|SPEAK AS THE ORACLES RADIO Program #124
WORK & WORSHIP
OF THE CHURCH
Adapted from Ira Y. Rice
INTRODUCTION: Having IDENTIFIED the “CHURCH” you read about in the New Testament in a prior lesson we
come now to a study of the WORK and WORSHIP of that church as revealed therein.
That MANY ERRORS have crept into church work and worship across the centuries is at once apparent to any
careful student of the New Testament. In order to discover afresh what God recorded IN THE BEGINNING, let us
FORGET what MEN have written and RETURN TO THE NEW TESTAMENT for a NEW LOOK ...
I. A CAREFUL STUDY OF THE SCRIPTURES REDUCES ALL CHURCH WORK TO THREE PHASES, I.E., 1)
EVANGELIZATION 2) EDIFICATION and 3) GLORIFICATION.
A. The church authorized by the New Testament is supposed to EVANGELIZE the WORLD.
1. From 1 Timothy 3:15 we learn that the CHURCH is the “pillar and ground” (i.e., support) of the truth.
1 Timothy 3:15
“(15) But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is
the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.”
2. Ephesians 3:8-10 shows the wisdom of God is to be made known “by the CHURCH.”
(8) Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles
the unsearchable riches of Christ; (9) And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from
the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: (10) To the intent that
now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of
3. The Great Commission shows the EXTENT of this evangelism.
a. “ALL NATIONS” to be taught (Matthew 28:19).
b. “ALL THE WORLD” and “EVERY CREATURE” to be preached to (Mark 16:15).
“(15) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
c. “ALL NATIONS” to hear preaching (Luke 24:47).
“(46) And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the
third day: (47) And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations,
beginning at Jerusalem.”
4. That the church in the beginning took this commission seriously is evident from the following Scriptures:
a. Paul said, “their sound went into ALL THE EARTH, and their words unto the ENDS OF THE WORLD” (Romans
b. The gospel was “preached to EVERY CREATURE WHICH IS UNDER HEAVEN” in the first century of the
church, i.e., when Paul was still alive (Colossians 1:23).
B. The church revealed in the New Testament is supposed to EDIFY itself, i.e., build itself up.
1. After persons were taught and baptized, Matthew 28:20 shows they were to be FURTHER taught “to OBSERVE
ALL THINGS” commanded by Jesus Christ.
2. After the persecutions of Acts 8 and 9 were finished, the church had rest from strife and was “EDIFIED” (Acts 9:
3. Paul instructed the church at Rome to follow after “things wherewith one may EDIFY another” (Romans 14:19).
4. In edifying, each Christian was to seek not his own, but every man ANOTHER’S wealth (1 Corinthians 10:23-24).
1 Corinthians 10:23-24
“(23) All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify
not. (24) Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.”
5. In Christianity, ALL THINGS were to be done unto edifying (1 Corinthians 14:26; 2 Corinthians 12:19).
1 Corinthians 14:26
“(26) … Let all things be done unto edifying.”
6. The purpose of “edifying” the body of Christ (i.e., church) was to help us all to come:
a. In the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.
b. Unto a perfect man.
c. Unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).
“(11) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
(12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (13) Till we
all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure
of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”
C. The church in the New Testament is supposed to “GLORIFY” God.
1. Jesus said, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye BEAR MUCH FRUIT; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8).
a. Some of the fruit we bear are “fruit of the spirit,” i.e., love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness,
faith, meekness, temperance (Galatians 5:22-23).
b. “Good works” (Matthew 5:16; Galatians 6:10).
“(16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in
c. Those who bear no fruit are hewn down and cast into the fire (Matthew 7:19).
“(19) Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”
2. The church also glorifies God through WORSHIP.
a. Acts 2:42 shows that after the first converts were added to the church (Acts 2:41, 47), they “continued
steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
b. Verse 47 says they also PRAISED God.
NOTE: Since ALL activities in the church as taught in the New Testament fall into the foregoing three main
categories, ANY activities in the church today must come under ONE OR MORE OF THESE CATEGORIES, in
order to be SCRIPTURAL. That is, they must either 1) EVANGELIZE sinners, 2) EDIFY Christians or 3) GLORIFY
God. Any activity not inclusive under one or the other of these headings is not according to the oracles of God,
therefore sinful (1 Peter 4:11).
1 Peter 4:11
“(11) If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability
which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion
for ever and ever. Amen.”
