Worship is the missing jewel in evangelical circles! It is certainly true that hardly anything is missing from our churches these days — except the most important thing. We are missing the genuine and sacred offering of ourselves and our worship to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The presence of God in our midst — bringing a sense of godly fear and reverence — this is largely missing today.
Whatever we can say of modern Bible-believing Christians, it can hardly be denied that we are not remarkable for our spirit of worship. The gospel as preached by good men in our times may save souls — but it does not create worshipers. Our meetings are characterized by cordiality, humor, affability, and fleshly methods — but hardly anywhere do we find gatherings marked by the overshadowing presence of God. We manage to get along on correct doctrine, fast tunes, pleasing personalities and religious amusements! How few, how pitifully few are the enraptured souls who languish for love of Christ. How is the gold tarnished, and the silver become lead!
Worship is to feel in the heart and express in an appropriate manner, a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe. Worship humbles you. The proud man can’t worship God, any more than the proud devil can worship God. There must be humility in the heart, before there can be worship.
The primary purpose of God in creation, was to prepare moral beings spiritually and intellectually capable of worshiping Him.
There are INGREDIENTS that make up worship:
One is admiration. We can admire without worshiping — but we cannot worship without admiring, because worship is admiration carried to infinitude.
In the same way, we can honor what we do not worship — but we cannot worship the one we do not honor. So worship carries with it an ingredient of honor.
Then there is the spirit we call fascination — or transcendent wonder. Here the mind ceases to understand and goes over to a kind of delightful astonishment. We can only worship that which fascinates us. That kind of worship is found throughout the Bible. Moses hid his face before the presence of God in the burning bush. Paul could hardly tell whether he was in or out of the body when he was allowed to see the unspeakable glories of the third Heaven. When John saw Jesus walking among His churches, he fell at His feet as dead. Worship is to feel in your heart and express in some appropriate manner a humbling but delightful sense of admiring awe and astonished wonder and overpowering love in the presence of that most ancient Mystery — God. If it isn’t mysterious, there can be no worship. If God can be understood by me, then I cannot worship God. Mystery always baffles the understanding and stuns the mind — and we come before God in speechless humility in the presence of the inexpressible mystery. When we come into this sweet relationship, we are beginning to learn astonished reverence, breathless adoration, awesome fascination, lofty admiration of the attributes of God.
Another ingredient is love. We can love without worshiping, but we cannot worship without loving. Then love, when it lets itself go and no longer has any restraints, becomes adoration. Worship becomes a completely personal love experience between God and the worshiper. Worship seeks union with its Beloved, and an active effort to close the gap between the heart, and the God it adores — is worship at its best. To adore God means we love Him with all the powers within us. We love Him with fear and wonder and yearning and awe. The music of the heart is adoration. The music of Heaven is adoration. When we get to Heaven, we will find that the harpers harping on their harps are just adoring God, nothing more.
The object of worship, of course, is God. If we could set forth all God’s attributes and tell all that God is, we would fall on our knees, undoubtedly, in adoring worship. It says in the Bible that He “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man can see or has seen or can see and live.” It says that God is holy, eternal, omniscient, omnipotent and sovereign — and that He has a thousand sovereign attributes. All these should humble us and bring us low. I cannot accept with any sympathy the idea that we go to church to soothe ourselves and calm our spirits. We do calm our spirits and there is a soothing effect in worship — but the primary object of church attendance is not to relax — it is to offer worship, which belongs to God. A cultivation of high thoughts of God through prayer, humble soul-searching and avid feasting upon the Scriptures — would go far to awaken the church. Some people mistake enrapt feeling, for worship. It’s entirely possible to have a religious experience — and not be a Christian and not be converted, and be on our way to eternal Hell.
Worship must be all — entire. By that I mean that the total life must worship God. The whole personality has to worship God, or our worship is not perfect. Faith, love, obedience, loyalty, holy conduct and life — all must be taken as burnt offerings and offered to God. I can offer no worship wholly pleasing to God, if I know that I am harboring elements in my life that are displeasing to Him. Worshiping God leads straight to obedience and good works. That is the divine order and it can never be reversed. It is possible to worship God with our lips — and not worship God with our lives. But I want to tell you that if your life doesn’t worship God — your lips worship God in vain. God is never satisfied with anything less than ALL: “all your heart … all your soul … all your might.”
True worship of God must be a constant and consistent attitude or state of mind within the believer. God won’t dwell in spiteful thoughts, polluted thoughts, lustful thoughts, covetous thoughts or prideful thoughts. He will only dwell in meek, pure, charitable, clean and loving thoughts. Make your thoughts a sanctuary God can inhabit, and don’t let any of the rest of your life dishonor God. See to it that not a foot of ground is unholy!
God wants worshipers first. Jesus did not redeem us to make us workers — He redeemed us to make us worshipers. And then, out of the blazing worship of our hearts springs our work. Unless we are worshipers, we are simply religious dancing mice, moving around in a circle getting nowhere!
God has saved us that we might be, individually and personally, vibrant children of God, loving God with all our hearts and worshiping Him in the beauty of holiness. If we love the Lord and are led by His Holy Spirit, our worship will always bring a delighted sense of admiring awe and a sincere humility on our part.
We can’t worship these days, because we do not have a high enough opinion of God. God has been reduced, modified, edited, changed and amended — until He is not the God Isaiah saw high and lifted up, but something else. Because He has been reduced in the minds of the people, we don’t have that boundless confidence in His character that we used to have. Worship rises and falls in the church, depending on whether the idea of God is low or high.
