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A purpose for the Church - A worshipping community
Sunday, 8th January, 2006

We are moving on from three loves and four, which can be found on the internet at, today and exploring how we as an community of God’s people express our first love.

A reminder of what the three loves and four were.


The great commandment

1.Mt 22:36-40 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'

2. Love your neighbour as yourself.

The new commandment

3.Jn 13:34 Love one another.

The other commandment

4.Matthew 5:43  Love your enemies


We are looking at one aspect of the first of these loves. That is how we as a church express our love for God in the way we worship.


Jesus said: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'

It is a total commitment to God that is called for, not just a hour and a half on a Sunday Morning. Or on other occasions like this evening and at house group or Powerhouse. But for this morning, I want to explore what God wants us to do when we meet together. To do that we are going to look at three passages of scripture, not to study them in detail, but to pick up the relevant points.


Lets begin with Romans 12:1 Message version

    So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.


1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship. (NIV)


What we do together is to be a reflection of the rest of our lives.

Worship is not what you do in church. Neither is it a warm feeling generated by religious activity. It is intensely practical and is to do with answering the questions: Who do I belong to? What is my life about? Which is what is meant by love the Lord your God with all your mind, your souls and your strength. It means that if our worship here this morning is to mean anything, it is an expression of what we have been doing in the last week and what we going to do in the coming week. If you don’t believe me read on in Romans 12 about what actions worship leads to.


We worship by grace.

Romans 12: 3 speaks of not thinking about ourselves too highly but with the  measure of faith God has given you.

It is also important to understand that it is not what we do but what God does through us which is our worship. We are saved by grace and we live by grace. We worship by grace, offering back to God the very gifts that he gives us for that purpose. Whether it is practical, artistic or spiritual gifts, it is God who gives us these gifts and it is to him we should offer them up. For example, a Christian should tithe their money but the other 90% is to be spent on worship just as much as the tithe is given as an act of worship.


In the same way the time you spend in serving in this church is time offered to God, but also the rest of your life is to be a living sacrifice to God.

It was breaking this relationship by God’s people in the Old Covenant that lead God to say he despised their sacrifices and offerings even though they were correctly offered under the law. They failed to reflect the lives of those who offered them.

Now lets move on to

John 4:21-26

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”


There are a number of key points I want to draw your attention to here.

First this was not a discussion with theologians, it was with a lady whose marital relationship were screwed up big time in the heat of the day. Worship is not for those who are that way inclined. We believe in the priesthood of all believers. All of us are to receive this wisdom from God.


Secondly worship is about revelation. The Samaritans were not God’s people so they were guessing in the dark about how to worship God. The Jews had the Law, God speaking directly to his people, revealing his desires. It is because God has revealed himself to you and me in Jesus when you accepted his salvation by faith that you can worship. If you are not a Christian, you cannot worship God because he is looking for you to have accepted his salvation. I effect that is the primary form of worship – accepting what God has done for you.


Thirdly we  worship the Father.  Jesus starts our prayer life off with ‘Our Father’ . God is referred to as Father 14 times in the OT, nearly always as the father of the nation of Israel. In the NT God is called Father 228 times plus three times when a more intimate term ‘Abba’ is used. The revelation of God that we have is not of an despot welding absolute power , needing to be appeased and placated at every turn. He reveals himself as the one who sent his Son to save us. Who uses his absolute power to draw out our love and adoration. A father, who imitates the creator, does not use his power to get allegiance but protects, plays with, encourages and looks for the signs of development and joy. That is why a babies smile is so important to us. It is the response to all that love and protection and investment. And God is lookoing for that in you. He has loved you with an everlasting love, he has given his Son to save you, he has watched your wandering feet and drawn you back to himself. And he primarily wants to see you smile and thank him for his love.


