Is Modern Worship Biblical?
Today’s Live Q&A is hosted by Pastor Bill Walden, senior pastor at Calvary Chapel Vallejo, CA.
Hello friends, this is Pastor Bill Walden guest hosting today for Pastor David Guzik. I am on location at Calvary Chapel Bible College in southern Mexico. I’m really pleased to be with you all today.
Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I am a Calvary Chapel pastor. I started in the pastoral ministry in 1989, so it’s been 32 years. I started at Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa serving under Pastor Chuck Smith, which was a huge blessing. I was there for two and a half years, serving as the college and career pastor. In 1991, my wife and I and our three young children moved north to Napa, California, which is in the San Francisco Bay Area. We started a church there, which I pastored for 27 years, until I passed it off in 2018.
Around that time, I also started teaching in Bible colleges. I travel about 12 or 14 weeks a year, teaching in Bible colleges in places like Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Ukraine, and I’m tentatively scheduled to go to Nigeria to do a conference next spring. It’s a season of life for me where I get to travel a bit, and I’m grateful for that.
I am also pastoring a church again, at Calvary Chapel Vallejo, in Northern California, near Napa. I started pastoring there in 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their pastor at that time was my friend, Frank Richards. He had cancer and went to be with the Lord. The church was looking for some help, and I offered my services. I said, “I’ll fill in for a while until you find someone.” And then the Lord kind of tapped me on the shoulder and said, “They did find someone: you’re the guy.” So, I am pastoring again.
I’m grateful that the church allows me the freedom to travel. I accepted the job on the condition that I could continue to travel and teach in Bible colleges. I love being with the young adults and young students. They’re so eager to learn, they have a zeal for life, and at a very young age, they’re seeking the Lord and really pressing into their faith. It’s something I didn’t do at that age. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share with them, and I try to encourage them that they have a great advantage to study the Bible, which a lot of people don’t have. I encourage them to make the most of it.
I am married. My wife’s name is Debbie and we’ve been married 39 years; in January, we will celebrate 40 years of marriage. We have three adult children, and eight grandchildren; they keep us busy. They all live nearby where we live in Napa, so we see our family frequently. We’re really blessed and really grateful to God for that.
I’m going to be talking about worship today. One of the reasons that subject is so dear to my heart is that I have also been a musician. I started playing the saxophone at age eight, went on to be in band and marching band through junior high and high school, and studied music in college. I have an Associate of Arts degree from Fullerton College, and a bachelor’s degree in music from Cal State Fullerton.
In the early 80s, my initiation into ministry happened through playing music in bars. In 1980, I got an audition for a band called Undercover; it was a Christian band. I was with them for four years. We made three albums together and toured a lot on the west coast of the United States in the 80s and into the early 90s. I was with two more bands, and we made a couple more albums. I’ve done some other solo recording, both worship stuff and non-worship stuff; some of it is available on Spotify and other online platforms. So, I have a background in music and in worship. I’ve been a part of a worship team for pretty much my whole pastoral ministry. It’s something I do to support the work of the church.
I’m also really blessed to be a part of Enduring Word. I started serving alongside of Pastor David Guzik last January. A lot of my ministry happens in Bible colleges in Latin American countries. I have some Mexican blood in me, so I love the culture. I’m not quite fluent in Spanish yet but I’m getting there. When I joined the Enduring Word team, I was asked to oversee the Spanish side of the ministry, particularly the Spanish social media platforms. David Guzik’s Bible commentary has been available in Spanish for many years, but now there is a new website built exclusively for Spanish speakers: es.enduringword.com. Spanish speakers can go directly to that page, instead of trying to navigate through the multipurpose page in English.
I oversee the Spanish social media uploads. David has a great team of graphic artists and translators who send me the information and I upload it every day. I’m also overseeing the Spanish communication, responding to questions and comments we receive online. I’m kind of like the online Spanish pastor. I’m happy to be doing that and communicating with a lot of people.
