Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

Worship 30

August 11, 2016

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.

Matthew 22:37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

In the area of the discussion and/or arguments regarding worship, the Regulative Principle of Worship has taken center stage in circles that are concerned about biblical worship. However, until we come to grips with what it means to glorify God we will not understand the purpose of worship. If we do not understand the purpose of worship and how one is to glorify God, then we have no hope of fulfilling the Regulative Principle of Worship. The Regulative Principle of Worship has the basic idea that what God commands is the principle that regulates how man is to worship.

We have no real need to argue about that principle as stated in one sense, but we must deal with what does God command in worship. The primary thing He commands in worship is that we worship from the heart out of love. It does not matter if we have all the outward things lined up and doing them, but without true love for the true God that would be nothing more than the Pharisees did. Without love and the desire to glorify God as He has set out how we are to glorify Him there is no true worship. Jonathan Edwards put it this way: “God does not seek His own glory because it makes Him happy, to be honored and highly thought of, but because He loves to see Himself, His own excellencies and glories appearing in His works.”

The statement by Edwards (just above) gets at an aspect of worship that seems to have been forgotten in the modern day. Worship is not done in order to increase the happiness of God, but it is to be done in order to manifest the excellencies and glories of God. In other words, the primary purpose of worship is not for our own happiness or to increase the happiness of God, but the primary purpose of worship is to manifest the glory and glories of God. Worship, then, must be about God Himself and it is for God Himself. Worship, in one sense, is to seek the pleasure of God in seeking to glorify God. We glorify God not by trying to add something to Him or to His happiness, but by manifesting who He is and desiring His glory to be manifested in our hearts. We cannot glorify God when we sing His praises from the brain and the voice box, but only when He is the love of our hearts will His glory spill over in song and in life.

True worship can only come from the heart of love for God and true love for God can only come from God (I John 4:7-8). A real and true desire for His glory can only come from Christ who is the shining forth of His glory and in that He is the perfect image of His glory. The Lord Jesus Christ dwells in the heart of His people and is the life of His people, so we can safely know that apart from the glorious Lord Jesus Christ moving in the hearts of His people there is no true worship. True worship, then, must come from God first and foremost and it will always come through Christ. We must be careful to worship based on the truth of who God is in Christ and we must know that we cannot come to God other than by Christ. The Regulative Principle of Worship does not just regulate the external man, but the heart of man as well. We must not worship God in our own way, but also not in our own strength. True worship comes from the heart that God has justified and Christ is the life in. Christ came to reveal the Father, so true worship reflects that by worshipping God through and by Christ.

We can only shine forth the glory of God in worship if in fact it is the true God as revealed by Christ that is being shone forth. Christ, who is the shining forth of the glory of God, is necessary to true worship. The Spirit of Christ is necessary for worship as only He can work love and joy in our hearts. The Spirit of Christ is necessary for worship because only He reveals the truth of God in our hearts. It does not real good if we only follow the externals of the Regulative Principle, we must follow the internals as well. The internals include knowing God, loving God, and seeking His glory. These can only be done by the work of Christ in the soul.

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Worship 29

July 30, 2016

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.

Matthew 22:37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

Mat 28:16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

We hear people plugging and planning out the Great Commission as they call it, which is to say that this is used for great plans for evangelism. Congregations are sent out to evangelize and people come together for conferences on evangelism. Books are written about the methodology of it and seminary classes are taught on it. However, it appears that the vast majority of these are man-centered and man-focused. A true evangelism must always be centered upon and be consistent with the character of God. The same is true of worship. A true evangelism must be done with a focus and love on and for God, but the same thing is true of worship.

If we look at I Corinthians 13:1-2, we can see for certain that the practice of evangelism apart from love for God is really nothing. It is not that the practice of what is called evangelism is love for God, but we must love God and from that love evangelize (whatever that may be in biblical terms). It is also not the practice of what we call or think of as worship that is worship, but instead we must love in order that what we do actually be true worship. There is such a parallel between evangelism and worship that it should not be ignored, but perhaps light can be shown on one by the other.

