Volume 15, Number 6   November/December 2004

 

 

THE OPAL REDDIN RESEARCH LIBRARY IN NAUGATUCK, CONNECTICUT IS BECOMING A REALITY!

Jewel Grewe standing in front of a picture of Dr. Reddin in the new library.

After driving to Naugatuck with four truckloads of books, files, magazines, videos, and audios, etc., it is thrilling to see the library taking shape. Volunteers from the church have been busily cataloging the new books.

The library will be available for research purposes and also many of the materials will be available on-line as the work progresses. The Pinebrook Assembly of God has graciously provided a wonderful facility to make this outreach available. Any financial contributions for the library can be made to Discernment Ministries with a note included, "for the library". Contributions of books and other research materials are gladly being received. These may be sent via mail or couriered to: Pinebrook Assembly of God, c/o Vic Huntley, 116 City Hill, Naugatuck, CT 06770. Once the library is completed, Discernment Ministries in conjunction with Pinebrook Assembly of God are planning a dedication service. We are so grateful for the many years of blessing that Dr. Opal Reddin has given to the Assemblies of God and to the cause of the truth of the Word of God. We look forward to having Dr. Reddin present at the dedication of the library.

Recently Discernment Ministries held a Discerning the Times conference at Niagara Falls. Rev. John Marston, a Discernment Board Member and Pastor of Pinebrook Assembly of God gave the following message:

TRUE WORSHIP

Excerpted from a two-part speech given at the Discernment Ministries conference in Niagara, Canada in October 2004. (Tapes of Pastor Marston's complete remarks are available.)

The hour cometh, and now is when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship Him in spirit and truth. (John 4:23-24)

Introduction

Many years ago, William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury, defined worship in the following manner:

"To worship is to quicken the conscience of the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God and devote the will to the purpose of God."

It might be said that worship is: all that we are responding to all that He is.

A.W. Tozer, in his book What Ever Happened to Worship? wrote (pp. 40-42):

There are many kinds of worship that God cannot accept. Cain's worship in the Old Testament was not accepted because he did not acknowledge the necessity of an atonement for sin in the relationship between God and fallen man.

Cain hoped to please God in worship, but he brought no blood sacrifice. He came instead with an offering of the fruit of the ground, probably beautiful flowers and a basket of fruit.

When God frowned upon his gift, ...God's rejection of his offering and his acceptance of Abel's "firstlings of his flock" made Cain so angry that he went out and killed his brother."

The kind of worship Cain offered to God had three basic and serious shortcomings.

First is the mistaken idea that God is a different kind of God that He really is. This has to do with the person and character of the sovereign and holy God. How can anyone ever worship God acceptably without knowing what kind of God He is? Cain surely did not know the true character of God. Cain did not believe that the matter if man's sin was eternally important to God.

Second is the mistake of thinking that man holds a relationship to God that in fact he does not. Cain casually assumed that he was deserving of acceptance by the Lord without any intermediary. He refused to accept the judgment of God that man had been alienated from his God by sin.

Third, Cain in the Old Testament record, and with him an unnumbered multitude of men and women since, have mistakenly assumed that sin is far less serious than it really is. The record is plain, if men and women would only look at it and consider it. God hates sin because He is a holy God. He knows that sin has filled the world with pain and sorrow, robbing us of our principle purpose and joy in life, the joy of worshiping our God.

There is much rhetoric concerning praise and worship in the contemporary church world. There is a need--a necessity--to discover again what worship is, what constitutes true and proper worship, and then apply our hearts to such worship.

Sadly, church congregations are much like American society today, in that they are often comprised of special interest groups. Each group has its own idea as to what constitutes worship. Each group demands worship to follow their style. We miss the point when we confine worship--by definition and activity--to a few moments in a church service.

True worship is an expression of what has already been accomplished in the heart. Corporate worship is an expression of the heart, attitude and mind of the congregation to God.

When the church of Christ discovers what worship really is--when the church discovers that all we do and say should be done in worship to God (i.e., our lives being an expression of worship unto God)--then and only then will the church regain its power, relevancy and effectiveness to make a difference in the community.

Today, there is much emphasis on modes of praise and worship. Many churches and individuals claim to have found the secret of true worship. Confidently they declare they have found the proper definition and method of praise and worship.

But, wherein lies the answer? For that we must go to the Word of God.

