What is worship? In Christianity today, worship is one of the most misunderstood words. Worship begins with a true vision of our holy God and is centered on the Cross. If our worship does not make Jesus the primary focus of our lives, then it is not true worship.
“Oh worship the King, all glorious above,
And gratefully sing His wonderful love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.
“Thy bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
It streams from the hills, it descends to the plain
And sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.
“Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies, how tender! how firm to the end!
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!”
Good morning. It’s a real privilege to worship with such a diverse and yet unified, I trust, body of God’s people.
This summer my wife and I visited Switzerland on a trip to Europe with our family. And we visited ????? in Canton Bern, and those of you who know the history, know that that was the concentrated place where the Anabaptists lived. It’s one of the few places in Europe that they actually know who Anabaptists are. There’s an Anabaptist walking trail around the town. We visited the ????? Castle, where Hans ????, the last martyr of the Bernice Anabaptists lived.
In 1671, persecution was renewed in Switzerland, and the authorities in Canton Bern were determined to completely exterminate Anabaptism or make them conform to the Reformed Church. Now these people included my wife’s relatives. My wife was a Shank, and there are many Shanks still living in that area, and I think she’s the 13th generation from the ancestors she had there. And at this particular point, 700 Bernice Anabaptists made the 240 mile trek to the Palatinate in Germany. The refugees included my wife’s 81 year old ancestor Michael Shank, Sr. He was 81 years old. He left his sick wife behind apparently in the care of relatives; she was too sick to make the trek, and he also left 14 children behind. The group included Michael Shank Jr., a 32 year old, with his wife and 4 children, ages 1 to 11. And one of those was 9 or 10 year old Christian who was the actual ancestor of my wife who came to this country.
When they arrived, we have a little bit of a clue the deprivation this group experienced. They arrived with 2 comforters and 6 pieces of coin (and we don’t know how much they were worth, but probably not an awful lot). There’s no horse listed, so we’re assuming that they made this trek pretty much on foot. Why? They had an over-riding priority. It was their devotion to Christ, which is the essence of worship, which we wanna talk about this morning.
What is worship? Probably next to love, is the most misunderstood word in the Christian world. What is worship? Well, the word “worship” comes from the contraction (it is actually a contraction), wor-ship, and the contraction is here because in there should be these 2 letters – “worthship.” That was the old English term; Worthship. It had to do with values.
You see, most Christians define Christianity in terms of morals. And that’s good. Christians are honest, Christians are pure, Christians are kind. Yes, Christians are moral people; I don’t want to minimize that in the least, but after you have focused on your morals, you have not yet quite reached the point of worship because worship has to do with what you do between two things that probably both are legitimate. Which is the most valuable to you? That’s what worship is all about. It’s about values. It’s not particularly – well, I think out of your values come the morals that we’re concerned about, but – values is what worship is all about.
Hebrews chapter 11 says almost nothing about the people’s morals. In fact, some of the people in that chapter had real moral failures. But the thing that unifies the people in that chapter is their value system. They looked for a city that had foundations whose maker and builder was God – unseen. Moses esteemed the reproach of Christ, the reproach of Christ, something nobody would want in the flesh. He esteemed the reproach of Christ of more value (get this value statement) than the treasures in Egypt. Now that is quite a value statement! So worship has to do with values; worship has to do with faith. I really believe a person who doesn’t have his value system right, cannot be called a great person of faith, because faith has to do with believing that those things we do not see are more valuable than anything we see.
And so the question we’re asking this morning is, are we people of faith? Have we just attended to our morals, and let our values basically be the same as the values of the people out there? – that’s the question. In a conversation, what sparks your passion? May I just put this in here yet; I believe that your passion, the thing that gets you the most excited, is in fact the thing which is of the most value to you. Have you ever been in a conversation where they were having a discussion about something and here was a person sitting off to the side, not saying much at all, until you said some subject – fishing! And all of the sudden this person comes alive with stories, with passion; this person you thought maybe couldn’t even talk! He’s worshiping fishing; that’s the number one thing on his value scale.
