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The Church: Advanced Book 3, Lesson 1: The Church -- The Kingdom of God

The book of Daniel is a book of prophecy as are many of the Old Testament books. These books called "Prophecy," can be divided into two groups, the large books of many chapters and the others that are small or short. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel are long books.

You may have learned a way to organize the OT books: 5, 12, 5, 5, 12, the number in each category - Law, History, Poetry, Major Prophets, and Minor Prophets. Daniel is one of the 5 "Major Prophets." It is not more important; it is just larger.

Daniel is often misunderstood. I attended a Bible class in the Nazarene church. They teach the doctrine of Pre-millennialism. This doctrine teaches that the kingdom of God is yet to be established. It will be established when Jesus returns to the earth. He will reign over all the earth on David's throne, they say. He will reign for 1,000 years, they say. The problem is that the predictions of Daniel have already happened. The problem is that there are no references in all the Bible that teach that Jesus will put his foot on the earth for 1,000 years. Take a look at their proof text - Revelation 20. There is not a single claim mentioned in that chapter.

The theory's ideas have been invented. They "read into" the text what they think instead of "lifting out of the text" what the author intended. Check out Paul's story about end times - 1 Thessalonians. 4. No, that is not just part of the events of the premillennial system. Then, see what Peter says in 2 Peter 2:7. The passages in Revelation came to pass "soon," said John. See chapter 1, as did the prophecies in Daniel come true.

The teacher in the Nazarene church was confused about the numbers in the book of Daniel. He didn't have an answer to all those numbers. The answer about the coming of the Kingdom is in the words of Jesus. See Mark 9:1. The kingdom came before some of those standing there listening to Jesus died. The kingdom, according to Jesus "is not of this world"; it's a spiritual kingdom. Review Jesus' comments in the garden when he was arrested. The throne of David is not the furniture of David; it's the position of King. Jesus is King! See Acts 2. The church is God's Kingdom on earth. We are members of it now. We are citizens of it. See Colossians about our "citizenship." The church on earth is like being a part of God's heavenly kingdom. Jesus did not fail to establish his kingdom and must come again to do that job. Jesus does not fail!

It's great to be a part of God's family.

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The Church: Advanced Book 3, Lesson 2: The Church -- The Kingdom of God (Continued)

Question II, 3: (a) Ten, (b) Fifteen, (c) Fifty, days after Jesus returned to heaven, the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles.

The correct answer is (a) Ten.

Teacher's Comment:
The time line of Jesus death, burial, resurrection, appearances, and ascension is best determined by studying Jesus' prophecy. He said he would be in the grave 3 days and 3 nights. Which day was he crucified and which day was he resurrected will give the picture. Then, we need to understand the meaning of Pentecost.

The sequel of time regarding Jesus, the church and his disciples is as follows:

1. On Wednesday, after 6 PM, Jesus ask for the Passover feast to be prepared in the upper room. Note: after 6 PM, the Jews counted the time as the next day. He and his disciples ate of the bread and the wine. This was the 13th day of the Jewish month, Nisan. On this day, the Jews removed all unleavened bread from their houses. Leaven or yeast was consider an impurity. It has to be removed before the preparation of the Passover feast. This day was the preparation for the feast of Unleavened Bread.

2. Thursday, the 14th day, the Passover lamb was to be killed. It was this day that Jesus was crucified -- our Passover lamb. He was dead before 6 PM, so the soldiers did not hasten his death by breaking his legs as they did the thieves. He was in the tomb that same day, before night. This was his first day and first night in the grave.

1 Corinthians 5:7-8
7    Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast -- as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
8    Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

By God's direction, the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed on the 14th day, Thursday. The Passover meal was to be eaten that evening after 6 PM. This was the beginning of the Jewish 15th day of the month. And, the entire day was cerebrated as a special Sabbath. This day was a Sabbath day regardless of the day of the week on which it fell.

3. Friday, Jesus was in the tomb for his second day.

4. Saturday, the regular Sabbath day, Jesus was in the tomb the third day.

5. Sunday morning he was raised from the grave making it a total of 3 days and 3 nights just as he had said.

6. Sunday began the 40 days on the earth with the disciples and appearances to other. He ascended into the heavens on Sunday.

Acts 1:3
3    To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.

7. Ten days later, the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles. Peter used the "keys to the Kingdom" as promised in Matthew 16 to open the door to the church. The church was established on this day, the day of Pentecost. The day of Pentecost (meaning 50) was one day after 7 weeks past the Passover making it 50 days. This would leave 10 days from the ascension to the coming of the Holy Spirit. The year was AD 33 as we know the calendar. Corrections would make it AD 34.

8. Within the next few days, the church had grown to over 5,000 men. (Acts 4:4) Women were not mentioned, but were baptized also making the count very large for such a short period of time.

9. Persecutions caused people to leave Jerusalem and go into all the world spreading the good news everywhere.

The Holy Spirit was promised (John 14) after Jesus said that everything that he knew came from the Father (John 8). The words that Jesus told the Holy Spirit were "mine." So the sequence is Father > Son > Holy Spirit > Apostles > Spoken and written word. All of the Bible is from the Father.

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The Church: Advanced Book 3, Lesson 3:
The Church -- The Body of Christ


Question 2:  Why is it so important for the church to be pure and holy?

Student Answer:
It is very important because the church stands for (represents) the bride of Christ so that the world would see the love of Jesus in her.

Teacher's Comment:
Purity before Satan defies Satan's power over us. It accomplishes God's purpose and shows Satan who is wise. God and Satan are at war and God wins when we choose to follow him. The ultimate purpose of the church is to show Satan that God is wise. Ephesians 3:10

10    His (God's) intent was that now, through the church (Christians living righteous lives), the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,

The phrase rulers and authorities refers to powers "in heavenly places, not of this earth." The phrase is used five times in Ephesians and no where else in scripture. It has a special meaning -- Satan! This special announcement of our purpose on earth gives us reason to keep our lives pure. It motivates us by telling us how important a Christian is to God.

Question: how does it feel to be "on stage" before all of heaven?

Ephesians 5:1-5
1    Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children
2    and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3    But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.
4    Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
5    For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person-- such a man is an idolater-- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

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The Church: Advanced Book 3, Lesson 4:
The Church -- The Body of Christ (Continued)

Teacher's Comments:
There are 3 words in the New Testament that are translated "love." Actually, there are 4 Greek words translated "love" in English. The word for "family love" is Storgae (GK). The word for "physical, sexual love" is Eros (GK), the word used for really good friends is Phileo (GK), and the word for making sure that the other is treated just right is Agape (GK).

Above, you have described Agape love. It is the "better way" according to Paul's writings in the "LOVE CHAPTER" of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13. This is a description of God's love. It is the how a Christian treats even his enemies. Jesus said that we are to love our enemies. When this is done, the bad guys wonder why are you being so kind? It is like heaping hot coals upon his head. He can't figure out why you treat him so kindly. This is God's way of saying that I Agape sinners, even you!

There is a wonderful example of Philo and Agape in John 21:14-19

14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love (agape) me more than these?"

"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love (phileo) you."

Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

16 Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love (agape) me?"

He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love (phileo) you."

Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."

17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love (agape) me?"

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love (phileo) me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."

Jesus said, "Feed my sheep. 18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"

Later, Peter was crucified. Peter chose to be crucified upside down instead of like Jesus was crucified. That's agape!

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The Church: Advanced Book 3, Lesson 5: The Church -- The Temple of the Holy Spirit

Teacher's Comments:

True or False -- On the day of Pentecost, Philip and Stephen received power to perform miracles.
The correct answer is (F) The day of Pentecost was the day the church was established -- Sunday, Acts 2. Philip & Stephen, found in Acts 6, received power later.

