The Model of Worship

Steve Viars June 28, 2003

- today we’re moving into the mid-point of our series entitled Passionately Pursuing our God in Worship and Music.
- I thought it might be appropriate for us to begin today by asking the question, How are you doing this summer at growing in your desire and your ability to worship God?
- the goal of everything we study from the Word of God is change...is progress.
- you can rightly say that a person has not truly learned something until he has applied it...
- until it has made definite changes in his life...

- so I’m asking you...when you think about your personal worship throughout the week...and then about your corporate worship here at church...do you believe you’re making progress in this all- important matter of “ascribing to God His worth, or stating or affirming His supreme value and living accordingly.”
- now, I realize that sometimes in a course or a study, especially when you’re reaching a mid-point, what’s really helpful is a model, or an example of someone who has mastered the material...
- maybe some kind of a demonstration...or object lesson...something that puts flesh and blood on the concepts that have been studied.
- I imagine that a number of persons here this morning would say something like, PV...I’m really trying to grasp what the Scripture says about this topic...
- I’m thinking about it a lot...I’m studying over the notes and the additional resources...I’m taking this seriously...
- but it would sure help to have see worship in action by someone who really knew what he was doing...

- friends, I’ve got some great news...
- remember last week, for those who were here...when we saw that the focus of worship was Jesus Christ?
- we traced that theme beginning way back in the OT...and we saw that it all pointed to Christ?...
- even the Passover Lamb...
- and the OT tabernacle...
- it was pointed to, and focused on the death, burial, and resurrection of God’s precious Son and the blood He would shed on the cross to purchase our redemption...
- that’s why we concluded last week by quoting author John Frame who wrote - John Frame – Clearly, then, Christian worship should be full of Christ.  We come to the Father only by him (John 14:6).  In worship we look to Him as our all-sufficient Lord and Savior.  Christ must be inescapably prominent and pervasive in every occasion of Christian worship.

- so it is true that Jesus Christ is to be the focus of our worship...but I’m also happy to be able to say to us today, He is also The Model of Our Worship.
- because the Scripture records several instances of Jesus living and acting in a worshipful way...and some of them are very intimate, and very private...
- but, God in His love for us, and His love for His Son, chose to record some of these instances in the pages of Scripture.
- and they give us a marvelous opportunity to watch the master worshipper in action.
- now, before we look at the first specific example, I’d like us instead to look at a more general passage that helps us understand our relationship to the person and work of Christ...
- because if we go to these events in the wrong frame of mind, we might be intimidated by them...
- when the truth of the matter is, God placed them in His word to fill our hearts with hope...

- with that in mind, would you please open your Bible first to II Corinthians chapter 3 – page 141 of the back section of the Bible under the pew in front of you.
- in this passage, Paul is talking about the difference between being a NT believer in Jesus Christ, and an OT follower of the law.
- and he says that the OT law was a minister of death, because it simply pointed out man’s sin and imperfection...
- but the amazing thing was, even the law was a glorious thing, because it pointed men and women to their need to place their faith and trust in the God who had given it.
-  but it was an incomplete glory, because the law could not save anyone, it only pointed them to the one who could.
- in fact, that’s why Moses put a veil over his face after coming down from Mount Sinai after receiving the ten commandments...did you ever wonder why he did that?
- it wasn’t because his face was glowing after meeting with God and receiving the law...it was because the law was incomplete and therefore the glow on his face would fade.
- but Paul says in these verses, the glory of the law has been surpassed by the glory of the cross...and it is in that discussion that Paul helps us understand our relationship to the life of Christ...
- let’s listen in beginning at verse 4...Read II Corinthians 3:4-18 [esp. 16-18]
- now, I realize there was a lot there, but friends, these verses are dripping with hope...especially when we think about the fact that we’re about to study a number of passages that show the way Jesus Christ worshipped...
- and you know the application is going to be...you and I should worship like our savior did...He’s the model of worship...but don’t let that intimidate you...the verses we just read give us four reasons to have great hope...

