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True Worship and Strange Fire

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True worship and strange fire

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Introduction

In his book ‘Call to Worship’ ABA author Robert Ashcraft declares that ‘Our prime reason for attendance at the house of God should be to worship and glorify God,
to show our love, our devotion, our honor, and our respect to Him, His work, and His Word.
Therefore, our singing, our prayers, our giving, and our presence should be primarily for His worship and praise.
Of the many things a New Testament church can do to bring glory to God, suggests that it is worship that brings the most glory to God.”
Of the many things a New Testament church can do to bring glory to God, suggests that it is worship that brings the most glory to God.”
Of the many things a New Testament church can do to bring glory to God, suggests that it is worship that brings the most glory to God.”
And yet, because many believers are ‘woefully ignorant’ of what it really means to worship God - many churches are ‘woefully deprived’ of the blessings that rich, rewarding corporate (communal) church worship can provide.
Now you’ll remember from last time, we looked at a conversation that took place between our Lord and a Samaritan woman in
And we discovered that
During that conversation, Jesus explains that ‘the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.’
During that conversation, Jesus explains that ‘the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.’
And we discovered that the first reason we worship is because the Word of God demands it.
But it’s not just any worship God wants from us - according to God wants ‘spiritual worship’ that is acceptable to Him.
according to God wants ‘spiritual worship’ that is acceptable to Him.
And that’s the kind of ‘spiritual worship’ Jesus told the Samaritan woman about in - ‘for the the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth’
Then we saw in 1 Peter that
Now our first concern is to identify WHO these true worshipers are.
The Father seeks true worshipers. Believers in the gospel, in the Lord Jesus Christ, are those true worshipers. This is, then, our eternal duty, and privilege, and priority. In fact, any glimpse into heaven in the book of Revelation will reveal that all who are there, both saints and angels, are glorifying God, giving Him honor. The most serious activity anyone will ever do is worship. The most serious activity anyone will ever do is worship.
And the only people in this world who could possibly worship God are SAVED PEOPLE - right?
Obviously the
This means that the only people in the entire world who can properly and acceptably participate in the true worship of God,
This means that the only people in the entire world who can properly and acceptably participate in the true worship of God - are those who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
are those who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So when believer’s come together for the purpose of worshiping God - they are engaging themselves in an activity that no one else can possibly be engaged in.
The Father seeks true worshipers. Believers in the gospel, in the Lord Jesus Christ, are those true worshipers. This is, then, our eternal duty, and privilege, and priority. In fact, any glimpse into heaven in the book of Revelation will reveal that all who are there, both saints and angels, are glorifying God, giving Him honor. The most serious activity anyone will ever do is worship. The most serious activity anyone will ever do is worship.
And this extraordinarily unique and exclusive position that every believer holds - has one demand: WORSHIP.
And we said that a worshiper can offer 2 kinds of worship:
ACCEPTABLE worship or UNACCEPTABLE worship.
We also said that there are 4 kinds of UNACCEPTABLE worship that we need to be aware of,
And the first kind of unacceptable worship is the most recognizable of the 4,
and the first kind of unacceptable worship is the most recognizable of the 4,
and the first kind of unacceptable worship is the most recognizable of the 4,
To wthe first kind of unacceptable worship is the most recognizable of the 4,

1. The worship of false gods.

The Bible declares that God is a jealous God, and He will not tolerate the worship of another in His place.
God declares, “My glory will I not give to another
And yet this world of ours worships at the feet of false gods of every kind - and explains WHY
explains WHY
for when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful.”
So even though this world of ours knew God - they glorified Him not as God.
They wouldn’t give Him glory as God,
They wouldn’t give Him praise as God,
They weren’t thankful to Him as God,
And they refused to worship Him as God.
And then, in their ultimate rejection of God, vs24 says that “they became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and God gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts
And what was it that caused them to reject God and refuse to worship Him?
Vs23 explains that they “changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things.”
In other words, they turned from the living God to worship their idols.
Now I don’t care who you are, or where you came from – every human being worships something.
And we said that when it comes to making idols, there are literally thousands of things you could fill in the blank with,
And there are literally thousands of things you could fill in the blank with – but there’s only one way you can fill in that blank and be right – RIGHT?
And there are literally thousands of things you could fill in that blank with – but there’s only one way you can fill in that blank and be right – RIGHT?
but there’s only one thing you can use to fill in the blank and be right – RIGHT?
‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind and strength,’
So the first kind of unacceptable worship is the worship of false gods.

