© 2020 Philip M Spence
Praise and worship have been controversial subjects in many parts of the church over the centuries since the first century. There have been those who believed that no musical instruments should be used, and all worship of God should be acapella, chants, or liturgies. There have been those in modern times who have held the position that the hymns of the reformation and following seasons are the greatest way to worship God.
Then we endured the season during which rock music was considered to be demonic by many, and songs in minor keys were taught by some to also be demonic despite the fact that Jewish music is in minor keys. And now we have a thriving industry of contemporary music used by global and local networks of churches in their weekly worship services.
Worship has often been taught in our time as a priestly ministry because its origins are found in the Jewish temple. This has meant that it has mostly come under the direction of the pastor of a church and his or her designated worship team leader. This has been the model because the local church model we have is that the local pastor determines the pattern for his or her local church congregation.
With the rise and domination of the global influence of contemporary-styled, seeker-sensitive churches with their recorded music and slick presentation, the local pastor has generally directed that what is considered to be successful should be adopted. In the current, prevailing thinking, this is the pastor’s prerogative and is the responsible thing to do for the sake of what is perceived to be a strong, growing, successful ministry.
Then there are those who are committed to prophetic worship with a free-flowing form, high praises, prophetic songs, and the waving of banners and flags. In much of prophetic worship there has been prophetic utterances, messages in tongues and their interpretation, and other manifestations of the Holy Spirit. There are those who consider prophetic worship to be superior to contemporary worship, the singing of hymns, and acapella worship.
So then, in the light of this wide array of worship expressions and perceptions, is there indeed such a thing as Apostolic Worship?
Our Heavenly Father has been accelerating the revelation of His Kingdom pattern and purposes in our time, and this is causing a major shift in every area of the church in our world today. Worship ministry is not exempted from this shift because, like other areas of church life and function, we seem to have drifted far from the original pattern outlined in God’s word. So then, let’s go back to have a fresh look at God’s original pattern for worship.
King David was the one who first instituted worship in the temple of God (1 Chronicles 25:1-8; 16:1- 43). As the King of God’s people, he was the overseer of everything to do with the nation, including the ministry of the temple and it’s priests. I’m sure we’re comfortable with the role of the priests who went to God on behalf of the people and ministered to the people on behalf of God, but have we truly studied the introduction of worship in the temple apart from our preconceived ideas?
It was the king himself who instituted worship, not the priests (1 Chronicles 25:1). Worship was the domain of the king who from boyhood established a strong habit and lifestyle of personal worship toward God. The king therefore had a unique perspective regarding worship. His perspective was based in his personal experience and lifestyle and directed by his outlook as king of God’s people.
The king chose who would lead the people of God in worship. He also led the selection process regarding who would sing and play instruments. The king also determined who would oversee the team of musicians and singers. He also set the tone and direction of the worship. The priests seem to have had no involvement in this despite worship being conducted in their domain, the temple.
Also, it was the king who determined which songs should be sung and therefore the content of those songs and the grace upon them (1 Chronicles 16:7-36). The musicians and singers were at the bidding of the king. Their role was to function under his direction and according to his authorisation. There was no personal preference or agenda here; only the will of the king.
In this ‘Now’ Apostolic Age, worship needs to be recalibrated in the light of Jesus being the King of the Kingdom of Heaven on Planet Earth. In addition to coming as King, He came as the Father’s Apostle to Planet Earth. He is both King and Apostle over all of God’s people, therefore He has the perspective needed for our worship of God. Also, it is only this King and Apostle who can authorise true worship of the Father.
Worship is about the object or focus of that worship. Worship is not about the worshippers who are singing and playing instruments. Worship is also not about the congregation being led in worship. Therefore, worship is all about the Godhead and it’s all about how God wants to be worshipped (John 4:23-24). True worship of our God depends completely upon our pursuit of how He wants to be worshipped! This is the first step toward Apostolic Worship.
When worship was being instituted, the king did not consult the priests at all about it. He did involve the worshippers with the ministry of the priests at certain times. Worship was based in the priests’ domain, and at times was complementary to the ministry of the priests, but their role was atonement-focused while the worshippers’ role was exaltation-focused (1 Chronicles 16:37-42). The priests ministered to God on behalf of the people for their benefit, while the worshippers ministered to God for His benefit, and for the advancement of His purposes.
