Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Worship Leaders, Step Back and Remember: What a Worshiper Actually Is

As a worship leader of five years now, I am constantly addressing and studying what the Bible says that worship is. I don’t think I’ll ever stop thinking about it. Worship has such an overwhelming presence in the Scriptures that we would be remiss to never study it. From the first pages of Genesis to the last ones in Revelation, the topic of our worship of God is demanded to be heeded.

This topic is so vast and so worthy of the most intense scrutiny and deep exposition, but it is my goal to put forth some condensed truths about what the Bible says about worship that should force us to slow down when we use the word.

I am primarily speaking to those out there who are called “Worship Leaders” in your local Church. Those who pick up the guitar each Sunday and lead the band; Those who don the bench and address the keys and lead the choir; Those who stand solo with a song book, singing a capella; Those who would take the responsibility to handle the music in God’s Church for God’s people.

In this post, I hope to address this: As worship leaders, we need to step back and remember what a worshiper actually is.

This is important since we are claiming to be one and we intend to lead other worshipers in song, specifically, when songs do not sum up worship.

When God calls us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9), He calls us from a state of sinful, disobedient worship to that of right worship – the worship of Himself. The Apostle Peter makes clear, as do all of the Apostles, that we have been sovereignly chosen by God to worship Him and to be obedient to Him as Lord. He says that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession…”

The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:11 that “you were sanctified,” which means to be set apart from profane things and dedicated to God. He is speaking of God’s sovereign election and the act of regeneration by the Holy Spirit that cleanses us from all unrighteousness by the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: “You were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

To be more succinct, we are either a child of God, or a child of the Devil.

The Apostle John does not mince words when he says, “make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:7-8). He’s not talking about a small cult; he’s talking about whoever doesn't live for God. As an aside, this perspective should spur our passion for evangelism.

God, speaking to the Israelites, says, “Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them” (Deut. 11:16).

The correlation here is something that should be very clear: we are either saved by the grace of God, or we are not; we are either obedient to God, or we are not; we are either practicing righteousness, or we are practicing sin (as a lifestyle); we are either worshipers of God, or we are worshipers of the Devil – all that is wrong and false.

We either live to serve (Hebrew: abad) and worship (Hebrew: shachah – prostrate, bow down) God, or we are living to serve and worship another god, or even ourselves.

As Jesus said himself, quoting Deuteronomy 6:13, “You shall worship (Greek: proskuneo – prostrate, bow down) the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve (Greek: latreuo). Latreuo is often translated as “worship” in the New Testament.

God makes clear in Deut. 30:20a what it means to flesh out the service and worship of Him: “By loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him.”

The English word worship comes from the Anglo-Saxon word worth-ship, predating 900AD. It is a word that denotes the condition or character of worthiness. For someone to worship something or someone else is for them to ascribe a high degree of worth, or value. The word worship is most often understood in the context of religious adoration, veneration, reverence, or regard.

For us to worship the God of Heaven and Earth means we are condescending ourselves to hold God in the highest regard, in true humility, considering Him as being the pinnacle of all worth in our life and in existence itself. It is also a word that connotes submission to a lord. It is homage, which means deference, fidelity to, loyalty to, or obeisance – a French word, meaning to obey.

Understanding all of this makes it is easier to see that a Christian, one who is sovereignly called by God, is defined as a worshiper of God.

The Apostle Paul said to the Roman church, “Let not sin reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness” (6:12-13).

He goes on to explain this in verse 16: “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

Then, making the distinction even more clear, he says: “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness” (17-18).

The language of worship is in here. One who is an obedient, reverent servant, or slave, of someone else is a worshipper of that person. “Worship” is not a holy term in itself. It just describes the relationship of the humble with their lord. For the Christian, we recognize our depravity, then experience God’s sovereign grace, and submit ourselves in reverence and awe to the Lord of lords who saved us.

A Christian is a regenerated soul.

A regenerated soul is a God-worshiping soul.

A Christian is a worshiper of God.

When we step onto the platform to lead worshipers in music, that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re not creating worship. We’re not leading the only worship they will see or hear that week. They bring their acts of worship with them, having already been converted to worshipers when their faith in Christ was established by the grace of God.