2. The second kind of unacceptable worship is to worship the true God in the wrong way.

Now we have determined that the only people in the entire world who can properly and acceptably participate in the true worship of God,
Now we have determined that the only people in the entire world who can properly and acceptably participate in the true worship of God,
And the only people in this world who could possibly worship God are SAVED PEOPLE - right?
This means that the only people in the entire world who can properly and acceptably participate in the true worship of God,
So when believer’s come together and say its for the purpose of worshiping God - they are engaging themselves in an activity that no one else can possibly be engaged in.
are those who believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
And when a believer comes together with other believers for the purpose of worshiping God,
And when a believer comes together with other believers for the purpose of worshiping God,
And when a believer comes together with other believers for the purpose of worshiping God,
they are engaging themselves in an activity that no other assembly on earth can possibly engage in.
they are engaging themselves in an activity that no other assembly on earth can possibly engage in.
So there is
But I’m afraid that the meaning of worship has become so trivialized in our culture,
But I’m afraid that the worship event has become so trivialized in our culture - that what was once understood to be an urgent, serious, exclusive, and sacred event - has become nothing more than a frivolous, superficial, and shallow pursuit of emotional satisfaction.
And not only in heaven, but even on earth. When you come together and you say it is for the purpose of worshiping God, you have just pronounced upon yourself an urgency, and a severity, and a seriousness in the very activity in which you engage. Nothing is more serious than worship. I’m afraid in our culture, worship has become frivolous, superficial, shallow, trivialized.
But I’m afraid that the worship event has been so trivialized in our culture - that what was once understood to be an urgent, serious, exclusive, and sacred event - has become nothing more than a frivolous, superficial, and shallow pursuit of emotional satisfaction.
that what was once understood to be an urgent, serious, exclusive, and sacred event,
And yet, I’m afraid that worship has become frivolous, superficial, shallow, and trivialized in our culture.
This is the most serious activity anyone will ever do, worship God.
that what was once understood to be an urgent, serious, exclusive, and sacred event - has become nothing more than a frivolous, superficial, and shallow pursuit of emotional satisfaction.
has become nothing more than a frivolous, superficial, and shallow pursuit of emotional satisfaction.
And what is the reason for this ‘woeful ignorance’?
And what has caused this abomination?
According to another longtime ABA author - Robert Rayburn explains,
“There remains among sincere believers today a woeful ignorance concerning the significance of true worship.”
And where does this ‘woeful ignorance of true worship’ come from?
I believe we find a clue in John 4:24 where Jesus revealed that ‘true worshippers shall worship the Father in SPIRIT and in TRUTH’
1. The first point of Jesus’ statement to the Samaritan woman is that the call to worship God in SPIRIT means that we are to worship Him with the TRICHOTOMY of our beings; that is with ALL of our faculties: the Body, Soul and Spirit.
Now some people will worship with their Bodies - which means they believe they’ve worshiped God as long as they’re in the right place at the right time.
Now some people worship with their Bodies - which means they believe they’ve worshiped God as long as they’re in the right place, doing the right thing, at the right time.
Now many people worship with the BODY - which means they believe they’ve worshiped God if they’re in the right place at the right time.
This is obviously what the Samaritan woman thought as it either meant being at the Jewish temple in Jerusalem - or the Samaritan’s temple on Mount Gerezim.
This is obviously what the Samaritan woman thought as it either meant being at the Jewish temple in Jerusalem or the Samaritan’s temple on Mount Gerezim.
This is obviously what the Samaritan woman thought as it either meant being at the Jewish temple in Jerusalem - or the Samaritan’s temple on Mount Gerezim.