True or False -- Philip put his hands on the new Christians in Samaria, and they received special powers from the Holy Spirit.
The correct answer is (F). Philip did not have the power to enable one to do miracles. He had to call Peter to do this. Acts 8. This is an important passage because it shows that only the Apostles could pass on the power to do miracles. When the last Apostle died in about AD 100, miracles ceased. They were no longer needed. Hebrews 2:4, 1 Corinthians. 13:10.

Teacher's Comments:
As the lesson text states, miraculous gifts of the Spirit ceased soon after the death of the apostle John. The purpose of miracles was to prove to people that the Good News was God's truth.

Hebrews 2:4
4    God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

The purpose of the gifts of prophecy and teaching was to spread the truth of God by word-of-mouth while the New Testament was being written. Once the Bible was completed, these spiritual gifts faded away.

Paul said that the gift of prophecy, the gift of speaking in different kinds of languages, and the gift of knowledge would end. "These things will end, because this knowledge and these prophecies . . . are not complete (perfect). But when perfection comes, the things that are not complete will end" (I Corinthians 13:8-10). When God's revelation was complete, when the Holy Spirit led the apostles into all truth, when the infant church grew to maturity, then the gifts of the Spirit came to an end.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10
8    Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
9    For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10    but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

During the Apostolic period, from AD 34 to John's death in about AD 100, letters were written to the churches to warn and to correct error being taught by several groups. Prominent were the Jews who taught you had to be circumcised before you could become a Christian (Letter to the Galatians) and the Gnostics who taught they had special revelations (Refuted in 1 John). There were unacceptable practices of others (1 & 2 Corinthians) that prompted letters of Paul and Jude. Peter wrote letters of encouragement to people under persecution. The gospels were written to tell the story of Jesus. These are recorded in the New Testament for us today.

The end of the Apostolic period came with John's death. No longer did people speak in tongues or perform miracles. These all stopped.

In Acts 8, we read of Philip, who could do miracles to prove his message was true, was ask for this power. Philip could not pass this power to another, so he sent to Jerusalem to get Peter, an Apostle to lay on hands and give this power to others. The necessity of calling an Apostle shows that only the Apostles could pass on this power and that miracles had served their purpose by the time John died.

This is why Christians today cannot speak in foreign languages without training. They cannot perform miracles today even if they claim to do so.

Notice that "tongue speaking" today is not speaking a foreign language as it was on the day of Pentecost where all of 15 nations understood the gospel in their own language, Acts 2:6. It is "gibberish" or meaningless sounds called their "prayer language." Actually, it is deceptive even to the one speaking.

Today, we speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where it is silent. We have God's word written down in an understandable language for our study and teaching. 2 Timothy 3:16.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
16    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
17    so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

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Student Question: When will prophesy cease?

Teacher's Comment:
We have studied the Bible stories from Creation to the growth of the church of Christ in cities all over the world -- from the first book of the Bible to the last. The Bible records these stories and is partly a history book. To understand prophecy you need to see how God used prophecy throughout history.

First, a prophet is a "mouthpiece" of God. He speaks for God. The very words he speaks are from God. By his direct voice, angels, dreams, and prophets God spoke to man throughout history.

Hebrews 1:1-2 9 (This is a book in the New Testament that explains much of the Old Testament.)
1:1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,

Second, prophecy often had two purposes -- to give instruction and to tell the future.

In the Garden of Eden, WEI lesson 2, God spoke to Adam and Eve and gave them instructions as well as his love. Then, He told Satan that someone would come to crush his head, his seat of power (Genesis 3:15) -- a prediction of the future. This was the first prophecy that predicted the coming of Jesus. Jesus is the "someone" whose body was "bit" by Satan, but he got over it in his resurrection. In his resurrection, Jesus made Satan powerless for Christians.

In the sense of speaking for God, Noah was a prophet. He preached. So was Abraham. He instructed Isaac. Moses was a spokesman for God. He spoke for God to Pharaoh. Actually, Moses was afraid to speak; so, God sent his brother Aaron to speak for Moses. Moses was God's prophet. Aaron was Moses' prophet. Moses then gave the 10 commandments to the Israelites. These came from God.

In the time of Israel and the kings, Samuel was a prophet who established the "school of the prophets." Prophets were messengers of Jehovah who gave guidance and instructions to the people. They were in many cities.

Beyond Samuel, the prophets warned and advised the kings and they predicted the fall of Israel and Judah. Their prophecies had a predictive nature in that they warned of impending captivity. The captivity by Assyria and Babylonia happened. The prophets were right in their predictions. The prophets also foretold of the coming of the Messiah. This is especially true of Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Micah, Zechariah, and some others. These messages are called the Messianic Prophecies. The detailed prophecies by the Prophet Isaiah all came true, proving that Isaiah was a true prophet and that the Bible is true.

Their messages were more than predictive. They were instructive to the kings. The prophets were more like preachers. Prophecy is usually thought of as prediction, but a vital part of a prophet's message is instruction. The prophet is a teacher, denouncing, warning, instructing, and encouraging the kings and the people.

The last of the Old Testament prophets was Malachi. After Malachi, the prophets were silent for about 400 years until John the Baptism came. John announced Jesus. He instructed the people of Israel to repent.

Acts 3:17-26
17 "Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you-even Jesus. 21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.'

24 "Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.' 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways."

Jesus was a prophet and spoke only the words of the Father.

John 8:27-30
27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." 30 Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.

After Jesus' resurrection, he gave instructions to his Apostles. They were told that the Holy Spirit would come. Jesus said that he would give instructions to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would then tell the Apostles what to say and to write. The process involves Jesus as a prophet. How did prophecy work? In John 7:16 (from the Father to the Son); John 8:28 (Son speaks from the Father); John 16:13 (the Holy Spirit hears only what is "mine" or from Jesus); John 16:13 (Holy Spirit will guide and not speak on his own); John 16:15 (Father > Son, "mine" > Spirit > Apostles), said Jesus.

In 34 AD, after Jesus ascended into heaven, the church of Christ was established in Jerusalem. Peter preached the first sermon. What did Peter preach? Peter was to preach as the Spirit told him. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus told Peter to speak what was already bound in heaven. The message came directly from the Father to the Son, to the Holy Spirit, and to the Apostles. Peter preached what he was given from God. He preached God's message.

On the Day of Pentecost, there were people from 15 nations who heard Peter. How did they hear Peter when they did not know the language? They did not speak Greek or Aramaic, the languages of Jerusalem. The answer is that they heard God's message given to the 12 apostles who were given the ability to speak in foreign languages. This is called "tongues" in our English Bibles. The people were amazed that they could hear and understand in their own languages. (Acts 2:4)

Finally, in 75 AD, the story was written for us by Luke who wrote the record of Peter's speech in Acts 2. We have a copy of Peter's message recorded in the "Bible," the book of books. The message had been revealed and written down.

Now, the Bible tells us that the words "church" and "kingdom" are the same thing -- people who follow Jesus. We know how to get into the church. Peter told the people in Jerusalem and the message to us is recorded in the Bible. We are added to the church or kingdom of heaven when we believe, repent, confess, and are baptized. The Apostles taught this message from the Holy Spirit and the new Christians were forgiven. They were given the Holy Spirit to live in them. (Acts 2:38) They continued in the Apostles' teachings. What a wonderful promise for us too.

Acts 2:47
47 praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being save.

We learned this from the apostles, prophets, and teachers.

