Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.Mark 7:7
This is perhaps one of the strongest rebukes found in the Bible. Jesus doesn’t pull any punches when He confronts the self-serving religion of the Scribes and Pharisees. He doesn’t just say they are a “little off” or that they “mean well.” He flat out says that they worship Him in vain.
Vain means empty, pointless, or without purpose. This means Jesus is saying “You are not worshiping God.”
Most ecumenically minded “Christians” of today would call this an un-Christian attack. Yet it is THE Christ Himself that says it!
With such a harsh rebuke about religious practice, we should all be mindful of the manner in which we practice our worship of God and our behavior in and out of church. Do we do things in worship because it is our preference or do we have a Biblical mandate to do the things we do? Do we understand why we do the things we do or have we simply grown accustom to the practices and assume we are OK because “we have always done it this way”?
The Bible is a complete record of what we need to know about God and how to worship Him. The New Testament is our pattern for worship in the New Testament church. Therefore, we can expect to find, and do find, both instruction and example of how we ought to worship and what we ought to teach. If we prefer a practice from the Old Testament it doesn’t matter. We are now in New Testament times and we should follow the practices we find Jesus teaching and demonstrating among His disciples.
I present a small list here of things for you to study and consider. I will not answer these questions but encourage you to discover for yourself what the New Testament says on these subjects.
- What kinds of songs should we sing in worship and should we have musical instruments or not?
- Who is authorized to preach the word of God as an Elder (Bishop) in the church?
- Should we divide families and worship by age group or all together?
- Is there a place and time for us to ask questions and discuss Bible topics with a minister and one another?
- What should be the content and practice of prayer in the private and public setting?
- Is the doctrine of salvation focused on man’s will or God’s will?
This is just a small list of things I think would be good to research in our efforts to honor the Lord in worship. We should remember that He is the Sovereign King. Therefore, we should seek to do things the way our King declares we should!