Worshiping in Vain – Some Choruses, a Pep-talk, and an Offering, part 5 of 20


Anyone disagree that it is appropriate and right that the house of God be ordered by God’s rules? How can any disagree with that? But when it comes to corporate worship, at least in practice, many actually do. The impression given in many sanctuaries is that God hasn’t regulated His worship; that He has left it to man’s ingenuity instead. But we saw last time (Some Choruses, a Pep-talk, and an Offering, Part 4) that worship according to “rules taught by men” (Matthew 15:9) is no worship at all. It is frightening to consider we may be worshiping God in vain.

If that doesn’t stir reaction, maybe this will. There was a problem in the church at Colossae. And it was a big one: Christ wasn’t enough. That is, false teaching infiltrated the church calling for additional worship practices that promised to make one less vulnerable to sin and one more spiritual and therefore more pleasing to God.

The Apostle Paul says otherwise; calling their additions “human commands and teachings” (Colossians 2:22). He goes further and labels their additions “self-imposed worship” (2:23). The ESV and NASB translate the phrase as “self-made religion”. Paul isn’t giving out “brownie points” for the creative worship going on at Colossae. He’s calling it out for what it is: “self-imposed worship” and “self-made religion”.

And any worship practice that begins with the word “self” can’t be good—and it isn’t. Paul connects their new worship ideas to its real author—the self. And when the self dictates, the self has exchanged places with God. That isn’t good; for who’s really being worshiped? It isn’t God anymore.

It is stunning what passes off as the worship of God today. More may be stunned one day to hear it was all in vain.

These articles have attempted to lay a foundation for God’s regulated worship. Next time we will begin suggesting what we believe that looks like.

Pastor Rich Hamlin
November 4, 2010

1 comment

  1. Pastor Rich,

    I just read the five intro articles. Thank you for setting up the problem, which is huge.

    In my experience worship is singing choruses, sometimes up to 30 minutes. The band or choir lead in worship, followed by other parts of the service. Communion is given about once a month, or once a quarter. I nearly starved. Thin gruel indeed.

    I leave ERC filled, sometimes past the brim. I have come to love the liturgy. We worship God, His way in His house. It took awhile to learn how to worship and how to receive the means of grace. Thank you for leading us in worship, Rich, with all the parts contributing to the whole.

    The Evangelical Church needs this diagnosis. I look forward to reading the prescription. Perhaps today’s evangelical church will yet avoid becoming irrelevant in the midst of striving for relevancy.

    By His grace,

“Amending the Soil” Christian Education Conference

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