The Definition of True Worship

The hour cometh, and now is when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)

"Worship in spirit and in truth." Here Jesus sets forth principles of true worship. Worship begins with a sense of longing. John, in chapter 4, relates an encounter Jesus had with a Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. This woman had a heart-longing which she did not know how to satisfy. She had looked for contentment and fulfillment through relationships with men. She had been married 5 times and was now living with a man. Still, she was not satisfied. Her life demonstrated that she was searching for something to satisfy the emptiness and longing that had been her constant companion. She did not know that her spirit could only be satisfied by a living communion with God.

Deep within the heart of every person in a longing for God, a desire to know Him. People misinterpret this yearning and look for substitutes to fill the void--with everything and anything.

“Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

Only He can take your life and make you whole,

He’ll give you peace you never knew,

Sweet love and joy and comfort, too.

For only Jesus can satisfy your soul,

You’ll never find true satisfaction until you’ve found the Lord.”

Man was made for fellowship with God. We were made to worship Him, and nothing else can satisfy that need. The woman at the well was searching, she had a longing heart, Jesus understood, indeed Jesus knew her far better than she knew herself.

As Jesus began to speak with the woman at the well, the conversation soon turned to the topic of worship. The woman's basic understanding of worship centered around associating worship with a formal location. Her concept of worship focused upon the importance of its location. By stating that her fathers worshiped God on the mountain there is Samaria, the woman was challenging the Jewish belief that Jerusalem was the ideal place to worship. Jesus replied that there would come a time when men would not worship on the mountain nor in Jerusalem, but that they would find the presence of God in their spirits and would worship Him there.

Herein lies one of the greatest misconceptions concerning worship. It is much more than time, place and style.

Worship defined; and applied

Defined: What is worship? The Hebrew word for worship is shaha. It means to bow low or to prostrate oneself. Worship involves our bowing low before the Lord, bowing our hearts. It involves a referential fear of God. This aspect of worship is lost on much of contemporary Christianity.

True worship requires a right understanding of God. Quoting Tozer in Knowledge of the Holy:

The church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low so ignoble as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshiping men. This she has done not deliberately but little by little, and without her knowledge and her very unawareness makes her situation more tragic. The low view of God entertained almost universally among Christians is the cause of a hundred lesser evils everywhere among us. A whole new philosophy of the Christian life has resulted from this one basic error in our way of thinking with our loss of the sense of religious awe and sense of the divine presence. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence.

Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the Spirit. The words "be still and know that I am God" mean nothing to the self-confident bustling worshiper in the middle period of the 20th century.

The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion and man's spiritual history will positively demonstrate that on religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

Kiss the Son... pay homage

Psalms 2 says:

10Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.

   
11Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

   
12Kiss the Son
(Hebrew 05401 nashaq {naw-shak'}), lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

"Kiss the feet of the son," i.e., stoop, bow low in homage indicates reverence, submission and loyalty. The definition of "homage" is: "formal acknowledgement by a vassal that he owed loyalty and service to his lord."

Homage, fealty: Homage was originally the act of a feudal tenant by which he declared himself, on his knees, to be the bondman of the lord; hence the term is used to denote reverential submission or respect. Fealty was originally the fidelity of such a tenant to his lord, and hence the term denotes a faithful and solemn adherence to the obligations we owe to superior power or authority. We pay our homage to men of pre[e]minent usefulness and virtue, and profess our fealty to the principles by which they have been guided. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 Micra, Inc.

In Gen. 24:48, when Abraham's servant was awed by the power of the Lord in leading him to find Isaac's wife, he bowed low and worshiped the Lord. The Greek word for worship is proskyneo. It literally means to kiss the hand of one who is revered, or to pay homage. It is used 59 times in the New Testament. The English word worship comes from the Anglo-Saxon weorthscipe which denotes one who is worthy of honor and reverence.

When we worship God we are declaring to Him His worth. We are confessing to Him the He is worthy. In Revelation 4 the twenty-four elders worshiped the Lord by confessing that He is worthy to receive glory, honor and power.

To worship God is to seek Him

In seeking Him, you declare Him worthy to fill that longing within. That which you pursue, is that which you deem worth obtaining (Math. 5:6). Jeremiah 29:13 declares: "And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart." Worship is not understood by a study but by seeking after God. There is a danger of seeking to establish a pattern and formula for worship but that is futile. To worship Him, we must seek after Him, and we will find Him.

