There are probably several different aspects of following Christ that are not exactly easy to keep in focus and perspective. One of those is the idea of salvation itself. We recognize that we are saved by grace through faith, and that were it not for the sacrifice, the blood of Christ, we would have no hope of forgiveness. And yet there is a response of faith. That response includes believing in this sacrifice of Christ and accepting Jesus as your living Lord (John 3:16; 8:24); repenting of your sins—in other words, changing your life so that you are seeking to live faithfully (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 17:30); confessing this faith and trust in Christ (Romans 10:8-13); and being baptized to “wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16), to “be born again of water and the Spirit” (John 3:3-5), to be saved “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:3-8; see also Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 2:38; Romans 6:1-4; 1 Peter 3:21-22).
However, this response of faith in no way causes us to be deserving of salvation; we don’t earn forgiveness. In the passage noted above the apostle Peter speaks of how baptism “now saves you,” affirming that this faithful, obedient response is active only because of the sacrifice of Christ: “It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”
Similarly, we recognize that we are humans, and as humans, we have limitations as to our understanding and knowledge, even when it comes to the things of God. That’s why we trust in the Lord and are saved by faith. But as humans we must act and live according to our understanding of what God’s will for us is. That will, we believe, is expressed in the inspired and authoritative Scripture. So it is important for us to do the best we can to know what the Bible says and then to submit our lives to that Word. This leads us to another area where as Christians we are in danger of losing our focus and our perspective.
That subject is Christian worship, and specifically the worship we engage in while we are meeting with others during the church’s worship assembly. While we must acknowledge our humanity and our limitations, we are to act based on the teaching of Scripture. Today we discuss that Biblical teaching as it relates to a few specific areas of our worship assemblies where others might see some distinction in the way we do things.
And though we must go by our understanding of Scripture, that in no way gives us permission to become arrogant or condescending toward those who share a faith in Christ but differ with us in some matters. And that is the area where we can be tempted by Satan in one of two ways. He will either try to convince us that it doesn’t matter what the Bible says and that we can do all things however we choose; or he will take our commitment to Scripture and use it to make us feel proud and “look down our noses” at others who might disagree with us on some matters. We must avoid both attitudes for neither of these is acceptable to God.