The better (i.e., the more accurately) we know God through His Word, the more genuine our worship will be. In fact, the moment we veer from what is true about God, we’re engaging in idolatry. Regardless of what we think or feel, there is no authentic worship of God without a right knowledge of God.
While it’s simplistic to say that worship is love, it’s a fact that what we love most will determine what we genuinely worship.
[God’s] attributes exist together in perfect harmony, perfect balance, perfect cooperation, with no contradiction, no confusion, and no diminishing of their glory forever.
The cross stands for all that was accomplished through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God. It focuses on His substitutionary death at Calvary but includes everything that gave meaning to that act. His preexistent state in glory. His incarnation. His life of perfect obedience. His suffering. His resurrection. His ascension. His present intercession and reign in glory. His triumphant return.
It’s not the excellence of our offering that makes our worship acceptable but the excellence of Christ. We cannot worship the eternal Father apart from the eternal Son… Our worship is accepted not on the basis of what we have done, but on the basis of what Christ has done… [Therefore] if we [leaders] help people focus on what God did two thousand years ago rather than twenty minutes ago, they’ll consistently find their hearts ravished by His amazing love.
It’s not the excellence of our offering that makes our worship acceptable but the excellence of Christ. We cannot worship the eternal Father apart from the eternal Son… Our worship is accepted not on the basis of what we have done, but on the basis of what Christ has done.
What’s the greatest challenge you face as a worship leader? You might think it’s deciding which songs to sing, getting along with your pastor, receiving feedback from church members, or leading a team of unorganized, independent musicians. Nope. Your greatest challenge is what you yourself bring to the platform each and every Sunday. Your heart.
The most important worship leader is Jesus. He reveals God to us and through His perfect sacrifice provided the only way into the Father’s presence (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 10:19-22).
As I understand it, a worship leader exercises various gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and elsewhere. These include pastoring, leading, administration, and teaching. Under the oversight of the pastor, he combines those gifts with musical skill to care for, guide, and instruct God’s people as they sing His praises.
Next Sunday, if the Spirit stopped empowering your worship, would anyone notice?
A faithful worship leader magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit by skillfully combining God’s Word with music, thereby motivating the gathered church to proclaim the gospel, to cherish God’s presence, and to live for God’s glory.
Our churches can’t be Spirit-led unless they’re Word-fed. A church that’s dependent on the Spirit’s power in its worship will be committed to the study, proclamation, and application of God’s Word in its personal and congregational worship. The Word and the Spirit were never meant to be separated. In fact God’s Spirit is the one who inspired God’s Word… God’s Spirit and His Word go together.
If I had no other choices, I’d rather be sitting in the midst of a quiet congregation singing rich, doctrinal truths than jumping around with a lively congregation belting out shallow, man-centered songs. But God never intended for us to have to choose. We’re to pursue theological depth and passionate expression.
Some Christians repress their emotions as they sing. They fear feeling anything too strongly and think maturity means holding back. But the problem is emotionalism, not emotions. Emotionalism pursues feelings as an end in themselves. It’s wanting to feel something with no regard for how that feeling is produced or its ultimate purpose. Emotionalism can also view heightened emotions as the infallible sign that God is present. In contrast, the emotions that singing is meant to evoke are a response to who God is and what He’s done. Vibrant singing enables us to combine truth about God seamlessly with passion for God. Doctrine and devotion. Mind and heart.
God could reject our worship for a number of reasons. He specifically condemns acts of worship associated with idolatry, unbelief, disobedience, and evil motives (Jeremiah 13:10; Exodus 30:9; 32:22-27; Jeremiah 7:21-26). Rehearsing this list makes me aware that our offerings of worship will never please God on their own. Try as hard as we can, our hearts and worship will always be tainted in God’s sight. The ultimate factor of acceptable worship is faith in and union with Jesus Christ. Our spiritual sacrifices are “acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). It is His sinless offering of worship that cleanses and perfects ours.
Biblically speaking, no worship leader, pastor, band, or song will ever bring us close to God. We can’t shout, dance, or prophesy our way into God’s presence. Worship itself cannot lead us into God’s presence. Only Jesus Christ Himself can bring us into God’s presence, and He has done it through a single sacrifice that will never be repeated – only joyfully recounted and trusted in.
Faithfulness means firmly adhering to the observance of a duty, keeping your word, fulfilling your obligations. It involves being loyal, constant, and reliable.
On Sundays God wants us to do more than sing songs together and have wonderful worship experiences. He wants to knit the fabric of our lives together. For many, church has become all about me – what I’m learning, what I’m seeking, what I’m desperate for, what I need, how I’ve been affected, what I can do. We see ourselves as isolated individuals all seeking personal encounters with God, wherever we can find them. Sadly, this reflects our individualistic, me-obsessed culture. Rather than seeing ourselves as part of a worship community, we become worship consumers. We want worship on demand, served up in our own time, and with our own music.
The cross ultimately points not to the greatness of our worth but to the greatness of our sin… The cross sets us free from the misguided self-love to passionately love the One who redeemed us.
In the cross we find a perfect reconciling of God’s blazing holiness, holy justice, incomprehensible wisdom, omnipotent power and unfathomable love.
In a letter written from prison, Paul requested Timothy to bring him “the books” (2 Tim. 4:13). Charles Spurgeon, the nineteenth-century “prince of preachers,” expressed amazement at such a request from Paul: “He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has been preaching at least for thirty years, and yet he wants books! He had seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He had had a wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up into the third heaven, and had heard things which it was unlawful for a men to utter, yet he wants books! He had written the major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! Spurgeon then reminds us, “He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves he has no brains of his own.”
God is particularly interested in our joy. He tells us, “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:11). When the church gathers, the sense of confident joy in God should be pronounced. When we fail to demonstrate delight and satisfaction in God, we’re not only dishonoring God, we’re disobeying Him. More than anyone else on earth, Christians have a reason to celebrate.