A prostration of the heart must accompany all that we do. A heart that is filled with worship toward God, will cry out, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer." As we apply ourselves to moment by moment worship. we will then be ready to worship when we go into the sanctuary. When the heart is continually prostrated before God, worship will permeate all that we are and all that we do. Then we are truly ready to engage in corporate worship as we enter the sanctuary.

G. Campbell Morgan once stated concerning worship: the worship of the sanctuary is meaningless unless it is preceded by six days of worship as a way of life.

In spirit and in truth

The two pillars upon which the edifice of our worship rests are worshiping in spirit, and worshiping in truth. We must consider these two statements as they form the basis of God centered worship. In John 4:23a Jesus says. "But the hour cometh and now is when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth." In verse 24b he says, "They that worship him must worship Him in spirit and in truth."

Worshiping in spirit refers to the human spirit. When Christ was speaking to the woman at the well of Samaria, she revealed her misunderstanding of the nature of true worship. She associated worship of God with a place. We also associate worship with a place. We think of worship as the activity that takes place on Sunday morning.

We have missed the real essence of worship. Christ teaches in John 4:23-24 that the worship of His Spirit must take place in our spirits regardless of our surroundings.

Clarke's Comminatory states:

All creatures were made by Him. so all owe Him obedience and reverence, but to be acceptable to this infinite spirit, the worship must be of a spiritual nature--must spring from the heart, through the influence of the Holy Spirit.

God is spirit. He is not limited, by time and space. He will abide and commune within the regenerated spirit that seeks Him. The spirit of man is the one place where he can meet God. 1 Thess. 5:23 tells us we are tripartite in nature. "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Entering His presence

The body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit, provides awareness of the physical realm through the five senses.

The soul involves consciousness of self and others; it consists of three parts: the will or volition, which is the instrument of decision making (Job 6:7, 7:15); the mind or intellect, which is the instrument of thought, reason and memory; and the emotions, which consist of feelings, affections and desires (1 Sam. 18:1; Deut. 14:26; Ps. 84:2, 86:4).

The spirit, which involves consciousness of God and the supernatural world, consists of conscience and discernment of right and wrong (2 Cor. 2:13); intuition, which perceives knowledge without the use of the soul or the five senses (John 11:33, 13:21; Mark 2:8; Acts 20:22); and the capacity for communion, worship and communication with God (John 4:23; Rom. 8:16; 1 Cor. 14:15).

Adam was created with body, soul and spirit. "God formed man of dust from the ground (body), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life (spirit) and man became a living being (soul)" (Gen 2:7). Before we are born again, our spirit is inactive in its relationship to God. It takes the redeeming work of Christ to regenerate that spirit, and make it responsive to God. That is why it is impossible for an unbeliever to understand the things of God or to converse with God or to worship Him.

Only as the Spirit of Christ transforms our spirit can we come into fellowship with God. We are told in 1 Cor. 2:10-16 that there can be no communication between different natures. True worship is with our spirit and in our spirit. Untrue worship would be to worship God with the external (ritual, physical movements, even the ordinance of the communion) without the participation of our spirit, or the response of the Spirit. (See 1 Corinthians 2:11-16.)

Some may say, I love to go to church and sit quietly I feel at peace. The emotions are stilled, even thrilled but worship does not take place. Others may say, when I go to church, I feel good, there is excitement in the air, the music moves me, the people are enthusiastic. If that is all there is, then it has been fleshly, appealing to the senses, but nothing takes place within the human spirit and therefore worship has not occurred. Worship cannot be forced by the flesh, worship cannot be aroused by the emotions. Worship can only occur when the spirit of man is submitted to and breathed upon by the energizing power of the Spirit of God. God cannot be worshiped without His Spirit energizing that worship.

We have been saved to worship God. Once one is saved, the Holy Spirit comes to live within the heart to point it God-ward, to prod it toward Him. The Spirit instructs and purges, so that one can worship. That is His ministry. It all begins with the resident Holy Spirit. We worship God in our human spirit because we are prompted by the Holy Spirit to do so. So you see there is no glorying in our flesh whatsoever.

