Characteristics of the New Testament Worship, A Call to Faith, Lesson 12, Response of Worship, 7-9

The teaching of the New Testament about public worship are even more indirect than those of the Old Testament. One reason for this is that nearly all the New Testament writers were Hebrews, and they took for granted all the Old Testament teachings about worship. The New Testament worship did away with the sacrifices and with the meditating priesthood, these changes were largely in form. The spirit of the worship was much the same. Probably the Christian Church was born at Pentecost where the Spirit of God descended upon the believers who were worshipping, for out of that experience came the amazing evangelistic and missionary movement that spread the Christian church across half the world. And worship, public worship, paved the way for this spread, for we note that the Apostle Paul had less trouble in establishing a church where there was a synagogue already established.

A reading of the New Testament leaves the impression that never before or since has the spirit of worship manifested itself so strongly as among these early Christians. There are five characteristics about this worship that marked its strength.

First, there was a lack of emphasis on externals. As opposed to the Hebrew idea of worship as exactly stated times and places, the Christians felt that worship was a matter of the heart, and where ever the people of God gathered there they could worship. Second, there was a new sense of freedom to worship. Certainly the forms of worship varied all over the Mediterranean world. Some of these forms probably held closely to the Hebrew form, while others were more than likely close to a present day missionary out station.In this worship, there was more emphasis on the people, and less on the leader. This idea of the priesthood of all the people had been at work among the prophets, but in the New Testament church the people became conscious of their privilege.

The fourth characteristic of this New Testament worship was that it was radiant. There was a change in the spirit of the worshippers. There was so much a change of spirit that the Jews who observed the Christians at Pentecost thought they had drunk too much wine. The last characteristic of the Apostolic church was its access to power. This power, of course, was the power of the Holy Spirit, which first came at Pentecost, but for our study, it is important to note that this power came first at and during a public worship.

In looking back, we can see that public worship occupied a large part of the center of the Old Testament religion, and an even larger part of the New Testament religion. To the truth, the inspiration and the vision derived from public worship, the Apostolic Church owed its power for heroic living and heroic service even to the death as martyrs. In public worship was the fountain which gushed out the evangelists and missionaries that spread the gospel in those early days, and indeed, in our days too.

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