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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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WORSHIP IN THE WRONG DIRECTION

‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (Matthew 15:8-9 ESV)

Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,  Therefore behold … the wisdom of their wise men will perish, And the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.” (Isaiah 29:13-14 NASB)

Narcissus

Narcissus

I believe that when Christians and unbelievers attend church they should hear the Bible preached and sing songs that reinforce the biblical message. This is worship that glorifies God. However, the modern church has altered worship to the current tastes of the unchurched. The advent of the “Church Growth Movement” (CGM) in evangelical circles has generated changes in corporate worship to attract the unchurched. Churches who adopt CGM are driven to find the answer to the question, “What do people want?”

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Worship

A Heart for GodSinclair B. Ferguson:

For worship is, essentially, the reverse of sin. Sin began (and begins) when we succumb to the temptation, “You shall be as gods.” We make ourselves the center of the universe and dethrone God. By contrast, worship is giving God his true worth; it is acknowledging Him to be the Lord of all things, and the Lord of everything in our lives. He is, indeed, the Most High God! (A Heart for God, 1987)

They Need to Hear from God

WorshipRon Owens:

Recently . . . a pastor shared with me that he now had less than twenty minutes to preach on Sunday morning because more time was needed for “worship.” He said the music portion of the service was expanding, and now that a drama skit was being included each week something had to be cut. They had mailed out a survey to the church membership. The question was: Which would you prefer: (1) Add fifteen minutes to the length of the service? (2) decrease the “worship” time? (3) shorten the sermon? The majority chose to have a shorter sermon.

As we analyze this, several things surface. First of all, this is not a unique situation for a pastor in America. It is, rather, a picture of church today, both from the standpoint of the leadership and of the people. The people want to be entertained, and the church leadership is willing to oblige. If the people want more music and drama, we will give it to them. Today music and drama will win hands down over preaching in many of our churches.

Secondly, in this situation there was a disorientation on the part of the pastor and people as to what worship is. . . . Many view the music portion of the service as . . . the worship time, while the rest of the service is something else. They do not see preaching, prayer, and Scripture reading as worship.

Thirdly, this church did not understand that worship is essentially a response to God’s Self-revelation in Scripture and that, in the context of worship, preaching is God speaking to His people through His Word. One of the outgrowths of the Reformation was the restoring of the priority of preaching to the church. This was visibly evidenced by the returning of the pulpit to the center of the platform.

Pastor, when your people gather, they need to hear from God. They have been hearing all sorts of messages all week long; they now need to hear a message from His Word. As important as it is for them to have time to express themselves to God, it is more important that they hear God express Himself to them; that they be fed from His Word; that they be instructed in the ways of God’s kingdom; that they be effectively strengthened by His might in their inner beings to be salt and light to the world in which God has placed them. (Return to Worship: A God-Centered Approach (Broadman and Holman, 1999), p. 102-103)

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