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Worship: A Commitment . . . Not a War, Part Two, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll
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May 3, 2022 7:05 am

Worship: A Commitment . . . Not a War, Part Two, Part 2

Insight for Living / Chuck Swindoll

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May 3, 2022 7:05 am

The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal

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Worship focuses on how worthy our God is.

Today on Insight for Living from Chuck Swindoll. Worship is losing ourselves in wonder and love and praise as Wesley once put it. It is being so preoccupied with our God that nothing on this earth gains a significant place in our thinking.

Our trials become reduced and the changes that God brings only hold us to Him closer. Today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll continues his teaching series called The Church Awakening and our topic may stir up some strong emotion. You see, on Sunday mornings congregations around the world make intentional choices about the kind of music they sing and the flow of their worship service. Opinions abound on what's appropriate and what's not.

In fact, sometimes the instruments we use, the style of music that's presented, causes friction between friends. Well, as we wade into the volatile issue of worship wars, Chuck reminds us that getting worship right takes commitment. To meet with a body of people who didn't want to fight. Though some were veterans of it and still licking their wounds after it, they longed for a place where there could be meaningful worship. Still relevant, interesting teaching, important instruction, all from the Bible, but not yielding to the trend of our times.

And you found your place at Stonebriar Community Church. I'm going to speak plainly here and I'm not going to concern myself with anyone else's opinion at this point. It's been my observation as I study the war that much of it is fueled by man-centered schemes and flesh-driven promotion. War over worship. Isn't it strange that the oxymoronic words would be placed together? Worship wars? Never meant to be.

The aggressors who promote the war have no sympathy for or patience with those who resist it. Some of you have been caught in the crossfire. And after getting weary of the fight in the place where you for years had once enjoyed worship, you found yourself no longer able to understand that place of ministry. You determined you would find a church that wasn't divided by the war. A place that upholds worship as a commitment, not as something to fight about.

A historical tradition in the teeth. And they label long-standing principles that can be found in the Scriptures as woefully irrelevant, out of date, and if you still embrace them, you are known to them as a dinosaur. Everything seems to be determined in those churches as an appeal to the felt needs of casual observers. So that whatever you do, keep up the entertainment. I had a friend tell me following one of our boarding worship services that in a church he once attended, he finally decided he couldn't continue because for several Sundays, the pastor repelled from the ceiling down the wall of the church and showed up almost as a sideshow tactic.

And I realized, he said, it's a game of one-upmanship where depth is not of concern, only the superficial. In-depth instruction, solid biblical exposition from the Scriptures, there's no place for it. Now there are little six to eight minute sermonettes, which in my opinion are for Christianettes.

And as a result, you grow about that deeply, about two inches deep and about 12 miles wide. I remember talking with pastors who are enamored of that. And by the way, some are seeing the light. One of the better known of the churches that promoted this have rather recently, those people have recently said we were wrong.

We were wrong. We thought what we were doing would build people into worshipers and we realized it was not happening and we need to return to the teaching of the Scriptures. So praise God for that. I thought if it were possible for the great preachers and the gifted composers and the strong teachers of theology of the 18th and 19th and early part of the 20th century to return to the earth today and to visit most churches, they would find themselves somewhere between personally embarrassed and absolutely shocked.

They would say to themselves, if they stayed through the whole service, that was worship? Please do not get the false impression that we are the only ones left like Elijah felt when he was sitting under the juniper tree. That's not true. But our ranks are thinner. Our numbers are smaller. You're in a very unique house of worship.

You know that, don't you? You deliberately drive by, some of you, dozens of others, to come to this little place where you have found freedom from the war and the presence of serious biblical exposition. Because you want your children taught.

You want your teenagers instructed, encouraged, and deepened. I said we weren't alone and I'm pleased to quote today from Stephen Lawson's fine four-piece article in Bibliotheca Sacra, which is the Theological Journal of Dallas Seminary. Stephen brought this lectureship at the seminary back in 2001, a magnificent four-part series on the importance of expository preaching. In his first lecture he says this, As the church advances into the 21st century, the stress to produce booming ministries has never been greater.

