FORMAL WORSHIP FORMATS FOR SMALL GROUPS & INDIVIDUALS

Some of the elect are privileged to worship the Father and fellowship with him as collective groups while others cannot, because of various circumstances. However, all the Father's elect children are his personal priesthood and temples on earth and are expected to come before him in formal worship and fellowship on his Sabbath and his Commanded Observances and Holy Convocations. Therefore, many of the elect today have questions about how to consistently come before him in formal worship and fellowship on these days in a way that is pleasing to him.

IN THE BEGINNING

We are told very little about how people worshiped the Creator God before he instituted his formal worship system in the nation of Israel. However, what we are told reveals that this worship was conducted in a formal way yet it included a very personal relationship between the worshiper and the Creator God. From the very beginning, the worship of God included both formal ritual worship and personal fellowship with him.

Abel and Cain

The examples of Abel and Cain are very important because these examples tell us that God will respect an individual's private formal worship of  him, if this worship is performed according to his law of worship.

Abel

“And Abel was a keeper of sheep,  but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the Lord.  And  Abel,  he also brought of  the firstlings of his flock and by the fat  thereof.   And  the  Lord had respect to Abel and  to  his offering” (Gen.4:2-4 KJV).

Here, Abel conducts a private yet formal worship of God. Abel understood God's law of worship and  was  willing  to  follow these instructions concerning how he wanted to be worshiped; therefore, Abel's private, formal worship was accepted by the  Creator God.

Abel is the first righteous person mentioned in the Bible to receive salvation because he lived according to God's standards and faithfully worshiped and fellowshipped with the Creator God throughout his life.  See Heb.11:4; 1.Jn.3:11-12.

Cain

“Cain was a tiller of the ground.  And in the process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the Lord.  And  Abel,  he also brought of  the firstlings of his flock and by the fat  thereof.   And  the  Lord had respect to Abel  and  to  his offering: But to Cain and to his offering he had not respect. . .” (Gen.4:2-5 KJV).

Notice that Cain brought a bloodless  offering of the fruit of the ground in contrast to Abel's sacrifice of a lamb from his flock of sheep. Abel's offering addresses a major truth of God's law that proclaims, “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin” (Heb.9:22; 11:4). Although Cain conducted a private, formal worship of God, he was unwilling to worship God in the way he wanted to be worshiped.

Cain seems to be the first incorrigibly wicked person  sentenced to the Lake of Fire, which is the second and final death. Although Cain  acknowledged  God as the source of all  good, he rejected God's worship system.

The Bible records that from the time of Abel and Cain until the establishment of  national Israel many examples of  individual and collective formal worship of  the Creator God and fellowship with him through ritual, sacrifice, and prayer.

NATIONAL ISRAEL

The biblical record clearly shows that the Creator God commanded the people he had chosen to be his physical sons and a nation of  priests on earth to continually worship him and to present themselves at appointed times before him in formal worship. See Ex.4:22; 19:5-6, 34:14; Lev.23:1-3.

Under the priesthood and sacrificial system of  worship that the Creator God established for national Israel, there are many examples of individual and collective formal worship of  the Creator God and fellowship with him through ritual, sacrifice, and prayer.

THE GOSPEL AGE

Under the agreement between the Sovereign Father and his elect children during the gospel age of salvation, the symbolism of physical ritual has been replaced with the spiritual reality of  these prophetic symbols. Today, righteous individuals must worship the Father in spirit and truth. A part of this truth is that each of the Father's children are responsible to perform both formal and informal worship of him as well as formal and informal fellowship with him.

Spiritual Worship

While speaking to a woman of Samaria, Jesus explained that  there would  come  a  time when the existing worship  system of  physical  ritual and sacrifice  would  be set aside and those who worshiped God would do so in spirit and truth:

“The  woman said to him, Sir, I perceive that you are a  prophet. our  fathers  worshiped  in this mountain, and you  say  that  in Jerusalem  is the place where it is necessary to  worship. Jesus said to  her, Woman believe me that an hour is coming  when  you will  worship the Father neither in this mountain nor in  Jerusalem.  You worship what you do not know; we worship what we  know, 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 seeks such  ones who worship him. God is a spirit, and the  ones  who  worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn.4:19-24 Para.).

Many view what Jesus said as only a philosophical statement and believe that Jesus  was just trying to convey that  people  would  eventually worship God with a different attitude. However, Jesus says something completely different; Jesus is speaking of the ability to communicate with God the Father in a way that is very personal and meaningful and different from the worship system that existed then.

The hour that Jesus spoke of came on the festival of  Pentecost in 30 A.D..  The change in God's law of worship that occurred in 30 A.D. extends to the present. Today, those who are the Father's elect children must worship him in spirit and truth through temples of flesh which they inhabit. See our study concerning where God dwells on earth for more details about temples of flesh.

TODAY

The biblical record of the early church shows that God the Father has commanded his elect children who are members of  his royal family, his personal priesthood, and his temples on earth to continually worship him and present themselves at appointed times before him in formal worship.