The church spread to other nations and cities all over the world. Soon after the church was established in Jerusalem, there was serious persecution by the Jews. The believers left Jerusalem and scattered into all of the world preaching the gospel of Jesus. The message spread quickly.

How did the people prove that their message to the world was from God? There were only 12 apostles, but there were hundreds who went everywhere preaching. Some, but not all, were given special gifts. Some had direct revelations from the Holy Spirit. They were prophets -- people who spoke for God. They had no Bible; it had not been written. Some could tell the message in a language that they had never studied. Some could perform miracles and heal the sick. These people used their special gift to prove that what they were preaching was true.

1 Corinthians 12:28
And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.

In this passage, prophets are those who speak for God. Some had a special revelation as did the apostles. These were special gifts. Miracle workers and healers were able to prove their message to be from God by doing special acts that were not natural. Helping those in need and directing the church (administrations) were powers given to people who had no training or instructions. What they knew was given to them directly by God. Speaking in tongues, literally speaking in a foreign language, was another special power given to confirm their message.

The purpose of these special gifts of the Holy Spirit is told to us in Hebrews.

Hebrews 2:3-4 (This book explains the teachings of Jesus giving us understanding.)
This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him. 4 God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

When Paul became a disciple he started churches in Europe on 3 journeys. One of these cities where he establish the local church was Corinth. While Paul was in another city, he learned that the church in Corinth had problems. The people loved their special powers. Speaking in a foreign language was liked very much. Those who could speak in a tongue were showing off (acting proudly). This created problems. Some were not given this gift. Now, the church was divided. The church in Corinth had 16 major problems. This was one of them -- pride in tongue speaking.

Paul wrote 3 letters to them. In one of the letters he tells them that the church is one body and that all gifts came from the same Spirit. He addressed one gift in particular -- speaking in a foreign language. He told them that their special interest in tongue speaking was dividing the church. He said that when they showed off by speaking in foreign languages and that this could not help the church learn. They were just showing off and benefiting themselves only. The purpose of tongues was to prove that their message was from God. It was to be a sign to the unbeliever. (1 Corinthians 14:22)

Prophesying was much better for the church than tongues.

1 Corinthians 14:1-6
Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.
3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.
4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church.
5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.
6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?

To help them understand the purpose, Paul told them that these special gifts were temporary. The Holy Spirit would stop giving them these special gifts someday. He wanted them to know that the special gifts were for the purpose of confirming the word. These special gifts were not for show. They had a special purpose and would not be needed later when God's Word was fully revealed and understood. Having a direct message from God, or prophesying, in Corinth would stop too.

But, for now they should desire to have the ability to be a prophet because they were speaking for God by direct revelation. The gospel was still being revealed to the world through them. The Bible was yet to be written.

In a later time, this special revelation would no longer be needed and it would stop. Miracles, healing, interpreting foreign languages, and having a special knowledge of helping and administration would stop too when they were no longer needed to confirm the word. Teaching by special revelation would stop. But, teaching would continue until unity and maturity was achieved.

For now, they were do it right and stop dividing the church. They should desire the greater gift of love. Prophesy will continue for now.

Ephesians 4:1-16 (This is Paul's letter written to the church in Ephesus before he died.)
4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit- just as you were called to one hope when you were called- 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
8 This is why it says:

"When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men."

9 (What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

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The Church: Advanced Book 3, Lesson 6:
The Church  -- The Temple of the Holy Spirit (Continued)

Teacher's Comments:
This lesson on "The Church -- the Temple of the Holy Spirit" tells us about the lives of Christians. It's all about belonging and having an inner strength.

One of the most important needs of a human is to belong. Everybody needs to belong and to be wanted. Only after we belong can we move on to do something worthy. Psychologist who study people tell us that after we are no longer hunger and cold, we must satisfy the need to have security. We don't want to be hungry and cold tomorrow. After we are secure comes the need for a social connection -- to feel that we belong to others. It's a need to fit into society. People will do almost anything to find food, security, and to fit into some society. This need is part of being a human being. Finally, a human needs an inner strength and the power to do something meaningful in his life.

All of this describes the needs of a human being.

Belonging is what Adam and Eve lost when they disobeyed God in the story of the Garden of Eden -- Book 1, Lesson 2. Because of their sins, they were separated from God. They no longer belonged to God. Instead, they had a deep sense of guilt because they had disobeyed. Satan took away their sense of belonging. They "died" in a spiritual sense -- separated from God.

But, after God's plan for redeeming man was completed in showing his love through Jesus' willingness to die for mankind, forgiveness and power to live right lives was restored. We can come to God and be completely free. We can be close to God again. We can belong. We can have his Spirit living within us. We can have his power working in us. We can live lives that are meaningful.

People who choose to come to God on his terms are filled with his Spirit. It's called the "Holy Spirit." Lives change because everything is right with God. Freedom in our spirit is real when God's Spirit is within.

See the verses in Romans 8 and read about real freedom.

In this chapter of the New Testament, Paul writes to people who thought that being good was the way to freedom and inner power. They had "the law." But, they could never really keep the law. In Chapter 7, Paul described how difficult it was to be free by trying to keep the law himself. He knew what was right, but he could not always behave in the right way. It was frustrating. He often was a failure. He had no real freedom. He needed God's Spirit within and could not find it by himself. Just being "good" was not enough. Trying to be good gave a sense of failure and incompleteness. His need to belong was not genuine. He only belonged to himself and tried to be good.

But, in Jesus, he found no condemnation. He was really free. He belonged to God. He was a part of the church, the people of God. He belonged to God's society. He was completely forgiven. He could now live a life of freedom and power. This new power was God's Spirit living in him. He was the temple of God, a place where God lives within. Being led by God's Spirit is a rich blessing.

It is God's Spirit that empowers Christians so they can live meaningful lives.

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The Church: Advanced Book 3, Lesson 7: The Church -- The Worshiping Community

QUESTION: True or False For hundreds of years, the human voice was the only instrument used in Christian worship.

The Correct answer is (T). 
Musical instruments were used in the Old Testament for war, celebrations and to praise God (2 Chronicles 29:25, Psalms 150).  However, there is no evidence that they were used in the Holy Place of the Temple which foreshadowed the church. Instrumental music permeated the life of the Jewish people even in the time of Christ (Matthew 9:23; 11:17). It was also used throughout the pagan world in its worship. In the early church, only singing was used so far as we can tell. (Romans 15:11, 1 Corinthians 14:15, Ephesians 3:19, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 2:12). Singing satisfies the criteria of edifying, instructing, and being of spiritual and rational content. Instruments do not meet these criteria set forth in scripture. When instruments were introduced, it was rejected again and again by those who chose to follow the Apostles teachings. It was about AD 800 or later before the instrument made it into the worship assembly. This strongly suggests that something changed between the Old Testament practice and the time of the church described in the New Testament. Something changed with the New Covenant period -- our period of time, the Christian dispensation of time. Christian worship changed with the beginning of the church.

Jeremiah 31:33
33    "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Colossians 3:16
"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

The change was from worshiping with the "hand" to worshiping with the "heart," -- Spiritual Worship.

Teacher's Comments:
A simple answer to the use of the instruments in worship is this: Jesus' instructions to the apostles was that the Holy Spirit would "teach them all things" which includes music. "All things" includes singing. Had the apostles taught "make music," then, we would be free to choose the form of music. But, Paul did not say "make music," he said to "sing." This excludes all other forms of music in the church. Jesus wants us to sing. It enriches the soul.

