The Divine Worship Leader
Bible Reading: Philippians 3:1-3
Philippians 3:3, “For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”
We were created to worship, just as the Westminster Shorter Catechism has instructed, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Being our “chief end,” worship is a matter of extreme importance. Our problem is, however, that sin has worked to debilitate and deceive us. So, Jesus came to make worshippers out of us. I love this quote from A. W. Tozer, “Why did Christ come? Why was He conceived? Why was He born? Why was He crucified? Why did He rise again? Why is He now at the right hand of the Father? The answer to all these questions is, ‘In order that He might make worshipers out of rebels; in order that He might restore us again to the place of worship we knew when we were first created’.”
In order for worship to be acceptable to God, it must meet certain conditions, just as Jesus explained: “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). For worship to be acceptable to God it must be in accordance with the truth, and led by the Spirit. That means, of course, it is only those who are born again of the Spirit who are equipped to worship. Yet the fact they have the Spirit is not, in itself, a guarantee they will worship God as they should. There is the need to be led by the Spirit and to walk by His power.
Just as gravity works to hold us to the earth, sin perniciously works such that we gravitate towards a fleshly approach to worship. Paul chided the believers in Galatia for that very thing (Galatians 3:1-3). Having heard the gospel and believed, they had begun in their Christian lives “by the Spirit.” Sadly, false teachers came along and set them off course with false teaching emphasizing self-reliance.
It is impossible for us to move an inch in the heavenly direction apart from the Holy Spirit. His inner workings are as essential to worship as gas is to a car engine. You can turn a car engine over with the starter, yet that car will not go anywhere far. You could have a thousand human worship leaders, yet if the Divine worship leader is not working, all their efforts will be to no avail. This is surely at the heart of much which ails the modern church.
It is as that great theologian, Francis Schaeffer, long ago noted, “The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism, nor the old Roman Catholicism or the new Roman Catholicism, nor the threat of communism, nor even the threat of rationalism and the monolithic consensus which surrounds us [nor, I would add today, postmodernism or materialistic consumerism or visceral sensualism or whatever]. All these are dangerous but not the primary threat. The real problem is this: the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually or corporately, tending to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit. The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them.”
We are those who worship by the Spirit. The indwelling Spirit has a ministry of unveiling to us, in us and through us, the glory of the Lord Jesus (John 16:13-14). Our response is to acknowledge Him in what we say and do–for who He is and what He has done and is doing! There is one sure way to improve our worship, be it in an individual or corporate way. Allow the Spirit to instruct and lead and empower us in all. Two parallel passages have direct relevance to this matter—Ephesians 5:18-20 and Colossians 3:16-17. Ephesians 5:18-20 instructs that when we are filled with the Spirit, the worship of God is the result. Colossians 3:16-17 speaks of a similar result, but cites the cause to be the word of Christ richly dwelling within. We worship by the Spirit to the extent we are filled with the Spirit and are richly indwelt by the Word. And in that kind of worship, our hearts and lives are in harmony with our Creator and His purpose!
REVIVE US AGAIN
We praise thee, O God, for the Son of thy love,
for Jesus who died, and is now gone above.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, hallelujah! Amen!
Hallelujah! Thine the glory, revive us again.
We praise thee, O God, for thy Spirit of light
who has shown us our Savior and scattered our night. [Refrain]
We praise thee, O God, for the joy thou hast giv’n
to thy saints in communion, these foretastes of heav’n. [Refrain]
Revive us again, fill each heart with thy love.
May each soul be rekindled with fire from above. [Refrain]