Cornerstone EPC Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734 November 8, 2015
“What is Worship?”
Text: Psalm 100
Let’s start today with our sermon title, “What is worship?” Now let’s attempt to answer our question. According to some, worship is a set of activities done in a group setting in church sanctuaries on Sunday mornings at eleven. Singing, praying, giving, hearing Scripture read and proclaimed, and such for many constitute worship—and if these elements be not present, then worship, to their minds, did not occur. According to others, worship is something we watch other people do—especially the professional musicians and those some lately call professional Christians. Still others in our society consider worship something to be eschewed in favor of the Sunday morning news, or of the National Football League’s pregame telecast, or almost anything else.
Yet, according to God, as we shall see today in His Word, worship is a celebration of Who God is and what He does. If this gets down deep into your soul and into mine, this will change everything. Let us turn to Psalm 100 now and hear from God as He speaks in His Word.
(HERE READ THE TEXT)
Worship is a celebration. We learn this from today’s text. The unnamed Psalmist calls us to come into God’s presence with a joyful noise—with shouting. We are to come into His presence with singing—not merely with melody set to meter, but with a heart full and aflame for God. We are to serve the Lord in public worship—and in other places—with gladness. Worship too often lacks one of these forms of celebration—and, alas, in some places what passes for worship lacks all three. Let this not be said of us here at Cornerstone. Let us worship Him in celebratory fashion.
Worship is a celebration of God. This occurs along two lines. First, we celebrate Who God is. Once again, we turn to our text for help—and we find the help in verse five. Our triune God is good, and faithful, and steadfastly loving. I, for one, am glad that He is all He says He is in this verse. Yet He is so much more, and the balance of Scripture shows this—in excellent qualities that we know traditionally as attributes. One of the best, and most reverent, treatments of God’s attributes is A. W. Tozer’s classic The Knowledge of the Holy. The title rises from Proverbs 9:10, where we read, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” We celebrate God for Who He is—and what He reveals about Himself in Scripture furnishes us much occasion for celebrating Him.
Second, we celebrate what God does. We may think of what God does in the usual three tenses: past, present, and future. We see in today’s text an explicit act of His, namely, His creation of us (in verse three). Implied in the fact that we are His people is His work of redemption—especially the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross. We are made His people by the Holy Spirit’s effectual application of the infinite merits of Jesus’ sinless life and shed blood to our desperately needy souls. The Lord has done many other great works in times past—including powerful works in each believing life here—but they find their ground in the great redeeming work of Jesus Christ.
The Lord also, and clearly, is at work today. He provides for His redeemed people everything that they need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). He also sustains everything in the universe, including us, by the power of His Word (Hebrews 1:3). Even this day the Son (Hebrews 7:25) and the Spirit (Romans 8:26) intercede for us in accordance with God’s will with sighs and groanings too deep for words. As He drew many of us to Christ in times past, so also He draws many today—and He operates today to call believers both new and veteran to greater conformity to Christ and closer walk with Himself. No doubt He is working today.
There remain a number of acts that the Lord shall do in days to come. As noted earlier, He sustains us today—and we may rest assured that He will continue to sustain us with His excellent care. The Lord, by His grace, will both empower and encourage our service unto Him—and that service in His good providence will bless many. In due course, at the right time, He shall carry us each who believe on Jesus as Savior and Lord to Heaven—to be with Him where He is. Also, in due course (and perhaps before we lay this body down), Jesus, at the Father’s command, shall return—as He promised—to consummate all things, to vanquish evil finally, and to establish in its fullness the eternal age. May the Lord indeed sharpen our longing for these things.
Psalm 100, a psalm for giving thanks, rightly frames our thoughts about worship. It spurs us to worship Him with celebration in view of His being and His doing. Now let us consider a couple of questions that I pray will lead us to apply this text rightly. First, is our worship God-centered? We would not have man as the object of our worship, yet too often this appears to be the case. Our testimony and our acts of worship can be discharged in such a way that we usurp God’s glory and deprive Him of His glorious due. We must guard ourselves against such a case. Nor must we allow our worship to be event-centered. If all we note about worship is the skill of the performers (speakers, vocalists, and instrumentalists) and the skill of the production crew, than truly we missed the heart of worship on that day. Our worship must place God at the center and as the focus. He is worthy of such; let us be sure to render such unto Him.
Second, is our worship celebratory? If you wonder, then let me invite you—by comparison—to recall your reaction to welcome events: to victory in sports, to milestone achievements, and to special thrilling blessings in your life. Do you remember your exuberant cheer at those times? Do you recall how your joy seemed to know no bounds? While recalling those times of exuberant cheer and boundless joy, consider if you feel such cheer and joy about God? If we do, then well and good; let us only hold to that state. If not, then let us cry out to God for such a heart—that we may celebrate Him in a manner well pleasing to Him.
Worship is a celebration of Who God is and what He does. May God sink this truth deep into every soul and all souls here today. Let us continue in this place, and going forward from this place, to worship Him one and all.