True Worship, Part 3
Someone once said, “Worship is to Christian living what the mainspring is to a watch.” To worship God is the very core of a Christian’s response to God – the very heart of his activity. You say, “What does it mean to worship?” It’s simply to recognize the worth, value, majesty, honor, and glory of God.
The chief duty of every believer is to see the worth of God and to give Him the honor and glory that is due His name.
Thus far in our study of worship we have looked at:
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF WORSHIP
A. Scripture is Dominated with It
B. Destiny Is Determined by It
1. Unacceptable worship
Now, there are many examples I could use to illustrate unacceptable worship, but I chose the following one because of its relevance to today.
Masonry: fraternal order or false religion?
In 1717 a group that is now known as the Masonic Lodge, or the Masons, was formed. Although they do not wish to be known as a religion, they are, by definition, clearly a religion – and a classic illustration of unacceptable worship. The Iowa Quarterly Bulletin of April 1917 (p.54), a Masonic publication, says this: “Masonry is a Divinely appointed institution, designed to draw men nearer to God, to give them a clearer conception of their proper relationship to God as their Heavenly Father, to men as their brethren and the ultimate destiny of the human soul.” Now that’s obviously a religion – even though they don’t want to admit it!
Albert Pike, who has been called by fellow Masons “one of the most distinguished Masons the Western World has produced,” says in Morals and Dogmas, page 23 (this is also found in Hertel’s Bible, page 9, which is the Mason’s edition of the Bible): “It [Masonry] reverences all the great reformers. It sees in Moses, the Law-giver of the Jews, in Confucius and Zoroaster, in Jesus of Nazareth, and in the Arabian Iconoclast, Great Teachers of Morality, and Eminent Reformers, if no more; And allows every brother of the Order to assign to each such higher and even Divine Character as his Creed and Truth require…
We do not undervalue the importance of any Truth. We utter no word that can be deemed irreverent by anyone of any faith. We do not tell the Moslem that it is only important for him to believe that there is but one God, and wholly unessential whether Mohamet was His prophet. We do not tell the Hebrew that the Messiah whom he expects was born in Bethlehem nearly two thousand years ago; and that he is a heretic because he will not so believe. And as little do we tell the sincere Christian that Jesus of Nazareth was but a man like us, or His history but the unreal revival of an older legend.
To do either is beyond our jurisdiction. Masonry, of no one age, belongs to all time; of no one religion, it finds its great truths in all. To every Mason, there is a God; One Supreme, Infinite in Goodness, Wisdom, Fore-sight, Justice, and Benevolence; Creator, Disposer, and Preserver of all things. How, or by what intermediates He creates and acts, and in what way He unfolds and manifests Himself, Masonry leaves to creeds and religions to inquire.” In other words, they say they believe in God, but you can decide who He is, what He wants, and how to get to Him.
When a person becomes a Mason, he’s not allowed to speak certain secret words. If you have ever known a Mason, you are probably aware of the fact that he would never reveal any or those secret words. However, I would like to reveal them: The most sacred word, assumed to be the word for God, is transmitted to the candidate as he is “raised” into the Master Mason Degree, as he assumes the position of the “five points of fellowship” (toe to toe, knee to knee, chest to chest, cheek to cheek, and mouth to ear). Whispered into his ear is the word Mah-Ha-Bone. This “sacred” word, the candidate is told, must never be spoken aloud, never revealed, and always concealed. The Mason in the Royal Arch Degree (York Rite), a degree through which the Knight Templar is to pass on his way to the supposed “Christian Degree,” has another secret name revealed to him at his initiation ceremony. The name of the True God, “rediscovered,” is “Jah-Bul-On.” This is the Royal Arch Masons’ “Trinity.” “Jah” is an abbreviation for the Hebrew name for God: Jahweh, Jehovah. “Bul” is the name for the Assyrian deity and is mentioned throughout the Old Testament as “Baal.” “On” is the Egyptian sun god.
Pike, in Morals and Dogmas (p. 854) says, “To achieve it [salvation] the Mason must first attain a solid conviction, founded upon reason, that he hath within him a spiritual nature, a soul that is not to die when the body is dissolved, but is to continue to exist and to advance toward perfection through all ages of eternity, and to see more and more clearly, as it draws nearer unto God the light of the Divine Presence.” Frankly, that’s a bunch of hocus-pocus that means nothing.
In the Mason’s Bible (p.34) it says, “In the opening of the lodge, the Great Architect of the Universe must be worshiped, and his blessings upon the work about to be done must be supplicated; at the same time, prayer should be offered for peace and harmony in the closing of the lodge.” This nondescriptive “Great Architect” must be worshiped. Who is he? Any god you design. Pike also claims that at Masonic altars, “the Christian, the Hebrew, the Moslem, the Brahmin, the followers of Confucius and Zoroaster, can assemble as brethren and unite in prayer to the one God.”
In Short Talk Bulletin (Vol. 36, No.8, p.7) it says, “The chaplain of the masonic lodge who prays as the voice of the lodge does not pray in the name of the Carpenter of Nazareth or the name of Jehovah or the name of Allah. He prays to the Grand Artificer or the Great Architect of the Universe. Under that title men of all faiths may find each his own deity. Failure to mention any deity by name is not denial, but merely the practice of a gracious courtesy, so that each man for whom prayer is offered can hear the name of his own deity in the all inclusive title of Great Architect.”
Well, I think you get the point. Masonry is a satanic false religion. It says, “Yes, we believe in the true God,” but reduces Him to a wrong form, and worships Him in a wrong manner, with a wrong heart attitude. It’s unacceptable; unfortunately there are myriad such unacceptable kinds of worship. Those who practice them may think they’re worshiping God – but they’re not!
- Acceptable worship
Acceptable worship determines our destiny and distinguishes us as believers. In fact, the goal of salvation is to create true worshipers.
a) The picture of true worshipers
Psalm 24:3-6 is perhaps the loveliest Old Testament picture of a true worshiper. It says, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He who hath clean hands, and a pure heart, who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is the generation of them who seek him, who seek thy face.” True worshipers are the pure, the righteous, and the holy.
b)The production of true worshipers
In our last lesson we saw that the primary purpose of redemption is to create true worshipers who worship God acceptably.
c) The perspective of true worshipers
Picking up where we left off, we ended the last lesson looking at Hebrews 12:28-29. The writer of Hebrews says, “Wherefore, receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, by which we may serve [Gk., latreuo, ‘worship’] God acceptably with reverence and godly fear; for our God is a consuming fire.” When we worship God acceptably, there is to be a balance between reverence and fear. Reverence can be looked at as positive-affirming the value and worth of God.
Fear can be looked at as negative-affirming the judging, chastening, punishing, “consuming fire” of verse 29. So, a true worshiper worships out of reverence for God, as well as fear of Him.
If we have been redeemed, we are the true worshipers. And as true worshipers, we must worship acceptably. Now, I admit that even though we are true worshipers, we don’t always worship as truly as we ought because of the sin that is in us; but that is our goal. We are called to worship God acceptably with the positive affirmation that because He is a consuming fire, we have reason to fear if we don’t worship Him acceptably.
d)The personal characteristics of true worshipers
How do we manifest true acceptable worship in our everyday lives?
(1) Our treatment of fellow believers
Romans 14 talks about not making a weaker brother stumble or destroying him with the liberty we may have. Then in verse 18a Paul says, “For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God.” In other words, acceptable worship is a matter of how we treat our fellow believers.
(2)Winning someone to Jesus Christ
In Romans 15:16, Paul, thanking God for the grace that called him into the ministry, makes an amazing statement: “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable.” In other words, Paul saw his Gentile converts as acceptable offerings that were given to God. So winning someone to Jesus Christ is acceptable worship. The gaining of a soul can be offered to God as an act of holy, acceptable worship.
(3) Giving money to meet needs
Paul wrote to the Philippians, in part, to thank them for a gift of money they had sent him. He was glad they sent it because it was an act of love. In 4:18 he says, “But I have all, and abound. I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.” Their gift of money to meet Paul’s need was an acceptable sacrifice to God. Acceptable worship is giving your resources to support the saints, the work of the church, and the ministry of Christ.
Now the sum of these first three characteristics of acceptable worship – how we treat fellow Christians, winning non-Christians to Christ, and giving money to meet needs – is sharing. Worship is sharing – sharing your love, sharing the gospel, and sharing your resources. That exalts, honors, and glorifies God because it puts Him on display through your life and shows that you’re obedient to Him.
It also shows that you love those whom He loves – the saints, the lost, and the needy. Sharing is acceptable worship.
(4) Living a life of goodness, righteousness, and truth
In Ephesians 5:8b-10 Paul says, “Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit [lit., ‘light’] is in all goodness and righteousness and truth), proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” Living a life of goodness, righteousness, and truth (i.e., personal holiness) is a life of acceptable worship.
(5) Being filled with the fruits of righteousness
In Philippians 1:11 Paul prays that the Philippians might be “Filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” So again we see that righteousness,holiness, goodness, and godliness is acceptable worship.
(6) Living a life of godliness and honesty
In 1 Timothy 2:3 Paul says, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God, our Savior.” You say, “What is good and acceptable?” Look at the end of verse 2: “A quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” Godliness and honesty, along with righteousness, goodness, truth, and holiness, are characteristics of acceptable worship.
