- “The theme of worship dominates the Bible. In Genesis, we discover that the fall came when Adam failed to worship God by obeying the one command God gave. In Revelation we learn that all of history culminates in an eternal worshiping community in the presence of a loving God. From the beginning in Genesis all the way through the consummation in Revelation, the doctrine of worship is woven into the warp and woof of the biblical text.”—John MacArthur
Thus, biblical worship is the beginning, middle, and eternal end of our story. It should permeate every part of our lives. Worshiping the God of the universe should be what the world knows us for.
But, let’s back the focus off a bit of our individual worship and look at the corporate worship of our church. When we come together on Sundays (or any other time), we are coming to exalt Jesus, not ourselves. Our vertical relationship with God is infinitely more important than our horizontal ones with each other (though they are inexplicably linked). Thus, everything we do is to come together in the unification of the Spirit to fellowship in His Word, to praise and exalt Him in singing, and to interact with each other while focusing on Him. Remember, the church is a called-out group of believers and only believers can worship Jesus. Our gatherings on Sunday are primarily for Christians since only we can worship God.
- “If God took His Holy Spirit out of this world, what the church is doing would go right on and nobody would know the difference.” –A.W. Tozer
- “We’ve been living on substitutes for so long that if a revival of worship ever did come, many of God’s people would probably see it as a threat to the gospel! Do we really want to worship God? Are we really willing to give up our religious toys and get down to business with Him? Can we sincerely abandon our pragmatic and commercial views of church ministry (‘Well, it works! You can’t argue with success!’) and get back to the biblical vision of God?”—Warren W. Wiersbe
Folks, I have presented more than once the necessity of our church (in fact, any church that truly represents the name of Jesus) to have a High View of God. Our society has a high view of man and a low view of God (an almost non-existent view of God, in fact, for many) and has infiltrated the American church so thoroughly that I have read and heard vehement proclamations from pulpits against those who hold a High View of God and His Word. But, I come back to God’s holy, inspired, inerrant, sufficient, and authoritative Word as that is our only source of knowledge and truth:
- I. John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
- Psalm 138:2b for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
Why do I warn you so strongly against false teachers, particularly influential voices in our “Christian” media landscape? Because God’s Word matters in all areas of our lives, especially in our worship (John 4:23), and if we mindlessly, without discernment, accept any so-called Christian’s message, then we will accept Satanic lies about God and what it truly means to worship Him (and Satan is all about redirecting worship away from God; preferably onto himself). Read this heretical false teaching that Victoria Olsteen “preached” at a service at Lakewood Church where she co-pastors with her husband, Joel:
- “I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it—we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”
Whoa! She has the audacity to take the worship of God and receive it back to herself?!? Didn’t Satan use that to tempt Eve, because he also wanted to be like the Most High?
Dr. Daniel Wallace (of Dallas Theological Seminary) responded to this:
- “Some of the most blatant narcissistic blather ever to come from a pulpit can also be laid at their [the Osteens’] feet. Not only narcissistic, but also blasphemous. One has to wonder how a megachurch in the buckle of the Bible belt can go on and on without the congregants waking up and smelling what’s being shoveled in their direction. If Lakewood Church is any indication of the biblical literacy, genuine devotion to Christ, and fellowship of the saints of the American evangelical church, we are in serious trouble.
“The evangelical church in America needs corporate self-reflection and corporate repentance. How we treat one another, how we honor God, what our understanding of and commitment to the gospel is, and how we measure true success all need a serious overhaul. The root problem seems to be twofold: the marginalization of the word of God and the ‘buddyization’ of Jesus Christ.”
