Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

Worship 10

June 22, 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.

Worship is not a game and worship is not for our entertainment as such. Worship is not about how many goose bumps I get or how many whoops are uttered by those in attendance. Neither is worship a solemn or grim face that could not crack a smile or have a bit of joy at all. Worship is from the heart and the soul can be joyful with the joy of the Spirit or the soul can be in deep reverence. In fact, one can be in deep reverence and awe and find the most exquisite joys in His presence. What we must understand if we understand nothing else is that God is sovereign over our worship each moment and we will not truly worship unless He grants it. We cannot work up joy and we cannot work up reverence of heart, though indeed we can work up the outward postures that appear to be those things. Worship must always be approached as a gift of the sovereign God that comes to us by grace alone or we will try to work it up in the flesh. The two approaches are diametrically opposed to each other.

True worship is always connected with the glory of God as its true joy and as its goal of love. Either worship is a work of God in the soul enabling it to reverence Him and have true joy in His presence or worship is the soul working those things up in the flesh. We could also add that in between the previous two things that there is a lot of people in worship of a god of their own imaginations, but that is far from true worship. However, the second type of worship is also not a true worship since it comes from the flesh and not the Spirit of God or the life of Christ in the human soul. As noted in the previous paragraph, worship is not a game and it is not based on false theology. It is the soul being in the presence of the living God and the living God dwelling in the human soul and the soul being brought to an utter reverence (at times) or unspeakable joy (at times) at beholding and tasting of the glory of God.

Now it must also be said that utter reverence and unspeakable joy will not happen in the vast majority of times of worship, but if we seek this reverence and this joy for His glory rather than the fleshly delights we will have those more and more often. God is sovereign over the degree of our reverence and joy (which is to say that He is sovereign over our hearts, not us) and He chooses what degree of reverence and joy is best for His fallen creation. It is God who reveals to us the precise degree of light that He is pleased to reveal rather than that being in our control. It is God who opens our eyes to Himself rather than that being a work of the flesh. It is God who moves our hearts to the degree He desires in response to Himself. In other words, we are to seek to worship the living God as He pleases rather than as we please.

Some follow the Regulative Principle of Worship in a tightly prescribed way and others follow it in a looser way. Still others ignore it or simply have never heard of it. Yet if we think of the New Testament Regulative Principle of Worship as being John 4:24, we will view things in a different light. Apart from the heart having God revealed to it and apart from the heart responding in some way to the truth revealed, there is no true worship. Regardless if one sings all the songs from the Bible, apart from the truths of John 4:24 that is not true worship. Regardless if one preaches a perfectly orthodox sermon or one that is very close, if the heart is not involved as moved by God there is no true preaching and no true worship. The professing churches must get away from the idea that worship is going through a bulletin (though they would not admit they think that) that lists songs to sing, a time to pray, and time for preaching. The true God must be sought in all things and at all times regardless of what else happens.

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Worship 9

June 21, 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.

Since John 4:24 (see above) gives God as spirit as the foundation for spiritual worship, we must come to grips with something of what that means. The text does not list this as an option, nor as a really good option, and it does not give this as the best option. It tells us that this MUST be done for there to be worship at all. Apart from spiritual worship, our order of worship in the bulletins and all the singing and praying we do from them is not worship. This is not some scare tactic, it is simply fact.

If we don’t have spiritual worship, then like the Israelites of old our worship is as a worthless offering that God says to bring no longer. Without spiritual worship, our prayers (pictured by incense) are an abomination to Him. Our Sabbaths our assemblies are things that He cannot endure. Our solemn assemblies are much the same as open iniquity to Him. The things that He commanded, the festivals and feasts, were nothing but a burden to Him and so all we do would be a burden to Him that He is weary of. Without spiritual worship, He hides His eyes from our prayers and even our man prayers.

