Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

Worship 20

July 8, 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 it appears that men think of worship as when they say good things (in their own minds) about God and can sing with some degree of shouting and/or near ecstasy. That can be nothing but the worship of self in doing all for exalted feelings. That can also be nothing but the proud heart seeking things for self and being proud that it can worship. However, in order for worship to be from the heart the heart must be broken from pride and self. It is God who must be sought in worship rather than self. It is God who must be exalted in worship rather than self.

It is true that Psalm 51 is of David’s confession for his sin with his dealing with Bathsheba and Uriah her husband. However, there are some powerful theological points that he makes there as well. What is it that pleases God? Is it the sacrifices of thousands of animals? Is it the human being making something of a sacrifice in order to do things for God? Not according to David in Psalm 51. The only real sacrifice is that of a broken spirit which he says is a broken and contrite heart.

In the Old Covenant sacrifices were commanded, which was animal sacrifices. The Israelites thought that by offering up the sacrifices that they were doing what was commanded. However, if we follow David in Psalm 51 with Amos 5 in the background, we can see that there is only one true sacrifice. That sacrifice is the heart. We can see something of that in Hebrews 13:15 as well: “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.” Praise is said to be a sacrifice. How is praise a sacrifice? It is a sacrifice when the heart is broken to the things of the world and the things of self and is given over to God and to the praise of God. As long as the heart is unbroken or full of self and pride, all the praise is really for the purposes of self and is not a sacrifice of praise.

As we move a little deeper into this line of thinking, as we look at what happened in the Old Covenant we can see that it was the animal that died and as such was the sacrifice. The human being did not really make a sacrifice as such. The human only became a sacrifice when his or her heart was a sacrifice to God. A sacrifice to God was when the thing offered was given over completely to the purposes of God. This is what our hearts are to be like if we are to truly worship. True worship of the true God cannot happen unless our hearts are irrevocably given over to Him to do with as He pleases much as the animals were in the Old Covenant. It is only when the hearts of the Israelites were broken were their sacrifices then acceptable to God.

As we move into the modern times we can see where we have gone astray in our thinking about worship. We have focused on the way things are done rather than the state of our hearts. Our praise is not acceptable to God regardless of how well it is done or how biblical we are in our words and practices apart from a broken spirit. We can follow the most orthodox bulletin in the most orthodox prayers, singing, and preaching and yet without those broken hearts all of that orthodoxy is in vain. Apart from a broken heart there is no sacrifice (as defined and set out by David) and as such our praise is nothing but awful noise in the ears of God. Apart from broken hearts there can be no acceptable sacrifice and as such no true worship. Can it be that all of our efforts at “worship” are despised by God if we don’t have a broken heart from which all true worship comes? If so, perhaps the times that the church comes together should be a lot different. Would that be uncomfortable? Of course, but it might lead to true worship.

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Worship 19

July 7, 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.'”

The concept of worship is not just something that is okay to do, but it is vital to our whole lives as Christians. If we do not worship in truth and love, then we do not worship at all. We are commanded to worship God and we are commanded to worship God in, by, and through Jesus Christ. There is no true worship of God apart from the heart of man (where Christ dwells) and when there is reverence, awe, love, and truth. The first two commandments deal with worship in their own ways. However one views the commandments, the first two are written in stone and written on human hearts. Human beings worship something or someone at all times, the question is whether it is the true God or not and whether it is from the heart moved and strengthened by grace or not.

In thinking of worship in terms of the Bible and theology as a whole, what is it that man brings to God and what is it that man can do for God? If we think through those two questions carefully, we will begin to understand something of true worship. Man can bring nothing to God that pleases Him but God Himself. Man can do nothing for God unless it is God working through man to manifest Himself for His own glory. In that context, then, worship can be nothing but the manifestation of God. It is not man doing something for God, it is God shining forth His glory (Christ) and beholding Himself in man and manifesting His glory (Christ) through man. This is not to say that there are no benefits to man in worship, but it is to say that worship is for God primarily and in that man is to find joy. It is God manifested that man is to have joy in and not the feelings of the music.

