Worship Matters: Worship and the Word, Part 1
- 2003 18 Mar
This week we begin a guest series by my friend, Craig Cabaniss, a pastor from San Diego, based on an outstanding message he gave at the recent Sovereign Grace Ministries worship conference. - Bob Kauflin
As a Christian father, one of my goals is to foster in each of my children the heart of a worshiper. Some time ago I experienced what I thought was a breakthrough in this area. While at work in my upstairs office, I overheard my 3-year-old son break into spontaneous, enthusiastic singing. "Hallelujah, hallelujah!" he repeated in a zealous, toddler melody. I paused in my work, inwardly rejoicing over my success as a parent.
As Christopher ascended the stairs, and the refrain grew in volume and intensity, I began imagining him one day writing songs and leading congregations in worship, all the while crediting his godly father's training and example. It was one of those triumphant moments a father treasures. Then he reached the top of the stairs, just as his song reached its stunning crescendo:
Stunning, indeed. Did I mention he was 3?
The truth is, we are all prone to worship ourselves - we're just more subtle about it. We are so inclined toward self-centeredness that, on our own, we could never stumble into selfless, God-focused worship. It's true - we are able to worship God only to the extent that God reveals Himself to us. Without revelation, we could not know who God is or what He is like. We could not know how to worship or what brings Him glory. My son's hallelujahs were misdirected because His worship wasn't based on revelation.
At its most basic, worship is simply man's response to God's revelation. New Testament scholar Ralph Martin writes, "The distinctive genius of corporate worship is the two-beat rhythm of revelation and response." Authentic Christian worship must be anchored in the Word of God.
Over the next few weeks, we will explore this theme as it is found in Psalm 19. In this psalm David meditates upon the wonders of God's written revelation. We will look at characteristics of Scripture and how they should inform our worship.
Before David proclaims the wonders of the Word, however, he considers God's self-revelation through a different means - the created world.
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
Their measuring line goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
In them He has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving His chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
We all know that God reveals Himself through the handiwork of creation. Who hasn't been provoked to worship by a snow-topped mountain or star-lit night? Here the psalmist is provoked to worship by the beauty and mystery of the sun and sky.
God provides His creation as revelation to all men everywhere. The beauty of the world has always provoked men to consider a transcendent Maker. But the revelation of nature isn't enough. An unbeliever can watch a sunset and discover a Supreme Being of beauty, power, and creativity, but nature doesn't reveal man's need for a savior or Christ's sacrifice for sin. That kind of revelation comes only through Scripture.
In His Word, God speaks clearly and specifically. He reveals Himself and His will for man. That's why keeping the Bible at the heart of worship is so important-it keeps our hallelujahs pointed in the right direction.
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 from the Sovereign Grace Store.
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 from the Sovereign Grace Store.