Song for Reflection

I stand amazed at your love for me
That lonely night in Gethsemane
This sinner’s heart can’t help but thrill
To hear you pray Father not my will

Chorus:
What depth of love, what reach of grace
O how my grateful heart now aches
To sing it louder the refrain
Jesus died my soul to save

Atonement full, applied to me
The blood that spilled at Calvary
Has swallowed all my sin and shame
Now reconciled, in Jesus’ name

O such pleasure, o such pain
The Father’s wrath and fury laid
On Christ whom saints and angels praise
Jesus died my soul to save

Come you broken bound by sin
Let your weary journey end
Come and lay your burdens down
Where mercy rules and peace abounds

What can wash away my sin
Nothin’ but the blood
What can make me whole again
Nothin’ but the blood

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Al Gordon- Worship the Lord

This song by Al Gordon is one that I listened to over and over again whilst at University….often reducing me to tears. God is great…..beyond what our finite minds can comprehend…his name is above all other names……..no one else is worthy of the praise he is due. Sometimes the Christian life seems harder than hard……i have gone through it/am going through it at the moment. We face the lies of Satan that tell us we are failures….useless….condemned. At times this can drive us to despair…..but we need not despair because God is so gracious and so loving towards us because of Christ. That’s why I love this song…..the line where Al sings that Christ is his righteousness, Christ is his holiness is a beautiful reminder of the gospel. We find our righteousness in Christ, not ourselves. I find it difficult to think of words that express how this makes me feel. It is wonderful, beautiful, comforting, peace-giving, amazing, precious and sweet. Meditate on the Love, Mercy and Grace of God sang about in this song and let your heart be glad and comforted.

A Guide to Contemporary Christian Worship!

Thank you for choosing to worship with us today. If you are from a church that uses traditional hymns, you may be confused. Please take a moment to read through this guide to contemporary Christian music.

In our church you will not hear “How Great Thou Art,” “Wonderful Grace of Jesus,” or “Like a River Glorious.” (Generally, hymns that have words like “Thou” are not used. They are too archaic and are normally replaced by words like “awesome” and “miry clay”). Yes, okay, we may do “Amazing Grace” or “Peace Like a River” at some point, but as a general rule we avoid songs with too many different verses or those that can’t be played easily on guitar and drums.

If you are new to worship here, you may wish to know the reasons for this. One is that deep theological concepts do not belong in contemporary Christian worship. We frown on songs that change more than one or two words for each verse. For example, our version of “Holy is the Lord” consists of repeating that phrase six times per verse and then changing “Holy” to “Worthy,” “Mighty,” “Jesus” and finally changing “the” to “my.” Isn’t that much simpler to sing and easier to remember? The twin goals here are a) repetition and b) chanting quality. We don’t focus on what we’re singing, but how we’re singing it. The main thing is to get that kind of tingly, “olive oily” feeling. Don’t worry if you don’t get this right away. It will come as you learn to disengage your intellect. Just free yourself. Immerse yourself. Relax.

Christian music guide

Nevertheless, a traditional hymn may sometimes be used. For example, we’re not averse to “Holy, Holy, Holy.” You may be tempted to sing this as you would have in your former church, but please note that it is sung here with changes, mainly the fact that we repeat it several times and try to sing as slowly as possible, thereby emphasizing the funereal nature of the verse.

Repetition is very important in contemporary Christian music. We repeat: Repetition is very important in contemporary Christian music. Just because a song may have one verse and one chorus does not mean that you only sing it through once. Old hymns have several verses, each of which introduces a new theological concept, and are meant to be sung once followed by “Amen.” This is no longer how it’s done. The correct procedure is to sing the identical verse and chorus at least three times. Often it is preferable to repeat the verse two times initially before moving on to the chorus.

Also the worship leader may want to repeat a verse or chorus found in the middle of the song. This is signaled by “calling an audible.” When this occurs, the worship leader will say the first few words of the verse or chorus he will be singing next. Sometimes, due to the similarity of the verses, this may be confusing and the overhead projector may flash several pages of text until the correct one is arrived at. Don’t panic, this is normal. Just continue singing as though you know the words and soon either the correct slide will appear or a new chorus will begin.

After the verse and chorus are sung at least three times, it is permissible for the song to end. However, the chorus must first be repeated in its entirety, then the last paragraph, then the last line. When singing the last line it is important to slow down a little and look upward. Raising a hand is permissible and often done at this time. This may take a little getting used to but don’t worry, if you just join in, in a short time you won’t even notice and soon you will forget that you ever did it any other way.

