The Practice, Priorities and Privilege of Worshiping God
- 2003 23 Apr
Worship and The Word, Conclusion
Not long ago, I began preaching a series of messages in our church on the book of Ephesians. I decided to introduce the series by reading aloud the entire book. A test run in my office took 20 minutes. I began to wonder, "Will people think I didn't have time to prepare a 'real' sermon? Will they be bored?" Then I remembered how that epistle was first delivered. It was written to the church in Ephesus and probably read aloud to whole congregations. Shouldn't our churches have at least the same reverence and respect for the Word?
How foolish of me to think that I could be making a mistake by allowing the Bible to have the spotlight for a morning. Of course, the full reading of Ephesians was a powerful introduction to the teaching, even though one church member quipped, "Let me know when you start a series on Genesis. I'm staying home that Sunday!"
I am not suggesting we replace Sunday sermons with Scripture readings; the Bible itself endorses preaching. But we must keep the Word central and be sure our hearts respond appropriately. Verses 9-10 of Psalm 19 show us David's heart toward Scripture: "The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever. The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb."
It's interesting that this passage begins with "the fear of the Lord" to signify God's Word. Previous verses use parallel terms: "law of the Lord," "testimony of the Lord," "precepts of the Lord," and "commandments of the Lord." If the structural pattern of these verses wasn't so clear, we might be tempted to think that David was changing the subject. But the psalmist's use of "fear of the Lord" clearly refers to Scripture. It's difficult to grasp the full meaning of this metaphor, but at the very least, it means that God's Word should inspire reverent fear.
Do you come to Scripture with an appropriate sense of awe and amazement? Do you come with the "fear of the Lord"? Men of the Bible who encountered God were never casual or ambivalent. When Isaiah saw God high and lifted up, his response was one of dread: "Woe is me, for I am lost." In Revelation 1, when John saw the risen and exalted Jesus he fell over "like a dead man." When we read the Bible, we are not literally seeing God, but we are in a sense meeting with the Creator. How ought we to respond?
In Isaiah chapter 66, the Lord says, "But this is the one to whom I look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." Humble and contrite people come to the Bible quaking in anticipation.
Yet in this psalm David expresses not only fear, but also passionate longing. His meditations on Scripture come to this: God's Word is more valuable than gold and more savory than honey. Trembling awe is coupled with desperate desire.
How convicting! Do you value God's Words with this kind of ardor and affection? Do you believe that the wealth of the world is nothing in comparison? Does this kind of love and longing describe your times of devotion? Do our corporate gatherings reflect this admiration and awe for the Word as it is read and sung?
Psalm 19 is a deep mine. It was inspired by the Holy Spirit and sprang from the heart of a man devoted to worship and to the Word of God. This is a heart that we can develop, too, a heart that anchors its worship in the truth of Scripture-a heart whose devotion to Scripture overflows in passionate worship.
Next week, Bob Kauflin returns with a new series on the presence of God.
- This article is based on a message Craig gave at Sovereign Grace's A Passion for the Glory of God worship conference. You can order the audio product by clicking here.
- The outlines for many of these conference messages are on the Sovereign Grace website.
- Are you interested in another tool for Scripture memory? Try Mark Altrogge's Hide the Word series of Scriptures set to mini-songs. You can order these by clicking here.
Craig Cabaniss is Senior Pastor of Grace Church in San Diego.
Read the rest of the articles in this series:
Worship and The Word Go Hand in Hand
Bathing in Scriptural Truth
Worship and the Word, Part 3
Worship and the Word, Part 2
Worship Matters: Worship and the Word, Part 1