Summary: This message focuses on worship in the New Testament.
Worship Is A Verb Part 6
Last week my message focused on the periods of worship in the Old Testament and how they developed based on the Israelites’ understanding of God. As they experienced God first hand, they worshiped Him more intensely because they had reasons based on their own experience. As I told you last week, God wants us to “feel” Him, not just know about Him with our intellect. So when you think about God, ask yourself “Do I feel Him?” “Feeling” God transcends our knowledge of Him because when we feel Him we know Him in the core of who we are. As we look at worship in the New Testament, you will find that they “felt” God in a very personal way after Jesus arrived on the scene.
I. Worship In The New Testament
Worship in the New Testament focused on God’s presence among His people. With the announcement in John 1:14 that “the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” came a shift in emphasis from the building, the temple, to the person of Jesus Christ. Remember, in the Old Testament worship, it was about the place, the building, where God’s Spirit dwelt and you had to go there to interact with Him. With the arrival of Jesus, God chose to dwell with His people in a new covenant that was purchased by the blood of Christ. So they moved from focusing on the temple as the place to be for worship to focusing on the heart where worship begins. If you read the New Testament you will find that most of Jesus ministry took place outside of the “formal” places dedicated for worship. He taught in homes, in the fields, on the beach, on the water, wherever He had an opportunity. He did this because He understood that God would now begin to dwell within the person versus within a building through the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit. Consider 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 which says “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” Notice closely that through the Spirit of God, God now dwells within us and can communicate with us on a personal level. We do not have to come to Church to “seek God” as some say. We come to Church so that we can worship Him with other believers; be strengthened during our times of need by those whom we fellowship with; and to learn more of God’s word through studying with others. Do not fall into a the trap that just because you have accepted Christ and He dwells within you that you do not need to be in Church somewhere. What I am saying is that you do not need to be in Church to have God dwell within you, but you do need to be in Church if you are going to carry out the mission that we all have as Christians. These two are not inseparable. So if you are a Christian who does not feel the need to be in Church you is probably not carrying out the mission that God has called you to. Let me make this clear. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” Because we belong to God and His Spirit dwells within us, we cannot separate the fact that our lives are His and we have work to do.
In the New Testament, Jesus is the fulfillment of true worship. Remember a few weeks ago when I gave you the diagram of the temple? Remember the place where God’s Spirit dwelt in the temple? His Spirit dwelt within the Holy of Holies which could only be entered once a year by the High Priest for that year. That changed with Jesus Christ. Through Christ, God’s dwelling place is now in the hearts of His people. As you read the New Testament, you begin to see this shift in thinking that God only dwelled in the Holy of Holies to the belief that God would now dwell in the hearts of His people and it became very evident in the public and private worship practices in the New Testament. During this time, praise took on a deeply personal dimension of outward and often spontaneous expressions of a relationship with God. What is so interesting is that this started before Christ was born. Remember in Luke 1:46-55 when Mary spontaneously began to praise God at the announcement of the birth of Christ and Elizabeth’s husband Zacharias’s blessing the Lord and prophesying when John the Baptist was born? Both of these were centered on Christ even though His redemptive work had not yet begun. Other examples of public proclamation of worship include the angels singing at the birth of Christ in Luke chapter 2 and the disciples singing a hymn before going to the Mount of Olives after the Last supper in Mark chapter 14.