My question this morning is, what pushes your button and excites your passion? Is it business, young fellows, is it your car, is it hunting, is it recreation, is it entertainment, is it money? Whatever it is that gets you the most excited, and your wife and your family and your business partners all know what that is, whatever that is, that is what you are worshiping. Because worship has to do with the thing to which you give the greatest worth. Jim Wallace said, “That which commands my time, my thoughts, and my energies, is the thing that I, in fact, worship.”
I’ve always been challenged by the example of Robert Murray M’Cheyne, that wonderful evangelist who died at the age of 29. After he had done a tremendous job of evangelizing in Dundee, Scotland, where he lived. This was his statement, “I know of no man on this earth that I know better than Jesus Christ.” “I know of no man on this earth that I know better than Jesus Christ.” David said, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his tabernacle.” One thing! I think that’s what made David the person he was. He was able to focus on one thing, the one most important thing in the entire universe, and keep his focus there through all the vicissitudes of life.
Faith is the ability to maintain a focus on unseen reality as more important than any tangible thing. The person who can keep his focus there on those most valuable things when all these other things are competing and they never take his primary focus off of that most important unseen reality. That is the true man of faith. Everything else becomes a means to an end; it never becomes an end in itself.
Now that was my first point – worship defined. Worship defined is what is the most valuable thing to you as indicated by what gets you the most excited, what the people around you know you talk about most, what everybody knows when they push that button, they’re gonna get the greatest, the most passionate response out of you. Whatever that is, this morning, that’s what we’re worshiping. And that’s the challenge we wanna leave with you. And it is a challenge to all of us because these things – they seem real to us and they take our attention off of that unseen reality.
So, what determines our worship? How can we deal with this issue? I wanna refer just a little bit to Isaiah. It seems that the focus of Isaiah didn’t completely focus, or wasn’t completely on that unseen reality like it should have been, even though he probably was the most holy man in Israel. It seems like his focus or his confidence was on that king Uzziah who was a very good king. If you study 2 Chronicles 26, he did powerful deeds, he was a righteous man, he made Israel great, and I think Isaiah had tremendous confidence in Uzziah, and that’s where he tended to focus for the success of his nation.
But we all know what happened when Uzziah became strong. And if you read 2 Chronicles 26, he became very strong and the nation became very strong and he had a very awful lot to be proud of, and he became proud. And he went into the temple and said, “It’s not good enough for me to be king, I wanna be priest too.” And he tried to offer incense and he was stricken with leprosy. And Isaiah had to spend the rest of that man’s life hearing him cry, “Unclean, unclean, unclean!” and then he died. And when he died, Isaiah’s focus turned to God. Exclusively. To the exclusion of everything else.
That’s what we’re talking about this morning. And we’re gonna be talking about a focus on Christ, doing the same thing. When Uzziah died, Isaiah’s focus turned to God to the exclusion of everything else. He saw the Lord high and lifted up. He observed that presence of God that everybody marveled about that filled the temple with so much glory one time people all had to leave when Solomon dedicated the temple. He saw that that glory was nothing more than the hem of the garment of the Lord. The Lord Himself was way above the temple. Just the little bit of His hem of His garment, the train of His garment, was hanging in the temple.
And then he saw six seraphim; the word literally means ‘burners’. These were seraphim that were burning in their zeal for God and His glory. So much so they covered their face with their wings. They covered their feet with their wings in humility. They covered their faces in reverence. And then with two wings they were instantly obedient to God. And all the time they were crying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is filled with His glory.”
What do we mean by holy? Absolutely unique in perfection and excellence. So worship begins from this example of Isaiah. It begins with a true perception of God, which means we’ve dealt with all the distractions, they’ve all become secondary, and somehow we have managed to achieve God’s glory as primary, and we maintain that focus. That’s worship. Tozer said, “If you could ever extract from an individual what he thinks about when he hears the word ‘God’, what actually goes through his mind, you could with accuracy predict everything about that man’s life.” If I were to ask you what comes to your mind; if you were to ask me what comes to my mind when I think of the word ‘God’, that would be the most telling thing that you could ever learn about me or about you.
