Worship 17

John 4:24 “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Isaiah 57:15 For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite.

Amos 5:21 “I hate, I reject your festivals, Nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. 22 “Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. 23 “Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.

Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;


We can see with some clarity that worship is not possible apart from truth and apart from it coming from the inner man. In this we can see the importance of doctrine, but we have to be careful (prayer and seeking His face) that our doctrine is not the precepts of men. There are many ways to bring the precepts of men into the doctrines of Scripture and as such will spoil the whole of the doctrine and of our worship. It is also true that the doctrines of men make men proud, but the doctrines of God make men humble. One example that we can use is the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone. It has been corrupted by men in our day and a lot of humanism has been transported into justification and so it is now more of the precepts of men than the glory of God displayed.

While worship includes reverence and awe, it also includes adoration and praise. But we must take into account that there must be an object of the heart that we are in reverence and awe before. The person in a group of people singing songs about Jesus can be moved to happiness by the music or wrong thoughts about Jesus. In that case it can be nothing more than a person loving a false god that he has in his mind and his joy is in what he thinks that the false god has done for him. In other words, unless we have the truth of Christ in our hearts we will not worship the true God.

Surely a person must have the true Gospel of the true God and be delivered from sin in order to adore and praise the true and living God in truth. A man-centered doctrine will lead to nothing more than the worship of self rather than the true God, so we need to be careful regarding the Gospel. Martin Luther thought of the Gospel as of a Gospel of grace alone. He thought of grace as being a sovereign grace. When Luther spoke about justification he was thinking of how God justifies sinners by sovereign grace through faith. Even the faith of the sinner is the gift of the sovereign God who alone can show grace. Sinners are justified from start to finish by the free-grace of God and there is nothing that they contribute. When sinners who are justified by the free-grace of God worship, they worship the living God and join Him in praising and admiring Him for His free-grace.

The doctrine of justification becomes man-centered to some degree when men contribute the slightest thing to their justification. It also takes on a human flavor when men think of themselves as being God’s chief goal of salvation rather than God Himself and His glory being His own chief goal of salvation. God justifies sinners for His own glory and to the praise of the glory of His grace (Eph 1:3-14). He does not justify sinners as His chief love and goal to save them from misery, but instead He saves them to the glory of His grace and to bring them to where they will glory in His free-grace alone. The worship of men who think of themselves as God’s chief end in justification will mean that they only worship god for what they think that He has done for them. This is simply another way that sinners worship themselves. The worship of men who worship God and yet think that they have contributed something to their justification is not a pure worship (if true worship at all) as it is mixed and tinged with self.

The doctrine of justification shows us one way that men can take a doctrine and keep the biblical words and the orthodox words and do nothing but take the true worship of God away when they make the true doctrines of God and make them to be the precepts of men. We have got to wake up (or be awakened) and cry out to God to deliver us from the precepts of men even when they are clothed in the robes of orthodoxy or our worship will be in vain. Those who sneer at doctrine and say all we need is love have already slaughtered true worship and true love at the altar of self. We need more than a doctrine of justification, we need to be justified. We need more than something called worship, we must really and truly worship. True worship demands true doctrine and both demand broken hearts seeking the true God.

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