Heaven Help Our WorshipHeavenʼs Effects on Earthly WorshipSelected ScripturesINTRODUCTIONOne of the most impactful sermons for me as we attendedthe Shepherdsʼ Conference this past week was Dr.MacArthurʼs message on Jesusʼ attacking the temple inMark 11:12. - we have typically called Jesusʼ running the money changers out of the temple his “cleansing” the temple, but Dr. MacArthur was clear in demonstrating that “attacking” was in fact what Jesus did - Jesus was describing Godʼs coming judgment on the temple by his actions of turning over the tables of the money changers.Why? - because the temple was the central place ofGodʼs public praise among His people. - but Godʼs people had made that place nothing more than a den of thieves. Godʼs worship was devalued and made common - even sinful. People gave little attention to God and more attention to their own personal gain.Jesus never attacked any place but the temple.AndIn fact, Jesus attacked the temple twice in his publicministry - at the beginning and at the end.Jesus
- indicating that the whole of his ministry focused upon how God was treated - how men worshiped and did not worship him.The measure of any society is found in its worship.In our present day, the church is the central place for thepublic praise of God - we are the temple of God. Thisgathering (not necessarily the building) - but thisgathering of people is the house of God. - If we call this Godʼs house, it better be His house, and not ours.If we want to fool around with innovation, creativity, andpopularity we must not do it with our stewardship of theLordʼs temple.The worship of God is most important to God and shouldalso be to us as well.This is clear throughout the Scriptures.Worship is the purpose of your salvation1Pet 2:9 (NASB) But you are a chosen race, a royalpriesthood, a holy nation, a people for [Gods] ownpossession, that you may proclaim the excellenciesof Him who has called you out of darkness into Hismarvelous light;Worship reveals the reality of your salvationPhil 3:3 (NASB) for we are the [true] circumcision,who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in ChristJesus and put no conﬁdence in the ﬂesh,Worship demonstrates the depth of your salvation
Roma 12:1 (NASB) I urge you therefore, brethren, bythe mercies of God, to present your bodies a livingand holy sacriﬁce, acceptable to God, [which is] yourspiritual service of worship.2 And do not be conformed to this world, but betransformed by the renewing of your mind, that youmay prove what the will of God is, that which is goodand acceptable and perfect.Worshipers are who God seeks – Becoming a Christian isbecoming a worshiper of GodJohn 4:21-24 LOOK AND READBut what is worship?! The word worship is a contraction of an oldexpression in the English language, woerth-scipe,denoting the ascription of reverence to someone orsomething of superlative worth.When we talk worship as Christians – we are talkingabout how we value God – how we esteem Him – how wetreasure, savor, love, enjoy GodThere is so much we could say about the subject ofworship - and there is much we will say about worshipThere are many different angles and avenues I could takein addressing the subject of worship - I want to concentrate on aspect of the multifaceted and glimmering radiance of the subject of worship o PUBLIC WORSHIP – what we do when we gather as a group on the Lordʼs Day
So – if worship – in general is valuing God – ﬁnding ultimate worth in God Our public worship – is how we publicly and openly demonstrate – show – how much we value GodIf an unbeliever were to walk into our service tonight - listen to our songs – follow all the words - hear us pray - hear us preach If that unbeliever was to look at us – - see us sing – see us praying and see us preaching or listeningWhat would they leave thinking about God? Maybe they would have had a good time – were warmly received – made to feel welcome – enjoyed the sermon – thought the singing was fun" But – what would they go away thinking about God" OR – would our worship even cause them to thinkabout God? Would a visitor leave knowing more about God – humbled by what God is like – joyful because of what God has done – stunned by the nature, character, acts and immensity of God?What would they leave thinking about what we think aboutGod?I am not convinced that these are the kinds of questionsthat come into our minds" - when we are looking for a church" - when we come to church
" - when we who are in leadership plan worshipservicesWhy do I say this? - just to be critical? - no – that is not my aim - I say this because the contemporary worship wars force me to believe that often there is very little thought about God in the planning of, participating in and evaluation of worship service You know what Iʼm talking about when I speak of the worship wars - primarily over the issues of music and use of instruments in church services - some think the hymnals are just as valuable as Bible and that all projection screens are satanic - some seem to think that Jesus only approves of classical music and worship is deeper when it is orchestral - some assume that anything that was written in the 18th centuries should remain there. - some think that all hymns are worthless and songs not placed on a screen but sung from a hymnal guarantees worship to be dry and pointless - some get violently upset if anything other than a piano and organ are used in the service - some get arrogantly annoyed if a piano and organ are used in the service There is a major battle going on based upon music styles – traditional, contemporary, blended, etc.
