Summary: Worship is so much more than singing a song, the style of music, or our even own preferences; it’s about our heart-attitude before God. There are many elements to worship; but they all serve to honor and glorify God and edify others.
This morning, we’re going to continue our series on the five purposes of the church by looking at worship. In the song “The Heart of Worship,” Matt Redman sings, “I’ll bring You more than a song, for a song in itself is not what You have required. You search much deeper within, through the way things appear; You’re looking into my heart.”(1) Worship is so much more than singing a song, the style of music, or our even own preferences; it’s about our heart-attitude before God. Redman continues to sing, “I’m coming back to the heart of worship and it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.”(2)
This morning, as we seek to understand the purpose of worship by looking at two nearly identical passages of Scripture, we’re going to discover that there are many different facets and elements to worship; but they all serve to honor and glorify God, and also edify others. Therefore, when we come into God’s house for worship, “self” should be the last thing on our mind and heart. Hopefully, by the time this message is over, we’ll be able to declare of worship as Matt Redman: “I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it; when it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus.”(3)
Be Prepared for Worship (Ephesians 5:17-21)
17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.
In verse 17, we’re told that we need to “understand what the will of the Lord is” concerning worship. In verse 18, we’re commanded to be filled with the Spirit. “To be ‘filled with the Spirit’ means to be constantly controlled by the Spirit in our mind, emotions, and will,”(4) and so it must be in our worship; we must be guided by the Holy Spirit. I believe these verses speak to us concerning advance preparation in worship. Submitting to the Spirit takes willingness on our part, which stems from a desire to be ready to enter the throne room of God.
In seeking to be prepared for worship, we must first understand what the Lord requires. In John 4:23-24, Jesus said, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” By “spirit,” Jesus meant that those who worship Him should do so with all their heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30); and by “truth,” Jesus meant that He wanted His followers to sincerely desire fellowship with Him.
Stephen Newman comments, “In John 4:23, the word ‘seeking’ is zeteo in the Greek. It could be compared to carrying the same tone as ‘require’ or ‘demand.’ What does this mean? Our Father is requiring or demanding us to worship Him in spirit and truth.”(5) This means that when we come to church and attend the service, worship has more to do with God than us. Newman elaborates, “When we enter a worship service, the question in our minds and hearts should always be; what can I give today in worship through my singing, listening and participation that will be pleasing to the Lord?”(6)
He also says that when we come together for corporate worship, we need to prepare ourselves. “If we have all the ingredients of worship but do not properly prepare . . . it will be difficult to truly worship. We must spend time before the services to prepare our hearts and minds for worship. Praying as you rise in the morning, singing along to a praise CD on the way to church, and confessing sin in your life will help your worship time be much more meaningful and help you to be attuned to the Spirit of God.”(7)
In verse 19, we discover that when we enter into worship, we’re supposed to be singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs “to one another” and “to the Lord.” In reference to singing songs to one another, Rick Warren states, “Worship encourages, strengthens and changes us” (p. 241, The Purpose Driven Church, Zondervan, 1995). Worship serves to edify other people – believers and seekers alike – as our passion for God becomes both encouraging and attractive. Warren says, “More people are won to Christ by feeling God’s presence [in meaningful worship] than by all our apologetic arguments combined” (p. 241, The Purpose Driven Church, Zondervan, 1995), or our preaching.