Now, I gave you three Scriptures that present worship as sharing with others, and three Scriptures that relate worship to personal holiness. So worship is a way of life that manifests itself in personal righteousness and extends to loving the brethren, proclaiming to the lost, and freeing resources to meet needs. Finally, acceptable worship is seen as:
(7) Praising God and giving Him thanks
Hebrews 13:15 says, “By him [Jesus Christ], therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” This is really the climax, isn’t it?
When we come together to worship, we sing, we praise God with our hearts and our lips, and we say thanks. Now look at verse 16: “But to do good and to share forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Did you get that?
God wants us to come together to praise and glorify His name and to say thanks to Him. But He doesn’t want us to forget that our worship is a way of life – doing good and sharing with others. You see? Hebrews 13:15-16 really sums up a worshiping life.
Worship is for every day – not just Sundays.
If you think that you can live any way you want on Monday through Saturday and then go to church on Sunday and worship, you’re dead wrong! Worship doesn’t occur in a vacuum, nor is it stimulated by artificial gimmickry. If you have to be in a church building or hear a certain kind of mood music to worship, what you’re doing isn’t worship. You should be able to worship God on the freeway during rush hour. But to do so, your heart must be right. You see, when we come together in the assembly of the saints to worship God, if it isn’t an extension of a worshiping life, true worship won’t occur. That is why Hebrew 13:15-16 tells us to assemble collectively to “Offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.” But we don’t forget “to do good and to share” as a way of life, or we’ll never generate any worship on Sunday. Worship must be a way of life!
e) The purpose of the assembly of true worshipers
Even though our worship is to be a way of life, we also need to be involved in the corporate worship that occurs once a week. Why? Because our worship on Sunday stimulates us to worship during the rest of the week. Hebrews 10 says, “Let us draw near with a true heart….Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” (vv. 22a, 25a). Why? Because verse 24 tells us that we are to come together to stimulate one another “unto love and to good works.”
We have to be living a life of sharing and righteousness out in the world in order to worship. And we are stimulated to do those things as we assemble ourselves together for the purpose of worship. One feeds the other. We must be in the fellowship of the saints, in the congregation of the righteous, among the people in whom God dwells – because it is there that we are stimulated to love and good works. As the stimulation affects our soul, we go out “to do good and to share (Heb.13:16a). Then, when we come back into the assembly, we overflow in praise with a continual heart of worshipful thanksgiving.
Now, if you’re not in this worship “cycle,” you’d better get in. How? Confess your sins and start right now. People say, “Well, I’ve got so many problems in my Christian life, I just can’t be committed to being consistent.” People who say that basically have one of two problems: either they’re not worshiping six days a week with a worshiping life, or they’re not worshiping one day a week in the assembly of the saints. We need both! If you go to church just when it’s convenient, you’re never going to get your act together. You can’t do it on your own – you’ve got to have the faithful, consistent stimulation to love and good works that a body of people brings to bear on your life. Unfortunately, we live in such an easy-come-easy go, casual, flippant society, that people don’t make those kinds of consistent, faithful commitments – and then they wonder why they can’t get their act together! We all need to join with a worshiping assembly as well as live each day with a worshiping life.
Worship is important because Scripture is dominated with it, destiny is determined by it, and third:
C. Eternity and Redemptive History Are Described by It
Worship is important because it’s the major theme of eternity and redemptive history.
- Pre-creation history
In eternity past, before men were created, what existed? The Trinity and the angels. What did they do? Well, Nehemiah 9:6b says, “And the host of heaven worshipeth thee.” What went on in eternity past? Worship (Job 38:4-7).
When Adam and Eve were created, they worshiped God as they walked and talked with Him in the Garden. However, sin entered the picture when Eve chose to worship Satan, and Adam chose to worship Eve. As soon as they ceased worshiping God, they fell (Gen. 3:1-13).
a) Cain and Abel
In Genesis 4, the first division among men came between Cain and Abel over the way they worshiped. Abel brought an acceptable offering (4:4), but Cain’s was unacceptable (4:5).
b) The patriarchs
When the patriarchs worshiped God properly, they were blessed, but when they worshiped Him unacceptably they were chastened.
c) The nation Israel
(1) In the desert
When the nation of Israel was taken out of Egypt, they wandered for forty years in the Sinai Desert until and entire generation died. They lost their lives without entering the Promised Land simply because they failed to worship God properly (Num.14:22-23). Even Moses never entered the land, because he failed to worship God properly (Num. 20:7-12).
(2) In the Promised Land
When the nation of Israel finally got into the land, they worshiped God as He wanted to be worshiped and were subsequently blessed (Neh. 9:3; 1 Chron. 29:20-25). However, the time came when they did not worship God properly (Acts 7:42-43), so He punished them and ultimately scattered them all over the world.
When Jesus began His ministry, He went to Jerusalem, walked into the place of worship, took a whip, and cleaned the place out (John 2:13-17). After He dealt with the corrupt worshippers in John 2, He called for the true worshipers in John 4:23-24. Worship was always the issue-the central theme of redemptive history.
