Archive by Author

Prerequisites To Worship

Worship is not some difficult, complex, sophisticated religious activity which is limited to a few elite saints. It is to be the portion of all believers. Worship is simply bowing before the Lord and expressing His worthiness to be worshipped. (Rev. 5:8). Now worship goes beyond the wonderful fact that Jesus died for us. While we should never forget this amazing fact, and the wonderful love of Christ, there is much more for which He can be worshipped.

Rather than being solely occupied with our blessings, we can think upon His beauties as seen through the eyes of the Father, to Whom He always brought delight. As the hymn writer has so nicely put it, “Loved with love which knows no measure, Save the Father’s love to Thee. All His joy, His rest, His pleasure – All His deep delight in Thee – Lord, Thy heart alone can measure what Thy Father found in Thee.” If we would see some of what the Father saw in Him, we will find ourselves at His feet, and we will be worshippers!

Worship has been called the Christian’s “highest occupation.” If this is true, and it is, then the Church is sadly failing to fulfill its highest calling. Much of what is called worship is not really worship at all. Listening to sermons and choirs falls far short of Biblical worship. Saints in many circles rarely, if ever, come together to simply be occupied with Christ and to exalt Him together.

Others come together specifically for this purpose, but often there is little worship. Many have given little thought to Christ during the week and the best they can muster is singing someone else’s thoughts penned in a hymn – this is not to say that singing hymns that honour and exalt the Lord are not worship, but they can become a substitute for real worship.

In the Bible there were two things that characterized those who were worshippers. It seems to be true of them, regardless of what dispensation they lived in. Perhaps we could view them as prerequisites to worship, and test our hearts accordingly as we come together to worship the Lord Jesus Christ.

The first thing that characterizes those saints in Scripture that worshipped was that they had a right view of the Lord. They understood to some degree, and were often overcome by, the majesty of His person, the greatness of His power, and the glory that is His. They never came into His presence in some casual way, but with great reverence – a reverence that is often missing in our casual day!

We see this in David’s prayer regarding the materials for the temple and the offering of the people. “Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our Father, for ever and ever. Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the Heavens and in the earth is Thine; Thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and Thou art exalted as head above all.” (1 Chron. 29: 10-11)

Isaiah records, “…I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple… And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isa. 6:1-3)

Thomas uttered that short, but wonderful expression when he realized he was in the presence of the risen Christ, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28) Scripture records many expressions which indicate that the worshippers had a right view of the Lord.

The second thing that characterized those who worshipped was that they had a right view of themselves. After expressing his worship, David asked, “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort?” (1 Chron. 29:14) Isaiah cries out, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isa. 6:5) Seeing the Lord, John writes, “And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.” (Rev. 1:17)

Those who found themselves in the presence of the Lord were fully aware of the vast difference between the One they worshipped and the one worshipping. They were humbled to think that such creatures could be so privileged as to be in the presence of the Lord Himself. Are we aware of this great difference and the grace that has brought us to this place of acceptance and privilege? Do we with little thought of such things gather together to worship? If so, is it any wonder than we worship so little?

As accepted in Christ, we may come boldly into His presence (Eph. 1:6; Heb. 10:19), but this does not negate the need for a right view of the Lord, and a right view of ourselves as we come into His presence to worship.

Read more

Focusing on Christ

“And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.”

1 Corinthians 11:23-25

The institution of the Lord’s Supper could not have been in a more simpler fashion. A small group of men sitting about a table in an upper room away from the busy world without any distractions. There was no pipe organ. There was no priest in elaborate garments, no altar of any kind, no stained glass windows, no worship leaders, no formal prayers, no bells, no incense, nothing, except Christ.

Christ used simple and common item, bread and cup filled with fruit of the vine. Perhaps using the practice mention in Jeremiah, “Nor shall men break bread in mourning for the, to comfort them for the dead; nor shall men give them the cup of consolation to drink for their father or their mother,” the Lord Jesus used bread and the cup as a way for His disciples to remember Him. (Jer. 16:7 NKJV)

It should be noted that Christ did not say, “Remember me in my death.” We so often use those words, “Remember Christ in His death.” His request was that they would remember Him. It was a Person they were to remember, not so much an event. Now when they broke the bread which Christ said represented His body, and drank of the cup which represented His blood, they “declared” the Lord’s death until he come. Too often we remember only His death, but have little memory of the Lord Himself.

When we grow cold and have given little time to remembering Him in our daily course of life it is often reflected at the Lord’s Supper. Not all times of silence are a reflection of coldness, but frequent periods in which the brethren are silent can well be an indication we have “forgotten” the Lord duing our daily life. Sadly, instead of confessing our coolness, we install external “props” in an effort to produce worship. It may be by having a “worship group” provide music, it may be ornate surroundings, it may be liturgy, anything that appeals to the natural senses, our ears, eyes, touch, smell, etc. All of these only mask the real internal condition of our hearts.

When in truth we are gathered in simplicity to remember the Lord there are no props and the true condition of our hearts is clearly revealed. It is soon evident, individually and collectively, that this is why our wise Saviour instituted this supper. We are prone to forget! At times such as these we often revert to the hymn book and sing words that other godly saints have written. (do not misunderstand, the right hymns sung from right hearts convey many proper thoughts.) In addition to the hymn book we can drift into a “thanksgiving” meeting in which the wonderful truth of our salvation takes center stage. We become “we” centered. We concentrate on the gifts, not the Giver. Like the assembly at Ephesus we can do many good things, but lose our focus. (Rev. 2:2-4)

I would like to suggest four words that might help us keep our minds focus on Him. Now there is plenty of latitude associated with these suggested words and so they will in no way infringe on the work of the Holy Spirit in orchestrating the worship of His saints.

The first would be His preincarnate “Loftiness.” He was God! (John 1:1) He was eternal! (John 1:2) He was the Creator! (John 1:3) He is “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by word of his power,” (Heb 1:3) and of course much, much more could be added.

Second would be His incarnate “Lowliness.”  He who was God took upon Himself humanity. (Phil. 2:6) Additionally He was a servant! (v. 7), a humble and obedient servant, even to the point of dying a “cross death.” He was rich but for our sakes became poor. (2 Cor. 8:9) How rich was he? How poor did He become? His life was perfect, without sin. He did always those things that pleased the Father. (John 8:29) He was “a friend of publicans and sinners,” and “went about doing good.” (Matt. 11:19; Acts 10:38) volumes have been written in attempts to speak of His lowliness, and there is plenty of room for our hearts and minds to ponder and adore.

Thirdly, we could think of His “Lordship.” Not that He is to be Lord of our lives, but that He has gained the victory over death and now sits enthroned “on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Heb. 1:3) Because of His submission to His father’s will He has “highly exalted him” and “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Phil. 2:9-10) We declare the Lord’s death, but we worship a living glorified Lord! Certainly as we do so we cannot forget what He has accomplished for us, but let us not forget when He accomplished for God. “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36)

We can think of Christ’s Loveliness. Here there are multiple avenues of thought that lead to worship, not just due to His work, although certainly that is proper, but also of Him personally. “Remember me” was His request. “Do not forget Me.” Not only what He has done, as amazing and wonderful as it is, but remember “Him” as well.

We see His love, meekness, humility, purity, compassion, graciousness, kindness, devotion, obedience, righteousness, sincerity, and so much more. So much that we have no justification to be silent. We can fall at His feet and worship for many reasons. He has many glories that we can call to mind. Certainly that he purchased our redemption with His blood, but also for the humble mind that was behind His coming to earth and going to Calvary. He is altogether lovely. Let’s remember Him!

Read more