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Help to Get You Ready to Worship

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This past Sunday we talked about the way in which worship has been transformed by the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. God has designed humans to worship and there are two basic approaches to worship at work in the world today.


First, many people treat worship as an act they perform before a deity. It's an opportunity to placate or appease their god by offering something to him. It may be money, time, praise, honor, or even food. The worshiper approaches the deity and the entirety of worship begins and ends with the worshiper.


Second, the Christian view of worship sees it as a participation. Worship does not begin and end with the worshiper. Instead, the worshiper enters into a loving communion and relationship that already exists and has existed. The Christian view of worship is profoundly Trinitarian. The Father has loved the Son through the Spirit for all eternity and we are invited to participate in this relationship through our union with Christ.


I'd like to connect this view of worship as participation more explicitly to the gospel and to justification. To be justified is to be declared righteous by God (Romans 5:1). Justification happens at the moment of salvation and is one of the glorious benefits of the new birth. Now, we are able to participate in the loving relationship between Father and Son because we have been declared righteous in Christ and are united with Him.


The truth of our justification makes all the difference when it comes to worship. We do not have to earn favor with God; as if we could! We come into His presence fully assured that we are accepted and free of condemnation (Romans 8:1). One author put is like this:


“The Reformers saw clearly the significance of the Pauline teaching about justification – that we are freely accepted by God in Christ, not because of our ‘good works,’ but by God’s grace received in faith. They also saw clearly that God does not accept us because we have offered worthy worship. In his love, he accepts us freely in the person of His beloved Son. It is he who in our name and on our behalf, in our humanity, has made the one offering to the Father which alone is acceptable to God for all humanity, for all nations, for all times. It is he who unites us with himself in the one body, in his communion with the Father and in his continuing intercessions.” – James Torrance, Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace


So, what does this mean for your daily worship and time with the Lord as well as our worship together this coming Sunday morning?


First, you can fully enter God's presence as His child and be confident of your acceptance even if you don't feel ready to worship. When worship is participation through Christ you do not have to reach an emotionally charged status before you are offering true worship. Make no mistake, emotions matter in worship! It is good to be joyful and deeply moved in response to God's Word. But those emotions will come as you recognize and rest in your union with Christ by faith.


Second, one of the best ways to prepare your heart for worship is to remind yourself of your justification. In other words, go back to the basics of the gospel and preach those fundamental truths to yourself. Read passages like Romans 3, 5, and 8, and Hebrews 8-10 and walk into church next Sunday full of confidence in what Christ has done and ready to exalt Him for the lavish gift of His grace.

Posted by Nathan Williams with