We Glorify God - Radical

We Glorify God

Every week, the local church comes together to worship God together. Why is this eternally significant? In this message on Hebrews 10:19-25, Pastor David Platt and Matt Mason share about the power of worshipping God together. They share seven truths about Christian worship.

  1. Christian worship is God-centered.
  2. Christian worship is Word-driven.
  3. Christian worship is gospel-saturated.
  4. Christian worship is personally honest.
  5. Christian worship is appropriately horizontal.
  6. Christian worship is authentically expressive.
  7. Christian worship is inevitably missional.

If you have Bible and I hope you do, turn with me to Hebrews 10. Last week, we started off our year together as a faith family talking about the importance of every follower of Christ making disciples of Christ as a member of the church. I don’t like recommending my preaching, but if you were not here last week, particularly if you are a member of this faith family, let me encourage you to download that message and listen to it at some point this week. We covered some foundational truths for our faith family, and in that message, I challenged every member of our faith family to complete a personal disciple-making plan during this month. I walked through various questions to consider, and we’ve made a fillable PDF form available online for you to use in that.

I want to encourage you, if you’ve not already completed that, to complete that at some point this month, maybe even this week. I want to encourage every small group leader to lead the people in your small group through that process. You set the example and then help one another plan how you and I and we will most intentionally be disciples who make disciples this year. This is what we are on the earth to do. This is what it means to be a church. And this is what Christ in the gospel compels us to do: to grow as disciples as we give our lives to making disciples. I’m praying that all of us—every member of this body— do this during this month. While we’re doing this individually, over the next few Sundays, I want us to think together about what this means for us as the body of Christ, as a faith family.

Every new member workshop we have begins with me saying to potential new members that there’s one sentence that sums up who we are and what we do as The Church at Brook Hills. One sentence that I hope every leader and every member of this body would be able to say: this is what we’re about. And that sentence is simple: “We glorify God by making disciples of all nations.” That’s what we do as a church. That’s who we are as a faith family. We’re a people, brothers and sisters joined together in the gospel who want God’s glory more than we want our own lives. We glorify Him by making disciples of all nations, from Birmingham to the ends of the earth.

This is at the heart of our church covenant: “Having been brought by divine grace to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and to surrender our lives to Him, and having been baptized as Christians in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, we covenant together to glorify God by making disciples of all nations.” Over the next three weeks, I want us to think about how that sentence plays out in the life of our faith family, how that sentence drives everything we do as a church. I’m going to involve some of our other pastors/elders who lead us in these areas, and I want you to hear their heart—and together our heart—when it comes to loving and leading this body to glorify God by making disciples of all nations.

This morning we’re looking at glorifying God, and I’ve asked Matt Mason, our Worship Pastor, to help me in sharing the eternal significance of what it means for us to gather together week by week as the people of God to give glory to God. This is what Hebrews 10 is all about. Let me read this text to you, and then let it lead us to consider what it means to glorify God as a local church, as a gathering of God’s people in this room.

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up

one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:19—25).

Do you see the similarities between this language and the language of our church covenant? If you look on the front of your worship guide at our church covenant, you’ll see the beginning of those first few major paragraphs: “Together, we will draw near to God in worship … Together, we will hold fast to the hope we profess … Together, we will spur one another on to love and good deeds.” It’s straight from Hebrews 10.

There are all kinds of ways we carry out these things as a church, but one of the primary ways is in our meeting together in this room for the purpose of worship. Turn a couple of pages over to the right to Hebrews 12, and I want you to see what the author says there. The author is encouraging Christians in the church, “Don’t neglect gathering together, assembling together.” Why? I want you to listen to what he says. He’s talking about when they gather together, and he makes a reference to how God’s people way back in the Old Testament had gathered together for worship at Mt. Sinai They had seen God revealed in a blazing fire and a smoking mountain—talk about a worship service—but then listen to what the author of Hebrews says. Verse 18,

“For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.’ Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear.’ But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Heb. 12:18—24).

