Tuesday, November 09, 2010

True Worship Part 3: Application

The Application of Worship – Let’s apply our definition of worship and understanding of our attitudes and actions of worship to certain activities we think of as worship.

Prayer – Prayer should have elements of supplication and petition, but in the context of prayer as worship, we must also include grateful expressions about who God is, His eternal attributes and actions of the past (Philippians 4:6). The Psalms provide wonderful models in this regard. We should set aside time to make prayers focused fundamentally on praise to God, and less on laundry lists for God, because although He does want us to ask Him for our needs (James 4:2), He already knows what we need (Matthew 6:8, 32-33 / cf. our sermon This is How to Pray).

Testimony – many of the Psalms are based upon the experience of the writer. This experience becomes a vehicle which turns the attention to the greatness of his God. God is merciful and kind not only because the Bible tells us so, but because God has been at work in our life. To testify is not to simply revel in our good blessings, but to reveal His character, that is our cause. Yes we should be excited to hear of great stories of God’s hand of help, if not such Psalms and stories wouldn’t be in the Bible at all, but in doing that we must remember the bottom line is about God. It is not, “look what I did” or “look what I can do for God”, and not simply “look what God can do through me” (I was delivered, I am ministering, etc.), but it is “look at God through me” (Matthew 5:16 / cf. our sermon This is How to Testify). Then it becomes worship.

Music / Singing – while the primary dwelling of worship is the heart, the expression of worship is physical. The expression of worship allows us to portray outwardly what is felt inwardly, and the regular mode of this expression is music and singing. The Psalms teach us that the praises of the people were set to music and sung. Music can be used to quiet our hearts and minds and focus them upon God. Yet, in the Pastoral Epistles, we notice that Paul doesn’t tell Timothy or Titus to make sure they have a great praise band! By concentrating on doctrine Paul doesn’t say don’t do music he is saying that all our music should be doctrinal leading to devotional. The content of our songs of worship must be doctrinally rich if they are to be biblically sound. Paul isn’t teaching that music is unimportant, but that focusing on the Bible will help us to focus correctly in worship with music and singing. Colossians 3:16 – Some teach that our music should only be exclusive psalmody, but this is incorrect because that leaves out hymns and spiritual songs and a host of NT truths. We see saints in the book of Revelation singing a new song that has clear references to redemption and NT truth. There is a difference between public and private devotion and music, which we will cover later.

Preaching / Listening – Preaching which is focused on God and directs our attention and affection to Him may prompt true worship. Listening with our minds and hearts is a vitally important part of the process. Preaching that inspires us to live a godly life, and preaching that transforms us by the renewing of our minds leads to worship, although it may not be worship in the immediate moment. A shallow approach to preaching makes it less possible for true worship to take place, because we only rise as high in worship to the same proportion which we have been taken deep into the profound truths of the Word. There is no way we can have lofty thoughts of God unless we have plunged them into the depths of God's self-revelation. Too often preaching merely aims to entertain. Too often we fail to worshipfully listen.

Study – Theology is the study of God; doxology is the worship of God. This is where all theology should end up, in praise to God. Study without praise is pride. Praise without study is shallow. Knowledge without a heart surrendered to God is empty of God’s life. All true worship is a response to the revelation of God in Christ and Scripture, and arises from our reflection on who He is and what He has done. Worship without theology is bound to degenerate into idolatry. That is why Scripture is so important in both public and private devotion. On the other hand, worship is not about a purely academic interest in God. No, the true knowledge of God will always lead us to worship. Good theology should sound like doxology (Ephesians 1:3-14). Doxology is fueled by theology and theology is made more potent by diving into the depths of revealed truth. Certainly by the end of his life the Apostle Paul had come to a higher place, he didn’t stay on that Damascus road.

The Bible paints a picture of theology and doxology together, deep roots in the soil of the scriptures matched with the fervent fruit of fired up worship. We need to see both, not one to the exclusion of the other, and unfortunately, some who have deep roots in theology don’t express the outgrowth of that enough in their corporate worship or lifestyle. Also, some Christians think going deep means exploring the depths of their own feelings, and therefore "God" becomes a projection of their best thoughts, and they practice idolatry without realizing it. The problem is when we don’t progress beyond those feelings and then we go searching for that feeling as the tell tale sign if we are worshipping correctly or deeply or not. We fail to dig deeper into things we may at first have a hard time understanding because they don’t give us a feeling yet. We become satisfied with feeling what we think is “fullness”, but the better we understand God from the scripture the better we are able to worship. It doesn’t mean the better we will worship but the deeper our thoughts of God become, the higher our worship of God can become. We stand in awe of God, and then our affections are stirred, not vice versa.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

1 comment:

Even So... said...

This is part of session #6 in a 10 session basic training and membership class at our church. You can see all ten weeks in .pdf form on the front page at vocieofvision.org.

You can also see and download them from our "eDocs" section at SermonAudio...