Some bash the modern day religious music and argue for the religious music they enjoyed singing when they were younger, forgetting that there was controversy surrounding the tunes and beat of those songs by their own grandparents I am convinced that very few people think about God when planning or participating in worship services based upon the discussions Iʼve had with visitors as to why they do or do not come to church • very consumer driven – and style conscious • - very focused – I will only go somewhere where the music sounds the way I want it to sound • Something canʼt be worshipful if it isnʼt what I like to hearSo – we plan services and participate in services - based on what the crowd will thinkI wonder –" - would we be comfortable doing our worshipservice in heaven?I mean – the heaven described in the book of Revelation4&5" - we have spent many weeks looking at these twochapters - thinking a great deal about the subject of worship that surrounds the throne of God" " - after what we have seen of how the angels and all creation worship God from these chapters o would we feel comfortable taking our service and conducting it within the throne room of God?
If we were to have our Sunday service in heaven – beforethe throne - what would be the same or different about our worship?That is why I entitled these messages - Heaven Help Our Worship o Because we have seen much about the worship of God in Heaven o How should heaven affect our own worship? - Could heaven give us any help in how we should plan and participate in public worship?Letʼs ask the question another way: - If you were to walk away from the worship scene in Revelation 4 & 5 o – what would you think about God? o – what would you think the people in heaven think about God? How much is God worth – from examining the worship of Revelation 4 & 5 in Heaven.Beginning today and running for 2 more messages - I want us to think about our public worship – the way we publicly and openly say what we believe about God and publicly and openly show how much we value GodWe will ﬁrst examine how heaven should affect ourworship – from Rev 4 & 5Next time - we will examine some of the Scriptural issues about worship
Our ﬁnal message – will discuss practical issues - o Music – what songs should we sing – how should we sing them; what instruments does God approve; are hymnals sacred and screens satanic? o Where does preaching ﬁt with the subject of worship o What about prayer, evangelism, the order of the service, etcBut ﬁrst – what about heaven? – How should it affect ourworship - can the scenes of heaven help us in our own public worship?We pray the Lordʼs prayer –" Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" Do we conduct our services that way – thy worshipbe done on earth as it is in heaven?How can Heaven Help our Worship?I want to suggest 5 thoughts to consider about theworship of heaven and how it should make us think aboutour own worship I. HEAVEN ACKNOWLEDGES THE CENTRALITY OF GOD – worship should be singularly directional Recall where the throne is Good illustration:79-80 – One of the saddest experiences of my childhood happenedon my tenth birthday. Invitations to the celebration were maileddays in advance to eight friends. It was going to be my best
birthday ever. They all came to my house right after school. Weplayed football and basketball outside until dark. My dad grilled hotdogs and hamburgers while my mother put the ﬁnishing touches onthe birthday cake. After we had eaten all the icing and ice creamand most of the cake, it was time for the presents. Honestly, I canʼtrecall even one of the gifts today, but I do remember the great time Iwas having with the guys who gave them to me. Since I had nobrothers, the best part of the whole event was just being with theother boys.! The climax of this grand celebration was a gift from me tothem. Nothing was too good for my friends. Cost was immaterial.I was going to pay their way to the most exciting event in town – thehigh school basketball game. I can still see us spilling out of myparentsʼ station wagon with laughter on that cool evening andrunning up to the gymnasium. Standing at the window, paying fornine 25-cent tickets and surrounded by my friends – it was one ofthose simple but golden moments in life. The picture in my mindwas the perfect ending to a ten-year-old boyʼs perfect birthday.Four friends on one side and four friends on the other, I would sit inthe middle while we munched popcorn, punched each other, andcheered our high school heroes. As