II. CHRISTIAN WORSHIP AS PRACTICED BY THE CHURCH IN THE NEW TESTAMENT.
Note: A PART of the WORK of the church, as we have seen already, is Christian WORSHIP. At the very outset the
church Jesus built began by those who were BAPTIZED (verse 41) CONTINUING STEADFASTLY “in the
APOSTLES’ DOCTRINE and FELLOWSHIP ... BREAK ING OF BREAD, and in PRAYERS” (verse 42); also
PRAISING God” (verse 47) — Acts 2 … Let us consider these items one by one:
A. The “APOSTLES’ DOCTRINE,” i.e., teaching (verse 42).
NOTE: Nowadays we commonly hear people say, “I don’t BELIEVE in DOCTRINAL sermons.” In the beginning of
the church that JESUS built it was not so. The SAME ONES who “GLADLY RECEIVED” the Word were
“BAPTIZED” (verse 41) and “CONTINUED STEADFASTLY in the apostles’ DOCTRINE” (verse 42). How could this
1. By continuing to HEAR what the apostles were teaching, just as they had been doing. (See verses 37 and 41).
2. By letting this teaching govern and mold their lives (James 1:22-25).
B. “And FELLOWSHIP” (i.e., sharing, verse 42).
NOTE: Often people say, “I can be a GOOD CHRISTIAN WITHOUT GOING TO CHURCH.” No doubt these people
are HONEST — but HONESTLY MISTAKEN! Fellowship, sharing or joint-participation was PART OF Christianity
from the very beginning (1 John 1:7).
1. Christians had shared in hearing the word (Acts 2:41).
2. They had shared in being baptized (Acts 2:41).
3. They had shared in being “added” to the church (verses 41, 47).
4. Once in the church, they just KEPT RIGHT ON SHARING:
a. In religious experiences (verses 43-46).
b. In support of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:7-14).
c. In helping one another (Acts 2:45; 4:34-35).
d. In doing good to others (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; Galatians 6:10).
C. “And in BREAKING OF BREAD” (i.e., the Lord’s supper) (Acts 2:42).
NOTE: TWO DIFFERENT KINDS of BREAD-BREAKING are mentioned in the New Testament. ONE kind is THE
LORD’S SUPPER, which was observed on THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK (Acts 20:7).
ANOTHER kind evidently was JUST A COMMON MEAL, also called “BREAKING BREAD” (Acts 2:46), NOT TO
BE CONFUSED WITH THE LORD’S SUPPER. Since people had to eat every day, this COMMON-MEAL, BREAD
BREAKING was done FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE. The FORMER was identified with “FRUIT OF THE VINE”
(Matthew 26); the LATTER with “MEAT” (Acts 2:46). Since no MEAT was in THE LORD’S SUPPER, this latter
bread-breaking mani festly could not be that.
1. Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper “breaking of bread” as a MEMORIAL before His death (Matthew 26:26-29).
a. It was not to be observed until in His kingdom (verse 29).
1 Corinthians 11:23-29
“(23) For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in
which he was betrayed took bread: (24) And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my
body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. (25) After the same manner also he took the cup,
when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in
remembrance of me. (26) For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he
come. (27) Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of
the body and blood of the Lord. (28) But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink
of that cup. (29) For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not
discerning the Lord's body.”
2. After Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection, He commissioned His apostles to teach, baptize and teach those
baptized to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20).
NOTE: However, since the LORD’S SUPPER was NOT TO BE OBSERVED UNTIL JESUS COULD DRINK IT NEW
with His disciples in His FATHER’S KINGDOM, they had to WAIT until the KINGDOM should come. We have
learned that the KINGDOM should come WITH POWER (Mark 9:1). Jesus told His apostles to tarry (i.e., wait) in
Jerusalem until they should be endued WITH POWER FROM ONE HIGH. The “POWER” came on Pentecost in
2. Thus THE LORD’S SUPPER could BEGIN TO BE OBSERVED. Hence, from Acts 2:42, we learn that they
“continued steadfastly ... in BREAKING OF BREAD.”
3. The first mention of this breaking of bread after Jesus introduced it in Matthew 26 is on Pentecost (Acts 2:42).
NOTE: PENTECOST was on “THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK.” The word literally means 50 DAYS—and
PENTECOST WAS THE 50th DAY AFTER JESUS AROSE FROM THE DEAD “in the end of the sabbath, as it
began to dawn toward the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK” (Matthew 28:1). Seven weeks later (i.e., on the 50th day)
on Pentecost, AGAIN on the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK
a) the HOLY SPIRIT was given,
b) the FIRST GOSPEL SERMON was preached,
c) the FIRST CONVERTS were made to the church, and
d) the LORD’S SUPPER BEGAN TO BE OBSERVED for the FIRST TIME in the CHRISTIAN DISPENSATION.