Influenced by corporate mergers, towering skyscrapers, and expanding economies, bigger is perceived as better. And nowhere is this Wall Street mentality more evident than in the church. Sad to say, pressure to produce bottom line results has led many ministries to sacrifice the centrality of biblical preaching on the altar of man-centered pragmatism. Still quoting, a new way of doing church is emerging. In this radical paradigm shift, exposition is being replaced with entertainment, preaching with performances, doctrine with drama, and theology with theatrics. The pulpit, once the focal point of the church, is now being overshadowed by a variety of church growth techniques, everything from trendy worship styles to glitzy presentations to vaudeville-like pageantries. In seeking to capture the upper hand in church growth, a new wave of pastors is reinventing the church and repackaging the gospel into a product to be sold to consumers. Whatever reportedly works in one church is being franchised out to various markets abroad.

Listen to these terms. You think I'm describing a growing number of Starbucks coffee shops franchising around the country. That's when gold was discovered in the foothills of California, so ministers are beating a path to the doorsteps of exploding churches and super-hyped conferences where the latest strike has been reported. Unfortunately, the newly panned gold often turns out to be fool's gold.

Not all that glitters is actually gold. Admittedly, and here is very fair, pastors can learn from growing churches and successful ministries. Yet God's work must be done God's way if it is to know God's blessing. He provides the power and he alone receives the glory only as his divinely prescribed plan for ministry is followed.

When man-centered schemes are followed, often imitating the world's schemes, the flesh provides the energy and man receives the glory. In a strange twist, the preaching of the cross is now foolishness not only to the world, but also to the contemporary church. My desire in addressing the subject of worship certainly included messages like this in my plan. I think it's time that we announce openly and without reluctance that Stonebriar Community Church is a church for our times. But it is not a church caught up in the trends, nor by the grace of God will we ever be. It is a church I hope that will be marked by balance, always been our goal from the start. I even attempt to balance Old Testament and New Testament in my instruction.

I hope to balance doctrine with practical application in my messages. But it will always be from the Bible and it will never be to show off or to call attention to me or for any musician to call attention to herself or himself. We do not play and sing or preach for any man's glory. It is all for the glory of our God. It's a part of our philosophy of worship. And worship has to do with the magnification of our great God, which means I'm not important in the process.

I'm not significant in the act. I bow before Him who is supreme and I acknowledge in the bowing that I am not, nor is my way important nor are my words more valuable than anyone else's words. My words take on significance only when they are filtered through the inerrant text of the Holy Scriptures. And the day this messenger stops preaching from this book, I urge you to run in the other direction.

Your time is far more valuable than that. Any time when our music calls attention to the musician, we've missed it. Any time when this church builds a building that in some ways tries to impress a community, we've missed the mark. When the church does what it ought to be doing, it becomes such a curious thing. Those without Christ are drawn if by nothing else than curiosity.

How could this many people want to listen to that guy that long in a place that looks like that? I've got to find out what's going on. And when he comes or when she comes, there's the discovery it is something beyond any of that. It is the presence and the power of the living God at work. That's what it is about.

That's why we're here. Worship focuses on how worthy our God is. Worship is a declaration of his supreme majesty. Worship is losing ourselves in wonder and love and praise, as Wesley once put it. It is being so preoccupied with our God that nothing on this earth gains a significant place in our thinking.

Our trials become reduced. The discoveries of life become exciting. And the changes that God brings without explaining his reasons only hold us to him closer.

And we discover there's a dimension of life that is supernatural and unseen, and the invisibility of it adds to the invincibility of it. And we sit in his magnificent presence from one week to the next and from one class to the next, thanking him for his precious word that lives and abides forever and will never be irrelevant and doesn't need a preacher to make it relevant. The job of the preacher is to show you how relevant it is. I simply declare what's there.

