Summary: Message 15 in our exposition of Revelation. This message continues a discussion of worship started last message.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
Understanding Biblical Worship
John unveiled a picture of heavenly worship; what worship on earth? Most of what we learn about earthily worship, we learn by Biblical observation. God left wide latitude as to the mechanics or form worship takes. AW Tozer called worship the missing Jewel in the evangelical church. The resurgence of emphasis on worship is a relatively recent phenomenon.
When Multnomah Press published Ron Allen and Gordon Borror’s book on worship in 1982 just over 30 years ago, they set of a firestorm of criticism. Now there are more books than you can count on the subject from the philosophy of worship to practical how-to manuals. Back then you would rarely find a “worship pastor” in a conservative evangelical church. Today it has become the second paid staff person hired in many churches. The shift in emphasis has been around long enough to already swing to abuses or imbalance.
Today I will focus on laying a foundation for understanding biblical worship that will enable us to avoid the pit falls and imbalance our culture has caused in the church. There are more church splits and denominational divisions over worship style than most any other issue.
High church, contemporary church, evangelical, liturgical, free form, spontaneous.
People’s concept of worship is all over the place. We call church the “worship service”. We generally consider “music” and “worship” as synonymous. Comments like “anointed worship” generally refer to an inspiring music package. Worship leaders are generally musicians. Worship is equated with warm or enthusiastic feelings. We give more consideration to what is going on and how we feel than what God thinks. Contemporary music is called praise and worship music. Worship Songs.
I feel the same sentiments as Matt Redman who composed the song “Heart of Worship”.
I want to take a most complex subject and try to distill it down to its foundational elements.
First let us consider a few key passages. One of the key passages of the New Testament regarding the foundation of worship comes from Jesus’ conversation of a woman of questionable reputation. Not only a Samaritan but was presently living in adultery after five failed marriages. In answer to her question about where one should worship Jesus presented the heart of worship.
21 Jesus said* to her, "Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:21-24
Worship is not a place but a person. Worship is primarily internal not external. God seeks genuine worshippers. Genuine or true worshippers worship in spirit and truth. The only acceptable worship is in spirit and truth. (Must worship)
3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh, Philippians 3:3
Worship is Spirit empowered and inspired. Worship is Christ centered not man centered (confidence in fleshly merit). The reason we do not have a great deal of Biblical data concerning the actual form of worship practiced by the gathered church is that worship was more of a life style than a formal service.
There are several words used translated “worship” in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The basic concept communicated has to do with bowing or serving in honor or reverence to one of perceived worth or exalted position. One of the main Hebrew terms as to do with deciding to Do something or to respond.
The first three commandments have to do with reserving such honor to God and God alone.
1 Then God spoke all these words, saying, 2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 "You shall have no other gods before Me. 4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. 5 "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, 6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments. 7 "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. Exodus 20:1-7