In the “Something’s Happening Here” discussion, we looked at the following things that occur during gathered (in-person) worship in music:
- We declare God’s worth, character, truths, and the Gospel to ourselves, one another and unbelieving attendees (visitors.)
- We commune relationally with God in His Presence
- When we sing as the gathered church, we have an opportunity to re-orient/submit every area of our lives to the Truths of God’s Word, most specifically the Gospel.
- In authentic, Truth-centered worship we are engaged in spiritual warfare.
For this last post in the series, let me begin with 2 things:
First, I’ve specifically not blogged on the sacraments due to the varied understandings of what actually transpires during the Lord’s Table and Baptism. These were not my focus, but rather the overall service and sung worship / musical worship.
Second, as I have said often, I am a pilgrim on my journey closer to Christ, and a fuller understanding and practice of His desires for worshippers individually and corporate – so there may be an aspect of gathered worship I have overlooked or have yet to learn. These 5 blogs represent what I have learned thus far to be consistent with the Scriptures across cultures, generations, and epochs. So, in terms of this series….
Finally, in our gathered worship we come to receive.
I intentionally left this for last, because as humans we tend to be self-centered and think everything is about us and for us. Sadly, this can be seen in the content of many modern songs and sermons.
Someone once wisely remarked that Sunday gatherings are a service (unto the Lord), not a serve us.
We do not come with a shopping list of things we demand God to do. Christians do not approach our magnificent God or His Bride in the same fashion as pulling up to a drive through window expecting certain menu items to be fulfilled:
“I’d like 2 hymns, the latest radio friendly worship song, an inspiring message (hold the sacrificial conviction), and family issues miraculously healed… and a shake.”
Consumerism runs rampant in the Church and we must not forget that our acts of “worship” or “homage” or “obeisance” are unto the Lord simply for who he is, and not what He gives us.
Even Romans 12:1-2 tells us that our lives lived as living sacrifices are worship unto God.
So, whilst we come to make much of Him – declaring His character and acts, praises and glories, and submit our lives to His Word and ways – he graciously and mercifully meets His people; the Spirit Ministers to the Bride in accordance with His will.
Through God’s Word and by the power of the Spirit, people are broken over their sin, healed emotionally and spiritually and (when God wills) physically, restoration and assurance of forgiveness occur as we sing of these truths and declare them from the Scriptures and creeds.
One of the glorious uniqueness’s of the Christian faith is that our God has revealed Himself as a God who is relational and calls us to “walk humbly with” Him because He desires it. He created us for relationship, not rituals.
It makes sense then, that He offers to us these exhortations and reminders in Scripture – both as individuals and as His ekkeslia (gathered church):
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” 1 John 5:14-15
“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:8-10
And certainly, we are called in our gathered worship to use the Psalms (Col. 3:16, Eph 5:19). The Psalms (including those for gathered worship) are replete with supplication requests to God.
In His mercy, in our gathered times of worship God gives to us, He ministers to our needs. Our gracious Father lovingly meets the needs of His loving, deferential children.
We come to worship, he delightfully condescends to provide. It is not incumbent upon Him to do so – but in His mercy, grace and love, He does!
What a wonderful God we worship! The loving Father, compassionate Son, and powerful Spirit – blesséd Trinity.