Worship in the Church

MEMORY VERSE: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” —I Corinthians 14:40


THE particular aspect of worship discussed in the first section of this lesson is the observance of Jesus’ death. This is quite generally referred to as “Communion.” Others speak of it as the “Memorial Supper.” On the night before Jesus was crucified he gave instructions to his disciples that this ritual should be observed. He gave the “cup” and the “bread” to them and invited them to partake, explaining that they represented his shed blood and his broken body.

The apostle refers to this directive by the Master and explains, “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.” “As often as ye do it”; that is, partake of the “cup” and the “bread,” we show forth the Lord’s death. It is proper, we think, that the memorial of Jesus’ death should he observed but once a year, and then, as nearly as possible, on the proper date, which is in the spring of the year. The date can be obtained from a Jewish calendar. It is the evening of the 14th of the month Nisan.

In I Corinthians 10:16,17 Paul gives us a further insight into the meaning of the Memorial Supper. We quote: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”

The word “communion” here used is from a Greek word meaning “partnership.” Paul is saying that in addition to observing the death of Jesus when we partake of the “cup” and the “bread,” we are indicating that we have a partnership in his suffering and death. And this fact is clearly established throughout the Scriptures. Paul wrote, “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.”—Phil. 1:29

Jesus explained that those who would be his disciples would need to deny themselves and take up their cross and follow him, which meant that they would have to suffer and to die with him. Paul wrote, “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us.”—II Tim. 2:11,12

These and many other scriptures reveal clearly that a true Christian is one who suffers and dies with Jesus. This suffering and death is symbolized by the “cup” and the “bread”—the blood poured out, and the body broken. Thus it is that we have a partnership, a common union with Jesus in this important aspect of the divine plan.

I CORINTHIANS 14:23-26, 40

The Scriptures give no definite outline or program to be followed at a gathering of the Lord’s people. Our memory verse encourages us to do all things “decently and in order,” and this is manifestly good advice. In many congregations a lecture is often the main part of the program, together with prayer for the Lord’s blessing upon the gathering, and the singing of hymns.

However, there is nothing in the Scriptures to indicate that this particular style of program was followed very generally in the Early Church. In our lesson Paul says, “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” This suggests a general participation of all present, each one contributing something for the spiritual edification of the others.

At the writing of this epistle there were some in the Early Church who were able to speak in unknown tongues, but Paul advised against the use of this gift in the church unless there was someone present who had the ability to interpret what was said in the foreign tongue. Paul wrote, “If … the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?” Paul’s reasoning is that the form of a church service should be with the view of edifying both the brethren and any unbelievers who may happen to attend.


How do the Lord’s people show forth the Lord’s death?

Does the Bible give any definite instructions concerning the conducting of meetings by the Lord’s people?

Dawn Bible Students Association
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