True religion derives its pedigree from heaven—it comes from heaven, and constantly moves toward heaven again; it is a beam from God, as ‘every good gift and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness neither shadow of turning,’ as St. James speaks. God is the first truth and primitive goodness; true religion is a vigorous efflux and emanation of both upon the spirits of men, and, therefore, is called ‘a participation of the Divine nature.’ Indeed, God hath copied out Himself in all created being, having no other pattern to frame any thing by, than His own essence; so that all crated being is by some stamp or other of God upon it, at least remotely allied to Him; but true religion is such a communication of the Divinity, as none but the highest of created beings are capable of…Religion is a heaven-born thing, the seed of God in the spirits of men, whereby they are formed to a similitude and likeness of Himself. A true Christian is every way of a most noble extraction, of a heavenly and divine pedigree, being born from above. (John Smith, 1660)

If one will take the time to meditate and pray upon the quote of John Smith just above along with the relevant Scriptures, a different picture will emerge of worship than simply following a bulletin at a church service. True religion/worship does not start with men, even redeemed men, but the original of it must come down to man and be aimed at heaven from where it came. True worship comes from God first and that is the only true source of it. True religion and true worship is a participation of the Divine nature (II Peter 1:3-5) as opposed to being what man does for God. The praise of God can only come from God as opposed to the human voice moved by self and pride. The praise of God can only come from illuminated minds who have the love of God given to them where they love God and as such adore Him in Christ. Praising God is not just saying good things about Him, it is having died to self one now is lifted up in Him and exalts Him and enjoys being in His presence. It is God coming down, coming among His people, and then granting them a sight of Him and a taste of Him where they join Him in admiration of Him and His glory. As they admire and praise His glory, that is His glory shining through them.

Worship 18

July 6, 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.'”

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.

Worship 17

July 5, 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.'”

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.

Worship 16

July 2, 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.'”

In the previous post the statements of Matthew 15:8-9 were looked at briefly regarding worship. The second part must be dealt with and dealt with seriously. When the text tells us that “in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men”, we must learn not to blow that off and just assume that our doctrines are the doctrines of God. When two people believe teachings that contradict each other (badly) and then both say that their doctrines are the doctrines of God, either one or both of them are deceived.

A doctrine is not just some intellectual teaching forced on the Bible, but a true doctrine is a teaching of the Bible and as such is a teaching that God has breathed forth by the Spirit in Holy Scripture. If we worship a god that is not what God has revealed in Scripture, then our worship is the worship of a false god or idol. If our worship is how a god has saved us and we have a false gospel, then our worship is really of self and for self and is not the worship of the true and living God. It is not enough to have a doctrine that has the name of Scripture attached to it, but the doctrine itself must be developed from and flow forth from Scripture itself.

The name of this BLOG is God Loves Himself. That is a fundamental truth which is to guide each and every doctrine. If we don’t have a God who is God-focused and God-centered, then we will have a god that is focused on us which is precisely what the fallen and self-centered heart wants. While this may sound odd to us, it is only odd because of our fallen nature. We are self-centered and given to self-love and we cannot imagine the true God who is not centered upon us and loves us as we are and for our own sakes. We think of ourselves as very lovable and so think that a God of love (as defined by us) will surely love me (and us). This subtle (in a sense) shift means that our worship will always be focused on self in the ultimate sense.

If the Greatest Commandment is to love God with all of our being, then our doctrine must be consistent with that as well. If the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever, then our doctrine must be consistent with that as well. True worship must be, then, when God brings men to love Him in a way where man shares in the love God loves Himself and where man glorifies and enjoys God. The focus of worship must be on God or it is on self. The focus of God must be on God or His focus will be on man and that is idolatry even for men. There is a very real sense, then, were our doctrines must all lead us to worship the living God. Our doctrines must be focused on how they manifest God and on how they will enable men to glorify God. When men take true doctrines and bring man-centeredness is, they have brought in vain worship as well. Even when the doctrine is ostensibly about God, a focus on man can ruin the doctrine. The precepts of men or the focus on man will take a true doctrine and keep the externals of it and yet ruin the true heart of it.

Worship 15

July 1, 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 15:8 teaches us a fair amount about true worship, though there is a lot of correlation between this passage and John 4:24. However, it has a different approach and as such it is useful to think through it. This text (just above) in Matthew features a negative approach, that is, it is showing what is not true worship. Verse 8 shows us that it is not honoring God with our lips that matters, but instead He looks for the heart. The negative point is that people can do a lot with their lips but when their hearts are far from Him, there is no true honoring of Him.

