The Marks of the Spirit-filled Life Part Three: The Worship-filled Life
Topic: The Spirit-filled Life Passage: Ephesians 5:18–5:21
Marks of the Spirit-filled Life Part Three
The Worship-Filled Life
We have been spending a few weeks on the marks of the Spirit-filled life as described in Ephesians 5.
There are many other evidences of the Spirit-filled life that we could spend time on - the fruits of the Spirit as listed in Galatians 5, the power to witness for Christ, the gifts of the Spirit. But we're going to limit our study to what Paul describes the Spirit-filled life to be in these verses and what Paul envisions is a people whose hearts are full of Christ and sing and talk to one another of Christ and worship God from the heart. A people marked by thankfulness in everything. A people who are humbly submitted to one another out of reverence for Christ. A people whose marriages and parenting and work ethic is affected by the gospel and empowered by the Spirit. In verses 19-20 we see that one of the marks of the Spirit-filled life is worship.
Singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Spirit-filled life is a worship-filled life.
Because worship is such an important aspect of the Christian life, and because there's so much the Bible says about our worship, and because there can be so many questions and different styles and opinions, we're not in a hurry but are going to take a few weeks to examine biblical worship. Not going to be limited expositorally from this verse but include a wider biblical study of topic of worship.
If you're not a musician (or if you are), you might be tempted to think, "worship isn't really my thing" as if worship was an optional aspect of the Christian life. You know, some are into evangelism, some into prayer, some into God's word, some are into fellowship and some Matt Redman-Chris Tomlin types are "into worship".
If that's you, I can relate. When I was a young Christian musician, I loved songs that spoke about the Christian life - kind of songs we hear a lot of on the radio. I listened to songs like that - I wrote songs like that. But I found worship songs to be boring, both to listen to and write. Worship songs just weren't my thing. Course that was the day when worship songs we sang were "This little light of mine" and Oil in my lamp which had more spin off verses than a popular sitcom:
Give me umption in my gumption, help me function-function-function
Give me umption in my gumption, I pray
Give me hot sauce in my taco, let me witness in Morocco,
Give me hot sauce in my taco, I pray (hallelujah!)
Give me hot sauce in my taco, let me witness in Morocco,
Let me witness till the break of day.
But it wasn't just the songs - I just wasn't that into worship of God. My lack of enthusiasm and desire to worship was not a matter of my personal preference as I thought, but revealed my immaturity and lack of spiritual passion. God in His grace began to change my understanding and give me a more biblical perspective of worship. If that's you, I believe God wants your attention. Worship is not optional to the Christian life.
I. The worship of God is the most important activity of the life of the believer
Worship is at the core of what we are and who we were created to be - we are all worshippers at heart. The question isn't whether we worship, the question is what we worship. And what we worship is the most important and eternally-significant thing about us. The whole of the Bible is really the story of how sin twisted the human race away from the worship of the Creator to the creature.
Romans 1:25 describes all the human race when it says "they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For that reason, Paul says, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. God's glory would not be glorious to us, but horrifying. God's awesomeness would not inspire worship but terror. Our sin had cut us off from God and destined us to face the full brunt of God's holy wrath.
Jesus bore that holy wrath for us on the cross, so that we might be forgiven, cleansed of our sin, and made righteous - for this purpose: so that we might be accepted by God and have access into His presence.
For through him (Jesus) we have access in one Spirit to the Father. - Ephesians 2:18
When a person is saved, God replaces their heart of stone that doesn't love or worship God with a new heart that loves God and worships Him alone. A heart that treasures God and His worth above everything else in life - even above life itself.
Jeremiah 32:38-41; 33:8-11 (ESV)
...they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me...33:8 8I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me...
And what is the result? Verse 10 goes on to say:
[and]there shall be heard again 11the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness... the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord:" 'Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!'
A people who sing praise to God is the result of God's new covenant work in their heart. A people who sing praise to God is the result of the filling of the Spirit. Worship is the ultimate goal of the gospel and the ultimate goal of the church. John Piper writes:
Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn't. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever...It's the goal of missions because in missions we simply
aim to bring the nations into white-hot enjoyment of God's glory. ~ John Piper
That's what our mission is: not to talk people into a lukewarm belief in Jesus Christ, but to bring them into a white-hot enjoyment of God's glory. That's worship! That's Christianity - those who by the Spirit love and worship God for all His mercy and in all His glory.Worship is the most important activity in the life of the believer - for it is the goal of the gospel, the goal of missions, and the only activity of the present day church that will be carried on forever in heaven.
The Spirit-filled life is a worship-filled life.