Another exciting thing happening with Enduring Word is that we are currently in the process of recording pastor David’s New Testament commentary in Spanish. We’ve got about 19 or 20 books completed so far. Our readers from Mexico, Peru, and Colombia are reading and submitting the audio files to me, and we’ll work on editing them. The goal is to enable Spanish speakers to either read David’s commentary or listen to it being read. It’s going to be a great blessing to have another way to present the Word of God. For example, a mom cooking dinner can’t read simultaneously, but she could listen to the audio commentary and be blessed that way. We’re excited to have that process happening right now.
Now, let’s talk about our lead question for today, “Is modern worship biblical?”
Is Modern Worship Biblical?
This is a controversial subject for some people. There are so many different expressions of worship music, and what is also called worship music. I don’t think all of it is worship music necessarily. I’m not here to judge anybody’s heart or intentions; I have no right to do that, because I don’t know what’s in people’s hearts. Only God Himself knows what’s in the hearts of people.
But we can look at the songs that are being sung, the words of the songs, and maybe some of the environments where worship experiences are being shared. So, I’m going to take some time to address this topic. Is all modern worship biblical? Is there a difference between biblical and non-biblical songs in what we would call worship music?
I’m going to be reading from John 4:19, which is a well-known passage for many of us who are Bible readers. If not, then you’re going to be blessed. To give the context, Jesus had traveled to Samaria, where He had a divine appointment with a Samaritan woman. The Samaritan people were despised by the Jewish people; they were considered a half-breed people. This area of Israel had been conquered by the Assyrians. The Assyrians had intermarried with the Jewish people of the northern tribes, and had polluted their theology, their race, their culture, and their worship. There was a mixture of biblical understanding and unbiblical thinking. This is the place where Jesus had this encounter with this woman at the well. I’m not going to exhaustively teach the entire chapter; we’re just going to focus on the part where they begin to talk about the idea of worship and Jesus’ response to this woman. We’ll jump into the middle of their conversation at John 4:19.
John 4:19-24 (NKJV)- The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
This idea of worshiping in spirit and in truth is going to be our main consideration. First, let’s make some observations about this woman. She is not atheistic or agnostic in her thinking. She is concerned with some theological, some worshipful, some spiritual truth. So, she is spiritual, but she is not a true worshipper of God. One phrase which we see today in the modern landscape, especially here in America, where I live, is that people call themselves spiritual, but not religious. I understand the sentiment behind that. People may have become tired of the traditions of a church. Some churches can be fairly man-based in their tradition and emphasis. Some people want to depart from the organized church and go off on a spiritual journey of their own. I understand some of the reasons for that. And yet, God calls us to be a part of His church.
The woman in this story is spiritual, but she’s not a true worshipper of God. This is what Jesus brings to her attention. In this long conversation the woman has with Jesus, He shows her that He is more than just a man. She says, “I perceive that you’re a prophet.” Notice how close she comes to what we might call a true worship experience, but she doesn’t yet reach it.
She goes on to talk about her people worshipped here, while His people said the place to worship was in Jerusalem. Another addition to her spiritual resume is that she has some spiritual history under her belt. She understands a bit of the history of the Jewish people and has a spiritual or religious awareness of what the Jews do. She understands her own spiritual or religious history. This reveals that she is not agnostic or an atheist. There’s some spirituality there. She understood the difference between what the Jews said about worship and what the Samaritans said about worship. This also shows a cultural awareness. Despite these things, we will see that she falls short. Jesus is basically going to tell her, “You really don’t know what you’re doing. You’re wrong about what you call worship.”
It’s a blunt thing; you could perceive it as Jesus being harsh or unloving. And yet, we know that Jesus, never sinned. He was the sinless Son of God, God in the flesh, and He never sinned. So, He’s just telling this woman the truth. She has shown some awareness and some interest. We don’t know whether she’s sincere, or just making conversation. But Jesus is going to respond to her and basically say, you really don’t understand what you’re doing.
There are many people today who identify themselves as outside of Christendom yet say that they worship God. There are also those within Christendom who say, we are worshipers of Jesus Christ. But Jesus here gave us some definition of what worship means. He said, “The Father is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.” This is the definition Jesus gave us for what He considers worship. We might even call it “Worship according to Jesus,” not “Worship according to one path or other, or this church versus that church.”
