“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
What do you think of when you hear the word “authentic?” I know it brings to my mind something that is genuine. It is the real deal. It is not fake or phony or misleading. For the next few weeks, we will investigate what it means to authentically worship God.
Our verse from Hebrews 11:6 speaks of drawing near to God. This is at the heart of worshiping God and we know from our previous stops on this journey, that drawing near to God is only possible through the sacrifice and blood of Jesus Christ (see Only Through Jesus: God-Centered Worship, Part 3). Drawing near requires something other than what we can bring through ourselves or our own works. It requires the holiness of God which is only bestowed on those who believe and trust in the sacrifice of Christ for their salvation. Apart from Christ, there is no provision for our sins. Apart from Christ, there is no drawing near to God. Therefore, apart from Christ, there is no genuine worship.
Worship that comes from faith is worship that believes or trusts in the God of the universe. It is worship that is built on the foundation of Christ, the Lamb of God. It is worship that believes that it is God Who provides and rewards those who seek Him. It is grounded in the trust that God is Who He says He is and that He will do what He has said He will do.
The worship of our world is not based on such a foundation. It is worship that is based on our own goodness or what we bring to God. We earn His favor or earn our way into heaven by our good works. It is the belief, or faith, that we can, or have to, do this ourselves. If we had but a mere glance of the holiness of God, we would know this is impossible and those assumptions and aspirations would be shattered (Isaiah 6:1-7).
“All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame.” (Isaiah 44:9).
The full passage from Isaiah 44:9-20 speaks of a man who uses wood to build things and to use for fuel for a fire to cook his food. Then, with the same wood, he carves out a god and falls down and worships it. The prophet Isaiah exposes the ridiculous nature of this action. The man has made something with his own hands and now he is worshiping it. At least we are much more intelligent and sophisticated now. We would never do this ourselves, right?
Any worship brought before God which is not based on the truth of the truth of Who God is and on and through the sacrifice of Christ is idol worship. Our world is full of people who go through hourly, daily, weekly, and annual rituals as part of their worship to their gods. Even within the church, I fear that much of our activities could fall in that same category. If our actions or service are grounded in the intention that we are earning God’s favor or salvation, this is worship that is not based on faith. Or it is a faulty faith based on our ability to please a holy God on our own.
Authentic worship is worship that is grounded in the character of God. It is based on the realization that the Creator of the universe is Who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do. It is based on the knowledge that we could never please a God so holy and that only through the blood of Christ can we ever come into His presence. Authentic worship is believing faith. It is trusting faith. It is worship that rests in and rejoices in the amazing love of God, through Christ. We, who have no right to come before God, have been provided entrance into His throne room. And as we come to Him, through faith, we come with confidence as the very children of the Most High God.
When I hear someone say that heaven sounds like it will be a boring place because all we will do is worship God, it is clear to me that they really have no understanding of Who God is in relation to who we are. Do any of us, really? When we finally get to behold God in His glory, I think there will be no other response but to worship Him. When we understand more clearly the depths and depravity from which we have been saved, worship will be the only natural and eternal response.
God has revealed His glory and character through the universe He created, through His Word, and through Jesus Christ, the holy Lamb of God. Let us draw near to Him in faith, not based on what we have to offer, but based on His glorious provision for us. Let us believe and trust in His unfailing love and promises. For He is holy and He is good and His love endures forever. May His work in us produce lives of worship which glorify Him.
Together for His glory…