What Exactly Is Christian Worship?
In Search of a Biblical, Theological, and Practical Definition for the Practice of Worship
What Exactly Is Christian Worship? © 2006 by Bradley Robert Berglund. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information address:
c/o First Baptist Church,
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Cannon Falls, MN 55009
Part 4 of 8
(For earlier chapters, click on my name next to my picture above)
Through the Terms He Prescribes
Worship recognizes the absolute sovereignty of God and then responds to that authority in total obedience. God is the ruler of everything. Contrary to man’s thinking, God is even sovereign over the content and character of worship. If God is the creation of man, as some falsely believe, then man is fully qualified to create patterns of worship for that god (Psalm 100:2-3). In superstitious societies religious zealots set up super-men as their gods of worship. But when they do, they worship and serve the creation rather than the Creator God. The Bible reveals that God created man in His own image, and not the other way around. He insists that the worship be true in character.
In Israel, the patterns for worship were delivered from Mount Sinai. Every detail was precise and significant. In spite of the fact that two men, Aholiab and Bezaleel, were Spirit-filled and their work was inspired to the highest and holiest degree, their artistic expression was hedged in by Biblical revelation (Exodus 31:1-6). Nothing significant in the design of the Tabernacle, its furnishings, the clothing of the priests, and even in the aroma of the incense was left to the discretion of man.
In spite of clear directives, man has tried to worship God with profane offerings. Cain’s offering was history’s first rejected act of worship. The Tower of Babel was later refused as a legitimate place of worship. Even when a Pharisee and a publican went into the temple to pray, one prayer was never heard.
In the celebration of Christmas, many gifts are exchanged. Occasionally, the gift given is odious to the receiver and cannot be exchanged. In such circumstances, the recipient is called upon to be gracious and say, “Thank you!” He calms his troubled mind by saying to himself, “It is the thought that counts.” It is time for man to realize that God does not operate this way. If He deserves the tithe, He should not be thankful when He receives only 3%. God does not sit at the family table and receive lectures that He must eat whatever we give Him or He will starve (Malachi 1:6-8).
The worshipper who has a Bible for his guide recognizes that there are limits to what is acceptable to God. Some churches profess to follow the “regulative principle.” This principle states that expressions of worship which are not clearly identified in scriptures are unacceptable in the practice of worship. While some might say, “I don’t see any verse that forbids the practice of blessing animals,” the regulative principle says, “I don’t see any justification for the practice in scriptures.” Nadab and Abihu were condemned by God, not for doing something that had been clearly condemned, but for doing something that God had not commanded (Leviticus 10:1-2). The regulative principle would have spared their lives.
The spirit of Cain in worship believes that man is the genius of religious expression. Every artistic expression is deeply personal and is unimpeachable when directly or indirectly refers to God. God should be thankful for t-shirts that compare Him to vile movie characters, sports figures, and contemporary fads. Man’s pride wells up again. He views himself as the one who keeps God in business. In his world, he is the consumer, God is the proprietor, and the church is the store. The Bible paints a much different picture. The worshiper is the servant and the Lord is the master (Luke 17:10). Instead of telling God to eat what is on his plate and be thankful, it is time for the servant to ask his master if his gift is acceptable and pleasing to Him.
For First Chapter click on Christian Worship - What Is It?
For Next Chapter Click on The Power of Worship
For other messages and illustrations see Pastor B archives