2007-10-06_FVW3_Corporate Worship_Sat AM_SL
Fall Vision Weekend, Session 3 | October 6, 2007 | Shaun LePage
A. Review Core Value—segment on “worship together”
B. Worshipers, Danish Protestant church bowed blank white wall; No one knew why—always had; building restoration, behind white paint, pre-Reformation painting of Virgin Mary; Roman Catholic ancestors bowed toward painting; painted over after Reformation—children continued until meaningless ritual
C. Just as capable of mindlessly participating in a weekly worship service
D. I’m convinced our worship service encourages those who wish to worship
E. Take a closer look at each element—Biblical basis; but first…
F. Why do we call it a worship service? Acts—told where, who was there, what took place, but we are never told what they called their meetings; Acts 13:2—clue to “services.” Antioch “…ministering to (serving) the Lord...” 2 observations:
1. Service was a verb, not a noun.
a. “Service” as noun dangerous—like calling building “Church.” Nowhere does the Bible refer to any building anywhere as a church.
b. Bible does not call gathering “service” either—lost something by making this switch—something we have rather than do; come, passively warm chair—done duty being in service (noun) rather than serving (verb).
c. Not here to be served—here to serve/“minister to the Lord”! …second observation.
2. Service was “to the Lord.”
a. Using services to serve the servants rather than servants serving the Master”! Backwards!
b. “Ministering” Acts 13:2 leitourgeo, (liturgy). Lu 1:23, Ro 15:16—priestly service. We come as royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9), priestly duties, service of worship in worship service.
c. But, how do we “serve/minister to” God when we worship? Easy to see “serve one another,” but how do singing, thanking, play instruments, preaching and giving “serve”?
d. Klaus Hess explains this nicely: “The activity of serving stands in contrast to ruling. Faithful service presupposes humility in the one who serves as the inferior, in contrast to pride. He who serves is in a position of dependence…” (NIDNTT, p. 544.)
e. Declare dependence upon God—submit ourselves to His rule in our lives we “serve” Him. Obviously, every day, not just Sunday. But, Sunday morning “service” serves as reminder.
II. Five Elements
A. Many details we could examine: On Sunday mornings, we do a variety of things:
1. Starting Call to worship—simple, last minute reminder: Prepare to enter God’s presence
2. Greeting and announcements—they demonstrate importance of fellowship and unity.
3. Prayer is worship; acknowledge ever-present and everywhere present; desires to answer
4. Baptism/Lord’s Supper
B. All important and worthy of our examination. Let’s look at five elements.
1. Worship the Lord with singing.
a. Israel after Pharaoh’s army drowned? Deborah & Israel subdued king of Canaan? Jesus & disciples after 1st Lord’s Supper? Paul and Silas midnight in prison? Sang!
b. Songs/singing almost inseparable from Biblical worship. Ever ask ‘why’? Blending words together with proper intonation and rhythm? Why such good tool? Don’t know.
1) Speculate God pleased by unity. His people declaring praise to Him all at once should communicate our unified belief in the truths we are singing—His greatness/worthiness.
2) Also believe God invented music; natural response to Him; Creator of beauty.
c. Ronald Allen and Gordon Borror—classic book, Worship: Rediscovering the Missing Jewel—write, “It would be difficult to overstate the power of the musical language. It has emotional-mental stimulation unmatched by any other means of communication. Words alone can be and often are very strong, but couple them with the ‘right’ music and they can be burned into the mind and consciousness indelibly.”
d. Begin and end services by singing—more than mood; preliminary to preaching; survey…
1) The Bible tells us to sing! Commanded! Pss more than 35X told to sing; 30X+ “I will sing!”—even if the only one, don’t feel like it, even if life gets in the way, I will do it!
2) The Bible tells us who should sing! “All the earth” (1 Ch 16:23; Ps 96:1; 68:32); No one—not even pagans and atheists—exempt (Rom 1:20). How much more should we?
