Thursday, July 2, 2009
What is worship? In the Bible there are two main groups of Hebrew and Greek words that mean worship: “labor” and “service”. Worship is a verb - something we DO. We are to be a participant - we’re not to sit and be entertained or passive although we be can “ministered to” with a song or sermon. This also doesn’t mean worship can’t be good and of high quality - in fact it better be because He is worthy (there’s that word again) of the best from our hearts. And because He is worthy and He is God He sets the “rules” for corporate worship and He tells us in His word how He is to be worshiped. We call this the “elements” of worship which include: Preaching; greetings; singing; giving; prayers; oaths; benedictions and sacraments. These should be done both vertically (towards Him) and horizontally (remembering the needs of others in prayer and in finances [the poor; missionaries; etc]). Some may say worship is both “transcendent and imminent”. Worship should also be Trinitarian - all three persons of the Godhead are worthy of praise and honor. But how we do these elements should be according to those around us. We should worship Him in the context of the culture and people around us so our worship is intelligible.
The Westminster Confession says it this way: 1.6: The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.
Tim Keller says worship should be: Biblically faithful; culturally relevant; counter-culture and counter-intuitive
Counter Cultural: Do we look different and act the same (bad) or do we look the same and act different (good).
Counter intuitive: (Do you visit dying aides patience?) Somewhere where “Christians” would never go!
What we do here on Sunday AM is an outpouring from our daily worship. God calls us together to CELEBRATE as one body the realities of His goodness from the week’s activities. What we do, the elements, He demands….how we do them He gives freedom.
Worship is NOT a “style of music” or a “style of preaching” although it is a part of corporate worship. Worship is ALL OF LIFE. How we live our lives is an indication of our personal daily worship of either God or an idol. When we are looking on the internet at something that is bad…we are worshiping an idol. When we argue without ceasing, we are worshipping the need to be right. When we fail to give, we are worshiping our money, when we constantly worry we are worshiping and feeding our insecurities rather than Him who has all things in His hands.
We give ourselves away to something or someone…our money; our time; our talents; our thoughts; our love ourselves; our hobbies; our history in our web browser. We all worship SOMEONE OR SOMETHING…. what you do with the things above will tell you what or who YOU really worship.
We read in the WCF 21.6: Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed: but God is to be worshiped everywhere, in spirit and truth; as, in private families daily, and in secret, each one by himself; so, more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or willfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by his Word or providence, calls thereunto.
In his book Unceasing Worship Harold Best states his thesis saying: “The burden of this book develops the concept of continuous outpouring as the rubric for our worship. As God eternally outpours within His triune self, and as we are created in his image, it follows that we too are continuous outpourers, incurably so.” (Page 10)
“We begin with one fundamental fact about worship: at this very moment, and for as long as this world endures, everybody inhabiting it is bowing down and serving something or someone—an artifact, a person, an institution, an idea, a spirit, or God through Christ. Everyone is being shaped thereby and is growing up toward some measure of fullness, whether of righteousness or of evil. No one is exempt and no one can wish to be. We are, every one of us, unceasing worshipers and will remain so forever, for eternity is an infinite extrapolation of one of two conditions: a surrender to the sinfulness of sin unto infinite loss or the commitment of personal righteousness unto infinite gain. This is the central fact of our existence, and it drives every other fact. Within it lies the story of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation or final loss.” (Page 17-18)
As we studied in the doctrine of the Trinity, we saw that God is a community within Himself of ceaseless outpouring. Although there is one God, the three persons of the Trinity eternally exist with a ceaseless outpouring of love, communication, and joy. And, as we studied in the God Loves sermon we saw that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God. As such, we too are ceaseless worshippers pouring ourselves out for someone or something.