During this gospel age of salvation, God the Father expects his children to worship him in spirit and truth with a clear understanding of  whom they are worshiping and the reasons for this worship. Moreover, the Father intends that, through physical and spiritual rituals of worship and praise to him during the weekly Sabbath, the Passover, and the annual festivals, his children will internalize spiritual knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors that will be a part of their character for all eternity.

Worship and praise of the Father is part of the process of spiritual growth in the Family of God. It is the building of a close, loving, father-son relationship in much the same way as the child-parent relationship grows in love and to maturity  in a physical family under the loving care of a parent and the  reciprocal love of a respectful and obedient child

Although it can be a wonderful and fulfilling experience to worship the Father and fellowship with his elect children, in the final analysis, one's walk with the Father and Jesus Christ is an extremely personal and individual matter. Therefore, when formal worship of the Father and Jesus Christ with other members of the Father's family on the Commanded Observances and Holy Convocations is extremely difficult, dangerous, what does one do to fulfill their obligation to observe these days in a formal way? The answer is to perform one's own private, yet formal worship of the Father and Jesus Christ on these days.

Because it is clearly the will of the Father that those whom he has called to salvation during the gospel age worship him both individually and collectively in a way that pleases him, it is the intent of  this paper to set forth a number of  instructions and formats that can be used as a guide to help large and small groups, as well as individuals, formulate a plan whereby each can make the worship of God the Father and Jesus Christ a meaningful, beneficial, and pleasurable experience for the Father, his Son and individuals who are called to salvation during the gospel age.

IMPORTANT ISSUES

The following are some  important foundational issues to consider when formally worshiping God the Father and his Son on the weekly Sabbath, the annual observances and festivals, and the new moons.

The Weekly Sabbath

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”; “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day ; wherefore, the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy” (Ex.20:8; 11).

Exodus 20 verses 8 and 11 reveal four important things to know about this very special day;

1. The Sabbath must be remembered and kept holy.

2. The Sabbath commemorates the creation of this physical existence.

3. The Creator placed a blessing on the Sabbath.

4. The Sabbath is set apart as sacred time.

In order to keep the Sabbath holy, one must know and understand that the day itself has a special quality. The  divine  act  of sanctifying and blessing this  day  was  not merely  a  pronouncement; it was the creation of  a  specific period  of  time for a divine purpose. This period of time has a  divine attribute  of  holiness as a part of its existence;  therefore,  it places the Sabbath in a unique relationship with God.

While speaking about  the Sabbath, Jesus said that  the Sabbath  was made for mankind and not mankind for the Sabbath (Mk.2:27-28). The seventh day of the week is very different from the other six. This understanding is essential in order to observe the Sabbath as it is intended to be observed, because the Sabbath day is a span of time created and set apart from normal time with a spiritual quality within  its existence for the benefit of  humanity.

It  is  apparent from the many things that are recorded in the Bible about this single day, its creation, and its intended observance, that God the Father and Jesus Christ clearly view the Sabbath as a momentous day in their plan to expand the family of God.

The prophet Isaiah was inspired to say that one should make the Sabbath a delightful experience (Isa.58:13). This principle of  Sabbath observance is critical to formal worship of God on the Sabbath. God wants us be happy on this day and rejoice in its observance, and the key to being happy and joyful   on this day lies in  having a correct attitude and priorities concerning its observance:

“Keep the sabbath day”; “And remember that you were a servant [slave] in the land of Egypt [a type of sin], and that the Lord, your God brought you out from there through a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord commanded you to keep the sabbath day” (Deut.5:12;15).

The Sabbath is a day to pause and reflect on the awesome importance of  the Father's creation and on his wonderful plan for humanity

The Sabbath is a time to remember and reflect on one's former life of  bondage to sin before being set free from its penalty through the free will sacrifice of  Jesus Christ.

The Sabbath is a day for the elect to formally enter into the presence of the Father and Jesus Christ to acknowledge them and show gratitude for the marvelous and undeserved opportunity to be one of the Father's first-born sons whom has been chosen to become immortal and inherit his kingdom.

The Annual Observances

The annual observances picture the Father's plan for humanity and must be observed yearly to keep one mindful of this awesome plan.

Formal worship during the annual observances is very similar to that of the weekly Sabbath in attitude and approach:

“And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, . . .that you may learn to fear [revere/respect] the Lord your God always”. . .”And you shall bestow that money for whatsoever your soul desires: . . .and you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you, and your household" (Deut.14:23; 26).

During the  gospel age, the Father's elect children are his temples on earth where he has placed his name. Therefore, the elect can worship the Father either alone or in a group without having to travel to a specific location (Jn.4:19-24). The primary emphasis of these days is to rejoice before the Father and his Son and to learn to revere and respect them through coming to a greater understanding of them and their plan for humanity as expressed through these special days of worship and observance.

