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Worship in spirit and in truth

Worship in spirit and in truth

Worship is a dangerous act. Many have lost their lives in it. Three thousand of the children of Israel were killed for worshiping “the God who brought them out of Egypt” through the golden calf. Two of Aaron’s sons, authorized priests, were struck down for offering strange fire. Uza, for touching the Ark of the Covenant while transporting himself, fell dead. The sons of Eli lost their lives by profaning the priesthood with their nefarious behavior. King Uzziah was left leprous until the day of his death for worshiping in a way that did not correspond to him.

Apparently excessive consequences, humanly difficult to explain. When the world is attracted to all trivial activity but refuses to worship God, it would think that the believer should instead receive automatic blessing for preferring worship over all other activity. On the other hand, inside the temple there seems to be a high tension zone that warns: danger, approach carefully.

The problem is not one of divine severity, but one of human myopia. The dignity, majesty, eminence and holiness of God is so infinitely high that any attempt of the sinner to approach Him results in a fulminating repellence. God explained it to Moses: there is no man who can look to God and live. Both Moses, Isaiah, John and Ezekiel had terrifying experiences when facing their glory. If we are to come close to worshiping him, God is the only one who can dictate the terms of how to do it.

God has primarily dictated two commandments in this regard. The first is to worship only the living and true God (not other gods). But this, is followed by the second: worship without images. For the God of the Bible equally important that worship, is the way we worship. It is not enough that we adore him, it is important how we adore him. God has not left the protocol of worship to be determined by our discretion.

Hence, few instructions have been as meticulous in the OT as this topic. In addition to the instructions about altars, the priesthood, the tabernacle, there is the complete book of Leviticus with an elaborate regulation of offerings and sacrifices. God never settled for human improvisations how well intentioned they were.

Has God changed from the time of the OT to the new one? Incorrect! To the Samaritan woman Jesus explained that God is searching, but not only worshipers (first commandment), worshipers who adore him both in spirit, as in truth (second commandment). And those who do not worship him like that in the church are also exposed to death. In the case of the Corinthians, several brothers died for their gross irreverence when celebrating the Lord’s Supper.

There are many considerations about worship in spirit and truth, but there are 3 essential truths that should regulate public worship:

Public worship must be theocentric, not anthropocentric.
That is, it must be centered around God, not men. Biblical worship does not begin when leaders ask, what should we include in the service for impact worship? But, what does God have dictated be included in their worship? It is not about improvising “500 ideas” for a service, it is about scrutinizing the Scriptures to discover what God has arranged.

For example, some churches at Christmas time include in their service of worship the rite of the 4 candles: the candle of prophecy, of the advent, of Christ and of peace. A welcoming and inspiring ritual found: nowhere in the Bible. Of what some call the ceremonial law, Christ dictated two only: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. If we focus on these more on the basis of being inspiring, the matter would not end. We could engineer a ceremony for the trinity. Three candles that after lighting one after another light a larger one to symbolize the diversity and unity of the trinity. Also another for Christ with three candles: as a priest, as a prophet and as a king. Another sequence of candles celebrating each stage of its existence: pre-existence, birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement at the right hand of the throne of God. Do not also say rites about the person of the Spirit. One to symbolize the fruits of the Spirit, another to celebrate the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Also around the believer, not only his baptism, but also his adoption, his sanctification, and another for his future glorification. All these could be inspirational. BUT WHAT GOD WANTS, is that we celebrate what the Bible specifies with black ink, and this is only the baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

 

 

Public worship must be theocentric, not anthropocentric.
That is, it must be centered around God, not men. Biblical worship does not begin when leaders ask, what should we include in the service for impact worship? But, what does God have dictated be included in their worship? It is not about improvising “500 ideas” for a service, it is about scrutinizing the Scriptures to discover what God has arranged.