There is so much focus on the planning and acts of evangelism today that it appears that God has been forgotten. The same is true of worship. The practice of worship in our day is really nothing more than music that is used to raise the feelings and words that make people who love themselves think that God loves them too. Evangelism and “worship” practiced in a man-centered way are very effective means of deceiving people. We get them in the door and to make some form of commitment out of self-love and then we keep them coming with music and words that do nothing but strengthen their self-love. In this people are not truly converted from self to God and they do not truly worship the true God but instead worship self. These two things are used to gain great numbers in the buildings of professing churches but do nothing but deceive people.

John 13:34-35 tells us with great clarity, and that in the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples, that they were to love each other as He had loved them and that all men would know that they were disciples of Christ by their love for one another. One can be an unbeliever and still evangelize in some way. One can be an unbeliever and do the externals of worship and that includes great delight in the music along with the false thoughts of a god that the person thinks is the true God. But one cannot worship the true God without true love and that love for others will be and can be seen in true worship.

When a person is granted repentance from self and false idols by the power of the Spirit of love one can love others and loving God in true worship is a biblical way to love others. When people are joined together by the Spirit of love to worship the living God in and through Christ they will have love for each other. It cannot be that Christ would be among His people and His Spirit would not give them love for each other. Christ loved His people and made the Father known to them, so His followers will make the Father known through Christ to each other in worship, teaching, and in fellowship. Worship in love is a high form of fellowship in the love of Christ.

Worship 28

July 27, 2016

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.'”

Matthew 22:37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

The living and true God who has been immutable with immutable purposes created all things for His own purposes and glory. God exists for Himself and does all for His own glory and in that He is holy. The motives of God are for Himself and He exists in love for Himself as triune and the whole universe is a manifestation of His love for Himself and His own glory. There can be no true worship that flows from God that does not have love for God. One of the most basic facts of the universe is that God loves Himself with delight and joy as He does all for His own glory. The worship that He works in the hearts of His people will be focused on Him out of true love.

God created all things for His own glory, yet nothing has the ability to glorify Him in and of themselves (or itself). The sun does not shine of itself and cannot shine unless He who created it upholds it each moment. No one can see His glory unless He opens the eyes to see it. However, the wonder of all created things (non-human beings) declare His glory. The Creator has manifested Himself in all creation. Human beings, however, were created in His image and they are to seek Him and His glory. The God who has lived from all eternity in perfect love shines forth Himself in those who have a renewed image. That image should reflect the love God has for Himself in the lives of those who have His image restored in them.

The Greatest Commandment which teaches us the great privilege it is to be like God and to share in His nature tells us how God is and yet how we are to be like Him. It does not tell us what we can do in our own strength, but it tells us what He can do in us in His strength. God dwells in His people by grace and He loves them by grace and He gives them His love to love Him by grace. As the soul which loves God and delights in the true God asks itself how it is that it loves God and delights in God that soul should know that it is the love of God who grants the soul that love and delight by communicating Himself to that soul.

The concept of worship should be seen and admired by the previous paragraphs. This is how the creature loves God and in this love of God true worship consists. It might also be added that in this true prayer consists as well. Oh how we are to seek God for Himself that He might by His free-grace manifest His love for Himself in us and enable us to love Him. In our love for God His love for us is seen. This, once again, reflects true worship. When the saints come together they are to forget about themselves and in true self-denial be caught up with the glory of God, yet this happens only by free-grace. As the saints of God love God and delight themselves in the worship of God, it is the love of God for Himself and His delight in Himself that is being displayed.

Worship 27

July 26, 2016

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.'”

Matthew 22:37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

Politicians speak words without substance and without truth. They can get people fired up over empty platitudes and meaningless rhetoric. It seems that many operate on words that they change the meaning and leave the people deceived. They can attack the other candidates on what they say and yet be far apart from what the others mean by what they say. We should not deceive our own hearts in that way and think that because we do things that are part of an external worship that we therefore truly worship.

We must be careful that we are not content with orthodoxy in our words and yet not have love and truth in our hearts. In other words, we must not be like politicians (analogically speaking) in our worship. While people may be deceived and we may deceive ourselves with external worship and with hearts that delight in our external worship or even with the idea of worship rather than with God Himself, God is not deceived. The politicians speak with smiles on their faces and with promises and positive words, but their hearts are all about themselves and their own gain. So much outward worship seems to follow the things of self rather than the things of God.

