Faithlife Sermons

The Beginning of Divided Worship

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The Divided Worship

Genesis 4:1–5 KJV 1900
And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.
Genesis 4:1-5
The two brought their offerings to the Lord. They approached God and gave to Him their sacrifices.
Even though they both approached God, they did so in different ways.
Obviously Abel’s sacrifice was accepted and Cain’s was rejected.
We may conclude that bringing anything you want to God is unacceptable to Him. We may only bring to God what is acceptable to God.
Leviticus 10:1-3
Leviticus 10:1–3 KJV 1900
And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.
Apparently there was a different way in which people could make an offering to God, but Nadab and Abihu chose to do it their own way.
Both Cain and Abel and Nadab and Abihu demonstrate the idea of divided worship. There are innumerable ways you can approach God, but in both instances it is apparent that God desires one way, His way.

God Gave Instructions

God had given instructions for Cain and Abel on how He was to be approached in worship with offerings.

Hebrews 11:4 KJV 1900
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
Romans 10:17 KJV 1900
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Hebrews 11:4
Romans 10:17
Abel could not have offered a more excellent sacrifice to God by faith, if he had not received words from God, either directly or indirectly, on how to offer it. Faith comes from the word of God and Abel offered his sacrifice by faith. Therefore, Abel offered his sacrifice according to what God had instructed in His word.
Hebrews 11:4 KJV 1900
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
Verse 4 says that Abel “obtained witness that he was righteous.” Abel could not be called “righteous” unless he had been following “righteousness.”
1 John 3:7
1 John 3:7 KJV 1900
Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.
“Righteousness” is defined as the word of God.
Psalm 119:172
Psalm 119:172 KJV 1900
My tongue shall speak of thy word: For all thy commandments are righteousness.
Therefore, when God gives His commandments they are “righteousness.” When someone obeys the righteousness of God they are called “righteous.” Abel was called “righteous,” therefore he obeyed the commandments of God.

God had given instructions for Nadab and Abihu on how He was to be approached in worship with offerings.

Burnt offerings had been used before. Fire had been used before. Aaron and his sons had followed God’s instructions before.
Leviticus 9:8-10
Leviticus 9:8–10 KJV 1900
Aaron therefore went unto the altar, and slew the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself. And the sons of Aaron brought the blood unto him: and he dipped his finger in the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar, and poured out the blood at the bottom of the altar: But the fat, and the kidneys, and the caul above the liver of the sin offering, he burnt upon the altar; as the Lord commanded Moses.
But now, Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron, take a fire and offered it before the Lord. The Bible describes Nadab and Abihu as offering “strange” fire to God. The idea of “strange fire” can mean “different” or “unauthorized.” If there is a fire that is “different” then there must have been a fire that is “the same.” If there is an “unauthorized fire,” then there must have been an “authorized fire.” God had already given instructions about offerings. Nadab and Abihu had followed God’s instructions before. But this time they did it their way, and God rejected it.

God would be an unjust God for condemning Cain, Nadab, and Abihu for not worshipping Him correctly, if he had not given them proper instructions.

Isaiah 45:21
Isaiah 45:21 KJV 1900
Tell ye, and bring them near; Yea, let them take counsel together: Who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? Have not I the Lord? and there is no God else beside me; A just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
Some may believe that you do not have to have Bible proof for what you practice.
What does Abel say about that?
Hebrews 11:4
Hebrews 11:4 KJV 1900
By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
Abel is still able to tell you today that you need to offer in accordance to what God has said.
Abel did not choose his own way, like Cain, but rather listened to the instructions of God and followed them. Cain is now our bad example, and Abel is listed in the famous chapter of faith in Hebrews 11.

God Has Given Instructions

We are not without instruction in what God approves of for worship today.
Faithful worship, worship that is in accordance to God’s word, can include:

Singing

Ephesians 5:19 KJV 1900
Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Colossians 3:16 KJV 1900
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:19
Colossians 3:16
Instrumental musical accompaniment is not required because the instrument to be used is named, and it is the heart. It is also not correct because it does not fulfill the purpose of the singing which is to “teach and admonish.”

Praying

1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV 1900
Pray without ceasing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Communion

1 Corinthians 11:23–26 KJV 1900
For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Preaching

Acts 20:7 KJV 1900
And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.
Acts 20:7

Giving

1 Corinthians 16:1–2 KJV 1900
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
1 Corinthians 16:1-2

Conclusion

John 4:24 KJV 1900
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
John 4:24
We must worship God in truth. What is truth?
John 17:17 KJV 1900
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
John 17:17
Therefore, we must worship God in accordance to His word.
Ever since Cain and Abel, worship has been divided. But also, ever since Cain and Abel, one type of worship has been rejected by God and the other type accepted by God. The one that has been accepted by God is the one that is in line with His instructions.
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