Back in May of 2010 we did a post called, “The Church of the Routine.” In it we pointed out how , unfortunately, our church service is so lacking in the Spirit of God that it truly is a– show. There is a old saying that says–“All show and no go.” Or another saying made famous by the adorable grandmother Clara Peller, “where’s the beef?”
The Lord has impressed upon me to revisit this area again with more information. Let us look at our Church service yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
The above picture is not meant to be funny, yet sadly that is what our church service looks like (or at least feels like) more often than not today. But how did we get to where we’re at? First lets go back to the beginning, the times of our church founders the Apostles.
“What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and let one interpret; but if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. And let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” (1 Cor.14:26-33)
We can gleam many things from the above. There were:
3. Revelators (Those who shared what they received in dreams or visions)
4. Tongue speakers
We also see that Inspiration deems order as very important yet when the Spirit moves, they were to respect It. “But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, let the first keep silent.”
What this means is that when the speaker was up front speaking, the Spirit sometimes moved upon someone seated in the place of worship and the first speaker was to remain silent and listen to the revelation that came to that one seated. This shows that the Spirit moved among the house of God. This one important area kept the service from being routine and added the Spiritual excitement and unpredictability.
We also notice that many in the assembly prophesied (relating the Biblical prophecies) and the intention was to –learn. There was clear evidence of the Spirit moving in His house by the fact that the gift of tongues was active as well.
Let us look at our typical SDA service today. We stick to a pre-made schedule usually. The first service is usually the Sabbath school lesson. But these are cookie cutter Scriptural readings which more often than not contain no present truth but old truths. The lesson goes into stories and all sorts of lessons, yet fails to deliver the one message the Lord wants given–His Elijah message!
So right off the bat in our first service we are taken down a road that goes into a direction that we aren’t being guided to by the Spirit –old truths without any present truth.
“In every age there is a new development of truth, a message of God to the people of that generation. The old truths are all essential; new truth is not independent of the old, but an unfolding of it. It is only as the old truths are understood that we can comprehend the new. When Christ desired to open to His disciples the truth of His resurrection, He began “at Moses and all the prophets” and “expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:27. But it is the light which shines in the fresh unfolding of truth that glorifies the old. He who rejects or neglects the new does not really possess the old. For him it loses its vital power and becomes but a lifeless form.” (Christ Object Lessons, p.127-128)
Because we as SDA, for the most part, ignore or reject the new truth, we have old truth that becomes a “lifeless form”.
Then we sometimes see commotion from kids running up and down the isles or people talking loudly in His sanctuary. Our prophetess said the following about our service —
“From the sacredness which was attached to the earthly sanctuary, Christians may learn how they should regard the place where the Lord meets with His people. There has been a great change, not for the better, but for the worse, in the habits and customs of the people in reference to religious worship. The precious, the sacred, things which connect us with God are fast losing their hold upon our minds and hearts, and are being brought down to the level of common things. The reverence which the people had anciently for the sanctuary where they met with God in sacred service has largely passed away.”(Testimonies vol.5, p.491)
“Because of the irreverence in attitude, dress, and deportment, and lack of a worshipful frame of mind, God has often turned His face away from those assembled for His worship…When a church has been raised up and left uninstructed on these points, the minister has neglected his duty and will have to give an account to God for the impressions he allowed to prevail.
Unless correct ideas of true worship and true reverence are impressed upon the people, there will be a growing tendency to place the sacred and eternal on a level with common things, and those professing the truth will be an offense to God and a disgrace to religion. They can never, with their uncultivated ideas, appreciate a pure and holy heaven, and be prepared to join with the worshipers in the heavenly courts above, where all is purity and perfection, where every being has perfect reverence for God and His holiness.” (Testimonies, vol. 5, p.499-500)
A while back in our own church we observed the sanctuary turned into a meeting room for church business (the election of officers). My wife is newly Adventist and was perplexed. How can it be called “worship” when business is being conducted where God sits in His house? There is no doubt that the reasoning is because the church is all together in one place and because of the convenience, we degrade His sanctuary for our sake, our needs.
“These things you did, and I kept silent, because you assumed that I was like you. But now I am going to rebuke you, and I will set forth my case before your very own eyes.”(Psalms 50:21)
Even the church which we have often spoken against, the Catholic Church, prophetically teaching it as part of the Beast in Rev. 13, has a silent reverence within their sanctuary. Being raised Catholic, I vividly remember the silence and respect I felt in their churches. This reverence continues to this day in many of their churches! What does that say about us, with greater light?
The Lord’s word warns us–
“Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and Sabbath, the calling of assemblies– I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.” (Isaiah 1:13)
“I hate all your show and pretense–the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings.Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”(Amos 5:21-24)
We have boxed ourselves into a routine corner. Our service today is one of man’s ideas and works, not the Spirit’s. But perhaps the greatest folly occurring in His house week after week is the preaching of peace and safety. SOP explains–
“Many regard the threatenings of the Bible as designed merely to frighten men into obedience, and not to be literally fulfilled. Thus the sinner can live in selfish pleasure, disregarding the requirements of God, and yet expect to be finally received into His favor. Such a doctrine, presuming upon God’s mercy, but ignoring His justice, pleases the carnal heart and emboldens the wicked in their iniquity.” (GC, p.537)
“A carnal security and ease in Zion prevail. Peace, peace, is sounded in her borders, when God has not spoken peace. They forfeited the terms of peace; there is reason for an alarm to be sounded in all “my holy mountain.” The sinners in Zion should be afraid…” (Review and Herald, 12-23-1890)
Only if we would change it back to the days of the early Church, then we could experience a holiness and God’s Spirit inside His sanctuary. A Spiritual refreshing would occur in His house! Do not despair, this WILL HAPPEN in the very near future, now let us look at the church tomorrow.
Isa. 2:2 — “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.”
Not a man, not a people or a nation, but the Lord Himself so declares. The prophet was shown things concerning the Lord’s house (church), “in the last days,” — not in Isaiah’s days. The statement “last days,” in itself leads us to the “time of the end.” As we were shown last Sabbath that the time of the end began in the 18th century, obviously then, the time is here for this marvel of the ages to take place.
Isa. 2:3 — “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem.”
Since no such gathering as here predicted has as yet taken place, the subject becomes exceedingly obvious that it is still future.
But if you truly desire to be in His kingdom , do not despair there will be a pure church and great gladness and joy abounding. (1 TG, no. 5, p.3)
God’s church shall be exalted in the “last days” and based from Jerusalem. This shows that His church shall no longer be fused with hypocrites who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. All such shall no longer be in the church.
“..the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” (Psalms 1:5)
This end time church will be so great and powerful — a testimony to the Lord , let us read His words as to the prophetic plans–
“For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.
Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on Mine altar, and I will glorify the house of My glory. Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows? Surely the isles shall wait for Me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because He hath glorified thee.
And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in My wrath I smote thee, but in My favour have I had mercy on thee. Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought.” Isa. 60:2-11.
The church’s purity is so widespread that the “forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.” The Loud Cry will do its work, the great multitude (Rev. 7:9) will come in.
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.”(Zech.8:23)
So we can indeed have great hope. Our true desire, to worship the Lord as we should, giving Him honor and reverence as we should–will become reality! No more of the weekly show called “church services”be performed by a cookie cutter routine. Instead we will behold His glory and power in His house and exalting Him to His rightful place–King of the Universe, amen!