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Biblical Reasons to Avoid All Appearances of Contemporary Worship


JUDGES 2:1-13
Dr. Earl D. JessupGeneral Director – Baptist Church Planting Ministry

In the past several months, one supporting pastor has written to express that their church uses contemporary worship. Another supporting church has removed the pulpit. A third is now usinga “praise team” to lead the singing. A fourth church had the pastor resign because the churchdid not want to go to a traditional service and a contemporary service. A missionary friend had to leave his sending church because it has gone to contemporary worship. We are living in aday when our good fundamental Baptist churches are beginning to bring in forms ofcontemporary worship.When challenging those who lean toward contemporary worship, they respond by saying thereis nothing unbiblical about the contemporary songs, praise teams or bands in the church. Theyuse the argument that the piano wasn’t used in churches for many years and therefore it is just a progression that has nothing to do with right or wrong. First of all, no where can we find that using a piano in church started with worldly worship.
In fact, it began to be used by revivalists such as R.A. Torrey, Billy Sunday and Charles Alexander in the early 20th century. It is quite different for the methods which are used for contemporary worship. However the origins ofcontemporary worship are grounded in the worldly, charismatic churches of the 1960’s.Please consider these facts:
Fact #1: “Contemporary worship is a form of Christian worship that emerged within westernevangelical protestantism in the twentieth century, It was originally confined to the charismaticmovement but is now found to varying extents in a wide range of churches, including many thatdo not subscribe to a charismatic theology.” Wikipedia
Fact #2: “Contemporary worship music is a loosely defined genre of Christian music used incontemporary worship. It has developed over the past 60 years and is stylistically similar to popmusic. The songs are frequently referred to as “praise songs” or “worship songs” and aretypically led by a “worship band” or “praise team”.” Wikipedia
Fact #3: “The origin of the worship team goes back to the founding of Calvary Chapel in 1965.Chuck Smith, the founder of the denomination, started a ministry for hippies and surfers, Smithwelcomed the newly converted hippies to re-tune their guitars and play their now redeemed music in church” “The Vineyard (a contemporary charismatic denomination)….followed suit withthe worship team…Since that time, the Vineyard has probably had more influence onestablishing worship teams and worship music…” “The worship team has become as common as the pulpit.” Pagan Christianity, Frank Viola and George Barna Need I go on? It is obvious to all logical, Bible based Baptists that the roots of contemporary worship come from a worldly, unholy and carnal worship that is not of God. For whateverreason, some fundamental Baptists want to rationalize their use of:
a. Contemporary music (called blended music by some Baptists).
b. A “praise team” (called an ensemble – but “a rose by any other name is still a rose”!)
c. A praise band, (we now see snare drums on some of our platforms.)
d. A worship center (Just Google the name and see where this term originated.)
All of this contemporary methodology came from worldly worship started by the charismaticsand expanded by the non-denominational mega churches. It order to keep pace, we as Baptists are beginning in the same direction. When we question the directional movement of ourfundamental churches, we are told that nothing in the Scripture forbids this. They say, “It is onlykeeping up with technology and the culture of our society.” This is totally false. We have used screens for ministry purposes long before contemporary worship came into vogue and screensare not the issue. The issue is the use of methodology from contemporary churches. Some saythat contemporary simply means “recent” but if that were the case they wouldn’t call it a“traditional” service and a “contemporary” service. The word means a philosophy of ministry which incorporates worldly music and style. The Bible clearly condemns this contemporary worship and any clear thinking, Christ-honoring, Bible believing Christian will quickly oppose such direction in our churches.
This worldly worship is not new. Beginning in the Old Testament, God gave clear instructionson what to do with worldly worship. Please notice the progression of the Israelites from Egypt.They were redeemed from slavery in Exodus 12; crossed the Red Sea in Exodus 14; given theTen Commandments in Exodus 20; and headed to the Promised Land in Exodus 33. Along theway, God prepares them for the land ahead. They were to take the land but in the end there isdismal failure.Their failure and the results of it are found in Judges 2:1-13. Romans 15:4 says, “Forwhatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we throughpatience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” This passage gives us several biblical reasons to avoid all appearance and connection with worldly, contemporary worship.and the failure that goes along with it.
The FIRST REASON to avoid all appearance and connection with worldly, contemporary worship is BECAUSE GOD COMMANDED TO DESTROY ALL CONNECTION TO WORLDLY WORSHIP. V. 2, “AND YE SHALL MAKE NO LEAGUE WITH THE INHABITANTS OF THISLAND; YE SHALL THROW DOWN THEIR ALTARS.”Throughout their journey, God gave them instruction as to how to handle the worldly worshipersin the land.Notice the PRIMARY COMMAND GIVEN in Exodus 34:12-14. He gives them a REMINDER;“Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whitherthou goest,” v. 12. He then gives them the RESULT of not heeding this reminder. He says,“lest it be a snare in the midst of thee” v. 12.