1.  The hope of understanding.
- 2 Corinthians 3:16 - but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
- one of the great benefits of placing your faith in Jesus Christ is a newfound ability to understand the Scriptures.
- John 7:17 - If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching...
- in other words, people who really want to do God’s will in this area can get to the place of understanding worship.
- sure there’s a lot of questions that need to be asked and answered, and it requires study and thought...but there are many reasons to have hope...
- and of course that assumes that there has been a definite time in your life when you’ve trusted Christ as savior and Lord...because II Cor. 3:16 is very clear---one of the effects of turning to the Lord is having the veil of the inability to understand God’s Word taken away.

2.  The hope of change.
- II Corinthians 3:18 – being transformed into the same image.
- I realize that you might be here this morning and would say, PV, it is so hard to change...
- friend, many times that’s true...but please don’t ever confuse “hard” with “impossible”
- and yes, we’re about to study some passages that show Jesus Christ worshipping in some fairly astonishing ways...
- and we might be tempted to say...that is so far from where I am...
- I could never get to that place.
- what does Paul say here...”we are being transformed into the same image...”
- that’s one of the great things abut our God...He will meet you wherever you are, but he has no intention of leaving you there.
- and remember what we studied about worship several weeks ago... John 4:23 - But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
- and if anyone would say...I can’t figure out what God is wanting to do with my life...one of the answers is right here...he redeemed you [if you know Christ] to live a life that ascribed Him the worth and glory due His name....
- just like His Son did while He was on earth...
- there’s great hope here because you are being transformed into the same image...
3.  The hope of patience.
- II Corinthians 3:18 – “...from glory to glory.”
- what does that mean?...from one level of maturity to another...
- in other words, one of God’s great attributes is His patience and longsuffering with people like you and me...and aren’t you glad for that?
- He doesn’t expect you to be perfect today...but He does expect you to be growing....
- and I realize that you might be here today and would say...
- PV, too often I find myself worshipping myself...or worshipping some person...
- or worshipping my work...or my house or my lawn....or some material possession...
- or getting my own way...or making someone else change...or feeling good...
- or I worship booze or some drug...I worship sex....
- whatever it might be, if you were honest with your own heart and life, you might say....too often I am far removed from thinking and living in a way that expresses the worthship of God...
- friends, this is a process...and the question isn’t, have you arrived?...
- the question is, are you getting to a better place?
- and then there’s also...
4.  The hope of power.
- II Corinthians 3:18 – “...just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
- becoming an effective, Christ-like worshipper is not a task you’re involved in yourself.
- we’re talking about changing in the power of the Holy Spirit of God.
- Zechariah 4:6 - ...Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.
- Philippians 4:13 - I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
- and please also remember this, this power is not available through an impersonal, aloof god.
- Jesus Christ knows how hard it is in certain situations to worship...
- Jesus Christ has struggled with the temptations involved in worship and come out victoriously...and He is now, if you’re a Christian, your high priest...
- Hebrews 4:14-16 - Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

- with all of this in mind, I’d like to ask you to turn in your Bible to Matthew chapter 14...page 12 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you.
- as we read this passage, I want to ask you...in what way is Jesus worshipping here?
- now let me just tell you a few things contextually before we read...
- by this time in the life of Christ....many have rejected His message.
- back in chapter 12 the Jewish leaders officially rejected Him by committing the unpardonable sin of ascribing the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan...that’s what they said of Christ, that He was doing miracles by the power of Satan.
- then at the end of chapter 13, Jesus goes home to Nazareth...and guess what?...He’s rejected there, too.  [read 13:55-58]

- then in chapter 14, we read the terrible story of the murder of John the Baptist...and in verse 12, that news is given to Jesus...[read 14:12]
- in the next verses, the disciples are getting discouraged...because people still want to be healed, and they want to see miracles...but they won’t t repent and believe...
- [read 13-16]

- of course you know what happens next...Jesus, unlike his disciples who are tired and discouraged and a bit fed up with people who just want to get something from God but have no intention of really repenting and following Christ,...
- Jesus has compassion on them...and he multiplies bread and feeds them...
- you say, how did Christ maintain that level of compassion, and that level of focus?
- it’s because of the way He worshipped?...you say, what do you mean?
- look now at verses 22-23 --- and again --- look for the way Jesus demonstrates how worthy he considers the father to be...
- read 14:22-23.

- here’s the point...


