Worship - Lesson 8
What Early Christians did in their Assemblies
Background Information for the Teacher
- The student can list activities done in the assemblies of the early church.
- The student can explain Paul’s warning to the Corinthians about their worship.
- The student can list three good things to think about during the Lord’s Supper.
- Bibles and pens/pencils for all students.
- Quiz sheets for all students.
- Teacher will need a chalkboard or marker board.
- Have ready to distribute at the end of class the sheet provided with a copy of the questions asked about Victory in Jesus in the application part of the lesson. If students will not have access to a hymn book, make copies of this song to distribute for them to use.
We should follow the example of the early church in what we do in our assemblies.
Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class
Introduction: (10 minutes)
- Welcome visitors, check roll, make announcements.
- Give each member of the class a quiz sheet as provided. After they have had a chance to write the answers, give them the answers to check their papers by.
- Q: What do we mean when we say we are trying to restore New Testament Christianity? (That we are using the apostles’ teaching as our guide and we are using what early Christians did that was approved by the apostles as our model for how to act as a church.)
- With this as our goal, we should ask, “What did the early Christians do in their assemblies? That is our goal in this class session.
Learning Experiences: (35 minutes)
- (Teacher—make a list of these on the board as the students give them to you.) Q: What scriptures can you recall that mention something the early church did in their assemblies of which the apostles approved and what is the activity the passage suggests? (Teacher—the point here is to ask for the things Christians did in their assemblies but to associate them with scriptures. Tell the students that you will ask them to list two of these passages with what they show about early Christian worship at the next class meeting. The following list will be helpful but let the students give as many as they can come up with before you mention any they might have missed from the following passages. Acts 4:23-31—they prayed and seem to have quoting a psalm together; Acts 20:7—took the Lord’s supper, called breaking bread, on the first day of the week, and had a sermon; Acts 20:17-36—Paul preached and they prayed; 1 Corinthians 11:18-26—took the Lord’s supper; 1 Corinthian 14:13-17—had teaching by those who then had spiritual gifts of speaking in languages and prophesying, prayed, sang, had a collective saying of “amen” to prayers; 1 Corinthians 14:26—singing, teaching; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2—giving on the first day of the week; Ephesians 5:19—singing; Colossians 3:16—singing; 1Timothy 2:1-15—prayer led by men; Hebrews 13:15—sacrifice of praise from our lips; James 2:17—Christians of all strata were in the same assembly.) These things we can do and know we are doing what is approved for Christian assemblies. If, however, we add to such things for our worship, we do not have the assurance that God approves it. Remember a couple of these scriptures and what they say for the quiz next time.
- Open your Bibles to 1 Corinthians 14. Q: From this passage, which we studied earlier, what general principles about worship does Paul want us to understand? (1 Corinthians 14 suggests that several different men took part in leading the assembly. The singing here was a capella because only “singing” is mentioned and because instruments were not used in Christian assemblies for about a thousand years after the church began. There was a variety of things done in the same service. The service was to be led by men. There was no fixed order by which these different things were always done. All was to be done decently and in order.
- Let’s focus now on the taking of the communion. Look at 1 Corinthians 11:17-33 and let’s answer some questions. Q: Where did Paul learn what he was teaching them about taking the Lord’s supper? (v. 23). Q: What consequences did Paul say would come to those who departed from his teaching about how to take the Lord’s supper? (vv. 27, 29, 30, 34) Q: What was wrong with the way the Corinthians were taking the Lord’s supper? (Making of it a regular meal, those with more were putting to shame those who had less, divisions, drunkenness.) Q: What instruction does Paul give about how to take the Lord’s supper in a worthy manner? (Remember the body and blood of the Lord, proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes, examine yourself, recognize the body of the Lord.)
- The emphasis of the supper is on the body and blood of the Lord. Q: What is there about the body of Christ that is so important for us? (The body of Christ was “God in the flesh.” So when we take the bread we should remember the great truth of the incarnation of Christ—God with us.) Q: What is there about the blood of Christ that is so important for us? Read Matthew 26:27-29. (In the supper, we remember the blood of the covenant which Christ shed for us for the forgiveness of our sins. So when we take the fruit of the vine, we should think about the salvation in Christ which He made possible for us. Incarnation and Atonement—two great truths of the gospel, then, are represented in the supper. We think, then, not just of the bread and the cup nor even just of Jesus body and blood. But we think of incarnation and salvation—two great truths of the Christian faith. That would make a good question for the quiz next week.
- On the sheet provided for you, write down two thoughts you believe we should be meditating on when we take the bread and the cup. As we share these with each other, write down some you think would be good for you to remember. (Teacher—let different ones who will share one of the thoughts they have written down as time allows. You may want to comment briefly on some of these but let as many as you can share their thoughts.)
- To conclude this look at the Lord’s Supper, let’s sing a song that would be appropriate to remind us of things we could meditate on while we take the communion. Victory in Jesus. This song was written by E. M. Bartlett who had worked for the Stamps Baxter Music Company and sung in their quartets. In 1936 he suffered a stroke and, by 1939, was confined to his bed. As he began to grow weaker, he thought about the resurrected body he would have. So he wrote about how Jesus came to save, of the healing he hoped for through the resurrection in Jesus, and of the life he expected in heaven. The thoughts of this hymn would be very appropriate for us as we take the communion. Think about the words as we sing this song.
- Q: What will you remember most from this lesson that will help your own worship?
- Q: Why do we not use incense in our worship services? (Because we have no command to do this and no example of the New Testament churches doing this.)
- Be able to list two scriptures and what they say New Testament Christians did in their worship.
- List and memorize two or three thoughts you want to think about as you take the Lord’s supper. Be able to write them on the quiz next week.
- Using the song Victory in Jesus, answer the questions on the worksheet. We’ll talk about these at our next class meeting.
- Be able to tell the passage in the New Testament that teaches us the most about taking the communion. (1 Corinthians 11:18-34).
- Quiz for the student to list two passages of scripture which tell of things early Christians did in their assemblies, to tell the passage in the New Testament that teaches us the most about taking the communion (1 Corinthians 11:18-34) and two thoughts to use while taking the Lord’s supper.
- Exercise on Victory in Jesus.
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