You can tell what you worship by recognizing what you get most excited about. We worship what we long for. The question believers should often ask themselves is, Do I long for God more than everything else in life? Does God still have first place in my heart? If we answer that question with a “yes,” then that yes should be confirmed with the fruit of fervent worship. We should worship God by gladly giving Him our affections, over love, our labor, our talent, our skill, our money, our heart, our everything, our lives.
Worship is important for at least five reasons we will consider as foundational in this sermon:
- It is a matter of life and death (Lev. 10:1-7; Acts 5:1-11; Rom. 1:18-25).
- It is how we please or displease God (Prov. 15:8; Phil. 4:18). Worshipping God is our raison d'être, that is, the very reason for our being. God made us to worship Him and because of that, nothing else in place of our worship will please God or satisfy us.
- It is what marks us as being genuinely saved (John 4:23; Phil. 3:3).
- It defines the church (Eph. 2:19-23; 1 Cor. 3:16; 1 Pet. 2:5).
- It identifies those who will be with God in the new creation (Rev. 14:6-7; 15:4; 5:9-14; Phil. 2:9-11).
Conclusion: 2 Sam. 24:24
When God saved you, He saved you to worship Him. The grace that God gives you He gives you so that you can enjoy worshipping Him. When He saved you, He called you out of the world and made you a part of a worshipping community. He saved you from the soon coming destruction of this world to make you a part of His New Creation that will be filled with worship.
Since God attached that kind of significance to worship, the question is, have we? When you come to the gathering of the saints, do you come realizing that you form the true temple of God, do you come to meet and worship God? And are you prepared to offer Him worship that is acceptable to Him?
God has made our corporate gathering the place where He comes to receive our worship. Everything in this sermon will be based upon the truths that come out of two passages.
1 Pet. 2:5 says, “you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house (that is a temple) for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
There are several truths that come out of this verse that must shape our understanding of public worship.
- We are collectively or corporately the temple, the dwelling place of God. Therefore, the most important aspect of the church assembling is that we assemble to communion with, meet, and worship God.
- We are all priests. In the OT the priest took your offering and brought your sacrifice to God. In the NT there is no one who can bring your sacrifice of worship to God but you. Your mother cannot bring your offering for you, your father cannot, your wife or husband, the choir cannot, the pastor cannot (Exodus 23:14-15). If a church is a worshipping church, it is because individually its members come to gather to present their spiritual sacrifices of worship to God.
- We all are to offer God acceptable worship as priests. Your offerings must be carefully prepared. God will not accept wood, stubble, and hay. Such offerings neither please God nor benefit the worshipper.
Given that we are priests that must come into His presence to offer Him worship, God has legislated the ways by which we must offer Him worship in our public corporate setting. This truth is found in the second foundational verse I am relying on, found in I Tim. 3:14-15:
“I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, [I write] so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”
Summarizing chapters 2 and 3, Paul states that there are certain ways we must conduct ourselves when we are gathered for public worship.
The church, in this context, the gathered saints, is the household of God. The phrase “household of God” expresses the amazing reality that God indwells in a unique way the assembly of the gathered saints. When Christians gather to worship, we are the living temple that is filled with the presence of God. In light of this truth, Paul has undertaken the task in 1 Timothy 2-3 to write out how we must conduct ourselves in public worship.
God has clearly called us to worship Him publicly. He has made us a community of worshipping priests. He has also stated how we must worship Him publicly. Tonight, we will look at God’s mandates on how we are to worship Him publicly. This is not at all a comprehensive list, but this evening I invite you to consider with me 5 acceptable offerings of worship to God.
1st Praying to God is an Acceptable Offering of Worship 1 Tim. 2:1-3
History is silent about revivals that did not begin with prayer, Edwin Orr.
For our vertical life of worship with God to be effectual, our horizontal relationships with those around us must also be unhindered. Jesus stated this point plainly when He said if you’re at the altar to worship and remember somebody has something against you, go and make that right first and then come and worship, Matthew 5:23-24. According to 1 Peter 3:7 that means brothers, God won’t answer our prayers if we aren’t treating our wives right. Parents, that means a reason why your worship may be unacceptable to God is because you lose your temper with your child, treat them harshly, and don’t humble yourself and ask them for forgiveness.