Phil 2:20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus

True worship cannot be like the heart of the self-serving politician, but instead it must be a heart that truly loves God for who God is and not just out of the love of self. Even Paul had trouble finding ministers to send because he wanted those who would be concerned for the sake of the people and the things of Christ rather than seeking after the interests of self. Worship is that way as well. Worship must not be about the things of self, but instead it must be about the things of God. Worship is to adore and love the living God in truth as opposed to loving things because they benefit us and our flesh.

What a difference our time of worship would be when the local church comes together if the people longed for God and longed to love Him in the time of worship. While it is not possible to love God apart from truth, it is possible to have some aspects of truth without love for God. We can even think we love God when we love certain things about God, or at least we think we love certain things about God, but our love for God must come from God and be a type of joining Him in love of Himself. We must love God in our thinking and we must love God with our desires and affections.

Jonathan Edward wrote about God communicating Himself to our understanding and our affections. When we have true and delightful thoughts of God, He has communicated Himself to us. When we have exalted thoughts of God because of who He is apart from what benefits we think we may have, then God is communicating Himself to us. True worship is when God communicates Himself to His people and they delight in Him for who He is. In that the glory of God shines.

Worship 26

July 25, 2016

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.'”

1 Peter 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 22:37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’

The worship of God extends to all things, which is to say that we are to worship God in all of life. However, there is a specific worship regarding the spiritual things that He has given us that is in primary focus at the moment. We must never, ever forget that worship is not following the order of the bulletin and doing what the bulletin says, but worship is something that the entire soul does in the presence of God. True worship must come from God first and then be aimed or intended to be done for Him. True worship comes from God and is for God. True worship is the shining forth of the glory of God in and through His people (through Christ by the Spirit) and is primarily that He may behold Himself and His own glory.

Worship is to follow the Great Commandment in many ways and be an expression of it. True worship cannot happen apart from love and that means true love rather than what men call love in our day. This must be repeated and it must come to our hearts as a settled truth. True worship cannot happen apart from love which means apart from true love there is no true worship. Regardless of all the acts of the body and soul, apart from love there is no true worship at all. Even if we can sing with the most beautiful of voices, without love the beautiful voices are to God as a noisy gong or clanging symbol. Even if a person is the greatest preacher in gifts and has throngs crowding to hear him, apart from true love that person is nothing and what that person does is nothing. Even if a person has vast amounts of theological knowledge, apart from love that person is nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

Just in case the point has not been made well or has not been stated strongly enough, the love that is required for true worship is the love of God. True worship is focused on Him so how can the love required for worship be anything less but love for Him? The modern day has so-called worship that appears to be so focused on men that it is not the true worship of God at all. A church without the true Gospel is not a church at all. What is a church without true worship? It is a church without true love. Can there be a true church without the love of God?

Worship 25

July 17, 2016

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.'”

1 Peter 4:11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Peter is very clear at many points and in many things. The person who has speaking gifts (preaching) is to speak and preach as if he is speaking the very utterances of God, and in a sense that person is speaking the very utterances of God. True preaching (John Calvin held this as well) is when a man has been gripped by the Spirit of God and stands up and speaks to the people the words of God. In a sense the man is used of God to speak to the people. Men are not to stand and preach the fruits of their own brains, but instead they are to be the instruments of God and their mouths are to be the mouthpieces of God.

The person that serves is to serve “by the strength which God supplies. Why is the person to do that? It is so that “in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” The “so that” also includes the preaching as well, but notice again that preaching and serving are God-centered. The person who is preaching and the person who is serving are to do so in a God-centered way and fashion so that God would be glorified through Jesus Christ. After all, as the text sets out, the glory and dominion belongs to Him. If we do anything apart from doing it that God would be glorified through Jesus Christ we are doing it for the glory of self. This would be in one sense attempted theft of the glory of God.

