Church Worship

Romans 12:1 – The Worship Verse!

worshipWhat is #worship?  Worship is not defined as raising your hands during a song service.

Sometimes the Bible gives undeniable, explicit and very precise prescriptions on practical issues we deal with every day.  In the case of Romans 12:1 that’s exactly what we find.  The Bible tells us precisely what worship is, and it is extremely clear.  Read this verse,

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1). 

See, worship is not a song service. In other words, worship is not singing 5 hymns then moving on to something else. Worship is something we do 100% of the day, and we do so through total sacrifice, which means a selfless lifestyle. We can sing unto the Lord, and singing can be one single form of worship in our day, but worship is not defined simply as singing – it is a lifestyle. Worship is a sacrificial lifestyle enslaved to Christ. If the only time you “worship” God is during song services, then you are not truly worshiping Him properly at all.  And for Christians, that’s a HUGE deal!  For those of us who love and follow Christ, we cannot shrug His Word away.  We crave to obey Him.

We are not called to run down a checklist and perform a certain number of good deeds per day. We are called to totally empty ourselves and become permanent slaves of the Holy Spirit of God – that’s biblical worship. We are called by the mercies of God, that special grace by which we are saved. God showed us eternal mercy, and saved us from damnation by sending His Son to be crucified so that we may live. With that life we are called to now be a continuous living sacrifice sold out to the Spirit of God as slaves. We are now living slaves of the Spirit instead of being dead slaves to sin as we were before salvation.

1. “by the mercies of God” • The mercy God has shown us when He crucified His Son to save us from sin and death.

2. “present your bodies” •• Our whole bodies, starting with our minds which includes hearing, vision, speech, and thoughts.  Then also the rest of our bodies as well, because as saved person’s our bodies are not our own, but are God’s. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor 6:19-20).

“Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you” (Romans 6:13-14).

“Thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness…For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification” (Romans 6:17;19).

3. “living” ••• We were dead in sin, but have been made alive in Christ. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Ephesians 2:4-6).

4. “holy” •••• God’s holiness is entirely foreign to this world. We are to be holy, as He is holy. Paul Washer has asked which is more like God, an angel or a maggot? He answers, “neither.” Both are equally not like God – only He is holy. We must possess His holiness. “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14-16).

5. “sacrifice” ••••• Total self-sacrifice that willingly offers one’s self to God as His slave.

6. “acceptable to God” •••••• “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Romans 12:1 – that’s worship. Are you doing it?  Have you EVER truly worshiped God?

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Lights off: what does your church’s music sound like?

dark worship

We have the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:16).

I’m concerned about this Jesus Culture music that just repeats “fill me up Lord” over and over. I personally know many people that listen to that sort of thing and actually think that is worshiping God. I’m glad they addressed that at the #StrangeFire Conference and explained how that hypnotic repetition is not at all how the Holy Spirit even operates. If a person wants the Holy Spirit, mindlessly doing a yoga-like chant is not the Biblical understanding of getting “Spirit-filled.”

Every false religion in the world could play that music as an introduction, because there’s no theology in it. They use that music as their front-runner, as their hook, then they follow up by preaching watered-down or false religious concepts.

The actual issues can be found in the reality that churches that confront sin in their congregation, that have a high view of Scripture, and that hold the congregation to a Biblical lifestyle – like reformed churches and other churches who have a high view of Scripture – they don’t use music that avoids depth. For the most part, you don’t see churches playing that shallow music in combination with theologically deep music, it’s one or the other. Churches tend to either have the lights off with the music shallow and emotional, or they have the lights on singing songs with deeper Scriptural truths which require thought and contemplation.

In high-view churches the discipline is greater, the worship is more profound, and the people are focused on Christ and Biblical accuracy all week long. Typically the congregants are just as versed in Scripture as the pastor. They don’t come crawling to church on Sunday for an emotional dump. Sure that still happens sometimes, but to a far lesser degree because of the Biblical ways they handle things like worship, preaching and attitudes toward the Christian life. With a high view of Scripture especially, you just don’t combine that with a shallow, emotional “worship” service.  Instead their worship is in everything they do and handle Biblically in Christ with His Word in mind – work, play, music, relationships, counsel and daily routines are structured with a Biblical pattern. Everything becomes a form of worship in knowledge and truth, and that just doesn’t allow for catering to emotion-driven activities, especially in a church service, because unlike the Word of God, emotions rise and fall like rollercoasters. Maintaining a level of excellence means fortifying everything with mind-consuming thoughts of the Christ and the Word of God. Music in a church should never allow for mental neutrality or distract from Scriptural truths, thereby encouraging very poor living and error.