Worship was instituted for a purpose that transcended the ministry of the priests. The temple, the domain of the priests and Levites, was the environment in which worship was based, but worship had a national purpose. Therefore, worship needed to be instituted by those with a national interest and focus. It also required those who were responsible for national security and expansion. So, the first group of people that King David involved in instituting worship was the generals of the armed forces.
The Kingdom of Israel was surrounded on many sides by enemy nations who were both intimidated by Israel and seeking a way to destroy the kingdom. There was a distinct possibility of war at any time so the generals would have had the armed forces in a continual state of battle-readiness, and they would have been aware of border issues and the state of international relations.
While the Kingdom of Israel was a physical kingdom, it was unlike any other kingdom because their God was the only One True God who functioned spiritually and supernaturally with His people. Being involved in instituting worship, the generals bridged the physical and spiritual aspects of worship in order to fulfil God’s purposes for worship in His kingdom.
Generalship is one of the primary attributes of the apostolic grace. The original use of the word Apostle seems to have been by the Roman Empire. Apostles were the Admirals of an invading fleet or the Generals leading an invading ground force. Once a territory had been conquered, apostles from Rome would govern, administrate and establish Rome in the new territory.
The Apostle Paul led his apostolic team to invade cities and regions. He established the Kingdom of God, and exercised oversight of the churches of those cities and regions. He talked about establishing city-wide and regional elderships to administer Kingdom purposes. He also sent key apostolic team members to advance the Kingdom of God in these regions and beyond. Apostles in the first century carried a generalship grace.
True worship will require genuine apostolic grace under the authority of King Jesus. It requires true Apostles who have a Kingdom overview and can bring worship into its Kingdom-wide purpose. It depends on Apostles who are authorised by the King, always fulfil the will of the King, and promote the King’s Kingdom-wide agenda.
The structure of the worship ministry under King David and the Generals of the armed forces included a pivotal role for the fathers of the musicians and singers. There are three fathers specifically mentioned during the instituting of worship and they are Asaph, Jeduthun and Heman. Their role together was to oversee their sons who played instruments and sang.
Asaph was said to be one who prophesied about the Most-High God, and things of the highest dimension. He was known to be able to do this because of the king’s authority that had been bestowed to him. Under the physical and spiritual authority of the king and his generals, Asaph prophetically produced a lofty and glorious dimension in the worship as he sang and spoke. This is an essential ingredient of Apostolic Worship (1 Chronicles 25:2).
Jeduthun was a harp player of great skill. He would prophesy as he played, and this would produce thanksgiving and praise to God. In addition to Asaph’s prophetic singing we see that Jeduthun played prophetically on the harp and this would lead the singers and musicians to render thankfulness and praise to God (1Chronicles 25:3). Here we see another aspect of Apostolic Worship.
Heman was the king’s prophet. He was assigned to be contemplative and be able to see and understand the ways of the Godhead. Heman brought insight from the Spirit of God so that the king, the generals and the fathers could come into agreement regarding the direction of the worship. The outcome of this was an increase in authority, power and effectiveness of the king and all who were under him (1Chronicles 25:4-5). This points to the apostolic grace in worship being a key to the advancement of the King’s purposes.
The fathers all prophesied in their overseeing role in the worship ministry. Their prophesies were not the end game or ultimate goal of the worship; their prophesies were catalysts to produce the kind of worship envisioned by the king and the generals for kingdom purposes to be produced. The prophetic grace is essential to take us to greater dimensions in worship for the purpose of fulfilling God’s Kingdom outcomes.
In addition to the king, the fathers wrote songs of praise and worship with which the musicians and the singers were to worship God (Psalms 50, 73, 75-77, 79-83). The songs sung when worship was instituted were not written by the young or immature. They were written by those who were mature, had produced sons, and prophetically lifted the worship to high places for the sake of the kingdom. This is essential to Apostolic Worship.
This fatherly grace is an apostolic attribute that reflects the heart of our Father in Heaven. The Apostle Paul modelled this when he called his team members his sons. He also wrote to churches about how he had begotten them in the things of God, meaning that his seed had conceived them and birthed them. This meant that as an apostle he was their spiritual father. Apostolic Worship is only possible with the fatherly grace carried by Apostles, in addition to the King’s Authority and the Generals’ Anointing.