In looking at how this applies to worship, one does not have to look very far at all. Preaching is worship in the specific sense, though one can argue that serving can be in the more general sense. However, the text tells us that whatever we do it is to be done in a way that God would be glorified through Jesus Christ. This means that we are to worship in a way where God is glorified through Jesus Christ. If we look at the text of Scripture again, we see that what glorifies God is when we speak we are to speak as speaking His utterances and we are to serve in His strength. The deduction for worship is obvious. We worship in spirit and truth when we worship according to the truth of His utterances and our worship comes from the strength He supplies.

When we worship in accordance with His truth and we worship with the strength He supplies, then our worship glorifies God through Jesus Christ. We are to serve in the strength that He supplies so that God would be glorified through Jesus Christ, so when worship in the strength He supplies so He will be glorified through Jesus Christ. If we don’t worship according to His truth and in the strength He supplies, then our worship is guided by our fallen understandings and our worship would be from the strength the flesh supplies. This should strike a nerve in our souls and cause a shiver to run up and down our spine.

Do we strive to worship God and yet worship in the strength of the flesh? Do we seek the Lord for true humility and lowliness of heart and seek Him to give us the strength to worship Him? Are we concerned at all where the strength comes from that we worship (or assume we worship) with and in? We worship the God that Christ has revealed and we also worship by the strength He purchased and grants us to come to the Father with. We can do nothing apart from Him (nothing spiritual), so we must worship in the strength that comes from Him. Following the bulletin in the required things is not enough, we must have Christ and the Spirit of Christ to truly worship.

Worship 24

July 16, 2016

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.'”

1 Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

In essentially any verse one turns to regarding worship, when looked at with any degree of care the focus is on God and the purposes of God. If we look at I Peter 2:9 we can see the purposes of God. Why did God choose a people so that they are called a chosen race? For His purpose of them proclaiming His excellencies.. Why did God make a royal priesthood out of His people? For His purpose of them proclaiming His excellencies. . Why did God make a holy nation out of His people? For His purpose of them proclaiming His excellencies. Why did God take a people and now they are His own possession? For His purpose of them proclaiming His excellencies. Why did God call a people out of darkness into His marvelous light? For His purposes of them proclaiming His excellencies.

This may seem to many a rather startling conclusion, but the text does not really leave us an alternative. God saves sinners and makes them into great things for the purpose of proclaiming His excellencies. This text does not teach us what to sing or preach or anything like that, but the focus is to teach us why God saves sinners. The context demands that we take this view as the chosen of God are contrasted with the previous verse where it speaks of a doom that some were appointed to. We are not just to bow before God and thank Him for saving us, but the purpose of Him saving us is to declare the wonders and the glories of the excellencies of God. It is the Gospel of grace alone that sets forth the beauty and wonder of God in Christ. It is in the Gospel that we behold the glories of a free-grace by which Christ saves sinners to the glory of the Father.

It is the Gospel of free-grace that frees sinners from self-love and pride (not perfectly, but just as He has ordained) that their hearts may be loosed from the things of self and the world that they may proclaim the wonders and excellencies of God that He has demonstrated and manifested in the Gospel. It is in the face of Christ that God has manifested His glory in the Gospel of the glory of Christ (II Cor 4:4-6). The Gospel is not just some bits of information we tell people so they can make a decision or pray a prayer in order to be saved, but it is the good news of the glory of God in Christ. The true Gospel is filled with and manifests the excellencies of God. Therefore, we were saved in order to praise those excellencies.

True worship, once again and perhaps to beat a dead horse, is not about human beings and their feelings being the central thing in worship, but true worship is about the glory of God. True worship is about proclaiming the excellencies of God that has been and is continuing to be displayed in the Gospel and in and through His Church. Sinners are saved by the acts of God set forth in the Gospel and sinners are to worship the excellencies of God as set forth in His acts that have manifested His glory. Because of who God is, a God-centered God, the Gospel is all about God. Those who are saved by Him should praise Him because of who He is and they are saved in order to be all about Him as well. It is only when the churches are all about God that they are like Him.

Worship 23

July 14, 2016

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.'”

Isaiah 43:21 “The people whom I formed for Myself Will declare My praise.