This is worship according to Jesus. If you are a follower of Christ, and if you say that you are a worshipper of God, then either we let Jesus define that, or we define it ourselves. Jesus said that worship must be according to spirit and according to truth. In verse 22, Jesus told the woman that she was worshiping in ignorance; her understanding of God was incorrect. Therefore, she wasn’t worshiping according to truth. Samaritans only followed the Torah; they rejected the Prophets and the historical and poetic books. So Jesus said she was worshipping wrongly: she had a picture of God that fell far short of who He really was.
Regarding the idea of worshiping in spirit, Pastor David Guzik write this in his commentary: “To worship in spirit means you’re concerned with spiritual realities, not so much with places or outward sacrifices, cleansing, or trappings.” I would add that you’re not so concerned with the environment, or how it feels, the musical style, or who is on the platform, who is singing, what songs they’re singing, or any of those external things. The externals are not good or bad in and of themselves; those things can be neutral. It’s like using a hammer: a hammer can be used for good or bad. I can put up a picture on the wall for my wife, or I can hit myself in the thumb. The hammer is kind of neutral. But how are these things used? What’s the intention? And what’s the outcome? That’s the thing that we need to consider.
Pastor David goes on to say, “To worship in truth means you worship according to the whole counsel of God’s word, especially in light of the New Testament revelation: Who is Jesus? It also means that you come to God in truth, not in pretense or a mere display of spirituality.”
This is an important application for us, to come to God both in spirit and in truth. Remember what Jesus said in John 3, when a Pharisee named Nicodemus came to Him. Nicodemus had some spiritual insight. He said, “We know that You are something special; we know that You must be a man from God because nobody could do the things that you’re doing.” Jesus went on to explain to him, “Nicodemus, you can’t even see or perceive or understand the kingdom of God, unless you’re born again.” Then Jesus went on to explain what it means to be born again. He said, “Flesh gives birth to the flesh; we understand that physically. But Spirit gives birth to spirit. That spiritual part of you which is dormant or dead must be revived, must be made alive, you must have an additional birth, before you can even understand anything about the kingdom of God, or understand the realities of the truths of God.”
The apostle Paul said, “The natural man doesn’t understand the things of God, because they’re foolishness to him. But the spiritual man understands all things” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
A spiritual awakening, an aliveness, a rebirth, a revival needs to happen in the life of a person, which enables their capacity to understand the truths about who Jesus is. That’s worshiping in spirit according to the Spirit of God. Jesus said in the Gospel of John that the Holy Spirit would bring glory to Jesus, He is the Teacher and the Revealer.
We worship according to the Holy Spirit, and we also worship according to truth. What does the Bible say about Jesus Christ? We can’t make things up about Him. Now my wife is is five foot 10. She has dark salt-and-pepper hair and beautiful blue eyes, and she’s musical. Now if you came and told me, “
“Hey, I just met your wife,” I’d say, “Oh, great. Isn’t she great?” If you replied, “Oh, she’s the cutest little thing. She’s five foot one. I love her fiery red hair and her brown eyes,” I would say, “I don’t know who you’re talking about, but that’s not my wife. You’re not complimenting her or encouraging me according to truth. I don’t know who you’re describing.”
The same thing is true regarding worship when we are singing songs about God and about our experience with God. Is it according to truth? If it’s not according to truth, then we really can’t call it worship. In my experience, after at least 30 years of pastoral ministry and 40 years of walking with the Lord, it seems as though a lot of what is called “worship music” today seems to be missing the mark in this regard. Is it truthful? Is it accurate? Are we singing about the Jesus of the Bible? Is He the focus? Is He being represented rightly in the songs we’re singing? Those things must be considered, because that is worship, according to Jesus.
I want to share one other idea with you from Hebrews 4:12- “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The writer to the Hebrews said that the Word of God can divide, about which the author gives us three examples. First, he says, “Between thoughts and intentions.” Sometimes we’re reading our Bible, maybe about forgiveness, and the Lord speaks to us and says, “You know, you said you were forgiving, but you’re really not forgiving,” and the Lord reveals some things to us about that through His Word.