3) The Bible tells us what to sing! Pss “new song”—old song sung new meaning, spontaneous noise (whistle/hum from joyful heart). A new song—express in new way; variety Eph 5:19; Col 3:16)! “Psalms” from OT book of Psalms; “Hymns,” likely proclaimed attributes of God like Holy, Holy, Holy; Immortal, Invisible and Majesty; “Spiritual songs” probably improvised song from heart, spontaneous; simple choruses—Variety! “Blended” worship; “contemporary, yet retains rich heritage”
4) The Bible tells us when to sing! All the time! Pss 5, 61, 104 (few); deliverance from evil (Pharaoh’s army Ex 15) Great joy (Solomon dedicated temple 2 Chr 5:13) Revival (Hezekiah restored temple worship 2 Chr 29:30); persecution (Paul and Silas Acts 16) Singing not just for Sunday, but important to church “gathered.” All examples gathered
5) The Bible tells us how to sing! “joy” Pss 33, 67, 81, etc.; “thanksgiving” Ps 147, Eph 5:19,20; “gladness” Ps 67, 68; Jer 31:7, etc.; bottom line of “how”: heart. Eph 5:19; all outward worship expressions a matter of heart behind expression. Jesus: “True worshipers shall worship the father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23); our spirit/heart
a) Blessed with good voice—fantastic! Make melody from heart, not to show off
b) If “gift/blessed” does not come to mind—don’t let that stop singing from the heart.
c) So much emphasis on types of songs, types of instruments or no instruments at all. Those things fade into insignificance when we get the “how” right—from the heart.
6) The Bible tells us why to sing! Ever ask why? Impress others? Enjoy selves? Win lost to Christ? Win visitors? Because God is worthy of our songs of worship.
e. Leper isolated colony; gospel reached poor outcast woman; God put a song in her heart, but vocal mechanism largely eaten away; Film footage shows her clutching pages from hymnal, trying to sing; not resemble music, but God looks at heart; may have been most beautiful music ever heard in heaven (Allen & Borror). Worship the Lord with singing!
2. Worship the Lord with music!
a. NT gives liberty in worship! Nowhere demand length, day, attire! Not told to use instruments or which instruments or style of music; our discretion guided by Scripture.
b. Some condemn instruments. Silly? but many say NT silent, so a sin; we are “adding to”.
c. Impossible standard! NT not command buildings, mics, chairs, hymnals, air conditioning or English translations of Bible either; law from silence is legalism; truly “adding to”.
d. If NT were completely silent we have freedom—encouraged in OT not condemned in NT
e. Prefer to worship without instruments? Free to do so! Acapella beautiful! But, also free to use instruments in worship because spirit of OT—authentic expression. See Ps 33; 150
f. Better question: Why is it to be preferred?
1) It is biblical. Again, Eph 5:19, Col 3:16 speak in “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.”
a) psalms (psalmois) OT Gr trans LXX translate Hebrew mizmor. Lit. “instrumental music.” Original (classical Greek) lit. “pluck/play” musical instrument.
b) hymns (hymnois) similar; used to translate one frequently used word in the Psalms which is “a musical term denoting a stringed instrument.”
c) Both psalms and hymns in Eph 5:19, Col 3:16 allow for and even encourage instruments in NT worship. By definition—with musical accompaniment; some maintain that use of musical instruments is actually commanded by these verses.
d) Instrumental music part of worship in throne room of God! Rev 5:8 and 15:2—24 elders each has a harp; Trumpets—God orders use; not banned in heavenly service, there’s no reason to believe they are somehow banned from worship here on earth!
2) It is an opportunity for service.
a) Not every talent/ability is spiritual gift; don’t believe musical ability or singing ability is a spiritual gift. But, all good gifts from Father (Jas 1:17) and giving to God from what He has given—time, talents and treasures—how express worship.
b) Woman anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume and tears and hair (Lu 7:36-50). Woman gave two small coins (Mk 12:41-44). Paul gift for debate, John gift of writing. Each used their gifts for Lord; Something special about perfume? Coins? Mouth? Pen? No, it was the heart from which these gifts were given that made them special.
c) So, playing instrument like all expressions of worship: matter of heart.
3) It is helpful.
a) Practical level: helps us sing—drums, keep rhythm; piano/guitars maintain pitch.
b) Also encourages positive emotional responses; David to Saul—instrument soothed Saul and refreshed him (1 Sam 16:23). Positive emotional response—by design
g. Johann Sebastian Bach said, “All music should have no other end and aim than the glory of God and the soul’s refreshment; where this is not remembered there is no real music but only a devilish hubbub.” He headed his compositions: “J. J.” “Jesus Juva” which means “Jesus help me.” He ended them “S.D.G.” “Soli Dei gratia” which means “To God alone the praise.” Worship the Lord with music.