In 1 Corinthians 12b we read, "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Spirit." That means a person cannot affirm the lordship of Christ or worship Him as the Lord most high. No man can proclaim Jesus Lord unless the Holy Spirit reveals that truth to him and stirs the heart, i.e. the spirit, to worship Him.

Ps. 51:15-17 says: "O Lord open thou my lips and my mouth shall show forth thy praise. For Thou desirest not sacrifice else I would give it. Thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit a broken and contrite heart O God thou wilt not despise." Worshiping in spirit is born out of the sacrifices that God finds acceptable. The psalmist speaks of them as the sacrifices of God. They are a broken spirit and a contrite heart. We offer those sacrifices to Him and then, God, by His Spirit, opens our mouths and from within our spirits flow out acceptable and God honoring praise, worship and adoration.

Worship in truth

We now come to the second principle connected with worship. All worship of God is in response to truth about God. Or at least it should be. It is not an emotional exercise, filled with spiritual sounding words and induced feelings. It is a response that is built upon truth.

Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?" Mankind still asks that question--what is true, who or what can I put my trust in, who or what can I believe in? Some say truth is relative, based upon circumstance. Or that truth is ever changing.

In John 17:17b we find the answer. Jesus says to the Father in His high priestly prayer, "Thy word is truth." In Psalm 119:142b we read, "Thy law is truth." In verse 160 of Psalm 119 we read, "Thy word is truth."

The Word of God is truth, constant and unchanging: "Heaven and earth may pass away, but My words shall not pass away" (Math. 24;35). "Forever, O Lord, They word is settled in heaven" (Psalm 119:89).

Since the Word of God is truth, and acceptable worship is according to or in truth, we must worship God based upon a proper understanding of the Word of God. If we are to worship God, we must understand who God is and the only place we can find out who God is is in the Scriptures. Only there has God been revealed to us. God has revealed himself in his Word.

True worship can only be base upon the truth of the revelation of Jesus Christ. That is why the heart's cry of the Apostle Paul was, "That I may know him" (Phil. 3:10). The truth worshiper cries, "O that I may know him, that I may have an intimate relationship with God." Man was created to fellowship with his God. That fellowship was broken in Eden and ever since man has longed for God--longed to fellowship with Him. But without the knowledge and the revelation of the truth of God, worship is impossible, indeed fellowship is impossible.

Worship with understanding

Worship in truth, must be worship with understanding. Psalm 47:7 says: "Sing ye praises with understanding." Worship is not simply holding up hands and swaying back and forth and forth. It is not having ecstatic experiences that have no meaning or content to them. It is not an emotional fix. It is not simply finding that good feeling. Worship is an expression of praise from the depth of our spirit toward a God that is understood through His Word.

There is no benefit in worshiping God if you do not understand who He is or what you are doing. This is a major problem with worship today. Many do not know the God whom they worship. What was once transcendent in the doctrine of God has faded. God has been reinterpreted to accommodate modern needs.

True worship is in accordance with the Word

That is why expository preaching in so important. And why one must feed upon the Word themselves. Acts 2:42a notes that when the early church met together, they continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine. The doctrine they declared was the revelations of God about Himself that were manifested through the Apostles' writings and teachings. The doctrine of the person and work of Christ was the truth on which the worship of the early church was based.

In 1 Tim. 4:14 Paul told Timothy: "Till I come give attendance to reading to exhortation, to doctrine"--in other words. read the text, explain the text and apply the text. Timothy was to stay in the text and teach sound doctrine--the truth about God.

In Colossians 3:16-17 we learn that when the early church worshiped they used psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs. And they had times of praise and thanksgiving. Notice before all these things are listed in verses 16-17, it says, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (abundantly)." When the Word of God dwells within us, our praise in regulated, and our worship is conformed to God's Word.

When we drift away from worshiping in spirit and in truth the church will either become cold and lifeless and/or it will become overly emotional, fanatical and feelings-oriented.

 

 

PREACHING IS DEAD!

Anton Bosch

 

Last week I attended a church growth conference which again challenged me to rethink what I believe and how we go about the Lord’s work. One of the messages that came from virtually every speaker is that the modern generation is no longer word oriented, but think in terms of images, sound bites and video clips and that the linearity of a three-point sermon and the words on the Bible pages just do not cut it any more. Preaching is passé. It had its time from when Guttenberg started mass-producing Bibles on the printing press until the Baby Boomers stopped being relevant to the twenty first-century. These ideas are being repeated like a mantra by everyone who thinks they know something about where the church is headed, so it is important that we give this some thought.