Secondly, it discerns soul and spirit. The Bible teaches us that we are triune human beings: body, soul, and spirit. The body is obviously that which is physical. The soul is the intangible part of us, our emotions, our perceptions, our thoughts, our desires, our hopes, our dreams, our appreciation for music, our appreciation for good art, a good meal, poetry, or anything like that. And the soul lives on forever.
Third, the spirit is that part which comes alive when we are born again. The author of the book of Hebrews says, “The Word of God divides between soul and spirit, and between joints and marrow.” My mom died three years ago at age 98. But one time I asked her three doctors, “What’s the difference between joints and marrow, or bone and marrow?” The doctors replied that marrow is not bone; it grows within the bone. But the thing that divides or separates marrow from bone is a porous membrane, one cell thick. Think about that. Bone and marrow are almost the same thing, but they’re not the same thing. Likewise, soul and spirit are almost the same thing, but they’re not the same thing.
Jesus didn’t say, “Those who worship God must worship Him in soul and truth.” Jesus didn’t say to Nicodemus, “Spirit gives birth to soul, or soul gives birth to soul.” No, He said, “Spirit gives birth to spirit; and you must be born again.”
Here’s my point: we can have a soul-ish experience. We can have a very solid experience in church. We can be moved by the music. I’ve been moved by the music. As I said before, I’m a musician. And I my soul gets moved by music, either favorably or unfavorably. If I hear a good band, it draws me in. Sometimes the bands or musicians that I go to see are amazing, and they just draw me in. I’m having a soul-ish experience; it’s an internal experience in that intangible part of me, that is just enjoying what’s going on. But that doesn’t mean it’s a spiritual experience.
I would like to submit that we need to be mature Christians who can discern between a soul-ish experience and a spiritual experience. Sadly, I think a lot of churches may be depending more on offering their congregants or attendees a soul-ish experience rather than a spiritual experience. That’s it to me. Music can enhance worship, absolutely. I think some forms of music can be a distraction to it. If people are clanging trash can lids together and calling it music, my soul is probably going to be quenched. My musicality is going to be offended, and I’m just not going to be able to really join in on any worship choruses.
So, music can certainly assist, but I don’t think there’s one music that we can call holy and another music that we can’t call holy. I’m not opposed to environmental things like lighting or good sound. I love a good sound mix from a PA; I love a room that’s well-treated acoustically. Sometimes things are a bit distracting for me; lights can go over the top, but that’s just me. I could have too much visual stimulation, and I kind of forget why I’m there. Those things probably need to be tailored to each audience.
But the thing that’s most important is, “Is it true?” Once again, I think pastors need to be extremely responsible for this. We can’t just put on a show and be happy that people are moved within their soul. Because if they’re moved in their soul, but what they’re singing isn’t true, then it’s not worship according to Jesus, according to Spirit and in truth.
I think there can be a soul-ish experience in church, and there can be a spiritual experience in church. It can be a very fine line at times. The author to the Hebrews said the Word of God divides between soul and spirit, and bone and marrow. There’s hardly any separation between marrow and the bone, and hardly any separation sometimes between soul and spirit, but there is a separation.
To be a worshipper of Jesus, you must be born again, so that you can understand the spiritual realities of who He is. And it must be according to truth. Now, I also understand that a new or young Christian may not understand exactly what they’re singing and may not know a lot of the truths of God. I will not say that God’s not going to accept that intention, if they’re a little bit naive, or maybe don’t understand the things of the Lord. Our Lord is merciful and gracious. But those are those are the parameters that we need to be aiming for. That’s just a few thoughts on modern worship music.
How do I discern theologically within the different worship music options?
That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to address today. The main question you can ask is, “Is it true?” There are some worship songs, or things that are called worship songs, which I really enjoy musically. The music is great, the instrumentation is great, the performance is great, the recording is good, the production is good, but I have trouble singing them, because they just don’t seem really to focus on the Lord. They may seem too self-centered, and that’s a bit of a struggle for me. We need to ask, “Is it about Jesus?”
