Matt Redman composed the song “The Heart of Worship” in the late 1990s. His church was going through a period of apathy despite its contribution to the current praise and worship movement. “There was a dynamic missing, so the pastor did a pretty brave thing,” he recalls. “He decided to get rid of the sound system and band for a season, and we gathered with just our voices. His point was that we’d lost our way in worship, and the way to get back to the heart would be to strip everything away.”
Encouraging the church family to be producers in worship, not just consumers, the pastor asked, “When you come through the doors on a Sunday, what are you bringing as your offering to God?” Matt says the question initially led to some embarrassing silence, but eventually people broke into a cappella songs and heartfelt prayers. “Before long, we reintroduced the musicians and sound system, as we’d gained a new perspective that worship is all about Jesus, and He commands a response in the depths of our souls no matter what the circumstance and setting. ‘The Heart of Worship’ simply describes what occurred.”
When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come / Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless your heart… / I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, Jesus
Jesus told the Samaritan woman that God seeks worshipers who would worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). How can believers today express such worship?
The essential expression of worship is sacrifice. In the Old Testament worshipers offered up animals for the restoration of fellowship with God when that fellowship was affected by sin, and also as an expression of gratitude for His benefits. Christ is the full and final sacrifice for sin, but believers today can offer up spiritual sacrifices of gratitude to God through Christ.
Christ offered up Himself to God as a sacrifice for us.
The foundation of worship is the sacrifice of Christ. He gave His life so that believers might become worshipers in spirit and truth.
The Apostle Paul compared the sacrifice of Christ on the cross to the “sweet savor” sacrifices presented at the altar of the temple (Eph 5:1-2; Lev 1:9, 23, 17). The death of Christ satisfied the holiness of God and was acceptable and pleasing to the Father.
Jesus put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself once and for all (Heb 9:26). His offering was unlike those of Old Testament worship since it needed no repetition being eternally effective.
The foundation of worship is the sacrifice of Christ. Because of the sacrifice of Christ, we can freely worship God. His sacrifice inspires our spiritual sacrifices.
We can now offer up to God spiritual sacrifices through Christ.
We have been redeemed so that we may worship God and offer up spiritual sacrifices. Peter affirmed this when he wrote, “And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:4-5).
Through Christ, we have access to God as priests. A priest brings offerings to God. Our offerings are not animal sacrifices. They are spiritual sacrifices. What are some of the spiritual offerings that we can offer as priests?
We can offer the spiritual sacrifice of ourselves (Rom 12:1).
The first spiritual sacrifice that we can offer is the sacrifice of ourselves. In light of all that God has done in redeeming us, we can now offer ourselves as sacrifices to Him. The sacrifice of ourselves involves the surrender of our bodies. We yield the members of our bodies as “instruments of righteousness” (Rom 6:13).
We can offer the spiritual sacrifice of our substance (Phil 4:18).
The second sacrifice that we can offer is the sacrifice of our substance. The Apostle Paul looked upon the financial gift of the Philippians as a spiritual sacrifice laid upon the altar to God (Phil 4:18-19). Paul did not look upon this gift as simply coming from them. He saw it as the provision of his need from God through them.
Paul went on to say that as a result of this meeting of his need through them, that God would also abundantly supply their need. This promise occurs in the context of the Philippians joint participation with Paul in the spread of the good news concerning Christ (1:3-7). It is God’s response to the sacrificial giving of believers for the spreading of the life message and the making of disciples.
A country preacher was once speaking pointedly to his congregation. He said, “Now let the church walk.” Brother Jones said, “Amen, let it walk.” The preacher continued, “Let the church run.” Brother Jones shouted, “Amen, Pastor, let it run.” “Let the church fly,” thundered the preacher. “Amen, let it fly,” hollered brother jones rising to his feet. Then the preacher calmly said, “Now it’s going to take money to let it fly, brother.” Brother Jones sat back down murmuring “Let it walk, Pastor, let it walk.” Our second spiritual sacrifice involves the giving of our substance for the spread of the life message and the growth of the church. Help it to fly.
We can offer the spiritual sacrifice of our service.
The third spiritual sacrifice we can offer is the sacrifice of our service. This sacrifice has a Godward aspect and a manward aspect.
We can offer a sacrifice of upward service – we praise God (Heb 13:15).
The Godward aspect of our service is the sacrifice of our praise. Why is praise called a sacrifice? The believer’s sacrifice of praise is offered continually. It is an offering in every circumstance. Such a sacrifice of praise irrespective of circumstance is costly and valuable to God.
We can offer a sacrifice of outward service.
The manward aspect of our service is the sacrifice of doing good works and declaring the good news.
We can do good works (Heb 13:16).
Our sacrifices are not only words but also works. Life service should accompany lip service. The good works might include the hospitality mentioned in Heb 13:2.
We can share the message of life and make disciples (Rom 15:16).
Paul looked upon himself as a priest at the altar offering up to God the Gentiles he had introduced to Christ. They were a spiritual sacrifice to God. His sharing of the life message and the making of disciples was a priestly duty. This insight into ministry adds dignity to our service.
One of the great truths of the Bible is that every believer is a priest who can offer up spiritual sacrifices to God. We are all to be in priestly service because we have come to experience the mercy of God in Christ. In light of the supreme sacrifice of our Savior, we should now offer up to God the spiritual sacrifices of ourselves, our substance, and our service. Our spiritual sacrifices will please God, enrich our lives, and strengthen the church. Because we have known the mercy of God in Christ, let us now bring spiritual sacrifices to God through Christ.