Due to technical difficulties, there will be no Audio review this week. I expect to resume next week. For those interested here are my notes.
Worship in the Early Church
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1, NIV).
Our lesson deals with the church in apostolic times. In the beginning, before Christ ascension, the Apostles did not get what Jesus was saying. Jesus taught them again before His ascension in Acts 1:3,
Acts 1:3To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
But we read in Acts1:6 that they still did not understand Jesus
Acts 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
Spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2: 13 -15). They did however followed Jesus instructions of tarrying in Jerusalem,
Luke 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
We find out in Acts 1:8 what the promise of the Father was,
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
It was the same promise Jesus had given them (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). So, we read in Acts 1: 12-13 that they tarried in Jerusalem,
Acts 1: 12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a Sabbath day's journey.
Acts 1: 13And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
While there “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1: 14). Ellen White describes what happened in that upper room in Jerusalem,
In obedience to Christ's command, they waited in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father--the outpouring of the Spirit. They did not wait in idleness. The record says that they were "continually in the temple, praising and blessing God." Luke 24:53. They also met together to present their requests to the Father in the name of Jesus. They knew that they had a Representative in heaven, an Advocate at the throne of God. AA35
The more they studied and prayed the more they realized how much their selfishness got in the way of truly understanding Jesus. They saw how much they grieved Jesus. They continued to pray and study. They prayed for the fulfillment of the promise. Ellen White explains,
As the disciples waited for the fulfillment of the promise, they humbled their hearts in true repentance and confessed their unbelief AA36
This process led to what happened the day of Pentecost. Ellen White, quoting from Acts 2 elaborates,
"And when the Day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting … The Spirit came upon the waiting, praying disciples with a fullness that reached every heart. The Infinite One revealed Himself in power to His church. It was as if for ages this influence had been held in restraint, and now Heaven rejoiced in being able to pour out upon the church the riches of the Spirit's grace. And under the influence of the Spirit, words of penitence and confession mingled with songs of praise for sins forgiven. Words of thanksgiving and of prophecy were heard. All heaven bent low to behold and to adore the wisdom of matchless, incomprehensible love. Lost in wonder, the apostles exclaimed, "Herein is love." They grasped the imparted gift. And what followed? The sword of the Spirit, newly edged with power and bathed in the lightning’s of heaven, cut its way through unbelief. Thousands were converted in a day.” AA Page 37- 38
Notice the order of events. They followed what Jesus said (so they listened). They walked back to Jerusalem. They tarried there Confessing Sin and unbelief and truly repenting, and praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. After all this the Holy Spirit was poured on them. Three thousand were baptized. The fearful bunch were now bold, the perfect love that now overflowed from them cast away all fear(1 John 4:18). Before they ran away from the authorities, now they told them straight to their face, “you killed Jesus.”(Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:50; Acts 2: 22 – 24, 36). What a contrast!
We see this contrast in Saul/Paul. No doubt Saul seemed fearless in his ways. He persecuted and killed many of the followers of Christ. When Saul encountered Jesus, Saul actually saw the Cross (Acts 9: 1 – 6: 22: 5 – 10; 26: 13 -21). There he saw that in persecuting and killing the followers of Christ, he did the same to Jesus. His heart broken in repentance, Saul turned into Paul. Before a persecutor and killer of Christ’s church, now a follower of Christ. Before he made others suffer, now he shared in the suffering of Christ (1 Peter 4:13). Saul hated, Paul loved so much he was willing to die, if by his death others, especially Jews, would live (Romans 9:3). Like Jesus, Paul was willing to die for his brethren (1 John 3:16).
The Cross as presented by the Holy Spirit was the center of the faith of the early believers. This is why the church grew in love, power and numbers. They allowed the Holy Spirit to indwell them and write the law – of which love is the fulfillment - in their hearts. Notice the peoples response after they heard Peter,
Acts 1: 37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Acts 1: 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
In Acts 9: 6 Paul asked, “But Lord what shall I do?” The answer was basically the same. Paul repented and was eventually baptized. Every true follower of Jesus goes through the same process. Every true worshipper is converted. Every true worshipper repents. Not on their own, but through the Holy Spirit.