The author of Hebrews says, “Church, when you gather together, you are, in a very real sense, joining in with a heavenly assembly filled with throngs of angels and the church of all time, saints throughout the ages, together with them as the people of God to ascribe glory to God.” I don’t want us to ever lose sight of the significance of what we do when we come together for worship. We have a dangerous tendency in our culture to approach worship gatherings like this casually, and I want us to feel the gravity of worship this morning.

Every Sunday when we gather together, we are doing something that is so awesome, so distinct, so different than anything else we do all week long. We are joining in what God’s people have done ever since they gathered together at Mt. Sinai. We are assembling together to meet with God. We are joining with each other, joining with angels in heaven and the church throughout the ages, to sing His praise, to celebrate His salvation, and to listen to Him speak to us!

Edmund Clowney writes:

“Reverent corporate worship…is not optional for the church of God. It is not a form of group behavior to be accepted just because of its long tradition or its acceptability in many cultures. [i.e., this is not something we do because we’re supposed to in our Sunday routine!] Rather, [corporate worship] brings to expression the very being of the church. It manifests on earth the reality of the heavenly assembly.”

What a picture! Our worship, brothers and sisters, is an earthly expression of a heavenly assembly. In the words of Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28—29). What, then, is acceptable when we gather together to glorify God in worship? In your note there are seven truths about Christian worship that biblically inform what we do when we gather together as the church. I’m going to hit the first three, and then Matt is going to lead us through the next three, and then I’ll close us out with the last one.

Hebrews 10 19–25 Reminds Us that Christian Worship is God-Centered

Number one, Christian worship is God-centered. Worship centers around God. Psalm 29 (we said it earlier in our worship gathering): “Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness” (Ps. 29:1—2). Psalm 147: “Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting” (Ps. 147:1). Yes, it is.

What we are doing today is fitting. We are gathering together to declare to one another and to the world: God is great, and God is glorious.

God orchestrates history to display His glory.

We know this to be true from cover to cover in Scripture because God orchestrates history to display His glory. Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the nations and I will be exalted in the earth” (Ps. 46:10). Isaiah 43:7: “I have created my people for my glory” (Is. 43:7). Romans 11:36: “From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever” (Rom. 11:36).

All of history will culminate, Philippians 2:9—11, in every single knee bowing and every single tongue confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. From cover to cover in Scripture, from the first page to the last page of history, God is passionate about His glory. God is God-centered.

God lives, in a very real sense, to exalt Himself. If that rubs us wrong, we should ask the follow up question, “Who else would we have Him exalt?” For at whatever point He were to exalt someone or something else, He would no longer be the God who is worthy of all exaltation, and He is.

God ordains the church to enjoy His glory.

But that’s not the end of the story. I want you to see how God glorifies Himself in history. God glorifies Himself by saving sinners. God orchestrates history to display His glory, and God ordains the church to enjoy His glory. God ordains the crucifixion of His Son in the place of sinners so that we might know His salvation and enjoy His glory forever and ever.

Don’t miss this. We don’t worship every Sunday out of duty. We worship out of delight. We worship for joy. We are most satisfied in our lives when God is most glorified in our lives.

So for our good and for God’s glory we cultivate a high view of God (as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in our worship. We are not worshiping a vague God; we are worshiping the one, true living God who is Triune in nature. We sing and we speak and we pray before the Father through the Son by the Spirit.

We center on Him, and the more we center on Him, the more we are humbled before Him. As we cultivate a high view of God, we nurture a humble view of ourselves. We remind ourselves every week that God is the center of the universe—not us. He is supremely worthy of honor and glory and praise, over and above everything this world has to offer us, and we were made to enjoy His glory as we exalt His glory. Christian worship is God centered.

Christian worship is Word-driven.

Second, Christian worship is Word-driven. The Word of God drives the worship of God. God’s Word drives our worship in every way. It drives what we sing, what we say, what we pray, everything.