We are just really glad you chose to share the worship experience with us today. Thank you and we hope to see you again soon.

Thank you and we hope to see you again soon. Thank you. Thank.
(Source: Wittenburg Door)

A song for reflection- When I Survey

Just stop what you are doing and reflect on the words of this great worship song. Fix your eyes on Jesus, on the cross and on the great gift of God to us unworthy sinners….it is enough to make a grown man weep with tears of repentance and thankfulness. Have you put your trust in Jesus? Have you come to cross to be washed in the blood of the lamb?

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:36)

So many who do not believe will see that verse and snarl. In fact even those who profess belief see this verse and snarl at those who continue to be faithful in proclaiming the whole counsel of God.  “How dare they tell me God will judge me.” “How dare God cast his judgement upon me”. If that is your reaction please realise that God’s gift of salvation is offered to you. Listen and see what this God has done for you. Taste and see that the Lord is good!!

By reformedpilgrim Posted in Worship

Upcoming Book reviews- ‘Doing’ Church in the 21st Century. What’s right and what’s wrong?

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Within the next few weeks, God willing, I will be posting a series of reviews on the above books. As you can see all of the books deal with contemporary issues pertaining to the church. I’m sure I am not going to agree with everything that is said in some of them but I’m confident that they will provide me with some food for thought. I have been wrestling with the whole idea of church for the past month or so because I see so many people sitting back and not really seeming to care much about the church’s failure to reach the lost, the young or to adequately pass on the faith to the next generation. I see young people leaving the church in their droves and it concerns me (this trend may be unique to N.Ireland). We may say it is the parent’s fault for not passing on the faith, and yes there is a certain element of truth in that, however as a church we still need to examine ourselves and see where we have fallen short. There are often leaders in churches who dictate everything that goes on and seldom listen to the voice of the younger generation. How will the church ever move forward into the 21st century if we are continually afraid to try different methods of doing church.

Let me make myself clear though. When I say different methods I don’t mean the abandonment of expository preaching, biblical worship music/hymns, corporate prayer etc. We should always be seeking to do things biblically and in a way that glorifies God, but what we must always be looking at is what we can do to create a greater sense of community within the body of believers, how we can feed the sheep in areas that are needed outside of the Sunday services, how can we effectively disciple the church members and how can we effectively mentor and raise up a new generation to be faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ who are biblically literate and well informed, who have a passion for the lost, and who pursue godly lives rather than being polluted by the negative things of the world.

For example some people are totally against the playing of musical instruments in church. That’s just ridiculous. Others are against holding evangelistic youth events or holding mid-week sessions for further teaching/ Q+A sessions. Again others are against age-specific groups for fear that it will produce cliques and an ageist environment.

I’m seeking to establish an understanding in 4 areas;

1) Why are so many (not all) of the older generation seemingly afraid of change? Is their motive one of selfishness in that they don’t want change in church because then they wouldn’t like it? How can we deal with the middle-class comfort issue that seems to shrink the vision and passion of a vast number of church-goers in the west? How can we deal with the seemingly top-heavy numbers of church-goers who seem to be aged 55+ (Tearfund survey) and try and make it a more even demopgrahic by reaching out to the mosaics (those born in or after 1982)?

2) Why are my generation seemingly disillusioned with church and walking away from it? Is it the church leadership who is to blame or is it the individuals themselves? Why does there seem to be few who are humble and willing enough to listen to what we have to say? What is this generation hoping church will become? What are we doing to answer people’s doubts and are we truly showing love and grace to both outsiders and those within the church?

3)How can church be done differently in a way that doesn’t shift the focus from Christ to entertainment and the self, or stray from Biblical guidelines for church (e.g. Preaching+Teaching, Prayer and Sacraments). What can we do throughout the week to provide discipleship for the 21st century and help Christians with the issues that they face today apart from expository preaching on a Sunday? Do we need to set up specific groups for people stuggling with specific issues (ie Pornography addiction, Relationship Help, How to raise your children in the faith) or are we too bashful and cowardly to face up to such issues that are at times uncomfortable, yet currently are epidemics within the church?