I.  Our Lord Worshipped in His Prayer.


A.  The characteristics of His prayer.
- now, I will gladly confess this to you that there are aspects of this that I will never fully understand...
- the concept of God...talking to God...boggles my mind.
- we know that when Christ came to this earth, He emptied Himself and took the form of a man...
- in other words, he voluntarily emptied Himself of some of the attributes of deity...
- that doesn’t mean He was no longer God...but He was the God-man...
- that’s why the verse we read earlier in Hebrews said he had been touched by the feelings of our infirmities, or our weaknesses and therefore was our sympathetic high priest...

- so none of us are going to fully understand this theologically....but there are some aspects of this that are remarkably simple to grasp, and also for many of us, very convicting.
- because the life of Christ demonstrates that for Jesus, prayer was....
1.  a priority.
- Jesus could have been doing many things on this particular day.
- He could have been complaining after the death of John the Baptist, or the repeated rejection of His message and the incredibly harsh treatment that was only going to get worse.
- but friends, of all the things Jesus could have done, He chose to pray.
- and the point I’m making to you this morning is that that shows the value Jesus placed on His relationship with the Father.
- it was a supreme act of worship.
- if you consider someone worthy or your love and devotion, you will find time to communicate with Him.
- now, we don’t have time to turn to all the passages that teach us about the way Jesus prayed...but let’s just use the projector to remind ourselves of several key ideas...
2.  He often prayed.
- Luke 5:16 - But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
- what we read about in Matthew wasn’t a fluke or an anomaly...it was the norm.
- the principle is, a disciplined life of prayer is a marvelous act of worship.
- here are some other things the Scripture teaches us...
3.  He prayed early in the morning.
Mark 1:35 - In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.
4.  He sometimes prayed all night.
Luke 6:12 - It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.
- we also often come across this emphasis in Scripture...
5.  He often prayed alone.
- for example, we saw that in the Matthew 14 passage we read a moment ago... Matthew 14:23 - After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.

- no wonder the disciples came to Christ one day and said, Luke 11:1 - It happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”

- another way to look at this subject is to think about....
B.  The occasions of His prayer.
- remember the passage where He rose early in the morning before it was light to pray?
- here’s what happened next...
- Mark 1:38 - He ?said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.”
- in other words, He prayed...
1.  before making ministry decisions.
- we also know that Christ prayed...
2.  in the face of growing popularity.
- Luke 5:15-16 - But the news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.
- sometimes people pray only when things are going badly---its equally important to pray when things are going well.
- of course, not surprisingly, Jesus also prayed....
3.  in the face of growing opposition.
Luke 6:11-12 - But they themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.  It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.
4.  before crucial teaching opportunities.
Luke 9:18 - And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?”
- now, what’s the overall point here?...if worship is ascribing worth to God, one of the great ways to do that is to develop a disciplined and passionate life of prayer...it honors God when we make communicating with Him a priority....
- and it was a clear mark of the life of our Lord...in whose image we are being transformed.

- now, let me ask you to mentally connect this to something we learned in the first message on worship four weeks ago...
- there are how many primary words groups in the Bible translated worship?....two
- and while I certainly wouldn’t expect you to remember the original words...but the underlying concepts are critical...
- proskynein – “to kiss toward”...
- to bow in adoration and respect and obedience...not necessarily in a physical way...but certainly in our hearts....like the Psalmist said...
- Psalm 95:6 - Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
- Jesus worshipped this way when he prayed.

- now, do you think I’m about to ask you a question?
- friend, what about this particular aspect of worship?
- what does the level of discipline and passion in your prayer life say about how worthy you consider your God to be?

- by the way, that’s one of the reasons for some of the changes we’re making in the fall...because this has corporate implications to us as a church family...
- our flip-flop approach to Sunday mornings will allow all of our ABF’s to be an hour and fifteen minutes, which will provide more time for corporate prayer.
- also, the first Sunday evening of each month will be a time for our church family to come together not so much to hear another sermon, but to enjoy various aspects of church body life together, including more time for corporate prayer.

- now, for our second example of Jesus’ worship. I’d like to ask you to turn over to John chapter 17...page 87 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you.
- of course John 17 is also a prayer of Christ...in fact we might even say that it is the prayer of Christ – the High Priestly Prayer...but Jesus says something here that also is an evidence of worship.
- read John 17:4
- here’s the point...


II.  Our Lord Worshipped in His Service.


- I have accomplished the work you have given me to do.
- Matthew 20:28 - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
- now I realize that someone might say, PV, that’s not really worship...
- friend, yes it is.