Now, watch it, I'll go on for two hours if you keep that up. Boy, that'll quiet him down right quick, won't it? Turn to Matthew chapter 15. I want you to see an example of vain worship. Matthew 15.

Oh, what a magnificent subject this is to get into. I want you to see Jesus as he is on the street, if you will, facing his opposers, his opponents. They're called Pharisees and scribes, verse 1. And they come to him from Jerusalem saying, by the way, before we read what they said, understand, they're all hot and bothered because the disciples weren't following the guidebook of the Pharisees and the scribes. It isn't the book of God that's called the Torah. In the Torah, there are 10 commandments, but for the Pharisees and scribes, there were over 650 more that they added, which means such things as this is the way you wash your hands before you eat your meal. And there was a tedious, lengthy process you go through as you fulfill the traditions of men.

And if you don't, you're wrong. They shun you. Ultimately, they judge you. And the final point is they drive you out because you need to do what they are telling you to do. Legalism at its worst.

So here's an example. Jesus is with his men. They've been eaten from the field. They didn't wash their hands, so the Pharisees show up and they're complaining. Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? Notice they didn't say the Holy Scriptures. They are transgressing the tradition of the elders, for they don't wash their hands when they eat bread. And he answered and said to them, Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?

Do you get it? He trumps their criticism by mentioning the sacred text. They may be ignoring the tradition of your list, but here is the word of God that they're not ignoring, and why do you ignore it while upholding your traditions? Well, he goes on to give them an example. God said, and he describes it, verse 5, But you say.

So they come in with their interpretation and their addition to the text, and they go further than God ever allowed them to go. Verse 7, he says it like it is, You hypocrites. Now I'm going to pause for a moment and let you think about that. When is the last time you ever said that to anybody? Probably never.

I can't remember the last time I ever said it. First of all, we don't feel qualified, but Jesus is because he's perfect. He knew motive. He had heard enough to know that they were hypocrites. They sounded one way, but they acted another. Their hearts are filled with all kinds of judgmentalism. He says, why do you act like you're so righteous when in fact you're a bunch of hypocrites?

In fact, rightly did Isaiah prophesy, and he quotes to them extemporaneously from the scrolls of Isaiah. These people honor me with their lips. That's not worship.

But their heart is far away from me. That's not worship. God doesn't want our lips. He wants all of us, hearts, lips, every bit of us. But in vain they worship.

Look at the words. In vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrine the precepts of men. He called his disciples to him, or the multitudes to him, and he said to them, Hear and understand.

Not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, that defiles the man. And I love verse 12, one of my favorites. The disciples said to him, Do you know the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?

You think? Let me tell you, every time you speak the truth, someone will be offended, especially Pharisees. Certainly those who are running from the truth, those who do not acknowledge that God's word is the truth, you will be offended. You will be offended by the frank, bold nature of the proclamation that comes with exposition. The scripture cuts through, cuts into, beyond the soul and spirit, beyond the joints and the marrow, and it is a criticus, it is a critic of the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

That's why when you hear Bible exposition, you feel exposed. I've had men say to me after the service, My wife called you, didn't she? And I said, I don't even know who your wife is.

No, no, no, no. Don't jerk me around. She called this week, didn't she? I said, No, I haven't talked. She didn't tell you about someone. I said, No. He says, I thought when you were preaching, you wanted me to hear it because she had talked to you.

I said, I don't even know your name. But you know what's happened? The word of God is penetrating. It is touching.

It is cutting. That's why you have to have the delivery of the word of God. That's why it's essential for life because the invisible, invincible, almighty, sovereign God of heaven is revealing himself and his truth to people like us living in this time. We don't get any help from our culture. We don't get any help from our times.

You get very little help from any school you attend. You will get little help from many churches. So the word of God becomes the source of truth for us. And so he says to them, of course they're offended.

Of course. I'm telling them about the word of God and I'm exposing the traditions of men. Turn from here to Romans 11. Had a fellow say to me following the first morning service, I thought we were through with Romans. My answer was you're never through with Romans. What the dictionary is to the English language, the letter to the Romans is to the Christian. You will keep coming back to Romans and keep coming back to Romans.

