Acts 2:42 describes the first worship of the church: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." In other New Testament verses the parts of Christian worship are described as: (1) preaching, (2) singing, (3) communing, (4) praying, and (5) giving.
As all true worship must be "in spirit and in truth," every part of Christian worship must be done "in spirit" or from one's heart. Preaching the Word of God must be done "in spirit." The preacher must preach the truth "in love" (Eph. 4:15). If he speaks with the tongues of men and angels and has not love, he is like sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal (I Cor. 13:1). Listening to the preaching must also be done "in spirit" or in a spiritual manner. Jesus said, "Take heed therefore how ye hear" (Luke 8:18). We must give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard (Heb. 2:1). A spirit of reverence must prevail during the preaching of God's Word (I Thess. 2:13). The preacher is preaching from the Bible, that is from words of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 2:13). Spiritual worship cannot be practiced by a person who is talking, laughing, or sleeping during preaching.
I Cor. 14:15 says singing must be done with the spirit and with the understanding. It must not be a formality or an empty ritual. It must come from the heart. Eph. 5:18-19 commands worshipers to be filled with the Spirit, to sing spiritual songs, and to make melody in one's heart to the Lord. Col. 3:l6 says to sing with grace in one's heart to the Lord. Christians must sing meaningfully in praise and devotion to God. Thoughtless or meaningless singing is vain. Our heart and understanding must be in each song, and we must live the truths we sing.
I Cor. 11:27 says, "Whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup unworthily (in an unworthy manner) shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord." Verse 29 says, "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily (in an unworthy manner), eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body." These verses have nothing to do with whether we are worthy or "feel worthy" to eat and drink. They are talking about a worthy or proper manner in partaking. They stress the kind of attitude or spirit in one's heart during communion.
I Cor. 14:15 tells us to pray with the spirit and with the understanding. Prayers must be sincere, not formal. The thoughts must come from a real sense of longing and need in one's heart. They must not come from a prayer book or memorized and meaningless phrases. Neither must the one leading prayer try to use big words or vain repetitions (Matthew 6:7-8).
As giving is a part of Christian worship, it must be done "in spirit and in truth." Scriptural giving is done every first day of the week out of gratitude for how God has blessed us (I Cor. 16:2). We prove the sincerity of our love by our giving (II Cor. 8:8). A Christian's giving must not be done grudgingly or of necessity. This means that giving must be counted a privilege or joy rather than a duty or chore. It must first be purposed in one's heart; it is a heartfelt gift. It must be done cheerfully and gladly (II Cor. 9:7), It is more blessed (more joyful) to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). If we give all our goods to feed the poor, and even give our body to be burned, and have not love, it profits us nothing (I Cor. 13:3). Giving is a heart-searching spiritual experience. It is done cheerfully and joyfully with thankfulness in one's heart. It is done "in spirit" or sincerely with one's heart.
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe in and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, it will not save you either. You must obey the gospel.
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)
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