Worship & the trinity

The word doctrine simply means teaching or truth – that which is taught. But for the Christian, doctrine is always more than that; it is more than a truth which we believe and which is taught. For us doctrine is truth to live by.

Recently in our evening services, we’ve been considering the great doctrine of the Trinity, and we came to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in John 4:24. “God is a spirit and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth”.

This is very practical. It affects our attitude to worship. We understand that when we gather together we are concerned about God, and not about what we do. Worship is never about what we do. Nor is our first concern about how we feel as a result of what we do. True worship is inward / spiritual. And God is our focus and concern.

This would all seem to be very simple, but there is much confusion here. Recently, after one of our services, a visitor complained about a lack of atmosphere and love. He’d been welcomed warmly at the door, but on entering the hall, was shocked at how quiet it all was. But this is really a lack of perception. What appeared to that outsider to be dead and cold, was in fact quiet, reverent preparation for worship. And it is quite deliberate.

In our Sunday services we are coming together to worship the living God – in spirit and in truth. Ideally, as we come through the chapel doors, we want to leave the world and all its concerns behind – What was that funny noise the car was making? – did we switch the oven on / off before leaving home? etc. etc.

Then we begin to set our hearts and minds on high and holy things. And especially we want to focus on God. This requires quietness. So we give ourselves time for that, aiming to be in our seats five minutes before “the great business” begins. Psalm 46:10 exhorts us to “be still and know that I am God”.

One thing we do at Chorlton to aid heart preparation is to put a Bible reference on the hymn board. This will either be read during the service or is relevant to our subject / topic. Also the hymns are up and can be read meditatively. All this is leading us into our time of worship which is all about Him. Worship is God centred. God is a spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.

The whole of our time together is worship, and the whole thing is climactic. All our readings hymns and prayers, are leading to the preaching of the word of God; then one man speaks and everyone present is drawn out to worship and adore God and His truth. We are in error if we divide up our time into a period of worship followed by the word. It is all worship.

Recently I came across this quotation by our good friend Geoff Thomas: “In true worship men . . . have little thought of the means of worship; their thoughts are upon God. True worship is characterised by self-effacement and is lacking in any self consciousness.”

True worship exalts God to his rightful place in our lives. To him alone be all the glory.

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