we went inside, I rememberfeeling happier than Jimmy Stewart in the closing scene of Itʼs aWonderful Life.! Then the golden moment was shattered. Once in the gym,all my friends scattered and I never saw them again the rest of thenight. There was no thanks for the fun, the food, or the tickets. Noteven a “Happy Birthday, but Iʼm going to sit with someone else.”Without a word of gratitude or goodbye, they all left without lookingback. So I spent the rest of my tenth birthday in the bleachers bymyself, growing old alone. As I recall, it was a miserable ballgame.! I tell that story, not to gain sympathy for a painful childhoodmemory, but because it reminds me of the way we often treat Godin worship. Though we come to an event where He is the Guest ofHonor, it is possible to give Him a routine gift, sing a few customarysongs to Him, and then totally neglect Him while we focus on othersand enjoy the performance of those in front of us. Like my ten-year-old friends, we may leave without any twinge of conscience,without any awareness of our insensitivity, convinced we havefulﬁlled an obligation well. How central is God in our worship? How vertical is our worship – how horizontal is our worship
What is the Bible about? – God How much is God the focus – the aim – the end – the sum total of our experience of worship - did you walk in here to focus all of your heart and mind – with all your might upon God and His Son Christ, in the power of the indwelling Spirit?Worship is about concentrating on and connecting withGod"Worship should be more of a God-centered concentrationthat a man-pleasing concert" Yes – there is etiquette when you attend a concert - but this is not a concert - we are not here to say how much we value the performance or the performers We are here to say how much we value the person of God Himself Worship is not a concert to be played nor a consumer product to be used - Worship is a person to be adored and esteemed and loved and treasured and valued in a public and vocal manner True Worship does not centralize its celebration upon • A holiday, a home, our nation, world wars our leaders, good times, warm feelings, traditional values – religious ideals – family values True Worship is singular in its direction - it is focused upon God
What else – what more – dominates the scene in Revelation 4 & 5 than God II. HEAVEN EXALTS THE AUTHORITY OF GOD – worship should be thoroughly biblical We would be here a long time if we began to examine all of the biblical expressions of worship we see driving what was said and done in Heaven around the throne of God The Bibleʼs truth – theological truth – was prominent in the worship of the angels – the 24 elders and all of creation Did you sense the authority of God in the reading of Revelation 4 & 5 - this was not – do your own thing time - this was not – be ﬂippant about truth timeThey were very careful about what they said about God John 4:24NAU John 4:24 "God is spirit, and those who worship Himmust worship in spirit and truth." This is a virtual non-issue in much of what goes on in the modern music scene especially - Just a question – how much of what has gone on here today been driven by what Godʼs word says? - from the prayers the preaching, the songs, the fellowship – every element – could you give Scriptural warrant for what and why you have done all you have today?
Heavenly worship is thoroughly founded upon andfocused upon truth – is ours? III. HEAVEN EMITS THE INTENSITY OF GOD – worship should be passionately emotional Do you ﬁnd intensity in the worship of Heaven in Rev 4& 5? " V 8 4 living creatures begin – day and night " Vv 9-10 – 24 voices follow them Watch it build in intensity in Rev 5 " V 8-10 – 28 voices raise their praise " Vv 11-12 – add to it many angels – more than is imaginable " V 13 – then add everything in creation There is profound intensity in their worship – it is a loud, emotion-ﬁlled display of the worth of God Our worship should be intense: How intense? "NAU Psalm 42:1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So mysoul pants for You, O God.NAU Psalm 63:1 O God, You are my God; I shall seek Youearnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my ﬂesh yearns for You, In adry and weary land where there is no water. 2 Thus I have seenYou in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. 3Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips willpraise You.NAU Psalm 103:1 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that iswithin me, bless His holy name.
Piper-Now lets be speciﬁc. What are these feelings that make theoutward acts of worship authentic? What are the feelings towardGod that turn learned forms into genuine worship? For a samplingof the extraordinary rich emotional responses in worship, we dobest to look into the worlds richest book of worship, the book ofPsalms.Some of the highest worship begins with the feeling of brokennessand contrition and grief for sin. "The sacriﬁce acceptable to Godisa broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt notdespise" (Psalm 51:17). I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for mysin"(Psalm 38:18).Mingled with the feeling of genuine contrition is the feeling oflonging or desire. "As a hart longs for the ﬂowing streams, solongs my soul for thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the livingGod" (Ps. 42:1,2). Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there isnothing on earth that I desire besides thee. My ﬂesh and my heartmay fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever(Psalm 73:25, 26).Also mingled with our sense of sin and our longing for his mercy isthe feeling of fear and awe before the holiness and magnitude ofGod. "I will worship toward thy holy temple in the fear ofthee" (Psalm 5:7). "Let all the earth fear the Lord, let all theinhabitants of the world stand in awe of him" (Psalm 33:8).And as he approaches, forgiving all our iniquity, crowning us withhonor, satisfying us with good (Ps. 103:3-5), our hearts well up withthe feeling of gratitude. "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and hiscourts with praise! Give thanks to him, and bless his name!" (Ps.100:4).And mingled with our gratitude are the feelings of joy and hope."Be glad in the Lord and rejoice and shout for joy all you upright inheart" (Ps. 32:11). "Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why areyou disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,my help and my God" (Ps. 42:5).These are examples of some of the feelings that come from Godand move us to God in genuine worship: contrition, sorrow, longing,desire, fear, awe, gratitude, joy, hope. When these feelings arequickened, the heart is no longer far from God. Worship is nolonger lip-service. It is genuine and authentic. How intense is our worship – do we even allow for the expression of any emotion – or must we remain stoic?
I dare say – if you show your value of your spouse or your children without emotion or intensity " - they will not believe you " - and you will frustrate and hurt them" I am not talking about emotionalism - but a focusedand intense passion IV. HEAVEN PRODUCES THE SEVERITY OF GOD – worship should be convincingly fearful Recall the peals of thunder, etc Psalm 97Psalm 67:7 (ESV)" 7" God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fearhim! After hearing the message – after singing the songs – is there a sense of holy awe, reverence and even a degree of fear " - or have we been so slap happy and bouncy and playful – that we would never know or value the justice of God Not to say that Godʼs severity is to dominate – but do we even contemplate the reality of it Romans 11:22; Hebrews 10:26-31Romans 11:22 (ESV)22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity towardthose who have fallen, but Godʼs kindness to you, provided youcontinue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. Do you value God so much – that you value sin less
Do you see His severity and seriousness so much " - that you hate sin more " - long for sinners to be saved all the more " - long for the coming of God in all His glory more? V. HEAVEN DISPLAYS THE MAJESTY OF GOD – worship should be stunningly regal Just look at the colors and the amazing display of God (4:3) Look at what is said of Him – 4:8, 11; 5:9-10; 12; 13 Psalm 96 He is a king – sovereign – majestic – regal – royal – God VI. HEAVEN DESCRIBES THE TRANSCENDENCE OF GOD – worship should be uniquely dissimilarWho or what in heaven was like God –There was an exaltedness – a separateness of God fromeverything else in HeavenHe is not like us – not in any way shape or formHe is different – separate –I donʼt think these ideas should drive us from God" - but to HimWe need to spend less of our time and effort in ourservices trying to make God common – and show Him tobe very uncommon