John’s message began with a vision similar to Isaiah. His message in Revelation began with a vision of Christ. I’m just gonna read it, “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me and being turned I saw seven golden candlesticks and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like the son of man, clothed with a garment down to his foot, and girt about his paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were a flame of fire, and his feet like unto fine brass as if they burned in a furnace, and his voice as the sound of many waters and he had in his right hand seven stars, and out of his mouth went a sharp, two-edged sword, and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength, and when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.”
That’s where John’s vision began. A true vision of Christ, as you heard from this passage, has a shock and awe effect. You’ll never be the same if you ever get that vision. Jesus becomes the all-consuming passion of the life. It’s the end of self. Somebody has said “The beginning of all true revival has resulted from a fresh vision of Jesus Christ.” The world is too much with us, my friends. The world is too much with us. We have to finally establish that one priority, that unseen priority that transcends all other values. And not only gain that, but maintain it. Out in the work a day world, in the kitchen, wherever, maintain that focus, that Jesus is the only thing that is ultimately real, and everything else has to somehow be a means to that end. That’s true worship.
Let’s just sing that little chorus:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.”
Let’s sing it again:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.”
The Bible says we have to hunger and thirst after righteousness, which is another word for Jesus. Hunger and thirst. A discontent with everything in this world that is unlike Christ. The hunger and thirst. We are constitutionally made for worship. Nothing else will really fill that place in our life except worship. If we try to fill it with some other thing, it will wreak havoc constitutionally. I mean even physically. People who try to put other things in their place lower their immune system and introduce all kinds of negativity even into their physical body because you were not made even physically to worship anything else.
I often illustrate it this way; suppose you decided for whatever reason you needed a handful of stone-dust and you didn’t happen to have it but there were stones in the driveway so you went to the driveway, you brought in the stones, turned on the blender, and put in the stones into the blender. Are you gonna have stone-dust? No, and you’re not gonna have a blender either. The blender was not made to crush stones. You were not made to worship anything else except Jesus. Put Him first in your life. I’m preaching to myself, too; that’s why I’m so passionate. That was the key to the Wesleys’ tremendous power with God. If you study their hymns, there’s one thing you have to say about Wesleys, in spite of the infant baptism, in spite of their identity with the church of England and some other things that I disagree with, there’s one thing you have to say about the Wesleys – they had a passion for Jesus.
“Thou, oh Christ, art all I want,
More than all in Thee I find.”
“Amazing love, how can it be?
That Thou, my God, should’st die for me?”
“I want a principle within,
A watchful, godly fear,
A sensibility of sin,
A pain to feel it near.
“Help me the first approach to feel
Of pride and wrong desire,
To catch the wandering of my will
And quench the kindling fire.”
I mean, these men had a burning passion for Christ and His character. Now how is this focus acquired? How many of you have read William Law’s wonderful book, a wonderful classic, ‘A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life’? Raise your hands high. Every hand really should be up. If you don’t have a copy of it, I think David Bercot’s table’s gone; he sells it. One of the most significant books that ever was written on this subject. In fact, it was the key to the revivals of Wesley and Whitfield. He doesn’t get much credit but they were all reading William Law. And you don’t get very far in his book ‘til he makes an extremely important point; that Spirituality is a matter of intent. If you are a Spiritual person, it’s because you consciously decided to be a Spiritual person. If you are not a Spiritual person, it’s because you never consciously decided to be a Spiritual person. You are just as Spiritual as you want to be – that’s his point. So the first thing we have to do is decide to set our focus on Jesus. Make a conscious decision, that it’ll be what the Wesleys said;
“Thou oh Christ art all I want.
More than all in Thee I find.”
That has to be a matter of intent. And then I would suggest singing. That was another significant part of the contribution of the Wesleys’ – singing. The Bible says, “Come before His presence with singing.” You know, in the old days, the kings, people came to inquire of the king. They never came into his presence without a gift. You never rushed into the presence of the king and said, “King, I want…” No, no, no, no, no. You brought a gift; the best gift you could bring and you offered that gift and then you were in the presence of the king with your request. And God has very clearly told us what the gift is that brings us into Christ’s presence. “And come into His presence with singing. Come before His presence with singing. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.”
