Worship 18

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;

Matthew 15:8 ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS, BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME 9 ‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME, TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.'”

When the hearts of men are not involved in worship, there is no true worship. When the doctrines of men are nothing more than the precepts of men, there is no true worship. Following a bulletin in the songs to sing, time for prayers to be prayed, and for the time of preaching seems far removed from true worship. Even when the songs are from Scripture the heart can be absent and as such true worship is absent. Even when the songs are from Scripture and the doctrine of that song has been turned into a precept of man, it is clear that true worship is not present. Even when the prayers are for good and biblical things that does not mean that there is worship. Even when the sermon is orthodox and perhaps a strict exposition of Scripture, that is far from a guarantee that true worship occurs.

We are to love God with all of our being and as such our whole soul is to love Him. We are to love Him with our minds, hearts, affections, desires, intents, motives and each part. Worship is the act of the soul that loves God and it involves adoration, awe, joy, reverence, admiration, and perhaps even being lost at the sight and taste of His glory. Worship is not found in singing songs that are not true about God, but neither is it necessarily found when the songs we sing are built on solid doctrine. The heart has to be present and involved for there to be true worship. While one may argue that this has been repeated over and over, sometimes things that are true have to be repeated over and over when people are blinded to them. In much of the Reformed world today it seems that the focus is on the correct form of music, the correct this and the correct that. It seems as if worship is now what man does in terms of the form rather than what God does in the heart. This cannot be.

If all spiritual blessings are in Christ, then worship only occurs in Christ. If all blessings in Christ come to the believer by free-grace alone, then all worship is of free-grace. In other words, and to put the matter plainly, worship is by free-grace apart from all the merit of things that sinners do in what they call worship. Worship is granted to sinners by God and that by free-grace alone. It is not worship because we do the right things (external), it is worship when God prepares our hearts and then works the worship of Himself in us. Worship is not the creature giving God praise out of something the creature finds in himself, but worship is when God comes down (so to speak) and gives Himself to the creature so that the creature joins God in praise of God. The creature gains nothing in stature before God by worship or by any kind of activity called worship, but the creature worships by free and sovereign grace.

This changes everything, or perhaps it we should say that it should change everything. Instead of gathering together and doing external things and calling it worship, we should gather together to seek the Lord that He would grant us worship. We should not try to worship out of our own natural strength; we should seek the strength of grace to worship. We should not try to worship just because we come together, but instead we should seek the Lord to worship out of love for Him. We should not do things to worship just because He commands it and we think it is our duty to carry it out, but out of love for Him and His glory we should seek Him for hearts to worship.

Behind the previous paragraphs is the glorious truth that God is sovereign and man is not. If it is true that God justifies by grace alone, then we should consider that all that He gives us in Christ is by grace alone as well. We should strive to keep works out of worship as much as we strive to keep works out of justification. If we are not justified by our so-called free-wills, then we cannot worship out of our so-called free-wills either. If we have to do all things out of the strength God gives by grace, then worship can only occur by the strength God gives by His free and sovereign grace. This is to say that worship is a doctrine as well and we must not make it a precept of men if we are going to truly worship.

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