Choosing the Right Form of Worship
“O come in, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before Jehovah our Maker. For he is our God and we are the people of his pasturage and the sheep of his hand.”—Ps. 95:6, 7.
1. What factors often govern one’s choice of religion, but what is the more important consideration?
WHY do you worship in the manner that you do? The majority of those who practice some religion probably adhere to the faith of their parents. In many cases one’s friends and neighbors directly influence one’s choice. Others have searched out the church that they feel best meets their needs as an individual. However, the consideration that is of far greater concern should be finding and holding to the form of worship that has divine approval.
2. What is true worship, so how can one find the right form of worship?
2 Our worship is our service to God. As the Most High, he is exalted in wisdom and power far above all creation. “He is doing according to his own will among the army of the heavens and the inhabitants of earth. And there exists no one that can check his hand or that can say to him, What have you been doing?” (Dan. 4:35) How foolish it would be to ignore his will! How unwise to practice a form of worship that is not according to his good pleasure! Rather, the wise course is to study the Bible in order to prove to ourselves what is the good and acceptable and complete will of God. Thus directed, we will know how we ought to walk in order to please God. It will mean that we will in truth be worshiping Jehovah God, serving him, doing his will, not simply pursuing a course that may please us from a human standpoint.—Rom. 12:2; 1 Thess. 4:1.
3. Why cannot Christians take the viewpoint that all religion is good?
3 Since the Bible speaks of the “form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father,” the implication is that there is worship that is not clean and undefiled from God’s standpoint. If it does not find favor with God, it is futile. The right form of worship is the one that God approves.—Jas. 1:26, 27.
THE RELIGION OF ONE’S PARENTS
4. Is it wise to hold to the religion of one’s parents?
4 Those who cling to the religion of their parents may be wise or they may be foolish. If their parents have inculcated in them a knowledge of the Word of God and have helped them to build their lives in harmony with it, it would be the part of wisdom to continue to pursue that course. But in by far the majority of cases parents have not set this course for their children. Instruction in the Bible, even in so-called Christian homes, is often limited to a few passages that are favorites of the parents. These may be read together, perhaps even memorized, but seldom is their meaning given serious consideration. For many families religion simply means attending church at certain times, but it has little direct bearing on the other activities of life. Of such religion that calls for lip-service but does not reach the heart and deeply affect one’s daily life, God’s Word says: “It is in vain that they keep paying respect to me.” (Matt. 15:8, 9) One may have grown up in a churchgoing household, but if one has not been taught the Word of God, or if the doctrines of the church tend to nullify the truths of the Bible, or if the fruits of the church manifest in the conduct of its members are not godly fruits, how foolish it would be to continue to embrace such a religion!
5. (a) Why is it often very difficult for one to change his religion, and how did Jesus warn of this? (b) When faced with family opposition, what decision must be made by one who learns the truth, and how will Jehovah bless those who show faithfulness under these circumstances?
5 Even when a person is convinced that the religious doctrines he formerly believed were not Scriptural and his way of life was not truly Christian, when it comes to his abandoning such a religion, especially if it is the religion of his parents, it can be very difficult. Of course, if the other members of his family love God’s Word they will be glad to know from him what it teaches, but if not, they may be bitter in their opposition. Unable to refute the Bible truth, they may demand that the newly interested one stop associating with Jehovah’s people. To keep him from further study, they may even destroy his Bible study literature. By his patience, by his tactfully speaking about the Bible when appropriate, and by his right conduct he will lovingly try to help his relatives to see the truth; but in some cases persons who have expressed their sincere desire to serve Jehovah God have been disowned by their relatives. The Lord Jesus knew that this would happen, and he said: “A man’s enemies will be persons of his own household.” It is only natural that a man feels strong ties to his family and will do all he can to preserve these ties, but in this case a decision must be made: Should he continue to worship the way God commands, and so incur the disfavor of his relatives, or should he forsake what he knows to be right in order to preserve good relations with his fleshly relatives? Jesus answered: “He that has greater affection for father or mother than for me is not worthy of me; and he that has greater affection for son or daughter than for me is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10:36, 37) Our greater obligation is to Jehovah God, our heavenly Father, and his Son Jesus Christ. If the one faced with this trialsome situation holds fast his integrity to God, Jehovah will reward him with homes and relatives a hundredfold now in the New World society, and everlasting life in the new world.—Mark 10:29, 30.
