Revival brings great growth, and opportunities to serve abound. If leadership is not careful, in all the hubbub of ministry and activity, the hearts of the flock can begin to grow cold toward Jesus. This heart condition is serious for the church; Jesus made that clear in His letter to the Ephesians. Therefore, there is a great responsibility to steward first love worship of Jesus among the church. Learn more in this week’s video.
One of the greatest needs we have today is to become one in the Spirit with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus prayed that all of His followers might be one in the Father and in the Son (John 17:20-23). Jesus expected us to be “perfected in unity” so the world would know that the Father sent Him and that the Father loves us as He loves Jesus (John 17:23).
This unity is very important because a house divided against itself cannot stand (Matthew 12:25). Needless to say, Satan knows this and aims to divide and conquer us.
Jesus’ prayer was answered in Acts. Even new believers had such love and oneness that they spontaneously shared everything they had to meet their brothers’ needs (Acts 2:41-47; Acts 4:31-35). They were of one heart and one soul.
Today this unity seems unreal. Many would wonder if such unity is possible in our time. We have had divided, competitive Christianity so long we have forgotten how serious our divisions are. Most importantly we have lost the conviction that we can be one and that we must once again become one in the Spirit or suffer disastrous losses. One of these critical losses is in our home life.
Christian marriages are breaking up at a rate that rivals the unsaved world. If we cannot claim the power of God to become one in the Spirit in our church life, what hope does our gospel offer to marriages and families that need to be united in love?
Bible prophecy warns us that extreme love for self will bring perilous times in the last days. Ruthless selfishness will invade the church and destroy the meaning of godliness among God’s people. Selfish people will have the form of godliness, but they will deny the power and reality of it (II Timothy 3:1-5).
The power of godliness is the power to live together as one harmonious family of God (Ephesians 4:1-16). All the power of God is available to unite our marriages, families and churches. How then can we receive God’s power for oneness in Christ?
First, we need to understand what the barrier to our oneness really is. To see this we must remember the first sin on earth. Satan tempted our first parents to consider the forbidden fruit and decide for themselves whether they should eat it. They looked and they ate. Thus they committed themselves and their offspring to self as the final authority in human life. After that, all mankind forsook the power and authority of God and each one lived as he saw fit. We were all born that way. We started life with a mind set on having our own way. This disposition is hard to change.
The second thing we need to see is that completely changing our natural bend of mind is possible only by deliberately yielding our lives to the power and authority of Christ through worship. Through worship our Lord takes charge of us and delivers us from the dominance of our old nature.
How can two or more Christians yield themselves to God to take charge of them? They can worship in one accord. In Acts 1:14 the Christians waiting for the coming of the Spirit prayed in one accord. In Acts 4:24-29 the church called on God in one accord. Their prayer was mainly worshiping Him.
Worship is bowing to God to let Him take charge of you because you realize you owe Him this honor as God and you love Him. At the conclusion of his presentation of the gospel in Romans, Paul appealed to us to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). This is “your spiritual service of worship (Romans 12:1). Worship is offering your life to God in love.
You notice that our many bodies are presented as a single living sacrifice. Through worship we accept our place in the one body of Christ. Romans 12:3-21 goes on to appeal to us to live in harmony as one body, sharing our different spiritual gifts for the good of the whole body.
Real worship must be offered with a true heart (Hebrews 10:22). In his excellent book, How To Worship Jesus Christ, Joseph S. Carroll explains what a true heart is. He cites Bishop Westcott who wrote that it is “a heart which expresses completely the devotion of the whole person to God. There is no divided allegiance, no reserve of feeling.” The whole person is devoted to God – the mind, the will and the affections.
We may wonder how we could possibly reach such whole heartedness? Joseph Carroll encourages us, “If you seek for a true heart with all your heart, you will receive it. It is entirely your decision, for God’s callings are His enablings. He lives in you by His Spirit to meet His own demands” (Hebrews 13:20-21).
So it is a matter of your will and your faith in God’s promise. Do you want to be made whole hearted? Will you trust God for the ability to yield your all to Him? The whole church did this when they went to God in one accord (Acts 4:24). They all agreed in submitting to Him. He took charge of them and gave them a fresh filling of the Spirit and made them of one heart and one soul (Acts 4:31-32).
In our marriages, families, communities and in all Christian relations we must worship God in one accord with our whole heart. We can make the first move by going to our Lord in one accord claiming by faith that He will take charge of us and unite us with Himself and with one another. This is what He promised to do in Matthew 18:15-20. This is why Christ is in the midst of the church.
The spirit of man without worship is like a traveler in the desert without water. But what is worship, and what makes it so crucial to our day-to-day relationship with God?
Worship is kneeling or prostrating yourself before the Lord to pay homage to Him as your God. The Psalmist cried, ” Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” (Psalm 95:6) Sincere homage to God results in a habit of obedience that springs from faith and love. Jesus said, ” You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” (Matthew 4:10) Serving is obedience. Jesus was the perfect worshiper because He was obedient unto death.
