We cannot expect the blessings of increased spiritual gifts and growth apart from a heart-felt love for the Word. Because proclamation is a God-ordained means of forming his people into a body unified in heart and mind, we cannot expect to grow in spiritual supplies apart from attention to the Word of God in preaching. We also must give heed to the word in personal study and commitment and cannot expect fulness of the knowledge of Christ apart from personal attention to the Word. The word of God in all its blessings in its power to shape us in Christ’s image will be void to us if we do not see Christ as its fulfillment. Not only has he fulfilled Scripture but he will be the fulfillment of all of history when he returns in the grace of transforming glory and the wrath of the righteous judge.
“I worship God on the golf course.” “I worship God at home—just my Bible and me." The buzz of a tattoo gun accompanies the voice of the preacher as he gets “inked” while preaching. Some of his church members follow suit and receive tattoos which they say “helped them experience God’s love.” The call to worship goes forth in the form of “Uptown Funk,” a secular upbeat song by Bruno Mars. Misunderstandings of who God is and what worship is have created a crisis in worship that will have generational ramifications.
According to a recent study by Lifeway and Ligonier Ministries half of professing evangelicals today hold to heretical beliefs. According to the study: 46% of evangelicals believe that God accepts the worship of all religions. 54% believe that Jesus is a created being. 57% believe that the Holy Spirit is a force and not a person. 52% think that the good works that they do contribute to their salvation. You can view this research here https://thestateoftheology.com/.
Peter just graduated from seminary. He aspires to a noble task. He put in his time. He’s trained and ready. Now, he needs to float his resume. He’s a blue-chipper. Who wouldn’t want a young, intelligent, degreed, well-spoken, family-man who’s “called” to pastor. He may have to settle for a part-time, bi-vocational gig, but surely it’ll be short term. Fulltime, vocational ministry is the calling. It’s God plan for his life. Or, is it?
Every time the church gathers, we gather as a people who have been transformed by the Good News of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. The Church is a people created by the Gospel. Without the Gospel, we have no reason to meet. Without this good news, we are just a bunch of random people. Without the Gospel, we are a people who are to be most pitied (1 Cor. 15:19).
However, because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we have purpose in our gathering together. We are not just a random group of people. We are the redeemed, those who have been ransomed for God by the blood of Jesus (Rev. 5:9-10). We are a people of great hope. As we gather together every Sunday, we gather because of the Gospel.
Our God is the blessed God. These are the only instances in Scripture where God is described in precisely these terms. How many times does Scripture have to say something for to affirm it as truth? Once. Yet, God’s blessedness isn’t the neglected attribute of God, sparingly mentioned, uncritical to the plot line. These may be the only instances in which God is described in precisely these terms, but His blessedness is all over the Bible the way blue is all over the sky. Once we know what blessedness means then we can look for other words and phrases that express the same truth.
What is the difference between a rattlesnake and a man-centered church? One was created for God's glory and the other will kill you. Intentionally or unintentionally, the modern western-church has become extremely man-centered. Numerous articles and books discuss the issues: Churches operate under a consumer-driven mindset dishing out program after program focused on what people like or think they need. As a result of the starting point being man-centered, worship music has become increasingly shallow and void of biblical theology. Preaching is now focused on topics and felt needs, rather than on the explanation of the text of the Bible and exhortation to obey what is found within, including repentance of sin and faith in Christ. Man has been elevated and reverence for God is often absent. Perhaps worst of all, the Gospel is not understood by many who claim to be Christians and the implications and demands of the Gospel on man are ignored. The inevitable result is spiritual death.