6. Why are children whose parents are Jehovah’s witnesses in a particularly favored position, but what must they do as individuals, and why?
6 Children whose parents are dedicated servants of God have much for which to be thankful. In the early years of their life they are helped to lay a firm foundation for a life of theocratic service. They are able to enjoy the very best association possible on earth today—that of God’s New World society. Daily they can hear the Bible read and can participate in discussions of it. Having been instructed in God’s righteous principles, they are able to avoid the pitfalls that mar so many lives with lasting regret. In that the family follows the divine pattern of worship, this will exercise a powerful influence for good on the lives of the children. However, being “raised in the truth,” or growing up in a home where one’s parents are Jehovah’s witnesses, is not enough. It is required of each individual that he love Jehovah God with all his mind and all his heart and all his vital force. So in each case it is up to the children to make the religion their own, to take a personal interest in studying the Bible and learn what it teaches, to cultivate a love for it so it fills their hearts, and to exert themselves to participate in right worship. “Remember, now, your grand Creator in the days of your young manhood,” counseled Solomon. If your parents advocate such a course for you, by all means follow their good advice.—Eccl. 12:1.
7. How has religion become a mere social convenience to some, and why is such a practice dangerous?
7 Inasmuch as the social activity of a community may center around the churches to a large extent, there is a strong tendency to attend the same church that one’s friends and neighbors do. Advertisements frequently recommend that you attend “the church of your choice.” The argument given in favor of such a practice is based on the erroneous idea that any religion is good, that the important thing is to have some religion. But, as has already been pointed out from the Scriptures, there is worship that is futile in the sight of God; there are those of whom God says that it is in vain that they pay respect to him. Such religion definitely is not good. This is true, not only of the idol-worshiping, superstitious pagans, but also of professed Christians. Claiming to be a Christian, acknowledging Christ as Master or Lord, is not enough. Said Jesus: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Master, Master,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day: ‘Master, Master, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you at all. Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matt. 7:21-23) It is a dangerous practice to permit one’s religion to become a social convenience. We fool ourselves if we try to argue that there are good people associated with all these groups and that they are all doing good in the community. The question that we ought to ask is this: Are they doing the will of the Father who is in heaven?
8. In what way can a Christian employ the human tendency toward conformity to good advantage, but what must be guarded against?
8 Generally speaking, people tend to be conformists. They go with the crowd. What others do, they do. They adopt the practices of the people around them. For that human trait to serve to a person’s advantage, he must watch his associations. If the people with whom he associates serve God and love righteousness, the way of life to which he will tend to conform will be upbuilding and for his lasting welfare. Whereas if a person keeps company with worldly people, their thinking will begin to permeate his mind and their practices will begin to rub off on him.
9. What do the Scriptures mean by “bad associations”?
9 Never should we think ourselves so strong that we could not fall out of the faith. “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) What is meant by bad associations? Are they only associations with people who use foul language, are immoral or get drunk? To be sure, such people would be bad company. Yet the Scriptures make the application more all-embracing by saying: “What portion does a faithful person have with an unbeliever?” (2 Cor. 6:15) Bad associations are those with people who are unbelievers. True, we cannot avoid all contact with them, otherwise we would have to get out of the world. But we can avoid choosing them as the ones whose company we keep.
10. How may worldly associations lead to unwise marriage, but what is the mature Christian viewpoint toward religion as a factor in selecting a marriage mate?