As we expose the Word, God directs our worship.

Here’s the way it works—it’s simple, yet significant: As we expose the Word, God directs our worship. From beginning to end in our worship, all throughout the middle, we want to expose God’s Word in confidence that God will direct our worship. This is one of the main reasons why preaching is so prominent in our worship. It’s not because David Platt or any other pastor or preacher here thinks he has something to share in and of himself. It’s because God has spoken, and we as His people need to and want to listen to what He has said.

Talking about worship, Hebrews 12:25 says, “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking” (Heb. 12:25). The “him” who is speaking is God! That’s why in our preaching our pastors do expository preaching—preaching that exposes the Word of God to the people of God. We open this Word, we study it, we listen to it, and we respond to it.

Worship thus becomes a rhythm of His revelation and our response. In this way, worship thus becomes a rhythm of His revelation and our response. God reveals Himself through His Word, and we respond in our praying. God reveals Himself through His Word, and we respond with our singing. God reveals Himself through His Word, and we respond with our commissioning. Our preaching and our praying and our singing and our sending all revolve around what God says in His Word. Christian worship is Word driven.

Christian worship is gospel-saturated.

This then leads to the third truth here: Christian worship is gospel-saturated. At the center of this Word is Christ—Jesus, the Son of God. Promised in the Old Testament, revealed in the Gospels, and anticipated in the rest of the New Testament, all of Scripture revolves around the gospel. This is the story of how God, the holy, just, and gracious Creator of all things has looked upon hopelessly sinful men and women in their rebellion and has sent His Son, God in the flesh, to bear His wrath against sin on the cross and to show His power over sin in the resurrection so that everyone who turns from their sin and trusts in Him as Savior and Lord will be restored to God forever. This story saturates our worship.

We declare the gospel in our preaching, our praying, and our singing. We declare this story, the gospel in our preaching, our praying, and our singing. Every text of Scripture and therefore every sermon in this church ultimately leads us to the center— Christ—who He is and what He has done for us. If you are not a Christian this morning, the central message we want you to hear all throughout this morning is that God has so loved you that He has sent His Son to live the life you could not live (a life of perfect obedience to God), to die the death you deserve to die (to pay the price for all your sins on the cross), and then to conquer the enemy you cannot conquer (sin and death), so that today you might trust in Him as Savior of your sins and Lord of your life. If you aren’t a Christian, we want you to hear this preached and prayed and sung.

If you are a Christian, we want you to hear the same thing. Christians, we are a people who haven’t gotten over the gospel—and will never get over the gospel. So it shapes the way we sing. Did you see it even today? We started with exalting God in Christ by singing “Crown Him With Many Crowns.” Then we confessed our sin before Him, our need for His grace and love in the song “How Deep the Father’s Love For Us,” which then led us to the cross.

This gospel shapes the way we pray. We are only able to approach God in prayer because of what Christ has done on our behalf. Hebrews 10 says we have confidence to enter into the presence of God by the blood of Jesus because of the gospel! So our preaching and our praying and our singing are just saturated with this good news!

We dramatize the gospel through baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We not only declare the gospel to one another in our worship, but we dramatize the gospel through baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Virtually every Sunday, people are being baptized in various worship gatherings as a picture of the gospel—the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus who we are identified with.

Let me pause here for a brief side note. We have had a variety of people expressing questions about baptism. Who should be baptized? When should someone be baptized? What if someone was baptized as an infant, do they need to be baptized again? Our elders have prayed and studied the Word deeply over the last year, pouring over these questions

and having significant discussion about them, and the result of that has led to clear positions on questions like, “What if someone was baptized as an infant?” or “What if someone was baptized through sprinkling as a believer?” and “Who can baptize?” and others. I would encourage you to go online to our website to download an FAQ document that answers those questions. It would probably be helpful for you as a member of this body to look at that.

