The following is an excerpt from a document North Side’s elders gave out to our church body on April 17th. As we have prayed concerning the direction of the church and studied Scripture together, we are under conviction that we must be a church according to scriptural mandates. Our church currently uses different styles of worship to relate to different groups of people. Our time in the Word has changed our heads and our hearts. The following is a brief excerpt, you can get the rest of the document here.
A passion for the glory of God is the hallmark of the redeemed. Because it is God’s passion, it must be our passion. To live passionately for the glory of God means that our greatest delight is found in delighting Him and our greatest fear is found in displeasing Him. When we fall short of living for His glory, (Romans 3:23) we fall into a life lived for the glory of self. Living life for our glory is sin. When we lose the great, high, noble calling of living life for His glory, the results are disastrous for the church. Worship is reduced to a consumer-driven personal experience, discipleship is reduced to a self-help program, and evangelism is reduced to a goal-driven sales pitch. Living as a church for the glory of God will redefine our purpose and redefine the methods we use in pursuing that purpose. Corporate worship, or worship as a church family, becomes a priority.
Psalm 133:1 reads, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!”
Most of us have been conditioned to think of salvation in terms of the individual. The truth is, however, that God has saved a people unto Himself.
Peter wrote, “But you are a Chosen Race, a royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation, a People for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a People, but now you are the people of God” (1 Peter 2:9-10). Paul wrote in Philippians, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:1-3). In that same letter Paul exhorted the church to “do all things without grumbling or disputing so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).
The unity of the body was so essential in the mind of Christ that it was one of the last things He prayed for here on earth — “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in you, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:20-23). Such unity in the body of Christ is a testimony to the world that God sent Jesus to redeem sinful man. Our unity is one of the strongest pieces of evidence that Jesus Christ is the Son of God! Church unity brings glory to God because it is a testimony to that same glory.
In fact, as we saw in the Book of Ephesians, God intentionally, for His own glory, for His name’s sake, brought two very different groups of people together (Jews and Gentiles) and made them into one new group “so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 3:10). That chapter is essential in understanding the mind of God when it comes to the church! Two groups of people with different backgrounds, different traditions, different beliefs and different preferences were brought together by God so that they might live and breathe as one body. They were brought together so that His wisdom and His glory might be made known to both heaven and earth.
Consider the following words from Ephesians 4; “Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:3-6).
It would seem that Paul intended for the church to exhibit that kind of unity in worship. He taught that the people of God should unite together, despite all differences and preferences, and become united by the redemptive work of Christ, for the purpose of proclaiming together with one voice the worth of God. He made that intention clear when he wrote in Romans, “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 15:5-6).
Does “one voice” include music? Does it include singing? It would seem so. Paul wrote in Colossians, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you with all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:16-17). Did you notice that we find here the glory of God, the unity of the church, and the singing of the people all connected? Furthermore, the singing involves three very different types of music being utilized by all the people to praise God!
The book of 1 Corinthians makes perhaps the strongest case in all of Scripture regarding the shamefulness of a divided church. Paul began the letter by exhorting the Corinthians that there should be “no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10). Paul revealed that the source of their divisions was personal preferences in teachers and teaching style. Paul reminded them that a focus on personality or style is a misguided focus. Their focus should have been on Jesus and on the glory of God. In chapter 11, he stated that even when they came together for the Lord’s Supper, the Lord that was not their central focus. Their own personal preferences and appetites were their primary concern. Paul expressed his disapproval in chapter 11, verses 18-21 — “For in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you. Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk.”
Paul’s message, written under the direction of the Holy Spirit, is clear – pleasing God by uniting together in worship should have been the Corinthians’ strongest desire.
For the rest of the article, go here.