Seeing the glory of Jesus Christ is the goal of our worship. Where is His glory found? It's in the cross. As a new believer I didn't understand the glory of the cross. I knew that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, but I couldn't see much of His glory there. Over the years, though, I came to understand that on the cross Jesus became our Substitute and had all the sins of His people heaped on Him as if He had committed every one of them-every murder, rape, and blasphemy. Jesus experienced hell-the wrath of God poured out-for the glory of the Father, and to ransom us.  I came to understand that because Christ bore our sins, when we turn to Him He credits us with His very own righteousness.  That is the glory of the cross.
All of us can pursue a deeper understanding of the glory of the cross. Pray humbly, in faith, "Lord, show me more of your glory."

We also see God's glory in worship. In the Old Testament, David beheld God's glory in the sanctuary. Psalm 63:2 says, "I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory." The experience is better than life itself, David says. His soul finds satisfaction, like eating the richest of foods. He responds as his lips glorify God and he raises his hands. That's what worship is all about: seeing, being satisfied by, and responding to Christ's glory.

The purpose of worship is not to help a church grow. When we plan our worship we don't want to be thinking mainly how certain songs or a certain style can attract young people (although if they do, that's great!). The primary purpose of worship is not evangelism, or having a sing-along time to prepare for the preaching. The purpose of worship is seeing the glory of God, being satisfied in it, and praising Him.

Our goal as worship leaders is to help people see God's glory. This means that we must pursue God's glory as we study doctrine. As we read books such as "Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ" by John Piper, we fill our well full of living water that we can then offer to others.

I used to have a me-against-them mentality as a worship leader. I thought the congregation didn't really want to worship God, so my job was to whip them into doing it. The exhortations that accompany this kind of attitude are something like, "Alright, let's worship God as if you really mean it. Can't you shout just for a few minutes in the week? You shout out at football games!"

Obviously, that doesn't work. I found out that rather than saying, "Let's praise God because we ought to," it's far better to show them the glory of Christ. Read them something from the Scriptures, from "Seeing and Savoring Christ," or from Charles Spurgeon that displays the glory of Christ.

My approach to choosing songs has changed, too. I now think about how the people in the congregation have been beaten up all week by the influences and challenges of life in a fallen world, and many are probably discouraged and worn out. My job is to help lift their eyes to see the glory of Christ, and to let them be filled and satisfied. When that happens, they will naturally respond in worship.

Worship leaders must spend time meditating on the glory of God. One Sunday morning I had been meditating on the fact that Jesus Christ has forgiven every sin His people have committed or will commit. I was thinking about how He forgave every sin I'd already committed that day, and about the incredible power of the cross. I shared this with the church, and people told me afterward that it liberated them in worship. I encourage you during your devotional time to slow down, take time, read the Word, keep a spiritual journal, and meditate on the glory of the Lord.

 

Recommended Resources:

A Passion for the Glory of God is a worship conference designed for pastors, worship leaders, worship team members, sound teams, and anyone desiring to be equipped in the principles and practices of God-honoring worship. Bob Kauflin, director of worship development for Sovereign Grace, will host the conference. Other speakers will include Mark Altrogge and Steve Cook. The conference will be held on October 16th-18th, 2003 at Sovereign Grace Church, Gilbert, AZ. For more information click  here.
 
The Call of the Christian Musician Video. Christian musicians are a diverse group. But we all share a common calling-we are Christians first and musicians second. In this message, Bob Kauflin teaches that, whatever the context, the call of the Christian musician is to faithfully make music that reflects a grateful servant's response to the gospel. For more information visit the Sovereign Grace Store

 

Mark Altrogge, occasional guest columnist for Worship Matters, serves as senior pastor of Lord of Life Church in Indiana, Pennsylvania, where he has also led worship since 1976. Mark has published some 200 songs of praise and worship, including I Stand in Awe, I'm Forever Grateful, As Long as I Have Breath, and many other well-known compositions. He also produces the Hide the Word CD series, which sets passages of Scripture to music to create Scripture memory tools. Find out more at www.forevergratefulmusic.com