The primary emphasis for worship and observance during these special days includes the  following:

The New Moons

At creation, the moon's orbit was specifically set in order  to be used to determine the various seasons  and to calculate the sacred calendar for each sacred year (Psa.104:19; 81:3; 1.Sam.20:5; 18). The new moons were observed under the covenant with ancient Israel; they were observed during the time of the early church (Col.2:16); and they will be observed after the return of Jesus in a way very similar to the weekly Sabbath and the annual festivals (Isa.66:22-23, Ezk.46:1-6).

The following are a number of things that the observance of the new moon should bring to mind:

Both the Old and New Testament have examples that show the observance of  the new moon to be a festive occasion, such as gathering for a festive meal and fellowship. Therefore,  the elect have wide latitude in observing the new moon. One can have prayer, study, a special meal, music, singing, or personal reflection on God’s awesome plan as a part of this observance.

The keys to successful formal worship of the Father and Jesus Christ by a group or an individual are as follows:

Clearly,  formal worship of  the Father and Jesus Christ which can be performed by a large group can be  modified to fit the needs of  a small group. And what can be done by a small group can also be modified to fit the needs of  the individual. The following formats are put forth as examples and guides for formal group and individual worship of the Father and his Son:

LARGE AND SMALL GROUP FORMATS

The writer to the Hebrews was clear in his instruction to the elect concerning assembling together for the purpose of fulfilling the responsibility to worship the Father and his Son and to fellowship together in order to promote spiritual growth:

“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching” (Heb.10:23-25 KJV). See also Jn.4:21-24; 1.Pet.2:5; Heb.10:16-22;13:9-16.

Some assume that the writer to the Hebrews was speaking in the context of congregations under the guidance of an eldership. Even if this were his intention, it does not abrogate one's responsibility to worship and fellowship with one's brother or sister in the faith when it is possible to do so. The instruction to assemble together for the purposes stated imposes no restriction as to the number of elect who are required to assemble together. Moreover, a small group assembly for the purpose of formal worship and fellowship can be as small as two people:

“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20 KJV).

Whether or not Jesus meant for this instruction to apply only to disciplinary situations, its spiritual principle and application  applies to any assembly of  the elect, whether it is a large or a small group, that gathers together for formal worship of  the Father, fellowship with one another, or study and meditation on the words of life.

There are many reasons for the elect to assemble together in a formal, structured way; however, one of the primary reasons to assemble during the weekly Sabbath and the annual observances and festivals is to give honor, respect, and praise to the Father and his Son, and to rejoice before them.

The biblical  evidence concerning the formal assembly of God's elect for the purpose of worship and praise to God shows us that it is extremely important to the Father and Jesus Christ that when the elect enter into their presence,  it is for the right reasons and done in accordance with the law of worship. Therefore, the elect who participate in a formal worship before the Father and the Son should be focused on the reason that they are there. Moreover, they should make an effort to present themselves in a way that is pleasing to the Father and his Son and beneficial to others who are assembled with them.

Although there are many formats that would be appropriate when the Father's elect children assemble together to worship him, the following is meant to show the logic of the long and short formal assembly formats set forth in this paper and the way to perform them that will conform to biblical instructions and concepts.

ELEMENTS OF WORSHIP

The following basic elements shown for the worship of  God before the advent of Christ are essentially the same elements that are required of the elect during the gospel age of salvation:

During the gospel age, these same elements of worship are still present; however, the reality of  their performance and symbolism is changed to fit the spiritual nature of  the special agreement between the Sovereign Father and the sons of his new creation. See our study concerning the sons of the new creation in chapter three of our book How to Become Immortal.

Praise and Gratitude

There is a clear distinction between praising (acknowledging and  declaring) and voicing one's gratitude to the Father and his Son.

Congregational praise  to the Father and his Son should be done to acknowledge and declare the Father  and his Son and their awesome attributes, truth, and  works in order to honor their greatness and glory.

Congregational gratitude expresses group and individual thankfulness for what the Father and his Son have done and will do for the elect and humanity as a whole. 

Congregational singing of songs can be  meant to acknowledge and declare God the Father's and our Savior's  awesome attributes, truth, great works. A congregation can also sing to God and his Son, present supplications,  show gratitude, rejoice before them,  and honor their greatness and glory.

Presentations of music, songs, and dance can be performed by groups or individuals of the congregation for many of the same reasons as congregational singing.

Study and Fellowship

Although study and fellowship do not technically fit the narrow definition of presenting oneself at the temple to be taught by one of God's representatives, study and fellowship do fit the examples given in the New Testament which show the elect  assembling together to be taught by the spiritual leaders of the early church, sharing spiritual experiences, and encouraging one another.