I donʼt think we are in any danger in the American Churchof over emphasizing Godʼs otherness – Godʼsseparateness from usAfter reading Revelation 4&5 – I have a hard timepicturing God being please with pep-rally style worshipgatherings - I didnʼt hear the 24 elders or the 4 living creatures running around heaven chanting – “God is rad – Heʼs my dad” - Or as one preacher said – he went to heaven and had a nice playful time with Jesus in the sea of glass before the throne – where he and Jesus splashed water on each other and Jesus eventually dunked him That is very different than the Apostle Johnʼs experience in Rev 1 with the exalted ChristVII. HEAVEN REHEARSES THE REDEMPTION OF GODWorship should be obviously cross-centered.Worship should rehearse, remind of and revel in the work of Christ in SalvationThat is exactly why all creation and all heaven erupts insuch exuberant praise - because the only one worthy to take the scroll – that had in it the rest of the book of Revelation – that reveals How God will bring ﬁnal redemption and ultimate glory to the earth o was the lamb slain – slaughtered – yet living § the cruciﬁed and resurrected Christ –
It is a celebration of forgiveness from sin and Godʼsultimate triumph over sin because of ChristIt is facinating to see some who are retreating fromdwelling on the work of Christ as central to our worship.We almost make it ancillary in our thoughts.In fact, one Baptist pastor authored a popular book notlong ago called, 90 Minutes in Heaven • where he said he clinically died in a car accident and was transported to heaven.One of the paragraphs I found most fascinating in thebook is where the author indicates that there is a lot ofmusic going on in heaven - but none of it will be about thecrossHe states:As I stood before the gate, I didnʼt think of it, but later Irealized that I didnʼt hear such songs as “The Old RuggedCross” or “The Nail Scarred Hand.” None of the hymnsthat ﬁlled the air were about Jesusʼ sacriﬁce or death.I heard no sad songs and instinctively knew that there areno sad songs in heaven. Why would there be? All werepraises about Christʼs reign as King of Kings and ourjoyful worship for all he has done for us and howwonderful he is.Obviously - the vision that this author had is very different- opposite to the vision that John the Apostle had. - for the author of the book - the cross is a sad, past act that ﬁnd no place in the throne-room of heaven - for the author of the book of Revelation, the cross, the slaughtered lamb - and what that slaughter represents causes the entire universe to erupt in
continual praise - the cross, redemption, the cost, the victory gained by it are continually rehearsed in heaven.CONCLUSIONBut here is the problem – we are not in heaven - it is one thing to look at heaven and see why they are so focused - maybe if He showed us Himself like He showed Himself to John – if His glory were physically manifested now – we might respond differentlyWe canʼt re-create the throne-room scene in its details -thatʼs not what Scripture asks us to do.But there are some elements of the worship of heaventhat should be affecting our worship on earth.And let me go one step forward - the very elements thatshould be true of our corporate worship, must ﬁrst be trueof our personal lives if we want to see heaven help ourpublic praise.Does you life acknowledge the centrality of God becauseit is singularly directed?Do your life decisions exalt the authority of God becausethose decisions are thoroughly biblical?Does your lifestyle emit the intensity of God, because yourespond with passionate God-driven emotions?Is your attitude about life sobered by the severity of God,because you are full of a profound awe-struck fear ofGodʼs greatness?
Do you carry yourself on a regular basis in such a waythat you are affected by the majesty of God, impacted bythe stunning regality of who God is?Do you live in a way that comprehends the transcendenceof God - so you base your living in a very unique anddissimilar way than the norms of the world?Could someone examine your life, your speech, yourdecisions, your character, your love, your emotions, youranxieties, your conﬁdence and see that you are steepedin rehearsing Godʼs redemption through Christ?If heaven is to affect our worship, it must ﬁrst impact ourlife.Next week we will take a closer look at what the Bibleitself says about the subject of worship to give us deepercategories from which to see our life and our gatherings.