The Apostle Paul would not feel welcome in many evangelical churches today

photo credit centralumcatl.org

photo credit centralumcatl.org

BY NAPP NAZWORTH, from the CHRISTIAN POST
Worship services in evangelical churches do not mention sin, a major part of the Gospel message, Dr. Cornelius Plantinga, senior research fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, said Monday at the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Faith Angle Forum.

„In very many evangelical and confessionally Reformed churches these days, sin is a rare topic,” he said.

Cornelius Plantinga via calvinseminary.edu

He came to this conclusion from his experience of speaking in different churches most Sundays for the past 30 years, talking to evangelical friends, observing the content of worship music used by evangelical churches, and reading the books and articles of Dr. David Wells, distinguished senior research professor at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Plantinga explained to the conference of journalists.

Anglicans, Catholics and Lutherans continue to include confession or a rite of penitence as a regular part of their worship services, he noted. But in evangelical and Reformed churches, he sees „less and less” sin-related material every year.

Over 158,000 churches in North America get the music for their worship services from Christian Copyright Licensing International, Plantinga explained. CCLI provides a valuable service to churches by streamlining the process of obtaining licenses for their worship music. Churches can pay a single fee and obtain all the licenses from CCLI’s library.

Looking at the content of CCLI songs, Plantinga observed that there are „very few penitential songs.” The „biblical tradition of lament, which is all through the prophets and the Psalms is gone, just not there,” he said.

One of the reasons Plantinga believes evangelical worship leaves out sin is a desire to be „seeker friendly” and avoid topics that may turn off non-Christians or new Christians.

„Mindful that seekers come to church in American no-fault culture in which tolerance is a big virtue and intolerance a big vice, worship finders in evangelical churches often want nothing in the service that sounds judgmental,” he said. And for that reason „lots of evangelical churches these days are unrelievedly cheerful.”

Quoting Wells, Plantinga argued that leaving sin out of worship is consistent with the theology of many evangelical churches in which „God is on easy terms with modernity” and mostly concerned with „church growth and psychological wholeness.”

The Apostle Paul would not feel welcome in many evangelical churches today, he added. „Where is [Paul’s] easy smile? Why does he want to discipline people? Why is he so doggone dogmatic? Where are the stories in his sermons? And where does he get off implying that the woman singing special music in church should not do so while also lying on top of the church piano?”

During the panel’s question and answer period, Plantinga clarified that he is not only talking about non-denominational congregations but the „old confessional Protestant forms” as well, such as the Christian Reformed Church, Reformed Church in America, and United Presbyterian Church.

This was not always the case with evangelical churches, Plantinga explained. „They used to be champions of the holiness of God, of contrition for sins against God’s holiness, and therefore grace that justifies sinners,” but „a lot of that has dissipated.”

When churches leave the topic of sin out of worship, they are not relevant to the lives of their congregants, Plantinga believes, because people encounter sin and sin’s consequences daily.

„Ceasingly cheerful worship does not fit with the lives of people who come to worship,” he said. „… Churches that silence the biblical message of sin and grace simply aren’t anywhere near where people actually live their lives, including people in their own congregations.”

Read the entire article here – http://www.christianpost.com/news/evangelical-worship-is-too-cheerful-neglects-sin

 

Reclame

How to Lead Family Worship – Dr.Joel Beeke

Photo credit kellercofc.org

Most of the kids that do not fall away from church or school in their teenage years had a family worship time at home growing up. This is a great video on how to lead a family worship in your own house. This is 1 or 4 messages from the Salisbury Conference 2013. For rest of messages go to sermonaudio and search this conference.

Full Sermon Page http://hnrc.sermonaudio.com Photo below www.aclutteredmind.org VIDEO by GoodTreeMinistries.com

Dr Joel Beeke:

Family worship is the most underestimated gift of God, in all of Christianity. It’s either taken for granted, or, it’s neglected. Yet, family worship lies at the heart of society. As goes family worship, so goes the family. As goes the family, so goes the church. As goes the churches, so goes the nations. My leading of family worship, in my family, is the most important thing I do in this world. It is nonnegotiable. It must never be skipped, it is absolutely critical. And, I would suggest to you, today, that with all the books on church growth, that are written, that many people forget that internal church growth is usually the most stable church growth, in any church. And, that internal church growth usually takes place, mostly, from those families who’ve engaged in daily, serious, sustained, family worship. I’ve had the privilege of serving 3 congregations in my life, all of them around 700-800 people, so, I have served a number of families, and I look out at the congregations, and the young people, who stay with the church, and are stalwart sons and daughters of the church of Jesus Christ, in almost every case, in all 3 churches, the young people that stay hail from those families where there is daily, serious, sustained family worship.

Dr. Beeke starts off recounting his own father’s leading of daily worship and he mentions that his father, quite often read Pilgrim’s Progress to him and his 4 siblings. In Dr. Beeke’s estimation, his father must have read and explained Pilgrim’s Progress to his children about 15- 20 times. Dr. Beeke goes over 4 points:

  1. Duty
  2. Implementation (he spends half of the message on this point, telling you how to do it, the practical nuts & bolts of it)
  3. He answers objections raised against it (very brief)
  4. Concludes with some motivations, exhorting you to it.

Knowing vs. Feeling in Worship – Alistair Begg

The Christian faith engages our minds. This is something that we have to keep reminding ourselves of, so that we don’t allow our minds to fossilize, and that we continue to be sharpened and make progress of. I was at a church in California just a few weeks ago. I went there, I was staying with friends…. They had big screens and they had a clock on the screens that counted down from 5 minutes. And just at the right moment of time the band began and I was waiting for David Letterman at that point…

In this excerpt from his message at our 2009 West Coast Conference, Alistair Begg reminds us of the importance of knowledge in worship.

Transcript: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/knowing-…
Full message: http://www.ligonier.org/learn/confere…
VIDEO by Ligonier Ministries

The Achilles’ Heel of the Next Generation

Piper: I have a concern with what God, I think, is doing in your generation, and how it could so easily be short circuited. I really do believe God is doing a remarkable thing in the young adult generation, in America. There are all kinds of movements. Some of these movements don’t even know the others exist, and they consist of tens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands of young people. It is remarkable. You go from coast to coast, and northwest to northeast to south, and you find these amazing outcroppings of young people who are passionate for the supremacy of God, they’re passionate for doctrine, they’re passionate for biblical truth, they’re passionate for global concerns and world evangelization.

And so, I’m concerned, when I see what could be achilles’ heels, that could break the whole thing open and cause it to just dribble away into nothingness. And one of those things is the disconnect between the majesty of God and – the movies you watch- just to choose an example. There’s an awakening to the majesty of God around the country, there’s a filling of hearts with God centered, Christ exalting Bible saturated songs. It is remarkable that in the contemporary worship awakening, when you leave all the fluff to the side, at the center, the majesty of the God who shines through is most remarkable. Photo via dreamstime.com

wiresThere’s the giving of zeal for truth and biblical doctrine, back and forth, among young people and I’m concerned that there are some loose wires dangling, between the majesty of God that is sung about in the services, that causes people to soar with the kind of emotional euphoria about the greatness of God and the wires of our daily practical detailed lives.

  • They dangle disconnected between big thoughts about God and big appetites for beer.
  • They dangle disconnected between infinite purity of God and the lure of pornography.
  • They dangle disconnected between the majesty of Christ and the carelessly attended default weekend movie. No questions asked. It’s just the thing to do.
  • They dangle disconnected between white hot all satisfying divine holiness and hip huggers and plunging necklines.

As long as these wires dangle disconnected, the supremacy of God in our songs and the passion for personal holiness in our daily lives are not going to be working the way they’re supposed to. And the whole movement could come apart.

VIDEO by DGJohnPiper from the message „Don’t Waste Your Life” September 19, 2007

Understanding without Transformation

If the lightning bolts of corporate worship don’t strike with shattering power in the details of your life, the whole storm may prove to be a laser show. It wasn’t really lightning after all, it was just man made.

I am jealous for your generation, that the great work God is doing, not being merely flashing on the lightning in the sky. This is the other image I had in my mind, besides the wiring image. It seems to me that when a big group of students get together with great music, with solid lyrics and a solid vision of God, that the singing goes on, and the lightning is flashing in the sky. I mean, genuine spiritual sights of God are flashing and THE BOLTS MAY NEVER HIT THE GROUND. If you’ve ever watched a thunderstorm, there are different types of thunderstorms. Some thunderstorms you watch, there are lights everywhere, but you never see a thunderbolt hit and the lights going out. And if the lightning that is flashing in our worship services at church never strikes the ground you walk on, you probably, within a half an hour after that service will feel zero power. I would so much be jealous for that not to happen. Photo on left via www.mnn.com

God is in the details and it’s a fearful thought (I apply it to my church). It’s a fearful thought, isn’t it? To say, „If the lightning bolts of corporate worship don’t strike with shattering power in the details of your life, the whole storm may prove to be a laser show.” It wasn’t really lightning after all, it was just man made. Laser beams. And we thought it was lightning, and worship felt like lightning in worship, but, from a distance of an hour later, as I cave before this temptation, it looks like a (man made) laser beam, from here, now. And I would, so much, like to be an instrument in God’s hand and say, „Lord, let the lightning fall. Don’t just let it go around up here… let it come down and strike the ground where these students walk.

Voddie Baucham – Last sentence in the Book of Romans

Romans – 16:25-27 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages 26 but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith– 27 to the only wise God be glory for evermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

As we come to the end of this letter, Paul does not disappoint. It has been said that “orthodoxy always leads to orthopraxy”. In other words „right believing” will lead us to our right behaving, eventually. If we don’t believe rightly, we won’t behave rightly. But, it is also true, perhaps even more true that orthodoxy always leads to doxology. Doxology, or praise. When you know God rightly, you cannot help but worship God. And, it is quite ironic that there are those in our day, and those in our culture, who pit our knowledge of God, over and against our worship of God, as though we have to choose one or the other. As if we can only be heady Christians who know a lot about God, or we can be spiritual Christians who experience a lot with God. That is a false dichotomy. Nothing could be further from the truth. You cannot fully worship what you do not know.