Meditate on the Word of Christ. You know, it’s interesting that the passage in Colossians connects that with singing. Notice, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” If you want to develop a passion for Jesus, meditate on the words of Jesus, on the story of Jesus. And then sing that meditation because it says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” You know, the charismatics often say to us that the evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit is tongues. And I’m not here to make negative comments about speaking in tongues; I’ll let that be what it is. But that’s not really what the Bible says. It says, “Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves;” and there’s where it should be – in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
So singing is a very important part of coming into the presence of Christ with intention, with meditation on Who He is, and combine all that together, and you can find your focus finally on Jesus Christ. So that was worship determined. That was my second point: how do you get this to happen?
My third point is worship demonstrated. Worship demonstrated. So how is worship demonstrated? Well, it’s demonstrated by the cross. The cross is the place where all true worship begins. Because, you see (if I can make this thing work like it’s supposed to), I like to think of the cross this way. Let’s just draw a cross. This is your way, right here, this part right here is your way. And that part is Christ’s way. So you’re going along on your way and all of the sudden you realize that your way intersects with Christ’s way, or rather, His intersects with you. And the question is, what do you do? You continue on your way? or do you defer to Christ’s way and say “no” to yourself, say “no” to your flesh, say “no” to your dreams, say “no” to whatever it was that was motivating you, and you turn? And there’s a reason why Jesus said we must take up our cross daily, because all day, every day, we are making decisions. And all day, every day, we must allow the way of Christ to intersect with our way, and self goes on the cross, and Christ goes on the throne, and we change.
The word salvation literally means “salvage.” This is the salvaging process. Christ constantly is intersecting with us and as we constantly defer to Him, say “no” to the flesh and take His way, He’s able to do the work in our hearts that He wants to do and our attitude toward Him becomes true worship. But if we say Jesus is number one in our life and we’re going along this way and we just always keep straight on going. And Jesus is saying very clearly to us, “No, don’t buy that car! No, don’t do that to your hair! No, don’t put that on your dress! No, don’t do this tonight! Go and preach to somebody or witness to somebody or help somebody. Do that instead!” If we don’t hear that… I think the worst hypocrisy is people who say they love Jesus and that they worship Jesus and they’ll meet on Sunday mornings and they’ll put a band up here and they’ll clang and go on and on and on and make a huge noise about their worship of Jesus but this never happens. This is the essence of true worship, because we’re putting self secondary and everything else secondary and we’re putting Jesus as number one, all the time, every day, all day, in every decision.
That’s the secret of great men of God. That was the secret of Robert Murray M’Cheyne. That was the secret of the Wesleys. That was the secret of those Bernice Anabaptists. I mean, imagine, 240 miles on foot, leaving everything behind including your wife and 14 children because of your devotion to Jesus. And yet we live in such a spoiled society and I’m part of it, that it’s hard for us to think of any sacrifice. We have to have the car we want, we have to have the house we want, we have to have everything we want. And Jesus is saying, “Are you willing to take up your cross every day?” The cross is the symbol of true worship. You worship to the extent that the cross is a reality in all the decisions of your life; that’s how much you worship. By that definition most of what people call worship is not worship – it’s not worship at all! There’s no cross, there’s no elevating of Jesus above self, there’s no surrender, there’s no sacrifice.
The cross focuses us on Christ, and that’s why we say that the cross is the symbol of true worship.
It focuses on Christ practically, not just in words. The people who watch our lives can see that Jesus is cutting a cross in the important areas of our life all of the time and we are making hard decisions to put Him number one in our lives. This is nothing more than what Jesus Himself did. He says in John 15 verse 10, “If you keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love,” but listen to this, “Even as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” He’s not asking us to do anything different from what He did. And if you read John 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 – seven chapters in a row, you’ll find in every one of those chapters a statement like this, “I don’t do anything but what my Father tells me to do;” “I don’t say anything but what my Father tells me to say;” “My meat is to do the will of my Father;” “I do always those things that please Him.”
