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Authentic Worship

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Authentic Worship


Christway Baptist Church

Springtown, TX


Text: Isaiah 6:1-8

Topic: Worship

INTRO: What would our worship service be like today if Governor Rick Perry suddenly walked through the door? Would we do things differently? Would we be excited enough to tell others during the week about our special guest? Would we change our behavior if Governor Perry asked us to do something special for him? As we consider these questions, let us consider how different things would be if God showed up.

This actually happened to Isaiah and he recorded the event in our text. Perhaps he was expecting things to be the same as they had been every other time, but they were not and Isaiah was able to experience the life-changing effect of authentic worship. Truly, he was a different man when he left the temple that notable day.

I believe we all desire to be involved in authentic worship. In fact, I believe that this year should be characterized by this kind of worship. Jesus said that the Father is seeking people who will worship him in spirit and truth (Jn 4:23), and this can only be achieved when we commit ourselves to worship that is authentic. Our text passage describes the proper order and elements of authentic worship. What are they?

I.           Praise and adoration

A.        Isaiah first saw the Lord in his glory and viewed heavenly beings centering their praise and adoration on him (vv. 1-4)

1.         Reference to year that King Uzziah died

a.         Provides a marker for a positive date (≈739 B.C.)

b.        Provides insight regarding Isaiah’s emotional and spiritual condition

(1)     Uzziah’s reign was long (52 years) and prosperous (2 Ch 26:1-15)

(2)     Spiritual condition of Judah, however, was lukewarm and backslidden (2 Ki 15:1-4)

(3)     Uzziah had intruded into the priestly office, was smitten with leprosy, and had been excluded from temple worship (2 Ch 26:16-21)

(4)     Consequently, Isaiah was probably anxious and concerned about what the future may hold

2.         In an instant, Isaiah saw that the focus wasn’t on him and his anxieties, worries, and fears, but on the infinitely holy God

B.        Authentic worship requires that we center our attention first on God

1.         Unfortunately, much of what passes for modern “worship” is focused on the wrong person—me!

2.         John saw a very similar sight in his vision of heaven (Rev 4:1-11)

a.         The sight described by John is truly spectacular

b.        John’s point, however, is that at the center of authentic worship is him who sits on the throne and the Lamb (Rev 5:13-14)

C.        If our worship is to be authentic, it will be focused on the only one worthy of worship—God

II.       Prayer and confession

A.        When Isaiah saw the Lord, he was immediately aware of his own sin and that of his people (v. 5-7)

1.         Isaiah saw that because of his own sin, he was the proper object of God’s righteous judgment

2.         He also realized that he was no better than those to whom he was ministering

3.         It was God who took the initiative to provide forgiveness and cleansing for Isaiah (vv. 6-7)

B.        Authentic worship requires contrite confession of sin

1.         We become aware of our sin when we are confronted with God’s infinite holiness

2.         Our attitude must be as the tax collector in Jesus’ parable: Lk 18:13 (ESV) 13But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’

3.         We will never get the full impact of God’s blessing without a sense of fresh forgiveness of our sins

4.         According to 1 Jn 1:9, the result of confession is both forgiveness and purification

C.        If our worship is to be authentic, it will be characterized by prayer and confession

III.    The Word of God

A.        After being cleansed of his sin, Isaiah was in a position to clearly hear what God was saying (v. 8a)

B.        Authentic worship will always involve hearing the Word of God

1.         Our modern culture is both visually and aurally oriented

a.         We are accosted by so many images throughout the day that we can’t even remember what we’ve seen

b.        Likewise, there is no place we can go where we can experience complete silence

c.         This noise serves to drown out the low whisper (1 Ki 19:12) of God’s voice to us

2.         We must take active steps to turn off the noise and listen intently to what God has to say

a.         For the next few days, observe the level of noise in your own life

b.        Then, take active steps to turn it off

c.         See if you won’t hear God speaking to your heart

C.        If our worship is to be authentic, it will always include the Word of God

IV.     Response

A.        Isaiah’s responded to God’s Word by submitting in unrestrained obedience to his call (v. 8b)

1.         Because he knew God had called, he responded

2.         Before he even knew the details (and it was not going to be a pretty sight), he responded

3.         God’s call and Isaiah’s response completely changed his life

B.        Authentic worship will always include our positive response to God’s Word

1.         If we can participate Sunday after Sunday in worship yet our life is essentially unchanged, then we have not engaged in authentic worship

2.         It is entirely possible that we can become religious play-actors (hypocrites) who show up at the right place at the right time, say the right words, and leave the stage on cue without ever being touched by the power of God

3.         There are two very tragic consequences of this kind of life

a.         First, because we are not Holy Spirit empowered witnesses (Acts 1:8), the lost around us will never hear the Gospel

b.        Second, we deceive ourselves, and only judgment, not eternal life, awaits us: Mt 7:21-23 (ESV) 21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

4.         Instead, like the blind man whom Jesus healed, our lives must be characterized by obedience to God’s will to the degree that others can clearly see the difference: Jn 9:8-9 (ESV) 8The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.”

C.        If our worship is to be authentic, it must be characterized by a positive response to God’s Word

CLOSE: Although Isaiah had been to the temple for worship many times before, he had never experienced authentic worship. The account he recorded for us in chapter six reveals that when God showed up, everything changed. Isaiah learned that authentic worship consists of:

I.           Praise and adoration

II.       Prayer and confession

III.    The Word of God

IV.     A positive response

John Ortlund shares the words of A. E. Whitham regarding the wonder and privilege of authentic worship:

“If you knew that there was one greater than yourself, who knows you better than you can know yourself, and loves you better than you can love yourself, who can make you all you ought to be, steadier than your squally nature, able to save you from squandering your glorious life, who searches you beyond the standards of earth . . . one who gathered into himself all great and good things and causes, blending in his beauty all the enduring color of life, who could turn your dreams into visions, and make real the things you hoped were true; and if that one had ever done one unmistakable thing to prove, even at the price of blood—his own blood—that you could come to him, and having failed, come again,

Would you not fall at his feet with the treasure of your years, your powers, service, and love? And is there not one such, and does he not call you . . .?” (Ortland, Three Priorities for a Strong Local Church, 39)

Will you commit today that this year Christway and its membership will be characterized by authentic worship?

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