Verse 9 teaches us that all worship is vain when people try to worship and yet the doctrines they teach are nothing but the precepts of men. This is a profound statement that we should be careful to note and seek the Lord for His precepts. The two main issues in Matthew 15:8-9 is that without the heart we do not honor God even when we speak highly of Him with our lips and that it is in vain we say we worship Him if we teach the precepts of men as doctrine. This is, once again, stating the truth of John 4:24 in a negative way. John 4:24 says that true worship is in spirit and truth and Matthew 15:8-9 says that false worship is when the heart is far from Him regardless of what the lips say. The second thing is that Matthew 15:8-9 tells us that it is not true worship when our doctrines are nothing but the precepts of men while John 4:24 says we must worship in truth.

This should give us pause to think of our own hearts and doctrines. When the professing church comes together the issue is whether the hearts of the people are prepared to worship and do worship and not just mouth the words. When the professing church comes together it is vital that the doctrines that they hear are the teachings of God and not just what man has come up with. It is not that doctrine is unimportant, but this teaches us that doctrine is vital. Truth is not just an archaic notion of the past, but without it there is no true worship. While many can jam out and get the folks jammed into the buildings with “church” on the door, apart from truth there is no true worship regardless of how fired up the people are. When men come up with their own doctrines, they make it impossible worship the true God in truth.

The balance is in Scripture through and through. It is not just that men are to have lips that express the greatness of God, they must have hearts to do that. It is not just that men are to have academic doctrines, but they are to have doctrines according to God in Christ. Academic teaching can be nothing more than the precepts of men. While that type of thing can have the appearance of wisdom and of great learning and godliness, it can also have little of God and as such be nothing more than the precepts of men. It is not great confessions that make up truth, it is truth that God shows men and it is that true that flows into the heart by Christ and from the heart by Christ that makes true worship. This is really quite profound while quite simple in another sense. We must have hearts that the lips speak for and we must have our doctrines from God. If not, all that we do whether orthodox or not and regardless of what else we do, will be less than what God accepts as true worship. He does not accept it because it does not come from Him.

Worship 14

June 28, 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 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.'”

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;

The nature of worship is that it must be in accordance with the nature of God. Since true worship must flow from God Himself, it will always be in accordance with the true nature of God. The nature of true worship is that it must come from the inner man or the immaterial man because that is the part of man that is closest to being like God. Spiritual worship is not necessarily obtained when the feelings of man are raised to a high level, as that can happen at a variety of secular events as well. By virtue of being a human being we have feelings (affections and passions) and those can be elevated or suppressed by various things and as such are not a sign of true worship.

True worship, if we are to follow the Psalmist, can only come from a broken heart. It is not enough to say the right things and do the right things, but true worship can only come from a broken heart since a broken heart is where God dwells and manifests Himself. It is not the proud heart that God reveals Himself to and it is not the scholar that God reveals Himself to, but it is the broken heart and the humbled heart. True worship cannot possibly come from a proud heart as God opposes the proud and will not grant them the true joy of His presence and the true joy of sharing in His joy.

When groups that congregate on Sunday mornings focus on types of music that attack the feelings of the congregants and try to raise them, that is not the approach of true worship. The biblical pattern of true worship is for people to seek humility before God, to seek reverence and awe before God, and then adore Him with a spiritual sight of His glory. True worship is to be filled with Him and to be in His very presence. These things are only possible with broken and humbled hearts. The broken and humbled heart is where He dwells and when hearts are broken and humbled He is present. While some focus on the sacraments as a way to obtain the presence of God, the biblical teaching is that He dwells with broken and contrite hearts.

The concept of worship and the concept of seeking the face of God are twin ideas. We cannot worship if we are not seeking His face (presence) and we cannot seek His face apart from worship. However, we cannot seek His face (presence) apart from humbled and broken hearts. We can see this by an analogy, though it is quite imperfect. If we desire to eat food, then we must purchase or pick and then cook or prepare the food. The point is that if we desire to eat there are things that must be done in order to eat. This is also true of worship. The heart must be prepared for worship or true worship will not occur.

The heart can only be prepared to worship by the free-grace of God. We should seek God to give us grace that will prepare our hearts for worship. We should humble ourselves in the sense of knowing that true humility can only come from Christ as He shares His humility with us, so we are to seek Him for that. True humility cannot come on the basis of our works since God gives grace to the humble, so if humility came by our efforts that would mean grace would come on the basis of our works. As long as all spiritual blessings come in Christ and humility is a great spiritual blessing, we can know that humility comes from Christ.