And I wanna talk a little bit about pleasing. Is there a difference between pleasing and obeying? If you obey, you’ve simply done what you’ve been asked to do. It’s the person who sees Christ’s commandments and says, “Oh I guess I have to surrender, eww,” and you know, that’s the attitude, but they do it, they obey Christ, tho’ there’s no joy in it. Pleasing is something altogether different. All parents know the difference between obeying and pleasing. Obeying is the parents go to town and they say, “Johnny, I want this done before I come back,” and they come back and it’s done. Pleasing is while Mom and Father are in town, Johnny says, “I’ll do this but you know what, I would really like to bless Mom and Dad, and I heard Dad say he’d like to have the garden weeded. Eww, I hate to weed the garden but I’m gonna have a delightful time weeding the garden because I’m gonna be rewarded by that smile on Dad’s face when he gets home.” That’s pleasing. And we are not really worshiping, I don’t believe, until our response to Jesus has risen to that level. That this becomes a special gift that we give over and over and over to Jesus and we find delight in giving Him that gift.
David did that one time. Do you know that God never commanded anybody in Israel to build Him a temple? Never. He commanded them to build a tabernacle and gave them specific instructions how to build it, and He was perfectly happy; that’s all God would’ve ever wanted as a place for worship. But David got this idea of building God a magnificent temple, so he went to Nathan and he said, “Nathan, I’d like to build a temple,” and Nathan said, “Do all that’s in your heart.” And then Nathan in the night was spoken to by God and he went to David the next day and he said, “David, God says you’re not to build the temple, but God has something more to say. He’s asking you, ‘Did I ever ask for a temple?’ and the answer is ‘No’, and God says, ‘David, I am so pleased that you wanted to build a temple for Me, just to please Me, no command whatsoever, just to please Me, I’m so happy you wanted to build a temple; I’m not gonna let you build it, but I’m so happy that you wanted to do it, that I’m gonna build you a house, you will always have a king on the throne from your family.” That’s where that promise was made, when David decided to do something to please God.
And what’s the result if we have that attitude toward Jesus? You know, that verse that I just quoted to you, John 15:10, “If you keep my commandments ye shall abide in my love, even as I kept my commandments and abide in my Father’s love.” That verse is followed by this one, “I have said these things unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” Oh – I love those two verses and how they’re put together! If worship does not make Jesus the primary focus of all your life, it is not true worship, that’s the take-away this morning. I want you to leave with that ringing in your ears. If your worship does not make Jesus the primary focus of your life, in all your decisions, all day, every day, and we’ll never do this perfectly, God knows that, but He also knew that David wasn’t perfect, but he was a man after God’s own heart because he always wanted God’s will even though he failed miserably sometimes and had to repent. If worship does not make Jesus the primary focus of all your life, it is not true worship.
What I’ve been describing to you, fits us to truly see Jesus like John saw Him. You know, we all see what we’re fitted to see, did you know that? The Bible says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” The law of seeing is, have you prepared to see? Do you go out into the night sky, or look at the night sky and all you see is stars? If you’ve prepared yourself, you will see more. You will see constellations and they’ll begin to have, you know, a blessing to you. And I could talk to you about some constellations, but you don’t see constellations unless you’ve prepared to see them.
When you go walking out in nature, do you see medicinal herbs? or do you just see weeds? All I see is weeds. Why? I have not fitted myself to see the others. I went on a walk with my friend Roman J. Miller who was a biologist, in the woods, and I’ve never forgotten that walk. To me, a walk in the woods is just a walk in the woods. I enjoy the trees, I enjoy whatever’s there, I enjoy the fresh air, I enjoy the smell of the woods, I enjoy some things about the woods. But on that walk, he told me about almost every tree, how to identify it, what the leaves look like, the qualities of that tree, what it could be used for, the various plants, the names of the flowers, what medicinal value some flowers had. When we got through that walk, I thought, “Now this is interesting. You see what you are fitted to see.”
And if you take up the cross, you will become fitted to see Jesus. And that song that we just sang, “and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” Because there will be a glory attend your life and the things that are happening in your experience because of that. Ok?
