08: Distractions from Worship – Discussion Questions
Joyce Griffith

The Marshes had just moved to town and were exploring ideas for church attendance. The church they thought they liked best was an hour and a half drive away and overlooked a small valley of evergreen trees. It was small but beautiful, and the people seemed friendly.

The closest church was a bigger and older building, but neither Al nor Susan felt comfortable there.

“Too much show-off,” Susan said. “Too many distracting slides on the screen.”

“I agree,” Al said.  “And too much performance style for the music.”

“Still,” said Susan, “it’s good music, isn’t it?”

Al shrugged.

A third option was about almost a thirty-minute drive away, a fairly new building and architecturally current. It was a big church with a huge parking lot, a large foyer for people to meet, and a good-sized church school next to it. Music was good, and the sermon was, too, the time they attended.

The Marshes put that one on the top of the list.

“Have we settled it, then?” Al asked.

“I don’t think so,” Susan said. “Something is missing. Look at how we’re evaluating these churches. We’re just looking at things that are important to us.”

“And we shouldn’t be?”

“Well, yes, but only if the things that are really important are the same ones that are important to us.”

There was a long pause. Then Al said, “Then let’s go to the closest church. At least we’ll save on gas.”

Discussion Questions for Conformity, Compromise and Crisis in Worship

1. Key thought. Unlike our religious ancestors, the Jews, today we Seventh-day Adventists don’t have temples loaded with symbolism. Some of our churches are plain and bare. If you’ve traveled extensively in Africa and other under-developed countries you’ve probably seen churches made from tree branches as well as those that meet in the open. What binds all of the hundreds of thousands of Adventist churches together? How can we join the fellowship of such a diverse group of people? Do you consider the racial, cultural, linguistic, and academic differences among us to be an asset or a detriment to our mission? Why? or Why not?

2. If I don’t like it, it’s bad. Have you ever watched a TV channel dedicated to nature or animals and seen nothing but conflict and blood? Have you ever been bitterly disappointed when the heart of a Christian friend or acquaintance leads to the committing of terrible crimes? What is evil? How can you tell? Does God want us to know what evil is so that we can avoid it? Do you think that the contemporary Adventist church gives in too much and too often to society’s pressures? If they do and if that is evil, shouldn’t people responsible for such actions be sent out of the church immediately? Why or why not?

4. Emotions can destroy worship. Why is it so easy to rely on our emotions rather than on our study of God’s Word? Have you ever made a major decision you regretted later because you based your decision too much on your emotions? Are you concerned about the state of emotions running rampant in your church today? Or are you concerned about a wooden, passive church that doesn’t seem to care about anything? What is your role in either circumstance?

5. Counterfeit. If the artist is so skilled that even experts can’t tell the work was copied, why should the artist go to jail for counterfeiting? Would you say that Satan has excellent counterfeiting skills? Does he ever go so far as to mimic God’s loving kindness and other characteristics of His nature? How would you have felt if you were part of the congregation when Jeroboam introduced counterfeit after counterfeit into the worship system for God’s people? Should we spend more time hunting down counterfeits in our church today? Or more time seeking the genuine and true Lord in our lives?

6. Elijah confronts the prophets of Baal. The lesson author compares the frantic and noisy gyrations of Baal’s followers with some modern worship services, marked by “a lot of emotion, a lot of hype, and a lot of noise.” Could that criticism be applied to any Adventist churches you know? Or is an example of worship forms you’ve never seen and hope you never will? Can a Christian be overly energetic about identifying evil in the church? What could be some unfavorable results? Is there more important work to be done? Explain your answer.

7. This will end. Is the final end of the world with the devil and all of his wickedness being destroyed good news for you? Do you ever wonder which side God will find you on in the last day? What can you do to be sure that the fear of being lost doesn’t overwhelm you? Or are you of the opposite opinion and believe that God is so loving He couldn’t possibly prevent anyone from entering His eternal kingdom? What is the danger of that way of looking at the final days? Can a person be certain of his or her salvation now? How? Or if not, why not?

Happy Sabbath to you!

Joyce Griffith

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08: Distractions from Worship – Discussion Questions — 6 Comments

  1. On #7.
    I think we all at times question our status in judgment and I don't think that is an altogether bad thing. I liken it to our treatment of "fear God" that we say is actually "respect God." As far as I am concerned the person who has no fear is one who is mentally unstable.
    There is nothing wrong in having a little fear and there is nothing wrong in questioning your status before God. What is bad is when it becomes excessive. A person can't live in fear all the time, there has to be hope in one's life else we would accomplish nothing.
    We need to be aware of our faults and know what needs improving. With that in mind and our focus on Jesus we should gain victories.

  2. For God has not given us a spirit of fear,but of power and of love and of a strong mind. 2 Tim.1:7; The fear of God is clean. Ps 19:9; ...."Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread." Isa.8:13; Please seperate the fear of God, (reverence) from the fear of man, which is without respect to God. They emanate from two different sources. One from above. The other from beneath. After Adam sinned it was the first negative word he spoke.'I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid.'

    " The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom . A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.
    His praise endures forever. Ps. 111:10;

    • I had to read your comment several times to make sure that I understood what you are saying. I think I understand but maybe not as I should, so if not please correct me. I do, however, feel that I made a valid point although I might have overstated it or perhaps presented it too strongly.