4) How can we create a genuine sense of community and belonging in church and why do we not seriously try and break down the walls of superficialness that exist in many churches? Does any one feel the burden of our failure by-in-large, to reach out to our local communities, to do good deeds in our towns and to be genuine salt and light in our communities instead of people who simply come to church once a week, give some money as if it gains us favour with God and people and then go away and not really care about trying to get people to come to church and hear the gospel? And if they don’t come to us, why are we not going OUT to them? Are our doors honestly opened to and genuinely welcoming for prostitutes, homeless people, addicts and broken-hearted people? Or are we nothing more than a social club?

As I’m sure you can see I’m going through a period of serious wrestling with such issues. Coming from Northern Ireland I have spent plenty of time listening to non-Christians who refuse to go to church because they say “most of them are hypocrites, unloving and are more concerned with spending their money on big cars and houses than on telling people about Jesus”. I’ve also heard it said how mindnumbingly boring church services are- that is ministers who are not in the least bit engaging, who show little personality in their preaching and who ‘conduct services as if it were the reading of the mass by the Pope himself’ (that is a direct quote from a guy i spoke to last night). What I found intriguing was that this guy wanted meaty sermons. He didn’t want superficial nothingness. He wanted to hear the word of God preached and explained. He also didn’t want happy clappy worship. He just wanted a little more upbeat, meaningful’ worship rather than, quote, ‘hymns that would put you to sleep-why can’t they keep the hymns’ words but update the music to something more contemporary’. I agree with him. Do we forget that when those hymns were written they were composed to the tastes of music at that time. For instance Charles Wesley or John Newton’s hymns are classics that span the chasm between the ages, but there are other hymns where the lyrics are Christ-centered and biblical yet the music is just plain…….well…… boring! I often wish people would show more emotion in worship as well. I come from a Presbyterian church and we have been given the nickname “the frozen chosen”. However, there is one lady in my church who sings at the front every other week and the passion and emotion behind her worship is such a breath of fresh air to me. She is in her 60’s but every hymn or worship song she sings, she does so with tear-filled eyes of sheer joy and thanksgiving. If only more of us could be like her…..the fruit of the Holy Spirit is clear in her life, as she and her husband are both fantastically godly Christians who are ‘prayer warriors’ in my church.

I’m really hoping to learn something with this task and I hope to share what I read and discover in due course. The first review will be Gary Gilley’s “This Little Church went to the Market”. I’ll hopefully have this one posted by the end of the week. I desperately want to reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ and i’m not really worried if I lose my etiquette or Prebyterian formalism as I seek to do so. I know i’m not alone in this and that there is a younger generation who are growing increasingly impatient with the unwillingness to try something new to reach the lost and those who have wandered from the faith. I’m confident this can be done without abandoning sound doctrine (Emergent church) or appealing to people’s ‘felt’ needs (Willow Creekesque or Warrenesque). Hopefully I’ll have found out how by the end of the month. I’m not looking for growth techniques. Numbers isn’t my concern. I’m looking for ways to communicate, teach and worship more effectively, faithfully and passionately. In other words, my concern is for the health of the church and it’s seemingly pessimistic future- especially in Northern Ireland as me move out of the troubles into a period of peace. The church was once a refuge during the troubles for many and NI was protected, for a period of time, from the secularization that took place in the rest of Europe and Great Britain. Now they are over people aren’t as concerned about going to church and society is becoming increasingly secular. Hopefully God will move to do something about this because without Him there is little, if any, hope of reaching the masses.

The Generation that the Church is in danger of failing………..

lost-childrenWhen Jesus asks Peter to “feed my lambs” after he’s been resurrected (John 21:15), he’s not talking about engaging them in a Bible study. Very few people were ever able to read back then, and there were very few copies of Scripture.

When Jesus told Peter (who is a type of medieval Everyman – a stand-in for all of us) “take care of my sheep,” he’s talking about the process of discipling them, of growing them up.

Too often when we think about being fed spiritually, we refer to sitting through a sermon. Periodically I’ll hear someone say, “I haven’t been fed much lately.” This is code for, “The Pastor’s sermons are not connecting with me.” This is a passive picture of feeding. Like a baby is spoon-fed.

We see a more accurate concept of feeding sheep in Jesus’ picture description of a shepherd and sheep in John 10. The shepherd calls them out and the sheep listen to his voice.

We see a third party in John 10 – the watchman who “opens the gate” for Jesus to speak and to call them out. It would seem his main job is to be on the lookout for enemies and teach the sheep to listen to the shepherd’s voice. John 10:4 says, “his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” It is Jesus himself who feeds his sheep.