The Musicians and Singers
The primary attribute of the musicians and singers is that they were sons. Yes, they were skilled, they served, and they were organised, but all of this was under the authority and direction of their fathers, who were under the authority and direction of the king. They had been instructed by their fathers and shaped in the ways of God regarding worship. These musicians and singers were submitted to the king, the generals, and their fathers. Their service was that of sons to fathers. (1 Chronicles 25:6-8).
Because the musicians and singers were sons, they also wrote songs that were authorised by the king and approved by their fathers (Psalms 42-49). There were no personal preferences in this worship team. There were no personal agendas or fleshly behaviours here. These musicians and singers were sons who carried the DNA of their fathers and therefore produced the outcomes envisioned by the king and the generals.
The musicians and singers couldn’t worship their heavenly Father in the way He wants to be worshipped if they couldn’t honour their earthly fathers. Worship is about the giving of honour, praise and glory to the one who is greater than all others. This requires humility and surrender which is why these sons received the instruction of their fathers, and responded to the direction of their fathers, who were under the authority and direction of the king.
Apostolic Worship can only be established by the King and His Apostles who possess the graces of a general and a father, and it requires sons who will honour them in all they are directed to do. If the sons honour their earthly fathers, both natural and spiritual, then they will honour their heavenly father as worshippers. If genuine Apostles who carry a balance of the graces of a General and a Father are served by sons who have their DNA, we will see the emergence of Apostolic Worship.
Earlier we saw the importance of pursuing how God wants to be worshipped. We have looked at God’s pattern for worship as instituted by King David and the Generals of the armed forces. This pattern was implemented by the Fathers and their sons, the musicians and singers, and this produced supernatural outcomes for the sake of the kingdom.
About 100 years after King David instituted worship in the temple, King Jehoshaphat of Judah found himself besieged by enemy armies. He had been in an alliance with the ungodly King Ahab whose wife Jezebel had brought the worship of foreign gods into the life of God’s people. However, now that Ahab had died in battle, King Jehoshaphat set himself to seek God about the trouble he now found himself in (2 Chronicles 18-20).
A prophet came to King Jehoshaphat and gave him the word of the Lord for the situation. The king’s response was to go back to the ways of King David. He appointed musicians and singers to praise and worship God. Then the king sent them out to the battlefront before the armed forces took to the battlefield. The outcome was confusion amongst the enemies who turned on each other and a great victory was won by God’s people.
King Jehoshaphat was the king of praise (Judah) but he had made alliances with ungodly regimes. This made his kingdom vulnerable and an alliance of enemies came to destroy the people of God. Because of the impossibility of the situation, and King Jehoshaphat’s fear, he returned to God’s order. He gathered the elders and listened to the prophet. As a result, God intervened supernaturally when the musicians and singers led the charge with praise and worship.
The church today in many places has made alliances with fleshly, worldly approaches to worship. It is vulnerable to the enemy and has been rendered powerless against many anti-Christ forces in the world today. The church of today needs to put aside its alliance with fleshly, manmade approaches to worship and adopt God’s original pattern. The church must return to God’s pattern if we are to see God’s supernatural intervention in the issues of our time.
True worship begins with King Jesus. He chooses to establish His pattern through His Apostles who carry the graces of General and Father. He is looking for sons who will worship under the direction of these Generals and Fathers to establish Apostolic Worship which will produce supernatural outcomes for the sake of His Kingdom.
Jesus, the King of the Kingdom, talked about true worship conducted by true worshippers. He said that the Father is actively looking for these true worshippers, and that these worshippers are characterised by worship that is of the Spirit and is based in truth (John 4:23-24). This is in sharp contrast with worship that is soulish and masquerades as godly but is not built on God’s pattern; nor does it honour God with its motivation.
This difference can be seen between the sacrifices brought to God by Cain and Abel. Cain offered a sacrifice that was about him, his prowess, and his will. Abel on the other hand offered a sacrifice according to God’s pattern and with a right heart motivation. God judged Cain and blessed Abel (Genesis 4:1-5; Hebrews 11:4).
So, is there such a thing as Apostolic Worship? I believe the pattern and the motivation are clear from the breadth of scripture. Apostolic Worship will honour the King and advance His Kingdom. It will be shaped by the perspectives and graces of Apostles who are Generals and Fathers. And, it will be conducted by sons who are true worshippers.
Phil Spence was commissioned as an apostle in 2010 as a recognition of the grace, function, and fruit of his life and ministry over many years. He leads Jabez International Mission, a relational network spanning many nations, and is based in Kingdom Life Church, Brisbane, Australia. Phil may be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.