In Christ’s day the woman thought this meant being either in Jerusalem, at the temple there, or on Mount Gerezim at the Samaritans’ temple. In our day this would refer to people who think they have worshiped God simply because they have occupied a seat in a church on Sunday morning, or sung a hymn, or lit a candle, or

In our own day, it can be accomplished by occupying a seat in church on Sunday morning, attending Sunday School, singing a hymn, lighting a candle, or kneeling in the aisle.
In our day, it could mean occupying a seat in church on Sunday morning, singing a hymn, lighting a candle, or kneeling in the aisle.
In our day, it could mean occupying a seat in church on Sunday morning, singing a hymn, lighting a candle, or kneeling in the aisle.
In our day, worshiping with the body would mean occupying a seat in church on Sunday morning, singing a hymn, lighting a candle, or kneeling in the aisle.
Now while some attempt to worship God with their BODIES - Other’s attempt to worship God with their SOUL - which means they believe they’ve worshiped God as long as everything ‘feels’ right.
Other’s worship with the SOUL - which means they believe they’ve worshiped God as long as everything ‘feels’ right.
And we see this played out primarily in the traditional vs the contemporary worship music wars.
It’s also beginning to show itself theologically as the new emerging church movement as well.
But Jesus’ description of true worshippers being ‘those who worship the Father in spirit and in truth’ clearly states that none of this is True Worship in and of itself.
But Jesus’ description of true worshippers in clearly reveals that while these things can become vehicles of true worship,
none of them can become True Worship in and of themselves.
IN fact,
And as we see these kinds of things becoming the only expression of worship in a church, it becomes painfully clear that
“There STILL remains among sincere believers a woeful ignorance concerning the significance of true worship.”
In fact, the roots of this ignorant attitude reach all the way back into the OT book of Leviticus,
And it’s only when we combine the whole of what Jesus said about true worship in that we can finally put all the pieces of the puzzle together,
actually meets with God and finds itself praising God for his love, wisdom, compassion, mercy, grace, power, and all of His other divine attributes.’
And it’s only when we combine the whole of what Jesus said about true worship in that we can finally put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
And it’s only when we combine the whole of what Jesus said about true worship in that we can finally put all the pieces of the puzzle together.
of DISCERNMENT is probably the biggest problem of our day,
2. The second point of Jesus’ statement to the Samaritan woman is that the call to worship God in TRUTH means that we are to worship Him according to what HE has revealed in Scripture.
where it is called ‘Strange Fire’.
because if we can’t discern the truth that is in the Word of God in our hands, then we are all in danger of dying a death of a thousand heresies.
Now it’s interesting to me that the beginnings of this woefully ignorant attitude occur in the same book that records the establishment of God’s method of worship for the nation of Israel.
And yet, it is so much the human experience that whenever God’s truth is revealed - sin and error is usually following close behind.
The exercise of DISCERNMENT is at the very heart of Christian living because Christian living is a reflection of Christian thinking, and Christian thinking is directly connected to sound doctrine, which is where the ability to DISCERN begins.
2. The second point of Jesus’ statement to the Samaritan woman in , reveals that the call to worship God in TRUTH means that we are to worship Him according to what He has revealed in Scripture.
Now we find in that the order of True Worship was officially established when Aaron was called into the priesthood.
Later, in , Aaron would be consecrated and made the head of a priestly family that will have the responsibility of being the ‘worship leaders’ for God’s people.
reports that Aaron offered a sacrifice for the people of Israel to God - according to God’s plan.
And the details of that plan promised that God would respond positively when Aaron offered sacrifice according to the manner that God had given.
In “Moses said, to Aaron, ‘this is the thing which the Lord has commanded you to do, that the glory of the Lord may appear to you.
Come near to the altar, offer your sin offering, your burnt offering, that you may make atonement for yourself and for the people; then make the offering for the people,
that you may make atonement for them, just as the Lord has commanded.’
Then in vs22, God’s plan was carried out when “Aaron lift up his hand towards the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings.
Then in vs22 “Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people, blessed them, stepped down after making the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings.
And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people.
And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.”
So Aaron did what God told him to do - God did what He promised He’d do - and the order of True Worship was set in motion.
So Aaron did what God told him to do - and God did what He promised He’d do.
Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people, blessed them, stepped down after making the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings.
Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.
Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.”
So Aaron did what God told him to do - and God did what He promised He’d do.
And that brings us to and the story of Nadab, Abihu, and the Strange Fire.
and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
Now the sons of Aaron were highly honored and respected men.
Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.’
and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.
Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.’
They were priests of the one true God.
And the oldest son was in line to take his father’s place as High Priest.
Now the sons of Aaron were highly honored and respected men. They were priests of the one true God. And the oldest son was in line to take his father’s place as High Priest.