You will never worship God rightly, unless you know God rightly. And here’s the beauty of it, because the knowledge of God is inexhaustible, we have an eternity growing in our appreciation for and worship of the almighty God. You cannot exhaust the knowledge of God. You cannot exhaust an understanding of what He’s done , and who He is, and because of that, you cannot and will not stop growing in your doxology, your praise. As Paul has walked through this, his magnum opus, the Book of Romans, and as he has dug more deeply than anywhere else in the New Testament, into this doctrine of our justification, it is only fitting, that as he comes to the end, he leaves us with this parting statement. If I had to give a title to this ending statement, it would be „Praise God for the Gospel!” That’s basically where Paul finishes.

I couldn’t help it, as I read through this passage and worked through this passage, through all of the implications here in this passage, I couldn’t help but just see the stark contrast between what we understand as worship and what Paul does here as worship. Because again, culturally, we’ve come to this place, where we believe that worship is purely experiential. That worship is about our experience with God. It is not about knowing God rightly. It is about encountering God passionately. If you read the lyrics of much of what we call worship music today, what you will find is that it is by and large not about God at all, but about our experience of God. About the way God makes me feel about me.

And so, when we gather, our desire is to bring ourselves to this cathartic experience of overwhelming ecstasy in how much God loves me. And how central I am in the grand scheme of things. We gather to make much of „me”, when what Paul does here, at the end of the Book of Romans is not to pause and talk about his experience, with these great truths. But, basically, to pause and say, „Before I go, let me remind you to praise God for the Gospel.”

In the text above, basically what you can do- there’s a bunch of propositional phrases and subordinate clauses in that sentence, and basically, what you can do is take all those propositions and all those clauses away and here’s what you get: „Now to Him”. Stop there. Cause, who is qualifying the Him? Stope there, and then it picks up in verse 27. You have another phrase there: To the only wise God. Go right after that, because that goes to describing this „Him”. So, if you put a line right after „the only wise God”, and you put a line right after „Him”, then, you’ve just connected those two. Here’s what you find: Now to Him be glory, forever more, through Jesus Christ. Amen. That’s his statement. The rest of this sort of explains the why and how there’s glory to Him, through Jesus Christ forevermore.

So, as we plow through this statement, let’s not actually lose sight of what Paul is doing here: Praising God for the Gospel. First of all, because the Gospel magnifies God. „Now to Him,” God is being magnified here. „To Him be glory, forever more, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Why through Jesus Christ? Because the gospel is the good news about what God has done in Jesus Christ. And that magnifies God. The Gospel magnifies God. That is why we worship God, that is why we thank God for the Gospel. That is why understanding the Gospel leads you to the right worship of God.

What is the Gospel?

Notice, first of all what Paul says here about God. He says that God is able, he goes on to say that God is eternal. Then, if you go down and look at verse 26, the last part of that, „according to the command of the eternal God.” So, God’s able, God’s eternal. He also says that God is singular, and that God is wise. So we see here a picture of God as able, as eternal, as singular, and as wise. So, God is magnified here, even in the words that Paul chooses to use to describe God. So, as he comes to this point of praise, as he comes to this point of worship, what he says is: If you’ve been listening and following all the way through the book of Romans, I’ve pointed you to God, by explaining to you the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As I’ve explained to you the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we’ve seen that God is able. We’ve seen that God is eternal, so this is not an afterthought. We’ve seen that God is singular, there is no other God. And we see that God is wise. You couldn’t have figured this out on your own. But, beyond that, the Gospel itself magnifies this powerful, eternal, singular, wise God. If we understand the Gospel rightly.

What the Gospel is not

For the most part, we do not understand the Gospel rightly. We basically make 4 mistakes when we talk about the Gospel. And, this is what you and I encounter, when people say ‘the Gospel’. And why is it important here? Because Paul says „Praise God for the Gospel”. And, f you don’t know what the Gospel is, you are praising God for the law, and you are praising God for yourself. May it never be! Here is what the Gospel is not:

  1. Mistake #1 – We see the Gospel as (just) the plan of salvation – You ask the average Christian in our culture what is the Gospel, and they will not give you an announcement about what God has done, they will give you steps by which you get saved. Here is the danger in that: When you see the Gospel just as the plan of salvation, your understanding of the Gospel is truncated. So you are saved by the Gospel, but you are sanctified and you are kept by something other than the Gospel, if the Gospel is just the plan of salvation. Look at verse 25 again „now to Him who is able to strengthen you, according to my Gospel..” He doesn’t say „save you” according to my Gospel. If you read the Book, you know that God is able to save you according to His Gospel. It is the power of God to save.. (Romans 1:16). But, he says here that God is able to strengthen you, or to establish you. God is able to keep you, to make you firm, by the Gospel. The Gospel is not just how we get in, the Gospel is not just the plan of salvation. That’s a truncated view and it robs God of worship. Because, when we view the Gospel as just the means by which we are saved, and not the means by which we are also sanctified and kept, then we believe God does the initial work, and we do the rest. That’s a problem. (14)
  2. Mistake #2 – We see the Gospel as (just) the great commandment- there are those who boil down the Gospel, basically to the commandment, „Love God, love people.” There are thousands of churches out there whose statement is „We’re so and so church” and we’re about loving God and loving people. And, what it’s supposed to be is this sort of encapsulation of the Gospel. There’s a slight problem. That’s actually not an encapsulation of the Gospel. It’s an encapsulation of the law. That „Love God, love people,” it actually comes from Jesus in Matthew 22:37-39, where they ask: Jesus, what’s the greatest commandment, and they want to see which scholar He’s going to align Himself with. „What’s the greatest commandment?” There, Jesus says, „The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” By the way, that’s a summary of the first 4 commandments. So, „Jesus, what’s your greatest commandment?” His response, „I think 1 through 4.” And then He says, „And the second one is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself.” That’s the summary of commandments 5-10. „Jesus, what’s the greatest commandment?” „I’m gonna have to say 1-4, followed closely by 5-10.” ‘Love God, and love your neighbor is not a summary of the Gospel, it’s a summary of the law. It is bondage, but, it is only the Gospel that frees us to love God, and love our neighbor. It’s the Gospel that empowers us to do that. If you replace the Gospel with ‘Love God, love people,’ you have actually replaced the Gospel with the law. There is no salvation in the law. By the works of salvation shall no flesh be justified. That’s not the Gospel.
  3. Mistake #3 – We see the Gospel (just) as the great commission. In other words, when Jesus says to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe whatsoever I commanded you (Matthew 28:16-20) there are those who say, „That’s the Gospel”. That ‘the whatsoever I commanded you’, that’s the Gospel. That is another instance of replacing Gospel with law, by telling everybody to go out and obey everything that Jesus commanded. The Gospel is not all the moral teachings of Jesus.
  4. Mistake #4 – We see the Gospel (just) as personal testimony- There are many evangelism training methods, that teach you to go out and share the Gospel with people. And, what they mean by that is ‘share your story’ with people. You know how ironic that is? The Gospel is Christ’s story. (18)

Praise God for the Gospel!

by needanewstartcom

The Gospel magnifies God

The Gospel is an announcement, it is news. It is God centered news. It is an announcement of what God has done. It is Christ centered news. It is an announcement of what God has done in Christ. It is cross centered news. It is an announcement of what God has done, in Christ, through the cross, to save sinners. The Gospel is grace centered news. The Gospel is an announcement of what God has done, in the person and work of Jesus Christ, through His cross, through His active and passive obedience, laying down His life, on the behalf of sinners, who are saved by the sheer grace of God, as that death is applied to them. And the Gospel is eschatological news. It is news for the now, and the hereafter. It has implications for every aspect of our lives.

  1. Implications for how we love God, and love people.
  2. Implications for how we carry out the Great Commission.
  3. Implications for how we understand, let alone tell our story
  4. Implications for all those things

The Gospel is an announcement of news. You are not the Gospel. The Gospel is not your story. The Gospel is not something that happens in you. The Gospel is something that has happened outside of you.

The Gospel displays God’s power

Not only does the Gospel magnify God, but the Gospel displays God’s power. Verse 25 „Now to Him who is able”. God is able- you could spend the rest of your life unpacking that one, right there. But, what has Paul been writing about? By the way, there is in this last sentence, a recapitulation of the major points that Paul has been making. It’s glorious when you see it. Paul goes bak here- „Now to Him, who is able to strengthen you..” In Ephesians 3, there is a doxology in the middle of the letter, that sounds just like this. Ephesians 3:20-21 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Jude 1:24 24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. And it goes back to this in Romans 1:4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.  and Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 

This is not just our justification. You go to Romans 8 and it’s the whole golden thread. This Gospel is not just how God gets us justified, but it’s how He gets us adopted, and sanctified, and glorified. All of it, right there in that chapter. And it is the Gospel, by which that is accomplished. In Romans 1:11 Paul says, „ I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong.” What is the spiritual gift to strengthen them? The Gospel. The Gospel displays the power of God.

