Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP (Hebrews Chapter 13)

Hebrews 13:15-16, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.  Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”

We’ve been created to worship God, man’s chief end being to “glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.”  It is sin that debilitates and prevents us from fulfilling our purpose.  Christ came to rectify that problem, as A. W. Tozer has said, “Why did Christ come? Why was he conceived? Why was he born? Why was he crucified? Why did he rise again? Why is he now at the right hand of the Father? The answer to all these questions is, “in order that he might make worshipers out of rebels; in order that he might restore us again to the place of worship we knew when we were first created” (A.W. Tozer, Worship: the Missing Jewel).

Worship can be defined as “acknowledging God for who He is and what He does in what we say and what we do.”  These two verses speak succinctly two these various aspects.  Worship involves more, much more, than what happens in a “worship center” during a “worship service” under the direction of a “worship leader” on a day set aside for worship.  It is the 24/7 activity of those who “no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:15; Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

Acceptable worship is that which is by the Spirit and in accordance with the truth.  “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24).  It is by the Spirit that we are empowered and instructed through the Word to worship God in an acceptable manner (Cf. Philippians 3:3; Ephesians 5:18f; Colossians 3:16).

Worship involves both praise and thanksgiving.  These are to be continually offered up to God (Cf. Hebrews 13:15).  The term translated by the phrase “offer up” means “to carry, bring or bear up and so to cause to move from a lower position to a higher position.”  Our praise and thanksgiving our directed upwards to God Himself.  The sacrifice of praise is said to be “the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name” (Hebrews 13:15).  The phrase emphasizes the truth that such praise is borne in us and ushers forth from our lips through the indwelling influence of the Spirit (Cf. Galatians 5:22).  The Spirit of God is the ultimate worship leader (Cf. Philippians 3:3).  It is He that unveils the truth to us and thereby opens our eyes to the glorious and praiseworthy nature of God.  When we are “filled with the Spirit” the worship of God, in praise and thanksgiving, is the result (Cf. Ephesians 5:18; Colossians 3:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:18). 

Acceptable worship is authenticated not just by beautiful words but by beautiful deeds. God is pleased when we “do good” and are ready to “share what (we) have” (Cf. Hebrews 13:16).  Paul, having been blessed by the generosity of the Philippians, understood their gifts to be those given to God in worship: “I have received full payment, and more.  I am well supplied, having received from the Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God” (Philippians 4:18).

Andrew Murray commented, “But to do good and to communicate forget not. In our Christian fellowship, and in the world around us, Christ has given us the poor and needy that we may show in them what we would like to do to Him, if He were on earth. Let the Christian study to combine a life with God in the Holiest with lips that praise and confess Him. And this, again, with deeds of love and kindness and Christian help that prove that the Spirit of Jesus is in us, that we are walking in practical fellowship with His self-sacrifice. And let every act of love and kindness be laid at God s feet as a sacrifice to Him. For with such sacrifices God is well pleased. They are to Him a sweeter savor than the sweetest incense. And as we offer them indeed to Him in faith, they will bring our hearts the assurance that we are well-pleasing.”

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