What do you think of when you consider the weekly and regular worship of God by the gathered church on the Lord’s Day? Do you think of the singing or the preaching or the praying? What happens when God’s people worship him rightly?
In his book titled, Worship: The Ultimate Priority John MacArthur provides four specific results that occur in the lives of God’s people when they engage in true biblical worship.
- God is Glorified
- The Church is Purified
- The Church is Edified
- The Lost are Evangelized
As we read about the early church in Acts and as we examine the work of church planting—it seems that these effects are the natural outflow of a healthy church. What about you and your local church? Are these results evident in your context of worship?
God is Glorified
One thing that must be central as we gather weekly for worship is that the service is not about us. If it’s about us—including the music, the preaching, or any other element—it cannot be about God. We gather to praise God for his worthiness and exalt God for his glory and magnificence. Worship is not entertainment.
The sobering reality is that God is not glorified by sloppy and unbiblical worship. It matters how we pray to God. It matters how we sing to God. It matters how we listen to the sermons. Everything we do as we gather for worship should be vertically focused and we must make much of our glorious God. When God is central, only then can God be rightly glorified.
The Church is Purified
How many worship services have you attended in your Christian life? Do you believe that you’ve been changed as a result of worshiping God? Worship—true and biblical worship—changes us. We cannot draw near to God and expect to remain the same.
Have you met a professing Christian who claims to have an unbridled tongue? Maybe they’ve said something like, “I come about my tongue honestly. I get it from a long line of family members. We just don’t have a filter.” The question remains, how can a person draw near to God and not have their tongue impacted by God? Remember Isaiah in his magnificent vision of Isaiah 6? That was one thing that was immediately clear to him.
Isaiah 6:6 – Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. (ESV)
The calling of God upon us as his people is to be holy—as God is holy (1 Pet. 1:16). If we can gather for worship on a weekly basis and it doesn’t change us and cause us to become more conformed the image of God’s Son—we have not worshiped God properly (Rom. 8:29).
John MacArthur rightly states, “If the corporate worship in the church leaves people unchanged the church is not worshiping.”
The Church is Edified
The edification of God’s people is essential in true worship. When we come to the realization that worship matters because God matters it will revolutionize our worship. Since worship matters, how we worship God is essential. Words matter and words serve as the building blocks of doctrinal truth. If we are to know God and worship God rightly, we must engage our minds. If we are to be edified in worship, we must know some things about ourselves and about God.
Often times proper edification comes on the other side of confrontation. The kind of preaching that refuses to confront people with their sin leads a church in the opposite direction of biblical worship. Soft preaching produces hard hearts and hard preaching produces soft hearts. When David was confronted, his response was repentance and then edification (Ps. 51). When Peter denied Jesus, he repented and was later restored by Jesus (John 21). We will be edified in the faith as we draw near to God (James 4:8) and pursue God in holiness.
The Lost are Evangelized
In the book of Acts, the church was divided as it grew in number and some of the widows were being neglected. They were not receiving the proper care from the church. In Acts 6, we find the origination of the office of deacon and upon the establishment of these seven men—the church was unified and able to free up the apostles to study the Word and pray. The result is key—the word of God increased and many people came to faith in Christ.
A church that learns to worship properly will leave with burning hearts that desire to proclaim the good news of King Jesus. Selfish people have shallow worship and cold hearts to the lost world. We must learn the proper connection between true worship and true evangelism.
The weekly and regular worship of the church should not be designed for the unbeliever nor should it be designed as an evangelistic crusade. The people of God must worship God and the people of God must be fed properly with a rich diet of God’s truth. However, when God’s people worship rightly, any unbeliever who is present will come face-to-face with the good news of Jesus and the living hope of the church. A sloppy and lazy worshiping church is a shameful thing in the eyes of a watching world.