As a guest author, we welcome to this series Dr. Jason Groe, pastor of Upper Helton Baptist Church, who will present to us five of the eleven essentials we’ll explore. I pray he’ll be as big a blessing to you as he has been to me!
The Thessalonian congregation was given a most prestigious commendation from the apostle, “you are an example to all those in Macedonia and Achaia.” They had become the “pattern” to follow in church life. What “pattern” was established by the Thessalonian church? What traps are lurking near the foundations of the church? How can the contemporary church follow this example? Answering this question involves taking a closer look at some of the essentials of biblical worship.
Today I want to look at the biblical worship essential of being Spirit-driven. In Acts 1 the apostles were commanded to wait and not proceed until prompted by the Spirit of God. The early leaders of the Church in Acts 6 were to be men “filled with the Holy Spirit.” The written revelation of God forming the canon was written by “holy men moved by the Holy Spirit.” Peter accuses Ananias and Saphira of “lying to the Holy Spirit” in their worship through giving. The Biblical references continue. From the Word to the Worship, the Spirit is to be the driving power.
What then are the signs of “Spirit-powered” or “Spirit-Driven” worship? Several signs are worth noting. First, Spirit-driven worship worships God in spirit. A trend by modern worshippers is to worship God in body only. They consider themselves to have worshipped if they have been in the right place doing the right things at the right time. In Jesus’ day that would have been considered either in Jerusalem or Gerazim. In our day, people think they have worshipped simply because they have occupied a seat in a church on Sunday morning, sung a hymn, lit a candle, crossed themselves, or knelt in the aisle. We must not confuse worship with the particular things we do on Sunday morning.
Also, we must not confuse worship with feeling only. Worship does not originate with our emotions. Emotions may be stirred in worship, but emotions do not cause worship. It is possible for emotions to be stirred and no worship to be there. It is possible to be moved by a song or by oratory and yet not come to a genuine awareness of God and fuller praise of His ways and nature. True worship occurs only when that part of man, his spirit, actually meets with God and finds itself praising Him for His love, wisdom, beauty, truth, holiness, compassion, mercy, grace, power and His other attributes. Charles Hodge expresses this point succinctly—“The true, genuine worship is when man, through his spirit, attains to friendship and intimacy with God. True and genuine worship is not to come to a certain place, it is not to go through a certain ritual or liturgy, it is not even to bring certain gifts. True worship is when the spirit, the immortal and invisible part of man, speaks to and meets with God, who is immortal and invisible.”
Second, worship is Spirit-driven when our separateness melts away. Pentecost was a monumental day for many reasons, one of which was the “one accord” within the Body. Paul wrote to the Corinthians of the “diversity of gifts but the unity of the Body”—speaking of the grace gifts imparted by the Holy Spirit. Individuality and selfishness are burned away as dross in the presence of the Spirit of God. One of the many responsibilities of the leadership of the church was to protect its harmony and the unity.
Worship is Spirit-driven whenever there is a deep sense of human depravity. The Spirit of God was with Isaiah in the Temple, and Isaiah was overcome with his own sinfulness. Job, as he is questioned by almighty God, concludes that He deserves sackcloth and ashes. We lose confidence in our righteousness as we know the nearness of the Holy and declare His righteousness superior and more satisfying. There is no room for pride or arrogance in this congregation. Humility rules the day and the hearts of the worshippers.
Spirit-driven worship will develop a hunger for the Word and His righteousness. Jesus promised the disciples that the “One” coming after Him would “teach them all things whatsoever He had said to them.” As the Holy Spirit empowers, believers grow in their knowledge of the Word. The Great Teachers of the Scriptures is the Holy Spirit.
Spirit-driven worship will be filled with awe of the Lord. One of the responsibilities of the Holy Spirit is to exalt Christ. As He leads in this manner, the awe for the majesty of Christ will accelerate. The congregation will know the presence of the Lord is in this place. A temptation trap is to manipulate the congregation with hyped music and false claims regarding the Spirit. Attempting to create an ecstatic service will only deceive the congregation.
Finally, Spirit-driven worship cannot be manufactured. As believers align their lives to the holy and pure standard of Christ, the Spirit will be enjoyed and adored.
Links to previous posts in this series: