Friday, September 12, 2014

Reverence and Solemnity: Essential Aspects of Biblical Worship, part 5 of 8

V. Applications of the Fact that Reverence and Solemnity
Are Essential Aspects of Biblical Worship

            The fact that reverence and solemnity are essential aspects of Biblical worship has tremendous consequences for the practices of Christ’s earthly congregations.  First, it is evident that “worship” that is not solemn and reverent, but is superficial, foolish, thoughtless, vapid, flippant, trivial, and irreverent is in the highest degree offensive to God.  The Father seeks for true worshippers, and “they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:23-24).  Jehovah delights in His true children crying “Hosanna to the Son of David” in His temple (Mt 21:15), but those who do not worship Him in spirit and truth, but instead profane and defile His worship, He destroys (1 Cor 3:17).  False worship is idolatry, and idolaters will be tormented with fire and brimstone forever and ever (Rev 21:8).  The Lord Jesus hated false worship so much that at both the beginning and end of His earthly ministry He violently drove out from the temple those that profaned the pure worship of the Father (Jn 2:13-17; Mt 21:12-17; Mr 11:15-18), so that “his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (Jn 2:17).  The Lord Jesus was so zealous for pure worship that He made a whip and beat out of His Father’s house those that defiled it (Jn 2:15), In this jealously for holy worship Christ was in full agreement with His Father, who sent fire from heaven to burn up those that failed to worship properly (Lev 10:1-2) dealt in pitiless fury to slay utterly those that profaned His temple (Eze 8), and eternally torments in hell those who offer Him false worship (1 Cor 6:9-11; Rev 14:9-11; 21:8).
            The facts above are most relevant for those who are members of true churches—the kind the Lord Jesus started in the first century—historic Baptist churches.[1]  Only such churches have the special presence of the holy Trinity in their midst (cf. Mt 18:17, 20).  What fearful judgment such churches should expect from He whose eyes are as a flame of fire if they corrupt pure worship (cf. Rev 2:5, 16, 20-23; 3:1-4, 14-18)!  However, other religious organizations in Christendom, from the liturgical and hierarchical to the worldly megachurch, even if they do not possess the special presence of Christ found in His true congregations, nevertheless will face the judgment Christ will pour out on all idolaters.  Therefore let all the world take heed to the Biblical mandate for reverent and solemn worship, and flee with horror from everything that deviates in the least from such worship.
Second, note that it is absolutely essential to have grace if you are to worship or serve God acceptably.  Only through grace can you serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear—consequently, God commands you to have grace (Heb 12:28).[2]  Your prayers and praise must be with grace in your heart if they are to be acceptable (Col 3:16). The only way of true access to the Father is through the Son and by the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:18; Col 3:17; 1 Tim 2:5; Jn 14:6), so if you are unconverted, you are utterly unable to worship God and offer Him true service.  Only regenerate people will enter into the New Jerusalem to worship God forever and ever, and only regenerate people are those true worshippers that can worship the Father in spirit and truth now (Jn 4:23-24).  They only have fellowship with the Father and the Son through the Spirit (1 Jn 1:3; 2 Cor 13:14).  If you are unconverted, you cannot please God in any way, you have no Mediator to bring you into the Father’s presence, no Spirit to assist you in your coming, and consequently you face the awful and immeasurable wrath of God against you for your sin in Adam, your sin nature, and your innumerable personal transgressions (cf. Rom 8:8-9; Tit 1:15-16).  Ought you not immediately turn from your sin and flee to Christ, that you might receive mercy through His blood, the imputation of His own perfect and everlasting righteousness to your account so that you can stand perfect before the legal tribunal of God, and the freedom from the bondage of sin under which you so awfully lie (Mr 1:15; Jn 3:16; Rom 5:1)?
            Are you regenerate?  Then sensibly recognize, and all the more because your formerly blind eyes have been opened, and your formerly insensible heart of adamant has been softened, how necessary grace is for your to worship your Triune Redeemer acceptably!  Do you not know by experience the truth of Paul’s statement:  “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me” (Rom 7:21)?  Do you not see your indwelling sin the more awfully active the more you seek to approach the Lord in true reverence and godly fear?  Is it not especially active when you engage in your especially holy duties?  How, then, can you worship the Lord in solemnity and reverence, when sin clings to even your most zealous and holy thoughts and deeds, so that you deserve nothing more than to be thrust into the depths of hell for the most holy act of worship you have ever done in your life?  “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” (Ps 130:3). What, then, is the answer?  Grace—“But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.” (Ps 130:4).  You have in the Lord Jesus a perfect High Priest who bears the iniquity of your holy things, that you may be accepted before Jehovah (Ex 28:38).[3]  Then let grace be of infinite sweetness to your soul, the rejoicing of your renewed heart, and your constant dependence in all your acts of personal and corporate worship before your Lord.
            What is more, you must not only be regenerate, but also have an upright heart, for if you regard iniquity in your heart, the Lord will not hear your prayers or accept your worship (Ps 66:18).  As a believer, you are individually the temple of God (1 Cor 6:19-20), even as the corporate assembly is His temple also (1 Cor 3:15-20; 1 Tim 3:15).  You must be a clean and holy temple if your individual worship is to be acceptable.  You must individually be a clean and holy temple the whole week if your part of corporate worship on the Lord’s Day is to be acceptable (Is 1:13-15).  If you cannot lift up holy hands (1 Tim 2:8) because your hands are stained with sin, or stained with the blood of the unconverted to whom you refused to give the gospel (Ac 20:26-27; Eze 33:8), do you think the Lord will be pleased with your worship?  Can you pray reverently to the King of heaven because you have a regenerate and upright heart?

This entire study can be accessed here.

[1]           See “Bible Study #7:  The Church of Jesus Christ” at, and also the resources at for the identifying marks of true churches.
[2]           That is, “let us have grace” is a hortatory subjective, which “is used to urge someone to unite with the speaker in a course of action upon which he has already decided” (pg. 464, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Wallace), and which consequently bears an imperatival notion—for only through grace can men worship acceptably with reverence and godly fear:  e¶cwmen ca¿rin, di∆ h∞ß latreu/wmen eujare÷stwß twˆ◊ Qewˆ◊ meta» ai˙douvß kai« eujlabei÷aß.
[3]           Cf. “Christ our High Priest, Bearing the Iniquity of our Holy Things,” Horatius Bonar (