The Heart of Worship

My Post (Rejoice)

“Next to the word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. It controls our hearts, minds and spirits. A person who does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs!” ― Martin Luther (The Great Reformer).

Music plays a very important part of our method in conveying our joy, peace, sorrow, troubles etc… Sound, music, vocalisations are part of a very important aspect of worship. And we ought to explore them in our effort to give of our best to God in our singing, and in our music. “We need to have music that praises God, blesses God, thanks God, and responds to God.” – RC Sproul. There are a lot of great theology in a lot of our great hymns, but unfortunately, there are also some with bad theology. As Jesus said to the woman at Samaria, God wants people to worship him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

God is not honoured by worship of heresy, false teaching, nor of lies, but at the heart of our worship must be commitment to truth. Jonathan Edwards, a man widely regarded as one of America’s most important and original philosophical theologians once said, “I should think myself in the way of my duty to raise the affections of my hearers as high as possibly I can, provided that they are affected with nothing but truth.” Whatever we sing should be consistent with the word of God. It should be theologically and biblically sound. When Martin Luther wrote “A mighty fortress is our God, he didn’t just use the words from Psalm 46, but the content of the message of Psalm 46 formed the core of the message of the song.

Songs communicate so much. Songs communicate so many bad ideas, so many arrogant ideas, and yet at the same time, songs can be used of God to elevate the soul to the highest levels humanly possible. During the 19th century, one of my favourite songs, “I have decided to follow Jesus” is said to have originated in India. The man (Nokseng) who inspired it lived and died as a martyr along with his family in a Pagan village within the district and province of Assam. Nokseng and his family were the first convert believers in the whole of the pagan village which came about as a direct result of the great revival in Wales and England spreading out to the rest of the world through missionaries.

When the village chief had that Nokseng was worshipping Jesus and no other gods, he demanded Nokseng renounce his new-found faith or face execution with the whole of his family. But despite the threat, Nokseng somehow responded saying, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” Right before his very eyes, Nokseng’s family was executed before he himself was. But through it all, he was still able to declare saying, “The cross before me, the world behind me, though none go with me, still I will follow, no turning back, no turning back.” After Nokseng was killed, the village chief came under severe conviction for some time, and this led him to eventually renounce his former faith and him declaring his allegiance to the Lord Christ Jesus. His family also turned to Jesus, along with other villagers who since then gathered on a nightly basis to sing together, “I have decided to follow Jesus.”

There is power in praising the name of the Lord, but there is even far greater power being able to praise the name of Jesus right in the midst of pain and confusing circumstances. Praising God is a sacrifice because it is costly – it costs us our pride and self-serving plans. True praise requires that you lay everything that is near and dear on the altar before the Lord. The sacrifice is offered simply as an outward sign of a heart that is filled with awe and reverence and respect toward God.

“To give a sacrifice that is not giving in faith is to offer a sacrifice merely as an external right, as a formal pattern of behaviour that is not in expression of true faith that holds God in the highest possible esteem and reverence. What matters to God is whether our sacrifice is genuinely and authentically an offering of honest praise, of an expression of faith that include within it not only a trust in the creator, but the desire that the creator be exalted.” – R.C Sproul. No wonder the Bible says (Heb 10:22), “Let us draw near to God with a true heart in full assurance of faith.”

God created us for the ultimate priority of worshiping Him. It’s no accident that the longest book in the Bible – Psalms, is all about praising and worshiping God. “When we think about worship, we think about the ascribing of worth, excellence, majesty, and honour to our creator.” – R.C Sproul. “Worship is all that we are, reacting rightly to all that He is” – John MacArthur. The central element of worship in the Bible is the giving of adoration to God. It involves the honouring of God, the blessing of God, the esteeming and reverencing of God.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey (as he was drawing nearer) the whole multitude of his disciples began to joyfully rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the Highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” Jesus answered saying, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” – Luke 19:40.

The redemption that is ours in Jesus Christ demands our loudest praise!

I heard of a medieval legend which tells about a time when the Lord sent two angels down to earth to gather all the prayers of His people. One Angel was assigned to gather all the petitions, and the other assigned to gather all of the thanksgiving. The legend goes on to say that the Angel who was assigned the task of gathering all the petitions could not carry them all in one trip. But the other Angel who was assigned to gather all the thanksgiving carried them all in one hand. There is a lot of truth to that. C.S Lewis said, “Only in acts of worship and praise can a person learn to believe in the goodness and the greatness of God. God wants us to praise Him, not because He needs or craves, in any sense, our flattery. But because He knows that praise creates joy and thankfulness.”

The ultimate networking is a life always praising the Lord. “God indwells the praises of His people.” – Psalm 22:3. This is why (in Psalm 132) David said, “I will not enter my house or get into my bed, I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob… Let us go his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!” Praise is the one thing you can do on this side of heaven which is in full agreement with the will of God, and with what is going on fulltime in heaven. The angels of God, the saints who have gone before us, the creatures, and all created things are praising God in Heaven. Myriads of angels in Heaven are constantly praising God, saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!” – Revelation 5:12