In addition, I want to freshly encourage any follower of Christ who has not been baptized to be baptized as soon as possible. This is a command of Christ, and to disobey it is to disobey Christ Himself. To ignore it is to ignore Christ Himself. Let me encourage you to dramatize the gospel through baptism as soon as possible.

The other way we dramatize the gospel in our worship gatherings is in the Lord’s Supper, (which we celebrate every week), where we remember the body and the blood of Jesus. Every week, we remind ourselves that we have life only because of His death. We reflect on our sin and we feast on His forgiveness of us and His faithfulness to us. This is why we usually take the Supper after we hear the Word.

As we hear the Word, we realize how we fall short of God’s Word and we need His forgiveness, and we realize that we need His life in us in order to obey His Word. We reflect on all of this in the Lord’s Supper, we renew our commitment to Christ and each other as the church, and then we rejoice because He has set us free from sin, and He is coming back for us. This all revolves around the bread and cup—a picture, an illustration of the gospel.

How do all of these things affect the way we respond in worship? If we’re centered around God, driven by the Word, and saturated with the gospel in our worship, then how does that affect our hearts? And what does that mean for the way we personally approach worship and act in worship?

This is where I want to invite Matt Mason to lead us to see these next three truths about Christian worship. As he comes up here, I simply want to thank God for this brother. It is hard to believe he has been here less than a year, but God has richly blessed this faith family with this brother and with his family in innumerable ways. I praise God for how he shepherds us in worship and in so many other ways across our faith family. So, Matt, lead us out in these next three facets of Christian worship.

Matt Mason: We have been so enriched by our fellowship here with this local body. A “Vision, Mission, Goal” statement isn’t something to write home about if it just sits on a website somewhere. But when “We glorify God by making disciples of all nations” captures the hearts of a people, that’s a whole other story. God, by His grace, will lead us to doing that for His glory. He’s capturing our hearts with this vision. We believe that one of the things that God uses to forge this kind of gospel unity, this locking of arms in gospel mission is this thing called the Sunday gathering.

Christian worship is personally honest.

Let’s go back to Hebrews 10. You see this first exhortation that comes in Hebrews 10:22. “Let us draw near with a true heart …” (Heb. 10:22). This isn’t the first time that the idea of worshiping God is connected to the notion of a true heart. Jesus, in the classic moment with the woman at the well in Samaria in John 4, talks with her and engages her. They begin to talk about the nature of worship. He says that the Father is seeking those who worship Him

in a certain kind of way, namely “in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:23), with a true heart.

Jesus gives His evaluation of the worship of the Pharisees. Though outwardly flamboyant in their worship (you could tell when they were fasting, they prayed these really long, extensive, prolonged prayers) Jesus said, “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me.” At the end of the day, His evaluation was, “In vain do they worship me” (Mt. 15:9). They drew near with words but they weren’t, as Hebrews 10 says, drawing near with a true heart.

Hebrews 10 19–25 Calls Christians to be Honest About Our Suffering

The principle is this: Christian worship is personally honest. Worship is honest about a number of things we’ll talk about today. First of all, we are honest about our suffering.

You have right there in the middle of the Bible a God-inspired hymnal, and it’s the only God inspired hymnal we have ever received. In that hymnal there are songs. One of the predominant genre, or type, of songs in the psalter would be the psalm of lament. These are psalms that are characterized by cries of agony, of longing for the mercy of God, for healing grace, for sustaining grace amidst trials and difficulties. This is a predominant feel throughout the book of Psalms. They reckon with the world in which we live, reckon with a fallen world fraught by suffering.

As we gather together, we don’t have to pretend that the Christian life is a life of unending bliss, jumping from one spiritual happy cloud to the next. That’s just not reality. We only have to live long enough in this world to know we will suffer. We will experience that. God’s Word, the Bible, calls us to sing in a way that reflects that reality. We run to him. We read Hebrews 11—the faith chapter—and it is full of suffering. It tells of some triumphs. They “escaped the edge of the sword” and “became mighty in war” (Heb. 11:34). But it also says they “went about in skin of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:37). The only two things that each of these stories have in common are that they all had faith and they all died. “These all died in faith” (Heb. 11:13). So it’s not the language of faith to act like our trials aren’t there. There needs to be reality in our worship.