The biblical word for worship is also sometimes translated “sacrifice.” This insight is helpful because where we make the greatest sacrifices reveals what we truly love and what we glorify and worship. For example, if we eat and drink in excess, we are worshiping our stomach and sacrificing our health. If we sacrifice relationships with God and people for a hobby (e.g., sport, music, craft), then we are worshipping that hobby. If we are giving our bodies to sexual sin, we are worshipping sex and/or another person, whose acceptance is our highest aim, sacrificing holiness and intimacy with God in the process. In short, we give our time, energy, body, money, focus, devotion, and passion to that which we glorify most and make sacrifices to worship. Because we were made for the express purpose of worshiping God, everyone is a worshipper. The only difference is who/what we worship.
Idolatry is one of the most frequent and most misunderstood themes in all of Scripture. When thinking of idolatry, images of a primitive person bowing down to a statue or something akin to it come to mind. But, when the Bible speaks of idolatry it does so in a broad manner so as to reveal it as corrupted worship in contrast with true worship. Perhaps the most succinct definition of idolatry is found in Romans 1:25 which says, “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” God is our Creator and our worship is to be directed to him alone. But, as sinners we are prone to worship created things rather than our creator God and that is by definition idolatry. In the context of Romans 1, this idolatry can be things God has made such as the human body and its pleasures (especially sexual), or things we have made such as human ideas about God and life that dominate philosophy and spirituality.
Keller and Driscoll: And, God begins the 10 Commandments by declaring that he alone is God and that nothing and no one is to be worshiped in place of or alongside him. The rest of the 10 Commandments go on to then illustrate how if these first two commandments are obeyed it will transform the rest of our life into opportunities to worship God with our desires, relationships, possessions, etc. Simply, if we worship God alone we will not worship sex and commit adultery, worship possessions and commit thievery or coveting, worship people’s perceptions of us and lie, worship unrighteous anger and murder, worship our job and never Sabbath etc.
Our spiritual worship will be towards God or towards an idol (First 2 commandments are to WHOM we give our worship and the other 8 are HOW we can show that worship).
Rom 12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Sacrifice - we sacrifice something to get what we WANT. Do we want God or do we want…food (health and extra money); a better golf game (I sacrifice money and time); alcohol (I worship the booze to celebrate or cover pain and I sacrifice my health, job, family etc)
So we make choices as to what or who we will worship - what is at the center of our hearts. Girls…on a date? He wants to go somewhere where he shouldn’t….do you obey him or Jesus? She is not a believer but you dater her anyway. Do you worship the date’s approval or Christ’s approval? Money…need a new car or want to worship it as it’s your status? etc.
This is why when I do counseling I tell people to “quite trying so hard” to stop whatever. Just look to Jesus and as you worship Him - ask yourself - Do I worship Jesus by this action or someone/thing else? This is how we approach our personal budgets….can’t make ends meet? What is there that is being worshiped and costs $$$$? Kill that idol and your budget will be healthy. What is the first check you write each pay period? That is probably your idol….who you worship.
Rom 1:25 - idol worshipers. The earth, pets (dogs shows or Jesus?); furniture (don’t jump on the furniture kids (its more important than the kids); the church building becomes more important than people.
So you see it goes back to the two words for worship in the Bible - Labor and sacrifice. What we do doing the week will affect and control what we do on Sunday. It’s not about a Sunday AM “fill” - it’s about an outpouring of thanksgiving from a week of praise.
1 John 5:21 - what are your idols? Who do you worship?
The Bible says:
Love your wife - the job says no
Give sacrificially - the new car; golf; hobbies; etc. say no
Worship Jesus corporately - the party last night says no
Don’t lust - your internet search history says lust
Serve one other - your calendar says no and you serve self
Use your gifts in the church - your late arrival and quick exit says "no"
Don’t fornicate - your boy friend says have sex and you give in
Jesus said in John chapter 4: “23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him [all the time]. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
Next week the topic is about giving…we are made to give as He has given us it all. Our budget problem is not a spending issue…it’s a giving issue because we worship something else with our wallets. More to come.