Sunday, February 25, 2007


Malachi 1:6-14 Recover Authentic Worship

“I wish one of you would shut the temple doors, so you would no longer kindle a useless fire on My altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord of Hosts, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.
Wow imagine if the Lord said that to churches today. What if He said it to our church? Shut the doors! Put a for sale sign on the door. Let it be someone’s house. Or let it be someone’s museum or someone’s music shop. Shut the doors! Does that happen today? I’ve seen and you’ve seen it! Churches transformed into theatres, restaurants or even mosques.
Because perhaps their worship was sub standard! Worship is a hot potato today! It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know that the most contentious subject in any church today is the subject of worship.
As a matter of fact, many current book titles in the evangelical world suggest that what the church faces today is "worship wars." The very combination of the words "worship" and "war" should lead us to very sincere and sober biblical reflection. What is worship? And what does God desire that we should do in worship? It is true that worship has led to some warfare. In local congregations we see not only confusion, but also fighting, controversy and splitting. And what is the meaning of all of this? Jack Hayford, one of the nation's most eloquent proponents of "renewal worship," suggests that nothing less than a new reformation is taking place. The reformation of the sixteenth century was a reformation of doctrine. It was a necessary reformation as biblical truth was recovered. But he says we are experiencing in this generation a reformation in worship that is just as necessary and just as historic.
Whether you agree or not, something is going on with worship in Baptist churches and every other church today. I fear there has been a dumbing down about God in many churches because of some of the so-called reforms in worship. My concern is that the issue of worship will define not only our church services, but also our theology and our beliefs about God. There is no more important issue for the church of the Lord Jesus Christ than that we worship as God would have us to worship Him.
PROSKUNEO It is the Greek word for worship and the most common in our New Testament. For example the word is used ten times in John 4, the chapter with the well-known words of our Lord, "God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (verse 24). It means to stoop down to kiss reverently, as a subject may bow and kiss a monarch. Early Greek writers used it to speak of stooping to kiss the ground as a sign of thanksgiving for a safe journey. The ideas of reverence and awe, of stooping and thanksgiving, are all bound up in this word. In the New Testament such worship is reserved for the Lord.
LATREIA This Greek word doesn't appear many times in the New Testament, (but an example is found in Philippians 3:3 and Romans 12:1). The essential meaning is of service, and originally meant the labour, the service of slaves or hired servants. Years ago people said, 'I'm in service'. We know what they meant. They were in service to a master. For us the word means the worship that is the love of the heart towards a heavenly Father expressed in terms of service for the King. We're all 'in service' for the Lord.
WEORTHSCIPE This is the old Anglo-Saxon word meaning 'worthship', which means ascribing worthship to God. 'Thou art worthy…' --- and He is!
We know the history of worship through the ages. We know what took place in the Reformation. We know what transpired in the English reforms. We know what took place as features were stripped away that were considered to be unbiblical--and yet we see these same things returning. What is the condition of evangelical worship? It is not an exaggeration to suggest words such as pandemonium, confusion, and consternation. In the midst of the upheaval, there is a great deal of encouragement to be found from reading the late A. W. Tozer. This is what he said some decades ago: "We have the breezy, self-confident Christians with little affinity for Christ and His cross. We have the joy-bell boys that can bounce out there and look as much like a game show host as possible. Yet, they are doing it for Jesus' sake?! The hypocrites! They're not doing it for Jesus' sake at all; they are doing it in their own carnal flesh and are using the church as a theater because they haven't yet reached the place where the legitimate theater would take them.
Tozer takes his argument further: "It is now common practice in most evangelical churches to offer the people, especially the young people, a maximum of entertainment and a minimum of serious instruction. It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend the meeting where the only attraction is God. One can only conclude that God's professed children are bored with Him for they must be wooed to meeting with a stick of striped candy in the form of religious movies, games and refreshments."
This has influenced the whole pattern of church life and even brought into being a new type of church architecture designed to house the golden calf. So we have the strange anomaly of orthodoxy in creed and heterodoxy in practice. The striped candy technique has so fully integrated into our present religious thinking that it is simply taken for granted. Its victims never dream that it is not a part of teachings of Christ and His apostles. Any objection to the carryings-on of our present gold calf Christianity is met with the triumphant reply, "But we are winning them." And winning them to what? To true discipleship? To cross-carrying? To self-denial? To separation from the world? To crucifixion of the flesh? To holy living? To nobility of character? To a despising of the world's treasures? To hard self-discipline? To love for God? To total commitment to Christ?
Of course, the answer to all of these questions is "no." As these words were written several decades ago, Tozer certainly saw the future. But there are contemporary witnesses as well. Kent Hughes, who is Senior Pastor of the College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, has written perceptively on this issue.
Hughes put it this way: "The unspoken but increasingly common assumption of today's Christendom is that worship is primarily for us--to meet our needs. Such worship services are entertainment focused, and the worshipers are uncommitted spectators who are silently grading the performance. From this perspective preaching becomes a homiletics of consensus--preaching to felt needs--man's conscious agenda instead of God's. Such preaching is always topical and never textual. Biblical information is minimized, and the sermons are short and full of stories. Anything and everything that is suspected of making the marginal attender uncomfortable is removed from the service….Taken to the nth degree, this philosophy instills a tragic selfcenteredness. That is, everything is judged by how it affects man. This terribly corrupts one's theology."
