Grace Bible Church
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Sermon Study Sheets
Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
April 10, 2005
The Marks of True Worship, Part 1
Last week I pointed out that our worship will have consequences both personally and nationally. God will bring blessing on those that truly worship Him and will bring curses on those that give worship . I traced this in the lives of individuals and in our own nation. The underlying reason for the moral decline in our nation is rooted in our nation’s turning away from God. It began with a failure to give God the honor and thanks He deserves, so He gave this nation over to its lusts resulting in the sexual revolution. The nation continued to decline and exchanged the truth of God for a lie and has worshiped and served that which is created instead of the creator. God has therefore given the nation over to degrading passions resulting in the perversions that have become so pervasive in the last decade. The nation continues to decline so that it no longer sees fit to acknowledge God. Therefore God is giving us over to depraved minds resulting in the inane and insane material broadcast daily over TV and radio and published in our newspapers and magazines.
Since worship has such consequences, it is extremely important that we worship correctly. That is what I hope to explain over the next couple of months. I have read quite a few books on worship over the years and three in the last few months This morning I want to begin by giving you a few of the marks of true worship. Most of what I will be talking about this morning is taken from John MacArthur’s book, “The Ultimate Priority.” I highly recommend the book to those who want to do further study on their own.
The marks of true worship can be broken down into two major categories. The first are those which are related to the individual. These include: Confession of Sin, Faith in God, Confidence in prayer, the Fruit of Righteousness, Verbal Praise, Content Hearts, Suffering without Complaint and a Clear Witness. These marks are also foundational to the second major category which are those evidences which occur in the congregation. These include God is Glorified, Believers are Purified, the Church is Edified and the Lost are Evangelized. What happens in the congregation is dependent upon what happens among the individuals that make it up. If the individuals within the congregation are not truly worshiping, then the congregation as a whole cannot be truly worshiping the Lord God. This morning we will be looking at the marks of true worship by the individual.
Let me give you a working definition of worship before we examine its evidences. Our word “worship” comes from the Old English “weorthscipe” or “worthship,” and basically means to render worth to some object. The biblical concept rises from the Hebrew “saha” and Greek proskunew / proskuneÇ” both of which mean to “bow down,” or “prostrate oneself.” “proskunew / proskuneÇ” literally means “to kiss towards” or “to kiss the hand.” These are acts of homage or obeisance. Another Greek word, latreuw / latreuÇ, meaning “to render honor,” adds to the Biblical concept of worship.
A simple definition would then be, “Worship is reverence, honor and adoration directed to the Lord God.” Our definition will gain additional meaning as we look deeper into this whole subject of the worship of God, but this definition is its essence. We ascribe to God His worth, or state and affirm His supreme value.
The more we understand what is true and real, who God is and what He is like, who we are and what we are really like and our great need for our creator, then the deeper will be our worship of God. Our reverence, honor and adoration of God will not be ritual observances done because we think we are supposed to or because everyone around us is doing it, but rather our worship will be acts rising from deep in our souls and rendered to the One we supremely love.
CONFESSION OF SIN
I believe that the first mark of true worship by the individual is confession of sin. Several scriptures have lead me to this conclusion. Confession comes from a word which means to agree with. Confession before God is to agree with God that He is right, holy and just and that we are not. The proud will not confess, but God is opposed to them anyway. He gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).
In passages where people get a glimpse of God in His holiness, we find that they become very aware of their sinfulness and need to be cleansed. In Isaiah 6:5, the prophet’s response was, “Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” This was his confession that he was not worthy to be in the Lord’s presence. God arranged for Isaiah to be cleansed so that he could be there. Confession is primary because it is the natural response of those who understand the nature, glory and holiness of God.
Confession is also primary because God does not hear the prayers of those with unconfessed sin. Psalm 66:18 -“If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear.” If you are going to honor God you must start by being right with Him. 1 Peter 1:15,16 stresses this need for holiness too. “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all [your] behavior; 16 because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” We are to be holy and God wants us to worship him in holiness as stated in Psalm 29:2 , “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in holy array.”