It is clear God wants them to have nothing to do with these worldly peoples. He gives them the REMEDY in 34:13, “But he shall destroy theiraltars, break their images, and cut down their groves:”. Maybe they didn’t understand whyGod wanted them to do this so He gives them the REASON in verse 14, “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
This should be enough for Bible-believing Baptists to have nothing to do with the worldly contemporaryworship but many seem to justify their compromise and rationalize this warning by saying thesepeople worshiped idols and not God. Some may say that this does not apply to those in thecontemporary worship because their God is the same as ours. Is this a valid response? We shall soon see.In order to answer this, we must look at the PRINCIPLE COMMAND EXPANDED in Deuteronomy 7:1-10. In this passage we see the PROMISE DECLARED, “And when the Lordthy God shall deliver them before thee;” v. 2. He will give them the victory if they will trust inHim. There is no need for compromise with the inhabitants of the land. We see the PLAN DISCLOSED in verses 2-5, v. 2 “Make no covenant with them nor shew mercy unto them:”v.3 “Neither shall thou make marriages with them.” v. 5 “Ye shall destroy their altars, andbreak down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire.”
God clearly indicates in His Word that they are not to have any appearance orrelationship with these worldly worshippers nor have mercy on them. God intends for His peopleto be distinct from the world in every way. Now the kicker. Notice the PURPOSE DESCRIBEDin Deut. 7:6-10. v. 6 “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God”. v. 8 “Becausethe Lord loved you.” v. 9 “He is God the faithful God.” v. 10 “He repayeth them that hatehim to the face.” The reason for distinction is that Israel is a holy people. Aren’t we supposed tobe holy too? 1 Peter 2:5, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holypriesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiarpeople, that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darknessinto his marvelous light.” Can any clear thinking Baptist believe that the worldly,contemporary worship is in any way holy? The answer is absolutely not!!!!!
This clearly refutes the reaction that this does not apply to the worldly contemporary worship in today’s churches. In Deut.12:1-3 we again find God dealing with this issue. Notice the PARROTED COMMAND RESTATED. “These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in theland, which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye liveupon the earth. Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under everygreen tree: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn theirgroves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy thenames of them out of that place.”He instructs them to destroy the PLACES of their worship. v.2, “Ye shall utterly destroy all theplaces, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods”; destroy the PROPS of their worship. v. 3, “And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars,and burn their groves with fire”; destroy the PORTRAITS of their worship. v. 3, “ye shall hewdown the graven images of their gods” and destroy the PRAISE of their worship. v. 3,“destroy the names of them out of that place.”
Several times before they reach the Promised Land, God instructs, commands and warns them about the worldly worshippers in theland. Is this not for our benefit? Can we just ignore this command or does it apply to us today?! Now we come to Judges 2 where Israel has taken the land. What does God now have to say?Notice the THE PREVIOUS COMMAND EMPHASIZED in Judges 2:2-3, And ye shall make noleague with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have notobeyed my voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them outfrom before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be asnare unto you.” God again gives his CHARGE. He says in verse 2, “And ye shall make noleague with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars:”
He gives theCONVICTION in verse 2, “but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?” Hethen gives the CONSEQUENCE in verse 3, “I will not drive them out from before you; butthey shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you” When wefail to heed His Word there are always consequences to our actions. For those who think theirattachment to contemporary worship practices will not affect them, they are very wrong!!! Itaffects everything about them
The SECOND REASON we are to avoid all appearance and connection with worldly,contemporary worship is BECAUSE WORLDLY WORSHIP WILL ENSNARE THE BELIEVER. Judges 2:3 says, “THEY SHALL BE AS THORNS IN YOUR SIDES, AND THEIR GODSSHALL BE A SNARE UNTO YOU.” This is not the first time they heard this from God.In Numbers 33:55 we have the WARNING DECLARED. It says, “But if ye will not drive outthe inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those whichye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vexyou in the land wherein ye dwell.” They were given plenty of warning about what wouldhappen but did they listen?No, because we see the WARNING DISOBEYED. In Judges 1, we are told that nine of thetwelve tribes did not obey this warning. Simeon and Gad are not mentioned because they weredwelling on the other side of Jordan and Levi is not mentioned because the Lord is hisinheritance.
This means that EVERY tribe in the land failed to drive out the inhabitants.

