When we believe that we ought to be satisfied, rather than God glorified, we set God below ourselves, imagine that He should submit His own honor to our advantage; we make ourselves more glorious than God, as though we were not made for Him, but He made for us; this is to have a very low esteem of the majesty of God.
Without the heart it’s not worship, it’s a stage play.
As difficult as it might be, the early church had far more to work through than what music would be sung. Their struggles and successes are instructive to us who may have less to work through than they did. It will be sad to face Christ in the future and say, “We could not be the glorious church you called us to be because we could not get together on the music.”
There is a difference between going to a service “for the worship” and going to a service “to worship the Lord.” The distinction appears to be a minor one, but it may imply the difference between the worship of God and the worship of music!
For many churches, designing worship has become most closely associated with that which will best suit the attendees or best attract the hesitant church-
We’ve watched the biblical content of services shrink beyond visibility. But doesn’t faith come by hearing the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17)? Are the spiritually dead not born again by the living and abiding Word of God (1 Pet. 1:23)? Do the people of God not grow by the pure milk of God’s Word (2:2)? Then does it not matter what we read, preach, and sing in our services, and in what quantities? Should we not be alarmed when we see self-centered sermons replace biblical exposition, repetitious choruses replace biblically rich hymnody and psalmody, token prayers replace a full-diet of biblical prayer (for example, praise, confession, thanksgiving, intercessions), and Scripture reading disappear altogether?
Next Sunday, if the Spirit stopped empowering your worship, would anyone notice?
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.
What you want to be careful of is looking around at people in the church service and seeing people really into it – on their knees, people singing with glazed-over eyes, people expressing a lot of emotion, people weeping – and drawing the conclusion that because people are responding emotionally that they have a deeper connection with God or a more mature faith than the person who is not reacting emotionally at all. This is a profound error.
A steady diet of performances by soloists or even choirs can have the unintended effect of undermining the corporate, participative nature of our musical worship. People can gradually come to think of worship in terms of passive observation, which we do not see modeled in the Bible. Such a diet may also begin to blur the line between worship and entertainment, especially in a television-sopped culture like ours, where one of our most insidious expectations is to be always entertained. Of course, this blurring is hardly ever intended. But over time, separating the “performers” from “the rest of the congregation” can subtly shift the focus of our attention from God to the musicians and their talent – a shift that is frequently revealed by applause at the end of some performance pieces. Who is the beneficiary of such applause? (Mark Dever and Paul Alexander).
Worship, as we find it in Scripture, is the exclusive right, privilege, and responsibility of the child of God. It is spiritually impossible for an unbeliever to worship. The prevailing idea that the church needs to sound like the world in order to win the world demonstrates a serious misunderstanding of what church really is. It demonstrates more concern with what the world thinks than with what God thinks.
God is no gainer even from our worship. He was in no need of that external glory of His grace which arises from His redeemed, for He is glorious enough in Himself without that.
The great hindrance to worship is not that we are a pleasure-seeking people, but that we are willing to settle for such pitiful pleasures.
We belittle God when we go through the outward motions of worship and take no pleasure in His person.
Anytime we long for something apart from God, fear something more than God, or trust in something other than God to make us happy, fulfilled, or secure, we worship a false god.
The gratuitous leap of logic comes when church leaders think that because people are searching for benefits only God can give them, they must therefore be searching after God. No, they want the benefits without the Giver of the benefits. And so structuring worship to accommodate unbelievers is misguided because these unbelievers are not seeking after God. Seeking after God begins at conversion, and if we are to structure our worship with a view to seekers, then we must structure it for believers, since only believers are seekers.
The modern movement of worship is designed to break down barriers between man and God, to remove the veil, as it were, from the fearsome holiness of God, which might cause us to tremble. It is designed to make us feel comfortable.
If we choose a false way of worship we shall, before long, choose to worship a false god.
The best worship that we ever render to God is far from perfect. Our praises, how faint and feeble they are! Our prayers, how wandering, how wavering they are! When we get nearest to God, how far off we are! When we are most like Him, how greatly unlike Him we are!
Certainly joy and celebration are appropriate responses to the grace of God revealed in the gospel. But no less essential is the fear of God rooted in the recognition of His majesty and holiness. We must be careful that our emotions and physical displays in times of worship are conscious expressions of gratitude, awe, love, and devotion, rather than an unconscious reaction to the mood or rhythm of the music.
I am concerned that there exists in Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) today a pervasive growing attitude of unteachableness, unaccountability, and a lack of submissiveness to the Word of God and the authority of the local church. It seems today that anyone who challenges the CCM industry as to its current practices and alliances according to the standard of God’s Word is labeled as divisive, condemning, and unloving. While those that are constantly operating outside of the purview of God’s Word are labeled as innovative, visionary, and kind? Tolerance is not a spiritual gift; it is the distinguishing mark of postmodernism; and sadly, it has permeated the very fiber of Christianity. Why is it that those who have no biblical convictions or theology to govern and direct their actions are tolerated and the standard or truth of God’s Word rightly divided and applied is dismissed as extreme opinion or legalism?
Christians don’t tell lies they just go to church and sing them.
There is no greater love song to proclaim than the once for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ our Lord at Calvary, but yet others feel content to sing about the chaff of this world. What the New Testament church wrestled with the least is what our industry craves the most – money. How dare we think we can play politics with God, with His truth and with His church? We can’t negotiate with sin no matter what kind of capital is at stake – and that really is the issue here.
The contemporary church has been hemorrhaging truth and pumping in self-worship at such a rate that unbelievers, longing to drown their guilt and angst in religious renewal, find churchgoing a welcome and undemanding refuge. And why shouldn’t they? The average fad-soaked postmodern worship service has just enough morality to soothe the secular conscience and enough worldliness to leave superficial Christians feeling right at home.