Worship will separate you from sinners and their trivial values. We’ve been talking about values. Another take-away from this meeting is, always remember that worship is connected to values. And values are connected to faith. This is the very center and heart of what it means to be a Christian. Does your worship separate you from sinners and their trivial values? The Bible says, “For such a high priest became us (or was fitting for us), who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners” Hebrews 7:26. Is there a clear demarcation in your life between the values there and all that flows from it, and the values there on the heavenly and all that flows from it? Can people see a clear demarcation there? Let me tell you that everything connected with those values is trivial, transient, relatively worthless unless they are a means to this end, that’s the only thing that gives them value. In and of themselves, they are absolutely worthless – they’re worse than worthless.
Let me illustrate. Suppose Albert Einstein had decided to devote his life to cutting out paper dolls. Just think about that. What difference that would’ve made in our world, if Albert Einstein had dedicated his whole life to cutting out paper dolls. That’s a picture of what’s going on with many Christians. Here’s this whole value system that has true value, that can make a real contribution to the kingdom of God. It’s the place where everything really finally finds its culmination, but this person is over here fiddling his time away, oh big time, people admire him, he’s a great businessman, he does all kinds of wonderful things and dazzles people’s thinking with all this stuff, but is cutting paper dolls. It’s cutting paper dolls! Worship will take you away from that and you will use only that which you can use from that, to further this interest, to further this focus, this value system.
Let’s talk a little bit about corporate worship, which is where the focus is to rest here. This is still on this passage we’ve been looking at, from Acts 2 and I’m not going to read it. It said they were constantly together and they were constantly breaking bread. Now Brother Curt addressed this last night. I think it’s pretty obvious that they were celebrating the Communion service. Constantly. Why? Because that did not allow any part of their worship to deviate from a focus on Jesus Christ. The Eucharist, if you wanna use that term, the Eucharist or the Communion, was the focus, and everything else focused in on that. They focused on Christ by a constant practice of Communion.
I want you to turn to this one; I want you to turn to Luke chapter 24, where we have that wonderful walk on the way to Emmaus and I just want you to see what happened here, beginning in verse 28 it says, “and they drew nigh until the village whither they went and he made as though he was would have gone further but they constrained him, saying ‘Abide with us for it is toward evening and the day is far spent.’ and he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass as he sat at meat with them, he took bread and blessed it, and break, and gave to them.” Do you see what follows? “And their eyes were opened, and they knew him.” Then they go back to Jerusalem and I want you to see what they said in verse 35, “and they told what things were done in the way and how he was known of them in the breaking of bread.”
I don’t know what goes through your mind during Communion, but the breaking of bread always is a very, very, very emotional thing with me because Jesus Christ is revealed to us in the breaking of bread, the broken body, the sacrifice He made, the symbol that it represents of our unity, and all of the things connected with it.
Communion – I’m gonna tread a little bit on some dangerous ground here – but you take this for what it’s worth. I think our Anabaptists made a little bit of a mistake, and I don’t want you to run away with this and I don’t want you to take this as a severe criticism, but I think they made a little bit of a mistake, they were reacting against the mindless practice of the Mass, of the Roman Catholic Church, and they didn’t wanna put any particular dynamic on the Communion service so they said, “It’s just a symbol.” They got that from Zwingli by the way, there were other mistakes the Anabaptists made; they weren’t perfect.
And this one I think they were over-reacting, because I want you to notice that in 1 Corinthians 10:16 it says, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the Communion of the blood of Christ?” Also, it’s a cup of blessing, so something is actually happening when we take Communion. We’re receiving a blessing. It’s not just a symbol. We know it’s not a symbol for the person who eats and drinks unworthily because it says he drinks damnation – there’s something happening when he drinks. But all my life I guess I thought nothing was happening when we partook. Now wait a minute here. So the only person that gets anything out of the Communion, anything tangible happening in the Communion service is the person who’s getting damnation. I don’t like that. It says, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the Communion of the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ?” It’s not just a symbol.
The breaking of bread focused their worship on a constant dynamic encounter with the person of Christ. It inspired a Communion of all of life, focused on Him and focused on the kingdom of God. I like that. It was a symbol of that, for sure.
Corporate worship, according to 1 Corinthians 14:31, is the full participation of all, not just a few actors on a stage. It says, “you may all prophesy one by one.” Or did you know that the earliest Anabaptists criticized the Reformed churches because they said, “You do not practice a 1 Corinthians 14:26-33 church service. You have one man get up and preach and everybody else are spectators. That’s not a Scriptural view of the church.” That was one of their criticisms and one of the reasons they gave for not attending the Reformed churches because they said, “You don’t practice the Scriptural church service.”