I would argue that when Christians come together and say that they are going to worship, they should spend time earnestly seeking God for a broken heart and for reverence and awe. Those things are not distinct from each other, but can only really happen together or at the same time in the same heart. This also shows us that the silliness of how so-called services start is simply the opposite of true worship. While announcements may be necessary at times, they should be vital to the church and they should have a tone that does not prohibit the seeking of a broken and humbled heart that is vital to true worship.

Putting this in somewhat of a logical or direct form, if there must be broken and humbled hearts for worship and there must be reverence and awe for true worship, then if a congregation comes together for worship they must seek broken and humbled hearts. Apart from reverence and awe and apart from broken and humbled hearts, there is no true worship regardless of what is done or said. If we want to eat, we must obtain food and prepare it. If we are going to worship, we must obtain proper hearts from the Lord and they must be prepared by Him. Worship cannot come from our flesh, so it must come from Christ.

Worship 13

June 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.

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.'”

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.

The local church is at times the focus of the battle over true worship, though sadly enough the battle over true worship is usually over types or style of music. When worship is limited to a style of music and that becomes what is important, the battle has already been lost and one can be virtually guaranteed that the so-called worship at that place is really nothing more than noise to God. When we think that our worship is acceptable simply because we sing the old hymns or we sing the Psalms or any other thing like that, once again the battle has been lost. The issue is the heart and the heart must love God and seek God Himself if there is to be true worship. This is not a minor issue when we read carefully the verses above. God seeks the heart and must make the heart an instrument of worship. When we fall into the idea of music and types of music, we have lost the idea of true worship.

When a local congregation comes together it should be coming together to seek the presence of God. If it uses something called “worship” to seek human beings to attend, it is seeking to please men and not God. Using music to alter the moods and feelings of souls is not conducive to the true worship of God. There are certain kinds of music that are jarring to the soul and are not in accordance with the reverence and awe of God. There are certain kinds of music that are not conducive to spiritual worship when it is directed at physical feelings. But there is also a kind of preaching that is not in accordance to reverence and awe of God and nor to spiritual worship. The concept of worship has largely been lost today. No longer do we think of worship as a soul being taken over by God, but it is now limited to forms of music. This has harmed the Church because it has diminished true worship in both the singing and the preaching. It has also diminished the place of preaching and the ordinances or sacraments. A true church is to be a church in worship in all it does. To repeat, all that a church does is to be true worship.

A true church is a collection of believers who are the body of Christ. When the church gathers to worship, it is so that God would be pleased with the manifestation of His glory in Christ. If a believer loves God with all of the soul, that is what the believer desires as well. Believers are to long and pray for the glory of God to be manifested. That is the intent of God in worship because He created all things for His glory. The Church especially has been saved to the praise of the glory of His grace (Eph 1:6). Therefore, that should be the goal of each church and person as well. The music, the preaching, and all a church does must be to that goal. All true worship must be Trinitarian. It must be to the Father as revealed by the Son and it must be by the work of the Spirit in giving love and joy through Christ to the Father, which is simply the glory of God being manifested. There is no worship apart from reverence and awe, but neither is there worship apart from love and joy. Our music and all we do must be to that end. Self has no place in true worship. God alone decides what is true worship and all true worship must come from Him through Christ and by the Spirit. We are not left to our own desires and pleasures to decide what true worship is and what it is not. That has already been decided. Will we seek to humble ourselves and then to worship Him in spirit and truth for His glory and pleasure? If not, we will only worship ourselves.

Worship 12

June 24, 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 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.'”

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.

While there are many views concerning Christianity, there are fewer views about the essence of Christianity. People can disagree on many things and still hold to the basic truths of Christianity. Rather than this being evidence of Christianity being wrong because people disagree on so many things, one should ask how can it be that Christians can hold together on the basics of the faith when they disagree on so many things. One area that people disagree on is how to view Christianity as a whole. While there is not time to discuss that question fully, it should be brought up in relation to the topic of worship as it is very, very relevant. One can think of this as meta-theology in a sense.

One view of Christianity is that it is rational and moral. This is to say that people who hold this view (whether stated or not) think that Christianity has a defined set of doctrines and people are to subscribe to those beliefs and then conduct themselves according to a prescribed set of morals. What this view seems to think is that people are to believe and conduct themselves in a certain way. Worship, then, would be seen as believing correctly and behaving correctly. This seems to be the prevalent view (on one form or another) and seems to have been the prevalent view for many years.