We see the power of God here. The power to save us, the power to strengthen and sanctify us, and the power to secure us. Paul says, „Praise God for the Gospel, because the Gospel doesn’t just magnify God, but it displays His power. God’s power saves. God’s power strengthens. God’s power keeps. Isn’t it interesting that here in this doxology, Paul doesn’t say, „Now, in light of what I have given you, hold on tight and work real hard. By the way, he’s not against holding on tight, and he’s not against working real hard. But, you have to understand that your holding on tight, and your working real hard is not what keeps you. It is a byproduct of the only thing that keeps you, which is the Gospel. (29)

The Gospel unfolds God’s providence

„according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages, but now has been disclosed through the prophetic writings, and has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith. What does he recap here? Salvation history. Paul, the Jew, the Benjamite, was anticipating the fulfillment of of the promises that God made to his forefather Abraham, and is now seeing the conversion of the Gentile world, the very fulfillment of the promises that he’s longing for, and beyond that, he gets to walk the ground and watch it happen first hand. So, when he says, „Praise God for the Gospel, he cannot help but recount salvation history, and what it is that God has done. We see this also throughout the letter, that which is revealed or manifested. That goes back to 1:17 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith, and 3:21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. Paul’s pointing back to it, here in his doxology. „Praise God!” But, not just praise God because I feel warm and fuzzy about God right now. Praise God because of the things I told you earlier. Praise God because of what I said in chapters 1,2,3,4,5. Praise God for all of these things I have just unfolded for you. Praise God for that which was present even in the writings of the prophets, but is only now being fully understood. Praise God for His timing in His bringing these things about in His fullness of time. Romans 1:2  the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures. Again, Paul is not just praising God because he’s finished writing, he’s praising God and he’s pointing back to what he’s written, much of it in the first chapter. Again, this is a bookend. WE PREACH THE GOSPEL, and THAT’S WHAT MAKES THEM OBEDIENT SONS OF GOD, because it unfolds God’s providence before us. How can you hear the Gospel and not pause in awe of the unfolding providence of God?

Doug Wilson – How to pray and beseech God

September 9, 2012 Text: Psalm 70 Doug Wilson (the first 5 minutes of 45 min message):

There are two and only two fundamental approaches to God in the world. There are two and only two conceptions of God in the world:

  1. One is: God is God and we are not. God is the center of all things.
  2. And the other is: God on the side, God somewhere on the side to help me if I need help. But, I am fundamentally god. I am the fundamental center of all things and He comes around to help or not, at different times. I am the center of the solar system and everything revolves around me

So there are 2 fundamental conceptions of God. One sees the Lord God almighty high and lifted up. The other might be called the domestic animal approach to God, where the ostensible worshipper keeps ‘a god’ on hand the way you might keep a cow for the milk. God is worked, god is the cosmic vending machine in the sky. God is there in order to help you out, that’s his job. He is god in heaven, god on tap.

Now, I am speaking in an obviously disrespectful way- domestic animal approach to keeping god, keeping god for the milk, a vending machine god, god on tap. That’s all disrespectful. That’s disrespectful in how it’s phrased. But, there are people who refuses to phrase it that way who still function that way.

We know from the Bible that God is God altogether. God is God through and through. It’s not a little bit of God here and a little bit of God there. All of God is everywhere, all of God is all of God. That which is true of God is true of all of Him. Now, we know, as christians who want to pursue God centered worship, we know that’s a good phrase. God centered worship is better than man centered worship. But, there’s a way of formulating God centered worship which is at the heart (down in secret places) still man centered worship.

So we know that we want to worship God high and lifted up, but, we don’t know what to do. Once we’ve got that fixed in our minds, we don’t know what to do when the Lord high and lifted up tells us to tell Him to do things; when God, the ultimate God tells us to approach Him and give Him no rest until He answers our prayer. When that God tells us to ask for something, we don’t quite know what to do. We act like Ahaz, and in the name of a high view of God refuse to obey Him.

The prophet Isaiah says, „Ask whatever sign you want,” and he says, „I’m not gonna do that… not me, I don’t wanna be disrespectful.”  Look, the almighty God has just sent a prophet to tell you what to do and you’re saying: No, because I’ve got a too high view of God. That’s the Ahaz approach. Ahaz’s approach is an approach that pretends to a high view of God, but it really isn’t. What we are doing is we’re taking refuge in certain piety, certain expressions, certain confessional expressions and our christian life is not vibrant and alive. We don’t have an ongoing functional relationship with God that’s in accordance with how God describes it, how God invites us to approach Him.

In this psalm, Psalm 70, this psalm is basically a section of Psalm 40. This psalm is a shorter version or a portion of Psalm 40.. with some changes (Yahweh for Elohim, for example). The psalmist is in trouble, as he frequently is and he cries out to God in his trouble. Some of us might think, „I think David is doing this on purpose. I think David, maybe needs to get into an anger management class or a relationship class.” David doesn’t need to do anything other than pursue God, pursue God and then, lo and behold, what happens is opposition. If someone is sold out to God in this world he will have adversaries, he will have trouble. He will have this sort of trouble.

So, the psalmist is in trouble, he frequently is in trouble, he beseeches God to get a move on. Verse 1: Hurry up God. Now, not only does he want God to come quickly. He knows what he wants God to do when God arrives. He wants God to show up and shame and confound the adversaries of his soul. (first 5 minutes of message)

On Telling God to Hurry Up

Sermon: On Telling God to Hurry Up from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Charles Spurgeon on True Spiritual Worship

In this sermon Spurgeon addresses worship. Because of man’s fallenness, Spurgeon contends that worship in spirit is a rarity. Here is a snippet of what he means (you can read the entire sermon afterwards):

Since that day the Lord has been treated by carnal men in one of three ways; either God is adored by outward symbols as among Brahminists, Romanists, Puseyites, and other idolaters; or else he is worshipped through ritualism, as among too many who claim to be orthodox, who contend for pre-arranged, and unbending forms; written or unwritten as the case may be: or else men show an utter indifference to God altogether, and then rush into superstitious reverence for something or other which is evil, and therefore to be dreaded and spoken of with awe. This is the history of religious worship, that let spiritual worship assume what form it may, man always will if he can, get away from it and forget his God and set up something seen, instead of bowing down before the unseen; hence the necessity of the second commandment in the Decalogue, „Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and so on.” This is not a command against worshipping another God, that is the first commandment, but a command against worshipping God under any shape, or through any medium or under any symbol; for he is a spirit, and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth and not by symbols. Against this command the human mind is always dashing itself, and in one shape or another idolatry is the ruling religion of mankind.

The entire sermon is printed below. Source – http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0695.htm

Sermon (No. 695) Delivered on Sunday Morning, June 17th, 1866, by
C. H. SPURGEON, At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

The Axe at the Root—A Testimony Against Puseyite Idolatry

„But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”—John 4:23-24.

THE WOMAN’S CONSCIENCE had been aroused by Christ’s declaration of her sin. He was touching upon matters of the most vital importance, and her depraved heart naturally shrunk from the lancet, From the truth which was becoming inconveniently personal she flew to that natural resort of the carnal mind, namely, to religions discourse upon points of outward observance. Instead of confessing her sin, and asking how it may be forgiven, she must needs say, „Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” The carnal heart dreads the contact of spiritual truth, and finds a most convenient way of avoiding it by running to questions of holy places, holy times, and holy customs. Jesus, to her astonishment, informs her that the question which she had asked was of only temporary importance. There had been a time when it was well to know that salvation was of the Jews, and that the rival temple of the Samaritans was an imposture; but he says in effect to her, „Woman, believe me that question is of no importance now, for the hour cometh, yea and now is, when the external is to be abolished and the ritualistic is to be put away, and a purer, simpler, and more spiritual worship, is to take its place.”

The worship which our Lord Jesus Christ established involved a change. That is implied in the expressions here used. He announced to her that the hour was just then come when all questions about this or that place must cease, and be superseded by spiritual worship. Our Lord gave a very brief, but I think a very instructive description of what this worship was to be. If you observe carefully the words, you will see that it was a distinguishing kind of worship, for he mentions true worshippers. There had been but little distinction before; so long as they all passed through the same outward form they all seemed to be worshippers; but a distinction was now to be made clear and manifest. Merely outward worshippers were now false worshippers, and only those who pressed into spiritual worship were to be regarded as true. The gospel of Christ is a great discerner and an accurate judge. Christ has the winnowing fan in his hand; he sits as a refiner; he is compared by the prophet to the „refiner’s fire” and to „fuller’s soap;” and hence you see he discerns at once between worshippers and worshippers. There they stand both alike with bended heads, perhaps both repeating the same words, but the Savior distinguishes: „there is,” saith he, „a false worshipper, and there is a true worshipper, and he alone who is spiritual is true.” He announces further that under the gospel God is to be worshipped in the character of a Father; true worshippers shall worship the Father. This had not been the case before. The Lord had been adored as the Adonai, and reverenced as Jehovah; but to say „Our Father which art in heaven” remains the prerogative of the enlightened Christian who, having believed in Christ, has received power to become a son of God. True Christian worship addresses God, not merely as Creator and Preserver, or as the great Lord of the Universe, but as one who is very near of kin to us, our Father, beloved of our souls. Jesus likewise states that gospel worship is to be of a kind which does not result from the man himself merely, but comes from God, and is a work of grace. This is implied in the sentence, „The Father seeketh such to worship him,” as if no true worship would come from any man unless God sought it. True devotion under the Christian dispensation is not merely human but also divine. It is the work of the Spirit in the soul returning to its author; or as our hymn puts it—

„Prayer is the breath of God in man,
Returning whence it came.”These are very grave points, and draw a broad line of distinction between the living worship of the chosen of God and the dead formal worship of the world which lieth in the wicked one.
Furthermore, the Savior goes on to say that they who worship God are to worship him „in spirit.” No longer with the visible sacrifice of a lamb, but inwardly trusting in him who is the Lamb of God’s passover; no more with sprinkled blood of goats, but heartily relying upon the blood once shed for many; no longer worshipping God with ephod, breastplate, and mitre, but with prostrate soul, with uplifted faith, and with the faculties not of the body but of the inward spirit. We who worship God under the Christian dispensation are no longer to fancy that bodily exercise in worship profiteth anything, that genuflexions and contortions are of any value, but that acceptable worship is wholly mental, inward, and spiritual.

But he adds, lest there should seem an omission in the description, „must worship him in spirit and in truth;” for though we should profess to worship God only with the spirit and so despise forms, yet unless the soul shall truly love, and really adore, and sincerely bow, our worship will be as unacceptable as though it were formal and outward. See then, brethren, putting the whole three together, the worship under the Christian dispensation which God ordains, and which he accepts through Christ Jesus, is a worship distinguished by an inward vitality from the outward worship of the carnal mind. It is the worship of a child towards a father, feeling within himself a kinship with the divine; it is a worship wrought in us by God the Holy Ghost, because the Father has sought us out and taught us how to worship him. It is a worship which is not outward, but of the inner man, and occupies not hand, eye, and foot, but heart and soul and spirit: and it is a worship which is not professional and formal, but real, hearty, earnest, and so acceptable before God.

Let me give a sketch of this worship as it actually exhibits itself. A man may have been to a place of worship from his youth up, and he may have fallen into a habit of repeating a sacred form every morning and every evening, he may even have been a tolerably diligent reader of the Word of God, and yet though this may have been continued for sixty years and more, he may never once have worshipped God after the fashion prescribed in the text. But see him! the Father seeks him, truth comes home to his soul, and in the light of that truth he feels himself a sinner, and feeling himself so, he cries, „Father, I have sinned.” That is his first true worship. See, brethren, his spirit feels it, he means what he says. All that he said before was as nothing, but that first cry „I have sinned” has in it the vitality of worship. He hears the story of the cross, the full atonement made by God’s appointed sacrifice, and he prays, „Lord, I believe in Jesus, and I trust him;” here is another specimen of true worship; here is the spirit resting upon God’s appointed sacrifice, and reverencing God’s way of salvation by accepting it. Being saved by the precious blood of Jesus, he cries, „Father, I bless thee that I am saved, I thank thee that my sins are washed away.” This is true worship. Whether a man sings in the assembly, or sings alone; whether he prays aloud, or prays in silence, if he feels gratitude to God for pardon received, he offers the true worship. The whole of the Christian’s life, consisting as it must do of dealings with the invisible God through Jesus Christ by his heart, is a life of worship, and when at last he comes to die, you perceive that his worship will not cease with death, because it has always been spiritual, and did not depend upon the body. So that while the outward man faileth him, the inward spiritual man grows more strong in devotion than ever it was before; and when at last the spirit leaves its earthly tenement, and is disembodied, it has still a song for God, and throughout eternity its spiritual worship can continue; which worship must have been suspended if it had been connected with the body, and not with the immortal part of man.

If I understand the Savior’s words, and I hope I do, not only theoretically but practically, he means that those of us who are his true worshippers must worship him with our better and our nobler part, and our soul, with all the power she has, must pay reverence to the unseen God, Brethren, this is the kind of worship that men will not render to God; they will render him anything else but this; and until divinely effectual grace shall work such worship in man’s heart it is obnoxious to him; he will worship God with robes, and incense, and flowers, and banners, but he will not consent to worship him in spirit and in truth.

I. I shall proceed to my work by giving A BRIEF OUTLINE OF THE HISTORY OF WORSHIP, in connection with the doctrine that we are now to worship more manifestly than ever God in spirit and in truth. It appears from Scripture that worship before the flood was of the very simplest form. The outward ordinances were very few; the chief of them being the offering of sacrifice. This was probably instituted by God himself when he clothed Adam and his wife with skins of beasts; it has been thought that he then indicated to them the slaughter of beasts for sacrifice. Certain it is that the first worship of fallen man was by sacrifice. There was connected with this no doubt the meeting of gracious hearts for prayer, and also the ministration of truth, for Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied concerning the coming of the Lord; so that they appear to have had what was tantamount to a ministry, and the sons of God had appointed times for meeting. But this simple form of worship seems to have been too high, too spiritual for fallen man at the first; at any rate the seed of the serpent could not endure it, for Cain at the very first commenced a schism; instead of bringing a sacrifice by blood he must needs bring a sacrifice of the fruits of the ground. Perhaps he was a man of taste, and desired to bring something that should look more decorous than a poor bleeding victim; he would lay those rich grapes, those ruddy fruits upon the altar; and those fair flowers that gemmed the bosom of earth, surely he might consecrate those. At any rate he was the first man who set up taste and self as the guide in religious worship, and God had no respect unto his sacrifice. The two stood by their altars; Abel by faith, exercising spiritual worship, offered a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain; Cain’s offering was possibly even more fair to look upon but it was of his own invention; Abel was accepted, but Cain discarded. The ultimate result of man’s sinfulness in connection with this early type of worship was general neglect of all religion. The sons of God seem to have maintained their simplicity for a time, but at last by unholy alliances with the ungodly race there arose a widespread neglect of all thought of God, so that they were married and given in marriage, they ate and they drank till the day when the flood came and swept them all away. Depraved nature thus refused to render spiritual worship. After the flood we find worship restored in very much the same form: let us distinguish it as the patriarchal method of worship. The head of a family was accustomed to offer sacrifice, and no doubt if Job be taken as a type thereof family prayer and household religion were maintained, But you see very early the indication that man, although he could not forget God, for the deluge had struck to the very heart of manhood an awful dread of the Most High, began to interpose symbols and visible objects between God and himself. The use of teraphim became very common; so that in the house even of Abraham’s ancestors teraphs were found; and when we come down to the time of Jacob, we find one of his wives stealing her father’s images, thus proving that Laban, one of a once God-fearing family, had become a worshipper of God through the medium of images. Thus was it among those who still had some knowledge of God; but the nations being dispersed, soon lost the pure idea of the invisible One, and worshipped gods of their own devising. From the plagues of Egypt, which were no doubt intended to be a blow against all Egypt’s gods, we find out that, in addition to the worship of the calf or bull, the Egyptians paid religious reverence to flies, the river Nile, the elements, beetles, and all kinds of creatures; and throughout the world, as a general rule, through the introduction of visible symbols of the unseen Being, the Lord himself had become forgotten, and spiritual worship had almost ceased, except in one elect household; and even there, alas! how fallen had spirituality become!

Keeping to the line of grace, we shall now introduce you to theceremonial form of worship which God instituted after the more spiritual method had entirely broken down. He saw that the children of Israel whom he loved were but a mob of slaves; their spirits had been broken by bitter bondage; like the poor African race of the present day, they seemed as a whole incapable of rising at once to mental dignity, and needed to pass through a generation or two before they could as a nation achieve manly self-government. So when he brought his people out of Egypt the Lord did not try them with an altogether spiritual form of worship; because of the hardness of their hearts among other reasons, though he was still to be worshipped as a spirit, yet he gave them certain outward signs by which they might be enabled to understand his character. A great deal has been made of the symbolical worship of the Jew, as if it were an excuse for the manmade symbolism of the Roman and Anglican Antichrist. We would remark that nothing ought to be made of it at all now, since it has been positively declared many times in Scripture that the age of the shadow has gone, and that the age of the substance now reigns. Whatever may or may not have been the excellence of the old Jewish economy—and being divinely ordained, God forbid we should say a word against it—yet the apostle Paul always talks of it as being but a yoke of bondage to which we are no more to submit ourselves, being but the shadow and not the very image of the good things which were to come; and he speaks of it as a thing so passed away, that to go back to it is to go back to the rudiments, and not to go onward in the full-grown manliness of Christianity. If there were no other passage my text might show that the ceremonialism of the Jew is no excuse whatever for ceremonialism now, but that we ought to stand in direct contrast to that, hearing the Savior declare, that whatever may have been before his time, the hour had come when the true worshipper must worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

Remember that symbolical worship was suitable merely to the infancy of God’s church, and that now having received the Spirit of God to dwell in us it would be as unsuitable as would the swaddling bands of babyhood to full-grown men. Besides, even while it existed it was spoken of as soon to be superseded by a new and better covenant. It was frequently broken through by divine authority. Elijah though not at all of the house of Levi offered sacrifice, and prophet after prophet as he arose manifested and declared by his actions that God did not intend to give the Levitical form of worship undivided sway, but that when he poured his Spirit upon special men they were to break through all ritual regulations in order to show that they were not meant to be fixed and permanent.

It is not sufficiently remembered that the most of God’s people in the Jewish nation had very little to do with this symbolical worship. When they were all in the wilderness, and gathered round the one tent called the tabernacle, they might all see the fiery cloudy pillar; but when they came into the land which God had given them, what had they most of them to see? Why the temple itself the most of them would only see once or twice in a year. Scarcely any one ever saw the ark, the cherubim, or the golden candlestick; they were always within the veil, and only once in the year did the high priest enter that sacred place. Even the place where the sacrifices were carried on continually, no one entered but the priests; so that to at least eleven tribes out of twelve the ceremonials were mainly invisible. Little was done outside the court of the priests, but the most of the sacrifices, and of the typology of Judaism, was as much a hidden thing as the spiritual things of God are to us at the present day; and thus there was a great exercise of the spiritual faculties, and comparatively little of outward display. Moreover, it is to be remembered that there was nothing whatever visible for the Jew to worship. It is not so in the symbology of that false Church which is trying to raise up and revive the beggarly elements; there men bow before a cross; a piece of bread inside a box is reverenced and treated with worship; cast-off clouts and rotten rags, called relics, are the objects of adoration; but there was nothing like this with the Jews, they did worship toward the temple, but they did not adore the temple, or mercy-seat, the altar, or any other emblem. Is it not said expressly, „Ye saw no similitude”? When God descended upon Sinai, and all the people worshipped there, they saw nothing which they dared to worship; God was to them still invisible, and they had to exercise their mental faculties in the worship of the invisible God. When at one time it was thought that the miraculous powers of the brazen serpent entitled it to worship, Hezekiah called it Nehushtan, that is, a piece of brass, and broke it to pieces. So that with all its splendor of imagery, embroidered vest, and glittering breastplate, to a great extent there was a powerful element of spirituality even about Aaronic worship; I mean, of course, only to spiritual men. David himself utterly outstripped the outward, when he declared, „Sacrifice and offering thou dost not desire;” and when he said again, „Thou desirest not sacrifice, else would I give it thee.” The prophet declares that God is weary of their sacrifices, and in another place the Lord himself says that if we could come before him with rivers of oil, or ten thousand of the fat of fed beasts, he would not accept us with these. To obey is better than sacrifice, is told us even under the law. So that even there, though not so distinctly as now, the spirituality of worship was taught and declared.

But, dear friends, what became of this accommodation of worship to the childhood of the church? You know that very soon after Israel came out of Egypt they said, „Let us make gods that they may go before us.” They could not do without a visible God. Do not think that when they set up the calf they meant to worship the calf instead of Jehovah, that would be a slander upon them; they worshipped Jehovah through the calf—that was their plea, for they said, „Tomorrow is a feast unto Jehovah.” They thought to represent Jehovah by a bull, „they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.” Though severely rebuked, it was the constant sin of Israel to desire to worship God under the favourite Egyptian emblem of the bull. At last they had so far gone into idolatry that they were driven far away; and in captivity they were so chastened, and moreover brought into such contact with the abominations of idolatry that they were heartily sick of it, and no Jew has been an idolater ever since. Still, spiritual worship they would not offer, and therefore fell into rigid ritualism, reverencing the mere letter of the law, and fighting over trifling refinements of regulation and observance; so that in Christ’s day they made broad their phylacteries and the borders of their garments, but they forgot the Great Spirit who is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth.

Since that day the Lord has been treated by carnal men in one of three ways; either God is adored by outward symbols as among Brahminists, Romanists, Puseyites, and other idolaters; or else he is worshipped through ritualism, as among too many who claim to be orthodox, who contend for pre-arranged, and unbending forms; written or unwritten as the case may be: or else men show an utter indifference to God altogether, and then rush into superstitious reverence for something or other which is evil, and therefore to be dreaded and spoken of with awe. This is the history of religious worship, that let spiritual worship assume what form it may, man always will if he can, get away from it and forget his God and set up something seen, instead of bowing down before the unseen; hence the necessity of the second commandment in the Decalogue, „Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and so on.” This is not a command against worshipping another God, that is the first commandment, but a command against worshipping God under any shape, or through any medium or under any symbol; for he is a spirit, and must be worshipped in spirit and in truth and not by symbols. Against this command the human mind is always dashing itself, and in one shape or another idolatry is the ruling religion of mankind.

Christ comes to tell us that now his worship is to be wholly spiritual, even the altar which belongs to antediluvian times is gone, for we have an altar of another kind; even the sacrifice which belonged to the early period has departed like a shadow, because we have the sacrifice of Christ in which to trust. As for the institutions which suited the infancy of the church, they also have disappeared, for now Jesus would have the worship of men enlightened by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost; he would have us understand that a perfect revelation demands of us, that in the perfection of our spiritual powers we should adore the invisible God without the interference of visible signs. Now he would have us cast away all outward types and signs, except the two which he has himself ordained, and even these are types of the Savior’s manhood and not of his Godhead at all, to be only valued because of the spiritual communion which they enable our hearts to hold with Jesus; baptism being intended for spiritual men, that they may enter into the Savior’s death and burial, and the Lord’s supper that the same persons may remember his body broken and his blood shed for them; the water, the bread, the wine, being mere emblems, not to be treated with reverence, but put to their proper emblematic use.

II. I shall now, in the second place, try to ACCOUNT FOR THE EXTREME RARITY OF SPIRITUAL WORSHIP. The reason is, my brethren, because man has fallen. If man were what he once was, pure and holy, I cannot conceive of his wanting holy places and crosses, copes, and dalmatics, crosiers, and chasubles. I cannot conceive of the temptation to bow down before a bull, or a Virgin Mary, or a wafer. There the noble creature walks in paradise, and if he reclines beneath a shady tree, he lifts up his eyes and says, „My Father, thou hast made this grateful shade, here I will adore thee;” or if he walks in the full heat of the sun, he says, „My God, it is thy light that shineth on me,—I adore thee.” Up yonder on the mountain’s brow, or down by the gleaming river, or the silvery lake, he needs build no altar, his altar is within himself; be needs make no temple, his temple is everywhere. The morning is holy, and the evening is holy; he hath no prescribed hour of prayer, it is devotion all day long; his morning bath is his baptism; each meal is his Eucharist. Depend upon it, the nearer we get back to the nakedness of worship, the nearer we get to its truth and purity; and it is because man has fallen, that as his body wants clothing, so he is always dressing up his religion.

Moreover, it is far more difficult to worship God in spirit than in form. To patter through a dozen Ave Marias or Paternosters is so easy, that I can nearly go to sleep over them: to repeat a form of prayer in the morning and evening is a very small matter, and one can be thinking of the shop all the while; to go to church or chapel so many times a week is a cheap duty, and withal one may still be a thief or a hypocrite; but it is hard, very hard, to bring the heart down to humble penitence, and the soul to holy meditation. The last thing that most people will do is to think. The noblest part of our nature is still the least exercised. Humbly to tremble before God, to confess sin before him, to believe him, to love him—this is spiritual worship! Because this is so hard, men say, ” No, no, let me crawl on my knees around a shrine! Let me kneel down before a pyx, let me help to make a cope, or to manufacture some pretty piece of millinery for the priest to wear. Let me go every morning to the steeple house and come out in half an hour, and feel I have done my religion.” That is quite easy, but the hard part of religion is the part of spiritual worship.

And yet again, to worship God spiritually men would have to part with their sins. There is no effect produced upon a man’s conscience by his being sprinkled, or by his taking the sacraments, he can do all that and be as much a pleasure-lover, or a worshipper of Mammon, as he was before; but, to worship God spiritually, a man must give up his sins, must overcome his pride and lust, and his evil concupiscence must be cast out of him. Many persons might honestly declare, „I do not mind worshipping God if it consists in doing penance, or going without meat on Fridays; but if I am to give up my sins, love God, seek Christ, trust to him, I cannot attend to that.” Furthermore, man, for the most part, somehow cannot get the idea of this spiritual worship into his brain, Oh the many times I have tried to preach spiritual worship here, and yet I am conscious that when I try at it I do not interest many of you, and some of you think, „if he would only give us more metaphors, more anecdotes, and so on;” I say I will do that, for I believe we should speak by parable, but sometimes I do not know how to clothe these spiritual things without making you look at the clothing rather than the spirit. It is not your worshipping God by words in hymns and prayers, or sitting in a certain place, or covering your faces at certain times that is acceptable to him; true worship lies in your heart paying reverence to him, your soul obeying him, and your inner nature coming into conformity to his own nature, by the work of his Spirit in your soul; and because men can scarcely get the idea of this till the Holy Spirit gives it to them, this is a reason why it is so rare, so exceedingly rare. There is one other reason, dear friends, why spiritual worship is unusual, and that is because man cannot traffic in spiritual religion. The priest is up at arms directly. ” Oh,” saith he, „spiritual! spiritual! why they will do without me one of these days. Spiritual—why, if you tell these people that every place is holy, and that there are no holy places; and that one believer is as much a priest as another, and that prayer is as acceptable at home, as it is in a particular spot, why,” says he, „there is an end of me.” Yes, sir, there is an end of you, and the sooner the better for the world; for of all the curses that have ever fallen upon the human race the priesthood is the worst. Its claims are imposture, and its actions are full of deceit, In the age of witches and ghosts priesthood might be tolerated, but he who now sets himself up as a priest is as much a common nuisance as a fortune-teller. Nothing has been such a nightmare upon the intellect of man; nothing has sat like old Sindbad the Sailor upon the back of humanity, like the pretensions of priesthood. God forbid that Christianity should even for a moment endorse the lie! Christ has put it all down. Christ says, „All ye are brethren,” and he says of the whole body of his elect, „Ye are a royal priesthood.” Concerning all the saints, Scripture declares, „Ye are God’s clergy,” for that is the Greek word in the passage—”Ye are God’s heritage.” We know no clergy and no laity; we know nothing whatever now of priesthood and of the common people, for ye are made priests and kings unto God to offer spiritual sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

III. Turning from that point, a third subject is this, WHY IS SUCH WORSHIP TO BE RENDERED? Why did not God ordain worship by windmills as in Thibet? Why has he not chosen to be worshipped by particular men in purple and fine linen, acting gracefully as in Roman and Anglican churches? Why not? He gives two reasons which ought to suffice. The first is, he himself seeks spiritual worship. It is his own wish that the worship should be spiritual, And in the second place, he is himself a spirit, and is to be spiritually worshipped. Whatever kind of worship the great Ruler desires he ought to receive, and it is impertinence on my part if I say to him, „No, not that, but this.” It is true I may say, „I am very sincere in all this, very earnest in it. It suits my taste. There is a beauty about it; it excites certain emotions which I think to be devotional.” What is all that but saying, „Great God, thou hast chosen such-and-such a way of being worshipped, but I will not render it to thee?” Is not that in effect saying, „I will not worship thee at all;” for must not worship, to be worship, be such as the person worshipped himself will accept? To invent our own forms of worship is to insult God; and every mass that is ever offered upon the Romish altar is an insult to heaven, and a blasphemy to God who is a Spirit. Every time any form of worship by procession, celebration, or ceremonial of man’s invention is offered to God, it is offered in defiance of this word of Christ, and cannot and will not be received; however earnest people may be they have violated the imperative canon of God’s Word; and in fighting for rubrics they have gone against the eternal rubric that God as a Spirit must be worshipped in spirit and in truth.

