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“Biblical Reasons to Avoid All Appearances of Contemporary Worship”
by Dr. Earl D. Jessup   
August 27th, 2015

JUDGES 2:1-13   Dr. Earl D. Jessup     General 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 using a “praise team” to lead the singing. A fourth church had the pastor resign because the church did 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 a day when our good fundamental Baptist churches are beginning to bring in forms of contemporary worship. When challenging those who lean toward contemporary worship, they respond by saying there is nothing unbiblical about the contemporary songs, praise teams or bands in the church. They use 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 of contemporary 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 western evangelical protestantism in the twentieth century. It was originally confined to the charismatic movement but is now found to varying extents in a wide range of churches, including many that do not subscribe to a charismatic theology.” Wikipedia

 Fact #2: “Contemporary worship music is a loosely defined genre of Christian music used in contemporary worship. It has developed over the past 60 years and is stylistically similar to pop music. The songs are frequently referred to as “praise songs” or “worship songs” and are typically 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, Smith welcomed 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 with the worship team…Since that time, the Vineyard has probably had more influence on establishing 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 whatever reason, 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 charismatic and expanded by the non-denominational mega churches. In order to keep pace, we as Baptists are going in the same direction. When we question the directional movement of our fundamental churches, we are told that nothing in the Scripture forbids this. They say, “It is only keeping 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 screens are not the issue. The issue is the use of methodology from contemporary churches. Some say that 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 instructions on 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 the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20; and headed to the Promised Land in Exodus 33. Along the way, God prepares them for the land ahead. They were to take the land but in the end there is dismal failure. Their failure and the results of it are found in Judges 2:1-13. Romans15:4 says, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience 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 THIS LAND; YE SHALL THROW DOWN THEIR ALTARS.”Throughout their journey, God gave them instruction as to how to handle the worldly worshipers in 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 whither thou 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 ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:”. Maybe they didn’t understand why God 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 Christians to have nothing to do with the worldly contemporary worship but many seem to justify their compromise and rationalize this warning by saying these  people worshiped idols and not God. Some may say that this does not apply to those in the contemporary 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 Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee;” v. 2. He will give them the victory if they will trust in Him. 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 shalt thou make marriages with them.” v. 5 “Ye shall destroy their altars, and break 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 or relationship with these worldly worshippers nor have mercy on them. God intends for His people to be distinct from the world in every way. Now the kicker. Notice the PURPOSE DESCRIBED in Deut. 7:6-10. v. 6 “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God”. v. 8 “Because the Lord loved you.” v. 9 “He is God the faithful God.” v. 10 “He repayeth them that hate him to the face.” The reason for distinction is that Israel is a holy people. Aren’t we supposed to be holy too? 1 Peter 2:5, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, 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 peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Can any clear thinking Christian 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 the land, which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon 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 every green tree: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.”He instructs them to destroy the PLACES of their worship. v.2, “Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, 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 the land. 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 no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.” God again gives his CHARGE. He says in verse 2, “And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars:”

 He gives the CONVICTION in verse 2, “but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?” He then gives the CONSEQUENCE in verse 3, “I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you” When we fail to heed His Word there are always consequences to our actions. For those who think their attachment to contemporary worship practices will not affect them, they are very wrong!!! It affects 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 GODS SHALL 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 out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your

sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.” They were given plenty of warning about what would happen but did they listen? No, because we see the WARNING DISOBEYED. In Judges 1, we are told that nine of the twelve tribes did not obey this warning. Simeon and Gad are not mentioned because they were dwelling on the other side of Jordan and Levi is not mentioned because the Lord is his inheritance.

 This means that EVERY tribe in the land failed to drive out the inhabitants.

 • Judah; 1:19, “but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots.”• Benjamin; 1:21, “Did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day.”

 • Manasseh; 1:27,”Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean and her towns, not Taanach and her towns. nor the inhabitants of and her towns, not the inhabitants of  Ibleam and her towns, nor the inhabitants of Megiddo and her towns; but the Canaanites would dwell in that land.

 • Ephraim; 1:29, ”Neither did Ephraim drive out the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer; but the Canaanites dwelt in Gezer among them.”

 • Zebulun; 1:30,”Neither did Zebulon drive out the inhabitants of  Kitron,, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol; but the Canaanites dwelt among them and became tributaries.”