10 Especially when one selects a marriage mate it is important to call to mind the counsel: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers.” (2 Cor. 6:14) It may start with an evening of entertainment in company with worldly acquaintances. However, the attraction between the sexes is strong, one’s emotions easily become involved, and emotions can be very effective in regimenting one’s power of reason to work for them, justifying their inclinations instead of correcting them. When the friendship leads to marriage, the believer may feel sure in himself that the marriage mate is of good will and will be helped thereby to come into the truth. That is not the way God tells us to reason on the matter. His command to his covenant people Israel was: “You must form no marriage alliance with [the unbelievers in the land]. Your daughter you must not give to his son, and his daughter you must not take for your son. For he will turn your son from following me and they will certainly serve other gods, and Jehovah’s anger will indeed blaze against you and he will certainly annihilate you in a hurry.” (Deut. 7:3, 4) To Christians the command is given to marry “only in the Lord,” that is, only those persons who have already proved themselves to be in union with the Lord God by making a dedication to serve him. Thus the Bible shows that seeking association with worldly people is a step away from true worship.—1 Cor. 7:39.
RELATION TO SECULAR WORK
11. How does the Devil use secular employment as a means to keep newly interested ones from taking up the right form of worship?
11 Business interests also have a powerful grip on the lives of the people. In some places where clergy control is strong, a person who wants to leave the church to become one of Jehovah’s witnesses may be threatened with loss of his secular employment. At times the relatives of a person have been threatened with economic reprisals simply because he was studying the Bible with Jehovah’s witnesses. Thus the Devil through his visible agents continues to advance the argument presented in the case of Job. He contends that men will serve God only as long as they prosper materially, but that if their economic security is endangered they will abandon Jehovah’s worship. Yet many are the individuals who refuse to make their worship dependent on economic considerations. They believe that God, who cares for the birds of the air and the beasts of the field, will see that they too have their daily bread if they put their worship of him first.—Job 1:9-12; Matt. 6:25-34.
12. What proper position may secular employment occupy in one’s life, but what dangers must be avoided?
12 When one has taken up the worship of God in spirit and truth one must continue to be alert to materialistic influences that might cause one to stumble. Jesus warned: “You cannot be slaves to God and to Riches.” (Matt. 6:24) If we truly serve God, we must obey his commandments. If Riches is our master, our secular employment will govern our lives. It is not necessarily the rich man who is a slave to riches; it is often the one who has to struggle day by day to get enough money to support his family who finds that he has become a slave in the economic treadmill. We are servants of the one we obey. Wisely we must keep secular employment in its place, as the means by which we support ourselves and provide the things needed by our families, but never should we permit our freedom to do the divine will to be choked off by involvement in the “commercial businesses of life.”—2 Tim. 2:4.
13, 14. (a) Why do we need accurate knowledge in order to worship God acceptably? (b) What are some of the common religious teachings that are not Scriptural, but what organization today does practice the form of worship approved by God? Why do you so answer?
13 In all these circumstances with which we are confronted and which in some way affect our worship, the Bible provides us the divine guidance we so much need. It shows us the course that is well pleasing in the sight of God. We dare not be like those spoken of by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians at Rome when he said: “I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge; for, because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.” (Rom. 10:2, 3) They thought they were serving God, but, lacking accurate knowledge, they were simply following their own human inclinations and so were serving themselves.
14 Only when a person has an accurate knowledge of the Word of God is he in position to know how to worship Him. Until then he can lean only on his own imperfect, and possibly erroneous, opinion or that of other persons. But when he permits the Bible to be his measuring rod as to what is truth, it becomes evident that such doctrines as the trinity, immortality of the human soul and hell-fire, use of images in worship, religious interfaith, and so forth, are not included among the things that God approves. With the Bible as his guide, he can easily see who are the people that are doing the divine will today, because they keep separate from the affairs of the world, follow the example of Jesus in making known the name of Jehovah God, show themselves to be Christ’s disciples because they love one another and are not divided due to race or national background or economic standing, and use their tongues in a right way by preaching the good news of the established kingdom in obedience to the command of the Lord Jesus and in the way that he directed—publicly and from house to house. Knowledge of the Bible makes it possible for men of good will to discern that, of the many religious organizations on earth, the New World society of Jehovah’s witnesses is the one group that is carrying on the form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of God.
15. Having taken up the right form of worship, what further knowledge should we strive to obtain, and why?
15 Having taken up true worship, we should keep in mind the counsel to “go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.” (Eph. 5:17) We need accurate knowledge, not only of fundamental truths, but of all the good things that were written aforetime “for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4) This calls for us to make advancement in our study, to cultivate appreciation for more than the milk of the Word, to long for the meat. We must press on to maturity.—Heb. 5:14–6:3.