Acts of worship that do not produce loving obedience are an empty pretence, like a child insisting he loves his parents while he ignores their instructions. God wants our heart. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).
Worship focuses on God as the only Ruler (I Timothy 6:15). Only God commands all the forces of nature and has complete power over all creatures. God does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3). Nothing restrains Him.
God has the power to use the things His creatures do against Him for His own purpose. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery to keep him from ruling over them. God allowed them to do this to bring Joseph to Egypt where God intended for Him to rule over them. They meant it for evil but God meant it for good (Genesis 50:20). Wicked men put Christ to death but this was God’s predetermined plan (Acts 2:23-24).
God has the wisdom, knowledge and POWER to reign as absolute King over all. Furthermore, He has the RIGHT to do so. All creatures and all things are His. He is the Creator, Sustainer and Controller of all things. Finally, He is WORTHY to reign in absolute power. His character is pure, holy, Spotless, incorruptible and changeless. His love, His justice, His mercy, His faithfulness and His truth are perfect. He alone is worthy to rule all creatures and be their final judge.
Worshipers rejoice and give thanks for God’s great power and for His excellent character. We are saved by His power. We are thankful that the Almighty is our Father. Worshipers sing, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4: 11)
We need someone with absolute power. Otherwise the world is like a bus speeding down the freeways of time with no one at the wheel. Our present pains have no eternal purpose and our destiny can come to no good end without a God like our Lord.
Modern presentations of the gospel and salvation have not emphasized that worship is the glory due to God’s name. This makes a powerful difference in our understanding of the gospel message.
Start, for example, with sin and mankind’s lost condition. Why are people lost and on the way to everlasting punishment? What sin have all men committed that deserves punishment for all eternity in the lake of fire and brimstone?
The answer is clear. All humanity has rejected the highest duty of man which is to glorify and praise God in worship (Romans 1:21). This is where Paul begins the explanation of the gospel. Man is without excuse. He ought to know from creation that there is a Creator to whom he owes his life, breath and all things (Romans 1:18-20).
Refusal to recognize the civil government over you by ignoring its taxes, its laws and its authority is rebellion. Man is in rebellion against the government of God. Total degradation comes from this sin which corrupts every aspect of man’s personal and social life (Romans 1:22-32).
This is why there is none righteous and none that do good (Romans 3:10, 12). A secular American who lives a nice life and gives much to charity is still on the wrong side in the moral war of the ages. Man must be reconciled to His Maker and worship Him before he can do anything good.
Modern presentations of the gospel do not bring people under conviction for the ultimate sin –failure to glorify the only true and living God through worship. I will never forget interviewing a man for church membership whose view of sin was extremely shallow.
“Do you realize you are a sinner?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Do you know that you are so bad Christ had to die a criminal’s death between two thieves to save you?”
“Awwww!” he replied, and with that he dropped the idea of joining the church!
How many people sitting in gospel churches today really see themselves as so sinful they deserve everlasting fire apart from the grace of God?
Such conviction of sin in the early church produced powerful conversions. Believing in God and in Christ resulted in repentance and a complete about face. When the blind man Jesus healed realized who his benefactor was he said, “Lord, I believe. And he worshiped Him” (John 9:38).
To believe the gospel is to have a complete change of your attitude toward God. We were God’s enemies (Romans 5:10). We may have dreaded God’s power, but the gospel has shown us His love for us. So now we are reconciled to Him and trust Him. We have seen that we owe Him worship as God. His love for us in the gospel has won our hearts.
Thus we have become obedient to God as devoted worshipers. ”But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed” (Romans 6:1). In Thessalonica those who believed “tuned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (I Thessalonians 1 :9b).
When the gospel is preached by a church of devoted worshipers the converts enter the faith with a different slant on life. They want to escape sin like something worse than AIDS. They want to perfect holiness like an athlete perfecting his physical condition to win the championship. They search the Bible to learn obedience like Christ. They pray that God will teach them and lead them in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Worship was the great issue in the fall of man, in the temptation of Jesus and in the exodus. God sent Moses to demand release of His people that they might serve (worship) Him (Exodus 4:23; 7:16; 8:1, 8:20).
In the prophetic books of Daniel and Revelation worship is the key issue. Daniel risked his life by refusing the king’s meat and wine which had been offered to idols. He was cast into the lion’s den as punishment for praying to God. His friends were thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to worship an idol. Revelation prophesies that all mankind will have to worship the Antichrist or die. Yet if they worship him they will perish forever.
A worshiper’s prayers are strong enough to shake an empire. The reason is not hard to find. The worshiper is not asking the Lord to bless his own plans. He is waiting on God for His wise plan. President Abraham Lincoln had the right idea: “I’m not worried about having the Lord on our side, I’m concerned about being on His side. ”