7 Greatest Worship Texts: what Scripture says about leading
By Hughes Oliphant Old
1. The Ten Commandments and Worship: Exodus 20:1-11
Foundational to any study on worship is our understanding of how God wants to be worshiped. The first commandment makes clear that our worship is to be exclusively worship of the one true God: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. To none other than this God are divine honors to be given, for God demands of us exclusive devotion…. Answering the question as to which is the first and greatest commandment, Jesus taught us that the first commandment is to love God with all one’s heart, all one’s soul and all one’s mind. As Jesus saw it, the first principle of worship is that worship above all should be out of love for God
2. A Song of Redemption: Psalm 105:1-6
In the worship of the ancient Temple at Jerusalem, Psalm 105 had an important role. Every day it was sung at the immolation of the morning sacrifice. It is not surprising therefore, that it tells us some important and basic things about worship. Central to the worship of God’s people in every age is the rendering of thanks to God for His mighty acts of creation and redemption. The whole of Psalm 105 is a recounting of God’s saving works
3. Fulfilled in Your Hearing: Luke 4:16-30
The story of Jesus going to the synagogue in Nazareth, his home town, tells us about a most important principle of worship: God is glorified when the Gospel is preached
A strong emphasis on preaching is not some innovation brought in by the Protestant Reformers. The ministry of the synagogue was strongly weighted toward the reading and preaching of Scripture long before Jesus.
4. “In Spirit and in Truth:” John 4:24
Surely one of the touchstones of our thought on the subject of worship should be those words of Jesus: “…a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:23-24). These words were spoken to the woman of Samaria, a fact very significant in understanding this statement.
Surely part of what is meant is that Christian worship should be in contrast to the worship of the Samaritans. Samaritan worship was notoriously contrary to God’s Word. True worship, above all, should be according to God’s Word.
5. Fellowship through the Holy Spirit: Acts 2:42
Acts 2:42 sums up very briefly what was included in the worship of the earliest Christian Church. It tells us that after the surprising events of Pentecost when several thousand people were baptized into Christ, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42, RSV).
One gets the impression from Acts 6:1-6 that more was involved in the ministry of the Word than simply preaching and teaching. Following well established Jewish tradition, a good amount of time each week day was given to corporate study. At such times one would go over the teachings of Jesus, discuss their meaning, and commit them to memory. This was how the Apostles handed on the oral tradition of the words and works of Jesus… through study, sacred meals/communion and prayer
6. The Service of Daily Prayer: Acts 4:23-31
A very early, specifically Christian service of worship that we read about in the Acts of the Apostles is the service of morning prayer to which Peter and John went upon being released from prison (Acts 4:23-31).
The interesting thing is that the two Apostles knew where to find their friends that morning. They were at prayer, no doubt in the home of one of their number. From a few bits of information provided by the story we get the impression that it was a typical service of Morning Prayer like those maintained every morning in a Jewish synagogue or a devout Jewish home. Having been inspired by the Word of God in the psalms they sang, the early believers poured out their prayers and supplications that the Church be faithful in its ministry of teaching and preaching, and that God in His providence would confirm the testimony and witness of the Apostles with signs and wonders. Finally the prayer was concluded in the name of Jesus. This is what it is to pray in the name of Jesus. It is to continue the prayer ministry of Jesus, to intercede with the Father for the salvation of the world.
7. Worship as Heavenly Reality: Revelation 4-5
One of the most complete descriptions we have of a service of worship in our Bible is the one in Revelation. The book contains numerous acclamations, doxologies, and ascriptions of praise. They are particularly prominent in Revelation 4 and 5.
First there is the acclamation, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Rev 4:11). Then a bit later we hear another acclamation, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God… (Rev 5:9).”
Just like He did long ago at the beginning of His earthly ministry, it is Christ who opens the scroll of both the Law and the prophets. At the end of Revelation, once again the Scripture is fulfilled in our hearing. What the Law and Prophets prepared us for in the Old Testament will finally have found its fullest expression. In a manner much fuller than the Garden of Eden, the dwelling of God will be with men, and the saints from throughout all the ages will share in that heavenly worship, that sweet communion, forever.
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