Clearly, study and fellowship as members of the Father's divine family and holy nation can be a form of  worship if it is done in the context of  learning, practicing, and perfecting spiritual knowledge and character in order to become spiritually mature and fulfill the purpose for one's calling. The following are a few of the things that might be considered by a group as a part of  study and fellowship:

Fellowship before, during, and after a formal assembly of the elect should be conducted in a manner worthy of  a holy people. This is time that has been set aside to acknowledge the Father and his Son, to celebrate and  rejoice before them, to grow in grace and knowledge, and to speak of  things that pertain to the profession of a child of God.

RECOMMENDATIONS AND COMMENTS

The following are recommendations for the various elements of  the formal worship assembly, their order of  presentation, and comments about how to perform them during the formal worship assembly:

CALLING TO ORDER

Although this may not seem to be a major point to consider, it is important because the scriptures clearly show that, before, during, and after the advent of the Messiah, only men were placed in positions of spiritual leadership by God (e.g., the patriarchs, the priests, the apostles, and the elders). Therefore, it seems appropriate that an assembly of the Father's elect children that is held for the purpose of  formally worshiping him should be called to order by the male spiritual leader or a male member of the assembly who is authorized to perform this task for or in place of the spiritual leader.

Entering into Their Presence

An important understanding and attitude that should be internalized if one wants  to please the Father and his Son during a formal assembly of the elect is the understanding that, when the elect are assembled together, they are truly drawn directly into the presence of the Sovereign Father and Jesus Christ. One should also understand that the reason for being in their presence is to manifest one's heartfelt desire to  praise, honor, and please them in a formal way. If one has this understanding and attitude, one's participation in the formal assembly will truly praise, honor, and please them.

A MOMENT OF QUIET REFLECTION AND MEDITATION

There is no biblical instruction to have a moment of quiet  reflection and meditation before or during  formal worship of the Father. However, a moment of  quiet reflection and meditation before beginning formal worship of the Father seems appropriate because it allows for time to clear one's mind of other concerns, in order to focus on the reasons for entering into the presence of the Father and his Son.

The amount of time that a person will need to spend in quiet reflection and meditation  will vary from person to person; however, experience has shown that about 45 seconds is just about the right amount of time for the average person to gather their thoughts and bring them into focus.

In order to avoid an  awkward beginning and ending of  the moment of quiet reflection, it is suggested that someone be assigned beforehand to indicate the beginning and ending of this period of time with a bell, chime, or some other appropriate device once the moment of silence  is announced by the person calling the assembly to order.

THE OPENING PRAYER

Although the scriptures show that those in positions of spiritual leadership within the congregations of God must be men and these men must exercise  leadership in spiritual matters, there is no specific instruction that would prohibit other men or women from approaching the Father on behalf of the congregation, as long as certain requirements are met. It must be remembered that, of  humanity, only the Father's elect children (his new creation) are authorized to come into his presence (Eph.2:11-19); therefore, only those who are considered to be among the elect should be allowed to approach the Father on behalf of an assembly of his elect children for the purpose of communicating with him and entering into his presence.

Approaching the Father on behalf of an assembly of his children is a responsibility that must be taken seriously. Care should be taken to thoughtfully  prepare what is going to be said to the Father in order to obtain a favorable response from him and for what is said to him to reflect the thoughts of the assembly. If the opening comments to the Father are sincere and appropriate, the entire assembly can concur with the words that are spoken on their behalf.

Opening Comments

What should the opening comments to the Father on behalf of the congregation contain?

Almost all of the models in the Bible that show how one should approach God to seek an audience with him begin with an acknowledgment and declaration of his attributes, truth, and great works and  give honor to his greatness. The example of Solomon's approach and presentation to the Creator God (2.Chron.6:1-42), Jesus' model prayer (Matt.6:5-13) and instruction to ask in his name (Jn.14:13-14;16:23-24), and Paul's instruction to the Philippians about worship (Phil.4:6) show the following aspects of communication with God.

Solomon

Jesus

Paul

These examples contain the three fundamental elements of communication with God—praise, gratitude, and supplication. Because there are many examples in the Bible of communication with the Creator God (Jesus Christ) and God the Father that incorporate these three elements, it seems appropriate that these elements should be a part of one's request to the Father for an audience with him and for him to accept his children's worship of him.

The following are some of the things that one might want to incorporate in each of the foundational elements of communication with God the Father:

1. Praise: Things to acknowledge and declare to the Father and before the congregation.

His attributes 

His great works    

What he has done and will do for his people              

2. Gratitude: Things for which to give thanks to the Father.                       

3. Supplication: What should one ask for?

The Physical Position

Although the physical position that a person assumes while worshiping, praising, or praying to God the Father may not seem to be a major point of concern, the following words that are often translated as 'worship' in various English translations of the Bible seem to indicate that it is important:

Because these Hebrew and Greek words are used to describe true worship and praise of God, it seems appropriate to choose  a position that best reflects one's attitude and respect while requesting an audience with the Father.  See our study concerning positions of worship which includes bowing, kneeling, and the lifting of one's hands.

