Throughout the year there are seasons that lend themselves to a reset. Every January many of us reset our values, priorities, and especially our diets (gotta lay off those holiday sweets). August also lends itself to resets. School is starting back. Summer travels come to an end.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing a series of short articles on resets and today I want to reset our thinking on worship. Specifically, I want to explain the fundamentals of our worship on the Lord’s Day.
Let’s begin with a passage of Scripture to help focus our thoughts:
For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (ESV)
USING THE RIGHT WEAPONS
Although we live in a material world, we are all engaged in a spiritual war and we win that war only if we use the right weapons. The church cannot win this spiritual battle using physical weapons. Rather, the fight can only be won if we wield the spiritual weapons that Christ has given to us. In this age, Christ’s kingdom is spiritual and is advanced with spiritual weapons. The church doesn’t advance the kingdom through the sword (like Islam), nor do we win through political power (like Big Pharma).So, what are the weapons we use? They are the ordinary means of worship. The spiritual weapons that have divine power to break spiritual fortresses are the preached Word of God, the prayers & songs of the saints, & the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. As one preacher said, the church advances the kingdom through Spirit-empowered Words, Water, Bread & Wine.
How does the church break down the stronghold of unbelief? We preach Christ because faith comes by hearing the Word. (Rom. 10:17) How do we mortify the devilish enemies of bitterness and jealousy? By praying prayers of confession and extending the forgiveness of Christ. How do we welcome former enemies of Christ into our ranks? We baptize them as a sign of their death and resurrection. How do we bombard the towers of envy, pride, malice, and prejudice? We all sit at the Lord’s table and share in the same meal.
Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. – 1 Cor. 10:17 (ESV)
When you arrive on a Sunday morning, you are assembling in Jesus’ name with the ranks of Heaven. When we sing, we are taking the battering ram of the gospel and throwing it into the gates of unbelief. When we confess our own sinfulness and need of pardon, we are carpet-bombing the bunkers of self-sufficiency. As the Word is preached, the Spirit of God is killing sin, and raising the dead into new life.
Nothing and I really mean this, nothing is as essential to our church health as your weekly attendance and joyful engagement in our worship services. It is the hub in the center of the wheel. If our church were a rocket, Lord’s Day worship would be the propellant. As the kingdom of Christ advances, the ordinary means of worship are the divinely powerful weapons that conquer the unbelieving world.
I want to conclude with several concise and pastoral exhortations:
• Men, lead the way in singing hymns and spiritual songs. We need every hand on the battering ram. If you are redeemed by Christ, sing. I get that some of you aren’t singers. But Jesus, in his Word, commands you to sing. So, obey him.• Parents, practice saying we “get to” go to church, not we “got to.” Model joyful attendance and model faithful attendance.
• Say, “Amen,” loudly. When a prayer is concluded, the congregation ought to echo with a hearty, “Amen.” Teach your kids to do this too.
• Look around the room. We pack as much light into the room so that you can see one another. Lord’s Day worship is not an individual exercise. It’s an army, assembled.
• Don’t rush out. When the service concludes, hang around and get to know others. Even better, share something from the service that ministered to you personally.
ONE FINAL THOUGHT
We live in a microwaved culture. We want instant results, instant gratification, instant satisfaction. But spiritual growth can’t be microwaved. Most Christians overestimate the power of a single prayer, a single counseling appointment, or a single devotional time. And they underestimate the cumulative power of weekly church attendance over a long period of time.
This Autumn, prioritize the local weekly gathering of the saints. Take up the weapons of warfare that Christ has given. Sing, pray, hear the Word preached, and eat that the table Christ has set for us. Trust that the church, established by Jesus Christ, will conquer the world with the preaching of the gospel.