Admittedly this sounds harsh and over the top. However, perhaps it is actually an understatement. God is spirit and those who worship Him MUST worship in spirit and truth. If spiritual worship is absolutely necessary to worship, then anything other than that is false worship. Perhaps we should shout to the heavens that people must take care as to what true worship is and stop pretending that what they do is true worship and is actually only bodily actions and perhaps affections of the flesh. Could it be that what we think of as worship is really little more than religion of the flesh rather than spiritual worship? Sure this would be laughed at among many, but in light of the words of Jesus Christ we must take them seriously. In light of His hard words to the Pharisees and the things they did which are much the same as we do in our day, we should consider the words of Christ with heavy hearts as we cry out to God to show us what true worship is and plead with Him to grant it to us.

If we really have a conviction that there is a final judgment, then we must know that our worship (or so-called worship) will be shown for what it truly is on that day. Will we want to stand before the judgment seat and be told that our worship was of the flesh and that our hearts were far from Him in truth while we said nice things about Him with our lips? Could it be said about conservative churches (professing) and Reformed churches (professing) that they wanted correct creeds and yet their hearts were far from Him? Could it be a judgment on us that we kept on doing what we do without shutting the doors of the buildings and uselessly kindling fire on the altar?

Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

If we apply the text just above (Matthew 7:21-23) to worship, what does it tell us? It tells us that not everyone who says that they worship the Lord will enter the kingdom. It tells us that not all preachers will enter the kingdom. It tells us that not all those who do miracles will enter the kingdom. In other words, not all those who do many works and say that they worship God really and truly worship in truth. It seems very likely that included in the people in Matthew 7:21-23 will be those who attended church on a regular basis. They will likely be those who had solid theology. They will likely be those who did many works. They will likely be those who followed the order of worship. They will likely include those who sang the songs with enthusiasm. But they will still hear those dreadful words of “Depart from Me.” Part of the practice of lawlessness is worship from the flesh rather than worship in spirit. Surely, Lord, it is not us? Me?

Worship 8

June 21, 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.

In thinking through Jesus’ words about a very fundamental thought of worship, we are confronted with several questions. If worship must be in spirit and truth to be worship, then what does that say about the nature of the heart that can worship in spirit and truth? The heart (immaterial part of man, source of desires, affections, inclinations, motives) cannot be proud or it cannot worship the living God. The proud heart is not right (Habakkuk 2:4) and the proud heart is opposed by God and opposes God. As Matthew 15:8 (see above) plainly tells us, it is possible for a person to say the right things and yet the heart be as far from God as it can be.

This is something that modern Americans (and all others of all times) need to get a grip on. It seems to be that in our day we tend to think of ourselves as so free that we can choose God when we want which includes worship Him when we want and do so as we want. But that is as far from the truth as the heart that believes that to be true is far from God. The living and true God is sovereign and He must grant true worship. True worship must come from Him and it is only by grace that we worship. True worship is not an act of a free-will and at the mere whim or mere choice of a human being; it is the act of a broken heart which Christ dwells in. True worship is from the living God who dwells in the hearts of His people.

We can look at this from a slightly different angle as well. Worship is the life of God in the human soul shining forth His glory in and through that human being. In that case worship is man sharing in the very life of God as the triune God delights in Himself. However, if worship is the work of man, that is, the work of the free-will, then it is nothing more than the worship of Babylon. It is the work of the flesh and are we willing to say that the flesh can produce the true worship of the true God? We must resist that with all of our being and pursue the living God for grace to worship Him. We must ask God to work in us a humbled heart and a broken heart that He may dwell there and work in us that we may worship in spirit and truth.

We can think of the phrase “worship in spirit and truth” in different ways. We will either think of it as the standard that God gives to us and it is then up to the human to worship in that way or we will think of it as telling us what we must seek grace for. As long as God is sovereign and man is fallen, there can be no doubt that we must seek the Lord for grace to worship. This should show us that it is self-evident that people and churches should seek the Lord for grace in order to worship rather than just do what they want and offer it up. This should show us that our hearts must be the true sacrifice (see Psalm 51:17) above and without the broken spirit there is no true worship.

Perhaps when the church comes together the first part of the service should be used to humble ourselves and seek the Lord for true humility. Should we even try to worship unless our hearts are broken? Should we attempt to follow some written order of worship without humbled and broken hearts if God’s order of worship is that true worship only comes from humbled and broken hearts? This should show us how vital a broken and humbled heart is. God breaks the heart before He saves it and He must break it before we can worship. It may be the case (and is in my opinion) that apart from a humbled and broken heart God will not be pleased with anything that is done by a human being. We try to get around that using many means and ways, but the fact of the matter is that we try to do so much in our own strength (even if we deny it by our theology) that we hardly even know that it means to have a broken heart and as such what it means to seek the Lord for a broken and humbled heart.