Let me tell you where we are because it's been a few weeks and you probably forgot. Way back at the beginning of Romans, he reveals us as sinners, lost, undone, without hope. There's no way we're going to reach God on our own. No one seeks God.

No one. No one on his own has any interest in spiritual things. That is certainly not the biblical God of heaven. And so God must intervene and he did in Christ and he brought his grace. He reached in and loved us when we weren't very lovely and we came to know Christ. That's chapter 5.

We had the struggles of chapter 6, 7, and 8. And then finally in 9, 10, and 11, Paul has been building this doctrinal base. When he gets to chapter 11, verse 33, he speaks in what is called evocative. Oh, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God. There's nothing among mankind that would ever deserve such a statement. But with the living God, oh, the depth of the riches, the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God. And look at the next two words as he uses them. How unsearchable are his judgments and unfathomable his ways. Aren't those great words? Unsearchable. Unfathomable.

You know why I like that? It means I don't have the answers. So why do I spend so much of my time wasting it on finding answers when I'm to trust him? So God's plan was to do an unfathomable, unsearchable work in our lives. Oh, the depth of the riches of such a thought. That puts God in a completely different category. That's who we worship. That's why we worship.

We bow to no other. This is the one and only God. CHUCK SWINDALL Chuck Swindall is showing us what the Bible says about worship in its truest form. It's a topic he's been addressing for several programs now.

This is Insight for Living, and to learn more about this ministry, visit us online at Well, Chuck titled this portion of our study, Worship, a Commitment, Not a War, Part 2. If you're prepared to learn more about this topic, it's really important to meet the man who shaped our understanding of worship. I'm referring, of course, to Paul the Apostle. Along those lines, you'll be pleased to learn that Chuck has written a book about Paul's life. In this fascinating biography, you'll discover how God used Paul, a one-time Christian hater, to write major portions of the New Testament, such as Romans and the two letters to Timothy. Chuck's biography of Paul is titled, Paul, a Man of Grace and Grit.

His conversion to Christianity was nothing short of miraculous as he moved from legalism to a grace-filled life. To purchase a copy, go to slash offer, or call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. You often hear us say that Insight for Living relies on your personal support to make these daily programs not only on your local radio station but on a variety of channels that make learning more about the Bible easily accessed by people everywhere.

It's our goal, our mission, to make disciples of Jesus Christ in all 195 countries of the world. If it's been a while since you've responded to the need or you've never stepped forward with a contribution, we invite you to do that today. To give a donation today, just give us a call.

If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Or give your donation online when you visit slash donate. By the way, we hope you're taking advantage of Chuck Swindoll's daily devotional. It's sent to your inbox each morning to help you start your day with God. The email devotional is free.

To sign up, go to slash devotional. Treat yourself to a vacation you'll never forget on the Insight for Living Ministries cruise to the great frontier with Chuck Swindoll. Honestly, I had no idea that a cruise to Alaska could be so much fun. And without a doubt, the stunning views took my breath away. God's artistic genius is on full display in Alaska.

In fact, I guarantee this. You'll come home refreshed and filled with awe for his majestic creation. Yeah, at one point our ship was getting chased by dolphins.

They were playing and spinning in the waves. It was amazing. We'll have plenty of time for adventures on shore, lingering conversations around mealtime, and strolling through the idyllic ports of call. You'll be a part of some of the best parts of our day, laughing, singing, and celebrating our God. Plan to come with us, won't you?

The dates are July 1st through July 8th, 2023. To learn more, call 1-888-447-0444. That's 1-888-447-0444. Or visit slash events.

The tour to Alaska is paid for and made possible by only those who choose to attend. I'm Bill Meyer. Chuck Swindoll concludes his in-depth study about overcoming the worship wars tomorrow, right here on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Worship, A Commitment, Not a War, Part 2, was copyrighted in 2008, 2010, and 2022, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-24 01:14:47 / 2023-04-24 01:23:50 / 9

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