      Your main point seems to be this, “Please seperate the fear of God, (reverence) from the fear of man, which is without respect to God. They emanate from two different sources.“ This seems to be a sort of conclusion that you have drawn from the three verses you quoted prior to your statement. I got curious and looked up all three. Here are two of the verses in their context:

      Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,
      (2 Tim 1:6-8 NKJ)

      For the LORD spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying: "Do not say,`A conspiracy,' Concerning all that this people call a conspiracy, Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, And let Him be your dread. He will be as a sanctuary, But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense To both the houses of Israel, As a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
      (Isa 8:11-14 NKJ)

      The first, 2 Tim 1:7; I think it is clear here that Paul was referring to Timothy’s fear of witnessing. That is the fear God removes in this verse. In the second quotation the Lord seems to be telling Isaiah not to fear his fellow countrymen but that God should be the first in his mind to the extent that he should be, “your dread” which means exactly that (to tremble, dread, fear, oppress, prevail, break, be terrified, cause to tremble [Strong’s data, Bible Works 8]). This seems to be similar to what Jesus said, “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5 NKJ) where the same Greek word is used all four times. Jesus could have differentiated the meanings by using different words, but He didn’t.

      The third verse, Ps 19:9, in my opinion is the only one you could rightly use to support your point of view. It is in poetic form like Proverbs so that there isn’t much context to refer to except that the psalmist is extolling the virtues of God. In that verse it uses a Hebrew word “yir'ah” that has been translated into many meanings [1) fear, terror, fearing 1a) fear, terror 1b) awesome or terrifying thing (object causing fear) 1c) fear (of God), respect, reverence, piety 1d) revered]. So, it seems that we could rightly use any of them in this verse.

      The last verse you use, Ps 111:10, is basically the same as Ps 19:9 in that you can basically take your pick of meanings.

      The one question I would like to ask you is why did the writers of the Bible choose to use the same word in dealing with man’s natural fear and in the fear of God? There are other words in both Greek and Hebrew that they could have used to clearly make a difference like the difference in Greek words for love (John 21:15-17) and in Peter’s given name by Jesus as opposed to the rock (Matthew 16:18).

    • I must say that I found Tyler's comments rather refreshing, seeing that they come across as so boldly "politically incorrect" in today's environment. I also appreciate the contextual information on those verses. Clearly, it is the fear of persecution (or of man in general) that the Holy Spirit drives out. Indeed, the very words, "... let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread," would seem to imply the need to avoid the error of taking our eternal life for granted while being careless about really listening to God.

      Now, I have a thought to contribute, for what it's worth. The question was asked: "Is the final end of the world... good news for you?" I will answer unequivocally in the affirmative. Why? Am I that sure of being saved? Well, we are saved through faith, and that means taking God at His naked word. Ephesians 1:7-12 is perfectly clear that God has predestined those who have experienced the new birth to perfect conformity to the character of Christ. If God says He will complete the work of perfecting me, who am I to question His ability to pull it off?

      But, even if, in the end, I were found to be too negligent and lazy a would-be Christian, must I then regard the end of the world as bad news? No way! The world does not revolve around my little self! I've seen and understood enough of God's ideal to have some idea of what the age to come will be like. I've also seen enough of the evil (and consequent suffering) of this present age to feel that the sooner it comes to an end, the better.

      Even so, come Lord Jesus!

  3. On #6
    I enjoyed this week's lesson about worship, but using the story of Elijah's confrontation with Baal is incorrectly applied here. The thrust of the story is that the LORD is God and that we can have a child-like faith and trust in him to answer our prayers. The approach toward Baal, however, is one that requires work and effort (salvation by works). You can't use this to back one worship style over another.

    One story that CAN be applied is found in 2 Samuel 6. In this story, David's wife Michal, is ashamed of David because he "leaps" and "shouts" before the Lord. As a result, Michal is cursed to be without child until the day she dies.

    • Without taking sides, Andrew, I must remonstrate that, if a particular "Christian" worship service were found to closely resemble the practices of heathen idolators, then making the comparison, in such a case, would most certainly be both relevant and pertinent. Actually making the application would be a question of good judgement, which anyone might be free to question. Nevertheless, you certainly cannot claim that no such application could ever rightly be made in any conceivable circumstance whatsoever.

      In regard to II Samuel 6, I don't mean to suggest that you may have made a mistake here. However, I would caution that no one should try to read too much into the story. Michal was embarrassed at David's actions just because his pure and holy dancing before the LORD did not suit her ideas of the decorum that ought to be maintained by the king, and because he had removed his royal robes in the process, wearing a plain linen ephod like the priests wore. I see no reason to believe that there was anything actually improper about David's actions, even in Michal's eyes, although she certainly did try to justify her attitude by making it look that way. (It seems rather unfortunate that the King James uses the word "vile" in David's reply. The New King James uses "undignified," which I find far more enlightening.) Her problem was that David had humbled himself before God, in the presence of all the people. This was not the behaviour of the usual proud monarchs, so she despised David in her heart. Therefore, I conclude that the lesson here is one of lowliness and humility before God. To the extent that this incident has a bearing on worship styles, let's make sure first of all that our worship is humble, not arrogant or proud.


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