In this post we need to talk about ‘worship in truth’. Worship in Spirit, or Spirit-filled worship can be quiet or loud, long or short, liturgical or free form, involve a lot of silence or a lot of speaking a singing, it can involve using the charismatic gifts but it need not do so. It can be more spontaneous, or less. There is no single pattern prescribed by the NT. What is necessary is worship that is prompted by God’s Spirit and results in God being glorified and people being edified. Otherwise, it is not worship ‘in Spirit’, a Spirit approved and prompted form of worship.
But what of worship in truth? Frankly, we are in such a Biblically illiterate age that honestly we need worship committees which include persons with some Biblical and theological chops to go over ‘in advance’ what is going to be said and sung in a worship service. It’s not just that we have innocuous songs, drivel that have little theological substance. We actually have bad theology all too regularly— for example how do you like this line from a praise song— “it’s love that makes the Spirit grow”. Last I checked the Holy Spirit was a full-grown deity. The Spirit doesn’t grow nor need to do so. And then there are sermons. I recently heard a sermon where it was suggested that “witnessing is about tell your story”?? Really? That might be witnessing for narcissists, but its not the Biblical definition of witnessing. I have no problem with giving a personal testimony about something God has done in your life. But witnessing, much less preaching, that is not. Witnessing according to Acts involved telling the story of Jesus not telling your own story. Look at the many sermon summaries in Acts which are defined as witnessing or preaching in Acts. None of them involve ‘telling my story’. None of them. It’s about the Gospel, not about my personal life story.
Especially when it comes to Protestant worship, the sermon needs to conform to the canons of Biblical truth. And this should not simply be left up to the preacher or teacher, especially those who have had exactly no theological training. And this becomes all the more paramount at Christmas time when you are most apt to have strangers, guests, nominal Christians attending.
Worship in the eschatological spirit, and in the new covenant age should be truthful in a variety of ways: 1) for one thing it should be faithful to what the Pentecost message said— namely that both men and women can and should share the prophetic word from God. Attempts to bar women from speaking or ministering in church are not only untrue to texts like 1 Cor. 11, they are a fundamental violation of the Pentecost message of Peter in Acts 2; 2) worship in truth should be focused on God, not on the people or their perceived wants and needs. The issue is what God wants in worship, not what we want or like; 3) true worship should be multi-generational, involving all humans great and small because it is a form of family worship, not adult worship; 4) it should be worship that is not co-opted by the entertainment culture, or the desire to please people. Worship is about pleasing God and helping the people, not helping out God and pleasing the people; 5) it should be worship that worships out of the future consummation not worship where the worshipper is fervently praying next year will be 1954, or true worship should follow an OT pattern. Nope, that’s not Christian worship; 6) true worship has to involve ministers and laity who themselves are true to the Gospel, authentic in their faith, mature in their walk, articulate in their sharing and so on.