The Apostle Paul did say that we should sing to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. So, I think there’s a place for a congregation to be singing something that might be a little less directed to God and more focused on our shared Christian experience. It’s kind of a mutually beneficial and edifying moment. I don’t know that it’s necessarily worship or not, but it can be healthy. It’s edifying. It’s exhorting. Pastor Chuck used to sing, “The Lord bless thee and keep thee.” That’s not really a worship song; it was a song of benediction. And there’s a place for those kinds of songs. But our measuring rod is to ask whether it is in spirit and in truth.
What advice would you give to a musician?
I can see one of my kiddos using his gifts for worship music he has already played for the youth group and loved it. What advice would you give him as a musician yourself?
Practice, practice, practice. Practice with a metronome, listen to a lot of music, and then practice some more. It’s not enough for a musician to have good intentions, there also needs to be good execution. In teaching on the gift of tongues, the apostle Paul said that if the sound of the trumpet is unclear, who will respond? In those ancient war times, they would have a bugler, and he would sound the bugle. And if it wasn’t clear, they didn’t know if they were supposed to attack or retreat. The message needs to be clear and uncluttered.
In the same way, you can have a great song with a poor performance. And it can be a distraction. People want to worship, but they are distracted by poor musicianship. I think practice is incredibly important. Listen to a lot of music. Take care of your instrument; a lot of people don’t take care of their instruments, and that matters. There also needs to be a passion for music. If somebody is forcing you to practice, that’s probably just means you don’t have the passion for it. I think there needs to be a passion for it as well. God bless you, parent. Thank you for nurturing your child along. That’s fantastic.
How do we overcome the disapproval one generation has when looking at the worship style of the next?
Doesn’t every generation seem to look at the worship style of the next generation with at least a little disapproval, whether it’s right or not? How do we overcome this?
It’s easy for us to become fossilized. For me, being an older pastor now, I want to make sure that I’m just not being a grumpy old man. I always want to be open to any style of music. It’s true that some of us get locked into our favorite styles. People have said that the music you grew up on in high school is probably going to define, in a big way, the style of music you like throughout your life. I can hear a song on the radio now on the “oldies” radio, and it takes me right back to that time in my life.
We want to be open to new music. The Bible says, “Sing to the Lord a new song.” I think God made us to be artists, creatives, musicians, painters, writers, chefs, and builders. He made us to be creative people. Obviously, God Himself is the master designer. As He inspires us, I think we should be on the cutting edge of creativity. I would hope that the church is ahead of the curve in creating new genres that the secular world hasn’t even thought of yet. Sometimes the church seems to be a little bit behind the curve in some of the arts.
You asked, “Doesn’t every generation seem to look at the worship style of the next generation with a least a little disapproval?” Yeah, I would say you’re probably right. But we shouldn’t get fossilized in “the glory days.” I appreciate my youth, but I don’t want to go back; I want to go forward. I want to appreciate what’s being done now. These are the good old days. I think it was Carly Simon who used to sing that song, “These are the good old days.” These are the days that God has given us.
Finally, “how do we overcome this?” If you’re a pastor or worship leader, keep listening to fresh music, and maybe even force yourself to listen to some new styles. I do a lot of music listening. Sometimes I’ll hear something, and I don’t really like it, but a lot of people are telling me that it’s good. So I’ll listen to it, and sometimes I’ll grow to like it. I think it’s wise to keep pushing our own musical boundaries a bit. After we give it a chance, if we don’t like it, we don’t like it. But you know, that’s okay.
Should smoke and lights be used during worship every Sunday?
Maybe. It depends on where you’re at, and on the church, the culture, your demographic. It depends on a lot of things. It would be appropriate in some churches but not appropriate in others. It’s up to the leadership of the church. The pastor of the church needs to be in communication with the worship leader. The worship leader needs to know who it is they’re ministering to. To some people, it would be a terrible distraction, but to other people it’s like what they’re used to all the time. Maybe young people go to a lot of concerts, and they’re used to that, so it’s not a distraction. It’s the norm for them, so you’re creating an environment where they can step in and feel familiar and comfortable. But that all needs to be defined by each individual church.
