From Pastor Matt
In last week’s post on worship we talked about the importance of recognizing that we were all created to worship and that because of The Fall our worship is corrupted and misdirected. In essence, we discussed what worship of the true and living God is NOT. This week I would like to move us toward a biblical definition and picture of worship.
In Matthew 15:8-9 Jesus quotes from the Old Testament about people who worship God in vain: “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me.” What is this passage telling us? That it is possible for us to have the appearance of worshipping God, yet to be doing it in vain. Hebrews 12:28-29 says, “therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” These are strong words and they beg us to ask what non-vain and acceptable worship looks like. We must approach God in worship with reverence and awe and at the same time remember that he has given us full assurance of our access to him.
With Reverence and Awe
Our God is holy. This means that he is completely “other.” As the creator of the heavens and earth and all that is in them he is far above or transcendent to his creation. As Hebrews 28:29 told us, he is a “consuming fire.” In Exodus 33 Moses asks God to show him His glory. God tells him that he cannot see his face “for man shall not see me and live” (Exodus 33:20). He then allows Moses to see His back while He protects Moses with his hand in the cleft of a rock. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah is given a vision of the Lord in heaven and in this vision Isaiah sees the seraphim worshipping God saying “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” Isaiah is immediately confronted with his sin and unworthiness to be in God’s presence (Isaiah 6:5). In Revelation John has a similar vision and in Chapter 4 the 24 elders are saying, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
These verses are just a few from Scripture which give us a picture of God’s holiness and worthiness of our worship. Each of these verses demands a response. We cannot be directly confronted with the holiness of God and not respond in worship. If we were to see God at this very moment we would immediately respond in praise and adoration, even if we were not already placing our faith in Christ. That is why Philippians 2:10-11 says that, one day, “at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (The choir will actually be singing the words from this passage on Sunday). So, every time we approach God in worship, we should have this in mind and have an attitude of reverence and awe.
Because of the work of Jesus on our behalf an amazing thing has happened. Hebrews 10:19-22 says these spectacular words:
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
That’s the good news of Jesus, that he alone has made it possible to worship a transcendent, holy God by his death and resurrection and because he is now seated at the right hand of the Father, we have full and complete access to God. We no longer need a priest to enter the Holy of Holies once a year on our behalf to atone for our sins. Jesus has done it for us and completed it once for all! Praise God! So, worship apart from the centrality of Christ cannot be true Biblical and Christian worship.
As we move forward in the coming weeks we will explore some specific ways that God gives us to worship him, but until then I will leave you with this succinct definition given by David Peterson in his book Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship. “Worship of the living and true God is essentially an engagement with him on the terms that he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible.”
As we look to our corporate worship gathering this Sunday let’s keep these important principles in mind and ask God to apply them to our hearts. Pastor Brady will be preaching this Sunday from Mark 1:40-2:17. You can view the order of worship by clicking HERE. One of the songs that we will be singing is the Communion Hymn (Behold the Lamb) by the Gettys and Stuart Townend. Since it has been a while since we have sung this song together, it is worth reminding you of the powerful words and music. You can listen to a version with the lyrics HERE. Remember to spend time reading through the passage in Mark and to pray. Pray that God would prepare our hearts and minds as we meet him together and remember to plan ahead so that you keep the importance of this weekly event in the front of your minds.
See you Sunday!