Sermon

God's Word Faithfully Preached from the Pulpit

Worship in the Splendor of Holiness (Psalm 96 and Acts 17:22-31) – Part 2

Let us begin the sermon this morning with an application of last weeks point regarding the relationship between worship and mission. We heard from last week that worship grounds our mission. There are two ways it applies: 1) corporately; 2) personally.

Corporately, we have experienced growth in numbers. As we have all observed for the past months, there is an increase in our regular attenders, and guests. By average, it is almost near our the number of our membership pre-pandemic.

But while we as all welcome the opportunity to extend our service in indiscriminantly to all people, we need to keep in mind that the end goal to all these will always be worship. The end goal of missions, and even all of evangelistic activities, is to form a maturing, persevering, and worshipping community of believers and their children.

There is a great temptation today to simply make sure to increase of numbers and forget why we are redeemed in the first place which is to glorify god all to enjoy him forever. Again, as church, let as remind ourselves about it and help each other fight against it.

To the older members of the church. Yes, I am talking to you and yes, we are now consider old. Let us help our younger members and attenders sing the new song of faith and repentance. Let us encourage them to walk with us in Christ and become their companion in this journey towards Celestial City.

To the newer members, and attenders of our church. Welcome!  Worship is where we receive the ordinary means of grace. We know this is not most of us were used to but this is what Scripture requires. We are all set for a marathon and not a sprint. The journey is long and hard but as brothers and sisters in Christ, we will help one another mature both in doctrine and in life. Let us continue praying for one another.

Personally, mission is applied in the our own households. Family worship helps establish the ordinary means of grace at home. Yes, we can do it as members of the church. Our families need to hear the gospel truths from Scripture when they are read and sung. We sometimes have a romanticized notion that mission requires travelling to remote and unreached areas in the world. Not everyone is called to this.  However, we can exercise this ministry at home with our own families and even extend to our relatives.

Those are the application from last week’s preaching. Praying we were able to hear them and live by them.

Before we continue, let us pray:

Blessed are you, God of all creation.  You spoke in the beginning, and all things came to be. You spoke, and your Word came to live with us, full of grace and truth. Bless this place where we would hear your voice. Bless this place where we would hear your story. As we listen, may our ears be attuned to you. As the Word is spoken, may you speak to us. May all we hear lead us to you. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Ascribe to the LORD Glory and Strength

Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength! Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”

Worship is an activity we all attend to so we can demonstrate by our response of faith to God’s Word. This the beauty of Reformed Worship since joyful participation became the application itself.

This is what I want clarified this morning because as a sermon application this often becomes a source of confusion. Modern preaching today is too preoccupied by making sermons relevant to a point of succumbing to pragmatism. But by abandoning regulative principle of worship, they have neglected an important part of application in our Christian lives: responding to God’s Word in faith and repentance. Paul reminds us in Romans 10:9-10:

“…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

To possess true saving faith means to confess it with our mouths. This means to believe in our hearts means to confess them with our mouths. A believing heart comes with a professing mouth.

Responding to faith and repentance is incorporated in our worship services. It is our response of singing and praying, in gratitude and thanksgiving.

This is what the term “ascribe” denotes. It is to give God our response in praise and gratitude. To ascribe means we give to God what is due to him and as Creator and Redeemer, he deserves all our praises! This is who we really are and what we are made for. As creatures created in God’s image, we reflect God’s glory we worship him.

Now, the psalmist calls us to worship God in the splendor of his holiness. The term “splendor” can also mean beauty and this command lies at the center of the psalm.  And what does it mean?

The Holy Character of God means he is transcendent. However in terms of abiding presence, God’s holiness simply means he is wholly separate from sin.

The spIendor of his holiness means the demonstration of his justice. And yet in the midst of judgement, mercy is also expressed by the provision of offering and sacrifices. It makes provision for forgiveness and repentance.  Yes, God’s glory shines forth in the midst of sin and unrighteousness here on earth. However, God sends forth his own Son as an sin offering for the forgiveness of our sins. This guarantees for all of us salvation by righteousness that comes with faith.

