Man is made to worship; religion not opiate of masses [Karl Marx], rather it is embedded in our design. We are made in image of God, are religious by nature, will worship someone or something. Before sin, no problem, man worshiped God. After sin, worship didn’t stop; object of worship changed to anything but God. Right worship has been problematic ever since.
Come up with all sorts of labels and styles: contemporary worship, traditional…, blended…, praise and worship… Methods, programs, things that are probably well-meaning but I believe often misguided. What we, Christ’s church, especially here in America need to do for starters: get back to a biblical view of worship.
Say we have morning worship service, evening worship service. What does that mean? Our text reminds us even angels are commanded to worship. If they must, so must we; what is worship, especially “corporate worship” or worship by Christ’s body, the church? Just to give an idea of where this is going, a quote about worship:
“Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God — it whets our appetite. Our need for God is not taken care of by engaging in worship — it deepens. It overflows the hour and permeates the week.” Eugene Peterson, author of The Message
Told in our text who we are to worship: why him? and how are to worship him? and…which Him are we to worship?
A. firstborn – why him?
author continues defense of Christ as superior to angels because he is worthy of worship; should not surprise us, have other teaching in NT that makes it clear: see Rev. 19:9-10; 22:8-9
don’t be too hard on John! so overcome with wonder and awe at all he had seen / heard, was compelled to worship – absolutely the right thing to do, he just chose the wrong person to worship
it is the firstborn whom God again brings into the world – what in the world does “firstborn” mean?
is something it cannot mean: the one who was born first! cannot be one who is simply a creature
Rom. 1:24-25 “…God also gave them up to uncleanness…who…worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”
“firstborn” one of less common words of NT, used in every instance but one to speak of Jesus – each time functions more as title than description
had great significance: Jacob, in Gen. 49:3“Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.”
Jacob’s focus not on birth order but rather character and honor; Reuben should have received further honor but forfeited it
typical privilege of firstborn: double portion of inheritance, blessing of receiving birthright (remember Jacob and Esau)
later Israel referred to by God in that way: Ex. 4:22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son,”
of all creation – Col 1:15
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” …because he created everything
he, Jesus, has position of honor and authority because of who he is in relation to everything else – the Maker has rights and privileges reserved to him alone
among many brothers – Rom. 8:29
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
yes, Jesus is one of us – “was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) – but is not identical to us – “made him to be sin for us who knew no sin” (2 Cor. 5:21)
Jesus is the brother who inherits the estate and the blessing; Jesus is the beloved Son, the favorite, the one who stands at the head of the rest
from the dead – Col 1.18Rev. 1:5
“And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”
“and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.”
not the first to be brought back to life: Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, etc.; but…they all died; Jesus the one to be raised from dead in victory – the forerunner, going before all the rest
B. worship – how him?
is this one, the firstborn, that angels and everyone else are to worship – how are we to worship him? what is worship?
“the reverence or veneration tendered a divine being or supernatural power; also: an act, process, or instance of expressing such veneration by performing or taking part in religious exercises or ritual” Webster’s Unabridged
what does that mean
worship is both attitude and action: an attitude of respect, reverence, submission and adoration; actions that express our attitude toward God
primary purpose, then, in attending worship service: not what we can get but what we should give
if God is everything we say he is, then he deserves all our praise, all our love, all the honor we can give
others are important, we are body of believers; but we’re here first to worship God, not be stroked by one another
is only when God responds graciously to our worship that we receive blessings and benefits from him
There’s a story about the Italian poet Dante, who was so deeply immersed in meditation during a church service that he failed to kneel at the appropriate moment. His enemies hurried to the bishop and demanded that Dante be punished for his sacrilege. Dante defended himself by saying, “If those who accuse me had had their eyes and minds on God, as I had, they too would have failed to notice events around them, and they most certainly would not have noticed what I was doing.”
God must be object of our worship, else we worship an idol; means we should come prepared to give
if goal of worship is what we get out of it, God is not the one being worshiped; if attitude is right, action is sincere in worship, God will not disappoint us
true worship draws us in closer to God – the closer we get, the more of God we experience, the more we want
John 4:23-24 “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
heart and mind both engaged
worship must express emotion, stir emotion: love, desire, joy, sorrow, humility, aspiration
must be expressed based on truth we know from Bible – worshiping the God of the Bible the way he has instructed
if we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, strength, must worship him same way: body and soul – praise, prayer and participation
true worshipers actively participate in worship, not just spectators – we praise, God responds; we hear, are changed, respond with praise and thanksgiving
our default attitude should be to give God the praise, honor, adoration he deserves – should be our normal setting
corporate worship is high point – small foretaste of heaven, time when God is present among his people in special way
not only whets our appetite, it nourishes our soul for coming week – equips and strengthens in ways private worship doesn’t
C. Him – which him?
true, Jesus said true worshipers worship the Father, the Father is seeking people to worship him – we must do that
here, Father says “worship the Son“, his firstborn, worship God-in-flesh – when we think about who we are worshiping, Jesus should fill our view
not so much the Jesus who walked around Israel with 12 disciples, rather the Jesus Stephen saw, the Jesus who stopped Saul of Tarsus in his tracks, the Jesus walking among the candlesticks in John’s vision
worshiping Jesus doesn’t mean we neglect the Father
John 14:8-10Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?”
Jesus is the one who reveals the Father to us; Jesus is the one through whom the Father speaks; Jesus is the one who represents the Father – his image and his essence, his perfect representation
Man’s chief end, primary purpose and goal, is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. We were made to worship. If that’s our chief end, 1 hour a week isn’t going to cut it; it won’t satisfy either us or God. But it is essential that we spend that time each Lord’s Day, worshiping God as he has revealed himself and his expectations to us.
When you come on Sunday morning or Sunday evening, come prepared to praise and thank and adore and glorify God. Come expecting to see and hear God speak to you from pages of his word, through his servant. Plan to be changed by God’s Spirit when you enter into whole-hearted worship of King of kings and Lord of lords.