If as disciplers and pastors we’re not teaching our sheep to recognize Jesus’ voice, they inevitably will go hungry.

Many of our churches have missed out on this generation because they either,

1) Are still stuck in the stone ages and preach hell, fire and brimstone sermons that are Pharisaic and legalistic at heart. If a young person dresses in jeans and a t-shirt the older folk scorn them for not wearing a suit. They condemn contemporary hymns and worship and insist on using hymns that even my parents think “oh my goodness what is this”. Really there is no authenticity about these churches and little grace/love is shown. It’s all about withdrawing from the world for them rather than being Christians in the world but not of it, just like Jesus prayed in his high priestly prayer. They spend more time trying to convert young people to their way of thinking, instead of teaching them how to understand what the Bible says and letting the Holy Spirit do the work through that.

2) Have spent so much time trying to be relevant and make the message palatable for young people that they haven’t preached the gospel at all. They continually week after week starve young people of sound doctrine and gospel truth, exchanging this for superficial meetings that are, in reality nothing more than a teenage babysitting club to give mum and dad a break. No warning of the seriousness of sin is given, no confrontation with sin or church discipline is implemented, no doctrinal teaching is given, no serious bible study (that is, time spent in teaching young people how to read and see Christ as the centre of the story), no training or support to help young people stand firm in today’s antagonistic society and no willingness to step up to the mark and talk about the things that make us uncomfortable- such as sex (Biblical- why it is one man, one woman in marriage and not as the culture says it should be), masturbation, pornography (the serious sin of this), drinking, drugs, influences and Hollywood idols. These are the challenges that younger Christians are facing and the only way the church can prevent them from falling, apart from the sovereignty of God, is to feed them the word of God and show them that it pierces every lie, stands firm in every circumstance and speaks truth even in today’s post-modern and increasingly amoral society.

in 1978 Francis Schaeffer said

Youth Ministry is perhaps the most important ministry of the church and it is essential that we are willing and committed to reach students for the Christian faith before they enter College! There is perhaps nothing more important in Real Effective and Effectual Youth Ministry than teaching Youth how to study the Bible.”

Those words by Schaeffer have proved to be a prophetic utterance yet largely, in my experience at least, we have missed the landing zone on this one dramatically. When a plane misses the runway the consequences can be devastating. Normally when this happens it is due to pilot error. Similarly, we have largely failed in our obligation to “feed [his] lambs” (John 21:15), because we have failed to realise the importance of youth ministry/young adults and failed to move forward and deal with the changing culture in which we find ourselves living. Coming from Northern Ireland and being 22 I see how the church has failed to reach my generation. We sit in our pews every week yet are so slow to act or be creative in our ways of reaching the lost. Please, please do not misunderstand me here. I am not downplaying the importance of expository preaching or the sovereignty of God in bringing people to faith and keeping them walking in that faith. I am saying that we have got to be dedicated to the discipling of our young people through taking them through Doctrine/Apologetics/Evangelism.

I love how Michael Horton explains this in his book Christless Christianity. He states that so many churches are guilty (bless their naivety) of teaching the Old Testament as if it’s characters were mighty great superheroes, who we are to look to as moral examples!! No, no, no! Rather we are to preach Christ from all of Scripture…even these OT “heroes”. For example Moses, in leading the Israelites out of Egypt was a foretaste of Jesus who was to lead His people, both Jew and Gentile, out of their sins and into the Kingdom of God through his atoning sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the grave. When the Israelites were bitten by the snakes and Moses held up his staff, ordering them to look to it to be saved from the bite, likewise Christ was lifted up on the cross to save us from the sting of death that is caused by sin etc.

I don’t have a M.Div (yet!), I’m not a pastor, I’m not overly intellectual and I’m not a prophet but surely we must survey the scene and wake up to the realisation that we have miserably failed in our efforts to reach this generation and repent thereof. I echo the cry of Christian group Leeland who sing,

crusade-for-christemergency

There are many prodigal sons, On our city streets they run
Searching for shelter, There are homes broken down
People’s hopes have fallen to the ground, From failures

This is an emergency!There are tears from the saints
For the lost and unsaved, We’re crying for them come back home
We’re crying for them come back home, And all your children will stretch out their hands
And pick up the crippled man, Father, we will lead them home
Father, we will lead them home

There are schools full of hatred, Even churches have forsaken
Love and mercy, May we see this generation
In its state of desperation, For Your glory

This is an emergency!

