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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
  • John Hendryx
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    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « The Love of Christ Is Rich and Free | Main | This Joyful Eastertide: A Critical Review of The Empty Tomb »

    Self-Worship

    "When we believe that we should be satisfied rather than God glorified in our worship, then we put God below ourselves as though He had been made for us rather than that we had been made for Him." -Stephen Charnock

    Many times I wonder which god is being worshipped in our churches, and where this god developed his characteristics.

    Many (of we) modern evangelicals seem to think that the purpose of a church service is to entertain, exhilarate, and energize. Some of us go to church, not so much to worship God, to stand in awe of His grace to us in Christ, to stir up our affections for Him but rather to consume, sit back, fancy the musical experience and apply the self-help advice we gleaned during the sermon. The pastor is expected to be to be clean-cut, non-offensive and smooth, the musicians to be talented and contemporary, the congregation to be good-looking, middle-class, look and act like you (homogenous unit principle). A great majority of us appear to actually select our churches, not by the sound and dynamic preaching of the Scriptures, but by these outward considerations alone! Some newspapers have even begun to go around and rate churches on these externals as one would a local restaurant. There you have it, a worship of consumerism - In other words this new mentality we have embraced is none other than the worship of self. Then we self-righteously attack those who differ from us, who do not use the seeker sensitive model, and lose sight of the fact that the worst enemy is, more often than not, the person we see in the mirror.

    After you’ve narrowed it down and found a local church which preaches the word and faithfully administers the sacraments I don’t contend that there are other valid secondary considerations, but we must be faithful to God in maintaining that worship is in no way a form of diversionary entertainment. A church that is self-congratulatory has become a questionable fellowship because the function of the service has gone from the Scriptural command to worship God to the idolatrous worship of itself. God should be central to worship, not you ... that is, He should be the central focus in our song, proclamation of the word and in the administering of the sacraments. Self-focused, self-absorbed psychological sessions whose main purpose is to generate good feelings about ourselves is idolatry, a breach of the first/second commandments. This tragic lapse into consumerism is devouring the Church and making mincemeat of our local assemblies. Instead of finding the service meaningful and God-glorifying, centering in the Trinity and especially the person and work of Christ, many spend their time asking themselves what they got out of it. Rather, we need to be asking ourselves, “Was God glorified in our time of corporate worship today?”

    We worship a Holy God. We must always recognize that we are a hell-deserving people who have been shown mercy in Christ. There is now no condemnation for us in Christ. Real sanctification is continuing to apply this same truth through your entire life and in all your worship. The gospel must be central to Christians as well as non-Christians. We never graduate from the gospel and then go on to higher things, for the gospel is to be applied to every area of our lives. There is nothing at conversion and nothing now that we can do to maintain or contribute to the price of our salvation. From beginning to end we worship a God of grace. True worship in Spirit and Truth is worship of the Triune God - a loss of all confidence in oneself and a recognition of the gift of mercy given to us for all redemptive blessings we have in Christ. The elements of the Lord's table should be a constant visible reminder of this to us ... that God fully accepts you because of Christ.

    God did not promise to bless methodologies, marketing techniques, sermons about psychology and self-esteem but He did promise to bless the preaching of the word. Paul, concluded at all points in his life that the only thing he would proclaim was "Christ crucified". He said that his message was a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Greeks, but "through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. We are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life." So encourage the leadership of your church to return to the biblical model, to abandon all market-driven techniques, and the unhealthy emphasis on consumerism and unbiblical models of seeker-sensitivity, which may very well be an unacceptable offering to the Lord. The preaching of the Word must continue to remain central to the worship. Marketing techniques may indeed bring people in to be entertained, but the only thing God has promised to bless is "the foolishness of preaching" the gospel.

    Today's self-oriented evangelicalism is quickly abandoning any semblance to historic Christian orthodoxy and unless we return to a biblical gospel that fully encompasses the work of the Trinity, the influence of the Church will continue to wane. We must once again come to Him empty-handed, naked and without hope save for His merciful intervention for the Church, whom He loves so much that He gave His Son for her.

    Posted by John on August 16, 2006 03:54 PM

    Comments

    John, you are right on the mark here. In my few years of teaching in the church I have discovered that the concept of the church existing to glorify God is foreign to many (if not most) Christians. The philosophies of humanism and the trappings of consumerism have so corrupted our thinking that we don't see anything wrong with grousing about a church service because "we didn't get anything out of it."

    Great Web site.

    I appreciate your article by Sharnock. His books the attributes of God are a classic.

    And his observation is germane to the present hour in which much of our religous exercise is obviously man centered and consumer packaged.

    But! As an African American pastor for 12yrs in the present and growing independent Reformed Sovereign Grace Church, in a diverse culture with a multi -ethnic make-up,

    I do not believe we rightly express the truth of God, when we make a distinction, or a dichotomy between His Glory and our satisfaction.

    In my former years as part of Reformed Churches where this proposition was constantly used to defend against the charge of being cold, lifeless, and unkind to needy souls, especially when not of the same ethnicity,

    I struggled with what really glorifies God, in the expression of the local Church?

    We must always preach the gospel. God in Christ must always be exlated, and His Soveriegnty in all things should be the banner of our proclamation of His redeeming glory.

    But to suggest that desperately hungry souls, weak, weary, worn, defeated, starving. confused, and you name it, needy sinners, are NOT to seek a sense of satisfaction from their God, when He is the source of all blessing,and the fount from which we must drink, in order to lift our hearts in praise and worship, strikes of an inbalance which has been to the detriment of many a reformed congregation over the last generation, in Europe and America.

    The gospel is called a feast. It should never be a table of show bread for the clergy alone.

    " Ye shall rejoice in my feast, saith the Lord"

    There has to be an experience of grace in the soul, a satisfaction of Christ in the heart, and an abounding sufficiency that causes God's people to worship according to the Psalm, with joyful hearts and yes even with a loud voice!

    This is a gospel feast!

    I trust we agree with this reality, and are only addressing the abuse of targeting men as the object of worship, instead of our all glorious triune God.


    By Grace, Alone

    PJesse

    grace-bible.com


    I would probably state it like this - We go to church NOT to seek a sense of satisfaction from God but to find our satisfaction IN God ... more specifically in Christ and what He has done for us. We must never seperate the benefits from the benefactor. And in agreement with you there are to be great affections and delight in Him and with great passion. We would not have it any other way.

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