I love this quote from Carl Trueman. He’s a church historian who writes the following:

“I would like to make just one observation: the psalms, the Bible’s own hymnbook, have almost entirely dropped from view in the contemporary Western evangelical scene. I am not certain about why this should be, but I have an instinctive feel that it has more than a little to do with the fact that a high proportion of the psalter is taken up with lamentation, with feeling sad, unhappy, tormented, and broken. In modern Western culture, these are simply not emotions which have much credibility: sure, people still feel these things, but to admit that they are a normal part of one’s everyday life is tantamount to admitting that one has failed in today’s health, wealth, and happiness society…. Few Christians in areas where the church has been strongest over recent decades—China, Africa, Eastern Europe—would regard uninterrupted emotional highs as normal Christian experience.”

I think we can all say “amen” to that. This world is full of trouble. And as Christ-followers, we are far from being exempt from suffering. Jesus Christ actually promises us that “in this world you will have tribulation” (Jn. 16:33).

As we gather on any given Sunday and are saying “Hi, how are you doing?” as we come in. Deeper, below the surface, there are people in this room who barely made it to the building today. There are people going through deep trials, needing the grace of God, needing this gathering. The question is: Will any of the songs that we sing, will any of our prayers, will any of our sermons address them where they are? And the answer has to be: They better. God loves to comfort His people, to bring us near to Him. Christian worship is honest about suffering.

Hebrews 10 19–25 Calls Christians to be Honest About Our Sin

Secondly, we are honest about our sin. Again this has been said before, but we don’t gather each Sunday and draw near to God on the basis of our spiritual performance for the week. We have sinned against God in thought, in word, in action. We have said things that are displeasing to God. We have neglected to say things that would have pleased God. The same thing is true with our thoughts, our actions, and our motives. We come in aware of our sin. So many of the Psalms are written on the basis of an awareness of sin before God, an awareness of the contrast between God’s holiness and our own.

Psalm 32 is a song that would have been sung by God’s people. It says, “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Ps. 32:5).

You might think, “That’s just the Old Testament.” No, Jesus in the New Testament teaches us how to pray and says, “Every day ask for bread from God. Ask for the provision that you need. And while you’re there, ask Him for forgiveness of your trespasses.” There’s this daily reckoning with the awareness of our sin.

Paul writing to Timothy says, “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost” (1 Tim. 1:15).

There is this reality of sin in Paul, in Jesus, in the Psalms. In other words, it’s possible to sing about our sin, to talk about our sin without fixating on sin. It’s possible to do these things without denying the gospel. If we let that be the last word … If we sing about the holiness of God and our sin in contrast to His holiness, and then we leave the room as though Christ hasn’t done anything about that, then we’ve denied the gospel. There must be another word after the word about our sin—namely a word about what God through Christ has done about our sin.

Hebrews 10 is a text about the corporate gathering, and the background of this text is bloody. “Since we have a great priest …” (Heb. 10:21). In other words, we don’t draw near to God after having taken a moral shower. We draw near to God passing under sacrificial, atoning blood. Having passed under that blood, the writer of Hebrews says, you ought to come in and draw near aware that you have been cleansed by that blood. You’ve been rescued and saved.

Hebrews 10 19–25 Calls Christians to be Honest About Our Salvation

Which leads us to the next aspect of honesty: We are honest about our salvation. We don’t come cowering. Hebrews 10 urges us to come confidently, boldly before God. Why? Because, believer, your justification isn’t a legal fiction. That’s not just spiritual, courtroom paperwork in the skies. God has done something about our sin. He imputed our sin to Christ, treated Christ as a sinner on the cross, so that when we run to Him in repentance and faith we receive His righteousness, a robe of righteousness. You’ll never get another one; you’ll never need another one. We are clean in God’s sight. That raises a question: Can we come before a holy God and speak of our purity? Ask the text. Don’t ask your spiritual report card for this past week; ask the text. Hebrews 10 is the text, and it says, “Draw near with a true heart” (Heb. 10:22) and in the very same verse it says, “[Come] with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 11:22). “Come knowing that you’ve been purified by the washing and the power of God.”

We read Psalm 32 earlier, which says, “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity” (Ps. 32:5). It goes on to say in this chapter about acknowledging our sin, “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Ps. 32:11).

Regeneration is a powerful thing. Don’t underestimate it. You are no longer in Adam. You are in Christ. Your fundamental identity is no longer in Adam; it’s in Christ. Rejoice. Let’s not let the language of regeneration be erased from our corporate gatherings.

Touching our everyday lives in contrast to the holiness of God, we can say truthfully and honestly that we are sinful and stand in need of grace. And we can pray as Jesus taught us to pray “[Lord,] forgive us our sins” (Lk. 11:4).

Yet touching the reality and power of regeneration by the Spirit, we can also say, “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). That’s honestly true. We can say, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Ps. 73:25). At the core of my being, I’m regenerate. We can sing honestly, “All to Jesus I surrender, all to Thee I freely give.”

Living between the times, as we do, one is not more honest than the other. Christian worship is appropriately horizontal.

We are a community of faith participating together in worship. We edify one another as we express unity alongside one another.

Next, Christian worship is appropriately horizontal. Two points under this, and I’ll mention them together. First, we are a community of faith participating together in worship. Secondly, we edify one another as we express unity alongside one another.

Back in Hebrews 10:19—21, there is a feeling that these imperatives are building and they’re heading toward us. “Since we … Since we …” (Heb. 10:19, 21). On the basis of this … You’re waiting on the imperative to land, and the imperative lands in verses 22—25. “Let us …” verse 22. “Let us …” verse 23. “Let us …” verse 24. And an implied, “[Let us] not neglect to meet together” in verse 25 (Heb. 10:25). All of these are plural. These are not asking us to think of ourselves as individual Christians coming to a gathering. The writer of Hebrews is urging us into a corporate awareness, a corporate consciousness. We are aware of those around us. Sometimes we can approach the Sunday gathering in an American, individualistic culture as a “me and Jesus” time where we’re tuning out everything, trying to pretend that no one else is here. That’s not how we’re called to gather in God’s name. It’s perfect for private worship. Jesus said to “go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret” (Mt. 6:6) and He will hear you and listen to you. In corporate gatherings, we’re called to be aware of those around us.

There are two classic texts in the New Testament that speak of what singing ought to look and feel like—Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19. They’re very similar in terms of what they say. Both of these texts talk about the sense in which our gathered singing is vertical in one respect and horizontal in another. Neither one cancels out the other. These are not mutually exclusive. We are singing and making melody to God, and we are teaching and admonishing one another with “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Col. 3:16). Ephesians says we are “addressing one another” (Eph. 5:19). We’re horizontally speaking to one another, encouraging one another in the faith, and that is redounding to the glory of God as we worship.

This was true in the Old Testament as well. So many of the psalms have a horizontal feel about them. Psalm 95, “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!” (Ps. 95:1). Then it goes on to say,“Oh come [that is you, faith family!], let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture …” (Ps. 95:6—7). This is a horizontal song that redounds to the glory of our God vertically. Both of these are wonderful and called by God for us as we gather in his name.

One of the important aspects of corporate worship is that we are doing this together. There are no spectators. It’s probably good to clarify something at this point. The musicians and vocalists are up here, but we’re not up here to worship at you or worship for you. We provide leadership and direction but we are worshiping God with you. This is all of God’s church gathered together in this local body, assembling to give praise to God.

There’s something so encouraging about this for our own lives. I find so often that not only do I need to sing the truth of these songs but I need to hear you sing them. I need to hear you teaching and admonishing me, saying, “Matt, our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Matt, on Christ the solid rock we stand, all other ground is sinking sand. Our sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought, our sin not in part but the whole is nailed to the cross and we bear it no more. Praise the Lord!” I hear you sing this in this room and sometimes I just want to lean into the mic and shout, “Amen! Preach it! That’s truth. Say it to my soul!” We’ve been saved by the grace of God. This is wondrous truth.

Part of our call to participation means that we’re actively engaged in every aspect of the corporate gathering. When it’s time to sing, we all sing. When it’s time to open the Bible, we all open the Bible. We lean forward and listen to the testimonies of baptism; we celebrate that together. When we’re praying and interceding, lean forward in that moment. Pray, ask God to reign over the situation, to use these people for His glory. Actively engage every element of the gathering because it’s a participation of the local body.

Christian worship is authentically expressive.

Affections in worship drive actions in worship.

One more feature for me to cover and then Pastor David will come back. Christian worship is authentically expressive. Two points and then we’ll unpack them briefly. Affections in worship … drive actions in worship.

When we read the Psalms, we are encountering theology, but it’s not theology for the sake of theology. It’s theology leading to doxology. It’s theology that fuels passion for God, love for God, affection, thirst, longing for God. There is truth, but there is also awe and joy.

The Psalmist doesn’t just himself in the gathering clap before God. In Psalm 47, he urges the whole community of faith to join him. “Clap your hands, all peoples. Shout to God with loud songs of joy!” (Ps. 47:1). And that exhortation is theologically-grounded, gospel-rooted and fueled. He says, “Don’t just clap as an emotional, pep rally kind of thing. Clap because of this …” He goes on to say that we should clap and shout, why? “For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth” (Ps. 47:2). It is fitting to sing, it is fitting to clap, and it’s fitting to shout before this God. Affections are fitting.

I love this quote from C.S. Lewis in his book Reflections on the Psalms. He says,

“I want to stress what I think that we (or at least I) need more; the joy and delight in God which meet us in the Psalms…. This is the living center of Judaism. These poets knew far less reason than we for loving God…. Yet they express a longing for Him…. Their longing to go up to Jerusalem and appear before the presence of God is like a physical thirst… Lacking that encounter with Him, their souls are parched. I have rather called this the “appetite for God” than “the love of God”. [This feeling, this appetite] has all the cheerful spontaneity of a natural, even a physical desire. They are glad and rejoice (9:2). Their fingers itch for the harp (43:4), for the lute and the harp—wake up, lute and harp!—(57:9); let’s have a song, bring the tambourine…. There is thus a tragic depth in our worship which Judaism lacked…. There I find an experience fully God-centered, asking of God no gift more urgently than His presence, the gift of Himself, joyous to the highest degree, and unmistakably real. What I see (so to speak) in the faces of these old poets tells me more about the God whom they and we adore.”

Church at Brook Hills, God calls us to engage with Him with all of our being. Every faculty we possess is given to us for the glory of His name. Hebrews 10 even shows us that there’s a fittingness. “Since we have a great priest …” (Heb. 10:21). The worship of the people is to be commensurate with salvation. “Since we … since we … let us draw near.” This is not somebody yawning his way through worship. “Let us draw near … in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22). This is somebody who holds fast the confession of our hope without wavering, somebody ready to stir up others in the gathering. This is a Christian who knows that God is among us when we gather, so this Christian is leaning forward in every element because he knows God promises to be with us. We’ll meet Him in the singing, we’ll meet Him in the baptism, we’ll meet Him at the communion table, we’ll meet Him when we open the Bible. God is here. Let’s engage with his presence, with the whole of our being, our attentiveness, our intellect, our emotions, our lungs, our hands, every faculty coming together in order to ascribe glory to Him.