There are tears from the saints, For the lost and unsaved
We’re crying for them come back home, We’re crying for them come back home
And all your children will stretch out their hands, And pick up the crippled man
Father, we will lead them home, Father, we will lead them home

Sinner, reach out your hands!, Children, in Christ you stand!
Sinner, reach out your hands!, Children, in Christ you stand!

There are tears from the saints, For the lost and unsaved
We’re crying for them come back home, We’re crying for them come back home
And all Your children will stretch out their hands,And pick up the crippled man
Father, we will lead them home, Father, we will lead them home

Steve Camp’s Blog- Check it out

The Below articles are taken from Steve Camps’ blog Camp On This and I just HAD to put all three on. Some wonder why I blog, and such articles as those below answer that question. I don’t blog to build a reputation or seek the applause of men. Rather I blog because it keeps me sharp. It keeps me learning, it keeps me in the Word of God and it also allows me to gather resources that I will use in the future. My sole prayer is that God would use it for his own glory and that people will be blessed/brought/built up in their faith through it. I think the 3 articles below allow for the possibility of all 3.

ASSURANCE
…our joy and confidence in salvation wrought by the Lord Jesus Christ

The Gift of God’s Son, the Guarantee of All Other Blessing
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? -Romans 8:32

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? -Romans 8:32

Since God did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t God, who gave us Christ, also give us everything else? -Romans 8:32

“When God calls a sinner, He does not repent of it. God does not, as many friends do, love one day and hate another; or as princes, who make their subjects favorites and afterwards throw them into prison. This is the blessedness of a saint; his condition admits of no altercation. God’s call is founded upon His decree, and His decree is immutable. Acts of grace cannot be reversed. God blots out His people’s sins, but not their names.” -Thomas Watson

“If our religion be of our own getting or making, it will perish; and the sooner it goes, the better; but if our religion is a matter of God’s giving, we know that He shall never take back what He gives, and that, if He has commenced to work in us by His grace, He will never leave it unfinished.” – C.H. Spurgeon

“God commended his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” If, then, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, will he freely give us all things. “All things!” How comprehensive the grant! “According as his Divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” Holding the security in the hand of faith, you may repair to your Heavenly Father, and ask for all that you need. So to speak, God has bound himself to withhold no good thing from you. He is pledged, and from that pledge he will never recede, to grant you all you need. What is your demand? Is it the Spirit to seal, to sanctify, to comfort you? Then draw near and ask the gift. “For if you who are evil know how to give good things to your children, how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” Is it pardon? Then ask it. He who provided the sacrifice for sin, will he not freely bestow the forgiveness of sin? Is it grace? Having given you the Reservoir of grace, is he not as willing and “able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work?” Is it comfort? Having given you the “Consolation of Israel,” will he not prove to you the “God of all comfort?” Is your necessity temporal? Are your circumstances adverse? Filled with forebodings of approaching difficulty, the cruse of oil and the barrel of meal dwindling, are you anxious and fearful? Take your temporal need to God. What! will he bestow the higher blessings of grace, and withhold the inferior ones of providence? Never! And can you press to your believing heart the priceless, precious, unspeakable gift of his Son, and yet cherish in that heart the gloomy, misgiving, thought of God’s unwillingness and inability to supply all your need?” – Octavius Winslow

“For non-reformed theologies…”at the end of the day, the security of the believer finally rests with the believer. For those in the opposite camp [Reformed], the security of the believer finally rests with God — and that, I suggest, rightly taught, draws the believer back to God himself, to trust in God, to a renewed faith that is of a piece with trusting him in the first place.” – D.A. Carson

From the “Hymnbook of Heaven”:
1 Samuel 2:9; Nehemiah 9:16-19; Psalm 31:23, 32:7,23,28-33, 38, 84:5-7, 89:30-33, 94:14, 97:10, 121:7, 125:1; Proverbs 2:8; Isaiah 40:30, 54:4-10; Jeremiah 32:38-42; Matthew 18:6, 12-14, 24:22-24; Luke 1:74, 22:32; John 3:36, 4:13, 5:24, 6:37-40, 51, 8:31, 10:4, 8, 27-29, 17:11, 15; Romans 6:1-4, 7:24-8:4, 28-39, 11:29, 14:14; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9, 3:15, 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5; Ephesians 1:11-14, 4:30; Philippians 1:6; Colossians 3:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5; 2 Timothy 1:12, 4:18; Hebrews 3:14, 7:25, 10:14, 36-39, 13:5; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 2 Peter 3:8; 1 John 2:19, 3:9, 5:4, 13, 18; Jude 1, 24.

