The Worship Centered Life

We live in a time where people say that Elvis lives and God is dead. We live in a generation that plants trees but uproots marriages. We live in a culture where individuals will bring nations together to save a few dying whales, but are swift to kill unborn babies. It’s against the law to post The Ten Commandments in public schools, but it’s responsible education for teachers to hand out condoms. Sin is now called sickness; disobedience is now called disease; and adultery is now called addiction–nothing more than extra-curricular political activity for the politicians.

How is it in the midst of this kind of moral and spiritual chaos that we can and must live lives that will bring glory to God? I hope this article will in some way equip and encourage you to “live daily in the presence of His glory.”

We all have Phd’s in rationalizing our behavior, don’t we? We can cast blame and avoid responsibility for our own actions by putting it off on others so effortlessly; this has even become acceptable within the church. I know that in Nashville, TN this technique is considered by many to be a “spiritual gift.” Even Pastors have fallen prey to the times. Very seldom do men of God shepherd or disciple their own church people in and from the truths of God’s Word. Sadly, the norm today is that the church has adopted a theraputic form of sanctification and become little more than a referral service for the local psychologist or counselor who are more than willing “fix” someone for only $150 an hour. Church Restoration  is rarely exercised for fear of being sued, viewed as judgemental, or unloving. This is caused, I believe, because people have lost a right view of the glory of God and their duty to live every part of their lives for His names sake. Let’s take a look together at what it means to live for God and His glory each day.

I first began serving the Lord Jesus through song in 1974, a remarkable pastor/evangelist named Dr. Stephen Olford, who was arguably one of the finest orators for the gospel and whom I was privileged to call a friend, encouraged me with these powerful words, “Make up your mind, Steve, who will receive the glory—the Lord or you—for He will not share it with another.” Those words branded me like a hot iron and serve even today as not only a mantle for my life and work, but as a “grace reminder” that contrition, brokenness, and humility are not just spiritual hyperbole, but the essence of the servant-leader attitude for genuine ministry.

Paul’s exhortation to the church at Thessalonica to not waver in their worthy walk for the Lord brings a further dimension to this truth, “Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:11-12).

The Christian life is not first and foremost about man and his needs, but about God and His glory! As John Calvin so poignantly pens in his institutes, “The sum of the Christian life is the denial of self [and the glory of God].” And as the great Richard Baxter so humbly says, “I was but a pen in the hands of the Lord… and what glory is due a pen?” God won’t share His glory with another, beloved, and we must use all our gifts, talents, and abilities ultimately for one preeminent purpose—not to magnify ourselves or further our own name, but to glorify the Lord and Him alone!

The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins by asking this guileless and lucid question, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is clear and biblical: “To glorify God and enjoy (worship) Him forever” (1 Cor. 1:26-31).

We are not to seek this glory from man (Matthew 6:2; 1 Thess. 2:6) for the glory of man quickly passes away (1 Peter 1:24); nor are we to glory in our own wisdom, might or riches, but to glory in understanding and knowing the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24). This glory is given by God (Psalm 84:11), secured in Christ, “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one” (John 17:22), is the work of the Holy Spirit, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of God” (2 Cor. 3:18) and is made evident in the new covenant—the ministry of righteousness (Ibid. 9-11).

Scripture makes it clear that God has created man to glorify Himself and this is the prominent purpose of all of our lives. From the common things of life, eating and drinking, to the most profound seasons of worship and praise—whatever we do in vocation and avocation, we are to glorify Him for who He is and all He has done.

Question: How do we bring glory to the Lord each day in the problematic world that we live in? We bring glory to Him when we confess Christ as Lord (Phil. 2:11), through praise (Psalm 50:23), as we plead in prayer (Ibid. 79:9), as we daily confess our sin in the beauty of holiness (1 Chron. 16:29), and as we exercise a recurrent life of repentance exemplified in the fruits of righteousness (Phil. 1:11). We glorify God when we are privileged to suffer for Christ (1 Peter 4:12-16), and are patient in affliction (Isaiah 24:15), even die for Him (Job 13:15a). We glorify Him when we rely on His promises (Rom. 4:20), and honor Him in our body and spirit—for we are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:20). We glorify God for His holiness (Exodus 15:11), mercy and truth (Psalm 115:1; Romans 15:9), faithfulness (Isaiah 25:1), grace to others (Galatians 1:24), deliverance from sin (Ephesians 1:6-14), and for our eternal salvation (2 Timothy 2:10).

The greatest songwriter in the Bible, David, exclaimed, “Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Glory in His holy name…” (Psalm 105:2-3). The centrality of glorifying God is also proclaimed in Psalm 29:2, “Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” This Old Testament truth is brought forward into the New Testament. Notice how far-reaching it is in the Apostle Paul’s mandate for God’s believing children: “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

God’s glory is described as being great (Psalm 138:5), eternal (Ibid. 104:31), rich (Eph. 3:16), and highly exalted (Psalm 8:1; 113:4). God’s transcendent glory is a visible manifestation of His presence (Ezekiel 1). All the heavens declare the glory of God for they demonstrate His eternal power and divine nature (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:20-21). God will even be glorified in His wrath, for in judgment too He is holy, just, perfect and righteous (Romans 9:22-24).

God is the only One worthy of praise, worship and glory, “and My glory I will not give to another” (Isaiah 42:8). The Psalmist again exhorts us by saying, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth” (Psalm 115:1).

Lucifer fell from heaven because he would not glorify God and tried to exalt himself above God by desiring worship for himself (Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28). King Nebuchadnezzar lost his throne and was driven to insanity for seven years for not giving God glory (Daniel 4:19-36). Herod in Acts 12:20-23 was struck by an angel of the Lord, eaten by worms, and died. Why? “Because he did not give glory to God” (verse 23). And this will be our end too. As Charles Bridges has said, “Pride is self contending with God for preeminence.”

But nowhere is God’s glory more magnified and exhibited than in the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 17:1-5; Hebrews 1:1-4). “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus Christ is the full expression of the glory of God. “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). But He is just not a reflection of God’s glory—for He, Himself, is God of very God (Phil. 2:9-11; Hebrews 1:8). “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col.2:9); “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58); “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Ibid.14:9b); “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made the Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36); and as the writer of Hebrews affirms when describing the supremacy of Jesus Christ, “Who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3).

When we live our lives with a clear understanding and knowledge of the character of God, then it is out of the depth of that knowing we worship Him. What we will do in eternity, let us begin to do here in time—let us live daily in the presence of the glory of the Lord.