Another view (second view) of Christianity is that it should be viewed as more of a life than as a set of beliefs and moral behaviors. Eternal life is to have Christ living in the soul and manifesting and expressing Himself though that soul. When Christ who is eternal life is joined to a human soul, that soul has eternal life and Christ is the very life of that soul. The beliefs that a person has comes from knowing Christ and from the life of Christ teaching the soul in the inner man. The behavior of the person comes from Christ as life living in and through that person. In other words, as Christ shares His life with a person He is sharing the very holiness of God with that person and the life of that person is really an expression of Christ Himself rather than just a set of moral behaviors.

Clearly, and with no real question at all, these two views have very different ways of thinking of worship. The first view will always think of the worship of God as following a set of rational rules and being sure that what they do is specifically prescribed. The first view will seem to think that God is only pleased with a worship that He prescribes and people follow. The first view is heavy on the truth aspect of worship as Jesus set out in John 4:24. While there is another view that leans heavily and almost exclusively on human feeling, we can set that aside and note that it is less concerned about the truth aspect of worship.

On the other hand, the view that Christianity is essentially life and specifically the life of God in the soul of man (a book by that name was written by Henry Scougal in the 1800’s), worship will be seen as God moving men to adore Himself and share in His joy in His glory. Worship, then, while it must be in accordance with truth, it must also be from the inner man and specifically the spiritual man. This view thinks of God as the origin and source of all true worship regarding truth and spirit. This view seeks the Lord for worship and knows that what comes from Him will be acceptable to Him. It is, after all, His life, His love, and His joy shining forth in and through His people. The difference between these views is enormous and has more influence on us than perhaps we think.

Worship 11

June 23, 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 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 1:13 “Bring your worthless offerings no longer, Incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies– I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. 14 “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, They have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.
15 “So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood.

Malachi 1:10 “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the gates, that you might not uselessly kindle fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD of hosts, “nor will I accept an offering from you.

If we reflect on the verses listed above, it seems that we must arrive at an inescapable conclusion. The conclusion is that there can be no true worship apart from a heart that is truly and really given over to God and is in submission to God. If worship is from the inner man and not just the external actions, then worship must come from the heart. Our treasure is where our heart is and as such our worship flows from what we treasure. If the only true sacrifice is a broken heart, then anything we do that comes from a heart that is not broken is not worship. God dwells in hearts that are contrite and lowly, but He does not dwell in those that are not. If it is the case that it is not true worship when a person uses words but the heart is far from God, then true worship must at least include the heart. These things must be meditated on and we must cry out to God to teach us in the inner man.

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;

Why does God have a chosen race? Why is there a royal priesthood of believers? What are believers a holy nation? Why is there a people of God’s own possession? It is so that they may proclaim His excellencies. God saves sinners in order that they may proclaim His excellencies. This is to say that when people who are part of the professing church do not proclaim His excellencies, but instead proclaim the glories and wonders of other things, they are at the very least not doing what they are supposed to. However, it may be that they simply are not part of the people of God’s possession.

While people may be able to do word studies and so on to come up with a tight definition of worship, we can also simply glean our ideas from Scripture. It is worship to be involved in proclaiming the excellencies of God in prayer, song, and in preaching. It is worship to proclaim His excellencies in daily life. Indeed our hearts must be engaged in proclaiming His excellencies or we are doing nothing but lip service. We may proclaim His excellencies to Him, to ourselves, and to others. But we are to proclaim His excellencies from the heart and not just an act of duty. When God is opening our eyes to His excellencies and opening our hearts and mouths to proclaim Him, we are in worship.

How can we explain the fact that we are commanded to worship and yet our worship adds precisely nothing to God? How are we to explain the fact that God has to work in us true worship if we are to worship? It is in one sense self-evident. God manifests Himself through His people to Himself and when He does this He is bringing us into a sharing in His worship. But again, worship is not the act of the flesh, it is the act of God in the human soul by which the human being shares in His life and in His worship. Sinners are saved from living for the worship of themselves and proclaiming their own excellencies (in their own minds) to glorying in God and sharing in His life of worship or proclaiming His excellencies. This is far from just following a bulletin or order of worship, it is following God in His eternal life that dwells in His people.