RPM, Volume 19, Number 32, August 6 to August 12, 2017

Designed To Worship

By Garry Phillips

We are designed to worship God. However our sin has made this difficult to do so effectively. Worship is the great work of the Holy Spirit in which He does not only regenerate us, and work faith in us, uniting us to Jesus Christ and to His body, the church, but He works in us the desire to praise, glorify, and worship God. He works in us in such a way that in response to the call of God, "Seek ye my face," from the heart we respond, "Thy face, Lord, will I seek," Psalm 27:8. True worship is the key to pleasing God.

The word "Worship" derives from "worth-ship" which in a spiritual context, means giving God all he's worth. Apart from our personal deliberations, this is that what we should do in our weekly remembrance meetings (breaking of bread meetings). We should do this in all of life.

The church serves a higher purpose and that is to conduct itself in the dutiful act of public worship.

The Reformation sought to return the church to proper, biblical, God-pleasing worship. This was a concern of all the Reformers. It should also be the supreme goal of the universal body of Christ the church.

During the time of the Reformation worship was in great need of restoration. Calvin complains in his Institutes of the Christian Religion:

The worship of God has been deformed by a diverse and unbearable mass of superstitions. Doctrine (apart from which Christianity cannot stand) has been entirely buried and driven out. Public assemblies have become schools of idolatry and ungodliness.

In his treatise entitled, The Necessity of Reforming the Church, Calvin also wrote:

I come now to ceremonies, which, while they ought to be grave attestations of divine worship, are rather a mere mockery of God. A new Judaism, as a substitute for that which God had distinctly abrogated has again been reared up by means of numerous puerile extravagancies, collected from different quarters; and with these have been mixed up certain impious rites, partly borrowed from the heathen, and more adopted to some theatrical show than to the dignity of [worship]...

In the passage quoted, it is remarkable that the conversation took place at all. Jewish men would not normally have been seen talking to women in public, let alone Samaritan women.

The motivation for our worship must be on giving not receiving. It should be motivated not by self-love, but the love of God. It has to be undiluted, unadulterated, free from self, the world and ungodly thoughts.

Charles Spurgeon once said, "God is to be praised with the voice, and the heart should go therewith in holy exultation," and another giant of the faith has said, "without worship, we go about miserable" (A.W. Tozer). CS Lewis once commented, "It is in the process of being worshipped that God communicates His presence to men." What an experience we can enjoy. What a godly duty.

A key scripture that is particularly significant for us is John 4:23-24. Among the numerous things Jesus stated to the Samaritan woman, He tells her that not all worship is spiritual. He tells her "you Samaritans worship what you don't know" (John 4:22). Similarly, the Apostle Paul echoes our Saviour in his sermon to the Athenians said, "To the unknown God. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you" (Acts 7:33).

Let me pause at this point make a number of observations.

First, worship which is selfish or parades itself before others is just not biblical worship. Today, there is a great and growing danger in some Christian circles to promote self-inspired efforts.

Secondly, 'just as unbelievers may be ignorant about the God they deny, so believers may be ignorant of the God whom they worship (Leonard Hodgson). Sadly, this is very true. With the rapid decline in the preaching and teaching ministries in many churches, it is no wonder that this is the case. Where our theology is shallow, it will manifest itself in our worship, which will be equally shallow. John 4 states:

But the hour is coming when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is Spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

God is the object of our devotion, he must always be so.

What is the nature of true Christian worship? What are we actually doing when we meet together for 'church' on Sunday? Every part of our being must be handed over to Him at the worship service [and always].

Worship is giving. We must come to a greater understanding that all true worship is to the Father, through the Son, and by the Holy Ghost. We must understand that worship is not a routinely engaged event and experience - but an eternal act towards the eternal God. Yes worship is spiritual, but it must be is biblical as well.

The most important thing is not where men worship, but how they worship. Worship is first and foremost spiritual, and therefore contrary to the flesh (Gal 5:17).

In the discourse with the Samaritan woman, Jesus teaches that our views on worship are determined by our views on God. Knowledge about God is the normal means to knowledge of God. Jesus himself recognizes, endorses, and authenticates this great principle. He proclaims:

The nature of God: God is Spirit (John 4: 24)
The character of God: God is Father (John 4:23)
The mission of God: God is saviour (John 4:23; cf. Luke 19:10).

The value of worship lies solely in its object - the one true and living God. The more we know about God, the fuller, deeper, and better our worship.

In speaking to the Samaritan woman, Jesus insists that, true worship is inextricably linked to truth (John 4:20). In a similar way, false worship is the result of false teaching. This is evident from Matthew 15:9. 'They worship me in vain. They worship me in vain, their teachings are but rules taught by men."

We note that worship is not mindless. That is, it does not by-pass the normal and natural process of thought and speech. Worship occurs when divine truth operates upon these frail human faculties and makes the product of these processes. If God's truth does not shape worship, then at best, it is nothing more than mystical; at worst it is nothing less than occultism. Furthermore, worship that is not initiated by the Holy Spirit and regulated by divine truth (unchanging truth) will always pander to the needs, whims, and fashions of the day. Worship that is inspired by the Holy Spirit will accord with the truth, which has been inspired and preserved by Him.

Undoubtedly, worship is man's highest destiny, duty, and delight. The Word of God is designed to inspire, illuminate, and impel believers to worship the known Christ of holy writ. This is achieved through the preached Word, which arrests their attention, stimulates their thoughts, warms their hearts, quickens their spirits, strengthens their faith, focuses their vision, awakens their consciences, stirs their emotions, melts their reserve, evokes their praise and secures their worship. The preached Word moves the believer to new heights of worship. Do we know what it is like to be lost in wonder, love, and praise as God's Word is preached?

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