It’s as almost as though Jesus was concerned lest some might foolishly fall into the trap of worshiping his blood relatives! Indeed, here is Jesus’ own condemnation of the error of adoration and veneration of Jesus’ mother. They do not hold a special place in the kingdom of God, but are like all those who do the will of God. Yet Catholicism, as can be seen from this event, continues to elevate Mary improperly to the status of, in effect, a goddess to whom prayers are offered.
Benedict XVI did not even omit to provide a sacrifice to this de facto goddess. It is reported that, “In a gesture of filial love, the Pope then offered the Madonna a golden rose.” One is reminded immediately of the similar offerings presented by the Philistines to the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament, particularly given Catholicism’s claim (or at least the claim of her apologists) that Mary is the “ark of the New Covenant.”

 

“Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” -John 4:20-24



by A.W. Tozer

What Is Not Acceptable?
THE STARK, TRAGIC FACT IS THAT THE EFFORTS of many people to worship are unacceptable to God. Without an infusion of the Holy Spirit there can be no true worship. This is serious. It is hard for me to rest peacefully at night knowing that millions of cultured, religious people are merely carrying on church traditions and religious customs and they are not actually reaching God at all. (Whatever Happened to Worship?, p. 46)

The manner in which many moderns think about worship makes me uncomfortable. Can true worship be engineered and manipulated? Do you foresee with me the time to come when churches may call the pastor a “spiritual engineer?” (Whatever Happened to Worship?, p. 85)

You are not worshipping God as you should if you have departmentalized your life so that some areas worship and other parts do not worship. This can be a great delusion—that worship only happens in church or in the midst of a dangerous storm or in the presence of some unusual and sublime beauty of nature around us. I have been with some fellows who became very spiritual when they stood on the breathtaking curve of a steep mountain cliff! (Whatever Happened to Worship? p, 124)

It is impossible for any of us to worship God without the impartation of the Holy Spirit. It is the operation of the Spirit of God within us that enables us to worship God acceptably through that Person we call Jesus Christ, who is Himself God.

So worship originates with God and comes back to us and is reflected from us, as a mirror. God accepts no other kind of worship. (Whatever Happened to Worship?, pp. 44-45)

I can offer no worship wholly pleasing to God if I know that I am harboring elements in my life that are displeasing to Him. I cannot truly and joyfully worship God on Sunday and not worship Him on Monday. I cannot worship God with a glad song on Sunday and then knowingly displease Him in my business dealings on Monday and Tuesday.

I repeat my view of worship—no worship is wholly pleasing to God until there is nothing in me displeasing to God. (Whatever Happened to Worship? pp. 124-125)

Lessons from Cain
There are many kinds of worship that God cannot accept. Cain’s worship in the Old Testament was not accepted because he did not acknowledge the necessity of an atonement for sin in the relationship between God and fallen man. (Whatever Happened to Worship?, p. 40)

The kind of worship Cain offered to God has three basic and serious shortcomings:

First is the mistaken idea that God is a different kind of God than what He really is. This has to do with the person and the character of the sovereign and holy God. How can anyone ever worship God acceptably without knowing what kind of God He really is? Cain surely did not know the true character of God. Cain did not believe that the matter of man’s sin was eternally important to God.

Second is the mistake of thinking that man holds a relationship to God that in fact he does not. Cain casually assumed that he was deserving of acceptance by the Lord without an intermediary. He refused to accept the judgment of God that man had been alienated from his God by sin.

Third, Cain in the Old Testament record, and with him an unnumbered multitude of men and women since, have mistakenly assumed that sin is far less serious than it really is. The record is plain, if men and women would only look at it and consider it. God hates sin because He is a holy God. He knows that sin has filled the world with pain and sorrow, robbing us of our principle purpose and joy in life, the joy of worshipping our God!

