The Apostle Paul declared to the Ephesian elders in his farewell address to them that he was “innocent of the blood” of all of them, because he had not failed to deliver to them “the whole counsel of God.” In other words, he had transferred to them all that was necessary for a life pleasing to God.
At its core, conservative Christianity aims at following Paul’s example in successfully transferring the whole counsel of God to the next generation. Part of what must be transferred is biblical worship. But what is it going to take to accomplish this goal? How can we truly conserve biblical worship and pass it on to our children?
Of course, this goal assumes that there is such a thing as biblical worship and such a thing as worship that is not. We cannot take this assumption for granted today, unfortunately. Thorough defense of this presupposition is beyond the scope of this series, but by way of introduction I will offer two brief observations as justification for and explanation of this claim. First, both Romans 12 and Hebrews 12 command that we worship God “acceptably”—in a manner well-pleasing to him. Statements like these alone imply that there is such a thing as worship that is not acceptable to God.
However it is also important to clarify that by “acceptable,” we are not speaking in terms of eternal acceptance before God. We are accepted by God because of Christ. No conservative Christian believes that by conserving biblical worship we are somehow earning merit with God.
Therefore it is a form of “acceptability” or “pleasing” beyond our judicial standing to which we refer when we aim at conserving biblical worship. There is a way to worship God that pleases him, and there is a way of worshiping that is not acceptable. So how may we conserve the acceptable way of worshiping so that we may transfer that worship to future generations?
In this series I will suggest four practical issues that I believe are essential steps toward the conservation of worship that is acceptable to God. These are not meant to be exhaustive by any means, but simply meant to stimulate your thought and encourage healthy discussion. This series is meant for pastors and other church leaders—I wouldn’t necessarily raise these issues in a congregational meeting—but I do want to press us a little bit to consider whether or not we are really doing the best we can in our desire to conserve biblical worship.