God still searches for true worshipers! The battle of the ages has been and will be to the very end the battle of worship! It began at the Garden of Eden and has continued throughout the centuries: The demonic and fleshly deception to separate the worshiper from a relationship with God and His Word, which defines true worship. Even Satan’s first open challenge to Jesus was one of worship! Yet Jesus linked worshiping God with serving Him (Matt. 4:10).
Many of us have been thrilled to see a fresh Wind and revelation of worship to our God manifested throughout the Body of Christ. What was at times stodgy and cold has found new expressions that please God. For some we have not gone far enough, while for others we have crossed the line of decency, decorum, and discipline.
There is truth in both. Is worship to be formal liturgy with staid and proper recitation of the Creeds, readings, anthems, and incense? Or is it to be the enthusiastic (and sometimes highly sensual and emotional) sounds of the drum, the dance, and the loud (sometimes ear-piercing) music with a thunderous beat? What we need is a love for one another that will exhibit an attitude of humility, coupled with a sensitivity that allows for diversity in style, whether traditional or contemporary.
My concerns are two-fold: 1) What constitutes true Biblical worship, personally and corporately? 2) Regarding the present and future hymnody (not just hymns, but all music) of the Church, what will we in this generation leave as a lasting deposit to the next generation, should Jesus tarry?
Only the Lord can judge true worshipers. However, some obvious signs of a move away from Biblical worship are:
- When the body subliminally responds to the chant of a catatonic musical score or a repetitious mantra, and the euphoria of excited flesh responds to base rhythms of music, bypassing mental and spiritual participation.
- When the form of worship is more important than, or is substituted for, the Whom of worship.
- When we are more concerned with those around us than with the One we are worshiping.
- When a “good worship service” is judged by the music, the singers, and our feelings—that is, by physical and emotional stimulation—rather than by an encounter with the “Wholly Other”.
- When the motive of worship is to get something from God.
- When “performance” is for the approval of man.
- When the heart and lifestyle are not right with God, yet the acts of worship remain the same.
- When only certain outward forms can attract us to worship rather than the Person of God.
- When pride of place and position take precedence over holiness and humility.
- When “strange fire” is placed on the Altar of worship and we cannot discern the difference.
Worship is man’s response to God’s revelation of Himself. True worship is God-centered, God-initiated, and God-inspired. It is accompanied by faith, love, awe and exaltation in the heart, lips, and life of the worshiper—all directed toward the One Whom A.W. Tozer called “that most ancient Mystery, that Majesty which philosophers call the First Cause, but which we call ‘Our Father Which Art in Heaven.’”
Our heavenly Father must be seen in the Light of Jesus Christ and as revealed in the Scriptures. One cannot truly worship God and ignore or reject Jesus Christ (I John 2:22,23, 4:3; II John 9). The desire and delight of our Father God is to see and hear the activated and cleansed heart of His sons and daughters worshiping Him “in spirit and in truth.” And so it will be for all eternity (Rev. 5:9,10)!
The Scriptures speak of at least three kinds of fire on the Altar of Worship:
- Holy Fire (Lev. 6:13): It is that response of the human heart, inspired by God Himself, that has been purged of sin by the blood of Christ, and that lives in loving obedience to the Lord.
- Strange Fire (Lev. 10:1,2): It is that response of the human heart that is rooted in presumption and in one’s own self-prescribed manner of worship (Cain vs. Abel—Hebrews 11:4, cp. Genesis 4:3-7), rather than worship prescribed by God (Phil. 3:3).
- Useless Fire (Mal. 1:10a): It is that response of the human heart that merely goes through the religious motions of serving God without the life of God being present. It is religious, faithless formalism in a person whose heart is backslidden and cold, resulting in “vain worship” that is unacceptable to God (Mat. 15:1-11).
May God’s search for “true worshipers” be found joyfully in us. As we behold Him, we shall be changed into His likeness (II Cor. 3:17,18). What an awesome and glorious privilege is ours!
It has been a joy and honor to minister in some of your churches. I leave this month for Europe for 6 weeks, to train national church leaders and preach in several countries. I would appreciate your prayers! Also, please pray for Carmen as she remains home. She participates in the Women’s Bible study here and has made herself available for substitute teaching. We thank you for your faithfulness to us through your support in prayer, finances, and encouragement. Your partnership with us is deeply appreciated! Please let me know if we can serve you in the future or schedule a meeting.
May this Season of Thanksgiving and Christmas find your hearts filled with thanks to God for His “unutterable Gift” in Jesus Christ and for His daily provision of grace for every need! We thank the Lord for you all and have you in our hearts and prayers continually!
Serving the Lord with joy,
Reuben & Carmen Sequeira
I Chron. 16:29; Rev. 22:9