So, did words really only become fashionable in 1436 only to be hijacked by the reformers who placed an undue emphasis on preaching? No! This is not the truth. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1, NKJV). Just last week I again heard that this Word was not symbols on a piece of parchment but a Person. Quite correct. The Word is a Person – Jesus Christ. But why is He not called “the Light”, “the Experience”, “the Image”, “the Picture” or “the Video”? Why the WORD? Ever wondered why God used words to create the world and not images, pictures or music? Why did God write words on tablets of stone and why did Jesus come as a preacher and not as a musician or an artist? Why were Paul, Peter and John preachers and not dancers, sculptors or multimedia specialists?

And if post-modern man is no longer interested in words, but wants images and multimedia shows only, why is it that more newspapers, magazines and books are being printed than ever before? For years now we have heard that TV and the internet will replace newspapers and magazines and e-books will replace lithographed books, but instead of there being a decline in printed pages ever faster and bigger printing presses are spewing out acres of paper with black letters on them. If multimedia images are so wonderful why is it that radio is on the upsurge with AM and FM bands so cluttered that millions have been invested in various forms of satellite radio?

 

And as for the notion that the Baby Boom generation is no longer a factor, well all the “experts” and attendees at this futurist conference were over 50 years old with maybe three percent of them between 35 and 50 and no “Generation Xers). You see, the problem is that those who are trying to lead the church into this century are trying to sell the emperor a set of new-age clothes that none can see and no one is prepared to call their bluff (or is it buff?).

 

From the very beginning Jesus was manifest as the Word. Millennia before he came in a physical form which we could handle and see, He already was THE WORD. He was that before He became The Son or a man. God created by speaking the Word. His covenants and promises are in the form of words. His laws and statutes are words and Jesus came teaching and doing (Acts 1:1). Yes, we must back our preaching with our lives and it is probably because of the absence of a real living testimony supporting the spoken message that preaching is viewed with skepticism. That does not negate the fact that the Lord still chose to save through the preaching of the message of the cross(1 Corinthians 1:21). The word for preaching in this verse is kerugma and it very specifically refers to a proclamation by a herald or public crier. This is not acting, music, art or multimedia. It is the speaking forth the words of Life.

 

"So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17, NKJV). Notice that faith does not come through seeing, feeling, tasting, smelling but by hearing the word of God. Yes, there were times when prophets illustrated the message through some visual method. There were also times when God demonstrated His message through lightning, fire and finally, the Cross. These demonstrations, however were always and only in support of the preached message. Oh, but the technology was not available until recently, you say. Really? If pictures were so important then why did Jesus not fill in His parables with graphic details of his subjects? Why does He not describe exactly what the rich man wore and how big his house was and how many servants he had. Why does He not tell us what the rich man and Lazarus died from and why does he not give us a more graphic picture of Hades and of Abraham’s bosom? Is God so lacking in imagination that it had to take a Mel Gibson to tell the story of what Jesus “actually” suffered? Surely He could have been a bit more graphic! But God, in his infinite wisdom, only gives us what we need so we can get the message. You see, if the illustrations or medium becomes so powerful, we get caught up in the pictures and we miss the whole point! Months after seeing the Passion, 99% of the viewers will be able to recall some graphic scene from the movie, but did they get the Message (not Gibson’s –  God’s)? The answer is simply no! You see, the medium has become the message.

 

And as for the idea that preaching is one dimensional and linear –  well, after 36 years of preaching I am still amazed at how 50 people in the congregation can go away with 50 different messages as God takes the Word and by His Spirit breaks and applies His Word to each one individually who will hear His voice. It is not only since the advent of DVD that the preached message is regarded as foolishness; it was so in Paul’s day. But it is foolishness to those who are perishing. To those who are being saved, they are the very words of life.

 

I will close with a quote from the very translation these people love so much:

"Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb—preaching, of all things!—to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation." (1 Corinthians 1:21, The Message)

 

 

Anton Bosch is the pastor of:

Burbank Community Church

3310 West Magnolia Blvd.

Burbank, California 91505-2907

 

Many of Anton Bosch's tapes are available from our Catalog page

 

 

 

 

 

 

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