- Present history
When the church was born, it was an assembly of worshipers. Philippians 3:3 is one of the greatest statements on worship in the Bible – a definition of the church: “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” In other words, the church is uniquely identified as God’s people – but not through physical circumcision. The church is made up of those who worship God in their spirit, rejoicing in Christ, with no confidence in the flesh.
When history consummates in the glory of the return of Christ, it will consummate in worship.
Worship is the theme of heaven and of eternity. For example:
a) Revelation 4:10-11a – “The four and twenty elders fall down before Him that is seated on the throne, and worship Him that liveth forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power.”
b) Revelation 5:14 – “And the four living creatures said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down, and worshiped Him that liveth forever and ever.”
c) Revelation 11:15b-17a – “And there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.’ And the four and twenty elders, who sat before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces, and worshiped God, saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty.”
d) Revelation 14:6-7 – “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to Him; for the hour of his judgment is come, and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”
Notice that the message of the everlasting gospel is to worship God!
e) Revelation 15:4a – “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only are holy; for all nations shall come and worship before thee.”
f) Revelation 19:4 – “And the four and twenty elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God that sat on the throne, saying, ‘Amen. Hallelujah!'”
g) Revelation 19:10a – “And I [John] fell at his [the angel’s] feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not! I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.”
h) Revelation 22:8-9 – “And I, John, saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren, the prophets, and of them who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” That’s the theme of eternity and redemptive history; to worship the true, living, and glorious God.
So, Scripture calls us to worship, destiny calls us to worship, and just in case somebody might fall through the cracks and think they don’t need to worship, the fourth reason it’s important to worship is because:
D. Christ Commanded It
In Matthew 4:10b our Lord says, “For it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord, thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” This statement was made directly to Satan, but it applies to every being ever created. All are responsible to worship God.
Do you worship God as a way of life? You should! If you find it difficult to worship the Lord when you attend church on Sundays, it isn’t because the music isn’t right, or because the atmosphere isn’t right, or because you get distracted. If you can’t worship, it’s because you’re not worshiping during the rest of the week.
Worship can’t just happen once a week – it’s a way of life. And when Christians do come together once a week, there should be a bursting out of true praise and worship of the heart. The worship that is enjoyed individually will be enriched and enhanced when brought into the joy of the assembly.
Worship then becomes all the more glorious!
Focusing on the Facts
1. What are we to recognize when we worship (see p.35)?
2. Give a brief description of what the Masonic Lodge believes about worshiping God and how it relates to other religions (see pp. 35-37).
3. What is the twofold perspective of true worshipers, according to Hebrews 12:28-29?
4. Match the ways we can manifest acceptable worship in our daily lives with the appropriate verses (see pp. 38-39).
a. Treating fellow believers a. Hebrews 13:15
b. Leading someone to Christb. Romans 14:18
c. Giving money for needsc. Philippians 4:18
d. Living a righteous life d. Ephesians 5:8-10
e. Living a peaceable lifee. Romans 15:16
f. Giving God thanks f. 1 Timothy 2:3
5. What three things that glorify God does a worshiper share? Explain how that is done.
6. Describe the quality of life that a worshiper is to live (Phil. 1:11).
7. Summarize the two aspects of worship, as indicated in Hebrews 13:15-16.
8. Where should you be able to worship God? What should be the extension of a worshiping life?
9. Why do Christians need to be involved in corporate worship once a week (Heb. 10:22, 24-25)?
10.Whom did Adam and Eve choose to worship rather than God?
11. Over what was the first division among men?
12. What were the consequences of Israel failing to worship properly in the desert (Num. 14:22-23)?
13. According to Philippians 3:3,what type of people is the church made up of?
14. What is the theme of heaven and eternity? Cite some Scriptures to support your answer.
15. What mistake did the Apostle John make in Revelation 19:10 and 22: 8-9? What was he instructed to do instead?
16. What is the fourth reason that worship is important (Matt. 4:10)?
Pondering the Principles
1.Review the personal characteristics of true worshipers discussed on pages 38-39. Are you fulfilling the duty of worshiping properly in each of those areas? In which area are you the weakest? As you yield yourself to the control of the Holy Spirit, prayerfully consider how you will strengthen that area this week.
2.The writer of Hebrews exhorted his readers, “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24-25; NASB*). Do you actually take time to consider how to stimulate other Christians? How can you stimulate your peers without appearing to be a self-acclaimed authority? What suggestion does 1 Peter 5:2-3 offer? Why do you think it’s still necessary to assemble together? Could Christians in this modern age merely watch church services on TV and communicate with other believers by phone? If you lack commitment and accountability to a local body of believers, plan to become a member of a church near you that teaches the Word of God.
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