You must make a genuine effort to reconcile with those who feel you have sinned against them or else your worship will be unacceptable to God. Jesus said this, not me. “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions,” Mark 11:25. The point is an unforgiving worshipper’s worship is unacceptable to God and prayer is a vital part of worship. It is as crucial to worship as breathing is to living. If you want your prayers to revive you with the breath of life, then you must forgive those who offend you, and you must seek forgiveness from those whom you offend.
2nd Living Holy is an Acceptable Offering of Worship 1 Tim. 2:8
We cannot offer God acceptable prayer with unholy hands. I speak nothing of ceremonial washing but of a God pleasing holy life.
What are clean or holy hands? Clean/holy hands are a reference to a clean or innocent life. Our hands here speak of our works or actions. To have clean hands then is to have a clean, innocent life, void of evil works. Note, this is not a life of perfection but one that is lived in God's will.
3rd Dressing Modestly is Acceptable Worship 1 Timothy 2:9-10
The charge here is that when we come before God to worship Him we are to dress in ways that do not seek to draw attention away from God and to ourselves. This mandate is not against a hairstyle. It is against the ancient practice of flaunting one’s wealth by weaving expensive jewelry into one’s braids.
From the context, the Word of God is exhorting believers that when we gather for public worship (1 Tim. 3:14-15) “one ought to conduct himself in the household of God” by adorning (arranging) ourselves discreetly (“to behave in a sensible manner, with the implication of thoughtful awareness of what is best — ‘moderation, sensibility,’” Louw & Nida). This would include the obvious prohibition of coming to church half-naked!
4th Listening to the Word of God is Acceptable Worship 1 Tim. 2:11-12; 4:13; Luke 10:38-42
Paul follows Jesus’ bold act of acknowledging women as disciples of Christ. The position of all of Jesus followers during a worship service is the humble posture of listening with a submissive attitude eager to obey the Word of God (Matt 28:19-20)
The central place, the climactic part of the worship public service clearly is the expounding of the Word of God in the NT.
5th Modeling Christ-likeness is Acceptable Worship 1 Tim. 3:1-13; 4:12
Leaders lead by modeling how others are to live in Christ-like ways that are acceptable to God. The verb “must be” is the dominant verb in this who section (1 Tim. 3:2, 4, 7, 8, 10, 11, 13). The believer’s life is the offering of sacrifice that Jesus died to secure (Rom. 12:1). God requires that leaders demonstrate a life of worship to the worshipping community.
A church can affirm the importance of worship; a church can even understand that to offer God acceptable worship they must worship God in ways prescribed by the Bible. However, they will fail to offer God acceptable worship if they stumble over worldly and satanic hindrances. These hindrances tempt churches to mix acceptable worship with elements that are unacceptable. The result is that these hindrances mar their worship and render it unacceptable to a Holy God.
We considered three such hindrances:
1st Pagan Ecstatic Worship 1 Cor. 10:20; 11:34-12:3; 14:19
We fail to offer God acceptable worship when we mix our worship of God with the pagan practices of out of control ecstatic worship.
2nd Secularizing Sacred Music 2 Chron. 29:25-30; Eph. 5:18-19
We fail to offer God acceptable worship when we secularize music God has ordained would be offered to Him as sacred.
3rd Offering the Worshipper Entertainment 1 Cor. 2:1-5; Ezekiel 2:1-7
We fail to offer God acceptable worship when we design worship services to entertain ourselves. The worshipper is not the audience—God is. The servants of God in a worship service, therefore, are not performers trying to entertain the other worshippers. They are to be holy ministers trying to lead God’s people to offer Him their highest praise in ways that are worthy of God.
Worship is giving to God the supreme honor, veneration, and reverence in action and attitude, in thought and deed that He alone deserves. A worshipping church is comprised of believers who in attitude and action, deed and thought, offer God their highest adoration in three ways:
- Worshippers Seek after God 63:1-4
- Worshippers Satisfy Themselves with God 63:5-7
- Worshippers Cling to God 63:8-11
Pray that God would make you thirst for Him and nothing else, to seek Him above all else, to be satisfied with Him more than everything else, that you would cling to Him and no one else. Pray that God would revive a heart and life of passionate worship for Him so that in attitude and action, thought and deed you give Him your highest adoration and praise. If you collectively do these things, then you will be a worshipping church, and God will fill you with His joy and shower you with His blessings.