In the second lesson we want to understand God’s strictness as to the way we worship Him. Since the Old Testament is to be used for examples (1Corinthians 10:11), let us note the example of Nadab and Abihu.
Read Levitcus 10:1-3: “(1) Now Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, each took his censer, put fire in it, and laid incense on it; and they offered unholy fire before the LORD, such as he had not commanded them. (2) And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. (3) Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD meant when he said, ‘Through those who are near me I will show myself holy, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron was silent.” (NRSV)
Nadab and Abihu offered unholy fire before the Lord. Fire that was not taken from the altar of burnt offering was unholy. Notice that though Nadab and Abihu were offering worship to God, they were not accepted because they did not worship the way God had commanded. We learn from this that we must worship God the way he wants us to worship him. To further see this point, let us also read 2 Samuel 6:3-7: “(3) They carried the ark of God on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart (4) with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark. (5) David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the LORD with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. (6) When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen shook it. (7) The anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God struck him there because he reached out his hand to the ark; and he died there beside the ark of God.” (NRSV)
In this passage King David is moving the ark of the covenant. God had three rules concerning the ark of the covenant.
(1) It was never touched.
(2) Handles were provided so that it could be carried on the shoulders.
(3) Only the family of Kohath of the tribe of Levi were to transport the ark of the covenant.
Notice that all three of these rules were violated in this passage. It is especially important to notice that the only reason Uzzah touched the ark of the covenant was because he did not want it to fall. He was trying to protect this valuable object. But note that his good intentions did not excuse him for violating God’s law.
To conclude this point, read Mark 7:6-9: “(6) He said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; (7) in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ (8) You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.” (9) Then he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition!” (NRSV).
In this passage, Jesus is talking to the Jews who were very religious. Yet Jesus calls their worship vain because they did not worship according to God’s commands, but instead according to human traditions. Unfortunately, religions of the world today do the same thing in their worship as did these Jews. And Jesus clearly tells us that if we do not worship his way, then our worship is worthless.
The church the Christ built
Jesus is not pleased with us when we worship with the traditions of men:
Read Romans 6:3-4: “(3) Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? (4) Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” (NRSV).
Also read Acts 8:35-39: “(35) Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. (36) Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” (37) Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (38) So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. (39) Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing.” (NKJV).
We see that people were baptized in the Bible by being immersed in water. Notice the eunuch in Acts 8 had to be able to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.
Read Acts 2:38, “(37) Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” (38) Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (NRSV).
Peter plainly tells the people in Acts 2 that to have their sins forgiven, they had to change their lives (repent) and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. According to this verse, salvation cannot occurring until these things happen.
Notice the other characteristics of His church:
(1). The name of the church pictures it as being owned by Christ (Romans 16:16; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2).
(2). The name of the disciple pictures him or her as being owned by Christ (1 Peter 4:16).
(3). The organization of the church was very simple with elders and overseers and deacons as special servants (1 Timothy 3:1-13).
(4). The Lord’s supper was taken on the first day of the week and on the say day the disciples gave of their money as they had been prospered (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2)
(5). There was no instrumental music in their worship. They only sang and made melody in their heart (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16)
(6). They taught that hell was a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth and that is was eternal, lasting as long as heaven (Matthew 13:42; Matthew 25:46).
Churches that men build
Jesus said that worship not according to the commands of God was vain and worthless. Jesus even said that many people would not do what he asked and few would obey what he said. Read Matthew 7:13-14: “(13) Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. (14) For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (NRSV).
Our plea to you is to simply do what God says. Do not add on the human traditions that people were doing in Jesus day and are still doing today.