Final Statement

Unless one has already said to the Father in the opening comments that the congregation is coming before him through the authority of Jesus Christ (in Jesus' Name), it is appropriate to do so at this time and ask him to hear and honor the things that have been said.

The final statement should give the congregation the opportunity to concur with what has been said by saying, “We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ,” or “Be it so according to your will Father,” or “In Jesus' name, Amen (i.e., be it so).”

Because of the importance of the opening and closing prayers, one might want to outline what one wants to say beforehand and in some cases write it out and read it to the Father. Remember that it is not the amount of words or the eloquence with which one speaks that gets the Father's attention; it is a right  attitude and the heartfelt sincerity with which one  speaks to him that pleases the Father.

THE SONG LEADER

Although the scriptures show that those in positions of spiritual leadership within the congregations of God must be men, there is no specific instruction that would prohibit other men, women, or a young adult from leading the congregation  in song, as long as certain requirements are met. It must be remembered that, of  humanity, only the Father's elect children (his new creation) are authorized to come into his presence (Eph.2:11-19); therefore, only those who are considered to be among the elect should be allowed to lead the congregation in song.

Leading the congregation in song to the Father is a responsibility that must be taken seriously. It is clear from many biblical references that singing as an act of praise, gratitude, and rejoicing before the Father and his Son gives them great pleasure. Because singing songs to the Father is  not meant for the entertainment of the congregation, but is meant to be a presentation to the Father for his pleasure, the selection of congregational songs should be carefully made to avoid heresy.

Care should be taken to choose songs that truly acknowledge the Father as our Sovereign and his Son as our Savior and High Priest and declare their attributes to them and before the congregation. Moreover, the beauty of  the music and lyrics that truly reflect God's ways and his children's worship and praise of him should be taken into account.

Songs

There are a number of questions that should be answered when selecting songs for a congregation to sing:

There are many scriptures that will help to answer the above questions. Moreover, the  psalms are a primary source of  many excellent models for congregational songs of praise and supplication that are pleasing to God.

The Order of  Songs

The primary reason to assemble before the Father is to worship him; therefore, the first song(s) that are sung by the congregation should be songs that truly acknowledge the Father as Sovereign and declare his attributes to him and the congregation.

The songs that follow other segments of the formal assembly may be songs that acknowledge and declare Jesus as our Savior and High Priest or songs of gratitude, supplication, adoration, personal and collective commitment, or rejoicing.

PRESENTATIONS

Clearly there are some presentations that should be given by the spiritual leadership or other men who are authorized by them; however, there is no prohibition against a sister in the faith presenting things of a spiritual nature that do not violate the letter or spirit of the law concerning spiritual leadership.

Cautionary Note:

Because there is always a danger of a person  intentionally or unintentionally usurping the authority and responsibility of the spiritual leadership to teach the elect, it is prudent that all presentations that include a teaching element be discussed with the spiritual leader before they are presented in order to insure that they do not violate the letter or spirit of the law concerning spiritual leadership during a formal assembly of the elect.

Presentations to the Father

Historical and biblical records clearly show that all formal worship and praise to and of God were done much as singers and musicians perform before an audience of people today. Therefore, the presentation of  music, songs, or dance by individuals or groups, other than the combined assembly, should be presented for the same reasons as congregational music and songs and should fulfill the same  requirements as congregational music and songs. It is important to clearly understand that these types  of  presentations are not to be presented for the entertainment of the congregation or for the personal aggrandizement of the individuals making such presentations. As with congregational songs, the focus should be on presenting something to the Father that will acknowledge his greatness and give him pleasure.

Other Presentations

There are many things that can be presented to the elect in a formal way that can be spiritually enlightening  and beneficial. The following are some of these things:

It is important to be cautious so that a presentation does not violate the letter or spirit of the law concerning spiritual leadership during a formal assembly of the elect. In some cases, it might be more prudent to present subjects concerning an understanding of prophecy or prophetic events, a revelation from God, or a biblical topic in a Bible study format to allow for group participation and discussion.

Testimonials

In this age, many view the giving of testimonials before the church in the light of  what takes place in many of the charismatic Christian churches; however, this is not the example that is put forth in the Bible. All the scriptural examples show testimonials to be God-centered, not self-centered. And they are shown to be witnesses to other people of the awesome power, goodness, mercy, and works of God. The examples of testimonies in the Bible are mostly  the relating of specific events to show what God has done or is doing in order to acknowledge his hand in the events, give him honor, and give encouragement to his people.

Many of the psalms relate situations in which God's hand is shown to be present, attest to his greatness, and to his care and concern for his people. In the New Testament, there are a number of accounts that are in the context of  testimonials, such as Peter and John's account of being released by the Jewish elders and chief priests after they had been arrested for preaching Christ and healing a lame man. Moreover, after they had related these events, the elect  that heard their report praised God and were encouraged to continue preaching Christ (Acts 4:23-31).

