Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Holy God Deserves Holy Worship

If you have followed this blog much, then you know my passion for the dignity of worship.  Yesterday morning I read a post by Ryan Ogrodowicz that in many ways expressed my thoughts in this area.  The thesis of the piece is that from the first "Let there be…" God has ordered his creation in a particular way for a purpose: this includes holiness in worship.  There is a pattern laid down in the Pentateuch that reflects this very thing.
The above categories existed for the relationship between God and his people.  Tangible holiness was in the midst of the congregation; a holy God dwelt amongst his people set apart to be his own.  Since the fall, there is a problem for sinners regarding holiness, namely God is holy and man is not.  Man is defiled by sin and in need of divine holiness and purity only God provides.  The distinctions between clean and unclean, holy and profane, come from the God’s overarching injunction in Scripture for holiness: "You shall be holy for I the Lord your God am holy" (Lev 19:2).  Holiness needs separation from the unclean, as seen in the reason God gives for keeping his consecrated people apart from her neighbors: "You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine" (Lev 20:26).
These words should cause the Christian to consider how they approach worship, not because we need to undertake the same details described for the sanctuary rituals, but because
the essence of God’s holiness hasn’t changed and neither has the sinner.  God is as holy today as He was for ancient Israel, and humanity is just as sinful today as in the years B.C.  We must not forget the God we worship is a holy God, a "consuming fire" (Heb 12:29).  Christian worship involves gathering in the holy name of Jesus Christ; our holy God is in our midst as we serve him in faith receiving the holiness he imparts by his word.  While not having holy relics, we have something far greater in that we have the holy word of God, the "most holy" of relics.  Luther: "the Word of God is the true holy relic above all holy objects. Indeed, it is the only one we Christians know and have."  When the word of God is on the scene, Christ and his holiness are present.  In short, we still encounter a holy God when we worship, and we are still sinners gathered to receive the forgiveness and sanctification he promises to impart by his grace through faith in Jesus.
The remainder compares contemporary and liturgical worship, so you may therefore be uninterested.  The principles, however, are apropos for Christians of any stripe.  Our worship reflects the God (or god) we follow.  May our local assemblies be worshiping the only true God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—demonstrating it according to his desire.

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