Study of the Scriptures reveals the fact that patterns are important. Such things as the detailed description for the building of the ark, the tabernacle, and then the temple confirm the importance of patterns. God told Moses, “See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount,” (Hebrews 8:5).

As we look into the New Testament, we see a clear pattern for the assembly. Singing is to be accapella (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16). The Lord’s Supper is to be every first day of the week (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Giving is to be a free will offering every first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:1, 2). Prayer is to come from the heart, offered with reverence before God, and is not to be offered in vain repetition (Matthew 6:7).

Further, we should understand that there should be no changes to this pattern. The writer of Proverbs had this to day, “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:6). We must be cautious not to make any changes in the biblical pattern. We must not offer what we want, but what God wants (Colossians 2:23).

We should also understand that as we look for this pattern we must seek the necessary authority that goes along with such. We must have authority for what we do and practice in worship to God (Colossians 3:17). The only source for our authority must be the Word. The Apostle Paul gave important instructions to Timothy concerning authority (2 Timothy 2:2). He also warned about preaching any other doctrine than which is authorized (Galatians 1:6-9). This was because the proper message is not after man (Galatians 1:11, 12).

We place our souls in danger if we do not adhere to what has been divinely authorized. Within the Bible we have what may be referred to as the law of exclusion. In other words, God tells us what He wants, and that excludes everything else. God does not have to go into detail telling us everything He does not want once He has told us what He wants. Isaiah spoke of the fact that those who failed to speak according to the word, did so due to their having no “light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).

With this article we want to give some thought to the governing principles of worship as seen in the scriptures.

THE PATTERN FOR PREACHING – Preaching is certainly a part of the pattern for worship services (Acts 20:7). This passage definitely points to a worship service which involved preaching, and the partaking of the Lord’s Supper. The original word for preaching in this passage is used 13 times in the New Testament where it means to “preach unto, reason with, to speak, or to dispute.”

When looking at the pattern we must learn what is to be preached. When the apostle Paul was in Thessalonica he “reasoned with them out of the scriptures” (Acts 17:2). The apostle Peter wrote “if any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God . . .” – (1 Peter 4:11). The word “oracles” means “the very words of God” which are found only in the Bible. Paul told Timothy, to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2).

The biblical pattern calls for preaching to be based upon the word of God! There is a good reason for doing this as seen in Jeremiah 10:23. Our salvation depends upon the preaching of the word (Romans 1:16, 17; James 1:21). Jesus taught that man’s salvation begins when we plant the seed, and the seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11). Peter confirms this in 1 Peter 1:23. The very fact that salvation is contingent upon the word of God should make us better understand that the pattern involves the preaching of the      Word of God.

NO ADDITIONS OR SUBTRACTIONS – Preaching, as we have noted, must be based on scripture (1 Peter 4:11). This would exclude the idea of preaching man’s doctrines (Matthew 15:9). It would also cause us to not use this time to preach some political or hidden agenda. Not that we cannot deal with the moral abuses found within the political arena, but that we do not spend our time preaching party views. We preach the word no matter who believes otherwise.

Preaching is not the place for a lot of funny stories. Recently, a preacher I know had the opportunity to preach to a sizeable group of people, but spent half or more of his allotted time telling jokes. How sad! One should not use the pulpit to preach his opinions or ideas, or anything contrary to scripture!

Some “preach” an entire sermon without one verse of Scripture. The late Gus Nichols stated: “If a man can’t quote scripture, he ought to at least stop once and a while and read it so God can get a word in edge wise.” I would say a hearty “amen” to that!

For many, preaching is no longer in vogue. People say preaching is boring, uninteresting, and not uplifting. And preachers may be. But preaching is still one of God’s means of getting His word before the people. If “preachers” are not willing to preach, then they should change professions.

May we understand and accept these principles in order to worship God as He would have us to!