Worship 7

June 18, 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.

The Scriptures (John 4:24) places the weight and absolute necessity of spiritual worship precisely on the fact that God is spirit. As one author said (paraphrased from memory), God is spirit and all else tells us what kind of spirit He is. This is simply profound and should provoke the people of God to must thought and meditation. The body is to carry out acts of worship not because the act is worship in and of itself, but because it is to be an act of the immaterial part of man and the greatest love of man. The worship and adoration of God can be thought of as acts of the body, but God is spirit and that is the only kind of true worship. If the acts of the body are moved by the love of self and the flesh, then that is worship of some kind of self and is not the true worship of God.

We must always remember the weight and gravity of Matthew 6 which tells us not to do our acts of righteousness before men to be seen by men. On the one hand we can see that the prayers, alms, and fasting of the Pharisees were done by men in order to receive the praise of men. However, on the other side of the equation we can see that the so-called worship of the Pharisees was not spiritual worship in the slightest. We can also see with great plainness that the Pharisees did not have intents and motives where their bodily actions were acts of love to the true God in accordance with His spiritual nature.

In some sense the Pharisees represented all the false worship of Israel across their history. The people did indeed honor God with their lips and yet their hearts were far from Him and this was true over and over. It may be that they had people who were theologically orthodox and were outwardly quite moral men, but their worship was not acceptable to God because their hearts were not broken before Him and they did not look to Him with absolute dependence. When the hearts of men are not with God and do not seek His face and His glory in truth and spirit, then their doctrines may line up with many orthodox things but the heart of their doctrines are the precepts of men. When men use the doctrines of God for pride and self, those things have been turned to become the things of men.

When we see the wrath of God upon His people because of their turning from true worship, perhaps we can understand it some better. Even though they were doing what He had commanded them in terms of the external actions, their hearts were doing them for selfish purposes. These religious leaders were not doing their religious actions out of love for God or for their neighbors, but instead they were doing them for nothing but selfish purposes. They were doing them out of self-love and they did them for self-righteousness instead of utter dependence upon God and His sufficiency. Legalism has several facets and we must be careful.

As we apply these things to today, we must note that in reality there is very little of the true God brought up in the “worship services” in most places. Once again, this may sound impossible to be true. However, the living God requires worship to be in spirit and in truth. It must come from Him first and then it must come from the hearts of men out of love for Him with the intent of His glory and honor. The true God does all for His own glory and pleasure and when we twist away at the great truths of God and of Scripture enough to make Him man-centered, we have a false god and false worship. When that is true, God hates our prayers, our worship, and the assemblies of those who take His name. Worship is not optional, but instead it is vital. Apart from true worship, we do not have the true God to worship and we do not worship from our inner beings.

Worship 6

June 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.

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.

The very first passage of Scripture from above is something of a New Testament Regulative Principle of worship. While it does not set out the particulars in terms of things to do, it does get at the very essentials of worship. Worship must be in accordance with who God is, so since the text tells us that God is Spirit it tells us that true worship must be in spirit (be spiritual and not just the outward acts of the body). Since worship must be in accordance with who God really is, then worship must be in accordance with the truth of who God is. Instead of a little statue representing God, we must know who God really is as the God of all truth. Instead of something physical representing God, we must know Him in His spiritual nature. Instead of our physical nature going through some motions, our hearts must be in accordance with Himself in truth and the worship must be from the depths of our souls. Bodily worship is not worship as God is spirit and as such we must worship Him spiritually.

The text of Scripture (John 4:24) is pointed and clear. Since God is spirit, we MUST worship in spirit and truth. In other words, if our spiritual natures or the core of our being is not in worship, then what we are doing is not worship. We can do all the external rites that we think makes us worship and be in idolatry from beginning to end. If our hearts and spiritual natures are not engaged in worship, then we are not worshiping at all or we are worshiping an idol we have manufactured from our flesh. Can the text mean anything less? Indeed it may mean more, but we must grasp the bare fact that unless our hearts are in the worship our worship is from the flesh.

