“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” Psalm 95:6
Second in a Series–
Worship in Old and New Testament
God has emphasized our need for worship.
We recognize that, as time went on in the Old Testament, the Lord outlined a definite plan of worship for His people. This was done out of love for them. We must remember that the promise of redemption in the coming Messiah had to be kept secure–God’s people had to be reminded constantly of who they were and what they had been called to carry out. Therefore, their worship service was designed to protect them from the pagan teachings on every hand invented by mankind and to keep them close to the Lord through the reminder of their sinfulness and God’s forgiving love.
In Christ God’s wonderful promises of salvation for the world came to their fulfillment. Therefore, the worship of the Old Testament which pointed toward the coming Messiah had come to its conclusion, and a new day of fulfillment was ushered in. So the Apostle Paul pointed to the end of Old Testament worship and beginning of a new era when he was inspired to write: “Therefore let no man judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Col. 2:16-17).
God did not define a particular order of service for the New Testament era. Rather, our Lord in a general way has urged: “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:24). New Testament believers have, therefore, established their worship services to center upon the fulfillment of God’s promises of redemption in Jesus Christ. Sunday–“the first day of the week”–was chosen as a special day of worship because our Savior arose from the dead on that day to declare His victory for us over sin, death, and the power of Satan.
Worship In Our Fight Of Faith
God’s people recognize the importance of worship because they are aware of their spiritual enemies which war against their life with God.
Though the devil has been overcome by the Christ, he never tires in his deceptive schemes to lead the Christian astray from the life with God.
The world also is filled with the ways and works of those who care nothing for God and His Word, and so are governed by Satan and his evil ways.
There is also the enemy within us–our sinful desires, our sinful flesh. Though we are spiritually one with God and are at peace in our blessed relationship with Him through our Savior Jesus Christ, our sinful flesh relates very well to the ways of the devil and the unbelieving world. As the Apostle puts it: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Gal. 5:16-17).
So, you see, we need to stay close to our Lord and His Word, which is “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). In this way alone we will be strengthened and preserved in the faith.
Together with the private worship which each of us carries on daily –through prayer, Scripture reading, devotions, etc.–what a wondrous blessing it is to be able to come to worship each week with fellow believers at a designated place. There in God’s house we can shut out the unbelieving world and meditate with heart and soul upon our relationship with God–publicly, but yet individually.
How Meaningful Is Our Worship?
The question begging to be asked is: “How meaningful are our worship services?” On Sunday morning are we moved to say with the Psalmist: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD'” (Ps. 122:1)?
If we don’t feel that way, we need to ask questions such as: Why don’t I feel the need to regularly take advantage of this wonderful privilege? Are our worship services spiritually edifying, relevant, strengthening, challenging, gospel-oriented, and uplifting? Or does our flesh find these services boring, irrelevant, depressing, pointless, and law-oriented? What can I do to make my worship more meaningful? What can those conducting the service do to magnify the blessing of this weekly spiritual experience?
With all of these questions, and more, in mind, we will try to examine our worship services together in this continuing series. We plan to do this by addressing the subject of our conventional “ORDER OF WORSHIP SERVICE.”
(to be continued)
–Pastor em. L. Dale Redlin
Point To Ponder
The word Liturgy means service. In a very real sense, our whole life as Christians is to be our liturgy, our service. In the Sunday service, however, the larger liturgy of our whole Christian life comes to a joyful focus–we who have been baptized into one body in Christ gather together for an intimate communion with our Lord. He comes to us, speaks to us, and blesses us through His Word and Sacrament. We come to Him and speak to Him in prayer and praise and thanksgiving. Worship services should be recurring moments of spiritual splendor in our earthly lives.