SERMONS/TEACHING

The scriptures clearly show that those in positions of spiritual leadership of the congregations of God must be men; however, there is no specific biblical instruction that prohibits the spiritual leadership from authorizing other spiritually mature and capable men to teach the elect in a formal assembly.

The teaching of the Father's elect children  is a responsibility that is to be taken very seriously and should be approached with prayer, study, and the attitude of humility with the goal of  presenting the word of God for the edification of those who are present.

THE CLOSING PRAYER

The ending of the formal assembly should follow most of the overall guidelines that were given for approaching the Father at the beginning of the formal assembly with the following comments added as closing statements:

Unless it has already been said to the Father in one's opening comments that the congregation is coming before him through the authority of Jesus Christ (in Jesus' Name), it is appropriate to do so at this time; then, ask that the Father hear and honor the things that have been said.

The final statement should give the congregation the opportunity to concur with what has been said by saying, “We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ,” or “Be it so according to your will Father,” or “In Jesus' name, Amen (i.e., be it so).”

ANNOUNCEMENTS

This segment of the assembly is to be used to make brief  announcements and to give clear instructions of importance to the whole congregation, but it is not a part of  formal worship of God. Announcements can be a distraction and cause people to lose focus on the primary reason for their assembly before the Father and his Son. Therefore, announcements (if necessary) should be made before the opening prayer or preferably after the closing prayer.

COLLECTIONS AND OFFERINGS

The scriptures clearly show that a major part of  the worship of  the Creator God was giving gifts and offerings at the commanded observances and holy convocations and that the Father also requires his elect children to support those of the spiritual leadership, the work of  the church, and those of the brotherhood who are truly in need  through gifts and offerings. However, these gifts and offerings are also shown to be a very personal and private matter between an individual and the Father; therefore, no formal collection of offerings (monetary or other) should be done during the formal worship assembly. A provision for collecting gifts and offerings can be made at each assembly  as was done during the existence of the temple at Jerusalem.

BIBLE STUDIES, SPECIAL EVENTS, AND FELLOWSHIP

Bible studies or special events that are part of congregational activities, whether they are held after a formal worship assembly or on another day, should also be opened and closed with prayer similar to a formal worship assembly. But, it is important to  keep the reasons for the Bible study or special event in mind.

Bible Studies

The scriptures clearly show that those in positions of spiritual leadership of the congregations of God must be men; however, there is no specific biblical instruction that prohibits the spiritual leadership from authorizing other spiritually mature and capable men to lead the assembled congregation in formal or informal Bible studies.

The study of God's word and other subjects related to the Father's elect as members of  his divine family, citizens of his holy nation and as kings, priests, and  ambassadors is for the purpose of growing in physical and spiritual knowledge and understanding in order to perfect the practice of the Father's ways in one's life and grow into spiritual maturity in order to fulfill the purpose for one's calling.

Special Events

A special congregational event could be a planning session, a discussion of an important subject, a Matthew 18 or related disciplinary session or other event that is a function which concerns the entire congregation and needs to be addressed as a group.

Fellowship

Fellowship before, during, and after a formal assembly of God's elect should be conducted in a manner worthy of a holy people (1.Cor.14:40), because this is time that has been set aside to acknowledge the Father and his Son, to celebrate and  rejoice before them, to grow in grace and knowledge, and to speak of  things that pertain to the profession of the Father's elect children.

LONG AND SHORT ASSEMBLY FORMATS

The following long and short assembly formats are obviously not the only formats that could be designed and used; however, these two formats do fulfill the basic requirements of formal worship and fellowship with the Father, Jesus Christ and the elect and will provide for continuity in worship assemblies:

LONG ASSEMBLY FORMAT

LONG ASSEMBLY FORMAT

ASSEMBLY SEGMENT

RESPONSIBLE PERSON

Call the Assembly to Order

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Moment of Quiet Reflection & Meditation

Announced by the Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Opening Prayer

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

2 or More Songs of Praise

Song Leader

Presentation

Announced by the Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Testimonial

Announced by the Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Song(s)

Song Leader

Sermon

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Song(s)

Song Leader

Closing Prayer

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Lunch Break

Pot Luck or Bag Lunch

Call the Assembly to Order

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Announcements (if necessary)

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Opening Prayer

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Study or Event

Announced by the Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Closing Prayer

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Donations & Banking

Designated Person

Audio/Timer

Designated Person

SHORT ASSEMBLY FORMAT

SHORT ASSEMBLY FORMAT

ASSEMBLY SEGMENT

RESPONSIBLE PERSON

Call the Assembly to Order

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Announcements (if necessary)

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Moment of Quiet Reflection & Meditation

Announced by the Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Opening Prayer

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

2 or More Songs of  Praise to the Father

Song Leader

Presentation

Announced by the Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Testimonial

Announced by the Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Song(s)

Song Leader

Sermon/Bible Study

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Song(s)

Song Leader

Closing Prayer

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Announcements (if necessary)

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Donations & Banking

Designated Person

Audio/Timer

Designated Person

THE NEW MOON

OBSERVANCE OF THE NEW MOON

ASSEMBLY SEGMENT

RESPONSIBLE PERSON

Call the Assembly to Order

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Moment of Quiet Reflection & Meditation

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Opening Prayer

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Song(s) of Praise (if desired)

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Presentation (if desired)

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

A meal (if desired)

What ever arrangements are desired

Closing Prayer

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

THE PASSOVER

OBSERVANCE OF THE PASSOVER

ASSEMBLY SEGMENT

RESPONSIBLE PERSON

Call the Assembly to Order

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Moment of Quiet Reflection & Meditation

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Opening Prayer

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person should request  the Father's presence and acceptance of  your Passover observance.