This is a shot from a very large gun at what is going on in the professing churches in America today. We have some who are as dry as bones that have been in the desert for many years. On the other hand, on the other side of the spectrum we have loud music and lots of shouting. Both of those can be of the flesh as opposed to being from the spiritual nature of the soul. If we do not worship the true God, then we worship a false god. If we do not worship the true God in spirit, then we worship God (though not in reality) from and with the flesh. We can carry out our rituals with all the intensity that our flesh can come up with, but if it does not come from our spiritual nature which means it must come from Christ we do not worship the true God at all. Again, note the word “must” in the text. “Those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” All true worship must have worship in spirit and truth. If those are absent, then there is no true worship of the living God. This is true regardless of which creed we adhere to and it is true regardless of how orthodox we think we are. It MUST be there or there is no true worship.

While this may sound arrogant and the opposite of nice, that is no argument against it being the truth. It is far easier to throw stones than it is to die to self and worship the living God. Worship demands that we die to self and true worship means that we must be thrown off of all dependence on self and look to Christ to give us true worship. We cannot prepare our hearts for worship, but instead we are to seek Him who alone can prepare our hearts for worship. This is why so many church “services” focus on things that the flesh can carry out and never move those who attend to seek the true God from the depths of the soul. Who wants to go battle the flesh and perhaps be shown sin that s/he must repent of in order to truly worship? Who wants to leave all ability at the door and cry out for God to grant worship at His mere pleasure? Who wants to leave self-seeking in order to seek the living God to come down and be present with His perfect and brilliant holiness?

True worship is not only hard, it is impossible to do in the flesh of man and it can only happen if God grants it by grace. That is one reason we don’t see true worship in our day, it is because we cannot control it and we cannot do it apart from God working it in us and that is painful to our pride. Oh, indeed so many claim to believe in sovereignty, but when it comes to worship, that seems to have been forgotten. Indeed we say we live by grace, but worship by a sovereign grace? God may not follow our order of worship and we may have to have our hearts in great pain in order to seek Him. We may have to admit that we are not ready to worship and God just may not grant it that morning. Perhaps we should not ask people if they attended church, but instead ask if they worshipped the living God from the depths of their broken hearts. Perhaps we could also ask if God came to their meeting. But of course God was there, they will say, God is everywhere. Indeed, that is true. However, since God is everywhere, He is the very fire of hell as well. What we want to know is whether God made His presence felt among His people or not. That would also require them to really want Him and to even know what that meant.

Worship 5

June 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.

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.

We should examine the texts above and ask ourselves what is at the heart of worship in light of who God is and who man is. Does man bring anything to God? Does man add anything to God? Can man make God happy by saying good and/or nice things to God? Can man make God experience pleasure by making beautiful noises with the voice to God? All that man can do in terms of physical ability has been given to him by God. All that man can do in terms of nature has been given to him in creation and providence. If there is anything spiritually good that man does, he has not done that apart from the grace of God given him in Christ. After all, Jesus told us that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:4-5). Worship, then, adds nothing to God and must come from Christ first.

While the doctrine of evolution tells us that man is more like an accident of a series of causal events, and as such men must depend on themselves, the Bible tells us that man was created by God and utterly depends on God whether man knows that or not. In the spiritual realm, as noted in the previous paragraph, man can do nothing for God and must receive from God whatever is offered to God. Therefore, worship is utterly impossible apart from the grace of God giving us true worship. This is a vital point to notice. The heart of man must be prepared by God in order to worship God. The heart of man must receive grace in order to worship God. The heart of man cannot worship in a greater way than the degree of grace he receives. Worship must demonstrate the utter dependence of man upon God to manifest the glory of God or it is the work of the flesh.