(Or The use of Instrumental Music in the Worship of the Church) Richard L. Walker
Three types of worship are described in these pages. They are: (1) ritualistic worship, as was carried on at the temple in Jerusalem, (2) pagan worship, as has been performed in many different cultures, and (3) spiritual worship, as described in the New Testament. I want to show that instrumental music is more compatible with ritualistic worship as described in the Old Testament, and with the worship of pagan gods, than it is with spiritual worship as described in the New Testament.

The ritualistic worship that is found in some of the more traditional churches of today has been patterned to some extent after the worship that took place at the temple in Jerusalem. Let us look briefly at that type of worship.

"The temple in Jerusalem was an elaborate building surrounded by a courtyard. Inside the building itself, Jewish priests had special work to do. They kept the oil lamps filled with oil. They renewed the special bread that was set on a table before the Lord, and they kept the incense burning. The priests carried out these functions in what is sometimes called "the holy place." Into another part of the temple, called "the most holy place," the high priest went once a year to sprinkle a little blood from animals that had been sacrificed in the courtyard (Leviticus 16:14-15).

"In the courtyard was a large altar upon which the priests burnt parts or all of the animals that they had slaughtered. There was also a large basin of water in the courtyard where the priests washed the various pots, pans, forks, and so on which they used in preparing their offerings. It was also in the courtyard that musical instruments were played: Horns were blown, harps were plucked, and cymbals were clanged. No evidence suggests, however, that these musical instruments were ever taken either into "the holy place" or into "the most holy place. The absence of musical instruments in "the holy place" should give pause to anyone who argues that the use of musical instruments at the temple justifies using them in church, for the "the holy place" was a foreshadowing of the church.

"The above description of the worship at the temple m Jerusalem is extremely brief. Yet even from this brief description it can be seen that the worship that was done at the temple was ritualistic and physical.

Jesus predicted that a day would come when people would worship God in a different manner. To a woman in Samaria Jesus said,

John 4:21-24
21    Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father.
22    "You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
23    "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
24    "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

"Jesus foresaw that spiritual worship would supersede ritualistic worship. Jesus emphasized that God is Spirit and that He is seeking people who will worship Him in spirit and truth. In spite of what Jesus said, however, ritualistic worship continued to be carried on at the temple in Jerusalem for about forty years. It continued until the temple was destroyed by the Romans in the year AD 70. During these forty years, temple worship and Christian worship both existed side by side in Jerusalem. While animals were being sacrificed on the temple grounds and instruments of music were being played there, a different type of worship was being carried on by believers in Christ. They were gathering quietly in various places, associating with each other, teaching God's word, celebrating the Lord's Supper, and praying (Acts 2:42).

No, these are two different types of worship. Christian worship is mostly informal while the temple worship was ritualistic and formal. Christian worship is spiritual while temple worship was largely physical. In spite of the differences between these two types of worship, however, evidence of ritualistic worship can be found in many traditional churches of today.

"One example of the influence of temple worship on present day churches is the presence of an altar in many church buildings. What is the purpose of an altar? It is throwback to the time of the Old Testament when animals were sacrificed. Christians, however, do not offer animal sacrifices, because Jesus Christ is their sacrifice (Ephesians 5:2). He offered Himself once for all (Hebrews 7:27) and His sacrifice does not need to be repeated. Even if it needed to be repeated, no human could carry it out, since Jesus is the only one who could offer Himself (John 10:18).

"To be sure, there are certain spiritual sacrifices that Christians offer (1 Peter 2:5), but those sacrifices do not require a physical altar. Spiritual sacrifices include such things as presenting one's body as a "living sacrifice" (Romans 12:1), offering "the fruit of lips," which is praise of God (Hebrews 13:15), doing good deeds, and sharing one's possessions (Hebrews 13:16).

The pipe organ is another example of ritualistic worship. If the Jews had possessed a pipe organ during the days when the temple was still standing, it would have fit nicely with the elaborate rituals of Old Testament worship.

"Another carryover is the use of ornate robes by the clergy. These elaborate robes call to mind the robes worn by the priests at the temple. See Exodus chapter 28. The use of ornate robes, along with the altar and instruments of music, is evidence of an attempt to recapture something of the earthly grandeur of that physical temple which once stood in Jerusalem.

"In contrast to this, the New Testament teaches that Christian people are themselves the temple of God and that God's Holy Spirit lives in them. The apostle Paul wrote, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16)

"Therefore, the worship which Christian people offer to God should be in accordance with the reality of their nature, which is spiritual. The apostle Paul said,

Phil 3:3
3    for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,

Today, in addition to ritual worship, an entirely different pattern of worship is emerging. I call it neo-pagan worship. Instead of an altar, many newer church buildings have a stage in them. That is due, I believe, to the fact that many church leaders think they must put on a good show if they are to compete with worldly entertainment for people's attention.

Christian worship in the early days, however, was not directed toward entertainment. It was directed toward worship. Even though the worship at the Jewish temple was ritualistic and physical, it was at least directed toward pleasing God. Today, I fear, more thought is given to pleasing men rather than God. A skilled performer can easily step from the stage of a nightclub in Las Vegas to the stage of a church. He can bring along his electric guitar, his synthesizer, his brass horns, and his drums. He does not even have to change his extravagant wardrobe!

"In view of this, one should ask, is worship to be led only by professional entertainers? Whatever happened to quietness, meekness, and reverence in worship?

Successful poets, authors, and musicians are skilled at manipulating the emotions of people. Many evangelists are good at it, too. It is, to be sure, always appropriate to make an impassioned appeal for people to obey the gospel, yet are there no limits to what should be done to manipulate people's emotions? Is manipulation of people's emotions the main purpose of the assembly? Is not the manipulation of emotions more suited to a theatrical performance, or to a concert, rather than to a church?

Most people usually get an emotional uplift from going to church. That is normal and to be expected. Getting uplift is one reason for going to church, but is that the primary reason? Should not a person attend church in order to worship God and to encourage others? Should not an emotional uplift, if it comes, be a byproduct of worship and of hearing God's word, rather than it being produced by frantic and artificial stimulation?

"Suppose a person goes to church primarily to get an emotional high, and he gets it. Can such a thing be addictive? An emotional high can soon evaporate and to recapture it a person must go and allow himself to be worked upon again. Each time it takes a little more frenzy to produce ecstasy. To accomplish this, always something new and exciting has to be done. Each worship service must grow wilder and wilder. The shouting becomes more raucous, the hand clapping ever more persistent. Until, finally, the waving of arms resolves into dancing. All of these things are tools that skillful manipulators use to whip up the emotions of people.

"This sounds very much like what goes on at heathen temples around the world and which has gone on for centuries. It is a type of worship that has always been associated with false gods, demons, and idols. It is not far removed from the ceremonies of primitive peoples who dance around campfires seeking aid from the spirit world. Nor is it far removed from the chanting and dancing done in primitive villages, where people attempt to get rid of demons. This type of worship has nothing to do with Jesus. Jesus never participated in such excesses, nor did he encourage others to do so. He had a quieter approach to worship. After Jesus celebrated His last Passover, He sang a simple hymn with His disciples before leaving the place where they were gathered (Mark 14:26).

Jesus desired to be remembered by His disciples in a very special way. He wanted them to remember Him by celebrating what is called "the Lord's Supper" in His honor.

"In the night in which Jesus was betrayed, He sat (reclined) at table with His apostles for the Passover meal. He took some bread, broke it, and gave it to His disciples saying,

1 Corinthians 11:24-25
24    and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
25    In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."

"Ever since Jesus died and arose from the dead, Christians have met on the first day of the week to remember Him. It was the main reason why early Christians came together on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Not a single Sunday has passed without Christians meeting somewhere in the world to partake of the Lord's Supper. Still today, the Lord's Supper should be the centerpiece of Christian worship on the Lord's Day (Sunday).