Hughes is right. Our confused worship corrupts our theology and our weak theology corrupts our worship. Are these voices alarmist? They do mean to sound an alarm. But there are others who are saying, "Don't worry--be happy--go worship." One recent church growth author has written, "Worship is like a car to get us from where we are to where God wants us to be. Transportation and communication are imperative; the mode or vehicle is not imperative. Some worship God in cathedrals with the rich traditional organ tomes of Bach and Faure from the classics of Europe. They travel in a Mercedes Benz. Some worship God in simple wooden churches with a steeple pointing heavenward. They sing the gospel songs of Charles Wesley or Fanny Cosby. They travel in a Ford or Chevy. Some worship God with the contemporary sounds of praise music with a gentle beat. They travel in a convertible sports coupe. Some worship God to the whine of a guitar and the amplifiers to the max. They travel on a motorcycle, without a muffler."
But surely there is more to worship than the spectrum of taste from a Mercedes Benz to a motorcycle. There must be something weightier here. "Worship is like a car to get us from where we are to where God wants us to be." Can that be said with a straight face as we listen to the Scripture speak of worship? We know from the onset that there are many different Christian opinions concerning worship. This does not come to us as news. But the real issue for us this morning is whether or not God Himself has an opinion on this issue. Does God care how He is worshiped? Or is He some kind of laissez-faire deity who cares not how His people worship Him, but is resting in the hopes that some people in some place will in some way worship him?
Scripture reveals that God does care. Leviticus 10:1-3 serves as a witness to this point. "Now Nadad and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, "It is what the Lord spoke, saying, 'By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored.'"
These were Aaron's sons. But they did what God had not commanded them to do in worship. They brought strange fire to the altar and they were consumed. Clearly, God does have an opinion about worship. He is the God whom we have come to know in Jesus Christ, the God who has revealed Himself in the Bible. He is a jealous God--a God who loves us and is calling out a people but a God who instructs and commands His people that we should worship Him rightly.
Malachi shows us this so clearly. God contends with the Jews about their worship. Malachi the preacher is his mouthpiece. Hear His words!
Malachi 1:6 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. But if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is [your]• fear of Me? says the Lord of Hosts to you priests, who despise My name.” Yet you ask: “How have we despised Your name?” 7 “By presenting defiled food on My altar.” You ask: “How have we defiled You?” When you say: “The Lord’s table is contemptible.”
God Hates Hollow Worship
Where you mouth one thing, but live the other. Where you say “God is our Father” Where you say I am following Jesus as a disciple. But the reality is far far different.
How can someone sing the words Take my life and let me be consecrated Lord to Thee, how can someone say “Jesus is Lord”, but have absolutely no intention of reading His Word or seeking to live according to His commands?
How can someone sing the words “Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold, and have no concern to be a regular sacrificial giver to God’s work?
How can someone say that they will love the Lord with all their heart soul mind and strength, but they do not have the energy to speak up for Him when there is an opportunity?
God Hates Heartless Worship
Mal 1:12 But you are profaning it when you say: “The Lord’s table is defiled, and its product, its food, is contemptible.” 13 You also say: “Look, what a nuisance!” “And you scorn it,” says the Lord of Hosts. “You bring stolen, lame, or sick animals. You bring this as an offering! Am I to accept that from your hands?” asks the Lord.
Matt 22:36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important commandment.
I quote Tozer again: We have simplified until Christianity amounts to this: God is love; Jesus died for you; believe, accept, be jolly, have fun and tell others. And away we go--that is the Christianity of our day. I would not give a plug nickel for the whole business of it. Once in a while God has a poor bleeding sheep that manages to live on that kind of thing and we wonder how.
God Hates Hypocritical Worship
“The deceiver is cursed who has an acceptable male in his flock and makes a vow but sacrifices a defective [animal]to the Lord. For I am a great King,” says the Lord of Hosts, “and My name will be feared among the nations.
How can someone say they will love their neighbour as themselves, and all the while harbour the deliberate intention to not be loving to their father or mother, their son or daughter?
When we denigrate God’s name.
When we denigrate God’s day.
When we denigrate God’s gospel You believe what you want and I’ll believe what I want.. Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
When we denigrate God’s worth..
1992 saw Bill Clinto win the elections over George Bush with a simple slogan:
Its about the economy stupid. Bill Clinton
Worship: Its about God stupid.
True worship begins with a reverence for the God of the Bible--the true and living God.
Mal 1:11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. 14 . For I am a great King,” says the Lord of Hosts, “and My name will be feared among the nations.
John Calvin cautions that “The pious mind does not dream up for itself any god it pleases, but contemplates the one and only true God. And it does not attach to him whatever it pleases, but is content to hold him as he manifests himself; furthermore, the mind always exercises the utmost diligence and care not to wander astray, or rashly and boldly go beyond his will. It thus recognizes God because it knows that he governs all things; and trusts that he is its guide and protector, therefore giving itself over in complete trust in him. (Institutes 1.2.2)
Consider the Greatness of God!
Deut 32:3 For I proclaim the name of the LORD: Ascribe greatness to our God. 4 He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.
At the offering for the temple, when the people gave freely and generously:
1 Chron 29:10-17 Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever.
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, The power and the glory, The victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, And You are exalted as head over all. 12 Both riches and honor come from You, And You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; In Your hand it is to make great And to give strength to all. 13 "Now therefore, our God, We thank You And praise Your glorious name. 14 But who am I, and who are my people, That we should be able to offer so willingly as this? For all things come from You, And of Your own we have given You. 15 For we are aliens and pilgrims before You, As were all our fathers; Our days on earth are as a shadow, And without hope. 16 "O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own. 17 I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness.
Ps 145:3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable.
Ps 150:2 Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
Dan 4:34 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. 35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, "What have You done?" 36 At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me.