Fourthly and fifthly. We worship the Father in Spirit and we worship in truth. This is a call for integrity in our worship. God is mocked by hypocrisy. He is abused by dishonesty. He is deaf to worship which is words on our lips. That is why we are so fussed about not using a form of words. Because if we are simply saying words, we are not worshipping. Worship is a spiritual activity not an action by itself.  Worship cannot be delivered by the worship leader. The role of the worship leader this morning was, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, give direction to our worship. But if you and I were not ‘in the Spirit’ if we were unable to get our thoughts into gear and open our hearts to God, we did not worship. And that would not be the fault of the worship leader. Their task is to lead worship that is of the Father in Spirit and in truth. But the worship itself has to come from our hearts and minds and spirits and He is loved by those who are humble and repentant.  The second aspect of this is that worship must be about Jesus. He is the truth. The substance of our worship must be true. So we will test worship by whether it is consistent with God’s revelation in Christ. Whether it is the songs we sing, the substance of the sermons, the words we use in prayer, words of prophecy, words of knowledge or the interpretation of tongues. We must guard the gospel. This is not to mean that you will be jumped on for a gaff or even misleading thoughts. But we will always have to guard against going astray. That is one of the kay reasons why we need to worship collectively. That way when our minds have wandered off the truth into fantasy and error, we as a Fellowship can correct one another in love.


Finally, Worship should have variety. There is no prescription of the style of liturgy, the type of music.  Clearly from this passage in John there is no significance in the place of worship. This is no more hallowed than the Middlesex Arms, the Eastcote Arms, South Ruislip Station or Sainsburys or wherever else South Ruislip Christian Fellowship seeks to worship God together. Such is the danger of getting set in our ways and comfortable with our patterns of worship and therefore disengaging our spirits and becoming dishonest worship that we need to mark down that collective worship should have variety. Not that being different makes is any the more genuine but that worship must never be boring, a repetition of ‘what worked before’.

So we can spell out our vision of collective worship in the following terms.


Worship is to include everyone, to come from the heart and spirit with integrity to God the Father with variety.


Finally lets look at

1 Corinthians 14 verse 26 - 40 (NIV)


What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.

If anyone speaks in a tongue, two--or at the most three--should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored. Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.



Notes - this passage has cultural overtones so we must interpret it thoughtfully.

1. Each one is part of it - everyone has...that is not to say the service is a shambles of everyone singing a different song but the underlying principle is democratic, that is, every member of the body has a part to play in our worship. Worship is to include everyone.

2. discipline is part of spiritual worship. It does not suit our post-modern minds but any congregation of people needs rules for safe and effective action. Because we would like to encourage the expression of spiritual gifts in and out of the fellowship, we need to abide by some simple rules. Here Paul is dealing with a particular problem but we have sort of rules to make this service and any other work practically. I mean things like a loosely fixed time frame for various parts of the service and so on. But the rules that apply now may be different in a few months time if our worship has developed and creating different problems.


3. We clearly do not carry out the letter of v33b-35 anymore than the previous section. We do expect all worshippers to accept the worship leader as leader of worship and therefore don’t complain just because the style or music was not to our liking. One of our strengths is that we share the worship leading so individual worship leaders can explore different ways of worshipping.

4. We are not the only ones so we learn from each other and others. We do not have a set way of worshipping. We enjoy variety and are happy to import stimulating ideas from other churches.

5. Prophecy and speaking in tongues is an area we need to explore as part of our worship. Paul has some guidelines but it would be good for us to receive more from God in these ways. At present, if you have a prophetic word, you should check it out with an elder first and then share it with the fellowship. On the subject of tongues we do not have experience of its use in our fellowship but that should not stop us exploring it in House Groups or other small groups to start off with.

6. Fitting and orderly does not mean boring and without emotion, it means recognising the Father and worshipping appropriately.


To summarise:

Worship is what we do 24/7, it the giving of our lives to God as ‘living sacrifices’.

When we meet together

Worship is to include everyone, to come from the heart and spirit with integrity to God the Father with variety in a fitting and orderly way.


That variety will include all sorts of expression of our love for God. Lets be a people who want to explore worship together as a vital part of our lives lived before a great and wonderful God, who loved us and pours out his grace on us in so many ways.