Tuesday, March 23, 2021

The Command to Worship the LORD in the Beauty of Holiness

Without doubt, scripture teaches that worship of God must be regulated by what God says.  The point of this post comes from Psalm 29:2

Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

I've seen this verse many times.  Many.  Yet, something occurred to me when I read it in my Bible reading this year that really struck me.  Since true worship of God is regulated by scripture, then worship should be regulated especially by this verse.  There are not many verses as stark as this one on worship of the LORD.  The teaching is also repeated three times.  It's not a stand alone.

1 Chronicles 16:29, "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness."
Psalm 96:9, "O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth."
I've written many times on the regulative principle of worship.  Scripture shows exclusively and through numerous examples that worship must be regulated by God's Word.  Silence is not permission.  In this case, scripture says something.

I've also written a lot about beauty.  It is among the topics or doctrines about which I've written the most (it is under "B" in my index).  I've also written about it recently in a three part series on the throne room of God (part one, part two, part three).  I've mainly written about beauty as one of the transcendentals, especially related to apostasy.  I don't take any of that back, but in this case, I want to talk about how "beauty" relates to the regulation of worship according to this verse and the others like it.

One point that caught my attention when reading Psalm 29 in my trip through psalms is the command.  It's not just what scripture teaches on worship.  This is a commanded aspect of worship.  How many of those are there?  "Worship" as a verb is imperative.  It's not that worship itself is imperative, which it is -- "worship the LORD."  Everyone knows that's an imperative.  The imperative is that the LORD is worshiped in the beauty of holiness.  "The beauty of holiness" is a requirement in acceptable worship.

I want to reiterate this point.  God does not accept worship that is not in the beauty of holiness.  He rejects it.  This is part of the regulative principle, but it's more than that.  All worship must be in the beauty of holiness.  If not, it isn't worship.  If what someone calls "worship" is not in the beauty of holiness, then it isn't worship.

Almost all evangelical and now even fundamentalist worship is not in the beauty of holiness.  Evangelicals and fundamentalists as a whole are not worshiping God.  I know that means that they are doing something else, worshiping themselves, and that sounds tough or seemingly impossible, but it is true.  They are disobeying this command and, therefore, offering God something that is against His nature.  It is more than this, which brings me to the second point that caught my attention.

A second point is that beauty is assumed in the verse.  It is implied that the reader knows what beauty of holiness is.  It is obvious.  It cannot be obeyed if it cannot be understood.  A modern audience most of the time does not understand the beauty of holiness.  It is a completely foreign concept.  Yet, everyone is still required to worship God in the beauty of holiness.  This is an ignored requirement.  God commands it, and the apparent worshipers say, "Meh. Nope.  Gonna do what I want instead."

It's not just what I've written so far. The so-called worshipers today don't want to be critiqued for not worshiping God in the beauty of holiness.  They are angry if you do.  They want to treat it as not being able to be understood, a tertiary matter.  Even though beauty of holiness is non-optional, it is rejected by evangelicals and most fundamentalists.  One could say that the one thing required is the one thing the most offensive to evangelical and fundamentalist sensibility.  It must not be a part of their worship.  What is this all about?

The main apostasy of the age in which we live is that the things of God are conformed to the world.  They must be accepted.  Evangelical and fundamentalists success, which amounts to getting bigger and having bigger budgets or at least translating into tangible results, even if they are fraudulent, requires elimination of beauty of holiness.  It has to at least be redefined and dumbed down until it isn't even what it is.  This is all to be conformed to man, to his lust, which is what makes these churches popular.  Of course, it all leads to or just is false worship.  Their people don't have the same God in their imaginations. That's been ruined by their unwillingness to conform to what scripture says.

There are many of these in scripture, but "beauty" is self-evident.  We already know it.  If we don't know it, it's not a knowledge problem, but a rebellion one.  The rebellion proceeds out of lust.  Beauty though is something that men can know like they can know what "corrupt communication" is and what "the attire of a harlot" is.  Ignorance is not a legitimate excuse.  It won't be accepted by God.

Since worship must be in the beauty of his holiness, then beauty is objective.  It can't be subjective. That would be to command, worship the LORD in the whatever you want beauty of holiness to be.  People don't want to be judged on beauty, because they want their own taste. 

You're going to spend eternity somewhere, and that relates to what God knows about what you're doing.  You should think seriously about whether He will be pleased.  Nothing that "you like" will be in God's kingdom or in the eternal state, and that's what you want to highlight in this life -- what's going to be in the next.  If you don't care, then you should check whether you will be there or not, or whether the actual God of the Bible is your God.

When readers see the title of this post, I suggest most just move on.  They don't care.  They want something "practical."  There is nothing more practical than God being worshiped.  If that is not your practice, you are not pleasing God, the whole purpose of your existence.  This is not a "controversial issue."  People have already moved on.  They just smirk and say, "He's one of those."  Pause a moment.  If you don't obey this command, you are not worshiping God.  That means you are not a "true worshiper of God" (John 4:23-24).

Okay, so you may ask, "What is the beauty of holiness"?  "Holiness" is the perfections of God's nature.  Beauty corresponds to or parallels with the manifestation or revelation of the character of God.  Much has been written on this through the centuries to the point where the church has agreed what this is.  Just because modernism and post-modernism has left it and even rejected it doesn't mean that it isn't still true.  Beauty is in accordance with the nature of God.  It cannot clash with who He is, and 90 to 100 percent of evangelical and fundamentalist worship does.

Evangelical worship is ugly.  It is worldly.  It is carnal.  That's what evangelicals like about their worship.  They disobey this command:  worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.  They are not worshiping the LORD.

No comments: