Got Worship?


Over the last several decades I have witnessed phenomena in the churches that I have been a part of, and ones I have observed through broadcast media and print. There has been a paradigm shift away from worship to a certain sort of activity passed off as worship.

Worship leaders”, “worship teams”, and “worship music” are fairly recent terms that are now as common as pews and pulpits. There is nothing inherently wrong with any of these. I question though, just how much they contribute to genuine worship of the Almighty God of the Bible.

In today’s Christian world, worship has been defined as some particular activity that takes place primarily on Sunday morning before the preacher delivers his message. That activity is singing. And, worship has been more narrowly defined as not only just singing, but singing only a certain kind of music, “worship music”, or “praise and worship” music. So the implication is that if you are singing “worship” music you are worshipping. That is foreign to the Bible. Am I to believe that none of Charles Wesley’s songs, Fanny Crosby’s songs, or any of the old hymns were ever used in worship? Christians were worshiping God many hundreds of years before “praise and worship” music and Powerpoint presentations were invented.

The dead give away that this so-called worship might be bogus, is the way most of the so-called worshippers critique the so-called worship. Comments usually follow along this line of thought. “We had a great worship service this morning. The music was so beautiful!” Or, some of our more uninhibited friends might say, “Worship was great today, you could really feel the Spirit in the service”. When worship is measured by the experience or the skill of the human participants, I promise you it is not Biblical worship.

Worship is not something to be experienced, but something given to God. Worship is not about me and you, but rather about God. Jesus said to the woman of Samaria that worship is to be done “in Spirit and in truth”. I fear that we as believers in modern times have not fared well in the “truth” department of worship.

Worship is first and foremost about surrender. I can be bold to say that a person who has hardly given God a thought all week is not likely to worship on Sunday morning. He or she might go through the motions, sing the songs, or even lead the songs, but in the end, not have worshipped. Paul in Romans 12:1-2 gives some great insight into the real meaning and method of true worship.

My paraphrase goes like this.

“I beg you brothers, in view of the fact that God did not condemn you to hell as you and I deserve, but has shown us mercy; Present the whole of who you are to God as a living sacrifice. Surrender yourselves completely to God for His pleasure and purpose. This dying to self in complete surrender to God for his use, is not unreasonable in view of His mercy, but is rather, “reasonable worship”. And, don’t be conformed to this culture, but rather be transformed by having your thinking made new by the word of God.”

Being “transformed by the renewing of your mind..” speaks again to the “truth” part of the equation of the elements of worship. It doesn’t matter how spiritual you might feel after doing a religious exercise, unless you have conformed your activity to the truth of the word of God you have not worshipped.

Not only is worship about surrender, it must be God centered and not people centered. Worship is akin to faith. Faith is vain and useless unless it is directed toward the right object. The strength or measure of faith is not nearly as important as the object of our faith, the Lord Jesus. Worship is exactly the same. Unless the object of our worship is God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, our worship isn’t worship, it is religion.

Royce

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Christianity is Christ


Christianity is Christ.

Christianity is not:
   . Going to church
   . Living by the Golden Rule
   . Doing acts of kindness
   . Being a member of a certain church
   . Being right about certain Bible doctrines
   . Doing certain things on Sunday
   . Living a life of piety and self denial

Christianity is Christ.

