by David Stahl

As we enter what many Christians call the “Easter” season I am reminded of the greatest display of worship man has even seen and that was when Jesus (willfully) laid down His life for us on a cross and arose from the dead on the third day as He said he would.  This last point is critical to our belief in our salvation for if Jesus never rose from the dead then all of our good intentioned church activities are in vain. In Matthew we read, “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.”  (Matthew 16:21-22)Am I ever glad Peter never had his way with Jesus.  Can you imagine if Peter would have won out and Jesus would never have died? Where would we all be?  Lost and undone, but Jesus’ words were true and up from the grave He arose with a mighty power against His foes, He arose praise God, Christ arose.  Now we have a hope and future. Without the death of Christ we would not have a hope and a future.  Paul taught the Church at Corinth, “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14And if Christ be not risen, then isour preaching vain, and your faith isalso vain. 15Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17And if Christ be not raised, your faith isvain; ye are yet in your sins. 18Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.”  (1 Corinthians 15:12-19)  My friend if Christ not be risen from the dead then we have no hope for ourselves to be risen from the dead and notice verse 19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” My friendif our hope is only in this life then at best we are miserable (Strong’s #1652 pitied).  What a hope we have in Jesus!  But notice our hope and future is based first on the death of Christ then the resurrection.  Paul in Romans tells us, Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likenessof hisresurrection:” (Romans 6:4-5)The only way to walk in the Father’s newness of life is to die (some physically) and be raised from the dead. Many denominations use these verses when they do a water baptism, but Paul was not talking about a water baptism he was talking about dying spiritually.  Jesus with His death on the cross was teaching us about true worship.  There is a divine spiritual principle in play here, to have true worship something or someone must die.   True worship is a willful act of the heart and sprit and not of our intellect and emotions.  Even when we do not want to worship God, “in spirit and truth”we must willfully die to our selfish desires and self-seeking ways. We go to church and say let us begin our worship and start singing songs, playing music, and in some churches wave flags and call that worship, well that is NOT worship that is singing songs, playing music, and waving flags. True worship is a thing of our heart NOT our emotions trying to get our spirit charged up or our fix for the week. Biblical worship is to bow our head to the ground.  In Exodus 34 we read, “And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. 9And he said, If now I have found grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us; for it isa stiffnecked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance.” (Exodus 34:8-9)Moses knew where his strength came from. When Moses was confronted by Korah and the 250 elders again we see Moses in a spirit of worship instead of defending himself or vilifying his enemy, “And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye taketoo much upon you, seeing all the congregation areholy, every one of them, and the LORD isamong them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?  4And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face:” (Numbers 16:3-4)Again Moses worshiped and again Moses knew where his strength comes from. Moses died to his pride and arrogance, he put his leadership mantle (how refreshing to see this) on the altar and allowed God to choose between him and Korah.  In Genesis 22 we read where Abraham and Isaac worshiped the LORD.  “Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 5And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 6And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid itupon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here amI, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where isthe lamb for a burnt offering?  8And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. 9And they came to the place which God had told him of; andAbraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 10And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.”  (Genesis 22:4-10)  What faith? Did you get that?  “I and lad will go yonder (I wonder where “yonder”is)and worship and come again to you.”  I wonder if Abraham knew something about worship?  At that time Abraham had every intention to sacrifice his promised son (of his old age) to God in worship. Again something or someone must die to have true worship, but God provided the sacrifice for Abraham and Isaac which is always the result of true worship. God provides for us when we lower our heart and head to the ground, like with Moses and Abraham. Maybe that is why not many people receive from God not much death in us we want to live well, God wants us to die so that He may live through us.  My friend worship is not singing or dancing, but dying. Who wants to die? Not many, but Jesus did so that we may have everlasting life. Take heed when we make melody in church and call it worship.  In John Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” (John 12:24-25) Who wants to die, oh no our flesh screams, “I want to live!” Well to live we will lose our life. 

True Worship is not conducted by instruments, it is born of the Spirit.  It is not mechanical, but uplifting and ascending to God, to a holy God – holy, holy, holy – something fresh we offer from our heart. No flesh can stand in His presence, “that no flesh should glory in His presence.” (1 Corinthians 1:29) These days this needs to be brought out and emphasized because we try to bring God down to our level. Our highest vocation is not ministry, but it is to know and worship God.  The more we come to know God the more we will want to worship Him. Many churches spend hours trying to work the people and the Spirit up (and they call that worshipping) to worship God, but if they really knew God there would be no need to work anybody up. We do not worship because we do not know God. Our attitude in God often counts. Worship is a tremendous self-giving to God, something that comes from within, and is going right up to God and right back to us to worship Him the more.  We cannot worship in ourselves. Worship is born of the Spirit then He can worship through us for the world to see.  Many Christians say we will have all eternity in heaven worshipping God well we better get it right down here on earth (and learn of the quietness of His heart) to be able to function correctly in heaven. How far we are from this in so much we see and hear.  Oddly enough when we get really get into true worship we find He is just about 1,000 miles away from so much stuff we are doing, but that holds us it fascinates us and it keeps us going.  A.W. Tozer said, “The feeling that we are to make converts at any cost has greatly wounded the church of today.”  We cannot make converts we can only share the message and the LORD does the converting. If someone does not come forward to accept Christ we feel we have failed, the message of the Gospel has not went forth, but not true.  We are to present the truth and then let the Holy Spirit do the converting. He (the Holy Spirit) needs no showbiz parlor tricks, music, light shows, or smoke and mirrors to do this.  This soft and fluffy idea that in order to keep people coming and giving we do not need to offend them is not the message of the Jesus of the New Testament. The preaching of the Gospel must offend us if we are going to be changed. The crowds-at-any-price mania has taken a firm grip on American Christianity and is the motivating power not the power of the Gospel.  My friend true worship must precede evangelism.  For it is evangelism that God desires to use to draw those out of the world and from that group God will find His elect to sit with Him for all eternity.  But, today we are working contrary to what God wants.  We are bringing the world into the church. If we can but get some big shot (sports figure, Hollywood movie star, some celebrity) to say nice things about us or our church we rush to the media and airwaves to repeat the wonderful things they have said about us, but who cares what the world says about us? We need to be concerned about what Jesus says about us.  The truth is Christ saves us to make us worshipers and workers and the more we know Him the better worshipers and workers we will be, but sadly we are ignoring the first principle the worshippers and only making workers.  Christ calls men to carry a cross, we call them to have fun (be blessed and highly anointed) in His name.  Christ calls them to forsake the world, but we assure them if they but accept Jesus the world will be their oyster. Christ calls them to suffer even endure persecution, we call to them to enjoy all of the comforts modern civilization can afford, in the name of Jesus.  Christ calls us to self-abnegation and to death we call them to find their destiny and fulfillment in God.  Yes my friend we have gotten off track.  There must be a turning from this humanistic, amusement-based, pseudo-religion that the church of today around the world is.  Way too much activity (too busy) and you know noise is not worship. It is far past time for the church to get back to worshipping God, “in Spirit and truth.”Let us learn to know God and worship Him rightly He deserves it.  Let us learn to die so that He may be resurrected in us.