The kind of worship offered by Cain is inadequate, without real meaning. Bringing it as an issue to our own day under the New Testament, I assure you that I would not knowingly spend an hour in any church that refuses to teach the necessity of the blood atonement for sin through the cross and the merits of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ! (Whatever Happened to Worship?, pp. 41-42)

Emptiness of the Average Church Service
It will be seen how empty and meaningless is the average church service today. All the means are in evidence; the one ominous weakness is the absence of the Spirit’s power. The form of godliness is there, and often the form is perfected till it is an aesthetic triumph. Music and poetry, art and oratory, symbolic vesture and solemn tones combine to charm the mind of the worshiper, but too often the supernatural afflatus is not there. The power from on high is neither known nor desired by pastor or people. This is nothing less than tragic, and all the more so because it falls within the field of religion where the eternal destinies of men are involved. (The Divine Conquest, [now titled The Pursuit of Man], p. 90)

The Whole Life Must Worship God
It is possible to worship God with our lips and not worship God with our lives. But I want to tell you that if your life doesn’t worship God, your lips don’t worship God either. (Sermon, “Doctrine of the Remnant,” Chicago, 1957)

The total life, the whole man and the whole woman, has got to worship God. Faith and love and obedience and loyalty and conduct and life—all of these are to worship God. If there is anything in you that doesn’t worship God, then there isn’t anything in you that does worship God very well. If you departmentalize your life and let certain parts of you worship God but other parts of you do not worship God, you are not worshipping God as you should. It is a great delusion that we easily fall into the idea that in church or in the presence of death or in the midst of sublimity that we are spiritual. (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #6, Toronto, 1962)

There is Samaritan worship
Samaritan worship is heretical worship in the correct meaning of the term. A heretic is not a man who denies all of the truth, he’s just a very persnickety man who picks out what he likes and rejects the rest. Heresy means I take what I like and I reject what I don’t like. (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #3, Toronto, 1962)

There is nature worship
It is the poetry of religion. It is the high enjoyment and the contemplation of the sublime. We have an awful lot of nature worshipers and worshipers of God through nature, which is a better way of saying it. It is a high enjoyment, a concentrating of the mind upon beauty as distinct from the eye and the ear. If your ear hears music, that’s beauty. If your eye sees beauty, that’s art. But if you think beautiful thoughts without music or art, that’s poetry and you write that down. Some people mistake rapt feeling for worship. (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #3, Toronto, 1962)

Some mistake the music of religion for worship
Whatever elevates the mind and raises to near rapture the soul, that’s supposed to be worship. (The Chief End of Man, Sermon #3, Totonto, 1962)

Not all worship is acceptable with God. And there is a lot of worship in our cultured society that God will never receive in this world or the next. There is religious experience that God will never accept. There is the warm feeling of personal friendships with religious people. There is the sound of the organ and the beauty of the hymns. But apart from truth and the Holy Ghost there is no true worship. (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #3, Toronto, 1962)

You cannot worship just as you please
This is one of the tricks of the devil and a very favorite pet of unconverted poets and unconverted people with a bump of sublimity on their head but without the new birth. They teach that we just worship God any way we want to worship God and all will be well. Authentic religious experience is altogether possible apart from redemption. It’s entirely possible to have authentic religious experience and not be a Christian and not be converted and be on our way to eternal hell. You remember that Cain had an experience—an authentic religious experience. He talked to God and God talked to him. It is possible to have an experience with God and yet not have a saving experience with God. It is possible to worship and yet not worship aright. (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #3, Toronto, 1962)

Worship has to be in the Spirit and by the Spirit
The notion that just anybody can worship is all wrong. The notion that we can worship without the Spirit is all wrong. The notion that we can crowd the Spirit into a corner and ignore Him, quench Him, resist Him and yet worship God acceptably is a great heresy which we need to correct. Only the Holy Spirit knows how to worship God acceptably. (“The Chief End of Man,” Sermon #8, Toronto, 1962)

Worship Comes Before Work
It may be set down as an axiom that if we do not worship we cannot work acceptably. The Holy Spirit can work through a worshipping heart and through no other kind. We may go through the motions and delude ourselves by our religious activity, but we are setting ourselves up for a shocking disillusionment some day.