In going back just a little to expand on a thought, there is a huge difference between a man-centered God (concept 1) and a God-centered God (concept 2). The concept and practice of true worship in many respects revolves and hinges on that difference. If we think of God as being focused on man and His main goal is to help man and bless man (concept 1), then we will worship Him as the One who helps us and will only worship Him if He helps us. This is to say that concept 1 makes or leaves men in their self-centeredness and that all they do is moved by a version or form of self-love.

If we think of God as from all eternity doing nothing but what will glorify Himself and in love for Himself as triune, then we see what He does in a far different way. The Gospel is not just His helping man and saving man from harm, but the Gospel is really God manifesting His glory and enabling men to enjoy Him as their chief goal and love. In other words, the Gospel saves men from self-love and enables them to love God for Himself and to join His joy in Himself. God justifies sinners in order that He may dwell in them and manifest His glory in and through them and He does so for the glory of His own name and that He might enjoy Himself manifested.

For true worship to occur the justified soul is enabled to worship God for His own glory and the soul worships God for Himself. A person is not justified for his own sake, but for the sake of God. A person that does not worship for the sake of God is instead in worship of self (for the sake of self) in some way. A worship that is not for His own glory (in truth) is for the glory of self. Fundamentally, then, true worship must be for a God who seeks His own glory or it cannot be true worship. True worship is not the response of the flesh to some perceived benefit, it is being enabled by God or being an instrument of God to shine forth His glory and then adore that glory. It is to share in His joy in Himself and for His joy to be the very joy of the believer.

While Isaiah 43:21 can be taken to refer to the nation of Israel, we can also see that as spiritual Israel for all time as well. God has to create a people (new birth, new creation) for them to praise Him. In fact, He created them for that purpose and as the newborn baby cries for milk so the newborn soul cries out in praise and worship. Worship is not primarily for the benefit of believers, though it benefits them, but true worship is God expressing Himself and His glory in and through His people who are new creations in Christ. Not only does God save sinners to the praise of the glory of His grace, but He saves sinners that they may and will praise Him for the glory of His grace.

We must begin to see, understand, and practice worship as those that God has justified by His grace so that they may enjoy His grace and worship Him by grace in exalting Him as a God of grace. It is grace alone that can subdue a sinful heart and turn it to where it is pliable and exalting in God rather than self. It is grace alone that can soften a hard heart and make it melt with rays of glory upon it that it might now reflect His glory for who he is. Worship is not following the bulletin in an order of prayer, singing, and preaching; but it is an eternal plan for those chosen from all eternity to be a means by which God declares His glory through the mouths and hearts of human beings. If God is not the true focus in the time of worship, then self is. If God is focused on man in the time of worship, then it is not wrong for man to focus on man in the time of worship. However, in true worship the God-centered God is focused on Himself and therefore He brings the hearts of His people to be caught up in adoration and admiration of Himself.

 

 

Worship 22

July 11, 2016

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.'”

While being guilty of repetition, it is so vital to grasp the biblical fact that it is not worship when people say things about God and yet their hearts are far from Him. All that a person does is in vain if they teach as doctrines the precepts of men. All that men offer up in the name of God that comes from the flesh is not worship in spirit. All that men teach about God, doctrine, and worship that is not from God and is not centered upon God as God-centered is nothing more than the precepts of men. The Scriptures are quite clear that worship is not something that is in the power and ability of man and as such it is dangerous business to bring worship down to the level and ability of man.

When Isaiah 57:15 tells us that God dwells with the contrite and lowly of spirit, that tells us a lot about two vital issues regarding worship. One, God dwells among His people. Two, a lowly heart is necessary for God to dwell among people. While this has been discussed, it has not been discussed in the context of worship being God-centered and God-focused. Worship is not man coming to God in man’s own strength, but worship is when God brings His people into the joy of exalting Him and in Him. God brings His people into the joy of exalting Him when He comes down and dwells in His people and communicates truths to their minds and joy to their souls.