When a person becomes a Christian:
   1. His sins are forgiven
   2. He is given eternal life
   3. He becomes God’s child both by birth and adoption
   4. He becomes an heir of God’s bounty
   5. He is declared not guilty of sin
   6. He is declared just
   7. He is declared righteous
   8. He is indwelt by God the Holy Spirit
   9. He is sealed by the Holy Spirit
 10. He is gifted by the Holy Spirit
 11. He is promised resurrection
 12. He will never perish
 13. He will never die
 14. He is in Christ
 15. Christ is in Him
 16. He is hidden with Christ in God
 17. He is held in God’s hand
 18. Christ will never leave him or forsake him
 19. He has access to God in prayer
 20. He is a priest
 21. He is a partaker of God’s nature
 22. He is seated with Christ in the heavens
 23. He has been chosen by God
 24. He has been elected
 25. He has been predestined to be a son
 26. He has been called
 27. He has been glorified
 28. He has been washed
 29. He has been cleansed
 30. He has redeemed
 31. He has been added to the body of Christ
 32. He has overcome the evil one
 33. He has been counted worthy
 34. His eyes have been opened
 35. He has a new ability to love unconditionally
 36. He can say no to sin
 37. He is at rest
 38. The ordinances of the law are no longer against him
 39. He is free
 40. He is not condemned
 41. He will never be condemned
 42. He is not appointed to wrath
 43. He will be rewarded
 44. He has treasure reserved in heaven
 45. He is kept by the power of God
 46. He cannot be separated from God
 47. He has the Son of God
 48. He has the Father
 49. He has joy
 50. He has peace with God
 51. He has the peace of God
 52. He is one with God
 53. He is loved by the Father just as He loves Jesus.
 54. He has been born again
 55. He is a new creation
 56. He has God’s law written on his heart
 57. He died with Christ
 58. He was raised with Christ
 59. Christ is his life
 60. He is in the kingdom of light
 61. He has been granted repentance
 62. He has been given faith
 63. He has been given precious promises
 64. He is an ambassador of Christ
 65. He is an alien on eath
 66. He is a citizen of heaven
 67. He is a lover of good
 68. He hates sin
 69. He loves his brother
 70. He hears the apostolic teaching
 71. He abides in Christ
 72. He stands in grace
 73. The Holy Spirit assures him he is safe
 74. Christ is his life
 75. He does sin as a lifestyle
 76. He has Christ as an advocate for him in heaven when he does sin
 77. He walks in the light
 78. He knows the voice of Jesus
 79. He follows Him
 80. He will not follow another.
 81. He has victory over death, hell, and the grave 
 82. He is being made like Jesus
 83. He is created for good works
 84. His greatest good is to glorify God

There is more but these quickly come to mind. Not one of them is man’s own doing. Everyone of them is true and relevant and experiential because of the person, work, and resurrection life of Jesus Christ. The only basis, the only ground upon which our salvation rests is Christ.

When a sinner changes his mind about the course of his life and puts his whole trust in Jesus He does not give that person anything apart from Himself. You see, what a lost sinner needs is life, he is spiritually dead. He needs righteousness for he is unrighteous. He needs redemption, for he is a slave to sin. He needs light because he is in darkness. He needs bread from heaven because he is starving. He needs the water of life for he is thirsty. He needs to be set free because he is under control of the evil one.

Christ can give nothing more than Himself. He Himself supplies every need. He is life, He is the light of the world, He is righteousness, He is our peace, He is our assurance, He is our joy, He is our glory, He is our hope, He is the author of our faith, He is the rock upon which we stand.

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and NO MAN COMES TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME.” Religion will leave you wanting. Church membership and attendance will leave you lacking. Acts of kindness, giving to the poor, and even martyrdom will leave you dead in your sins. Only our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ is able and willing to give you life, forgiveness, righteousness, and peace.

We are only accepted by God “in the beloved“, we are only chosen “in Him“. The mystery of God that was hidden in ages past is this, “Christ in you, the hope of glory“. That’s it, Christianity is Christ and can be nothing less, and nothing more is possible.

“Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life”(1 John 5:10-12 ESV)

It is hard to imagine how anyone could misunderstand this clear message from God’s word. Sadly, many just don’t seem to get it. Like the legalists Paul addressed long ago in his letter to the churches of Galatia who insisted that Christians be circumcised, many today insist on adding to what Christ accomplished over 2000 years ago and what God planned in eternity past.

Many preach a salvation that is “God’s part and your part”. Your part is to repent (change your mind) and believe on Jesus Christ. If you have Him (A very big “IF”) what more can you possibly imagine you need? There is nothing on earth or in heaven that is a substitute or a supplement for what Christ has accomplished on behalf of sinners. Trust Him alone, He will not always wait.

By grace are you saved.

His peace,
Royce

 

How valuable is my relationship with God?


Perhaps no other question is as important for each of us to consider than this one, How valuable is my relationship to God? When I seriously consider the gravity of that question, and more importantly, how I honestly answer it, it is scary to say the least.

Many of us who claim to be followers of Jesus actually are not at all. We cannot live our lives as practical atheists and at the same time be authentic disciples of Jesus. Another way to understand the question I raise is to ask another, not of you but of myself. What is it that happens in my day to day living, my weekly and monthly routine, that could not happen if suddenly, and unknown to me, God ceased to exist?