 • Asher; 1:31-32, “Neither did Asher drive out the inhabitants of Accho, nor the inhabitants of Zidon, nor of Ahlab, nor Achzib, nor Helbah, nor Aphik, nor of Rehob. But the  Asherites dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land for they did not drive them out.”

 • Naphtali; 1:33, “Neither did Naphtali drive out the inhabitants of Bethshemesh, nor the inhabitants of Bethanath; but he dwelt among the Canaanites, the inhabitants of the land: nevertheless the inhabitants of Bethshemesh and of Bethanath became tributaries unto them.”

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

 • Joseph; 1:35, “But the Amorites would dwell in mount Heres in Aijalon, and in Shaalbim: yet the hand of the house of Joseph prevailed so that they became tributaries.”Every tribe failed and every tribe paid the price for their failure. They were all snared by the religious practices of the worldly worshippers.

 III. BECAUSE WORLDLY WORSHIP CREATES HYPOCRISY. The THIRD REASON we are to avoid all appearance and connection with worldly, contemporary worship 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 children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrifice there unto the Lord.”Notice their FAULTY REFORMATION. They wept and said the right things. They had just enough 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 their tongues. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in his covenant.” How many preachers today are saying they are going in one direction but by their actions 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 fail to understand how their direction will affect the next generation. Sadly, their message is right while their methods are moving toward the worldly worship developed by the contemporary crowd. A friend of mine said, “Direction determines destination.” and it is so very true. We must not 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 the name of the place is called Gilgal (rolled away) unto this day.” and ended up at Bochim  (A Place of Weeping) What a difference!! They went from the reproach of Egypt rolled away to compromise 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.” God wants obedience not sacrifice. The worldly contemporary worshipers believe that worship is man 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 and sacrifices, 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 one thing but demonstrate something else in their ministry. If someone wants to use contemporary methodology then at least have the character to publicly admit and “own” it. It will make it much easier 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 days of the elders that outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord, that he did for Israel.” Those who are leading their churches into contemporary worship will not be greatly affected by this direction. Most of these pastors are good men who love the Lord and are 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 the generation following. The FOURTH REASON we are to avoid all appearance and connection with worldly, contemporary worship is BECAUSE WORLDLY WORSHIP AFFECTS THE NEXT GENERATION. 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 FOR ISRAEL. AND THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL DID EVIL IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD, AND SERVED BAALIM.” Notice they knew not his PERSON, “KNEW NOT THE LORD”. The carnal flesh always pulls toward worldliness and the hearts of our children will be impacted. They will take it farther than we do just as the second generation of Israelites took it farther than their fathers. How sad this consequence is! Will that be the case for our next generation? It will, if we do not sound this warning and sound it loudly. They knew not his POWER, “NOR YET THE WORKS WHICH HE HAD DONE.” When we abandon trusting God to work for the worldly methods of contemporary worship, our children never get to see what God can do. How long has it been since you heard someone say, “Did you see what God did today?” Are we so weak we need to compromise and use these worldly devices to reach people? They knew not His PRESENCE, “CHILDREN OF ISRAEL DID EVIL IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD AND SERVED BAALIM.”

 When all this started they thought they could handle a little compromise with the worldly worshipers of the land. However, by the next generation, they didn’t even care that God was offended with their worldly worship. All we need to do is see what is going on with the contemporary worship in some churches to see where all this will one day lead. The children of Israel “did evil in his sight.” What a sad

commentary on the generation that 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 worldly worshippers. Pretty soon all semblance of God is gone from their lives and we have the stories of Judges with a sad description of the Israelites. Found twice in Judges, it says, “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” They served Baal, the male god of materialism and Ashtaroth, the female 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 origin 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 say that it is preference. Maybe we should ask ourselves what God would prefer? What is His preference? Why is it about our preferences and not God’s preferences? I believe that God would 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 of the Word of God. Only time will tell but this warning must be sounded from a clear, biblical perspective, not just some “Well, I believe,” sort of statement. The Word of God is clear. We are 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 and hideth himself but the simple pass on and are punished.” Surely, we will heed the Word of God and the warning given to us from the Scriptures. I close with the words of Elijah in 1 Kings 18:21, ”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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