The Lord's Supper should be celebrated in a reverential manner, because it is communion with the body and blood of the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:16). Such communion is a sacred privilege. It should not be treated lightly as some of the brethren in the city of Corinth were doing (1 Corinthians 11:21). Before a person partakes of the Lord's Supper he should examine himself (1 Corinthians 11:28) to see if there is anything in his life that he needs to change. This examination is not to see if he is worthy of partaking of the Lord's Supper, for no one is worthy. Rather, it is to identify what changes need to be made in his lifestyle.

"The Lord's Supper sets the tone for worship at the Sunday assembly. When people partake of the Lord's Supper they cannot avoid thinking about Jesus' death, His burial, and His resurrection. Therefore, a certain seriousness is brought about. Although there is joy over the resurrection of Jesus, there is also sadness over the fact that He had to die for our sins. Sadness, however, is not always bad. Solomon said,

Eccl 7:2-3
2    It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart.
3    Sorrow is better than laughter, for when a face is sad a heart may be happy.

"When the worship on the Lord's Day is anchored to celebrating the Lord's Supper, as the Scriptures indicate, it helps keep the worship on a spiritual level. When someone is partaking of the Lord's Supper he is prompted to be quiet and introspective. It is the neglect of the weekly observance of the Lord's Supper that makes it possible for the tenor of the worship on Sunday to be changed. In the absence of the Lord's Supper, humble reverence can quickly turn into raucous exuberance.

"It would be entirely out of place to celebrate the Lord's Supper in nightclub style. Jesus, the poor Carpenter from Galilee, would not appreciate all the glitter and all the brass. The humble Savior, who gave his life for others, would not be impressed with the blatant self-praise which sometimes is heard in worldly preaching. Nor would the holy Son of God consider Himself properly revered by the sensuous strains of some modem music.

"No attempt was made, so far as we know, by the early congregations to make a grand display in their assemblies. There is no indication that they used elaborate rituals like those of the Jewish temple. They certainly did not put on a show like the pagans did, except perhaps at Corinth, where the apostle Paul had to reprimand the brethren for their disorder.

In addition to celebrating the Lord's Supper, what early Christians did in their Sunday assemblies was similar to what the Jews did in their synagogues. The synagogue was a kind of a school. It was a place where the Old Testament Scriptures and other writings were read. A similar thing happened in the meetings of early Christians. In Jerusalem, for example, the brethren spent time listening to the apostles, who were present (Acts 2:42). Later, as the gospel spread and the apostles were scattered, brethren in various places read the letters from the apostles (Colossians 4:16). They also read the accounts of the life of Jesus and portions of the Old Testament. Since there were no Christian schools in those early days -- not even any Sunday schools -- much of the teaching had to be done in the assembly. The assemblies of early Christians appear to have been very simple. If a brother had anything to say, he could speak out. He should be careful, of course, to say something which would edify (build up) the church (1 Corinthians 14:26).

Prayer was a prominent feature of the worship of the early Christians (Acts 2:42). Their prayers were a fervent outpouring of their innermost thoughts. Several types of prayers are described in the New Testament: Among them are prayers of praise, prayers of thanksgiving, prayers of confession, prayers of intercession, and prayers of requests. See 1 Timothy 2:1.

Singing in the assembly had a two-fold purpose. It was to praise and to educate the people. Early Christians sang in order to teach with songs. This was a beautiful feature of their teaching. The apostle Paul wrote,

Colossians 3:16
16    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.

Would we not rather have someone sing to us than to have someone preach at us? Any teacher who uses songs in his or her teaching is wise. The apostle Paul said that Christians should sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. What are these?

When the apostle Paul instructed the Christians at Colossi to sing "psalms" (Colossians 3:16), he was most likely referring to the psalms of the Old Testament. Some of the psalms of King David were intended for education. David made this promise to God:

Psalms 51:13
13    Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee.

Also Moses composed a teaching psalm (song), at God's instigation. Moses' psalm was designed to remind the children of Israel of what God had done for them (Deuteronomy 31:19).

"Hymns" were well known in antiquity. Many hymns were composed to honor pagan gods. When Christianity came along, new hymns were written to reflect Christian teaching.

"Spiritual songs" are songs that have a spiritual content. In order for a song to be truly spiritual, the words of the song must be compatible with the Holy Scriptures. Some of the most beautiful songs are simply passages of Scripture set to music. The melody, the harmony, and the rhythm of a spiritual song should be compatible with the words. Some songs used today have a spiritual message, but the melody is straight out of the discotheque.

The music in spiritual singing should always take a back seat to the words. Nowhere does the disadvantage of using instrumental music in the worship service become more evident than here, for who can sing against the backdrop of a booming pipe organ, that drowns out the words of a song. When the organ is bellowing some people give up trying to sing. They just sit back and listen. They allow themselves to be lulled and entertained by the music. Therefore, a pipe organ, rather than helping the singing, often stifles it. Even though the members of a congregation may be accustomed to worshipping in spite of the noise, there is one person who is definitely not worshiping. It is the organist. He (or she) is looking at the music and watching for signals from the minister while his hands and his feet are flying. That is definitely not worship.

"An orchestra is just as disadvantageous to worship as is the pipe organ, for when an orchestra is playing who can sing against blaring trumpets? Or who wants to sing when the musicians are talented and the music is beautiful? Indeed, why should ordinary church members bother to sing at all when their untrained voices only detract from the beauty of the performance?

"It is a well-attested fact that congregations that do not use instruments have better singing on average than those that do. What is not generally known, however, is that congregations that do not use instruments of music also do a better job of teaching in song than those that use them.

From the above it can be seen that singing in the assembly should be done, not only for praising God, but also for teaching. Musical instruments, however, do not teach. They only entertain. Their function is to put people into a certain mood. Music can make them feel happy, or it can make them feel sad. It can make people want to dance or to go to war. It can even make them amorous. Such music is fine for the concert hall, but it is not appropriate for an assembly of the Lord's church. The assembly of the church is for worship and teaching, not for entertainment. To be sure, if the worship is sincere and the teaching is done well, it can be also entertaining, but entertainment is not its purpose.

No example can be found in the New Testament for using mechanical music in the worship of the church. Its use sprang up centuries after the church got started. When the early Christians came together, they sang. Members of the Easter Orthodox churches, in Russia and other places, have preserved this custom until now. They sing without instrumental accompaniment. They did not accept instruments when the Roman churches introduced them, and they have not accepted them to this day. It would be a travesty if well-meaning people from America and Europe, in their efforts to revive religion in Russia and other Eastern nations, were to introduce the Western custom of using instrumental music in worship after the East has preserved the original practice for so many centuries.

The use of instruments in worship changes the nature of worship in several ways: 1. Instruments make it more difficult for people to hear the words of a song. 2. For that reason, instruments make teaching by singing less effective. 3. Instruments have been introduced to please men rather than God. 4. Instruments change the thrust of the assembly from edifying others to gratifying oneself. 5. Instruments help turn worship into a performance. 6. The musicians who play the instruments are too busy to worship. 7. The use of instruments tempts people to introduce unsuitable music into their worship.

Those who want to retain instrumental music in the assembly sometimes defend it by saying that the Greek word "psallo," that is used in Ephesians 5:19, means to pluck the strings of a lyre while singing. Granted the word "psallo" may have originally meant that, but words change their meaning with time. In modem Greek -- as it is spoken in Greece today -- the word "psallo" means simply "to sing."