The second reason given is, that God is a Spirit. If God were material, it might be right to worship him with material substances; if God were like to ourselves, it might be well for us to give a sacrifice congenial to humanity; but being as he is, pure spirit, he must be worshipped in spirit. I like the remark made by Trapp in his commentary on this passage, when he says that perhaps the Savior is even here bringing down God to our comprehension; „for,” saith he, „God is above all notion, all name.” Certainly, this we know, that anything which associates him with the grossness of materialism is infinitely removed from the truth. Said Augustine, „When I am not asked what God is, I think I know, but when I try to answer that question, I find I know nothing.” If the Eternal were such an one as thou art, O man, he might be pleased with thy painted windows. But what a child’s toy must coloured glass be to God! I can sit and gaze upon a cathedral with all its magnificence of architecture, and think what a wonderful exhibition of human skill; but what must that be to God, who piles the heavens, who digs the foundation of the deep, who leads Arcturus with his sons? Why, it must be to him the veriest trifle, a mere heap of stones. I delight to hear the swell of organs, the harmony of sweet voices, the Gregorian chant, but what is this artistic sound to him more than sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal? As a sight, I admire the choristers and priests, and the whole show of a grand ceremonial; but do you believe that God is imposed upon by those frocks and gowns of white, and blue, and scarlet, and fine linen? It seems to me as if such a notion brings down God to the level of a silly woman who is fond of finery. The infinite God, who spreads out the heavens and scatters stars with both his hands, whom heaven and earth cannot contain, to whom space is but a speck, and time is as nothing, do you think that he dwelleth in temples made with hands, that is to say, of man’s building? And is he to be worshipped with your organs, and your roodscreens, and your gaudy millinery? He laugheth at them, he treadeth on them as being less than nothing and vanity. Spiritual worship is what he regardeth, because he is a Spirit. My brethren, if you could get together a procession of worlds, if you could make the stars walk along the streets of some great new Jerusalem, dressed in their brightest array; if instead of the songs of a few boys or men you could catch the sonnets of eternal ages; if instead of a few men to officiate as priests you could enlist time, eternity, heaven and earth to be the priesthood, yet all this would be to him but as a company of grasshoppers, and he would take up the whole as a very little thing. But let me tell you that even God himself, great as he is, does not despise the tear that drops from a repentant eye, nor does he neglect the sigh that comes from a sinner’s soul. He thinks more of your repentance than of your incense, and more of your prayers than of your priesthoods. He views with pleasure your love and your faith, for these are spiritual things in which he can take delight; but your architecture, your music and your fine arts, though they lavish their treasures at his feet, are less than nothing and vanity. Ye know not what spirit ye are of. If ye think to worship my God with all these inventions of man, ye dream like fools. I feel glowing within me the old iconoclastic spirit. Would God we had men now like Knox or Luther, who with holy indignation would pull in pieces those wicked mockeries of the Most High, against which our soul feels a hallowed indignation as we think of his loftiness, and of that poor paltry stuff with which men degrade his name.

IV. WHAT THEN? What is the practical drift of this? Why two things.

The first is, my dear brothers and sisters, I mean you who have learned to worship God in spirit and in truth, who have got above the beggarly elements of the outward, and can worship him in spirit and in truth, what then? Why, in the first place, let us be particularly jealous of anything which looks at all like going back to ceremonialism. As a matter of taste I have a great liking for noble architecture. Many an hour have I lingered in the ruins of some splendid abbey or our own majestic buildings still used for sacred worship. I have a great delight in a well-painted window. I cannot say that I like most Dissenting painted windows, because they look to me as if they were a sort of would be if you could. I cannot say I have any kind of liking for most of our Dissenting Gothic, for it seems to me such a paltry thing to build a front just like St. Paul’s or Westminster Abbey, and then as if to cheat the Lord to make the back part shabby. I cannot say I care for that kind of thing. But a really splendid place of worship I admire, as a matter of taste. I like an organ very well, as a matter of musical taste. But, my brethren, I feel that these are times when we must stand out even against allowable things, lest going one step we should go another. I do pray you therefore if you have any influence anywhere always use it in favor of simplicity, and if you see at any time in the churches of which you are the members a tendency to creep on to something a little nearer, a little towards the way of Rome, cry „Halt!” Let us rather go back to the barns in which our fathers worshipped, or better still to the hill side, and to the green sward than go forward to anything like symbolism, which will tempt the soul away from spiritual worship. We ought ourselves to guard against falling into formalism by means of simplicity, for we may do it the one way as well as the other, by laying it down as a rule that a service must begin with prayer or begin with singing, that the preacher must preach at such a time in the service, that the service must commence, continue, and conclude in some fixed fashion; that seems to me to have a tendency to breed another form of ritualism inconsistent with worshipping God in spirit and in truth. I am afraid I have hardly grace enough to worship God by two or three hours together in silence as our Quaker friends do. I do enjoy a quarter of an hour’s silence every now and then; to sit quite still seems to me to be an admirable way of getting into contact with God. Our service is so much words, words, words, that I am almost afraid you get to think as much of words as other people do of banners, and flags, and so on. Now, to sit still, to get might away from words, if so your heart keeps to God, is better even than preaching and singing. Juan De Yaldes, a Catholic, but a good Protestant for all that, remarks that the vulgar in seeking to remember Christ by the crucifix do not exercise their mind but stop at the crucifix, and therefore that which was intended to be a help becomes a hindrance; so the learned get their bibles which should help them to think upon divine things, but being content with having read the letter of Scripture they often fail to reach the spiritual truth which it containeth, and so after all do not worship God. Remember that while we should be jealous of anything which would make it easy to be formal of worship which might be adopted, yet we may still after all have missed the main thing, the worshipping of God in spirit and in truth.

Let us make it a matter of heart-searching as to whether we ourselves have been in the habit of worshipping the Father in spirit and in truth. Dear friends, I am jealous of some of you that you do not do this. If the preacher happens to be away you do not feel in so good a frame; somebody else takes my place, and there are certain feeble folk among you who feel as if the sabbath had lost its enjoyment. But God is here, and you might worship God as much surely without me as with me; and though the instruction received from one man may not seem so edifying as that which may come from another, and possibly may not be so, yet still if your object be the worship of God, which should be the main object of our gathering, surely you should do that as well under the ministry of Mr. A. as Mr. B. I am afraid too that many of you are content with singing through the hymn; now all that singing which is not thought-singing is of no use; you may have very sweet voices but God does not regard your voice, he hears your heart, and if your heart does not sing you have not sung at all. When we stand up to pray it may be that the preacher’s words may happen to be suitable to your case, but it is not prayer so far as you are concerned, though it may be as far as he is, unless you join in it. Recollect that if you do not put your hearts into the worship of God, you might for that matter as well be at home as here; you are better here than at home for other reasons, because you are in the way where good may come to you; but for worship’s sake you might as well have been in bed as here. You who have no spiritual worship may even clog the devotions of those who have; an invisible savor of death unto death may be stealing from you, helping to pollute or to render dead the worship of those who truly adore God. At any rate, my dear hearers, if you have not with your whole hearts loved and worshipped God, repent over it, and pray the Holy Ghost to make you spiritual. Go to Christ’s cross, and trust in him; then, and not till then, will you be capable of adoring the most High God in a style in which he can accept your worship. God grant that this may be impressed upon the hearts of all of us, that we may worship God in spirit and in truth.

Related articles

John Piper – cautions

Videourile Vodpod nu mai sunt disponibile.

You can read the edited transcript of the audio at Desiring God, here.

Would there be any cautions that you would have for the New Reformed/New Calvinist Movement you referenced earlier?

Yes.

I will give you one that is from a prophetic word given to me yesterday—take it or leave it. I’m cautious when people come to me with these kinds of things. But this rung true, and you can see that it is true without making a claim to special divine authority.

My caution concerns making theology God instead of God God. Loving doing theology rather than loving God.

Sam Crabtree said to me once, „The danger of the contemporary worship awakening is that we love loving God more than we love God.” That was very profound. And you might love thinking about God more than you love God. Or arguing for God more than you love God. Or defending God more than you love God. Or writing about God more than you love God. Or preaching more than you love God. Or evangelizing more than you love God.

Piper interviewed by Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock blogs at adrianwarnock.com. Here’s an interview (Part 4) done in Wales by Adrian Warnock, at the New World Alive Conference 2008, where John Piper discusses his family, his ministry, and among other things – which preachers he personally listens to :

Parts 1, 2, and 3

Here are the links to watch Part 1,  Part 2  („whether you are satisfied in God really makes a difference whether you can glorify God”) and Part 3 (what he learned from George Muller about how he now prays).

Related articles

John Piper – What Is the Philosophy of Worship that Unites Us?

from www.desiringGod.org

  • God-centeredness: A high priority of the vertical focus of our Sunday morning service. The ultimate aim is to so experience God that he is glorified in our affections.
  • Expecting the powerful presence of God: We do not just direct ourselves toward him. We earnestly seek his drawing near according to the promise of James 4:8. We believe that in worship God draws near to us in power, and makes himself known and felt for our good and for the salvation of unbelievers in the midst.
  • Bible based and Bible saturated: The content of our singing and praying and welcoming and preaching and poetry will always conform to the truth of Scripture. The content of God’s Word will be woven through all we do in worship and will be the ground of all our appeal to authority
  • Head and heart: Worship that aims at kindling and carrying deep, strong, real emotions toward God, but does not manipulate people’s emotions by failing to appeal to clear thinking about spiritual things based on shareable evidences outside ourselves.
  • Earnestness and intensity: Avoiding a trite, flippant, superficial, frivolous atmosphere, but instead setting an example of reverence and passion and wonder.
  • Authentic communication: The utter renunciation of all sham and deceit and hypocrisy and pretense and affectation and posturing. Not the atmosphere of artistic or oratorical performance but the atmosphere of a radically personal encounter with God truth..
  • The manifestation of God and the common good: We expect and hope and pray (according to 1 Cor. 12:7) that our focus on the manifesting of God is good for people and that therefore a spirit of love for each other is not incompatible with, but necessary to authentic worship.
  • Undistracting excellence: We will try to sing and play and pray and preach in such a way that people’s attention will not be diverted from the substance by shoddy ministry nor by excessive finesse, elegance or refinement. Natural, undistracting excellence will let the truth and beauty of God shine through.
  • The mingling of historic and contemporary music: And he said to them, „Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old” (Matt. 13:52)

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

What Unites Us in Worship at Bethlehem?

As a supplement to the two messages I am preaching on worship (September 28 and October 4 and 5), here is a list of „marks” that define us in worship at Bethlehem. I wrote these ten years ago and have only changed them slightly. The reason they are the same, even though we have changed in many ways, is that they deal with deeper issues than style and form. I pray that we will always define ourselves with deeper issues than style and form. „The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him” (John 4:23). – Pastor John

1. God-Centeredness. We put a high priority on the vertical focus of our Sunday morning service. The ultimate aim is to experience God in such a way that he is glorified in our affections.

