And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:18-20, ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV).
Wayne Grudem defines worship as “the act of glorifying God in his presence with our voices and hearts” (Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994, page 1003). Last week my family and I read and talked about worship in our after-breakfast Bible reading, guided by Chapter 51, “Worship,” of Grudem’s Systematic Theology, Here I’ll share some of what he says there about the results of genuine worship and about how to enter into genuine worship.
Results of Genuine Worship
Grudem identifies and discusses these results of genuine worship:
1. We delight in God.
2. God delights in us.
3. We draw near to God.
4. God nears near to us.
5. God ministers to us.
6. The Lord’s enemies flee.
7. Unbelievers know they are in God’s presence.
How To Enter into Genuine Worship
Grudem suggests a number of things that we should do to enter into genuine worship, including:
– Pray in preparation for worship. In line with this the church which I attend schedules a time of group prayer prior to each of its Sunday services.
– Make right any broken interpersonal relationships. Grudem refers to several Bible passages, including Matthew 5:24, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
– Strive for personal holiness of life. Grudem refers to several Bible passages, including the writer of Hebrews’ telling believers to strive for “the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (12:14).
– Choose a setting which is free from distractions. Grudem refers to several Bible passages, including the account of Jesus’ cleansing the temple in Matthew 21:12-13.
– Include a mix of songs that can be identified with and sung by the various groups in the congregation.
– Allow enough time for prayer as well as for praise and Bible teaching.
As we usually do, my family and I discussed the questions for personal application provided by Grudem at end of the chapter. This time all four of us picked the same question, one about worship in our church. We agreed that our church allots a suitable length of time for worship and that the song service is the part of that time which we find most meaningful. We sympathized with Grudem’s criticism in a footnote of a worship leader’s talking to the congregation between songs, which sometimes distracts attention from the Lord to him. Leonora and I observed that we missed the personal testimonies which were a regular part of services in the small churches in which we grew up. How do you feel about worship in your church?