16. Why should we regularly read the Bible, but why should we not be satisfied with simply reading it?
16 In addition to our private and congregation study of the Watch Tower Society’s publications, we should regularly take time to read the Bible itself. Every Christian minister should make it a point to read through the entire Bible, and to do so often, if possible. But, having read the Bible through, it would be unwise to continue simply to read over material that one does not fully understand without pausing to ponder its meaning. That requires interest on our part, a constant awareness of the fact that what we are reading is, in fact, the Word of God. (1 Thess. 2:13) God is no waster. He did not have recorded in the Bible material that is dispensable. What is there has been provided for our instruction, to guide us in the decisions with which we are confronted in life so that we pursue a course that is in harmony with the form of worship approved by God, and to equip us for effective work as his ministers. (2 Tim. 3:16, 17) If it is thus to benefit us, we must seek more than a knowledge of what it says. We need an understanding of its meaning and an appreciation of how to use it. “Acquire wisdom,” says the inspired proverb, “and with all that you acquire, acquire understanding.”—Prov. 4:7.
17. What things might we well take note of when reading the Scriptures?
17 Think actively when you read the Bible. If it is prophetic material, give careful attention to its fulfillment, both in a miniature and a final way. Take note of fundamental Bible truths that are touched on in the account and guiding principles that are embodied there. Whether the information is prophetic or otherwise, when you read it keep before your mind questions such as these: How does this affect my life? Does it call on me to make any adjustments to bring my attitude or my actions into harmony with this expression of the divine will? What relation does it have to the other Bible teachings I have learned? How do they support it, or how does this corroborate them? How can I use it in my ministry? If you do not understand a certain scripture, do not lightly pass over it. Put forth the effort to find out what it means.
18. How can we acquire understanding of what we read in the Bible?
18 Jehovah God, the Author of the Bible, is also the great Teacher who helps us to understand it. We need to show recognition of and appreciation for the provisions Jehovah has made to help us understand his Word. If we are keenly aware that he is our Instructor, we will seek him in prayer whenever we sit down to read the Scriptures, asking for his spirit to aid us. (Jas. 1:5) We will also avail ourselves of the congregation meetings. In addition to these, God has provided, through “the faithful and discreet slave,” study aids to help us gain understanding. All of these should be read and studied when we receive them, and as they are scheduled in the congregation, but they may also be used for reference work. When you read scriptures in the Bible but do not fully grasp their application, look them up in the Scripture indexes in the Society’s bound books and in the December 15 issues of The Watchtower, and read the discussions to which they refer you. So doing, you show sincerity in your desire to understand the truth and appreciation of the means that Jehovah has provided to help you. Additionally, there are brothers in the congregation who have been appointed as servants, individuals who are “qualified to teach.” They, too, have been provided to help you. If you have tried to find the answer to your question but without success, ask one of these mature brothers. He will be glad to share with you the knowledge he has acquired through study or to search out the information with you.—1 Tim. 3:2.
19. What viewpoint does Proverbs 2:1-6 show we should take toward a study of God’s Word?
19 How well the inspired proverb describes the way we must apply ourselves to get understanding! “My son, if you will receive my sayings and treasure up my own commandments with yourself, so as to pay attention to wisdom with your ear, that you may incline your heart to discernment; if, moreover, you call out for understanding itself and you give forth your voice for discernment itself, if you keep seeking for it as for silver, and as for hid treasures you keep searching for it, in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God. For Jehovah himself gives wisdom; out of his mouth there are knowledge and discernment.” (Prov. 2:1-6) Understanding is a priceless treasure; we have to dig for it and put forth the effort to seek help in finding it. If we will apply ourselves, Jehovah will bless our efforts with success.
20. What is required on our part to find and hold on to the right form of worship?
20 It is evident that choosing the right form of worship requires both appreciation and effort on our part. We must appreciate that our relationship to God is of far greater importance than any human tie. We must appreciate the value of God’s Word enough to apply ourselves to a study of it. Having found the form of worship that meets with divine approval, keep your appreciation alive, continue to progress in knowledge, and conscientiously apply God’s Word to all your activities in life.