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Monday, January 16, 2012

Wayne Grudem on Worship

Wayne Grudem on Worship

As part of my study of worship, I read a chapter of Systematic Theology, by Wayne Grudem. The following are quotations from the book (in bold) with references from the Bible (in italics).

Worship is the activity of glorifying God in his presence with our voices and hearts.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God." Colossians 3:16 (ESV)

Worship is therefore a direct expression of our ultimate purpose for living, to glorify God and fully enjoy him forever.

God is worthy of worship and we are not.

"Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created." Revelations 4:11 (ESV)

When we feel the absolute righteousness of this deeply within ourselves we then have the appropriate heart attitude for genuine worship.

Because God is worthy of worship and seeks to be worshipped, everything in our worship services should be designed and carried out not to call attention to ourselves or bring glory to ourselves, but to call attention to God and to cause people to think about him.

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 4:10-11 (ESV)

The results of genuine worship:

1. We delight in God.

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you." Psalms 73:25 (ESV)

"How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God...Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Blessed are those whose strength is in you...For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere." Psalms 84:1-10 (ESV)

2. God delights in us.

"You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married." Isaiah 62:3-4 (ESV)

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." Zepheniah 3:17 (ESV)

3. We draw near to God.

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." Hebrews 10:19-22 (ESV)

"For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given - If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned - Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said - I tremble with fear - But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel." Hebrews 12:18-24 (ESV)

4. God draws near to us.

"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you." James 4:8 (ESV)

"It was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord), and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord - For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever - the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God." 2 Chron 5:13-14 (ESV)

5. God ministers to us.

"You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 2:5 (ESV)

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)

"I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed...Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" Psalms 34:4-8 (ESV)

"Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalms 37:4 (ESV)

"We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another." 2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)

6. The Lord's enemies flee.

"When he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say - Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever - And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed." 2 Chronicles 20:21-22 (ESV)

7. Unbelievers know they are in God's presence.

"If all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you." 1 Corinthians 14:24-25 (ESV)

"Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." Acts 2:9-11 (ESV)

Because worship glorifies God and fulfills the purpose for which God created us, it is an activity of eternal significance and great value.

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:15-20 (ESV)

Worship is doing the will of God! Worship is the result of understanding what the will of the Lord is. It is making the most of the time.

To worship in spirit and truth is best understood to mean not - in the Holy Spirit - but in the spiritual realm, in the realm of spiritual activity.

True worship involves not only our physical bodies but also our spiritis, the immaterial aspect of our existence that primarily acts in the unseen realm.

"Mary said - My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior." Luke 1:46-47 (ESV)

Unless our spirits are worshiping God we are not truly worshiping him.

Genuine worship must be the outpouring of our hearts in response to a realization of who God is.

The physical setting and the structure of worship services do matter.

"Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them - It is written - My house shall be called a house of prayer - but you make it a den of robbers." Matthew 21:12-13 (ESV)

"When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." Matthew 6:6 (ESV)

We should choose a setting for prayer or for worship that avoids distractions as much as possible.

"God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints...all things should be done decently and in order." 1 Corinthians 14:33,40 (ESV)

If Christians can worship and pray by singing words in unison, there is nothing to prevent them from genuinely worshiping and praying by reading words aloud in unison.

Any one form that is used excessively can become a meaningless routine for most participants.

It is important to allow enough time for the various aspects of corporate worship. Genuine prayer can certainly take time. Solid Bible teaching can often take a long time as well. Moreover, genuine, heartfelt worship and praise will also take quite a bit of time if it is to be effective.

Source: Systematic Theology, by Wayne Grudem

Image provided by David Kidd, Creative Commons License