Foot Washing

Comments by  the spiritual leader or designated person concerning the meaning and importance of the foot washing ceremony.

Eating the Unleavened Bread

Comments by  the spiritual leader or designated person concerning the meaning and importance of the broken body of Christ.

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person asks the Father to bless the unleavened bread for its intended purpose.

Drinking the Wine

Comments by  the spiritual leader or designated person concerning the meaning and importance of the shed blood of  Christ.

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person asks the Father to bless the wine for its intended purpose.

Closing Song

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person should lead the assembly in a short song or a psalm.

Closing Prayer

The Spiritual Leader or Designated Person

Cleanup After the Observance

Pour any wine leftover from the observance on the ground and burn any unleavened bread leftover from the observance in order to prevent their future use.

INDIVIDUAL WORSHIP FORMAT

The following is meant to be  a guide to help individuals formulate a plan whereby they can make their  private worship of  God the Father and Jesus Christ a meaningful, beneficial, and pleasurable experience.

The following instructions and comments contain much of  the information from the preceding section but is modified to fit the needs of the individual; therefore, before applying any of the recommendations in this section, please carefully study the information in the preceding section and our studies concerning the holy spirit, the sons of the new creation, and the Father's kings, priests, and temples of flesh on earth.

ELEMENTS OF WORSHIP

The following basic elements shown for the worship of  God before the advent of Christ are essentially the same that are required of the elect during the gospel age of salvation:

During the gospel age, these same elements of worship are still present; however, the reality of  their performance and symbolism is changed to fit the spiritual nature of  the special agreement between the Sovereign Father and the sons of his new creation.

Praise and Gratitude

Praise to the Father and his Son acknowledges and declares their awesome attributes, truth, and  works in order to honor their greatness and glory.

Gratitude expresses one's heartfelt thankfulness for what the Father and his Son have done and will do for one personally and for humanity as a whole.

Singing  songs to the Father and Jesus Christ can be performed as a part of one's private  worship in order to express many different thoughts to them.

Music  and  dance can also be performed privately to express one's praise, gratitude, admiration, and joy to the Father and the Son.

Study and Meditation

Although study and meditation do not technically fit the narrow definition of presenting oneself at the temple to be taught by one of God's representatives, study and meditation during one's private formal worship of the Father and Jesus Christ does fit the spirit of this instruction within the law of worship.

Study and meditation into subjects related to the Father, Jesus Christ, and  elect as members of  his divine family and holy nation can be a form of  worship if it is done in the context of pursuing  physical and spiritual knowledge and understanding in order to perfect the practice of the Father's ways in one's life and grow into spiritual maturity in order to fulfill the purpose for one's calling.

The question is not whether one can include study and meditation in one's private formal worship of  the Father and his son; but how does one include study and meditation in a way that is meaningful and pleasurable to the Father and Jesus Christ and beneficial to one's self?

The inclusion of study and meditation as a form of  fellowship and worship can be easily accomplished by telling the Father that it is your desire to fellowship with him through the study and meditation of  things pertaining to your relationship with him and his Son and that you want him to  view this as worship of  him and as an expression of your desire to grow in grace and knowledge in order to become more like him and his Son in character and in service to his family and humanity.

The inclusion of study and meditation as a form of fellowship and worship will not only allow one to be taught through the guidance of  the Father's holy spirit, but also it will give one an opportunity to share one's thoughts, needs, and desires and to request  inspiration, wisdom, encouragement, and insight into his ways.

The following are a few of the things that could be used as a part of one's study and meditation in private formal fellowship with the Father and his Son:

A Moment of Quiet Reflection And Meditation

There is no biblical instruction to have a moment of quiet  reflection and meditation before or during formal worship of the Father. However, a moment of  quiet reflection and meditation before beginning one's formal worship of the Father seems appropriate in order to allow time to clear one's mind of other concerns and in order to focus on the reasons for entering into the presence of the Father and his Son.

The Request to Come into His Presence

An important understanding and attitude that should be internalized if one wants  to please the Father and his Son during private worship of  them is the understanding that when one of the elect initiates communication with them that person is truly drawn into their presence. One should also understand that the reason for being in their presence is to manifest heartfelt desire to fellowship with them and to praise, honor, and please them.

