Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

Fall Down and Worship God!

The throne room scene in Revelation chapters 4 and 5 is one of the most stirring passages of scripture in the entire Bible. At the climax of this wonderful vision we see the entire creation bowing down to worship God Almighty.

“And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: ‘Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!’ Then the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever'” (Revelation 5:13-14).

Ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, gathered around the throne, declared the worthiness of the Lamb of God to receive worship from all.

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (vs. 12). We are told of their joy as they sang a new song, “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; For You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth” (vs. 9-10). Truly this scene is as it should be, with all of creation gathered together in ecstasy, proclaiming the glad tidings of our Lord’s sacrifice and His worthiness as the One to implement God’s redemption of man.

It is also a far cry from the present attitude some express toward worship to God. Too often apathy reigns, and the proper grandeur and purpose of worship go unrecognized even by those who purport to be initiates in the faith. Such apathy expresses itself both in truancy and in the general demeanor of the indifferent member when he does occasionally grace the assembly with his presence. Worship has such potential to uplift the spirit and strengthen the faith of the petitioner. It is a shame that too few appreciate and take advantage of its blessings.

In the infancy of the church, as the apostles and brethren lingered in Jerusalem, Luke records, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles” (Acts 2:42-43). Worship to God was central to their faith, and had a corollary effect upon their entire lives, “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (vs. 46-47).

However, there are examples in the New Testament of Christians who did not fully appreciate the privilege of worship to God. The Corinthians were admonished by Paul for turning their observance of the Lord’s supper into a common meal. “What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you” (1 Corinthians 11:22). The Hebrew writer spoke of those who were in the habit of forsaking the assembly of the saints, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25). The Lord Himself dealt with the apathy of some as he called to repentance the Ephesians, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Revelation 2:4); the brethren in Sardis, “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead” (3:2); and the Laodiceans, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot” (3:15). Though it would seem that all Christians would enthusiastically embrace their opportunities to worship God, in reality every generation struggles to be faithful in this aspect of their service to Him.

Characteristically, those who have an indifferent attitude toward worship exhibit spiritual weakness in all areas of their lives. They struggle to overcome the enticements of the world, and are often beaten down by the trials of life. They complain about how hard it is to live a life of righteousness while they consistently neglect their opportunity to be strengthened by their brethren. They remind one of the recalcitrant child who refuses to eat the meal his mother has prepared, and with the next breath complains of hunger. They are spiritually immature.

The collective worship of the local congregation is the means God has given for us to encourage one another. This is the reason we are called to assemble, “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24). In our worship we have opportunity be edified in song, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19). We have opportunity to pray for one another, (1 Timothy 2:1-4). Together, we “proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26) when we partake of the Lord’s Supper. We cheerfully give to facilitate the common work to be done (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). And, we are strengthened by study of the word (Acts 20:7). These times of public worship allow us to heed the scribe’s exhortation to “strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed” (Hebrews 12:12-13).

In my own experience I can attest to the thrill of lifting my voice with that of so many others in joyous song to God. I can relate the profound gratitude I have felt toward my brethren as they prayed publicly, specifically for my family and me. I have felt an almost overwhelming sense of awe as I took the emblems of the supper with those of like precious faith, have seen the good done in preaching and benevolence out of the treasury of the local church, and have thrilled to sit at the feet of so many preachers of the precious gospel. As any Christian would, I have been greatly encouraged by my communion with other Christians in our worship to God.

Though the edification of one another is a blessing that comes from our worship to God, it is by no means the only one. The very fact that we can offer up our petitions to the Almighty God in Heaven brings great strength and an increased faith. Our prayers are heard by Him, (cf. Acts 10:4; Rev. 5:8), and He is pleased with our sincere expressions of honor and praise. We are promised His presence in our midst (cf. Matt. 18:20), and God tells the righteous man, “He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him” (Psalm 91:15).

For such worship to strengthen and edify, it must be that it is sincere and true. “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). Mere ritual (cf. Matt. 6:7), and the innovations of men (cf. Matt. 15:3-9), will not do. Such worship is vain. God expects those who worship him to be sincere in their petitions (in spirit), and to worship in accord with His will (in truth). Nothing less will appease Him, and nothing less will bring the peace and strength that true worship affords the initiate.

Man as a creature is designed to worship his Creator. Our purpose on earth is to serve Him (cf. Eccl. 12:13-14). If we do not take advantage of every opportunity, we miss out on so much. It is my prayer that all will read again Revelation chapters 4 and 5, and realize the great privilege we have to worship the Almighty God in heaven. May we all have the same desire expressed by the Psalmist, “One thing I have desired of the LORD, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD, And to inquire in His temple” (Psalm 27:4).