The means by which a person is made right with God is through Jesus Christ. It is through His sacrifice on our behalf that we, as Hebrews 9:14 puts it, have our conscience cleansed “from dead works to serve the living God.” The word “serve” here is “λατρgυω” which is one of the New Testament words for “worship.” It is also important to understand that confession requires humility, and without humility a person will not accept and follow Jesus. 1 Peter 5:5 tells us that “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:3) stating, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The word for “poor” here means to be poverty stricken, destitute. You have nothing to offer, nothing to bargain with, so you must beg. That is how we come to God. Begging for His mercy, and then receiving it by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The proud want to make a deal with God as if they have something He needs. Confession begins with both this recognition of your true status before God and absolute need of Him, and God’s position as the sovereign Creator and the loving mercy He extends to His sinful creatures through Jesus Christ.
We must also understand that Jesus will not cleanse those who will not confess their sins. 1 John 1:8-10 – “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” Our cleansing from sin and being made righteous comes after confession.
Confession both prepares us to truly worship and is worship itself.
I have mentioned the story of Achan in Joshua 7 before, but if you recall the story, at the battle of Jericho, Achan had stolen some things that were put under the ban. Israel was then defeated at the first battle of Ai because there was sin in the camp. Achan was found out, and in verse 19 Joshua said to Achan, “My son, I implore you, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and give praise to Him; and tell me now what you have done. Do not hide it from me.” Achan then confessed his sin before everyone, and in doing so he gave glory to God’s righteousness and justice which was then carried out in his execution.
FAITH IN GOD
Now confession is primary, but a basic faith in God must precede even that. Hebrews 11:6 – “And without faith it is impossible to please [Him], for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and [that] He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” However, faith in God as an evidence of true worship must grow beyond this. It must actively demonstrate the person’s supreme honor and reverence for God by trusting Him and His word.
Abraham is a good example of this. Romans 4:18f – “In hope against hope he believed, in order that he might become a father of many nations, according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.” 19 And without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; 20 yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief, but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, 21 and being fully assured that what He had promised, He was able also to perform.”
To not believe God is the opposite of worship. It is irreverence. 1 John 5:10 states, “The one who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning His Son.”
Another example of faith in God as an act of true worship is found in Daniel 3. If you recall the story, Hananiah, Mishael & Azariah (Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego) were told they must bow down and worship a golden idol or they would be thrown into a furnace of fire. They refused regardless of the consequences. In verse 17 they responded to the king’s threat saying, “If it be [so,] our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 “But [even] if [He does] not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” God did deliver them, and even this pagan king was moved to worship the true God.
Where there is true faith in God resulting in the true worship of God there will also be confident prayer to God. Such prayers are for the purpose of the glory of God.
John 14:13 “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
1 John 5:14,15 14 And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us [in] whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.
Please note that prayer according to God’s will and for His glory are the conditions to His promises to grant us what we ask Him in prayer. Confident prayer is based in true worship of God and not in trying to get one’s own wish list filled according to one’s own desires. James 4:3 is clear that the answers to our prayers will be “no” when we ask so that we might “spend it on your pleasures.”
THE FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
The next mark of true worship is a broad category, but one that is easily seen. It is the “fruit of righteousness.” Jesus said in John 15:8 “By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and [so] prove to be My disciples.” The apostle Paul adds in Philippians 1:10,11 “…. approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; 11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which [comes] through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” God wants us to bear the fruit of righteousness, for by it He is glorified, and it proves we are true followers of Jesus Christ.
What is the fruit of righteousness? Paul explains in Col. 1:10 that we are to “… walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please [Him] in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Part of the fruit of righteousness is seen in the righteous deeds that we do and by them God is glorified. Jesus made that clear in Matthew 5:16 that you are to “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
The fruit of righteousness is seen externally in our good works, but it comes from something internal, the fruit of the Spirit which Paul defines in Galatians 5:21,22 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” These are the characteristics that God develops within you when you walk with Him.
There is a wonderful description found in Psalm 92:13-15 of those who walk with God for many years. “Planted in the house of the Lord, They will flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green, 15 To declare that the Lord is upright; [He is] my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.” I don’t know about you, but I would like that to be true of me. I want to continue to increase in declaring that the Lord is upright, righteous and my rock.
The fruit you bear marks what kind of plant you are. Jesus said this in Matthew 7:16-20 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn [bushes,] nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits.”
The German philosopher, Heine, said, “You show me your redeemed life and I might believe in your redeemer.”
Another outward manifestation of those who truly worship God is verbal praise. The heart set on truly worshipping God cannot contain itself, and when a person is filled with the spirit, Ephesians 5:19-20 says they will be “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” Such praise, whether sung or simply spoken, is worship of God. Psalm 50:23 says, “He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God.”
