“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” Romans 11:36
All things are through
Him. This truth encompasses so many aspects of life that it
would be impossible to address them sufficiently in this format. For our
purpose here, though, this would seem to mean that worship would also only be
possible as enabled through God. This may seem odd to us, since most of us have
always viewed worship as something we offer to God – it is from us to God. We
give our praises and offerings to the Lord. We do this in response to Who God
is and what God has done for us. Scripture commands us to worship God.
Therefore, as a follower of Christ, worship is to be a part of our obedience
and our relationship with God.
So, how is it that our worship is through
God? As I have discussed in previous posts, anything we have or give to God
already belongs to God. Our very lives are created and sustained by the power
of His Word and through His love and care. There is nothing that we are and
there is nothing we possess that is not from God. It all belongs to Him. He can
give it or take it away at any time. In this sense, everything exists and is
only possible through Him. That would include our worship.
However, I would like to focus on
something that is essential to worship, but which we either forget or do not
fully comprehend. How often have we heard or used phrases like the following?
- ‘We really entered into God’s presence today.”
- “That song really brought me into God’s presence.”
- “The Spirit was really present this morning.”
- “I did not sense the presence of the Lord today.”
- “We invite the Spirit (or Christ) to join us today.”
I understand, for the most part, the
meaning behind these statements. Yet, if you look at these statements, and
others like them, you will notice a common theme – us. All of them flow from a
foundation that there is something that we do, something that someone else
does, an event, the atmosphere, a performance, or some other activity which
brings us into the presence of God or brings God into our midst.
The teaching of the Word is essential.
Music and singing are wonderful. Prayers are meaningful. Testimonies reveal the
work of God in our lives. Communion is a great time of reflection and
remembrance. I could go on, listing many other things we do in worship, but
none of these things bring us into the presence of God. There is only one
thing, or I should say, one person, who brings us into God’s presence.
The Holy of Holies, or Most Holy Place,
was the place in the Temple which was only entered once a year and, then, only
by the high priest in Israel. When he entered, he came with blood for the
purpose of atonement for his sin and the sin of the nation. The Holy of Holies
was the place where the Ark of the Covenant was kept. It was the place of the
special manifestation of God’s presence in Israel. No one was to come into this
place except the high priest. The penalty for violation was death. The Old
Testament is full of God’s commands regarding this aspect of Israel’s worship.
Anything I could provide here would be an oversimplification. Needless to say,
entrance into God’s presence was rare and restricted. God is holy. We are not.
The unholy cannot appear before the holy God.
In the book of Hebrews, God’s
unbelievable gift is detailed for us by what was accomplished through the work
of Christ. Chapters 9 and 10 describe the work of Christ in paying the penalty
for our sin and what resulted from His actions. Reading this should blow our
minds, if we truly understand the gravity of what was done on our behalf. When
Jesus died, it says he entered the holy places. Not in the earthly temple, which
is only a copy, but in the heavenly temple. He came with blood, but not the
blood of animals. He came with His own blood. He did not come to continue the
old covenant, but to fulfill it and become the mediator of a new covenant. He
entered the heavenly temple, in the presence of God Himself, to appear on our
behalf. He presented the sacrifice of Himself, once and for all, never to be
repeated, to put away sin, forever. Hebrews 9:11-28
“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
with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean
from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast
the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is
faithful.” Hebrews 10:19-23
Jesus, alone, brings us into the presence
of God. No other human being, place, performance, or event brings us into the
presence of God. Only Jesus brings us there, through His own blood, sacrificed
for our sin. If we have received Christ, we have direct access to the throne
room, the heavenly temple. We don’t invite God into our presence. How can the
God Who is present everywhere be invited anywhere? We have been granted access
through Christ, alone.
In reality, this takes the pressure off
of us. Cleansed by the blood of Christ, we are clothed in His righteousness. In
worship, we just need to draw near to God. And we can do so with confidence and
assurance because we are not paving the way with our righteousness or
performance. The debt is paid and the way has been paved through Christ. So,
the singing was bad this week – draw near! I did not like the sermon – draw
near! The sound system is feeding back, again – draw near! I don’t like this
song – draw near! I yelled at my wife or kids before the service – draw near! I
am so fearful in my circumstances – draw near! I am struggling to believe God –
draw near! I fell into sin, again – draw near! Draw near!
God is inviting us to draw near and He
says we can do this with confidence. Coming into the presence of God has
nothing to do with our righteousness, our performance, our surroundings, or our
circumstance. It has everything to do with Jesus Christ, our great High Priest.
As believers, we are in God’s presence, seated in heavenly places, through the
work of Christ (Ephesians 2:4-7). The next time you pray, come to a worship
service, or just live your everyday life, just remember that you don’t have to
invite, obtain, or find the presence of God. If you are a follower of Christ,
you are in His presence. Jesus has provided our access into the very throne
room of God. The Father is calling. Let us draw near and worship Him.
Together for His glory…