We’re talking about demonstrating worship, and it finds its demonstration finally in a group of people who have put Jesus on the cross out there through the whole week, coming together, making their contributions, celebrating the Communion service, focusing on Jesus, and reinforcing the principle by which they live, which is true worship of Jesus Christ, that puts their worth in the right realm.
And last of all – and quickly – worship declared. Worship is an encounter with Christ. This is an encounter with Christ, a very, very powerful encounter with Christ, which we have constantly and then we come together and we have a true encounter with Christ, because we’ve been doing this all week, every day, all day. How can you not declare it?
Somebody described going to see Old Faithful, which is in Yellowstone National Park. I’ve never been there, but they say every 80 minutes Old Faithful gives you its show and it lasts for one minute, the water spout is 100 feet in the air. And people sit with anticipation on seats on one side of that geyser and just wait for that to happen. And all of the sudden it happens. And people walk away and say, “Did you see that!? Can we see it again? I can’t wait to get home and tell my friends!”
Did you know – oh, I want you to turn to this one too – would you turn to Matthew 28? Wrapping up here what we’ve been talking about. Verse 16. We all know about the Great Commission, we all are talking about we need to get out there and tell people about the Lord and on and on and on, and that’s all true. Verse 16, “Then the 11 disciples went away into Galilee into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them and when they saw Him, they worshiped Him.” Did you know that the Great Commission was given in the context of worship? That was their motivation to go out and tell the whole world because they worshiped Him and He had caught their imagination and their enthusiasm and their passion and their value system and they could not wait to tell the world what they had found.
Only those who worship (and I’m glad this has stayed up here the whole time), only those who have worshiped Christ, have constantly deferred to Him in all their decisions, not perfectly, but this is a credible characteristic of them. This is how they respond to Jesus, all of the time, as an ideal, at least. They will experience, they will have an encounter with Jesus Christ, that those who’ve not done that will never know, and they will be motivated to tell of the wonderful things that happen in an encounter with Christ.
I’d like to conclude by referring to a person that’s always sort of captured my interest. His name is Gypsy Smith. Gypsy Smith was born in a Gypsy camp near London. He taught himself to read and write, and by the way, he couldn’t read and write very well. Somebody asked Gypsy Smith one time, “What do you do when you’re reading the Bible publicly and you get to a hard word you can’t pronounce?” And Gypsy said, “Well, I usually stop before I get to the word and I make few comments and then I start to read on the other side of it.” That’s how he handled his reading. But Gypsy Smith got converted and it put a passion in his heart. Everywhere he went after that, he loved to walk up to groups of people and sing a Gospel song to them. He just had a passion to sing the Gospel. He was known as the “singing Gypsy boy.” William Booth noticed him and he recruited him for the Salvation Army. And this man was an evangelist for 70 years. When he was in his late 80’s (he died at the age of 87), right up to his death, he was still preaching the Gospel. He’d come to this country, he not only preached but he sang, he sang, “Oh that will be glory for me.” He’s the one who set the nation singing that glory song. His publisher, Fleming Revell, asked him at the end of his 80’s, “What is the secret to this, that you’re still preaching and you’re still singing with a passion in your heart?” And his answer was, “I have never lost the wonder. I have never lost the wonder.” He further said, “I didn’t go through any of your colleges or seminaries; they wouldn’t have me. But I have been to the feet of Jesus where the only true scholarship is learned.”
My friends, my brothers, my sisters, I look over your faces this morning. I see tremendous potential here. If every person left this tabernacle to truly worship, I honestly believe we would see things that we have not seen before. Shall we bow our heads for a word of prayer.
Our Father, we thank You so much for this day. We thank You Lord, for the example, teaching and resurrection power of Jesus Christ. Oh God, help us to get ourselves out of the value system of this world and fix our values on Christ and maintain that as we make the decisions in our lives day by day. Bless this congregation, Father, send them out into the world as burning brands of fire for the worth of Jesus. In His name we pray. Amen.