2. Expecting the powerful presence of God. We do not just direct ourselves toward him. We earnestly seek his drawing near according to the promise of James 4:8. We believe that in worship God draws near to us in power, and makes himself known and felt for our good and for the salvation of unbelievers in the midst.

3. Bible-based and Bible-saturated. The content of our singing and praying and welcoming and preaching and poetry should always conform to the truth of Scripture. But more than that, the content of God’s Word should be woven through all we do in worship and will be the ground of all our appeal to authority.

4. Head and heart. The elements of our worship service should aim at kindling and carrying deep, strong, real emotions toward God, especially joy, but should not manipulate people’s emotions by failing to appeal to clear thinking about spiritual things based on shareable evidences outside ourselves.

5. Earnestness and intensity. We will try to avoid being trite, flippant, superficial, or frivolous, but instead will aim to set an example of reverence and passion and wonder and broken-hearted joy.

6. Authentic communication. We utterly renounce all sham, deceit, hypocrisy, pretense, affectation, and posturing. We do not pursue the atmosphere of artistic or oratorical performance, but the atmosphere of a radically personal encounter with God and truth.

7. The manifestation of God and the common good. We expect and hope and pray (according to 1 Cor. 12:7) that our focus on the manifesting of God is good for people and that a spirit of love for each other is not incompatible with, but necessary to, authentic worship.

8. Undistracting excellence. We will try to sing and play and pray and preach in such a way that people’s attention will not be diverted from the substance by shoddy ministry nor by excessive finesse, elegance, or refinement. Natural, undistracting excellence will let the truth and beauty of God shine through. We will invest in equipment good enough to be undistracting in transmitting heartfelt truth.

9. The mingling of historic and contemporary music. No church or service can be all things to all people. But we do not value stylistic narrowness. We believe there are affections owing to God that different tunes and different texts and different genres may awaken better than others. We will strive to be who we are without exalting our own tastes as the standard of excellence or power. We will see God’s guidance in each worship setting to be both indigenous and stretching.

While I’m waiting – from Fireproof

John Waller

I’m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord
And I am hopeful, I’m waiting on You Lord
Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait
And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint

I’ll be running the race even while I wait
I’m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord
And I am peaceful, I’m waiting on You Lord
Though it’s not easy no, but faithfully I will wait
Yes, I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint
I’ll be running the race even while I wait

I will move ahead bold and confident
I’ll be taking every step in obedience, yeah

While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint

And I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You Lord

I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting

Lyrics from Lyricsmode.com

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While I’m waiting – Fireproof, posted with vodpod

World Revival Church Worship

Our family visited this church in 2009. The music worship was an unusual experience. Unusual, because for the number of people that were present in the church, it sounded like the voices of double or triple that amount. (And there were probably 7-800 people, yet it sounded like  thousands).  It wasn’t the acoustics either, although they have a great sound system; but, as we looked around, everyone, from 4 or 5 year olds, to adults and older people (to all the men!!) were singing loudly and gladly and the power of the Holy Spirit was a keen presence in the church.  Some of the songs they sang I had not heard before and were taken right out of Scriptures. (I hope they will post more in the future) The Word of God in song, sung by His people is a powerful thing! Imagine a church where the Holy Spirit overcomes young people while they worship. And, imagine a church where, if you feel the presence of the Lord and want to get down on your knees and weep or praise him, you can.  The service starts that way, and ends that way. It reminded me of the prayer services of the Pentecostal Churches of Romania in their beginning stage and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that God willed over us.

After the service we spoke to some of the church’s members to get to know some of them. One impressionable thing was the conversation we had with the drummer and his family. In preparation for ministry on the worship team, he served by volunteering at the House of Hope and Prayer (open 24 hours) which is on the Church’s property and a family actually lives in that house, and, additionally, other church members regularly volunteer on their days off or before or after their work shifts, to be available for prayer, either over the phone or for people who show up in person, on a 24 hours a day basis.

The two nights we were there, the service began at 7pm and ended after 11 pm, and it seemed like it went way too fast. After the worship and preaching which ended about 9:15 most of the folks went up front for prayer and we didn’t stop until almost 11:00 pm.  And, did I forget to mention that most of the church members were present at church about an hour before the service started. Yes, there still are churches like this, with people seeking the Lord in the Word, in fervent prayer and seeking fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ.

We had an overwhelmingly positive experience while visiting this church over that weekend in 2009. May God bless our brothers and sisters there in Kansas City, Missouri!

Biserica- Ce facem cind venim la adunare, predica Iosif Ton

Un ortodox când merge la Biserică ştie că acolo preotul cântă liturghia în dialog cu cantorul şi, uneori, cu corul. Restul oamenilor stau şi ascultă, în anumite momente îşi fac semnul crucii, în altele îngenunchează. La sfârşitul liturghiei, unii se duc înainte şi se împărtăşesc. Alţii se duc înainte să sărute câteva icoane sau să aprindă o lumânare şi apoi pleacă acasă.

Cam acestea sunt lucrurile la care credincioşii ortodocşi se aşteaptă să se întâmple când merg la Biserică. Şi nimeni nu discută că ar putea să fie şi altfel! Textul liturghiei a fost fixat de Grigore cel Mare pe la anul 370, d.Cr.. Un alt text al liturghiei a fost formulat de Ioan Gură de Aur pe la anul 400 d.Cr.. Singura opţiune este să se aleagă între cele două liturghii. Şi, de o mie şase sute de ani se continuă în felul acesta!

La catolici, textul liturghiei a fost fixat cam în aceeaşi vreme şi, în cea mai mare parte, are aceeaşi structură.

Esenţa liturghiei este momentul în care se crede că, prin formule şi gesturi, pâinea se transformă în trupul lui Cristos şi vinul în sângele Lui. Acesta este obiectivul principal şi esenţial al liturghiei ortodoxe şi catolice.

Reforma a respins tocmai elementul acesta esenţial: transssubstanţierea. Reformatorii au aruncat la o parte tot ceremonialul liturghiei şi au introdus un nou fel de a face slujbă bisericească, compusă de acum din cântări comune (la început numai psalmi, iar începând de pe la 1680 si alte cântări), rugăciuni, citirea Scripturii şi, mai presus de toate, predica. Se poate spune că esenţa slujbei protestante în Biserică este predica. Iată de ce în cultele protestante şi reformate au apărut atâţia predicatori celebri!

Martin Luther a conceput slujba în Biserică aşa cum a crezut el că ar fi mai bine. Ioan Calvin, la rândul lui, a conceput slujba aşa cum a crezut el că ar fi mai bine. În cultele pe care le-au început ei, cultul luteran (în Germania se numeşte „Biserica evanghelică”) şi cultul reformat (cel creat de Calvin), slujba în Biserică se desfăşoară şi astăzi în general aşa cum au conceput-o aceşti reformatori.

În vremea Reformei (mai exact, la 1525) au apărut şi anabaptiştii. Şi ei şi-au conceput felul lor de a face adunare, sau slujbă duminicală. Apoi au început să apară o mulţime de alte culte de natură protestantă sau reformată, ajungându-se astăzi la mii de asemenea culte. Cele mai multe dintre ele se definesc a fi „culte evanghelice”. Fiecare dintre ele şi-a conceput şi structurat felul ei de a face slujba duminicală în Biserică, dar elementele sunt cam aceleaşi: rugăciune, cântare comună, citirea Scripturii şi predica.

Pe la 1870, în America a apărut ideea de „şcoala de duminica” sau „şcoală duminicală”. Aceasta a apărut mai întâi pentru copii, dar apoi au îmbrăţişat ideea ei şi adulţii. Trebuie să ştim că în America şcoala duminicală nu face parte din slujba duminicală, şi nu se face cu toată biserica la un loc, ci se face pe clase de câte 20-30 de persoane. În adunarea de o oră a clasei se fac si informări despre evenimentele din viaţa membrilor clasei, se face şi rugăciune şi se face studiu biblic. Îndată ce a apărut ideea aceasta, Bisericile şi-au făcut clădiri de clase de şcoală duminicală, în aşa fel încât astăzi o Biserică americană este un complex de clădiri sau săli aranjate în jurul „sanctuarului” în care se adună toţi membrii Bisericii pentru slujba duminicală care ţine între o oră şi o oră şi jumătate.

Când s-au format primele Biserici baptiste în România (după 1880), toate acestea erau la ţară. Cei care au fost primii fondatori şi conducători ai acestor Biserici au stabilit şi ei cam cum să se facă o adunare. Ei au zis: mai întâi să avem o oră de rugăciune; apoi să studiem Sfânta Scriptură împreună (şcoala duminicală sau studiul biblic); şi apoi să facem slujba propriu zisă. Fiindcă la ortodocşi slujba era considerată că îi este făcută lui Dumnezeu, şi de aici denumirea de slujbă dumnezeiască, primii baptişti au schimbat doar cuvintele, şi i-au spus „serviciu divin”. (Atenţie: unii mai in vârstă, neînţelegând sensul, spun „serviciu de vin”!)

Îndată după revoluţie, unii păstori s-au uitat cu atenţie la structura unei întruniri de trei ore si au schimbat totul. Aşa a făcut fratele pastor Beni Fărăgău la Cluj-Iris. El a redus totul la două ore si a început cu studiul biblic, urmat de predica din acelaşi subiect.

Subliniere: Nimeni din conducerea cultului nu a obiectat, pentru simplul motiv ca baptiştii nu au un program liturgic fix şi obligatoriu!!!

Fratele pastor Binu Poplăceanu la una din Bisericile baptiste din Sibiu a redus si el serviciul la două ore şi i-a dat structura pe care a considerat-o dânsul ca cea mai potrivită. Din nou, nimeni din conducerea cultului nu a obiectat. Alt motiv pentru care conducerea cultului nu se amestecă în astfel de probleme este acela că Biserica locală este autonomă şi îşi guvernează viaţa internă fără imixtiuni din afară.