And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, 9 Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: 10 and that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; 11 and that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.

Except for Abraham and Moses, Nadab and Abihu were the only ones named as leaders of Israel the first time Scripture refers to it.
‘And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.’
Their names headed the list of nobles of Israel in . They were very respected men. Apart from Abraham and Moses, they are the only ones named in Scripture the first time Scripture refers to the leaders of Israel. They were really - apart from Aaron and Moses, I mean - they were the only ones named, these two sons, when the first list of the leaders of Israel were named. And that’s in Numbers and that was really the Sanhedrin, the first 70 elders. They were not sinister. They were not wicked. They were not usurpers. They were honored men.
As two of the first 70 elders (which would eventually become the Sanhedren) Nadab and Abuhi were given the privilege of climbing part way up Mount Sinai to watch from a distance as God spoke to Moses.
As two of the first 70 elders (which would eventually become the Sanhedren) Nadab and Abuhi were given the privilege of climbing part way up Mount Sinai to watch from a distance as God spoke to Moses.
According to , these sons of Aaron saw God - and they lived.
So there is nothing to indicate that either of them were sinister, wicked, or usurpers.
The Bible says that Nadab and Abihu were very close to God - and that only Moses could be considered closer - so their futures seem so promising, their positions in the priesthood seem so secure,
And then
and then it suddenly happens in vs2 that ‘Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon,
Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon,
and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.’
Now to some of us, this might seem to be a good example of God severely overreacting to a very minor matter.
There are many theories about it - the one I lean toward is that they brought fire from a source other than the brazen altar that God had lit in some supernatural way.
zpAnd while this might seem to us living in 2017 to be a case of God severely overreacting to a very minor matter - it certainly wasn’t a minor matter to God - and it could be that is where our greatest problem with true worship lies.
and that could be the place where our greatest problem with true worship lies.
.
T Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.’
Now to us, this might seem to be a good example of God severely overreacting to a very minor matter.
And we may wonder ‘as long as the incense was lit, why does God care where they got the fire from’
But that’s exactly the point of all this!
Maybe you come to church every time the door is open and haven’t missed a service for 20 years.
Maybe you put more in the offering plate than anybody else does.
God did care where the fire came from - it wasn’t a minor matter to Him - and that ought to terrify us.
Maybe you volunteer yourself to do more things - and do it more often than anyone else you know.
Maybe you regularly volunteer your time and talents.
But if you’re doing any of that with Strange Fire - you’re trying to worship the true God in a false way.
God did care where the fire came from - it wasn’t a minor matter to Him - and that ought to terrify us.
Now we don’t know what the Strange fire was that Nadab and Abihu brought before the Lord - the Bible doesn’t tell us.
There is certainly no lace of theories about it - the one I lean toward is that they brought fire from a source other than the brazen altar.
But that’s not the point.
The point is that God did care where the fire came from - it wasn’t a minor matter to Him - and that fact ought to terrify us.
God did care where the fire came from - it wasn’t a minor matter to Him - and that ought to terrify us.
You say - why should it terrify us?
Because the most serious crimes committed against God - are those committed by corrupted worship.
Look at vs3 “Then said Moses unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified.
Here, Moses connects the death’s of Aaron’s sons with the holiness of God in a way that seems to be more focused on the significance of how to approach God, than on any particular failure on the brothers part.
The point is taken farther when the death of Nadab and Abihu provides an opportunity for additional instructions regarding how the priesthood is to approach God for worship in the right manner.
Now there are a lot of people today, who seem to think they can take matters into their own hands and worship God any way they want to.
For example, there are a lot of people who seem to think they can worship God any way they want to
We’ll hear them say things like ‘I don’t have to be in church to worship God - I can worship God anywhere I want to worship God.’
We hear them say things like ‘I don’t have to be in church to worship God - I can worship God anywhere I want to worship Him’ ’
Now where does the Bible say that?
We don’t worship God on our terms - We worship God according to the terms as they are presented in Scripture.
But where does the Bible say that?
is about the only place i know of that talks about giving God glory through our worship.
In fact, is about the only place i know of that talks about giving God glory through our worship
And it doesn’t say ‘to God be glory on the lake.
It doesn’t say ‘to God be glory in the deer woods - either
No - it says ‘to God be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.’
The Bible says ‘to God be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.’
This means that we don’t worship God on our terms - but we worship God according to the terms as they are presented in Scripture.

