Wednesday, September 12, 2007

TSW: Evangelicalism Part Deux

In looking back on my first post on Evangelical worship, and after listening to my pastor teach on worship the following Sunday, I realize that I really missed the point. A.W. Tozer pointed out my feelings about that post in 1948:

Current evangelicalism has . . . laid the altar and divided the sacrifice into parts, but now seems satisfied to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel. [See 1 Kings 18 for the allusions.]
Certainly, many at Street Prophets where this will also be posted will agree - however Tozer also pointed this out
But God be thanked that there are a few who care. They are those who, while they love the altar and delight in the sacrifice, are yet unable to reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire. They desire God above all. They are athirst to taste for themselves the 'piercing sweetness' of the love of Christ about Whom all the holy prophets did write and the psalmists did sing.
This thirst for God that Tozer pointed out in The Pursuit of God is part of the heart of Christian worship - indeed my pastor presented sincere worship as one of the principle marks of Christ on His people along with community, spiritual growth and service.

What I missed in that last post is the point of worship is not us but the object of the worship - in the case of His church it is Jesus Christ. As a warm-up to discussing worship - listen to worship: I never cease to be amazed by this video featuring the voice of S.M. Lockridge: "That’s My King".

Next, listen to this message to our church on worship: "Marked by Worship".
[Note: on the slide bar click on the "Marked" icon - and then choose the sermon]
It makes the case of the theological significance of worship in our church better than I could. I will, in case you just do not want to listen to a sermon give you the outline of his bullet points. His text for the message was
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. [NET]
Paul (the pastor) gives this definition of worship
Responding rightly to God's Righteousness
and says that truly good worship helps us do that by (following the passage):
  1. Focusing on God's Word:
    1 Timothy 4:13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.

    2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the message, be ready whether it is convenient or not, reprove, rebuke, exhort with complete patience and instruction.

  2. Focusing on the supremacy of Jesus:
    • The supreme object of our affections
    • expresses that Jesus is of extreme importance: He not me
      Hebrews 1:3 The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence [NASB = "exact representation of His nature"] , and he sustains all things by his powerful word, and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
      Pliney, reporting in 110 AD to Trajan said that we met together in the morning and sang songs to Jesus "as God"
  3. By examining God's character through the person of Christ, and His Word, we help to stir and guide our emotions so that we are:

  4. Focusing on a response:
    Psalm 96:8 Ascribe to the Lord the splendor he deserves! Bring an offering and enter his courts!
Worship helps us discover who God is, focus on His character, and then focus our emotions on responding to who He is.

Our pastor stressed in a number of places that worship is about God and not about me. It is about me responding and not receiving, and that it is about looking through a window at God and not at a mirror to see myself. If worship has not brought us out of ourselves and focused us on God - then we missed the worship even if we were there every minute, prayed every prayer, and sang every song.

He presented his answer to the theological significance of worship:
the entire point of the church is to turn people into worshippers of God.

"Here I am to Worship"
[click title for audio file]

Light of the world You stepped down into darkness
Open my eyes, let me see
Beauty that made this heart adore You
Hope of a life spent with You

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that you’re my God
You’re altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me

King of all days, oh so highly exalted
Glorious in Heaven above
Humbly You came to the earth
You created all for love’s sake became poor

I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross
I’ll never know how much it cost to see my sin upon that cross

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How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
1. The Golden Rule
2. You cannot read minds
3. People are not evil
4. Debates are not for winning
5. You make mistakes
6. Not everyone cares as much as you
7. Engaging is hard work
8. Differences can be subtle
9. Give up quietly