WORSHIP AND DEVOTION - Bible Counsel - Feature Page 15
True Believers in Christ ought to appreciate that we can worship as individuals anywhere and anytime, because the Holy Spirit dwells in us as "the temple of God" (1 Cor.3:16); and there is also collective worship by the church gathering where God is present "in the midst" (Matt.18:20). What a privilege we have through Christ.
WITHIN THE VEIL
The veil is rent --our souls draw near
Unto a throne of grace;
The merits of the Lord appear,
They fill the holy place.
His precious blood has spoken there,
Before and on the throne;
And His own wounds in heaven declare,
The atoning work is done.
'Tis finished! --here our souls have rest,
His work can never fail:
By Him, our sacrifice and Priest,
We pass within the veil.
Within the holiest of all,
Cleansed by His precious blood,
Before the throne we prostrate fall,
And worship Thee, O God!
Boldly the heart and voice we raise,
His blood, His name, our plea;
Assured our prayers and songs of praise
Ascend by Christ to Thee.
- Little Flock Hymn -
WORSHIP AND WORSHIPPING
It is fairly evident in the Word of God that there is both a personal aspect and a collective aspect of worship. One is private thoughts of homage and adoration, and the other is mutual acts of honor, praise, and exaltation. While we don't want to dichotomize the subject, we want to make some distinctions, show something of what worship is, and help the saints to glorify God. J. N. Darby, a gifted Bible scholar, expressed worship of God thus: "It is the honor and adoration which are rendered to God by reason of what He is in Himself, and what He is for those who render it" (CW, Vol.7, p.88). It is the privilege of believers as "a holy priesthood" (I Pet.2:5).
We could not know how to honor God in worship if He did not show us what is pleasing to Himself. We must not, therefore, deviate from the Word of God and be innovative (Ex.32:2-4; Lev.10:1; Luke 22:19-20). We ought to search the Scriptures (Acts 17:11), and apply worship as God shows us, not as we reason. Surely we ought to give thanks, show love, and worship in Spirit and truth (John 4:23-24). Let us remember we only have our present time to honor God as shown, and "lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (Matt.6:19-21).
Sometimes a child of God falls into a bad spiritual state of soul and does not think about worshipping. That occurs by looking within (self-centeredness), rather than looking to God and also thank our Lord and Savior ---Jesus, the Christ of God. We ought to be thankful and praise the Lord for His "great salvation", love and goodness, and be faithful in that which God has committed to us in the little while we have down here. It all speaks of communion, not just a belief. Surely we ought to help each other go on well, and worship together. One who is only a seeker and not yet a "born again" believer, needs to study such as John 3 and John 14 to know the Savior for real worship.
Men of the world may well refuse to openly worship Satan (Luke 4:7-8), but even so, he occupies ungodly men with many false gods—even materialism, philosophy, humanism, religious ideas, etc. (Acts 17:23; I Cor.8:5-6). There is also vain worship of God by those who take His Name, but who forget Him and act in the flesh (Matt.15:9). On occasion, men who know not the Lord call on Him in time of need (Matt.8:2; Matt.15:25). We can only hope they become true worshippers of God thereafter (note John 4:23-24).
The faithful Old Testament saints worshipped with sacrifices and kept the feasts and ceremonies. When quickened (awakened by the Spirit) to God, they consecrated themselves and sought to be obedient, honor God, give thanks and praise Him. They did not have the Lord's supper in that intimacy and could not enjoy the communion that we who are born of the Spirit are given. They were not part of the Bride of Christ. In times of old they simply obeyed the religion given and waited in hope to see what God would show them and say by the prophets. That worship was done away (fulfilled) in Christ, the hope of Israel. Many religious professors of Christianity today, like the Jews of today, have no more than these works of old, without Jesus Christ and His blood sacrifice, which was required.
Real Christians have more than religious teaching ---they have the Teacher, who paid the price of redemption on the altar, to cleanse sinners who receive Him. They have communion by the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 14:23), and they have the full revelation of God by the Holy Scriptures. Truly we who know Him ought to have Him in remembrance, then our hearts will be drawn out in love.
The Lord Jesus introduced the new worship in saying: "God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth" - John 4:24. While that was always true in a sense, there was not communion in the O.T. as we know it, and little understanding of truth (Heb.9). One may begin each day with worship, by reading the Word, giving thanks for God's gift of His Son ---the sacrifice, and His blessings, and praising Him for who He is. Our conscience has been purged "from dead works to serve the living God".
The personal and universal relationship we have is also shown by the Holy Spirit's presence. He indwells every individual believer (I Cor.3:16; I John 4:13), and He also dwells among the gathered saints collectively (Matt.18:20). We may, therefore, worship anytime and anyplace, but the scriptural gathering in God's appointed place honors Him with a collective testimony (Acts 2:42; Heb.10:25). The Lord's supper is the central theme of worship, as given by the Lord. It is a time of quiet remembrance, not a ritual.
A faithful gathering in worship is pleasing to Him (Luke 22:19-20; John 9:31; I Cor. 11:17-34). It should also testify to the "one body" as expressed in a local place (Rom.12:5; I Cor.12:13; Eph. 4:4; Col.4:15-16). There should be no division among the saints (I Cor.12: 25-27), and the local company or gathering must be fully in accord with God's Word and the faithful saints elsewhere. It is unity in the remembrance of Him, which says we are one spirit in Christ (Gal.3:28), and that "one body" which must not quench the Spirit (note 1 Th. 5:19).
The gathering at the Lord's table is not a time to petition the Lord, preach, be occupied with self or anything but His sacrifice for us and His offering to God (Matt. 26:26-28). It is a most holy time and should be mostly a quiet time of devotion, lest we hinder communion of others. As priests we truly ought to come in the spirit of humility to offer up thanksgiving, praise, and adoration in remembrance of our Lord's love by dying for us. The women do this in silence (I Tim. 2:11-12) in accord with their holy and unique position as a type of the church in submission. Their manner and bearing before the Lord is specifically mentioned, and said to be "of great price" ( I Pet.3:3-4; I Cor. 11:1-10; I Tim.2:9-12). It is somewhat also like unto the holy garments of the high priest of old. His appearance as properly arrayed was a silent testimony as he came before the Lord. The men ought to all exercise their calling by giving out some suitable songs, audible prayer, and reading of the Word as led of the Spirit. It is like the work of the priest as he handled the holy emblems in olden times. We as also priests must not go beyond the Scripture and add things that might seem good to us. It will allow the flesh to act and "quench" the Holy Spirit (I Thess.5:19), who must have liberty to lead. May we learn to "be still" (Psa.46:10), and learn to wait upon Him.
References to the assembly here, assumes it is a true scriptural gathering expressing the "one body" in the world, and the priesthood of all believers (I Pet.2), as God established for our benefit and His glory. One may write to the Internet site: Biblecounsel.net for understanding more fully.
- R. L. DeWitt, SW01: 11/96; add: 02/16: SW01
One will hear teaching and diverse ministry along our pathway from many sources. One should always test it by the Word of God (see John 5:39; Acts 17:11; II Tim.2:15; II Tim.3:16; Titus 1:9). Whether it is profitable often depends, too, on our state of soul. This paper is prepared with much care and prayer to be a help and honor the Lord. Comments and questions are welcome.