Consider the call of God to fear.
Mal 1:14 For I am a great King,” says the Lord of Hosts, “and My name will be feared among the nations. Ps 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever;
Ps 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.
Prov 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Prov 9:10 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Prov 10:27 The fear of the LORD prolongs days, But the years of the wicked will be shortened.
Prov 14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, To turn one away from the snares of death.
Prov 16:6 In mercy and truth Atonement is provided for iniquity; And by the fear of the LORD one departs from evil.
Prov 19: 23 The fear of the LORD leads to life, And he who has it will abide in satisfaction;
Prov 23:17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day;
18 For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off.
Acts 9:31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
The people of Malachi’s day had conjured up a god that suited them. Have we?
"For worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of the conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth; the purifying of imagination by His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love; the surrender of will to His purpose -and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin. Yes - worship in Spirit and truth is the way to the solution of perplexity and to the liberation from sin." William Temple.

Ignatius is a name you don’t find on many class rolls. Not many kids are called Ignatius today. There was an Ignatius who was the second Bishop of Antioch. He knew the apostle John. He died a martyr under Trajan in 107 AD AKA “God-bearer”
Trajan :”Dost thou bear the crucified one in thy heart?”
Ignatius “Even so, for it is written, I will dwell in them and walk in them and I will be their God and they shall be my people.” God bearer! Do you reverence God so much that your worship flows into your daily life?

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