• Dan; 1:34, “And the Amorites forced the children of Dan into the mountain: for theywould not suffer them to come down to the valley”

III. BECAUSE WORLDLY WORSHIP CREATES HYPOCRISY.The THIRD REASON we are to avoid all appearance and connection with worldly, contemporaryworship is BECAUSE WORLDLY WORSHIP CREATES HYPOCRISY.
In Judges 2:4-5 it says,And it came to pass, when the angel of the Lord spake these words unto all the childrenof Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. And they called the name of thatplace Bochim: and they sacrifice there unto the Lord.”Notice their FAULTY REFORMATION. They wept and said the right things. They had justenough truth to make it seem real but their heart was not in it. It reminds me of Psalm 78:35-37,“And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with theirtongues. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they stedfast in hiscovenant.” How many preachers today are saying they are going in one direction but by theiractions are headed in another direction? I have good friends who are leaning in this direction.They are soul-winners, discipling believers, standing for the basic truth of the Bible but they failto understand how their direction will affect the next generation. Sadly, their message is rightwhile their methods are moving toward the worldly worship developed by the contemporarycrowd. A friend of mine said, “Direction determines destination.” and it is so very true. We mustnot only be concerned with our message but our methodology.
Notice their FAILED REGION. They started at Gilgal in Joshua 5:9, “And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore thename of the place is called Gilgal (rolled away) unto this day.” and ended up at Bochim (APlace of Weeping) What a difference!! They went from the reproach of Egypt rolled away tocompromise with the worldly worshipers of Canaan. No wonder it is called a “place of weeping!”Notice their FALSE REVIVAL – V. 5 “THEY SACRIFICED THERE UNTO THE LORD.” Godwants obedience not sacrifice. The worldly contemporary worshipers believe that worship isman centered (hence the praise team, the drums, the worldly music) not God centered. 1Samuel 15:22, “And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings andsacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold to obey is better than sacrifice,and to hearken than the fat of rams.” It is so sad we have good men who want to say onething but demonstrate something else in their ministry. If someone wants to use contemporarymethodology then at least have the character to publicly admit and “own” it. It will make it mucheasier for the rest of us to know where one stands on this issue.
Judges 2:7 says, “And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the daysof the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that hedid for Israel.” Those who are leading their churches into contemporary worship will not begreatly affected by this direction. Most of these pastors are good men who love the Lord andare concerned about souls and reaching the world with the gospel. They may not leave the King James, dress standards and strong convictions.
However, the Lord warns about thegeneration following. The FOURTH REASON we are to avoid all appearance and connectionwith worldly, contemporary worship is BECAUSE WORLDLY WORSHIP AFFECTS THE NEXTGENERATION. Judges 2:10-11, “AND ALSO ALL THAT GENERATION WERE GATHERED UNTO THEIR FATHERS: AND THERE AROSE ANOTHER GENERATION AFTER THEM,WHICH KNEW NOT THE LORD, NOR YET THE WORKS WHICH HE HAD DONE FORISRAEL. AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL DID EVIL IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD, ANDSERVED BAALIM.”Notice they knew not his PERSON, “KNEW NOT THE LORD”. The carnal flesh always pullstoward worldliness and the hearts of our children will be impacted. They will take it farther thanwe do just as the second generation of Israelites took it farther than their fathers. How sad thisconsequence is! Will that be the case for our next generation? It will, if we do not sound thiswarning and sound it loudly.They knew not his POWER, “NOR YET THE WORKS WHICH HE HAD DONE.” When weabandon trusting God to work for the worldly methods of contemporary worship, our childrennever get to see what God can do. How long has it been since you heard someone say, “Didyou see what God did today?” Are we so weak we need to compromise and use these worldlydevices to reach people?They knew not His PRESENCE, “CHILDREN OF ISRAEL DID EVIL IN THE SIGHT OF THELORD AND SERVED BAALIM.”
When all this started they thought they could handle a littlecompromise with the worldly worshipers of the land. However, by the next generation, theydidn’t even care that God was offended with their worldly worship. All we need to do is see whatis going on with the contemporary worship in some churches to see where all this will one daylead. The children of Israel “did evil in his sight.” What a sad commentary on the generationthat followed. We are given a clear warning from God where all this compromise will lead.
It will lead further and further away from where God wants us to be.
All it took was a little bit of compromise with the world worshippers. Prettysoon all semblance of God is gone from their lives and we have the stories of Judges with a saddescription of the Israelites. Found twice in Judges, it says, “Every man did that which wasright in his own eyes.” They served Baal, the male god of materialism and Ashtaroth, thefemale goddess of pleasure. These are very same gods of today just with different names.In conclusion, I have some questions to ask.
Question #1: What is the origination of the contemporary worship of today? Is it from the Bible? Is it from Fundamental Baptists and our practices? The answer is “No.”
Question #2: Does the God and the Bible warn and condemn association with worldly religion? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Question #3: Why then would anyone want to have anything to do with any church moving in that direction when the Bible clearly condemns it? The answer is, “I have no earthly idea but obviously they are not being led by God to do it!!”
Some say this is only preference and I disagree. However, for the sake of argument, let’s saythat it is preference. Maybe we should ask ourselves what God would prefer? What is Hispreference? Why is it about our preferences and not God’s preferences? I believe that Godwould prefer we not do anything that would hinder the distinction of holiness in our churches.! !There isn’t any church or any person so important that we need their approval over the truth ofthe Word of God. Only time will tell but this warning must be sounded from a clear, biblicalperspective, not just some “Well, I believe,” sort of statement. The Word of God is clear. Weare to avoid all appearance of contemporary worship in our churches. The wise believer will follow the advice of Solomon in Proverbs 22:3, “The prudent man foreseeth the evil andhideth himself but the simple pass on and are punished.” Surely, we will heed the Word ofGod and the warning given to us from the Scriptures. I close with the words of Elijah in 1 Kings18:21,”How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him but if Baal,then follow him.” It is time to “Stand Strong” on the issue of contemporary worship.

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