Worship: Who and Why: Part I
Think with me as I reflect on today’s sermon from Revelation 4-5. The issue is one of worship: who, why, how? Worship is more than simply going to church on Sunday. Rather, it involves the heart: what is the object of your worship as loyalty, allegiance, and devotion. These two chapters introduce the cosmic battle depicted in Revelation 6-20. To be sure the battle is spiritual and while it is visible and physically expressed, it occurs on a individual level. In that sense the war in within: at the heart level – spiritual warfare such that a moral drama is played out at least in every waking moment of the believer’s life.
In Genesis 3:15, God prophesied this cosmic battle between the Seed of the woman (Jesus Christ) and the seed of the serpent. Nothing is new under the sun! Each individual is faced with a choice of who, why, and how will you worship as expressed as covenantal faithfulness choosing to please God or covenantal unfaithfulness choosing to please self, Satan, and sin. You can summarize this cosmic, corporate, and individual battle in terms of worship. Man was created a morally responsible, religious being. Therefore he is a worshipper. The issue is summarized in the questions and answers:
• Who will you worship?
• Why will you worship?
• How will you worship
Revelation 4-5 gives us help as we answer those questions. I will answer the first two question sin this blog and the third in the last blog. The book of Revelation is a look into the future much like the books of Daniel and Ezekiel. Knowing the future helps puts the present into proper perspective.
John is given a vision into the heaven – the throne room of God. John is in God’s presence much like Isaiah was (Revelation 4:1; 5:1, 6; Isaiah 6:1-10 and John 12:41). John and his readers are given a perspective from heaven outward.
Worship is going on in heaven. From that fact alone, we learn that the triune God deserves to be worshipped and man and angels were designed to worship Him. Heaven is God’s perfect unfettered presence and a major activity is worship of the King. Those are non-negotiable facts.
You might ask why God deserves such treatment and adoration. Paul wrote that man knows God by viewing creation and He is acknowledge and worship the Creator (Romans 1:18-23). Post-fall man is still a worshipper but the object of his worship is himself! Joh saw creation, the elders, and the angels worshipping God – they demonstrate God’s worthiness to be worshipped as God (Revelation 4:11; 5:12). The worth-ship of God demands the proper worship of God. What a sight that must have been!
What is basis of God’s worthiness as given in Revelation 4-5?
• Revelation 4:11: You are worthy our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power for you created all things and by your will and have their being. The basis for God’s worthiness is the fact that God is the Creator and Controller. This God happens to be a personal God – our Lord and God. John and the Holy Spirit are speaking of God’s power and the use of that power in creation and providence (Acts 17:24-28).
• Revelation 5:12: In a loud voice they sang: Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise! The angels were singing of Jesus Christ and His work of redemption. The spotless Lamb was slain – John is speaking of the once-for-all atoning, redeeming sacrifice that Christ made on behalf of the Triune God for His people. Both the Father and the Son are given the same worship.
• Revelation 5:13: Then I heard every creature I heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea all that is in them, signing: To him who sits on the throne and to the lamb, be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever. John speaks, at least, of Christ’s ascension and His reign as King of king and Lord of lords. Christ is King now awaiting the final and concluding event of all earthly human history. It may not appear that God is of the throne but He is (Hebrews 2:8-9). The cross and Resurrection give testimony that Christ is the Victor. The final victory awaits Christ’s second coming when He will consummate and usher in true worship beyond all measure. The answer to the question worship: who, why, how will be answered completely and perfectly.
1. Man is a worshipping being: prove that statement.
2. Pre-fall, who did all creature worship and why?
3. Post-fall, what has man become in terms of worship?
4. What are the reasons given in Revelation 4-5 to worship God and Him alone?
5. The Father and the Son receive equal worship. What is the significance of that fact?
Worship: How: Part II
God deserves to be worshipped as the God of the Universe. How will man do that? He won’t unless he is changed from the inside out (unless he is saved) – from a self- worshipper to a God-worshipper (Romans 1:18-23; 8:5-8). This requires a radical, supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit upon man’s heart.
The believer is to worship God not himself. By definition believers do worship the true God but sadly not always. True worship (of God) is self-denying and God-exalting. The “I want” and ” I deserve” mindset and lifestyle learned and practiced so well under Satan’s tutelage is being radically removed from the believer’s motivational system. However there is remaining sinfulness in the believer even with his new nature and there is the habit of self-worship learned as a member of Satan’s family and kingdom. As the believer grows in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness he rightfully pictures himself as a saved child of the King simply of the merits of Christ applied to him. He sees sinfulness in general and his in particular as an attack on the God of the universe. He wants to come and worship his King, Savior, and Lord.
As part of true worship the believer prepares himself before he enters corporate worship. I define corporate worship as an activity carried on in the glorious special presence of God as a body of God’s children (see Psalm 100). He with brothers and sisters in the Lord are entering into God’s presence. It is not even but it is a picture of and foretaste of heaven.
The believer must guard himself in the worship service but also outside of it. Any and every thing (including a person) may be substituted as an object of worship so that the person’s attention is divided between God and himself. The person does not worship another being through wanting approval. He is serving himself to get at the other’s expense and God’s expense. Sadly idolatry is alive and well in the believer!
In contradistinction of what the person thinks of himself, only God is truly worthy of heart-felt, deep-seated, comprehensive whole-person worship. That latter statement carries a statement about self – I am unworthy (Matthew 5:8). Peter was aware even though in a limited way, that the nearer the believer comes to God the intensity of his true unworthiness is perceived (Job 42:6; Isaiah 6:5; Matthew 8:5-13; John 3:30). You and I are not God and yet we often think, desire, and act like we are.
I repeat: man was created a worshipping, religious being – he will worship. God tell us in His word that he wants all of us: Matthew 5; 8; 22:37-40. God gave al of Himself in His Son and the Holy Spirit. He expects the same from His children. In order to help yourself worship God as He demands, expects, desires, and deserves perform a special inventory (2 Corinthians 13:5; Hebrews 4:12). By worship I am not simply referring to the corporate worship service or not even your time with God during the day. I am speaking relationally 24-7. Worship is a 24/7 duty, blessing, and privilege. It is to mimic the angels and elders in heaven – daily.
1. What is it that you value and want more than a vital personal relationship with God?
2. When is that choice most evident in your life? You may ask a trusted person to help you answer.
3. What is it about you that gives you a right to pick and choose who and how you worship?
4. What is it about God that makes it easy to worship and please myself rather than Him?
5. What truths about the Triune God do you learn from Revelation 4-5 and how do apply them regularly? Give reasons for your answers.