Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What Is Worship?

We train future pastors in our church.  My philosophy or belief about training a pastor, which I believe I should be doing, is that I should be giving him what he needs to reproduce what I do.  I don't want to give him less than what it is I am and do.  We offer the equivalent of an M.Div. academically.  One whole semester course is on worship.  Many don't even understand worship.  We spend a semester course on it, and we easily fill up that time.  It's difficult to get it done in a semester. Pastors are the worship leaders of their church.  They need to understand worship.  They should be able to explain what they are doing, coming directly from scripture to do that.

When you study the word translated "worship" and all the related words to worship, here's what you'll see it to be.  There are two parts.  The first part is the recognition of Who God is.  You don't worship God if you don't recognize Who He is.  You won't know what He wants, if you don't know Who He is.  You aren't worshiping God if you aren't worshiping God.  To be worshiping Him, you have to acknowledge Who He is.  If you do acknowledge Who He is, then you can treat Him like He deserves to be treated in affection and attitude.

Worship must match up with God.  He isn't being worshiped if it is fallen short of or different than Who He is.  It must represent Him, parallel with Him, or fit Him.  All of us understand this on a practical level if we have a relationship with anyone.  We know if we have respected someone or loved someone and it relates to what we think about that Person.  We treat them commensurate to our apprehension of each of them as a person.  You don't love everything in the same way.  You shouldn't treat God or love God like you do everything else.

We expect the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier to be at a level that isn't the same as some other guard at some other location.  This equates to Moses being told by God to remove his shoes because of his proximity.   That is the recognition of God.  He is greater.  He is scarier.  He is better. Nothing is as good as Him.  We can't approach God the same as anything else.   A person has the wrong theology who has a casual approach to God.

The other part in the definition of worship, the first being the recognition of Who God is, is giving Him what He wants.  If we do recognize Who God is, we will give Him what He wants.  How do we know what He wants?  He tells us.  The Word of God tells us what God wants.

Some of you have heard of the regulative principle of worship.  The idea of that principle is that worship is regulated by scripture.  It starts with the elements of worship.  The elements of corporate worship should be those found in scripture.  Those should not be added to or taken away from. Scripture is sufficient.  God doesn't want less than what He said or more than what He said.  He doesn't accept something different than what He said.  Silence isn't permission.

Giving God what He wants starts with elements and continues with the circumstances of those elements.  The elements are the categories and the circumstances are the logical means necessary to accomplish those elements.  The Westminster Confession of Faith defines "circumstances" with the following:

There are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.

The circumstances should not violate scripture, but they are non-scriptural.  You might ask, what are the elements?  If we are regulating worship by what God said, that is, giving Him what He wants, then we will keep the elements to those things that He said.  I believe they are the reading of Scripture (1 Thess 5:27; Col 4:16; 1 Tim 4:13), the preaching of the Word of God (1 Tim 4:6, 13-16; 2 Tim 4:2; Mt 28:20; Acts 2:42; 20:7; Titus 2:15), the hearing of and responding to the Word of God (James 1:19-20), prayer (1 Tim 2:1, 8; Acts 2:42; 4:23-31), singing of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs and making melody unto the Lord and giving of thanks (Eph 5:19-20, Col 3:16; Mt 26:30; 1 Cor 14:26, 1 Tim 2:1), baptism (Mt 28:19), the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:23, Acts 2:42), and the collection (Gal 2:10; 1 Cor 16:1-2, 2 Cor 9:1-12).

All of life should be regulated by scripture.  We are always supposed to give God what He wants. Romans 12:1-3 comes in here as a guide.  True worship is perpetual and spiritual and sincere from the heart.  As a spiritual priesthood, we offer spiritual sacrifices unto God.  This is akin to the Holy Spirit filling us, that is, controlling our life.  We are always submitting to Him, therefore, always giving to Him what He wants.

God is seeking for true worshipers.  To review, worship is recognizing who God is and giving Him what He wants.  You are not a success if you do not worship God.


Bill Hardecker said...

Thanks for sharing this Pastor Brandenburg. May our churches be about these eight Scriptural agendas during our services. What a helpful post. Also I appreciate the Bible verses to look up and study out. God alone really is worthy of worship. He is the audience of what we offer him in music and all else. It is all about Him! He is preeminent. God bless you.

Farmer Brown said...

This is good, and a good subject to understand. In my own life, I really did not understand worship for many years after being saved. Defining worship is not something on which I have heard much preaching, but it is so important.

Perhaps the passage which gave me the most clarity is Matthew 8:2 And, behold, there came a leper and worshiped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

What the leper does is worship. He worships in what he says. You said, "worship is recognizing who God is and giving Him what He wants." This is exactly what we see here.

Consider that no Jew had ever been cured of a natural case of leprosy, at least that we know of. As far as we know, Leviticus 14 had never been used. This man had no reason to think he could be rid of this dread disease, he could be the first to go through the cleansing. He had no evidence leprosy could be cured.

Except, like the Centurion later, he had complete faith in God and knew that God, by an act of his will, could cure him. His faith in God was the only evidence he needed. The leper had no doubt who this man before him was and what this man could do, and this leper unhesitating placed his faith in Jesus.

In what he said he both recognized who Jesus was and gave him what he wanted, his complete trust and faith. In doing so, he worshiped the Lord.

Bill Hardecker said...

Pastor Brandenburg,
Your thoughts please on the influence of the Synagogue on New Testament church services, if any. Part of what I am getting at is the benediction. Synagogues had that as a part of their gathering. We see some benedictions in Scripture but is that just that (??) or should benedictions have a part at the conclusion of a church service, or is that a formality? Is that more of a protestant tradition? What say you?