Exodus 40:33 He erected the court all around the tabernacle and the altar, and hung up the veil for the gateway of the court. Thus Moses finished the work. 34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

Exodus 40 has a lot to teach us about worship if we have ears to hear. In the earlier part of the chapter we see the particulars of animal sacrifice and of the ceremonial aspects of Old Testament worship in the tabernacle. What we should take notice of, however, is that after the Tabernacle and the priests were as the Lord had commanded and the proper sacrifice had been offered, the glory of God came down and filled the tabernacle. There is a cleansing of the people and an appropriate sacrifice and God came down in glory. We see this in another way in Leviticus 9:24 that when the fire of God consumed the sacrifice the people shouted and fell on their faces. True worship does not come from human flesh as such, but instead true worship can only occur when there is an acceptable sacrifice offered to God and He comes down among His people.

When the congregations of God assemble they should seek to worship the living God. This means that they must seek to worship Him in a way that is built on the perfect and acceptable sacrifice of Christ. This means that they must seek for humbled and broken hearts for God to come down and dwell among His people. The Gospel of the glory of God is the good news that God has accepted a sacrifice in the place of His people and the people should shout and fall on their faces (at least figuratively). The Gospel of Christ is in one sense how Christ has opened a way into the Holy of Holies and how the people of God have access to Him and now He can come to His people and dwell in them by and through Christ. The Gospel is the Gospel of the glory of God and as we behold His glory in the Gospel we behold the beauties and glories of a satisfied God who is satisfied with Christ. In the Gospel we can behold the glorious truth that the “riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col 1:27). We must seek to worship in light of the Gospel of a crucified Savior and in light of a Savior who saves sinners that He might dwell in them and manifest His glory to them. Then we worship.

Worship 21

July 9, 2016

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.'”

There can be no real question that in light of the verses above (as representative of Scripture) that there can be no possibility of true worship apart from the worship of the entire soul. We cannot settle for bulletins that outline our worship, but instead we are to seek the Lord for hearts that worship. We cannot just assume that we are going to worship instead of just going to a building to do religious acts. We cannot assume that we actually worship just because we sing songs, say words we think of as prayer, and give or listen to a man up front saying things about God from the Bible. God is real and God is everywhere. Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead and He lives in His people. He is the life of His people. Those who truly believe are said to be the temple of the Holy Spirit.

If we really believe that the paragraph above is even close to true, something must change if we are going to truly worship. While this may sound radical to some if not many, we must quit thinking of worship in an Arminian manner and seek it as if comes by free-grace. It seems that the norm of the Arminian way of worship is for people to assume that if they beat their own wills into submission, show up at “church”, and go through the steps outlined in the bulletin that they have engaged in worship. In that type of thinking (though the creed and the stated theology is different) worship happens when people decide to do so and they do the external acts. Some, though based in the Arminian type of thinking, will try to fire up the feelings of others as if their music and hyper-activities can fire people up and get them to worship.

I will argue in what remains in this post that true worship can only happen if it is moved by the free-grace of God. Yes, this has been stated before, but it is such a vital point it needs to be repeated several times. If God is sovereign and God sovereignly reveals Himself and sovereignly moves the affections and will as He pleases, then true worship can only occur when the work is God’s. We should seek the Lord to reveal Himself to us and open our hearts that we may truly worship. We cannot worship with proud hearts and hearts full of self, so we should seek Him to humble us and bring us low that we may worship in spirit and truth. We cannot bring the sacrifice of praise until our hearts are sacrificed to Him, which is to say that our hearts are broken from self and pride and we are irrevocably given over to Him and His glory.

I have read of a preacher who did not want to enter the pulpit until he had the presence of the Lord with him. The congregation would sing and sometimes for a longer period of time until the man thought the Lord was with him. It was said that the elders would watch out of the window and would see the preacher step off of the trail and bow in prayer seeking the Lord for His presence. Indeed this is what preachers should do, but this is also what the people should do in order to praise the Lord. We never earn His presence and we never earn His blessings, but we are to seek Him to empty us of self and pride so that His grace would work in us. We must always remember that worship is a blessing and it is by free-grace. We do not and cannot deserve to worship the living God, so we must always approach worship in that way. God must grant it by free-grace and come to us and share Himself with us. Oh that the Lord would open our eyes to what true worship is and how it comes so that we may seek it at the throne of grace and seek it as we would true grace.