3. Worship the Lord with movement. Subject elicits 3 different reactions: 1) conservative extreme, “Don’t move a muscle!”; 2) liberal extreme, “Shake, rattle and roll—anything the ‘spirit’ leads is okay!” 3) majority don’t know what we should do with bodies in worship.
a. Don’t move a muscle?
1) Bible tell us not to move? No! Surprisingly, commands body-expression! Almost certainly expressed worship in several different ways with your physical body: stand, heads bowed, eyes closed, vocal chords, crawling out of bed, etc.—body-expressions of most rigid; Others clap, raise hands, nod in agreement—all physical; ordinances: Baptism / Lord’s Supper require body-expression—immersed, eat/drink; not a matter of whether someone physically expresses; matter of which body-expressions. We should seek to be as biblical as possible. What does Bible say about body-expression?
2) OT full of physical expressions: Moses removed his sandals at burning bush (Ex 3:5); Joshua fell on face before preincarnate Christ (Josh 5:15); David danced before the Lord when ark of covenant brought back to Jerusalem (2 Sam 6:14); Daniel knelt as he prayed (Dan 6:10); psalmists command “dancing” (149:3; 150:4); “clap” (47:1); and “lift hands” (134:2). OT condone all kinds of body-expression? Absolutely.
3) Next question: Does NT command?” No clear command one way or the other; We should no longer set up tent in desert and sacrifice animals. Tabernacle expressions of worship no longer legitimate because Christ fulfilled once and for all; no commands regarding bowing, kneeling, clapping, raising, baring feet or moving feet.
4) Most common NT word for worship proskuneo “prostrating oneself; kissing toward.” Once Jesus dining in home of Pharisee, “a woman / sinner” came in, wept tears all over Jesus’ feet, wiped with her hair, anointed with perfume and—kissed His feet. All worship—uninhibited, physically expressive worship; Host shocked, but Jesus rebuked: “You gave Me no kiss!” Be very slow to judge—might be rebuked by God.
b. Shake Rattle and Roll? “We’re free to shake, rattle and roll!” shouts our liberal extremist friend. Not necessarily—I believe freedom in worship falls within Scriptural parameters. Must derive expressions from Scripture, limitations placed upon us by Apostolic authority.
c. Finding Balance
1) First, look for Biblical examples. Demonstrated or commanded? Free!
a) Jesus fell on face in prayer in Gethsemane (Matt 26:39)—demonstrate submission.
b) Paul: “I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands…” (1 Timothy 2:8). Greater issues in context, but gives approval to lifting up hands.
c) 1 Cor 14, true worship—unbeliever. “...he will fall on his face and worship God...” (v.25). Context not about body-expression, a good and right response
d) Look for Biblical examples.
2) Second, look for Biblical parameters.
a) 1 Cor 14:40. “properly and in an orderly manner”. Rather than long list of dos and don’ts, Paul gives general instruction we are to combine with Biblical discernment.
b) 1 Cor 11:27-30 not celebrate Lord’s Supper in “unworthy manner”; not celebrating proper and orderly; some sick and died
c) Personal conviction: balance found by following lead of those who “keep watch over your souls” (Heb 13:17). God-given authority structure; “properly / orderly” intentionally vague, matter of submission to elders—they have responsibility to address it and congregation has responsibility to submit (1 Pet 5:1-5).
d) So: freedom, but responsibility to “show forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:2,3); Worship the Lord with your body—keep in mind you are in the Body of Christ.
3) Third, look for Biblical emphasis.
a) focus of NT not on body of worshiper, but on heart of worshiper; inner person is where authentic worship takes place. Body-expression irrelevant if not from sincere heart
b) But what of the physical? Did Jesus address? He did, but shows the spiritual is primary.
1. Sermon on Mount, Jesus said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven” (Mat 6:1). Motivation (heart) must be right or actions aren’t pleasing.
2. Parable in Luk 18, man refused to look up toward heaven “beating his breast” praying. Physical expressions of repentance legitimate because heart was right
3. Several occasions fell down at his feet and worshiped (Mat 2:11; 28:9,17; Luke 7:38; 17:16; Rev 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:4). Jesus received this worship—body-expression and all—usually without comment; revealed heart was right (Luk 7:50; 17:19), prostration was fine if the heart was prostrated before the Lord as well.
c) At the same time, must not make mistake that physical is worthless or evil; 1 Cor 6:20; Aim: truly worship God with all of our being (Mark 12:30,31); seek to avoid extremes
4. Worship the Lord with offerings.
a. Giving is an act of worship. Biblical worship is intertwined with giving.
