The supreme objective in the salvation of sinners is an eternal display of the glory of God. Worship not only magnifies God’s glory; it is our only fitting response. So in the grand scheme of redemption, one of the principal things God is doing is transforming sinners into worshippers. Worship is not optional. If you are a Christian, you are a worshiper.
Worshiping God is the essence of being a Christian. Jesus said that He came into the world “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). The Father sent Christ to seek and save, for the specific purpose of producing worshiping people. Jesus explained that point to a Samaritan woman this way: “An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people, the Father seeks to be His worshipers” (John 4:23). Worship then is at the heart of everything we are and do. In worshiping God, there is a drawing near to Him.
The reasons for drawing near to God
We can never be in any place where we are not near to God, for He constantly stands by us and looks upon us. It is not only at worship that we are near God, but also when we disobey Him – as children of God we are always near God. Yet, there is a more peculiar and special drawing near to God.
It is a privilege
It is clear from the scriptures that there is a special nearness when coming to worship God. “He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him (Ps.148:14). This is a very remarkable expression that sets forth much of the honor of the saints of God. It is a commendation of excellence in the state of the church who has the privilege to draw near to God in worship.
Bible commands it
The writer of Hebrews gives seemingly impossible goal for us in Hebrews 10:19-22, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near…”
It is the Center of the Gospel
In fact, this is the very heart of the entire New Testament gospel. That Christ came into the world to make a way for us to come to God without being consumed in our sin by his holiness. We must not come on our own but with Christ. Christ takes us by the hand and offers up worship to the father. Christ is our mediator, and so we are to approach God through Jesus in worship.
The means of drawing near to God
We draw near to God using the means He chooses to communicate His glorious mercies to us in worship. Worship is really the outcome of two of the fundamental Christian disciplines: Bible study and Prayer.
Hearing the Word
True worship is a response of adoration and praise prompted by truth that God has revealed. Worship is an overflow of a mind renewed by the truth of God. When you discover a truth about God’s character and His deeds, you meditate on that truth, mulling it around in your mind, until it captivates your whole thinking process. That in turn will lead to worship. It is an outward expression of inward estimation of the triune God. That estimation must be cultivated by the scripture alone.
Prayer based on truth
Scripture-based prayer seeks the face of God. God’s face is the essence of who He is. In prayer, we draw near to God to Worship, for in it we cry out for help and pay reverence. We make a profession of His character and His deeds, show our absolute dependence upon Him, and recognize Him as the author of all that is good.
The manner of drawing near to God
This ‘drawing near’ is not a physical act. It’s not building a tower of Babel, by your achievements, to get to heaven. It’s not necessarily going to a church building. Or walking to an altar at the front. It is an invisible act of the heart. It is a directing of the heart into the presence of God who is as distant as the holy of holies in heaven, and yet as near as the door of faith. Acceptable worship doesn’t happen spontaneously-we must prepare ourselves.
Here are four checkpoints to help us prepare for worship.
We are to draw near “with a sincere heart.” That speaks of a genuine heart, devoted to pursuing God. We come with a resolution to obey whatever God reveals and with a longing to hear it. We sincerely want to know Him: His mind and will, and His way of Salvation
We are to draw near “in full assurance of faith.” We must be willing to say, “I’m coming to God in full confidence that I am not saved by a system of ritual. I come fully by faith in Jesus Christ.” Every time we come to worship with faith, we give testimony to our dependence and willingness to wait upon Him for guidance, wisdom, or some spiritual good.
We are to draw near to God “having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience.” That is, we come to God with the knowledge that we are unworthy to be in His presence. The only reason anyone can come to Him is the blood of Christ, which was shed on the cross as a cleansing for sin.
We are to draw near having “our bodies washed with pure water.” That refers to the daily cleansing of our trespasses. The process of sanctification searches and exposes sinful thoughts and sinful behavior. Before you worship, confess the sins that God uncovered through His Word so you can draw near in purity.
Our worship of God will be no greater than our knowledge of Him. Our capacity to worship God is a direct correlation to our theology. Theology is the substance of our worship. The right theology leads the believer to burst out in passion in worship. Truth is always at the heart of authentic worship. Every kind of enthusiasm or emotion that is not inseparably linked to the truth is ultimately meaningless. Tragically, many Christians today have set their affections on the temporal things of this world, exchanging their great privilege of knowing God better for that which is mundane.
There are Christians who have not received any revelation from God in years, for they have not drawn near to God in the means that God has given to them. Their understanding of God -His attributes and His works- is shallow, and they have not spent time with Him to discover His truths. It is no wonder their worship is shallow, dull or unacceptable to God.
Staying away from God is a dreadful thing, and it is a testimony to a heart that is not enlightened. If worship is to draw near to Him, then to neglect worship is to depart from Him. Being separate from God is terrifying; it is the eternal death sentence that God pronounces on the Day of Judgment – “Depart from me”. The Father still seeks true worshipers. Has His searching eye found you?