RENEWAL IN THE CHURCH
“Let us worship God.” Familiar words, but what is worship?
J.H. Oldham has said, “Worship is the response of believing men in adoration and joyous self‑dedication to God’s revelation and to His redeeming grace.”
Normal Christian life focuses on the joyous response of our whole personality to God.
While we hold to the Reformation tradition that the whole of life should be worship, we are primarily concerned here with what we would describe as services of worship as we know them, for the renewal of the Church will mean a revitalising of its worship.
THE GOD WHO IS WORSHIPPED:*
“Let us worship God.”
Who is the God we worship?
What kind of God is He? God is the infinitely great Creator and Sustainer of the universe and all life.
He controls the universe and is the moral Governor of man.
He cares for even the least of His creatures, and this assures us of His care for man.
Is.40; Gen. 1; Acts 17:24‑28; Matt .10:29.
God’s supreme qualities are His holiness and His love.
He is utterly holy and opposed to sin – Is 6:3.
The Ten Commandments (Ex.20:1‑17) and such a book as Amos reveal His demand for righteousness in humankind, both towards Himself, and towards other people.
To flout His will leads to judgment; and one day He will judge the whole world in righteousness ‑ Ps.96:13; Acts 17:31.
Yet in His love for humankind He wants not to judge but to save; to forgive our sins, and renew us inwardly to enable us to keep His law.
He is the God of moral and spiritual renewal.
This finds its Old Testament climax in Ezekiel (18:21‑23; 36:25‑27); and its full expression in God’s costly gift of His only‑begotten Son, Jesus Christ (Jn.3:16), and especially in Christ’s Death (Rom 5:8) which supremely commends God’s love to the world.
Jesus taught God’s Fatherhood.
Uniquely, God is the Father of Jesus Christ, (Matt 10:25‑27); in a subordinate sense He is a Father to human beings; again, in a sense, to all; but especially to those who believe on Him through Christ (Jn.1:12;
Rom.8:15‑21): in a very special way that others are not, these are God’s children.
In a universe whose vastness makes us seem insignificant, in a world where evil seems unrestrained, we need a God who controls all these things and cares for people individually to give us a sense of security and meaning in life.
Faced with our own sin and moral impotence we need a holy God who loves us, and has sent His Son so that we may be forgiven and renewed.
This is the God we worship, into whose presence we come both privately and publicly, individually and together as a congregation, to praise and to pray and to be caught up our of ourselves “lost in wonder, love and praise”.
W0RSHIP IS CORPORATE:*
The Gospels stress Jesus’ private life of prayer, but also His attendance at public worship.
Worship is at once individual and corporate, private and public.
We need the fellowship of others.
“We become related to Christ singly, but we cannot live in Christ solitarily” ‑ John A. Mackay.
In Acts 2:42 we read that when the penitent believers were received by baptism, ‘they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread and of prayers”.
New life involved immediate fellowship, and this fellowship was mainly expressed by worship.
The congregation expressed its united and corporate relation to God, realized its Christian unity and thereby bore a remarkable testimony of that unity to others.
Corporate Worship is a witness to the non‑Christian world around, of the reality, power and joy of the Christian faith of the worshippers.
It is in worship the Church expresses her life; sand this worship is our response in praise, adoration and prayer to what God has done for us in Christ.
Then, fired by the glory of the vision, we go out into the world to live by the light of the inspiration we have received.
Worship covers the whole of life.
“On our knees we put our devotion to God into words.
On our feet we put our devotion to God into action”.
FACTORS IN WORSHIP:*
Read Isaiah 6: 1‑8.
In this familiar incident of the young Isaiah in the Temple, we have prevented to us what many regard as a classic sequence in worship:
(a) Vision and Adoration of God, verses 1‑4.
Isaiah realises the holiness of the One
in whose presence he is.
(b) Confession of Sin, verse 5. Having realised God’s holiness, he at once realises his own sinfulness, “woe is me for I am undone”.
(c) Cleansing, verses 6‑7.
As we face our sin in God”s presence, so we bring it to Him to be cleansed that we might be forgiven, and because we come in the Name of the Lord Jesus, we can have assurance of forgiveness (see 1 Jn:1:9.).
(d) Commissioning for Service, verse 8. Having been cleansed and restored to a right relationship with God, Isaish is now ready to hear the Divine summons to serve Him.
Further, in worship whether private or public, we come expecting to be addressed by the Spirit of God through the Word of God.
This word is “alive and active” (Heb.4:12) and its appointed task is to correct, to heal, to release, to encourage, to instruct, to build up, to enable and to strengthen the people of God for the work of the Kingdom.
This happens through the printed page and through the Preacher.
Look at Acts 10:33 ‑ the meeting in the house of Cornelius; “Now therefore are we all here present before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God”.
This is the context in which Peter preaches.
God is present.
God is working.
There was evident blessing - see verse 44.
Various are the elements in worship: praise, prayer, petition, supplication for ourselves and intercession for others.
We come “in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:24).
While we should always be concerned about the fitness of thing ‑ we must also realise that form and freedom, structure and spontaneity are not mutually exclusive elements.
If brashness has no part in meaningful worship, neither has pomposity.
Worship is not helped by an unthinking, frivolous attitude, nor by a stifling formalism.
Rather we come rejoicing, celebrating who God is, and what He has done for us in Christ by the Spirit, and what He means to us.
Then we go forth rejoicing in His service into the world.
Archbishop William Temple summed it up ‑
“Worship is the most dynamic force for the redeeming of the world.
To quicken the conscience by the Holiness of God
To feed the mind with the Truth of God
To purge the imagination by the Beauty of God
To open the heart to the Love of God, and
To devote the will to the Purpose of God.”
1. Share together how you respond to one another of the quotations on worship by J.H.Oldham, John A. Mackay or Archbishop Temple.
\\ *RENEWAL IN THE CHURCH*
COMMITMENT begins in Decision and continues in Discipleship.
Conviction ‑ realising we are sinners before God, Repentance ‑ acknowledging and turning from our sin, and Faith ‑ coming in our sin to Christ; lead up to conversion and membership of the Church.
Decision or even the taking of vows is not the end, but rather only the beginning of new life in Christ.
This new life is Discipleship.
What does it mean?
*~* 1. DISCIPLESHIP MEANS DEMAND:*
The characteristic of 20th Century Christianity is that it makes no demands upon usa Anything goes.
This is a denial of the Gospel.
Grace is free; not cheap but costly.
Christ and the Gospel face us with a demand, not merely an invitation.
The Cross speaks of salvation secured, of sufficiency available ‑ and of submission demanded.
There can never be Renewal in the life of the believer or of the Church until this last is clearly recognized.
Discipleship is but one side of the coin, the other is the Lordship of Christ.
“Jesus Christ is LORD”, said the early Church.
Grace makes demands upon us because of what God has done for us in Redemption.
Look at the characteristic words of Jesus in the incident at Caesarea Philippi (Mk.8:34;
The demand of the Lord following upon the confession of faith is that those who would follow must take up the cross.
Compare this with St. Paul’s understanding of it as expressed in Ga1atians 2:20.
Discipleship is our acknowledging and submitting to Christ’s Lordship.
His Lordship means our obedience ‑ see John 15:10; 1 John 2:3‑6; Luke 6:46; Matthew 1.
In aking this demand, God gives the grace obedience.