Monday, July 25, 2011

The Kind of Worship God Desires, Part 1 (John MacArthur)

It seems to me that this may be the right time to address the subject of worship. I want to say at the outset that I am grateful to the Lord for His direction in helping us here at Grace Church to remain a worshiping church when the evangelical church around us is going in the opposite direction. There are two things that kill worship. One is man-centeredness and the other is pragmatism. Both of those have come to dominate what is called evangelicalism. Our church has not fallen victim to those, to either of them. We have no interest into buying into pragmatism, that is the idea that we will do whatever works, whatever produces the effect that we want, nor have we bought into the idea that the church needs to restructure itself to please men. But we are an island, I think, in a fast moving sea around us that is boiling over with pragmatism and man-centeredness. As a result, the evangelical movement today has largely abandoned true worship. Oh there seems to be more and more, quote/unquote worship music, sort of the last gasps of someone who is unable to worship while worship quote/unquote music increases, worship in reality decreases. It seems to me that the evangelical church is actually abandoned worship, true worship. Or maybe we could say it another way, the evangelical church has decided to worship the culture, that's pragmatism. Or to worship the unbeliever, that's man-centeredness. Or maybe to worship their clever leader, the church is now interested in finding out what the non-worshiper wants, the one who has no relationship to God whatsoever. And the church is ready to redefine itself in the direction of the non-worshiper. In fact, churches measure their success on how many non-worshipers they can get in their building on Sunday. They count them very carefully. And they write books on how to get more non-worshipers into your worship service. The more the better. So that the non-worshiper becomes sovereign in defining what the church does. This is hardly what Scripture calls us to. The Word of God calls us to God-centered, spiritual worship. The illusion is that this man-centered, pragmatic, non-worshiping assembly of people called a church has the power to change people's lives, that a non-worshiping, pragmatic gathering of people designed to appeal to a non-worshiper has power to bring that non-worshiper into becoming a worshiper. It's highly unlikely, however, since a non-worshiper attending a non-worshiping church would have no idea what worship was. In reality, the greatest evangelistic power resides in the true worshiping church...a true gathering of God's people genuinely worshiping Him has the greatest collective power in the world to make the gospel believable and effective. Another component that plays into this is, I guess what you could call, the privatization of spirituality. I was reading an article in the paper today about one of the presidential candidates and the article was not surprising. It said that this particular candidate has faith but his faith is a private matter. That defines the spirituality of our time, a spirituality which is personal, a faith which is private. My faith, says this person as do many today, is my own. I worship God in my own way but my faith is very important to me, but it's very private. If you, by the way, have a private, personal faith of your own, you'll take it to hell. We do not come together as people who have a personal private faith, we come together as people who have made a public confession of our faith which is not content less, but which is placed directly in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the gospel that is related to Him...

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