For example, some churches at Christmas time include in their service of worship the rite of the 4 candles: the candle of prophecy, of the advent, of Christ and of peace. A welcoming and inspiring ritual found: nowhere in the Bible. Of what some call the ceremonial law, Christ dictated two only: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. If we focus on these more on the basis of being inspiring, the matter would not end. We could engineer a ceremony for the trinity. Three candles that after lighting one after another light a larger one to symbolize the diversity and unity of the trinity. Also another for Christ with three candles: as a priest, as a prophet and as a king. Another sequence of candles celebrating each stage of its existence: pre-existence, birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, and enthronement at the right hand of the throne of God. Do not also say rites about the person of the Spirit. One to symbolize the fruits of the Spirit, another to celebrate the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Also around the believer, not only his baptism, but also his adoption, his sanctification, and another for his future glorification. All these could be inspirational. BUT WHAT GOD WANTS, is that we celebrate what the Bible specifies with black ink, and this is only the baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Integrating biblical components in worship is of greater importance than sanctified occurrences that do not seem to be prohibited in the Scriptures. Otherwise we will end up like the medieval church loaded with rituals and superstitions of human innovation and not of divine prescription.

 

Public worship must be reverent
As adoptive children we have intimacy with God that allows us to call him Abba Father “Papito”, and also, access to the most sacred area of the temple (the temple naos) previously reserved for priests only. But these liberties should not foster in us a spirit of “casual irreverence”.

Let’s understand that familiarity does not mean lightness. No one ever had such intimacy with God the Father as Christ. But the reason he was heard by the Father is because he addressed him with “reverent fear” Heb. 5: 6 Open with Logos Bible Software (if available). From among the apostles John had the most intimate relationship with Jesus, reclined on his breast. But when he faced the glorified Christ he fell like a dead man to the ground. The reverence and familiarity are compatible. It is not the same to intimate to be protected. God is our Father, but not our equal. In fact, when we become aware of the immense distance that exists between their position and ours, it is of greater satisfaction to receive their undeserved attention.

Reverence presupposes preparation. In the book of Hebrews, after emphasizing the freedom we have under the new covenant to enter the temple, he accompanies it with a recommendation on how to do it: “Let us draw near with a sincere heart, in full assurance of faith, with hearts purified from an evil conscience, and washed the bodies with pure water “(Heb 10: 22 Open with Logos Bible Software (if available)) That is, the fact that the doors of the temple are wide open does not mean that we should enter distracted, conscious of everything and everyone except the presence of God.

Unfortunately in many churches before the service there is a bustle of conversation and laughter, which prevents the solitary and solidary reflection of being for worshiping the king of the universe and monarch of our heart. We delegate to the professionals to unfreeze our souls with 20 thousand watts of music to see if we wake up from the spiritual drowsiness and clear the social triviality.

Oh yeah. You can not miss talking about music …

 

 

Music in the service must be a means and not the end of worship
We live musified. If in a working day we disconnected all the hearing aids in the world, a global hysteria would be unleashed. The disturbed masses would ambulate as elders without their daily medication. Only a century ago this was not the case. The reproduction of music on disk was a luxury of the Aristocracy. Today, most carry speakers stapled to the ears. The well-being of your day depends on being able to listen to music in every place and time. Because of this, the culture of the church has changed. Churches abound that have replaced the Scripture with the score. The services are great musical productions, and the day that street music in their services will be the exodus of many.

It’s not like the NT does not talk about music. But the focus is not megaproduction. In fact, unlike the adoration of the OT, the new testamentary is of simple choreography. It focuses on the song of the redeemed who reverberate the word of Christ who dwells in them in abundance. The tenor of its use is:

Have proper music to the celebrant. It seems obvious, but it is obvious that the obviousness is not perceived by many. When a birthday or other occasion of honors is celebrated, they put on the music of the party’s taste and do not impose the music of the celebrants. But few of the musician in the church wonders what style of music corresponds to the glory of the holy God, who is a king, and majesty. It seems rather that the latest wave of fashion is adopted and Christian letters are attached to consecrate it. As if only the letter affected the hearts of the congregants.

With this I do not suggest music totally alien to the culture of the people that it adores, because it must connect with humans of a certain culture like Christ, the God man, he did it in his teaching, when using parables of everyday life. But within the culture there is a spectrum of music that stands out for being reverent and another that stands out for being strident.

To have music that is the support of the words of Christ and not that the words of Christ are the pretext to be able to play the fashionable music. The moment the music floods and drowns the voices of the saints, it loses its purpose and becomes a cymbal that retreats.

Worship in spirit and in truth is not established without difficulty. As throughout the centuries there has been resistance to an adoration according to the will of God, in this time it will continue, particularly of those who, although they look like sheep, are really kids in sheep’s clothing: they never lack in the congregation. However, the church can not acclimatize to them, as Spurgeon said: “The church exists to feed the sheep, not to entertain the kids.