In the Gospel of Luke, is the story of the rich man and Lazarus true, or just a parable?
That’s a great question. I believe it’s a true story. It’s important to be able to be able to identify a parable. A parable is an earthly story which illustrates a heavenly truth. It should be believable in normal day life, but it doesn’t have to be something that actually took place. For instance, I’m teaching inductive Bible study at the Bible College in Ensenada, where we’ve studied analyzing parables.
The first parable Jesus taught was the parable of the sower. One of the identifying marks of a parable is that Jesus would say, “The kingdom of heaven is like,” and then He would make up a story. It’s very believable, and it’s very real to life, but it didn’t necessarily actually happen. It’s just something that people can relate to.
Jesus would suit the parables to fit His audience. If Jesus had been preaching in New York, the parable of the sower might have started with, “The kingdom of heaven is like a taxi driver,” or in Silicon Valley, “The kingdom of heaven is like an IT guy,” and so on. But when Jesus told the story about the rich man and Lazarus, He didn’t say, “The afterlife is like a rich man and a man named Lazarus.”
Another identifying mark of the story of the rich man and Lazarus is that Jesus named the man Lazarus. In the parables, you don’t see people being specifically named. But here, Jesus names Lazarus as one of the people in the story. The story tells us that the rich man and Lazarus died, and that Lazarus died in faith, and was comforted in what is called Abraham’s bosom. The rich man didn’t die in faith, and he was in Hades, a place of torment. So, I believe it’s a real story, and it indicates that life continues after mortality. In this life, we have mortality. In the next life, life continues. And so yes, it’s a true story.
Can a Christian be friends with an openly gay person?
Can a Christian be friends with an openly gay person? How should you address your children’s gay friends?
Yes, I think they can be. Jesus told us to make disciples of all nations. If I may paraphrase that, Jesus told us to make disciples of all people groups, of all demographics, of all races and ethnicities, and all cultural and social preferences. I absolutely think that we can be friends with a gay person. The difficulty is when we are struggling to be friends with people that embrace anything that we disagree with. It is a struggle. We see it politically in our American landscape today. It’s even in the churches. People are having trouble loving each other because of disagreements about things like vaccines and politics.
We need to have a bigger picture. We need to have a deeper picture of God love for humanity. And so, yes, absolutely, we should be friends with the gay people. Not just condescendingly nice to them, but actually getting to know them as a person. None of us deserve anything from God except judgment. But God loves them, and God wants them to be saved. How far can we go with that? That’s a moving target.
In my life, I don’t want to do anything that violates my own conscience. But there’s a kind of distance between my comfort level and my conscience. I need to ignore my comfort level and push past it. How far can I stand side by side with somebody? Up until the point where I’m violating my conscience? At that point, I have to say no. Can I be friends with gay people? Absolutely. Can I share a meal with them? Absolutely. Can we enjoy socializing to some degree? Absolutely. Would I officiate a gay wedding? No, I couldn’t do that. So that would be that would be my point. That’s as far as I could go. When I congratulate them on their wedding, I would wish them the best and hope well for them.
We often need to push past our comfort zone, and to remember that God loves that person. We have an opportunity. We have a little mission field in front of us to love somebody. If somebody has been brought into our life, whose life we normally couldn’t push our way into, this is a great opportunity. I would pray an awful lot and show love and kindness. So yes, I think we should be friends with openly gay people, and unbelievers of all types.
If we have become the righteousness of God, is it still accurate for a believer to identify themself as a sinner?
If we have become the righteousness of God, is it still accurate for a believer to identify themselves at least in part as a sinner? Also, Paul says, “It is not I who sins, but the sin that is in me.”
Yeah, this is a this is a tough thing to nail down, at least for me to describe. A friend of mine says it’s kind of like nailing Jello to the wall. It’s kind of difficult. My judicial standing before God is that I’m a saint. In his epistles, Paul often writes to the saints: the saints at Corinth, the saints Colossi, and so on. A saint is somebody who has been set apart for the purposes of God, and for a life with God. When a person becomes a Christian, they are set apart. When a person is born again, they have a new nature within them. We are new creations in Christ Jesus. The old things have passed away and all things become new.