- in fact, do you remember the second word group that is translated worship in the Bible?
- latreuein – labor or service
-people who truly love God, who are bowing in adoration and appreciation will naturally want to serve and obey Him...
- and it needs to occur in that order...A.W. Tozer said – “We’re here to be worshippers first and workers second.  We take a convert and immediately make a worker out of him.  God never meant it to be so.  God meant that a convert should learn to be a worshipper, and after that he can learn to be a worker.”
- Tozer is right when he says that the adoration needs to occur first, but both aspects are clearly in focus from the meaning of the words.

- and friends, there is great hope in that...because you can worship anywhere, at any time...
- for example, that mom who is home with her children this summer, or all the time for moms with smaller children, or who home school...
- but that can be challenging
- but for that mom who says in her heart...Lord, the souls of these children are precious...
- and this isn’t babysitting...it’s parenting....and help me as I try to teach, and model, and train in a way that leads our children to want to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength...
- that’s worshipful parenting...that places oneself in the position of a parent who serves and sacrifices, not in the spirit of drudgery, but in the spirit of honoring God...

- when spouses serve one another in the home with that kind of heart...its worship...
- when people function that way at the job, they are worshipping....ascribing worth to their God.

- and of course that also shows up here at church.
- the folks who served in VBS, if their hearts were right and I certainly assume they were, were worshipping.
- the folks who worked on the Habitat house that was just dedicated last Sunday were worshipping...
- you can worship God with a hammer in your hand as easily as you can with a hymnal in your hand.

- but it involves sacrifice...it involves doing what God desires whether it is pleasant or convenient.
- can I mention a service opportunity that we would like to ask a number of you to consider?
- We realize that by changing the service structure around, that involves some changes in our nursery, youth SS, CC, and Wed Clubs ministries.
- and we’ve made the decisions about the times of the services, and what classes will be offered when....
- but to complete that task, we need to get our nursery workers plugged in...
- and our youth SS teachers selected...children’s church workers...and our Wednesday Clubs workers...
- now as we’ve been talking to folks, we’ve learned some things we needed to improve...
- some of our Sunday school teachers needed a break...we didn’t have a formal curriculum in children’s church...
- so that’s been changed....
- Pastor Helmer will be talking about this in the announcement time...
- but we’re reorganizing our children’s SS teachers so they’re on a quarterly rotation...teach a quarter, off a quarter....that allows you to join an ABF and be part of that class when you’re not teaching...
- we’re also purchasing some formal curriculum for our jr church program...
- we’re also going to put that on a quarterly rotation for sake of continuity...and make some other pretty significant changes to the program that we believe will help teachers and students...
- but we’d like to ask you today to consider signing up for one of those positions...

- but the motivation is the desire to worship.

- [if time, discuss the relationship between the way a person who is worshipfully serving responds to change and the way a person who isn’t responds to change...there’s nothing like having your shoulder on the plow to teach you what’s important and what isn’t]

- there’s one more example that deserves a lot more time than we’ll be able to give it this morning...but would you look quickly at Matthew chapter 26 – page 23 of the back of the Bible under the chair in front of you.
- this is when Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to being betrayed by Judas...
- read Matthew 26:36-39

- we could say it this way....


III.  Our Lord Worshipped in His Submission.


- the test of a person’s worship is when he or she is being asked to submit to leadership that is difficult.
- and it gets no more difficult than what our Lord was asked to do.
- yet even here, He worshipped.

- and what was it that Paul said in Ii Corinthians 3:18?
- we are being transformed in His image.

- when men and women submit to God’s leadership, and to the imperfect human leadership this sovereign God has placed in their lives, they are showing how worthy they consider their God to be.
- and friends, we’re not talking about grudging submission...we’re talking about joyful, heartfelt submission.

- When God sends His emissaries to declare “Your God reigns!” His aim is not to constrain man’s submission by an act of raw authority; His aim is to ravish our affections with irresistible displays of glory.  The only submission that fully reflects the worth and glory of the Ling is glad submission.  Begrudging submission berates the King.  No gladness in the subject, no glory to the King – John Piper – The Supremacy of God in Preaching.

- develop and apply as time allows --- submission in key areas of life as an opportunity for worship.

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video