1) The entire Mosaic system revolved around offerings.
2) NT goes beyond tithes/offerings to commitment of all self and possessions
b. But why an act of worship? To give away some of what we possess—that which we have worked for and earned—communicates some important things about the giver.
1) When we give, we show gratitude for what Christ has done for us (2 Corinthians 8:9).
2) When we give, we demonstrate perspective. Use stuff of earth to invest in eternity.
3) When we give, we communicate values. We show what is truly important to us.
4) When we give, we acknowledge stewardship. “steward” does not own the resources he uses. When we give, we acknowledge God is the true owner of everything we have.
5) When we give, we imitate God. Highest form of praise is imitation. Praise not only on Sunday, but any time we do, think or say something the way God would; Why does God love “a cheerful giver”? Because God is a cheerful giver!
c. Offering not departure from worship. Worship the Lord through offerings.
5. Worship the Lord with Preaching.
a. Again, Jesus said, “true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.” True worship is response to truth about God in Scripture. His greatness, holiness, mercy proclaimed from pulpit and we should respond with praise and worship. Quite simple.
b. Greek scholar, W.E. Vine, has written, “The worship of God is nowhere defined in Scripture. A consideration of the [Greek verbs translated “worship” in the New Testament] shows that it is not confined to praise; broadly it may be regarded as the direct acknowledgement to God, of His nature, attributes, ways and claims....” In other words, true worship is telling God, “It’s true! Your Word tells us You are holy and righteous and just and powerful and present—it’s true, Father! We stand here together enjoying who You are and what You’ve done for us and just telling You that we know and believe and celebrate what is true!”
c. One of the most biting indictments Jesus leveled against the Jewish leaders is found in Matthew 15:9: “But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” Jesus shows that worship is intertwined with doctrine and the teaching of doctrine. Their worship was “in vain” because they were teaching false doctrine.
d. Of course, not everyone participates in preaching by preaching—nor should everyone be allowed to participate in that way—nor would everyone want to participate by standing in the pulpit and preaching. The Holy Spirit has gifted some to be pastor-teachers—not everyone is gifted in the same way.
e. But, everyone can and should participate in the preaching of God’s Word. How?
1) Listen to the message. By listening, and reading along in the Scriptures; remembering the greatness and holiness and mercy of God.
2) Examine the Scriptures. By examining the Scriptures along with the preacher to make sure that what is being proclaimed as true is indeed true.
3) Open up to the Holy Spirit. By taking to heart the message preached and opening up to the possibility that the Holy Spirit is working through that message to help you put off sinful ways and thinking and attitudes; to make you more Christ-like; and to mature you in your faith. Our response to preaching is an act of worship.
f. It is nice for someone to compliment a sermon, but what I most desire is not a pat on the back or a word of encouragement—though this is appreciated very much. What I desire most of all is that our God would be glorified, that the lost would be saved and the saved would become true worshipers and worship God better than ever in response to a sermon.
g. Preparing and delivering a sermon is an act of worship. Listening to one should also be an act of worship. Engage in the sermon and invite the perfect God to speak to you through an imperfect preacher—so that you may worship the Father in spirit and truth.
A. I know, it’s a simple list. But then, it’s a simple service—by design—to help, not hinder worship. The CBC Worship Team and Elders did some evaluation last Sunday and we’re going to make a few adjustments to our Sunday morning corporate worship: Most notably—team start 15 mins. early for those who just want to sing more—official time still 10:30.
B. Christopher Wren, who designed St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, wrote about the reactions of construction workers who were asked what they were doing. Many said things like, “I’m laying bricks” or “I’m carrying stones.” But one worker, who was mixing cement, seemed cheerful and enthusiastic about his work. When he was asked what he was doing, he replied, “I’m building a magnificent cathedral!”
C. Many—if asked what they are doing on Sunday morning—might say something like, “I’m just singing” or “I’m just playing my guitar” or “I’m just sitting here.” I understand. There are days when I leave the building feeling like all I did was turn and bow toward a blank wall.
D. But on good days, I remember worship is a great privilege and the “assembling of ourselves together” is a great opportunity. Each prayer, song, verse of Scripture—the offering, music, preaching—all comes together—like bricks, mortar, glass come together to make a magnificent cathedral—and that brief time spent with my church family can rightly be called worship service.