As “Worship Leaders” we must step back and remember what a worshiper is. This will decrease the temptation for us to try and create a vibe or mood with lights and synth sounds that we think will somehow help people worship. It doesn’t work that way.

We are only providing the music and the melody for the worshipers to give to God what they already have – a heart changed by Him.

In His Sovereign Grip,


Part 2: You Cannot Create a Worship "Atmosphere"

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ken Ham & Bill Nye: What We Need to Remember Going into the Debate

A rigorous, robust debate can be a good and even helpful thing. Two opposing sides purposely positioned to give a respectable appeal to their position and to allow the other side to respectfully counter the arguments with hopefully substantial and thought-provoking data.

However, the debate that many of us will watch tonight between Ken Ham, President of Answers In Genesis, and Bill Nye, known as “The Science Guy”, and a reputable science educator and television host, is one that can easily overstimulate both sides of the so-called Creationism/Evolution debate if we’re not careful.

Here’s how…

Christians know the truth about creation because we believe that what God has revealed in His Word is true, like everything else in Scripture. It is at this point where we differ vastly from an unGodly world. We also don’t expect the world to come to grips with this as our society as a whole has become very good at pushing God out of the public discourse altogether, though we constantly strive to convince the world that it needs the saving grace of Jesus Christ from sin and its eternal consequences.

That being said – that we believe what God said in Scripture is true – we must remember one thing: Creation, quite simply, was a miracle. Creation can’t be proven empirically because none of us were there. Creation can’t be proven by science at all because the Creation of everything as we know it was an unrepeatable event.

Science is the diligent study that uses systematic observation and experiment. Clearly, science can’t touch the Creation event.

Can science reveal the wonders and complexities of the world and universe and how they function? Absolutely. But this is merely man articulating in finite ways, the infinite splendor of God’s creation. Science is only here because God gave us something to work with. It will always give us even more ways to be in awe of God.

Ken Ham may be able to give stunning evidence as to how impossible it is to believe evolution and how we can only be enraptured with the glorious God of Heaven and Earth, but he will not be able to prove Creation. Additionally, let’s say that Ham has an off day…a Bronco’s kind of day…and can’t execute one sentence without fumbling something. This may win Bill Nye a rhetoric award, but it has no bearing on the facts of science, or the firm, fixed facts of Scripture.

We must not get caught up in the emotion of rhetoric and eloquence. We must discern the truth.

Additionally, believing God is an act of faith that is granted to us (2 Pet. 1:3).
“Faith comes from hearing,” the Apostle Paul says, “and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). And as the author of Hebrews states, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen” (11:1).

Not only did Moses pen the account of Creation by the inspiration of God, but the Psalms recognize it as well:

“The world and all that is in it, you have founded them. The north and the south, you have created them” (89:11-12).

“He commanded and [the moon, shining stars, highest heavens, waters above the heavens] were created” (148:5).

Even still, listen to God’s blistering remarks to Job, proving again that only God knows the history of the Earth:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements […] Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone” (38:4-6)?

About 70 creation-specific, humbling verses later, Job replies, “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth” (40:4).

It doesn’t matter how well Bill Nye or Ken Ham articulate evidence. Creation or evolution won’t be proven tonight, but I do know that Ken Ham is seeking to show that one must not sacrifice their intellect in order to believe God’s account in Genesis. This is something that is worth talking about because too often, people think you have to ignore science to believe in God, but that can’t be further from the truth.

Real science will never be at odds with Scripture, but it will also never be able to comprehend supernatural miracles. Science has always had a limit. Though we can see smaller microbes now and further galaxies than ever before, there has never been a wall we have reached where the beginning of all things is understood. We will never get there. It goes forever. Scientists will always have a job.

Science is helpful for us in very practical ways, but our infinite God created science. Science does not create Him.

Let us remember that this debate will not satisfy the age-old debate of who God is. It will not put an end to the momentum of either side, but hopefully God will be glorified tonight by the faithfulness of Ken Ham to point us to Scripture and to show us that what we can observe and experiment will only confirm our faith in our glorious creator God even more.

Pray for Ken Ham tonight.
For the live stream of the event, follow this link: http://debatelive.org/