The example of the ten lepers in Luke 17:12f shows the difference between those who worship God and those that do not and the results. 12 “And as He (Jesus) entered a certain village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 13 and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 And when He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And it came about that as they were going, they were cleansed. 15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 And Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine– where are they? 18 “Was no one found who turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Rise, and go your way; your faith has made you well.” And from other passages where Jesus has used this same phrase, we know Jesus is referring to spiritual well being in addition to physical healing.
I need to point out that this is praise given when things are tough, and not just when things are going well and it is convenient. Many people fool themselves into thinking they are true worshipers of God because they get very emotionally involved at a worship service and praise God. True worship is a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise (Heb. 13:14) that occurs even when things are painful. An example of this is Psalm 69 where in verse 29,30 David even says, “But I am afflicted and in pain; May Thy salvation, O God, set me securely on high. I will praise the name of God with songs, And shall magnify Him with thanksgiving.”
A more internal mark of a true worshiper of the Lord God is a content heart. We are not to be like the world around us that complains about most everything. Instead we are to be people who rejoice in all circumstances. That is the theme of Philippians 4. Starting in verse 10 Paul tells us how that can be done. 10 “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned [before,] but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak from want; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
In verse 17 Paul expresses the reason for his joy. “Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.” He rejoiced over what He knew God was doing in their lives, not just his own. It was out a great confidence in God and his personal experience of learning to be content that Paul could encourage the Philippians in verses 19,20 saying, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father [be] the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
A mark of someone who truly knows God is their ability to trust Him in any situation and be content. One step above being simply content when life is tough is the willingness to suffer without complaint for righteousness sake.
SUFFERING WITHOUT COMPLAINT
In 1 Peter 4:14-16 Peter explains the importance of this. 4 “If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. 15 By no means let any of you suffer as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if [anyone suffers] as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God.” If we suffer for righteousness without reviling, getting angry, etc. then we bring glory to God. All Christians should be prepared to suffer for God’s kingdom. Jesus told us in John 16:33 that in this world we will have tribulation, but He also told that He has overcome the world and there is to be joy in suffering for His name’s sake as He states in Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when [men] cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you
A CLEAR WITNESS
The last mark of true worship by the individual I want to bring up this morning is that they have a clear witness to who God is and what He has done. God is glorified when we bear witness of Him. Acts 13:48-49 records the response to Paul doing this in Pisidian Antioch, “And when the Gentiles heard this, they [began] rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was being spread through the whole region.”
Many of the psalms center on thanksgiving and praise to the Lord for who He is and all that He has done. Even those psalms that do not focus on praise and thanksgiving, like the Psalms of lament and the didactatory Psalms, also usually included a vow to proclaim the Lord’s goodness that He might be glorified.
Your own witness to others is an aspect of your true worship of the Lord.
This is not an exhaustive list of the marks of true worship, but it does give us the major evidences of a heart that truly seeks to worship God. They also give us much to think about in our personal worship of God. The true worship of the Lord God, creator of heaven and earth, is not something that occurs just on Sunday morning when we all get together. It is an active, all-consuming, never-ending pursuit. As the worshiper gives his life to the glory of God, he discovers a rich resource of joy and power and meaning not available to those that do not. The life that honors God is the only life God will honor. Let each of us be striving to make these marks a reality in our own lives.
Sermon Study Sheets
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.
Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many times the word “worship” is said. Talk with your parents about the importance of worship in your home.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others.
What are the consequences individually and nationally of proper worship? False worship? Define worship. What is confession? What is required in order to confess? What is the relationship of confession to worship? To salvation? Define faith in God. What is the relationship of faith in God to worship? Give examples? What does lack of faith indicate? What is the relationship of confidence in prayer to worship? How can we be confident in prayer? What is the relationship of the fruit of righteousness to worship? What is the fruit of righteousness? Explain. How is this related to the fruit of the Spirit? What does a person’s “fruit” reveal about them? What is verbal praise of God? Give examples. How can we praise God when things in our life are not going well? Give examples. What is the relationship of a content heart and worship? How can persecution be a blessing that becomes part of worship? What is relationship of evangelism and worship? Evaluate your individual worship? What needs to change? How / when will you change it?
Sermon Notes – 4/10/05 a.m.
The Marks of True Worship, Part 1- Selected Scriptures
CONFESSION OF SIN
FAITH IN GOD
THE FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
SUFFERING WITHOUT COMPLAINT
A CLEAR WITNESS
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