The meaning of "psallo" in the Greek New Testament stands somewhere between the original usage "to sing and to pluck a lyre" and the modern usage "to sing." In the two places in the New Testament (Romans 15:9 and James 5:13) where "psallo" means to "sing," the word "psallo" is used by itself. When, however, the word "psallo" is used to mean "to sing and play an instrument," the instrument is named. There are three places in the New Testament where "psallo" means to sing and play an instrument. In each of these places, in order that there be no confusion, the instrument is specifically named. The three instruments that are named are: the spirit (1 Corinthians 14:15), the understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15), and the heart (Ephesians 5:19). In none of these places is an actual musical instrument intended. It is clear then that the apostle Paul was speaking of spiritual worship, i.e. singing, when he wrote,

Ephesians 5:18-19
18    And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,
19    speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;

When one sings with sincerity he is plucking the strings of his heart. That is, he is singing from the heart. Ephesians 5:19 does not imply the use of instrumental music in worship. If it did, the use of instrumental music in worship would no longer be optional -- as many hold it to be. It would be obligatory. If obligatory, then Christian people would be under obligation to use instruments in their worship. Otherwise they would not be following Ephesians 5:19, and no true worship could be carried on without an instrument. Each person would have to bring his own harp to church with him and accompany himself as he sang.

The apostle Paul's instruction to the Ephesians that they should make melody in their heart is similar to what he said to the Corinthians, when he wrote

1 Corinthians 14:15
15    "I shall pray with the spirit and I shall pray with the mind also; I shall sing (psallo) with the spirit and I shall sing (psallo) with the mind also.

Some Christians in Corinth had the gift of tongues, which enabled them to speak or to pray (and possibly also to sing) in languages that they had not leaned. A few of them, however, may have been only pretending to have the gift of tongues (languages), for they appear to have been making unintelligible sounds without knowing what they were saying. By way of contrast, the apostle Paul said that when he prayed, or when he sang, he did it with the understanding. He prayed and sang with emotion, but he also knew what he was saying. We conclude, therefore, that in spiritual worship both emotions and thought are essential.

The final defense for instrumental music that some people make is that instruments are not a part of the worship itself, but only an aid to worship. However, if instrumental music is commanded by Ephesians 5:19, then the instrument is not a mere aid to worship, but a vital part of it, since it should be done, as Paul said, "unto the Lord."

In the Old Testament such things as harps and trumpets, were very much a part of the worship. We read,

Psalms 33:2
2    Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings.

Again we read,

Psalms 43:4
4    Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and upon the lyre I shall praise Thee, O God, my God.

Even if instruments were not a part of the worship, but only an aid, one should still be wary of them, because many aids to worship are fickle. They start out being a help, but they often end up being a hindrance. Take for example statues and pictures of the saints. They were perhaps originally intended to give inspiration to people by reminding them of the holy men and women who had gone on before. They may have been useful at a time when there were only few books and many people could not read what few there were. With the passage of time, however, people began to revere the statues and pictures themselves and even to pray to them. So, what may have started out as being an innocent aid to piety ended up as being an inducement to a form of idolatry.

Take the matter of praying with rosary beads. Originally, someone may have had the idea of using beads to remind unlettered people of things to say in prayer. As the people became more dependent upon the rosary, however, free and open expression in prayer was often curtailed.

Thus, aids to worship can backfire. They can produce results that are far from what was originally intended. The question is has the use of instruments in the assembly of the church produced results that are different from what was originally intended? Yes, it has. Those people who introduced them no doubt thought they were adding beauty and excitement to the worship. Perhaps they introduced them at a time when the singing in the churches was especially bad. In the end, however, instruments have all too often overshadowed the singing and changed the nature of worship. In addition, instruments can rob a congregation of the ability to sing with power and understanding. Even on the basis of being an aid to worship, instruments have proven to be of doubtful help.

The current efforts to restore New Testament Christianity in the United States got started around the beginning of the 19th century in the backwoods of Pennsylvania and Kentucky. This movement has resulted in millions of people looking at the New Testament afresh in order to determine what Christianity should be like. It is providential that these efforts to restore New Testament Christianity got started in the backwoods for it is doubtful if sophisticated city people would have been brave enough and humble enough to dispense with traditions and to rely upon the Bible alone. At any rate, the poverty of the people on the frontier precluded their having access to most musical instruments except the fiddle. The fiddle, however, was associated with dancing and perhaps for that reason was not considered proper for worship.

What a blessing it has been for New Testament churches to have gotten started without the use of instrumental music in their worship! It gave them a chance to get a taste of a cappella singing. They experienced what it is like to sing without an instrument, and they found it to be good. By the time the trappings of civilization had caught up with the people in the western part of North America, and instruments became available to them, many who had experienced a cappella singing wanted nothing to do with instruments m worship. They found that they could worship God just as well, or even better, without them. By studying the Bible they also found themselves to be on firm Biblical ground when they sang without an instrument.

What makes us think that God especially likes mechanical music? Could not God, who created the ear, and who ordained the laws of harmony, construct instruments far better than ours if he desired to hear mechanical music? Do not the stars themselves sing in harmony (Job 38:7)? Why should we think that our skill with musical instruments is entertaining to God? Our musical attainments may sound to Him no better than savages sound to us who pluck a one-stringed instrument and pound on a drum. In a word, primitive! There is one thing, however, that we can do for God that He treasures very much. We can express to Him our heartfelt thankfulness and our sincere love. These He cannot create, except in the way He has created them, at the expense of the death of His Son. Are not the voices of God's children on earth many times sweeter to Him than the bellowing of pipe organs, the tinkling of piano keys, and the twanging of guitar strings?

If religious people had been reading the New Testament carefully and following it closely, the backwoods experience would not have been necessary for them to know that singing without instrumental accompaniment is better than singing with it. The New Testament does not say one word about Christians playing a flute, a harp, or any other instrument in their worship service. It only says that they should sing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

"Many people feel that what the New Testament says in this case is too flimsy a guideline to go by. They feel it is unwarranted to reject instrumental music in worship merely because the apostle Paul commanded people to sing. They also feel that the absence of any reference in the New Testament to early churches using instruments in their worship has nothing to say about whether or not we should use them today. They feel that if God did not want people to use instrumental music in their assemblies, He could have expressed Himself more explicitly on this point.

"Such thinking, however, is based on a misunderstanding of how God deals with people. In the Old Testament, God shouted from the mountaintop so that the children of Israel could know for sure that He was there. Now that Christ has come, God does some things differently. In the Old Testament, God gave elaborate laws. In the New Testament, He has quietly expressed His preferences. So, when God said through an apostle that people should sing, He no doubt considered that what He said was sufficient. Why should it be necessary for Him to say more? Why should He have to say, "Sing, but do not play the flute, do not play the harp, and do not beat the drum?"

Someone may say, "To attempt to follow what the New Testament says is legalism." No, following what the New Testament says is not legalism. It is loving obedience. A truly obedient person will be guided by any hint or suggestion from the Lord. A quiet expression of preference on God's part will be sufficient for him.

"Does a wife try to please her husband only in things about which he has given her elaborate instructions? No, she tries to find out his preferences. She asks herself such things as, "Does he like cornbread? Does he like sugar in his tea?" She manages to find out the answers to these questions because she loves him.

The New Testament sheds light on what God wants His people to do. It also shows where the pitfalls lie so that His people can avoid them. Some things in the New Testament can be quickly understood. For example the New Testament says, "Let him who stole steal no longer" (Ephesians 4:28). That can be quickly understood, but other things may take a little longer to understand. As we mature, however, even difficult things begin to make sense to us.

