met him on the way, explained Jesus to him from Isaiah 53, and he obeyed the gospel and was baptized.

  • Acts 20:6,7

Here we find Paul abiding in the city of Troas seven days, because to him it was important for him to be present for worship on the Lord's Day, the first day of the week.

Through all of these examples the importance of our attitude in worshiping God.

Attitudes Regarding Improper Worship

We can't read the book of Acts without seeing that it is not enough to do something and call it worship. Many people do various things and call it worship. Worship must be done properly. Acts shows us that man is not a law unto himself when it comes to worship. But, we can see that we must do something proper in order for it to be accepted as worship.

  • Acts 10:25,26

There is no doubt at all about the sincerity of Cornelius. His prayers of remembrance had come up before God. There's no doubt of his sincerity and honesty. Yet, when he bowed to Peter, he was told to get up because Peter was only a man, he told him "do not worship me." Peter refused this worship because he knew that such reverence belongs solely to God.

  • Matthew 4:10

We see this mistake in worship. It was a genuine mistake that was easily corrected. Peter would not accept this mistaken worship.

In Acts 17 we read about a case of ignorant worship.

As he's walking about in Athens he sees all the worship going on, Paul comes into the Areopagus to speak to the philosophers of the day.

  • Acts 17:22-24

They worshipped a pantheon of gods. In order to not offend an unknown god, they had made an idol for that unknown god. And, Paul uses this to declare the Lord God of Heaven unto them.

Paul, his attitude toward this ignorant worship is what led him to teach them the truth.

He referred to this attitude of worship as ignorant worship. His attitude was to lead them out of false religion. Shouldn't that be our attitude today? Shouldn't we also declare the true gospel and lead men out of error in worship?

We see the attitude toward improper Worship

Attitudes Regarding Proper Worship

  • Acts 2:24
  • Acts 20:7
  • Acts 24:14

Notice the proper worship. They called it heresy, but Paul declared that he worshiped the way that God now requires.

  • Acts 2:42

They were steadfast in their worship. It became a continuous thing, daily, worshiping in one accord. They were engaged together steadfastly.

Worship was something that need not be interrupted. You would not find them forsaking the assembly.

  • Hebrews 10:25

There were those that the Hebrews writer was addressing, Jews who had converted but were turning back to Judaism. They were not steadfast, they were giving up worship. That's not the example we see in the early church of Acts.

  • Acts 11:26-29

The Christians of Antioch is the first one that was established that was primarily Gentile in origin. The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. Their attitude was such that they determined to send relief to the elders in Jerusalem. They saw what was going to happen and they prepared for their own needs but also those in Jerusalem. They weren't going to stop, they assembled together to worship.

The early Christian continued to meet with others of like precious faith in order to worship, and so should we. They continued steadfastly in assembly.

  • Acts 2:24-27

They continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine.

  • Acts 20:7

In Troas, they continued in the apostles doctrine as Paul preached past midnight. It happened to be Paul who preached. Yet, they continued in worship the commandments of God.

  • Matthew 15:9

The things taught by the Apostles would regulate what was done in worship.

They followed the doctrine in salvation and worship.

  • Ephesians 5:19

They specify singing, and making melody in the heart to the Lord. To  add an instrument is to go beyond the commandment. We can understand this command.

They continued in fellowship.

Communion, fellowship, sharing in common; Koinonia.

  • Romans 15:26
  • 2 Corinthians 9:13
  • 1 Corinthians 16:1-2

They continued in giving.

It is clear that contribution was to be included. 

  • Romans 15:26
  • Acts 11:29-30

They continued in the Lord's supper.

This is of course a reference to communion with the Lord in the Lord's supper.

  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
  • Acts 20:7

Didn’t Paul wait seven days>? He had to wait and do it on the Lord's day. They knew it was to be a part of worship. If we have the same attitude that they had, we will continue to follow the apostolic example. 

They continued in prayer.

There is no doubt that prayer is a part of 1st century worship, and who was to offer the prayer.

  • 1 Timothy 2:8 - men are to pray. This is the male gender, not mankind.
  • 1 Timothy 2:11-12 - women are to learn in silence.

If we are going to abide by the apostles doctrine we have to abide by the teachings concerning prayer.

Attitude Regarding the Benefits of Worship

Worship is always for benefit. They continued steadfastly, and mutually exhorted by the apostilic teaching, their mutual … 

  • Acts 2:42
  • 4:23-31

Their attitude was one of rejoicing even in the face of persecution. They were threatened with jail, with beatings, yet they prayed for help to encure, to be bold to stand up and speak the word. There is not doubt about their attitude. They were not gong to stop, but would boldly proclaim God’s word. 

You can have an attitude that continues in the apostle's doctrine. You can be a Christian!

If you are going to follow that example you have to be a Christian. You must follow the example of what was taught in Acts. You can obey the same gospel just as the early Christians obeyed.

  • Acts 2:36-41

You can do the same thing they did and become a member of the church if you follow what they did and worship the way they did following the apostle's doctrine. 

Upon hearing the word and believing it, believing that Jesus is God's son, confessing His name before men, and repenting of your sins, turning back away from sin, and toward the Lord, obeying and willing to be baptized for the remission of your sins, rising from water to walk in a new life, faithfully continuing in the teachings, worship, and doctrine that we read about in Acts.

Jack McNiel, Evangelist
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