We can also view worship being from the heart and the heart of man as being the instrument that God plays His own song to Himself and His own glory. Man is the instrument that God created to be played by Himself and Himself alone. Regardless of whether man sings hymns or Psalms or whatever, unless the heart is God’s instrument playing for His own pleasure there is no true worship. In other words, going to a building with the name “church” on the door does nothing for true worship. The church is the people and not the building and it is not the corporation or the tax-free status. When the church gathers at one location, worship should be looked upon as a symphony. The single Christian’s heart is one instrument that God plays, but the church is the symphony where God plays many instruments at once and the harmony rises and expresses His glory.

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

The beauty of public worship is not the voices as such and is not all the things that people do or don’t do; the beauty of public worship is when the different splendors of God in Christ are manifested and expressed. Each instrument that God plays is created and tuned by Himself for Himself and the manifestation of His own glory. All that should be done when the church meets together is to be instruments of music for God and His glory whether it is singing, praying, or preaching. All the teaching or preaching, singing, praying and so on should be done seeking the face of God and for Him to show Himself to and in His people. We are to love Him and His glory above all and that should be reflected in the worship of the public gatherings of His people.

If we are seeking to worship God above all, then surely we will be a God-friendly church that seeks Him above all. After all, God is the true “user” of the church and not those who attend. A user-friendly church is thought to be friendly to those who attend, but it is God’s church and so it should be focused on seeking Him to attend. Since the Father seeks such to worship Him (see John 4:23 below), surely we should seek Him to make us to be those who worship in a way that pleases Him. However, does our worship reflect whether God has sought us to worship Him or not? Does our worship reflect hearts that demonstrate that God has made our hearts into instruments of His glory? We can argue about the Regulative Principle until the cows come home (so to speak), but God alone is the One who regulates the heart and makes it His instrument of praise to Himself.

John 4:23 “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.

Worship 4

June 15, 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.

It seems as if worship is what people think we give to God, but that is profoundly wrong. Man can do nothing for God. While it may sound odd and even strange, true worship is when man is emptied of self (to some degree, not perfectly) and God fills the man with Himself and beholds His own manifested glory in and through the human being. Worship is not what we give to God, but worship is what God does through man. It could also be said that worship is not what man gives God, but is instead what God grants man. God’s love for man is recognized and manifested in God’s giving man a love for Himself in and through Christ, so we can at least see something of the picture that worship is an aspect of God giving man Himself.

What man normally thinks of worship is really idolatry and it makes God to be an idolater as well. If God loves man and focuses on the so-called needs of man rather than His own glory, then God is an idolater and does not love Himself with all of His Being. If God is not His own chief end, then God is an idolater. These are not some crazy statements made with a total lack of reverence, but they should force us to look at what is going on in the church meetings today. God is said to be focused on man and the needs of man and one never hears of how God is focused on Himself and His own glory. If God the Father loves men and the things of men more than Christ, then the Father is an idolater. If the Son loves men more than the Father, then the Son is an idolater. The Son does all things out of love for the Father and for His glory and as such He is perfect in holiness.

This, or course, has huge ramifications for what is seen as worship and what goes on when the church gathers. Man must seek the God-centered God (the only true God) in order to worship rather than seek to give something to God. Man must love the God-centered God who loves Himself, yet he must do that out of the love God works in man or men will love god out of self-love. Even sinners love those who love themselves and as long as men think that God loves them they will love Him, though indeed it is only self that they love rather than the true God. What goes by worship it seems the vast majority of times, then, even in Confessional churches with orthodox creeds, is really the worship of self. Yes, Christ died for sinners, but what does that mean? Did He love sinners more than the Father and so gave Himself for them? No, that would make Him an idolater. We need to hear of the cross of Christ who loved the Father and gave Himself in the place of sinners so that instead of being in worship of self we will worship the true and living God.

Let us then enter (in our imaginations) a local congregation that considers itself Reformed and generally evangelical. What would we expect to find? We would expect some announcements and a prayer or two. We would hear about all the activities of the church in the coming week or perhaps hear of our possible blessings. We know that an offering would be taken and we will be told what blessings we will have if we contribute. We will sing songs about how Christ gave Himself for us and some basic things. We will then most likely hear a sermon that takes a passage of Scripture where the text is explained and then the application is made by giving us things to do. But where is God? Where is the supreme and sovereign God preached about where our hearts are drawn off of ourselves and God takes over? Is there a place for the true God in our modern services? If He came down in the services (we think we are doing Him service) and took over, would we want Him to depart and leave us in our little comfort zones? Throughout the whole of Scripture when God came on the scene men and women fell on their faces and cried out for mercy. Sinners are not comfortable in His thrice holy presence. Do we really want the true God to come to us?