II. What worship is (and what it isn't)
1. Worship is not just the singing portion of the Sunday service. That's a wonderful part of our corporate worship - but Christian worship goes far beyond that. Romans 12 says we are to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God - to live our lives 100% for God - that's our spiritual worship. All of our lives.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Cor. 10:31
2. Objective of worship isn't to arrive at some emotional state. I have heard so many talk about churches that had very serious doctrinal issues and deep underlying sin, yet had "powerful worship services". But it should cause us to ask: how do we define powerful? Our culture is addicted to feelings - so if it moves me emotionally it's powerful. The Bible gives us a very different understanding of the power of God - bears good fruit. Transforms our lives. Makes for healthy, joyful Christians and frankly if we're driven by our emotions and looking for emotional highs, we'll never be healthy joyful Christians. Wrong direction.
Recently watched a segment of a documentary that followed a famous healing evangelist - you would all know his name. Ministry gave this film crew open access. Showed how services were carefully calculated to arrive at an emotional climax - then healings would begin. But they followed up on all the healings the ministry gave them and not one of the people who claimed to be healed were. One of them died, another suffered worse than before, and so on.
Emotionalism is a substitute for God's true power. We don't want to settle. Leaders and pastors of the Great Awakening revival were careful not to allow a lot of emotion - recognized the dangers of emotionalism choking out the true work of God. Emotions are a good thing, but we can't live by them and we must not substitute emotionalism for the true, healthy worship of God.
- Worship magnifies God's greatness
God is a great and glorious God. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. ~ Ps. 145:3
It is so easy for us to lose sight of God's greatness in the course of our lives. Other things can seem so large and God so, well, small. Bills that are adding up, problems at work, will we have a job next week? Family issues, relational conflicts. All of these things can seem so large, so in your face, that it's hard to see God as great in the midst of them.
Then there are earthly joys and excitements - a possible promotion, the joy of a relationship that means a lot to us, a new car, a new church building to meet in. These things also can seem so large to us.
Worship magnifies God's greatness - as John Piper says, not like a microscope that takes something very, very tiny and making it bigger to our view - that would be a blasphemous view of God. God is not some tiny little speck crying out for attention, but an infinite being who cannot be contained by heaven and earth - more powerful and glorious than the brightest largest star in the universe. His glory is so great it would destroy us to look at it. Worship magnifies this great God like a telescope - takes something that is massive beyond our comprehension, but is very distant, and brings it closer to our view so that we can understand a little more clearly how great it is.
The call to worship is the call of Psalm 34, Come magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!
- Worship must be Christ-centered
If the songs we sing could be sung by Muslims or Jews, then our worship is not distinctly Christian. We would not be able to worship God at all if not for the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. We have access to God only through Jesus Christ and the cross and so our worship should consistently reflect the work of Calvary.
We were on vacation last summer we had the chance to visit a church for their worship service. It was a wonderful service and a wonderful time of worship. Afterwards we were drawing out the children, and affirming how great it was. But without meaning it to be critical Jennifer said there was one thing she missed - she longed for a song that spoke of the cross. May we always want to be reminded of Calvary - may there always be sightings of Calvary - in our worship.
That doesn't mean that every song has to mention the cross. As Bob Kauflin writes in his book Worship Matters,
The cross stands for all that was accomplished through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God. It focuses on his substitutionary death at Calvary but includes everything that gave meaning to that act. His preexistent state in glory. His incarnation. His life of perfect obedience. His suffering. His resurrection. His ascension. His present intercession and reign in glory. His triumphant return.
The full range of all that Jesus accomplished should be celebrated in our worship.
- Worship must be Spirit-empowered
When we remember that worship is more than singing for 30 minutes but rather living our entire lives for the glory of God - then we realize how desperately we need the empowering of the Holy Spirit.
¨ When our heart realizes how great our God is and faith rises up in us to trust Him and obey Him - that is worship. And that is a work of the Spirit.
¨ When we are convicted of worldliness and want to give our lives again to seek first the kingdom of God - that is worship. And that is a work of the Spirit.
¨ When we are strengthened with hope and even joy in the midst of a long trial - that is worship. And that is a work of the Spirit.
¨ When we hear a prophecy that encourages us in our walk with Christ or someone is healed of an infirmity or delivered from a long-standing sin - that is worship. And that is a work of the Spirit.
¨ When someone's eyes are opened to their need for a Savior and they repent of their sin and give their lives to Jesus Christ - that is worship. And that is a work of the Spirit.
This is not all that can be said about what worship is, but I'm going to stop right there for today. You might have noticed that I have emphasized God and not us in this message. That is not because there is nothing to say - we are to come with all our heart, we are to come passionately, reverently, joyfully, sincerely. These are all crucial.
But we begin with God - for our worship isn't about us. About God. We should not measure corporate worship by how we feel or what we get out of it - that turns worship inward. We may be singing songs about God, but we are focusing on ourselves. We should measure our worship by how clearly we are seeing God's greatness and glory and loving and adoring Him. Hearts overflowing with wholehearted devotion, praise, thanksgiving, and glory to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.
Ask PJ and Steve to come back up and lead us in a couple songs of corporate worship - let's sing and adore our Lord with all our hearts. Forget about yourself for awhile - it will be so refreshing. Forget about the person next to you, the pressing business of the week - focus on our glorious, great God - and worship Him!