Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 9 September 2014
Page 13

Questions and Answers

Send your religious questions to editor@gospelgazette.com

The Cost of True Worship

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Louis RushmoreI would like to know more about the cost of true worship. Is there a cost for true worship?

The question is a little vague; it is not clear to me precisely what the one posing the question is asking. However, we will attempt to offer some insight from one perspective at least respecting the cost of true worship.

One important ingredient for truly worshipping God is the complete investment of one’s self into his or her Christianity. About 2,000 years ago, Christians in Macedonia, despite extreme poverty, voluntarily contributed from their meager means some funds to relieve the poor saints in Judaea. Once a child of God completely devotes himself to Christianity, dispensing with some of his material possessions is not a challenge.

Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5 NKJV)

So, one significant cost of true worship is one’s all submitted to God. This corresponds with the words of our Lord to seek first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).

In addition, part of the cost of true worship is giving back some of whatever blessings God provides. Christians ought to give “bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6) and weekly according to their prosperity (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). However, God has never been pleased with the refuse and castoffs (Malachi 1:6-14), and He views meager giving as robbery. “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8). Whereas in the New Testament, the amount of one’s giving is not specified, the willingness to give liberally of what one does have is part of the cost of true worship.

Furthermore, the cost of true worship involves worshipping God in the way in which He has specified that He wants to be worshipped. We must worship God “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). This precludes worshipping God according to the whims and desires that we may have (Colossians 2:23). Worshipping God correctly costs one his own preferences in the act of worshipping God.

There was a time and there may come again a time and in some places in the world today it is the time in which choosing to worship God will cost a man or a woman his life. The meaning of Revelation 2:10 is to be faithful to Jesus Christ even if that faithfulness results in one being murdered. That certainly is a significant cost that one might bear for practicing true worship.

The cost of true worship may be varied. Whatever the cost of true worship, we must bear that cost, for nothing else matters as much as worshipping God now and preparing ourselves to worship God for eternity in heaven (Revelation 21:3; 22:3).

Youth Organization

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Please, I need a biblical answer to this question. Here in Southern Nigeria youths of the Churches of Christ have grouped themselves and started organizing youth forums and evangelism. The youths elect their chairman and other executives annually. The youths would plan and finance the youth lectureship and other evangelical works. The youth would then use their own letterhead and issue invitations to youths and other congregations. The main aim of this youth gathering is to revive the church through evangelism and assist weak congregations. Some gospel ministers are members of this gathering. But there is an influential minister and a few brethren who preach against the activities of the youths, calling it unscriptural. The church is almost divided by this problem. Please, are the activities of the youth unscriptural? Please help me and the churches here. Thanks.

This question is not an easy one to answer for a couple of reasons. First, there is not enough comprehensive information provided to be fully aware of some details that could materially affect one’s response. Secondly, brethren who otherwise agree about most aspects of practicing pure, New Testament Christianity disagree about the extent of freedom an individual Christian or individual Christians may have to demonstrate their Christianity without the direct and constant oversight of the elders of the congregation of which they are members, or in the absence of elders, without the consent of the body of faithful, male members.

Of course, what members of the churches of Christ do or do not do in the United States is no standard and not comparable in precedent to anything found in Scripture. As a matter of information, the practice of some Christians, who do not imagine that they are doing anything anti-scriptural, includes formally grouping themselves together to accomplish a common goal. For instance, Christians sometimes voluntarily cooperate or work together to publish Gospel magazines or other literature. At least one school of preaching in the States exists through the banding together of various Gospel preachers as instructors under a board of directors, without being under the oversight of a congregational eldership. There are at least three brotherhood-wide independent youth organizations among the churches of Christ in America. Other brethren have organized themselves into a benevolent organization to respond to regional disasters in this country.

If these or similar cooperative efforts were under the oversight of the elders of local congregations, then the validity of their organizational structure would not be a matter of concern; only the quality of what they do would be the subject of scrutiny. There are numerous additional church programs that are the extension of local congregations, and in which several congregations may voluntarily cooperate, though individual congregations with their respective elders take responsibility for them.

Yet, is it necessary for everything that a Christian does in the exercise of his or her Christianity to be micromanaged by an eldership? Can an individual Christian without direct oversight of an eldership opt to give a coworker a tract or engage him in a religious conversation about, say, salvation? Can two brothers in Christ decide to cooperate with each other and pass out tracts in a neighborhood – without their effort having the express approval of their eldership – as though it were an organized program of the local congregation? Can three? What about five? Could 15?

Ideally, to prevent complaints by anyone who has doubts about the propriety of voluntary cooperation to work for the Lord without the guidance of an eldership, and to provide biblical supervision, the youth groups in America or Nigeria, the benevolent organization mentioned, the school of preaching cited, Gospel magazines and such like would do well to place themselves under elderships. Yet, at the same time, Christianity is an individual and personal responsibility, too – for which each child of God will face individual, personal accountability before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). Irrespective of what a congregation does, Christians nevertheless have the responsibility to practice their Christianity faithfully (Revelation 3:4).

If the youth group in Nigeria is teaching error or attempting to control local congregations instead of enlisting their voluntary participation, then it should be opposed for one or both of those reasons. Otherwise, as long as it is not a religious organization to which local churches are slaves, and if two or more Christians may properly cooperate to magnify the effect of their Christian efforts (e.g., passing out tracts together), then, it is my judgment that fellow Christians ought to recognize that their preferences for or against it are merely their opinions – to which they are entitled, but which they may not bind on others. We should be careful not to disparage the good that others do because it is not the way we would do it or we are not the ones doing it (Luke 9:49-50).

The largest religious organization possessing divine authority to exist remains the local congregation of the Lord’s church. As long as all parties recognize this to be true, and individual Christians voluntarily working together do not dispute this, Christians would do better directing their attention to working for the Lord and being fruitful (John 15:1-6).

How Many Denominations Are There?

Louis Rushmore, Editor

A reader inquired, “How many denominations are there?” Doubtlessly, no one truly knows the answer to that question. Estimates range from above 20,000 to move than 30,000, with possibly five or six new ones being established each week.

Synonyms for the word “denomination” include “unit” and “brand.” A religious denomination is perceived to be a unit of a larger collection of units that are imagined together to comprise Christianity. Further, religious denominations essentially are thought to be differing brands of Christianity.

In truth, though, Jesus Christ died to establish only one church, which belongs to Him (Acts 20:28; Matthew 16:18). He alone is the Head of it (Colossians 1:18). Only He has the authority to govern it (Matthew 28:18 NKJV). Jesus Christ will return someday to take His church back to heaven with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; John 14:1-3).

That church is the one about which we can read in the Bible; it is clearly revealed in the New Testament. Sometimes in Scripture referred to as “the church of God” (1 Corinthians 1:2) or “the churches of Christ” (Romans 16:16), it preceded the Catholic Church by hundreds of years and the first Protestant denomination by about 1,500 years.

Wherever today men and women simply obey the Gospel in the New Testament and worship God in His own prescribed way, “the church of God” or the “churches of Christ” assemble in our time. However, the one true church of the Bible is more difficult to discern today than it was in the first century because of the confusion resulting from the existence of thousands of manmade religious denominations.

The Lord’s church is not a denomination. The church Jesus built is not a unit among several other units comprising Christianity today. The true church is not a brand of Christianity, but rather it is Christianity. Everything else is counterfeit religion and unauthorized by God.

In the 21st century, the church that Jesus built wears the name “churches of Christ.” A single, local congregation, then, is a church of Christ. Visit a church of Christ near you, or contact me for further information at editor@gospelgazette.com.

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