Worship 3

June 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.

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.

The appropriate idea of worship is not that it consists of a proper form, but it is in accordance with the truth of God and that those in worship have proper hearts toward God. As usual, it is necessary to point out that a proper heart can only come from the hand of God. Only He has the sovereign hand over hearts and only He can tune the heart to be in accordance with His love for Himself and His own glory. It is true that in the Old Testament that specific things were stated, but the purpose of those forms was so that they would give an accurate picture of Christ. Now that Christ has come and has revealed the Father, we don’t worship according to forms but according to Christ. However, the heart of man is cold and hard and it is easier to use forms than it is to seek Christ. In order to truly seek Christ as opposed to seeking a false Christ or seeking Him for things, God must work self and pride out of the heart and work Himself in that heart. Worship is not what is worked up by man, but instead it is what is worked in man by the Divine hand.

Regardless of what is going on in a true service, whether it is preaching or prayer or singing or reading Scripture, it must be done according to God. In these things it is so easy to be tripped up and just do those things without thinking what the purpose of them are for. For example, the purpose of man is to be an instrument of the glory of God. If the chief end (purpose, goal) of man is the glory of God, then preaching is to be to the glory of God and is to be a means that God uses to work in man to be an instrument of His glory. If the chief end of man is the glory of God, then praying is a means that God uses to make men instruments of His glory. If reading the Scriptures or singing is to be done in a way that is in accordance with the chief end of man, then the Scriptures are to be read to the glory of God and man is to read and hear them with that goal in mind. If the chief end of singing is for man to glorify God, then man should write songs, choose songs, and sing songs to the glory of God.

What we must see is that the purpose of worship is the glory of God since the chief end of man is the glory of God. It does not glorify God for men to stand around singing songs from the tops of their brains rather than the bottom of their hearts. God created the whole man to worship Him in seeking His glory and not just for them to sing songs with His name in them. Fallen and unconverted man can sing songs and praise God for all that he thinks that God has done for him since men will love those who love themselves. Sermons that are focused on self and songs that are focused on self will fire the feelings of man up for a god that he thinks has saved him and does great things for him. True worship, whether in song or in preaching and prayer, must be focused on God and His glory. After all, the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer is for His name to be hallowed and glorified.

We must be hit over the head over and over with the great truth that God is not man-centered but God-centered. He does all for His own glory and He will never do anything that is not for His own glory. When men worship a man-centered god, even if it is according to an orthodox creed as such, they are in full idolatry. When all I can think about and hear about is self when I am in a so-called worship service, the true God is not being worshipped and the self is. True worship is when self is denied (denied any right) and God is adored while on the throne. However, we must understand that the throne of God is the heart of His children and His Church. This is why only the humbled heart can truly worship. This is why the proud can think that they worship, but in fact they worship themselves using the name of God. One thing that is absolutely needful for worship is a humble heart. Until churches and people in those churches recognize that and seek that, they will not worship.

Worship 2

June 13, 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.

In the vast majority of professing churches today there is an order of worship handed out each morning. The purpose is not to say that is wrong in and of itself, but simply to say that everything has been planned in advance. It is also to say that the idea of worship has become in our day coming to a building of a professing church and following the “order of worship” as set out in the bulletin. In other words, as long as a person comes to the building, stands and follows the order with all the others, one is thought to have worshipped. Dare we ask what would Jesus say regarding what we think of as worship?

Is it be possible that Jesus would respond much like the text from Malachi just above? Remember, He was the One who drove men out of the Temple with a whip. Would He want the doors of our buildings closed so that they would not uselessly do what they think of as worship? Would He want the doors of our buildings closed so that people would not be deceived into thinking that they worship when they follow the properly stated order? Would He tell us that He is not pleased with this heartless stuff we are doing and would He clearly tell us that He would not accept our offering? If true worship must come from Him first, that is, if the fire must come from Him rather than our flesh, then what are we offering to Him most of the time?