If God said in the New Testament that people should sing -- and He did say that -- then surely He had some reason for saying it. Everything in the New Testament is there for a purpose. Any passage in the New Testament can later cause us trouble if we disregard it, even if it is only one verse. Therefore, we need to listen carefully even when God speaks softly.

People who will not follow God if He speaks softly, will also not follow if He were to shout. If they will not follow just one verse, they will not follow a hundred. If they will not follow God's wishes in the matter of worship, that is designed to please Him, in what area will they follow?

Author: Richard L. Walker

Teacher's Comments:
Yes, many churches use instruments for worship. Only a few do not. We do not. The reason is simple but not accepted by those who use the instrument.

When one decided to follow the Apostles' teachings, the decision involves worshipping as the early church did. How does one learn how they worshipped? Well, there are 3 avenues of teachings in all scripture whether it be about worship, salvation, or any other subject. Here are the elements:

1. Did God command it?
2. Are there any examples in the New Testament?
3. Are there teachings, comments, records, or history that tell us what the early church did?

When we read the NT we are reading from the writings of a number of authors, most of whom are apostles or writers such as Luke who recorded what the apostles did and taught. We need to see the entire picture on difficult subjects such as worship and especially about instrumental music. So, we need to follow the 3 elements above and then see what each of the writers said about a given subject, e.g., what did John say? what did Paul teach? What did Peter teach?

There is another factor in reading critically, context. It is essential that the context be understood -- to whom, from whom, when and why was the letter written. Also, what is the style of writing of the author? Paul is very different from other writers. He is argumentative. We take that into account and try to "read his lips." What does he mean?

One more factor when we interpret any scripture -- silence. What does it mean to us when there is no more said on the subject, when the scriptures are silent? A "rule of exclusion" comes into play. For example, when we are commanded to sing in worship, that excludes all other ways to make music. Instruments are excluded when we are told to use the voice.

It is important to read all of the accounts about music and see what the Lo-rd really intended. Then, we come to a conclusion about the subject.

These ways of reading the text are called "hermeneutics" or how one goes about interpreting text. Note that it is essential to interpret the text. When we studied the Garden Story in Genesis, it was necessary to interpret what was meant when God said to Eve that she should not eat of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil. In interpreting that text, we observed that the Tree was a symbol. It was not a real tree with bark, limbs and leaves. It represented the decision that she had to make -- God Vs Satan. Which? So, we apply all of these rules and guidelines as we study any subject.

Now, about music in worship:
1. Command - Ephesians 3:19 and Colossians 3:16 command us to "sing and make melody in the heart." Both of these letters were written by Paul. In these statements, command statements, we learn that singing with the voice is proper. Not only in worship, but Paul is talking about in our lives - at home, at church, everywhere. Note, the text by Paul was not addressing worship inside a church building or place where people assembled to partake of the Lord's Supper, sang, prayed, gave an offering, and listen to a sermon or teaching. Instead, the context is about life -- he takes about singing as a way of life.

2. Example - there is no reference in scripture of an assembly who used the instrument. Examples of assemblies worshipping do not tell us about their music. Singing and prayer were common, however. Here, we find no direct instruction; however, the rule of exclusion leads us to choose not to use the instrument -- sing instead.

3. Teachings that show what was taught -- review your WEI lesson and see that never was the instrument allowed for the first 800 years of records. When the instrument was wanted, it was not allowed by church leaders. Why? Is it that they knew what the apostles taught and what Go-d wanted? Most likely, this is true.

So, we ask ourselves, "What would the apostles tell us today if they were alive?"

My conclusion is simple -- don't argue with the facts. Sing and do not play an instrument in worship. This is certainly the safe way and we do want to please God. Just do it his way as best as we can determine.

Music is very important in our lives. It soothes the soul, it brings our emotions into play. I learned this about music in general:

There is 1) melody, 2) harmony, and 3) beat.

When one sings melodies in a group, all sing together with emphasis on the words, singing that appeals to the thought. When there are several lines in the song, soprano, alto, tenor, and base (called 4 part harmony) these voices blend to express emotion. And, when there is a noise such as a drum, it not only gives a beat, it arouses the flesh. Melody is historically said to be what the early church did -- "Sing and make melody in your heart unto the Lord. I will sing with the understanding and I will pray with the understanding..." Paul wrote. Appeal is to the thought of man.

When we sing 4 part harmony, there is an emotion. I love to sing tenor and bass. These tones fit my vocal range much better than the soprano, a higher pitch. I harmonize with those who sing the other parts. We seem to "fit" together. We are expressing emotions together and these are reinforced between us. Note, that we also read and say the words. So, we have both melody and harmony.

Some songs have a sort of beat to them. I try to stay away from these. Many newer songs invoke clapping of the hands. Some love clapping because it involves the body. Is that what we are to do? Are we to appeal to the flesh and let our fleshly selves guide or flood out our thoughts?

Back to the instrument. First, it cannot worship for me. It is an addition to "Sing and make melody in the heart." Secondly, I observe that in churches that use the piano the people are poor singers. Many do not know how to sing or even want to learn. They depend upon the instrument, love it, and argue for it.

What about the "heart" in the scripture above? Here is an interesting question: if you have a string around your neck, is your heart above the string or below the string? The meaning of "heart" in "make melody in your heart" refers to the mind of man. Below the string is your blood pump called the heart -- in English.

It is in our minds that we give our offering to the Lord. We praise him and glorify him in our minds. We do indeed express our love and commitment with feelings -- melody + harmony.

Your question is about buying a piano. If it is for worshippers to use, don't do it. If it is for your home where you learn and appreciate music, the right kinds of music, it is great! I have had a piano in my home for all of my life. We sing around the piano, we go to concerts and watch and listen to the experts who can play it well. We take our kids and grandkids to hear orchestras. When we have Bible study in our home, we do not play the piano. We prefer to give Go-d the glory using the vocal chords that he gave to us.

One more point about interpreting scripture -- word studies and grammar. There are resources such as Vine's word studies -- you can get this on some websites -- and Greek word dictionaries. In Paul's letters he uses the Greek word "psallo" translated "sing." He says, "Psallo in your heart..." which is a subject (You) + verb (psallo) + direct object (your heart). Now, my study shows that the word psallo always demands a direct object. The direct object is "heart." Are we to use our vocal chords because that is what the apostle intended? I think so. When we sing, we use our vocal chords. We worship with our minds.

The instrument is simply an addition to worship and not allowed. It was not taught by the Holy Spirit, and man argued over it for 800 years before nobody objected again, many generations later. Remember the "frog principle"? No one objected because the water go hot and they never noticed it. That is how we are today -- the instrument has no scriptural basis and it is divisive. It splits churches and families.

Some say that the instrument in worship is not a salvation issue. I consider that to be argumentative. People who first used the instrument simply liked it; so, they split churches as they demanded having their way. I consider all that God intended for me is a salvation issue. How can we decide whether displeasing God is not a salvation issue? When we get before the final judgment seat our argument will put us at great risk. It's not worth the risk especially when singing with the voice is so blessed and brings us together as one in the Lord.

I hope that this will give you the necessary guidelines for reading and interpreting scripture and using a piano.

In your home, enjoy your piano. In worship, sing!

author: Bob Patterson

Teacher's Comments:
The word "worship" means to show the "worth" of another. We show God that he is worth more than anything else when we worship him. Worship is not limited to Sunday morning when everybody gets together to sing, pray, and take communion. It is all of the time -- day and night, every day.