When one seeks an audience with the Father, the biblical instruction is to make this request in the name of  Jesus Christ (through his authority). Therefore, it is appropriate for one to request permission to enter  into his presence.

Almost all of the models in the Bible that show how one should approach God to seek an audience with him begin with an acknowledgment or declaration of  his attributes, truth, great works, and give honor to his greatness (Refer to the section concerning opening and closing prayers for large and small groups).

If you have trouble praying spontaneously, you might want to write out your thoughts beforehand and even read your request if you feel it would be more meaningful to yourself and the Father.

The Physical Position

Although the physical position that a person assumes while worshiping, praising, or praying to God the Father may not seem to be a major point to worry about in the overall scheme of things, the following words that are often translated as 'worship' in various English translations of the Bible seem to indicate that it is important:

Because these Hebrew and Greek words are used to describe true worship and praise of God, it seems appropriate to choose  a position that best reflects one's attitude and respect while requesting an audience with the Father.  See our study concerning positions of worship which includes bowing, kneeling, and the lifting of one's hands.

Singing

There are  many biblical references which show that singing as an act of praise, gratitude, and rejoicing before the Father and his Son gives them great pleasure; therefore, one might consider singing to the Father and his Son as a part of one's fellowship and worship.

Care should be taken to choose songs that truly acknowledge the Father as the Sovereign and his Son as the  Savior and High Priest and acknowledge and declare their attributes. Moreover, the beauty of  the music and lyrics that truly reflect one's attitude and the Father's ways should be carefully considered beforehand (Refer to the section concerning songs for large and small groups).

Many songs lend themselves to being modified from being sung collectively  to being sung individually simply by changing collective nouns such as 'our', 'we', and 'us' to personal pronouns such as 'me', 'my', or 'I'. Changes such as these will personalize a song so that the words will  more accurately convey one's own thoughts and feelings.

If one wants to sing to the Father or Jesus Christ, it is appropriate  that the first song one sings is sung to the Father in order to acknowledge his sovereignty. Any following song(s) could be sung to acknowledge Jesus Christ as one's personal Savior and High Priest or to praise the Father and Son's greatness and attributes or to show one's gratitude, make supplication, show admiration, or  rejoice before them.

Closing Prayer

The ending of one's private worship should follow most of the overall guidelines that were given for approaching the Father at the beginning of one's private formal worship with the following comments that contain the following concepts:

INDIVIDUAL WORSHIP FORMATS

The following worship formats are obviously not the only ones that could be designed and used by an individual; however, each format does fulfill the basic requirement of  formal worship of the Father and Jesus Christ and can be used as a basis to design a format that will fit one's individual needs.

PRIVATE FORMAL WORSHIP

PRIVATE FORMAL WORSHIP FORMAT

FOR THE

SABBATH AND THE ANNUAL FESTIVALS

Moment of Quiet Reflection & Meditation

Opening Prayer

Song(s) of  Praise to the Father

Study and/or Meditation

Song(s)

Closing Prayer

THE NEW MOON

PRIVATE OBSERVANCE

OF THE NEW MOON

Moment of Quiet Reflection & Meditation

Prayer containing an acknowledgment of the beginning of  the new month

Song (s) (if desired)

A meal (if desired)

Song (s) (if desired)

Study and Meditation (if desired)

Prayer containing an acknowledgment of the beginning of  the new month

THE PASSOVER

PRIVATE OBSERVANCE

OF THE PASSOVER

Moment of Quiet Reflection & Meditation

A request for the Father's presence and acceptance of  your observance.

Foot Washing:

Acknowledgment to the Father that you understand the meaning and importance of the foot washing ceremony and that you would do it if it were possible for you.

Eating the Unleavened Bread:

Acknowledgment to the Father that you understand the meaning and importance of the broken body of Christ and ask the Father to bless the unleavened bread for its intended purpose.

Drinking the Wine:

Acknowledgment to the Father that you understand the meaning and importance of  the shed blood of Christ and ask the Father to bless the wine for its intended purpose.

Sing a song or a psalm

Closing prayer of appreciation acknowledging the wonder of what the Father and Jesus Christ have done and are doing for the elect.

Cleanup After the Observance

Pour any wine leftover from the observance on the ground and burn any unleavened bread left over from the observance in order to prevent their future use.

EDITOR'S NOTES

Our primary goal  is to share our  knowledge and understanding of the Sovereign God's plan and purpose for  humanity with those who are interested in living their lives according to the law of God, not by the dictates and traditions of men. We hope that you have found this document intellectually challenging and spiritually enlightening  and beneficial.

Other Studies

This document is one of over 190 in-depth topical Bible studies which you can have free of charge by visiting our website on the Internet at http://www.BibleResearch.org or write to the Congregation of God P.L.D., P.O. Box 624, Oakhurst, CA. 93644, U.S.A. to obtain a list of  other studies which are available in our books, audio cassettes, and compact disk. You may also call 1-408-993-7907 for updated contact information.