We’ve seen that we were all made to worship, God has given us specific ways to worship him in our Sunday meetings, and now we will look at ways to think about worship outside our gatherings.
There are many different ways to go about doing this. I tend to agree with Dr. John Frame’s way of thinking about it with these four categories: 1. God-Centered; 2. Gospel-Centered; 3. Broad and Narrow; 4. Vertical and Horizontal.
(As is always the case, I urge you to read the Scripture references attached)
1. God-Centered: As God’s people, we should strive to focus on glorifying the Trinitarian God and making his glory known in all that we think and do. As Dr. Frame says (in the same book we used last week),
“We worship for His pleasure foremost and find our greatest pleasure in pleasing Him. Worship must therefore always be God-Centered…It must be focused on the covenant Lord.”
“God-centered worship, following the richness of the New Testament revelation, is always worship in the name of Christ and by the Holy Spirit. The only name by which we may be saved is that of Christ (Acts 4:12), and we can come to know Him only by the sovereign working of the Holy Spirit (John 3:3; Rom. 8:14-15; 1 Cor. 2:12). God-Centered worship is Trinitarian worship. Our worship should be clearly directed to God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
2. Gospel-Centered: Jesus’s last words to his disciples before His ascension into heaven were to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matt. 28:19-20).” This aspect of gospel mission must be an emphasis in our worship. Frame speaks to the goodness of proclaiming the gospel in our worship when he says,
“Everything we do in worship, therefore, now speaks of sin and forgiveness, of Jesus’ atonement and resurrection for us. Worship following the fall of Adam should not only be God-centered, but also Christ-centered and gospel-centered. In all our worship, the good news that Jesus has died for our sins and risen gloriously from the dead should be central.”
3. Broad and Narrow: The list of elements for our Sunday meetings in last week’s post offers the “narrow” view of what worship means. The “broad” view of biblical worship is an act of daily devotion and is directly how one worships God with their life. Frame says,
“In Romans 12:1, the Greek term latreia describes the believer’s offering of his own body in service to God: ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.’”
D. A. Carson also similarly describes the “broad” implications of worship by stating that, “All of life is a service of worship; we are to do all to the glory of God, in the name of the Lord Jesus (Col. 3:17; Eph. 5:20; 1 Cor. 10:31).”
4. Vertical and Horizontal: It is clear from the above points that our focus of worship should contain a “vertical” or God-ward affection. This is biblically emphatic and overtly stated by Dr. Frame when he says,
“…Christian worship is ‘vertical,’ directed to our triune God for His pleasure. The focus of our effort in worship should be on pleasing Him.”
However, this view would leave out another biblically emphatic principle of worship, the “horizontal” or man-ward dimension of worship. This is not to be confused with saying that we are the objects of our own worship (which is heresy if left at that), far from it. It is to say that when we gather, the mutual affection we share for God and the interaction we have with each other and with our neighbors strengthens and unifies us in a way that is completely unique to the believer. Dr. Frame exposits this truth brilliantly,
“In worship, we should not be so preoccupied with God that we ignore one another. For example, worshipers should not ignore the needs of the poor (Isa. 1:10-17; compare 1 Cor. 11:17-34; James 2:1-7). And we should make sure that our worship is edifying to believers (1 Cor. 14:26). 1 Corinthians 14 emphasizes the importance of conducting worship, not in unintelligible “tongues,” but in language understandable to all. Even an unbeliever, when he enters the assembly, should be able to understand what is taking place, so that he will fall down and worship, exclaiming, “God is really among you” (v. 25). So, worship has a horizontal dimension as well as a vertical focus. It is to be God-Centered, but it is also has to be both edifying and evangelistic. Worship that is unedifying or unevangelistic may not properly claim to be God-centered.”
These dimensions begin to paint the picture of a what a biblical description of worship looks like. As the canvas is filled with its strokes, we begin to see the way God seeks to be praised both in our meetings and in our lives. We worship by doing that which brings him the glory and edifies his church. When we engage in worship this way, our joy truly becomes full as we experience the purpose for which we were made.
We begin to delight in his presence.
Grace and Peace to you,