The Bible tells us to pray without stopping. This means that we have him in our heart and mind at all times. When we are at home, we know that he is with us; so, whatever we do, we do it like God would do it. When we are with our families, we treat each other just like God treats us. When we are at work, we do our job like God would do. When we are with those who are our enemies, we treat them just like God would treat them. We love them and pray for them.

The life of a Christian is one of showing God that he is most important to us. We show him his "worth" at all times.

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The Church: Advanced Book 3, Lesson 8: The Church -- The Worshiping Community (Continued)

Teacher's Comments:
The Lord's Supper, or communion, is part of the regular worship of the church and it is to be observed on the first day of the week. Acts 20:7 tells us this. Since every week has a first day, this scripture implies that communion should be practiced every week. This is consistent with the practice of the church as they followed in the Apostles teachings. It was Jesus who taught the Apostles about the bread and the wine. His message was that it should be done "in remembrance of me."

All Christians partook of the both the bread and the wine weekly.

Teacher's Comments: The Lord's Supper or communion is a time to reflect upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. He was willing to die for us. The Apostle John related that it would be rare that someone would die for another, but Jesus died for all mankind. When Jesus was 30 years old, he didn't eat for 40 days and nights. Matthew 4. He went to the wilderness. While he was there, he thought about his future. He could be a successful business man if he wanted to, but he knew that he was born to die for all and for our forgiveness. This was the one who would crushed Satan's head. When Jesus came out of the grave, he had destroyed Satan's power over death. He did this to take away our sins so we can come back to God.

In the communion we remember how important this is to us. We partake of the bread and the wine (grape juice) to help us remember.

The bread reminds us of his body. We also remember Jesus' words when he said that the church is his body. So, we as a group of Christians become aware again that we represent Jesus on the earth. We are his body on earth.

It is good to remember that there are Christians all over the world. They are all partaking of the same bread and wine on the same day. We are one. We belong.

The fruit of the vine, or red wine, reminds us of his blood. Life is in the blood. He gave us life by shedding his blood for us.

The communion is a time to reflect on these things and to make a commitment to him every week. We reflect on the changes we need to make in our lives to be pleasing to God.

The communion is also a time of celebration. We celebrate because we are free of sin and have the Holy Spirit to give us power for the next week. We sing, pray, and have a lot of joy at the communion.

This is why we assemble every week to worship. It gives us encouragement to know that we are saved and that we live by God's Spirit who lives in us.

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The Church: Advanced Book 3, Lesson 9: The Church  -- The Family of God

The Church: Advanced Book 3, Lesson 10: The Church -- The Family of God (Continued)

Question 4.
True or False Deacons were usually older, wiser, mature men whose experience qualified them to lead the church.

The correct answer is (F).

Teacher's Comment:
Older men, the elders, were designated as Elders, Bishops or Pastors. They were appointed as a group and never any single one person was a Pastor of the church. They were appointed to "watch for our souls," thus they were mature and experienced. One differentiating qualification was their having led their own children to obedience. Then, there were those men who served to accomplish certain tasks. They were designated "deacons." In the list of qualifications, the requirement to have believing children is missing. This would indicate that they were younger leader of the church.

Question 5. True or False  When the whole church came together for worship in New Testament times, women often preached and led the congregation in songs and prayers.

The correct answer is (F).

Teacher's Comment:
In the Bible, women have a special role, but not as worship leaders. According to the scripture they were not allowed to speak in the assembly. Men were the designated leaders of the assembly. Today, denominational churches are troubled with the "women's movement" in America. Now, we see a departure from scripture with women preachers, worship leaders and even women Priests in their churches. Note: Silent in 1 Cor 14 means "speechless" in "church," the assembly. In 1 Timothy, silent means "quietness & respectful" to men who are in charge.

1 Corinthians 14:33-35
33    For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints,
34    women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.
35    If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

The Church: Advanced Book 3, Lesson 11: The Church -- The Royal Priesthood

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The Church: Advanced Book 3, Lesson 12: The Church -- The Bride of Christ

Teacher's comments:
There is an interesting analogy that Jesus used when telling about his preparation in heaven and his return for us.
John 14:2-3
2               In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.
3               And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (NIV)

In Israel, tradition was for a boy and girl to get engaged and the young man would tell his betrothed to go to her home and wait until he goes to his father's house and builds a new room onto his father's house. Now, when the room was ready, the young man would go get his betrothed, marry her, and they would go live in his father's house. Jesus used this tradition to make his message understandable.

Author: Bob Patterson, weibp@aol.com

Teacher's Topical Reference List - Key Verses

For yourself and your students, learn how to find scriptures when you need them.

One Way is to Do This

1. On a blank page in the back of your Bible, make a list of chosen topics and key verses. (My list is below.)

2. Then, in your Bible in the margins at the key verse, make a list of the relevant verses. Choose your own relative verses as you study. (some are below).

3. At each verse reference, make a note of the key verse where the list can be found. HOW? Beside each reference verse, write the key verse and  an exclamation point after the key verse to note where the list will be found. For example: Key Verse for Baptism is Act 2:38. At Rom 6:3 put Acts 2:38!. As you study, listen to sermons, and do your own research, add to your list in the margin.

The key verses below and the order of references may be useful as you teach another. Yes, it will be a new habit to write in your Bible (only in pencil); but, it will pay off!

Table of info to be added as you study.

Topic Key Verse Relevant Verses


Acts 2:38

Acts 8, 8, 9, 10, 16, 16, 18, 22:16, Into Christ Gal 3:26

Be Ready

1 Pet 3:15



Matt 28:18



Eph 4:4


Christ in you

Gal 2:20



Matt 18:20



Col 3:12



Acts 2:42



2 Tim 4:2


Death Burial Resurrection

Rom 6:3


Eternal Life

1 Tim 6:12



Eph 4:11



Isa 6:8



Heb 11:8



Matt 25:21


Fall from Grace

Gal 5:4


False Teachers

1 Tim 1:3


First Prophecy

Gen 3:15



Mk 11:25



Matt 6:19


Good Deeds

Tit 3:4



1 Cor 15:1



Gal 5:3



Lk 1:34


Holy Spirit

Acts 2:38


How to be Saved

Rom 3:23



Gen 1


In Christ

Eph 1:3



Phil 1:7



Gal 2:16



Matt 9:1


Knowing God

1 Jo 4:8



Gal 3:24



Act 20:28


Like Him

1 Jo 3:2



Rom 13


Make Disciples

Jo 15:8



Col 3:1



Jo 14:11


New Covenant

Jer 31:31


Obey Gospel

Rom 2:8



Prov 19:17



Ps 100:1-5



1 Jo 5:14



Eph 3:10



2 Cor 5:15



Matt 28:19



Ps 46:1-2



Jo 3:1-20



Lk 13:3



Ps 111:9



1 Pet 4:18



Heb 2:4



1 Jo 5:19


Self Denial

Mk 8:34



Mk 10:45



Ro 3:23



Eph 5:19



Matt 10:28


Spiritual Gifts

1 Cor 14:1



2 Tim 2:15



1 Cor 10:13



Ps 118:24



1 Cor 14:11



1 Cor 1:10



Ps 111:10



1 Tim 2:11



Phil 1:27



2 Cor 6:14



1 Pet 4:7



Author: Bob Patterson, weibp@aol.com

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References to Strong's Greek/Hebrew Dictionary is acknowledged. Scripture references are from the New International Version (NIV) except where noted as New American Standard Version (NAV).,/strong

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Advanced Book 3

(Book 6)

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The Church

Books of Prophecy
3 Days/Nights
The Holy Spirit
Prophecies cease
Jesus, a Prophet
Tongue Speaking

Lord's Supper

notes in your