I can read my Bible, pray, go to church twice each week, attend some devotionals with friends and in every way a man is usually measured I would be considered to be a “faithful” Christian. Another even more telling question I should ask is this one. What is happening in my life that is supernatural and the only explanation for it is the activity of God?

It is one thing to read the Bible, it is another to be taught it by the Holy Spirit. It is one thing to pray, often saying the same things from rote memory, not expecting an answer, and quite another to pray asking for something specific and having an answer that is clearly the work of God. I know we don’t always get remarkable answers to our prayers, but shouldn’t we sometimes? It is one thing to say we want to share our faith with others, but actually doing it and then seeing God change a life is another.

If I make the mistake of measuring my life against yours, or some other person’s, I have shown that I am a foolish man. (2 Cor 10:12) To quote Paul, “For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends”2 Cor 10:18. I believe that in proportion to how much I value God, and my relationship and standing with Him, I will actually be a disciple. It is not enough to be committed to a cause, a church, a heritage, or even a theological ideal, to be an authentic believer in Jesus Christ He must be what I value most. He must mean more to me than my family, my house, and even my church. (Matthew 16:24)

I am becoming less concerned about how I am perceived by my faith community and more concerned about what God actually knows about me and how I should live in view of that fact.  I must admit, there have been far too many time periods in my life when Jesus was relegated to someplace less than first in my daily living. One day I (and you) will stand before Him at the judgement seat and give an accounting for how I (we) have responded day by day to God’s gracious gift of life through Jesus Christ our Lord. There will be no smoke and mirrors, no bait and switch, just raw truth staring us in the face.

My goal today and going forward is to be less a hypocrite than I have been.

Your comments are welcomed.

His peace,
Royce

God’s master plan in one verse


For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14

One sacrifice for sin all time. The offerings for sins carried out by the priests were unable to “perfect” those for whom the sacrifices were offered. The daily offerings of the priests and the annual offerings in the holy of holies could “never take away sin” but only cover it for a while. Christ offered his own body, (prepared for him specifically for this purpose ) “once for all time and sat down at the right hand of God. His work was finished. The sacrificial system was but a shadow of the true sacrifice who would come and offer himself on the cross as final and complete payment for the sins of undeserving people.

Our eternal standing is secure. He has perfected for all time” those who are his own. All of our sins, past, present, and future have been judged. “The wages of sin is death” Paul said in Romans 6:23. God, because He is holy and just, can not overlook sin, it must be paid for and the payment is death. Jesus died that death. All of God’s wrath against sin was poured out on Christ on the cross and the shameful events that led up to the death of the Lamb of God. The shame, the humiliation, the mocking, the spitting upon him, the beating, and finally the blood poured out, completely satisfied the justice of a holy God who hates sin and must by his very nature punish it. By this one offering of this perfect sacrifice sin is forever paid for and no other sacrifice is ever needed. We are “perfect” in Him.

God is at work in us so that we will better reflect our perfect standing with him. We are “being sanctified” Salvation is in reality a process. We have been saved from the penalty of sin, (There is therefore no condemnation..) we are being saved from the power of sin ( He who began a good work in you will complete it – sanctification), and at the resurrection we will be saved from even the presence of sin. (and so shall we ever be with the Lord ). Every benefit of salvation rests solely upon the person and work of Jesus. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.” The reconciliation is complete. The sin offerings complete. Salvation is complete.

What is our response to this grace? This verse, and this rich book of Hebrews, are only one of scores that clearly teach human effort, religious activity, and all good works are futile in gaining God’s favor. Paul said to the believers of the churches of Galatia “Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified”. In spite of this crystal clear teaching many of us live as modern day Pharisees going about trying to establish our own righteousness expecting God to grant us added favor because of what we do. Paul called depending on what you do or “works” for salvation “another gospel, which is not another“. It is a lie presented as the “good news” but it is not the “good news” for the only true “good news” is that by the offering by Christ of himself, once for all for “whosoever will” is all God will accept.

Our correct response to God’s amazing grace is to surrender all that we are to His glory and eternal purposes and to give ourselves wholly to His pleasure. In sickness and in health, in poverty and wealth, we are married to another and even death will not separate us. It is this goodness of God toward sinners that teaches us to say NO to unrighteousness and YES to what is pure and holy.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:19-23 )

His peace,
Royce Ogle