Let’s Pray Together,

Father we thank you for our time in your Word tonight.
And I thank you for these precious people who come with eagerness in their hearts for the truth,
not to know the truth just for the sake of knowing it,
but for the sake of knowing You, and loving You, and serving You.
Thank you for all that You’ve done in us and for us.
And we know we’re not perfect - far from it.
But we love what we love - and we hate what we hate - because of what You’ve taught us in Your Word and because of the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
Give us a wonderful rest of the week and fulfill in us all Your good pleasure,
Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.’
We pray in Christ’s name - AMEN
Here, Moses connects the death’s of Aaron’s sons with the holiness of God in a way that seems to be more focused on the significance of how to approach God than on any particular failure.
The discussion is continued when the death of Nadab and Abihu provide an opportunity for further instructions regarding how the priesthood is to approach God in the right manner.
This context is continued when the death of Nadab and Abihu provide an opportunity for further instructions regarding how to approach priestly responsibilities in the right manner.
Obviously the great privilege of the presence of God’s glory dwelling with His people carries the dangerous responsibility of God’s people being in close proximity to His holiness.
Obviously, the great privilege of the presence of God’s glory dwelling with His people carries the dangerous responsibility of God’s people being in close proximity to His holiness.
it’s only when we combine the whole of what Jesus said about true worship in that we can finally put all the pieces of the puzzle together,
“And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die:
it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: and that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean;
and that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.”
The Cambridge Paragraph Bible: of the Authorized English Version. (1873). (). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.”
only when we combine the whole of what Jesus said about true worship in that we can finally put all the pieces of the puzzle together,
This leads us
And this takes us to the second point of Jesus’ revelation in , which declares that the call to worship God in TRUTH means that we are to worship Him according to what He has revealed in Scripture.
and that brings us to the second point of Jesus’ statement to the Samaritan woman,
which is that the call to worship God in TRUTH means that we are to worship Him according to what HE has revealed in Scripture.
and that brings us to the second point of Jesus’ statement to the Samaritan woman which is that the call to worship God in TRUTH means that we are to worship Him according to what HE has revealed in Scripture.
In Leviticus 10
Secondly, the call to worship God in TRUTH means that we are to worship Him according to what He has revealed to us in Scripture.
Secondly, the call to worship God in TRUTH means that we are to worship Him according to what He has revealed to us in Scripture.
Secondly, the call to worship God in TRUTH means that we are to worship Him according to what He has revealed to us in Scripture.
So the call to worship God in Spirit and in Truth, then, means that we are to worship God with the sum total of our being - and to follow the manner He has described in His Word.
of DISCERNMENT is probably the biggest problem of our day,
of DISCERNMENT is probably the biggest problem of our day,
In fact, the lack of DISCERNMENT is probably the biggest problem of our day,
because if we can’t discern the truth that is in the Word of God in our hands, then we are all in danger of dying a death of a thousand heresies.
The exercise of DISCERNMENT is at the very heart of Christian living because Christian living is a reflection of Christian thinking, and Christian thinking is directly connected to sound doctrine, which is where the ability to DISCERN begins.
Someone has wisely said that ‘True worship occurs only when that part of man, his spirit (which is akin to the divine nature)
actually meets with God and finds itself praising God for his love, wisdom, compassion, mercy, grace, power, and all of His other divine attributes.’
So the call to worship God in Spirit and in Truth, then, means that we are to worship God with the sum total of our being - and to follow the manner He has described in His Word.
Now you’ll remember from last time, we looked at a conversation that took place between our Lord and a Samaritan woman in .
Now you’ll remember from last time, we looked at a conversation that took place between our Lord and a Samaritan woman in .
During that conversation, Jesus tells the woman that ‘the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.’
When it comes to
“The worship of God is at once the true believer’s most important activity and yet at the same time it is one of the most tragically neglected activities in average church services.
After observing that some progress had been made in encouraging Christians to observe a daily “quiet time” that includes bible study and prayer, Rayburn continued,
“There remains among sincere believers today a woeful ignorance concerning the significance of true worship and the means of attaining the blessing of rich, rewarding corporate church worship.”
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