As long as God is considered to be very much like the rest of us, except a little higher and a little greater — there won’t be any great amount of holy fear among church people. In my opinion, the great single need of the moment is that lighthearted superficial relgionists be struck down with a vision of God high and lifted up, with His train filling the temple. The holy art of worship seems to have passed away like the Shekinah glory from the tabernacle. As a result, we are left to our own devices and forced to make up the lack of spontaneous worship, by bringing in countless cheap and tawdry activities to hold the attention of the church people.
God has created us that we might be worshipers — and we have become everything else but worshipers! If we are truly among the worshipers, we will not be spending our time with carnal or worldly religious projects. The Christian church exists to worship God first of all. Everything else must come second or third or fourth or fifth. We are saved to worship God — all that Christ has done for us in the past, and all that He is doing now, leads to this one end. Worship is the normal employment of moral beings. Every glimpse that we have of Heaven shows the creatures there worshiping.
Let’s practice the art of Bible meditation. But please don’t grab that phrase and go out and form a club — we are organized to death already! Just meditate. Let us just be plain, thoughtful Christians. To know God well — a man must think on Him unceasingly. Let us open our Bibles, spread them out on a chair and meditate on the Word of God. It will open itself to us, and the Spirit of God will come and brood over it. I challenge you to meditate, quietly, reverently, prayerfully, for a month. Put all of the cheap religious trash away and take the Bible, get on your knees, and in faith, say, “Father, here I am. Begin to teach me!”
Gaze on Christ with the eyes of your soul!
Consecration is not difficult for the person who has met God. Where there is genuine adoration and fascination, God’s child wants nothing more than the opportunity to pour out his or her love at the Savior’s feet!
What the Church needs today is a restoration of the vision of the Most High God!
Millions of cultured, religious people are merely carrying on church traditions and religious customs — and are not actually worshiping God at all! The manner in which many modern religionists think about worship makes me uncomfortable. Can true worship be engineered and manipulated?
The primary work of the Holy Spirit is to restore the lost soul to intimate fellowship with God through the washing of regeneration. To accomplish this He first reveals Christ to the penitent heart (1 Corinthians 12:3). He then goes on to illumine the newborn soul with brighter rays from the face of Christ (John 14:26; 16:13-15) and leads the willing heart into depths and heights of divine knowledge and communion. Remember, we know Christ only as the Spirit enables us and we have only as much of Him as the Holy Spirit imparts!
The church that wants God’s power, will have something to offer besides social clubs, knitting societies, and all of the other amusements and side issues.
Oh, go back into the Word of God and consider how thirsty the friends of God were for God Himself! The great difference between us and Abraham, David and Paul — is that they sought Him and found Him and seeking Him still, found Him and sought Him — continually!
God wants to lead us on in our love for Him who first loved us. He wants to cultivate within us the adoration and admiration of which He is worthy. He wants to reveal to each of us the blessed element of spiritual fascination in true worship. He wants to teach us the wonder of being filled with moral excitement in our worship, entranced with the knowledge of who God is. He wants us to be astonished at the inconceivable elevation and magnitude and splendor of Almighty God!
Many of our popular songs and choruses in praise of Christ are hollow and unconvincing. The whole thing is in the mood of the love ditty, the only difference being the substitution of the name of Christ for that of the earthly lover.
The Christ at whose feet I could not kneel and wonder, is the Christ that I could not worship.
I have been at funerals where the presiding minister preached the deceased right into Heaven! Yet the earthly life of the departed one plainly said that he or she would be bored to tears in a heavenly environment of continuous praise and adoration of God! I do not think death is going to transform our attitudes and disposition. If in this life we are not really comfortable talking or singing about Heaven — I doubt that death will transform us into enthusiasts. If the worship and adoration of God are tedious now — they will be tedious after the hour of death.
It is totally impossible to worship God acceptably apart from the Holy Spirit. The operation of the Spirit of God within us enables us to worship God acceptably. I think there can be no doubt that the need above all other needs in the Church of God at this moment, is the power of the Holy Spirit. More education, better organization, finer equipment, more advanced methods — all are unavailing. It is like bringing a better respirator after the patient is dead!
Worship is the softest whisperings of undying love, between the bride and the heavenly Bridegroom.
The devil has a sense of humor, I think. He must laugh and hold his sooty sides when he sees a bunch of dead Christians sing a hymn of love to Jesus!
Once a Bible and a hymn-book were enough to allow gospel Christians to express their joy in the public assembly. But now it requires tons of gadgets to satisfy the pagan appetites of persons who call themselves Christians.
I’m always suspicious when we talk too much about ourselves. Somebody pointed out that hymnody took a downward trend when we left the great objective hymns that talked about God — and began to sing songs that talk about us. There was a day when men sang “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and “O Worship the King,” and they talked about the greatness of God. Then we backslide into that gutter where we still are where everything is about “I.” “I’m so happy,” “I’m so blessed,” “I’m so nice,” “I’m so good,” always “I.” The devil by magnifying his “I” became the devil — when he said, “I will arise, I will raise my throne above the throne of God.”
Thanks to our splendid Bible societies and to other effective agencies for dissemination of the Word, there are today many millions of people who hold “right opinions,” probably more than ever before in the history of the Church. Yet I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb. To great sections of the Church, the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the “program.” This word has been borrowed from the theater and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us.