Coming back to our own particular corporate worship here at WBC, I mentioned last Sunday how Tozer would spend hours on his knees seeking God with his Bible open. I suggested this week that we up the ante and increase our Bible reading to 30 chapters a week. And while I will work hard to teach God’s holy Word each week so that you will learn “the immeasurable riches of His grace” (Ephesians 2:7), you too have some responsibilities. You see, I cannot fabricate worship for you. Pastor Ken cannot manufacture your heart worship as he leads us in biblically-oriented songs of praise. Pastor Trent cannot wave a magic wand that will make the teens worship Christ on Wednesday. Fact of the matter is, we can lead you to the feast at His table, but you must choose to eat from it.
Your primary responsibilities are:
- You need to be saved. A lost person cannot worship Christ and will not understand His Word.
- You need to be progressively sanctified. In other words, you must be seeking God in repentance, obedience, and holiness in a life that is changing to Christ-likeness.
- You need to be in His Word. The Bereans (Acts 17:11) were called noble because they searched the Scriptures daily to verify the doctrine Paul taught them. In it is God’s truth to us.
- You need to pray and ask God to mold your heart into a person who worships Him with the heart and actions that He requires and that please Him.
- Come to church focused on God, not on how you’re dressed, or on the football game going on that day, or on the troubles and problems of your week, but on God. Seek Him each Sunday to change you through His Word. Pray for your fellow brothers and sisters in our fellowship that they will focus on Him as well. Pray that Satan will be restricted from interfering. Come to the worship music singing the words from your heart, with an outpouring of your love for Christ. Ask God to humble you so that you can exalt Him.
BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS: I don’t always recommend a lot of books, but some I would truly commend to you on the topic of worship include:
- Tozer on Worship and Entertainmentby A.W. Tozer
- Whatever Happened to Worship? A Call to True Worshipby A.W. Tozer
- The Purpose of Man: Designed to Worshipby A.W. Tozer
- Real Worship: Playground, Battleground, or Holy Groundby Warren Wiersbe
- Worship: The Ultimate Priorityby John MacArthur
- If the “chief end of man” is to “glorify God, and enjoy him forever”, why do you think it is so hard to be wholly sold out to worshiping Him with this level of passion? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- The last 20-30 years has seen a dramatic reshaping of American Christianity from a stoic, uptight, high church form of worship (think pianos & pipe organs, 5 part harmony hymns, and regimented church services) to worship that is physically expressive, musically more modern, and with less liturgy. A person can actually worship in both these types of expressions, but sadly the noticeable thing in many of the newer forms of worship is a lack of biblical doctrine and focus. The second question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (“What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?) is answered as “The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.”
- Think of some Christian songs you may know (on the radio, or even from the past) that have virtually no Bible or doctrine in them: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Note, Pastor Ken can supply you with some titles if you don’t know any, by the way.
- Now, think of some that are heavily infused with Scripture: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Did you know that hymns were often filled with a type of musical repetition that made doctrinal memorization easy? Holy, Holy, Holy taught the Trinity, and the Doxology was a biblical, call to Trinitarian worship in churches for decades.
- The third question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism tells us that Scripture teaches us whatwe are to believeconcerning God, and what He requires of us:
- Using the false teaching of Victoria Olsteen again, she has preached publicly that Jesus wasn’t God until His baptism when the Holy Spirit came upon Him. This is the heresy of Monarchianism (or Adoptionism) which was settled over 1,500 years ago in various church councils. But, how can we worship a different God than the one found in the Bible? How can we worship Him if we’ve remade Him into our own image? ______________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Note, some of the major differences between biblically orthodox Christianity and that of heretical cults such as Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses are found right here in the doctrine of the Trinity. It’s that important!
- Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?
- Reading this passage (as just a working example), what does God require of us? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- The Scriptures tell us so much more. Keep reading your 30 chapters!
- “Before a Christian Church goes into a decline, there must first be a corrupting of her Scriptural thoughts of God. She simply gives a wrong answer to the question, “What is God like?”—and goes downhill from there. Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed—her practical working creed has become false. The masses of her adherents come to believe that God is different from what He actually is—and that is heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind!
“The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God, until it is once more worthy of Him—and of her!” A.W. Tozer