Without doubt the emphasis in Christian teaching today should be on worship. There is little danger that we shall become merely worshipers and neglect the practical implications of the gospel. No one can long worship God in spirit and in truth before the obligation to holy service becomes too strong to resist. Fellowship with God leads straight to obedience and good works. That is the divine order and it can never be reversed. (Born after Midnight, pp. 125-126)

Whatever keeps me from the Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be. Whatever engages my attention when I should be meditating on God and things eternal does injury to my soul. Let the cares of life crowd out the Scriptures from my mind and I have suffered loss where I can least afford it. Let me accept anything else instead of the Scriptures and I have been cheated and robbed to my eternal confusion. (That Incredible Christian, p. 82)

A Hard Message
If there is anything in me that does not worship God, then there is nothing in me that worships God perfectly! I do not say that God must have a perfection of worship or He will not accept any worship at all. I would not go so far; if I did, I would rule myself out. And we would all hang our harps on the willows and refuse to sing the songs of the Lord in a strange land. But, I do say that the ideal God sets before us is that we should worship as near to perfectly as we can. And that if there are areas in my being that are not harmonious and that do not worship God, then there’s no area in my being that worships God perfectly. (The Tozer Pulpit, Book 1, p. 55)

See to it that there isn’t a spot or an hour or a place or a time or a day or a location that isn’t consecrated and given over to God. You’ll be worshipping Him—and He’ll accept it! (The Tozer Pulpit, Book 1, p. 53)

 

The Three Stages of Grace

We’ve died once to the penalty of sin:

Titus 2:11 ¶ For the grace of God has appeared, with salvationa for all people,

Saved by grace.

All of man’s estate from birth hopelessly marred in the fathomless effects of sin. By nature we are all children of wrath, sons of disobedience, slaves to sin; with the only merits of our righteousness compared to the riches of dirty, filthy rags. From the moment of our conception in the womb– we are completely sinful. The wages of sin is death; all who sin die. That is why even infants die; they are sinful, sinners, and worthy of eternal perdition (Roms. 5:12-19).

What about infants who die; the mentally handicapped; or those who are ignorant of and have never heard the gospel? Are they given an exemption from the effects of sin, eternal judgment and punishment, and the righteous justice of a holy God? Are they somehow insulated from eternal wrath because of their age, mental capacity, and ignorance and that salvation is granted to them due to their “state of being” and not due to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Those that assert that all babies who die receive instant heaven, do so to sooth the aching hearts of grieving parents (which we all understand). But our hope beloved in the tragic death of an infant is not in the destiny of the child, but in the character of God. A baby’s perceived “innocence” affording them instant heaven is only an accommodation afforded by the sentimental whims of man. “In sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). We are all sinners (including children) not because we commit acts of sin; but because we are sinful to the core of our being – by nature. There is not a God-sized hole within us that needs filling by divine intervention. Our entire being is corrupt–and it is the same for our children.

Someone’s age is not that which insulate one against God’s holy divine judgment anymore than someone’s mental cognation or ignorance from not hearing the good news of the gospel. Something are still a mystery to us beloved and we must leave them in the just hands of a righteous God. It would be wrong for any of us to be inflexibly dogmatic on the guaranteed eternal salvation of all infants, all who are mentally handicapped, and all those who die in the ignorance of never hearing the gospel. Those that do, IMHO, out of good motives, are promising false hope. And that promise is not up to us, but only up to God Himself.

We need to be born again. Paul leaves no doubt in the bankrupt abilities of man and the greatness of the grace of our God in salvation: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). “The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation…” and without grace, there is no hope of eternal life.

Grace is “hard” to live by; for grace robs man of his glory, of all boasting in his own abilities to be made acceptable to God, and dashes his religious pride to the ground. Grace strips us self-confidence, perfectionism, and our own goodness. Grace crushes our arrogance and exalts Christ; lifts holiness and dashes human morality

We die daily to the power of sin:

Titus 2:12 instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age,

Sanctified by grace.

No man through human effort can perfect himself. “Having begun in the Spirit are you trying to perfect yourself in the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3). It is a temptation for any of us once we have tasted of the fount of God’s grace in salvation, to then revert back to a life of works in our sanctification. Paul says here in Titus that grace is our teaching; “instructing us to deny…” We are new creations in Christ, but yet we are incarcerated in unredeemed flesh (Romans 7). The things we want to do, we don’t do; and the things we don’t want to do, we do. “O wretched man am I” Paul says in the midst of this struggle.

Sanctification does and must flow from genuine regeneration; but we must remember beloved, it is all of grace.

One day we will be free from the presence of sin:

Titus 2:13 while we wait for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Titus 2:14 He gave Himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a special people, eager to do good works.

Glorified by grace.

Grace will see us through til the end. “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1: 24-25)