Let me just finish with this. God is worshiped as we gather, but worship doesn’t begin or end with this gathering. We leave this gathering and we are to continue worshiping God in our homes. We worship God by resisting temptation, killing bitterness, cultivating a life of prayer, being faithful in a thousand little things that God has entrusted to us. Let’s do this for the glory of our God.

Pastor David is going to come back now and help us consider how worship leads into mission.

Christian worship is inevitably missional.

Worship is the fuel of our mission.

David Platt: Indeed, Christian worship doesn’t end in this room. The final truth is: Christian worship is inevitably missional. This is simply where I want to remind us that worship is the fuel of our mission as a church. Why do we make disciples of Jesus in all nations? Because we are convinced that Jesus is worthy of worship in all nations. With all due respect, we are convinced that Buddha is not worthy of worship, scores of spirits and deities in tribal religions around the world are not worthy of worship, hundreds of millions of Hindu gods and idols are not worthy of worship, and Mohammad is not worthy of worship. Jesus alone has died on the cross, risen from the grave, and He alone is worthy of worship. And this drives us.

This drives our praying. We want His kingdom to come. We want our King to be exalted in all the earth. This is why we intentionally pray for the nations. Because we’re convinced that Jesus is worthy of glory.

This drives our giving. This is why we give sacrificially and generously and cheerfully giving. We don’t give as Christians in the church because we feel guilty for all that we have; we give because we want glory for our King. His glory in a world of urgent spiritual and physical need is more important to us than nicer, newer, better possessions in this world.

And His glory drives our going. We don’t go into this city making disciples, and from this city short-term, mid-term, and long-term around the world making disciples because we’re looking for something to do. We go because we want this good news of God’s great glory to spread through us all across this city and all around the world.

Worship is the driving factor in all of these things. A people who love the glory of God more than life itself will spend their lives then making His glory known to the ends of the earth. My prayer is that our worship gatherings week by week would so instill in you a passion for the glory of God that you will give everything you are and everything you have in your life and in your family to making His glory known to the ends of the earth, no matter what it costs you.

Worship is the goal of our mission.

But don’t miss it. Worship is not just the fuel of our mission; worship is the goal of our mission. There is coming a day when we won’t have a mission anymore, when we won’t be making disciples anymore because disciples will have been made in every nation. We will gather around the throne of our King, and together we will give Him the glory He is due in all of eternity. That is our goal.

We are living—sacrificing everything in our lives and everything in this church—for the day when people from Birmingham and people from every tribe and every nation and every language will bow around the throne and sing His praises and worship His name. On that day, there won’t be any more disciple-making. There will just be pure, everlasting enjoyment of God in worship.

Even as we prepare at the end of our worship gathering today to commission one another out by reciting Matthew 28:18—20 together, we are going to pause now and send yet another family out to the other side of the world for the glory of our God.

Ryan and Bethany have been members of our church since college, and since that time they have gotten married and had two beautiful sons, Josiah and Isaac. A few years ago, we began talking with Ryan and Bethany about the potential of leading a church planting team overseas among, yet again, one of the most difficult to reach, dangerous to reach people groups in the world.

I’ll never forget what is probably one of the most poignant moments in my time as pastor here. When Ryan and Bethany interviewed with our elders about the possibility of becoming a part of the international church planting internship here, one of our older elders solemnly looked at this young couple—and specifically this young wife—and said, “Do you realize where you’re thinking about going, and what that means?” And I’ll never forget Bethany looking back with humility and compassion and confidence and saying in her sweet voice, “I believe God’s Word is true. And His Word says that His gospel will spread through persecution, hardship, and suffering. And I am good with that because I want His glory to be made known.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the room of elders that night in that moment.

So now, a few years later, after Ryan has walked through this internship, after he has served as an elder with The Church at South East Lake downtown, we are now ready to commission the two of them today.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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