Here’s a quote that describes a better understanding of what it means to be Spirit-filled, “What we’re talking about when we talk about being filled with the Spirit is not an event. We’re not talking about some kind of momentous experience. We’re not talking about some kind of euphoria. We’re not talking about something that zaps you out of nowhere. We’re not talking about quote/unquote being anointed. Rather we’re talking about a constant way of life, a constant reality, be being kept continuously filled with the Spirit….The word here speaks not of filling up, but filling through. The contrast would be the difference between filling up a glass with water and filling the sails of a sailboat with wind. That is a very different kind of reality. One is static, and the other is not. We’re not talking about being filled up with the Holy Spirit, as if that is some kind of momentary experience. But rather living an entire life that is literally carried along, moved along by the Holy Spirit like wind filling a sails to move the ship along.

In fact, the idea of this verb here is permeation, powerful permeation…And I can give you some illustrations…John 16:6 it refers to being filled with sorrow…Luke 5:26 it talks about being filled with fear…Luke 6:11 it talks about someone who is filled with madness…Acts 6:5 it refers to someone who is filled with faith. And, do you remember, in Acts 5 it talks about Ananias who was filled with Satan…That is talking about a dominating influence…That’s what it means to be filled with the Spirit. It means to be totally controlled by the influence of the Holy Spirit. And we are commanded to be in that condition at all times, under the continual control of the Holy Spirit…In other words, the rich, full truth concerning Christ, let it permeate your inner thought life. Your Spirit, your soul, your mind, this is exactly the same thing. To be filled with the Spirit is to be permeated by the truth concerning Christ revealed in Scripture.”John MacArthur

Imagine reading God’s Word and every page says the same thing as the last? Not to mention this whole idea that the way the Holy Spirit fills us is by our chanting at Him over and over is just ridiculously absurd. Music that repeats theologically incorrect ideas, like begging the spirit to enter them. If we are truly born again we already have the Spirit inside of us. Asking the Spirit to fill us is not the way. Understanding Scripture is the way we are moved along by the Spirit, that’s how He fills our sails. We are supposed to work towards purity all the time, not ask God to magically give us a shortcut in some isolated burst of emotion.

This whole Jesus Culture is a huge redflag of how undiscerning and misinformed people are today. They practically have no clue what the Bible really says about issues, because they don’t study it.  And the lifestyle is that of living a totally unbiblical week, sinning their fill, avoiding godly conversations and Bible study, then crawling into a church service on Sunday where they accept all of their sin, turn off the lights, crank up the emotional music, and tolerate just about anything they could do. Then maybe they cry or maybe they don’t, but they pour out their guilt during the “worship” service in an emotional dump, which convinces them that they’ve done something significant when they actually have done nothing.  This emotional dump becomes a replacement for actual repentance, study, wisdom, knowledge, changing and growing; and it only adds to the problem of not knowing anything about Scripture, purity, discipline, control or Christ-likeness.  They feel the sorrow, but since they made it to church on Sunday, they believe they are even-steven with God now which means they can walk out of there satisfied and it’s back to business as usual. Then they go right back to their sinful lifestyle just as ignorant as they were when they arrived until next service when they do it all over again. That’s why the music is supercharged emotionally, and why it can’t confront sin or involve too much informational truth. They must keep it watered-down, tolerant, generic and emotional to keep up the cycle.

Just to be clear, this article is not really about certain genres of music – I have no dog in that fight. This is really just about theologically incorrect music of any kind, and this emotion-driven era that has replaced sober-minded thinking in Christ. People are happy with shallow lyrics and pulsing beats, just like the culture, and have abandoned music that requires deep contemplation on Biblical truths or that is filled with theologically convicting lyrics.  It makes sense though…how could they sing theologically deep songs about how powerful Christ is in transforming their lives, changing them and saving them, when they are about to walk out of service and live like heathens?  They crave that empty music so they can avoid real, heart-piercing truth and replace it with emotion.

Here’s the link to the Strange Fire Conference Q&A panel discussion, with  Todd Friel, John MacArthur, Steve Lawson, Tom Pennington, Justin Peters, that addresses this issue with Jesus Culture and the effects it has on the churches that use it in worship services:  http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/TM13-11/strange-fire-panel-question-and-answer-session-1