The reality of worship must be thought of as coming from the heart and not just some order devised of men. The reality of worship cannot just be a ritual we perform, but instead our hearts and our affections must be engaged. It is critical to know, however, that God alone can move our hearts to have true affections for Him and they cannot come from the flesh. The flesh can be moved by forms of self-centered music and with good public speakers who know how to get the feelings going with self-centered motives. The words of Christ in Matthew 15:8 (see above) are simply chilling if we will read them with understanding rather than let our eyes fly over them. There we see the utter sinfulness of a worship that honors Christ with our lips while our hearts are far from Him. It is hard to deny that this is what goes on in our own hearts the vast majority of the time. This is not just about those who are clearly distracted with other things, this is about those who are paying some attention and yet their hearts are far from the words that their lips are saying.

We must also be cautious about what we think of as worship since Christ says that it is in vain that men worship Him because they teach as doctrines the precepts of men. If we boil Matthew 15:8 down and look at the important parts, it is teaching us the heart of John 4:24. Worship must be in spirit and truth. Apart from worship of the inner man (spirit), our worship is simply that of our lips and perhaps our minds to some degree and yet our hearts are far from Him. If what we hear at worship is not the truth of Christ, then the precepts of men that we are hearing renders any of our pretended worship as vain (empty, meaningless). This should shock us and stun us in terms of how hard our hearts are toward God. This should shame us because we have just assumed that God would accept our heartless words and heartless duties and so we think we have worshipped. Could it be that God is weary of our so-called worship? Oh sure, that must be the other guys.

Worship 1

June 12, 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.

In wrestling through the issue of what it means to worship and how that applies to modern church services, one can (will) arrive at some very uncomfortable conclusions. Just because a person goes to church does not mean that a person truly worships the true God. Just because a person sings songs and the words are true does not mean that a person truly worships the true God. Just because a person reads the Bible or listens to it being read does not mean that a person truly worships the true God. Just because a person prays or agrees with the prayer (or words that pretend to be a prayer) does not mean that a person truly worships the true God. Just because a sermon is read/spoken/preached does not mean that the preacher or the congregation has truly worshipped the true God.

This is an important and perhaps vital issue. The external things do not mean that there is worship. True worship does not automatically happen when external Christian things and things that we should do or are commanded to do are done. Doing those things don’t mean worship occurs any more than the fact that the Israelites did some outward things make those things worship. We must come to grips with this in the modern day. There are battles and arguments occurring on the type of worship music and so on. Frankly, the real issue is whether our hearts worship or not. True worship is not what happens when the music fires my jets (feelings) and so I feel great and think that I have worshipped, but instead true worship is when the heart is taken up with the true God and bows in reverence and awe.

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.

When we come face to face with the verses just above or the ones at the top of the page, we should take these things into serious consideration. In fact, it may be that we have never truly worshipped in our lives or perhaps we have never truly worshipped the true God in a local church. True worship involves the whole soul and not just some rote actions. True worship involves the mind, the affections, the desires, and the longings of the heart. But true worship demands that those things be focused on God and His glory. We should come to “church” and pant after God as the psalmist did in Psalm 42 and David in Psalm 63.

Psalm 42:1 For the choir director. A Maskil of the sons of Korah. As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.

Psalm 63:1 A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. 2 Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. 3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. 4 So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. 5 My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.

While some might think of this as a perfect standard for worship, we must know that we should seek the Lord for hearts to do these things because true worship comes by the free-grace of God. True worship is not just doing the right things, it is having a right heart and can only come when the soul is given a right heart by free-grace. When the heart is broken and adores the living God, true worship occurs and yet the focus is on the living God and His glory. True worship can also occur when the heart is cold and hard and yet longs for true worship. The point is that God is sovereign and hearts that are bowed before Him seeking His pleasure is a heart that is in worship. If the sovereign God grants us adoring hearts full of joy in His presence, then that is the height of worship. But again, He may grant us cold hearts that we may learn that true worship is not because of our works but because of His free-grace in Christ. The point is that we are to seek His face (presence) and bow in humility for what He grants. He is sovereign and we are not.