Prin 1960, am fost o scurtă vreme pastor la Biserica Baptistă din Braşov. Şi eu am redus programul de dimineaţa la doua ore. Am pus întâi studiul biblic, apoi predica şi apoi, pe baza a ceea ce am învăţat la studiu şi la predica am făcut timpul de rugăciune. Toată lumea a observat că rugăciunile pe baza învăţăturii primită înainte au fost mult mai la subiect şi cu mai mult conţinut. Seara am redus programul la o oră şi jumătate şi am combinat programul tineretului cu predica. Iarăşi, nimeni din afară nu a intervenit să ne admonesteze.

Ceea ce vreau să subliniez este, mai ales pentru pastorii mai tineri, şi pentru toţi membrii Bisericilor, este că în acest domeniu avem libertate să gândim, împreună cu Biserica, modul în care structurăm slujbele pe care le facem în adunare!

Un fapt anecdotic. Când eram la Braşov, într-o duminică seara am lăsat să se facă programul cum a fost înainte: programul tineretului separat şi apoi serviciu divin de seară. O doamnă, dintre cele mai conservatoare, a exclamat după încheiere: „În sfârşit, am asistat la un serviciu baptist!”

Pentru biata de ea, numai felul de serviciu cu care crescuse ea acolo era „serviciu baptist.”

Noi trebuie să ştim că nu există ceea ce ea a numit „serviciu baptist.” Există numai serviciu bisericesc făcut după un anumit tipar de înaintaşii noştri. Noi avem toată libertatea să facem modificările pe care le considerăm necesare pentru folosul Bisericii.

Una dintre problemele dificile este ora de rugăciune. Această oră dădea rezultate când Biserica era un grup foarte mic şi când era timp să se roage pe rând toţi cei din adunare. Dar când Biserica a crescut numeric, când participanţii au trecut de o sută, au apărut probleme. Una, cea mai evidentă, este că nu mai este timp să se roade toţi. A doua este că dintre cei ce se roagă, unii au voci foarte slabe şi rugăciunea lor nu este auzită, şi atunci majoritatea nu mai participă la acea rugăciune. A treia problemă este că mulţi dintre cei care se roagă au o rugăciune pe care o ştiu pe de rost şi se roagă totdeauna aceeaşi rugăciune, de obicei foarte lungă. Şi aceştia tind să monopolizeze timpul de rugăciune.

Încă acum 30 de ani, pastorul Simion Cure îmi semnala că ora de rugăciune aşa cum a fost ea concepută de înaintaşi nu mai dă roade. El nu avea şi o soluţie a problemei, dar îi simţeam frustrarea şi pentru aceasta.

Unii, fiindcă nu vor să schimbe nimic, cu toate că au peste o mie de oameni în adunare, fac ora de rugăciune tot aşa cum era făcută acum o sută de ani la ţară!

Trebuie să avem curajul să gândim şi să găsim soluţiile cele mai rodnice şi pentru această problemă.

Penticostalii au introdus rugăciunea în comun, adică se roagă toţi deodată. Eu cred că aceasta are anumite puncte pozitive. Unii pastori baptişti au introdus-o şi ei, dar ca un mic segment din ora de rugăciune şi cu precizarea ca rugăciunea să se facă domol, nu cu strigăte. Dar, dară nu mai este rugăciune a unor persoane pe care să le audă toată Biserica, cum vom putea să spunem cu toţii „Amin” la rugăciune?

Unii penticostali practică rugăciunea în comun chiar şi în familie, de exemplu, înainte de mâncare. Problema e că atunci copiii nu mai aud ce se roagă tata şi nu învaţă şi ei să se roage.

Închinarea.

Cu treizeci de ani în urmă, conceptul de închinare împreună lui Dumnezeu era străin de adunările evanghelice. Ne adunam la adunare pentru a auzi cuvântul lui Dumnezeu, pentru a ne zidi sufleteşte, pentru a ne ruga împreună şi pentru a avea părtăşie frăţească. Nimeni nu şi-ar fi spus atunci că mergem la adunare înainte de toate să ne închinăm împreună lui Dumnezeu.

Semnificativ este pentru aceasta că adunările se începeau de obicei cu cântări ca „Ce bine e când fraţii cu dulce se unesc”.

Si astăzi unora le este greu să accepte că prima, sau primele cântări pe care le cântăm trebuie să fie adresate lui Dumnezeu, să fie cântări de laudă şi de închinare lui Dumnezeu.

Prin 1981, John MacArthur a publicat cartea lui The Ultimate Priority. Noi am tradus-o imediat la Societatea Misionară Română în America, cu titlul Prioritatea Supremă.

Eu l-am auzit în vremea aceea pe John adresând-se unei mari mulţimi de pastori şi spunându-le cât de preocupat este el să ia cu sine adunarea şi să o ducă înaintea lui Dumnezeu şi să o facă să i se închine cu adevărat lui Dumnezeu şi cum el face aceasta prin cuvinte introductive despre închinare, prin rugăciunea lui de închinare, prin corul care cântă de închinare şi prin cântare comună de închinare.

Cred că John MacArthur a făcut ca Bisericile evanghelice din toată lumea că fie preocupate de închinare. Dar cum să se facă ea? Unul dintre răspunsuri a fost: Prin „grupuri de laudă şi închinare.”

Şi astfel au apărut în foarte multe Biserici grupuri de închinare şi au început să apară cântări, de obicei foarte scurte, cu cuvinte de închinare.

Câteva gânduri despre acest nou fenomen.

Este bun atunci când grupul de închinare este alcătuit din persoane mature, duhovniceşti, evlavioase şi când grupul este condus ori de pastorul Bisericii (cum este cazul la Sibiu, cu fr. Binu Poplăceanu) sau de o altă persoană care ştie cum să conducă închinarea. Multe Biserici din America, au un pastor cu închinarea, care este şcolat în a conduce Biserica în închinare şi care produce o închinare extrem de frumoasă şi de profundă.

Dar, când iei un grup de tinerei care nu ştiu bine ce-i relaţia personală cu Dumnezeu şi nu ştiu ei înşişi ce-i adevărata închinare şi-i pui pe ei să conducă închinarea, cu cântări de genul care le place lor, nu-i de mirare că nu mai are loc închinare în duh şi în adevăr, ci are loc tulburare şi frustrare.

Mai mult, când fetele sau femeile din acest grup vin îmbrăcate sexy, toţi bărbaţii se vor uita numai la ele şi, în loc de închinare, va avea loc acolo curvie în gând, care este atât de necruţător condamnată de Domnul Isus (vezi Matei 5:27-30 şi Luca 17:1-2).

Unul dintre participanţii la masa rotundă a ridicat problema Bisericii pentru viitor.

Imediat a intervenit cineva care, în esenţă, a replicat că ceea ce s-a făcut până acum va fi bun şi pentru viitor.

Materialul acesta l-am scris tocmai pentru a jalona o discuţie pe tema modului de „a face Biserică”, sau a modului de a structura ceea ce facem când venim laolaltă ca Biserică.

De ce sint (em) Penticostalii asa de galagiosi?

Trebuie sa admit ca imi place stilul cintarii postata mai jos. Sper ca sintem galagiosi pentru ca sintem multumitori si ii datoram mult, foarte mult Dumnezeului nostru care si-a dat Fiul Sau pentru noi. La urma urmei, Dumnezeu cunoaste intentia si  inima omului.

L-am auzit pe Bob Kauflin (autorul cartii „Worship Matters’ zicind  ca in Psalmul 47, Dumnezeu ne comanda ca sa il laudam prin cintare si ne spune sa ne invatam si sa ne sfatuim prin cintari, cintind cu multumire in inima noastra.

Psalmi 47

1(Către mai marele cîntăreţilor. Un psalm făcut de fiii lui Core.) Bateţi din palme, toate popoarele! Înălţaţi lui Dumnezeu strigăte de bucurie!

2Căci Domnul, Cel Prea Înalt, este înfricoşat: El este Împărat mare peste tot pămîntul.3El ne supune popoarele, El pune neamurile supt picioarele noastre.  4El ne alege moştenirea, slava lui Iacov, pe care -l iubeşte. –

5Dumnezeu Se suie în mijlocul strigătelor de biruinţă, Domnul înaintează în sunetul trîmbiţei.

6Cîntaţi lui Dumnezeu, cîntaţi! Cîntaţi Împăratului nostru, cîntaţi! 7Căci Dumnezeu este împărat peste tot pămîntul: cîntaţi o cîntare înţeleaptă!

8Dumnezeu împărăţeşte peste neamuri, Dumnezeu şade pe scaunul Lui de domnie cel sfînt. 9Domnitorii popoarelor se adună împreună cu poporul Dumnezeului lui Avraam; căci ale lui Dumnezeu sînt scuturile pămîntului: El este mai înalt şi mai pe sus de orice.

Si in Coloseni 3:16

16Cuvîntul lui Hristos să locuiască din belşug în voi în toată înţelepciunea. Învăţaţi-vă şi sfătuiţi-vă unii pe alţii cu psalmi, cu cîntări de laudă şi cu cîntări duhovniceşti, cîntînd lui Dumnezeu cu mulţămire în inima voastră.

cinta :It’s the greatest feeling- being washed in the blood!

and here’s Bob Kauflin speaking on ‘Encouragement to use our bodies in worship’



Why does God want us to sing?

Bob Kauflin (author of ‘Worship Matters’) first talks about Motivating the Church to Worship God;

then he explains why God wants us to sing:

here’s additional  short clips that are worthwhile, they are a Biblical theology on music. First an intro by Piper, the rest are Bob Kauflin’s.

Piper- The Lord’s triple command to sing, sing, sing

Does God sing?

The human voice in congregational music

Why does God want us to sing?

Truth and worship and The importance of singing truth (about the music style wars)

Kauflin on the (in)effectiveness of some tunes (gives funny examples of what some songs would sound like)

Style of music

Why Christians sing

Is music without words a language?

Encouragement to use our bodies in worship

Blogosfera Evanghelică

Vizite unicate din Martie 6,2011

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