Yet there are so many passages in the New Testament for the age of the church, for the Christian, which warn us against sinning. 1 John 2:1 says, “If any of you sin, we have an Advocate with the Father.” The Christian can still sin. That’s why there are so many exhortations to not sin. That’s why there are exhortations to restore those who are sinning.
So, as a believer, is your new title, “Sinner”? I don’t know if I would call myself technically a sinner. Do I still sin? Absolutely. But I never want to give up my identification as a saint of God. So maybe in that sense, I would say I’m a saint, and I’m still struggling with my earthly flesh. I’m still struggling with the tendencies of the old man. I think that’s what Paul is saying when he says, “It’s not I who sins, but the sin that lives in me.”
I put it this way. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” The old Bill, the unbeliever Bill, the unsaved Bill was kind of a “one-trick pony.” I was a sinner; that was my natural inclination. I didn’t have to think about it. I didn’t have to try. I just sinned. I did some nice things occasionally. But basically, my nature was that of a fallen man. I was, by nature, a child of wrath, deserving the judgment of God, and my inclination was to sin.
When I became born again, suddenly the Spirit of God is living inside of me, and I have a new inclination. I have a new desire. As the old saying goes, “There’s two dogs that live inside of you; the one you feed is the one that’s going to grow.” So, I want to lean into that new nature which Jesus Christ has given me by the indwelling Holy Spirit. I am a saint. I still struggle with sin; I’m not sinless. But as another believer has said, “I sin less than I used to, by God’s grace.” I hope that helps a little bit.
How often should a church partake of the Lord’s supper?
Well, the apostle Paul said, “As often as you partake.” Once again, that needs to be determined by the church leadership and the pastor. We only have so much time during the week, depending on different cultures, when we as can gather as the church. What do we want to see accomplished when we gather?
Well, we want to have corporate worship, teaching, and fellowship; those are all so important. And we also want to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Each church’s pastor and leadership need to determine how often that should be. Some Christian churches partake of it every single time they’re together. That’s beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing better or worse about that, at least in my opinion.
At the church where I pastor, we share in communion once a month. We give it a good amount of time. We explain once again, what it means. We try to dwell in the moment as we’re worshiping the God and really think about it and take it all in. I think the important thing is, as the Apostle Paul said, “As often as you do it, do it in remembrance of Him.” Remember what it’s about. Take a personal inventory of your own life. The Apostle Paul gives some pretty strong teaching about that in 1 Corinthians 11. I would refer you to pastor David’s commentary on 1 Corinthians 11. I’m sure he covers it very well.
How often is up to the church. What’s most important is that you remember what it’s about, and that it’s not rushed through. We don’t want to rush through communion.
Which chapter and verse proves that Jesus is the son of God?
I would start with John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And then down in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.” John is clearly presenting the idea that the one called the Word, the Logos, of God, was in the beginning with God. When the beginning started, the Bible tells us that Jesus was there with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. When time started clicking, when the clock of human time started ticking, before that first second ever clicked off, Jesus was already there. That points to His eternal nature.
And then Hohn tells us in verse 14, and the Word, or Logos, of God (which is the representation, the manifestation, and the visitation of God), put on flesh and dwelt with us and lived with us. That is certainly one of the verses which speaks of the deity of Christ.
There are also other verses which I’ll quickly refer to you, for the sake of time. Look up the phrase, “The Alpha and the Omega,” or “the beginning and end.” Isaiah describes God the Father as the Alpha and Omega, and over in the book of Revelation, Jesus is also described as the Alpha and Omega. As you come across verses like these, write them down and keep them handy, tucked into your Bible. They’re especially handy for Christians to have ready in answer for our friends from the Watchtower organization or from the Jehovah’s witnesses, who don’t believe in the divinity of Christ. Look up those Alpha and Omega verse in the book of Isaiah, and then compare them to John’s vision of Jesus Christ in the book of the Revelation. Jesus is also called the Alpha and Omega, which makes him equal with God the Father.