Sermons

Summary: Study of worship as outlined in the Tenth Chapter of Hebrews.

“Since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

“Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,

but a body have you prepared for me;

in burnt offerings and sin offerings

you have taken no pleasure.

Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,

as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.”’

“When he said above, ‘You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings’ (these are offered according to the law), then he added, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will.’ He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

“And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” [1]

Worship is the eternal occupation of the redeemed. Since this is true, one would expect that the people of God would prepare themselves for worship. All that we do in the realm of worship during this life is but preparation for our eternal occupation. In fact, I am bold to say that if you have no desire to worship the True and Living God, you will not enjoy Heaven. I wonder if the reluctance to worship witnessed among our contemporaries arises from a misunderstanding of what constitutes worship. Perhaps we have never worshipped. Perhaps we are ignorant of what God expects.

Worship! The term speaks of ascribing worth to the One worshipped. Worship is the natural response of the heart set free and delivered into the presence of the True and Living God. If we saw the glory of the Lord—and recognised that divine effulgence as His glory—we would unquestionably worship. Worship is ascribing to God His worth. It is giving God the glory that is due His Name. To worship is to honour God. It is to permit oneself to marvel at His grace, to adore His Person, to wonder at His majesty, to rejoice in His goodness and to be fascinated with His love.

Worship may be loud and noisy, or worship may be quiet. There may be shouts of exultation or there may be only the quiet word always associated with worship, “Oh!” Tragically, the “Oh” is missing from much of our worship, whether noisy or quiet.

I invite each one listening today to consider Christ our Lord. As the author of this letter has written, “Consider Him” [HEBREWS 12:3]. I invite each worshipper to join me in focusing on the first FOURTEEN VERSES of the TENTH CHAPTER of this book. In these verses, we shall encounter the Eternal Christ, our sacrifice from before the earth was formed. Encountering Him, we shall make the effort to return the “Oh!” to our worship.

PEOPLE WILL WORSHIP — People are inherently religious. There is an undefined, though nevertheless real quality, residing within the breast of each of us that longs for ceremony. We are fascinated by cant and creed. We are comfortable receiving direction concerning what is acceptable and what is offensive. All this is an indication that we shrink from freedom even as we long to “do” something pleasing before God. In part, we delight in ritual because we recognise that divine expectation removes a degree of responsibility from us, whereas religious structure arising from exercise of our own fertile imaginations permits us to willingly blind ourselves to personal responsibility.

As an example of what I am saying, consider the comforting liturgy found within contemporary Christendom. It makes no difference whether one is considering the liturgy associated with old, mainline churches or whether one focuses on the unacknowledged, though very real, liturgy exemplified in the freestyle worship forms of evangelical Christians. We Baptists, to consider just one example of evangelical Christians, permit ourselves to hide behind subterfuge as we aver sensitivity to the will of God in our worship. Nevertheless, deviation from what is comfortable leaves us “trapped” in a liturgy that permits us to unconsciously perform our religious duties. Young seminarians will be cautioned that it is easier to change a congregation’s theology than it is to change their order of service.

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