Friday, January 8, 2010

Guest Writer: My Husband, Don, on Worship Matters

Worship Matters

If you have been involved in the life of a local church for any time, you realize that there are many different views concerning worship. Some people advocate traditional worship, while others argue for contemporary worship. Some prefer liturgical worship, while others favor missional worship. Sadly, it seems that, whenever the issue of worship is hotly debated among God's people, the focus is on the style of worship -- not on the message. We forget that every element of worship teaches a message. Therefore, as we think about corporate worship, we should understand that the message of the gospel should shape the manner of our worship. That is, when God's people gather to exalt God's name, they should focus upon God's message, the gospel. In other words, when we gather for the purpose of corporate worship, we should be gospel-centered. As we think about this subject, we are forced to ask a theological and practical question. What are the emphases of gospel-centered worship?

Gospel-centered worship emphasizes adoration. When the gospel shapes our worship practice, God's people gather to recognize His greatness and grace. They praise Him for His glorious attributes and gracious actions. They exalt Him for who He is and what He has done. Gospel-centered worship also emphasizes confession. When the gospel shapes our worship practice, God's people recognize their sin and need for grace. They are confronted with God's holiness and their sinfulness. God's law thunders from Mount Sinai, so that they will see the beauty of Mount Calvary. Gospel-centered worship also emphasizes assurance. As the gospel shapes our worship practice, we affirm God's provision for grace. We focus upon the Son of God. We remember that He is the very source of our salvation. We are reminded that He merited our salvation by His sinless life and sacrificial death. We consider afresh that He conquered death and hell, so that all who are united to Him receive the blessings of salvation. We are reminded again that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Gospel-centered worship also emphasizes petition. As the gospel shapes our worship practice, we express dependence on God's grace. We offer up our prayers to the Father in the name of the Son through the power of the Spirit, realizing that our great High Priest sympathizes with our weaknesses. Gospel-centered worship also emphasizes instruction. As the gospel shapes our worship practice, we acquire the knowledge of how to grow in grace. We gather to hear God's Word read and preached. We listen to His holy Word, so that we might live holy lives. We listen carefully, so that we will live circumspectly.

Worship is not a peripheral matter in the life of a local congregation. In fact, it is central, because how we worship shapes what we believe and what we believe influences how we live. Because of these facts, corporate worship should focus upon the central message of the Scripture. It should focus upon the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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