Worship—What Is Really Acceptable ?

Reformed worship is centered on the Word of God. But why is it so? One Fourteenth Century bible teacher, Johannes Tauler, put it this way:  

“If ye keep watch over your hearts, and listen for the Voice of God and learn of Him, in one short hour ye can learn more from Him than ye could learn from Man in a thousand years.”


I read from a Christian blog the following ideas which I’m most pleased to share with you. The writer is of the opinion that the question – What kind of worship is really acceptable to God? – is really an important one. He quotes Roman 11:36, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (ESV) He goes on to state that, “Great worship … is God’s holy people laying their lives down. I have a responsibility. You have a responsibility. We are all called.”


The writer also reminds us that God is the only One who can judge the quality of worship. It’s not the number of songs we sing or how they are sung; it’s about our hearts, souls, minds and strengths being fully engaged in the exaltation of God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, by Jesus Christ. He offers a three-step approach to worship:


(1) Spirit and Truth: When the Bible says, these are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks—we should be paying attention. God desires worship that is based in truth and led by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads our hearts to the true knowledge of God. We must worship God for who He is in all of his glory, wonder, goodness, terror, beauty, tenderness and grace.


(2) Obedience: On the other hand, when God says, “Away with the noise of your songs. I despise your sacred assemblies,” in Amos 5:23, we should also be listening. In this passage, Israel, God’s chosen people, were having worship services. They were celebrating, singing and lifting praise to God. The problem with this celebration was that they were a disobedient people. They were singing praises while ignoring God’s commands to meet the needs of the marginalized. “But let justice roll like a river, mercy like a never-failing stream.” Incredible worship will always be rooted in a singular desire to obey God. We want to do what pleases Him. That is the truest expression of our worship. Don’t allow yourself to raise your hands at a worship service while ignoring the will of God the next morning.


(3) Fear: Consider this, “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in his steadfast love” (Psalm 33:18). If you want God’s attention during worship, you must fear him. Without the fear of God, our worship is flippant. It keeps us humble, gazing, bowing, trusting. But the verse doesn’t stop there. It seems to equate fearing God with hoping in His steadfast love. Which tells us that the fear of God isn’t just a mental assent to respecting His majesty and holiness. A true fear of God will take action, place hope, and trust one’s life entirely to Christ Jesus.


Pastor Robert Chew