4. Historians tell us (and Acts 20:7 bears it out) that in the beginning of the church the disciples came together
“upon the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK” to break bread.
D. “And in PRAYERS” (Acts 2:42).
1. Jesus had given a model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, saying, “AFTER THIS MANNER therefore pray ye.”
NOTE: Jesus did NOT tell His disciples to pray this prayer OVER AND OVER AGAIN as is the practice of some. In
fact, in verse 7, that is what He told them NOT to do. “But when ye pray,” Jesus said, “use NOT VAIN
REPETITIONS, as the HEATHEN do: for they think that they shall be heard for their MUCH SPEAKING. Be NOT
ye therefore like unto them.” Well, if we repeat this prayer over and over, is that not what Jesus said NOT DO? If
He did not want us to use it for “VAIN REPETITIONS” and “MUCH SPEAKING,” then why did He give it? He gave
it as a MODEL so we might fashion OUR prayers LIKE that. “AFTER THIS MANNER,” said He, “therefore pray ye.”
2. Prayers included
a. Thanksgivings (Colossians 3:17).
b. Requests (Acts 7:59).
c. Intercessions (Acts 7:60; 12:5).
3. Prayed continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
E. “PRAISING GOD” (Acts 2:47).
1. By testifying (Acts 3:12-26; 8:25; 11:18, etc.).
2. By praying (Ephesians 3:14-21).
3. By singing (Acts 16:25; Romans 15:9; 1 Corinthians 14:15).
NOTE: To WORSHIP means to REVERENCE, to PAY RELIGIOUS HOMAGE to a person or object. The PLACE of
worship is IMMATERIAL (John 4:21): GOD IS A SPIRIT: and they that worship Him must worship Him in SPIRIT
and in TRUTH (John 4:20-24).
However, Christians must ASSEMBLE WITH GOD’S PEOPLE (Matthew 18:20; Hebrews 10:25).
“(25) Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another:
and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
We cannot rise above the object of our adoration.
Reason teaches us WE SHOULD NOT WORSHIP what is INFERIOR to ourselves. The heathen bows before a god
of his own making; even many so-called Christians worship material things. WE SHOULD NOT WORSHIP our
EQUAL. It is unbecoming for a CREATURE to worship a CREATURE. Some, like Cornelius, worship the
PREACHER (Acts 10:25).
RATHER we should worship our SUPERIOR, our FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN (Matthew 6:9). Why? He is our
CREATOR. How becoming for the CREATURE to ADORE HIS MAKER! He SEEKS it (John 4:23). Such worship
HELPS TO MAKE US LIKE HIM (2 Corinthians 3:18).
WORSHIP is NOT AN END IN ITSELF, but rather a MEANS to an end. We must be very careful, therefore, to
please HIM who is the ONLY RIGHTFUL OBJECT of our worship.
NOT ALL worship is ACCEPTABLE before God. Matthew 15:9 shows that those who worship, TEACHING FOR
DOCTRINES THE COMMANDMENTS OF MEN, worship “IN VAIN!” For God to ACCEPT our worship we must not
only worship “IN SPIRIT” (i.e., sincerely) but “IN TRUTH” (i.e., ACCORDING TO HIS WORD) (John 4:24; 17:17).
Think how different modern-day “CHURCHES” have grown from “THE CHURCH” you read about in the New
Rather than being the SPIRITUAL institution God intended His church to be, most DENOMINATIONAL churches
are SPIRITLESS, TRUTHLESS, CHRISTLESS —little more than SOCIAL CLUBS where the OBJECT seems to be
to WORSHIP THEIR OWN IDEAS RATHER THAN GOD, to PLEASE THEMSELVES rather than FOLLOW GOD’S
WILL. Rather than continuing steadfastly in the “apostles’ doctrine,” HUMAN CREEDS have TAKEN ITS PLACE;
rather than the intimate SHARING (fellowship) of the early church, DENOMINATIONAL LINES have been drawn;
rather than BREAKING OF BREAD “upon the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK,” it is MONTHLY, QUARTERLY,
YEARLY — or NEVER; instead of SINGING it is PLAYING.