For the past several months, I have been doing research on worship. What is worship? Is it defined by the style of music we sing? Does it have to do with just the music portion of Sunday morning church? Controversy abounds among churches on the topic of worship. Contemporary vs. traditional, instruments (what kind, how many, etc.) vs. no instruments. Dim the lights or keep them bright? Songs on the screen or in the book? Do we need the newest packaged program? Does it need to fit my needs, my style or my tastes? What if I just don’t get anything out of it?
Searching the Scriptures and reading books by solid Bible teachers, it is clear that God has shown us how He is to be worshiped. Our corporate worship services need to be an extension of our everyday lives. Glorifying Him needs to be central in all we do, not something we turn on when we walk into the church and turn off when we leave. Not looking for the best entertainment to suit my style, not finding the preacher who tells the best jokes or stories, and not complaining that I just didn’t get anything out of the service this week.
In John MacArthur’s book, “Worship; The Ultimate Priority” he points to the fact that understanding the sufficiency of Scripture ought to spur us on to regulate our worship according to biblical guidelines, and to desire passionately to be those who worship God in spirit and truth.
MacArthur points out three main ingredients to corporate worship:
Preach the Word. In corporate worship, the preaching of the Word of God should take first place. Preaching is an irreplaceable aspect of corporate worship. “In fact,” MacArthur states, “the whole church service should revolve around the ministry of the Word. Everything else is either preparatory to, or a response to, the message from Scripture.”
Edify the flock. We are told in Scripture that the purpose of our spiritual gifts is for the edification of the whole church. So ministry in the church should edify (build up the flock) not just stir up emotions.
Honor the Lord. Hebrews 12:28 states, “Let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe.” The Greek word for “service” literally means “worship.” We must worship in a way that honors God. Everything we do in the corporate worship of the church should aim at fostering an atmosphere of reverence as we perceive our sinfulness and God’s holiness.
John MacArthur ends the chapter “How Shall We Then Worship?” with this paragraph: “The world is filled with false and superficial religion. We who love Christ and believe His Word is true dare not accommodate our worship to the styles and preferences of an unbelieving world. Instead, we must make it our business to be worshipers in spirit and in truth. We must be people who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. And to do that, we must allow Scripture alone to regulate our worship.”
Living for Eternity,