What lies at the center of our worship of God? Holiness! The heart of worship is all about the Thrice Holy God. It is the only source of righteousness both for our justification and sanctification.

When we hear who God is and what he has done we are prompted to receive them by faith and to respond in gratitude but it also means God’s abiding presence dwells in the midst of his people. This means true worship causes godliness in the life of believers.

Peter quoting from Leviticus 11:44, “since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16). The verse reads not as a command but a statement of fact. Even if we go Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” I know the verb appears to be subjunctive in mood but it is actually like in 1 Peter 1:16, it is future indicative in mood. This means because God is holy, those who worship him in his abiding presence will soon become holy. Those who worship a holy God will progress in holiness.

Now let us hear first a warning against unbelievers and hypocrites. G.K. Beale exhorts “Christians should be in the world but not of it. To be “of” the world means that we have compromised our values to share in the world’s present wealth and advantages, but at the cost of also inheriting a share in its coming judgment. The worldliness both outside and inside our churches is always making godly standards appear odd and sinful values seem normal, so that we are tempted to adopt what the world considers to be “normal.” 

Let me quote back what I have written a while back: “Looking back, I realized that modern “worship” dubbed as “Praise and worship” concerts does not heighten the desire to glorify God but produces an opposite effect. Instead of promoting holiness in Christians, it encourages worldliness. While it is thought of a way to increase the enjoyment of God, it is in reality an expression of hate towards godly ways and means. It is practically a lowering of the standards of worship which no serious Christian should practice.”

So when we follow the world we become worldly and this is happens to most churches today. As they continue to pursue success in artificial numerical growth, worldly practices like modern pragmatism and compromise has entered their churches and worship has been theatrics and entertainment. It aims to entertain the goats while starving the sheep. As a result, they share they will receive the judgment  of God against his world. They will all perish in the end.

Now let me end with a word of comfort for all believers. Simply put, we become who we worship as Dr. G.K. Beale wrote in his book of the same title. The Holiness of God is reflected by His people that they too lead holy lives in Him. This is why it is important for God’s people to worship God all their lives beginning their conversion. It is the step to growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a path to maturity and leading godly lives. God is the source of all godly living and worshipping together with God’s people every Lord’s Day becomes a beautiful reflection of this reality.

So Christian, let us worship God in the beauty of his holiness.

He will Judge the World in Righteousness

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness

Finally, God who is Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier will bring everything to its consummated end. And this psalm again extends its application until the Day of the Lord or the Coming Judgement of God. This means in terms of again “application” and relevance, these verses are actually living verses for us who lives in the last of days.

You see Eschatology means the Last Things and the last of things are ultimately all about new creation, and as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:12, Christ is new creation. I know this concept appears to be uncommon to most of us coming from a non-reformed background but it is important for the renewing our minds so I will again lay down for us.

This means when Christ first came here on earth he brought with him new creation. This is when he inaugurated God’s kingdom with his life, death, and resurrection. This is the Gospel of God in Christ. Then the fact that God’s kingdom has been inaugurated by Christ and the Holy Spirit, this guarantees for us that God will bring it to it consummated end. Surely, we are now living in the last days, the millennium, the period between the two comings of Christ

As we worship God who now brings everything to its consummated end, our minds are renewed by the joy God brings in his grace. Eschatology matters because it regulates our view of this world and the world to come. Rather than fear of judgement, we anticipate his coming with gladness and songs of praise! And though our journey is filled with pain and tribulation, we proclaim with God’s people “Maranatha!” Come Lord Jesus, come!

Christian, we are called to rejoice in the midst of our suffering! Worship is an activity for believer and it is not a burdensome duty but a response that comes with joy and gladness! When God’s person and work shapes our mind, it gives us hope and enables us to persevere in the end. This is why it is important for us to serve and worship the living God! It enables us to glory him and enjoy him forever. So let us encourage one another of these words.

Conclusion

ZCRC(Imus), let us sing a new song and worship God in the splendor of his holiness. May we anticipate his coming judgement with joy and thanksgiving in our hearts. Amen.

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