WHY I RESIGNED
A few years ago I resigned. That is, I resigned from my pursuit of majoring on being a great preacher. I think my motives were noble in this pursuit. After all, the Scriptures declare that preaching is the means of grace for people to come to salvation. It was reasonable then for any pastor to see the pulpit as their main responsibility. But as I studied the life and ministry of Dr. F.W. Boreham I increasingly grew more in love with the pastorate than the pulpit. I stopped preparing sermons to preach and began to prepare sermons to pastor. Instead of the pulpit being my platform, it has become my tool for pastoring people. Sure, preaching can move and stir people. But unless it leads people into worship of God it is failing both people and our Lord. That’s why the best preaching is really worship-leading!
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.
THE GOSPEL AND WORSHIP
Some people see the Gospel as simply the message of God’s grace in forgiving us of our sins and securing our eternal redemption. In that view, the Gospel can be reduced to four spiritual laws based on just four verses of Scripture from Romans. You might already know that the term “gospel” comes from the Greek word ‘evangel’ (euangelion) which means good news.
¶ Now to Him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
Considering that God has given us more than just four verses of Scripture, the good news of the Gospel may not just be limited to four verses of Scripture or even just about God’s grace in saving us from our sins.This is why you will have heard me say that the Gospel begins at Genesis 1:1 and ends at Revelation 22:21. In this view, every verse of Scripture can be thought of as being like a pixel in a grand picture. What is this grand picture? It is the most magnificent picture of the most magnificently beautiful God. It is this picture of God which is the good news, the Gospel. This is why John Piper says, “God is the Gospel!”
Salvation isn’t just about being forgiven of our sins. It’s about coming back into fellowship with God which begins with our sins being graciously forgiven by the Father because of what Jesus has done. It begins with this, but it doesn’t end with this. For the Gospel to run its course in the life of the redeemed there must be a transformation of who they are into the image of Christ.
For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.
This transformation into the image of Christ happens as we respond to the summons of the Gospel to surrender more of our lives as our worship to God. Of course, since Christ and the Father are in perfect union and share infinitely vulnerable love for each other, our transformation into the image of the Father’s Son involves us being drawn closer to God the Father as well. The process of coming closer to the Father and being transformed into the image of His Son is called sanctification. Our sanctification in this life can be seen by how much of our lives are offered to God in worship. Thus, something quite mystical happens to us when we worship – and especially when we worship in our local church – which often God ordains to involve humility on our part which invokes the rich blessing of God’s grace on us.
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
And the most profoundly mystical thing that happens to a worshiper is an increasing revelation of God’s beauty. Little wonder then, that the great worshiper, John Francis Wade, wrote the song, “O come let us adore Him!” (which we mistakenly relegate to the Festive Season!). For adoration is the most natural response to being in God’s presence and beholding Him.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Second Corinthians 3:18
The more we behold Christ in worship the more we willingly surrender to God and the greater the revelation we receive of the Father’s impeccability and beauty. The Father then becomes even more attractive to us and the more we are attracted to Him, the more we want to surrender to Him in adoring worship.
and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,
This is why our worship is most beautifully expressed in singing and music together because it involves our hearts, our presence, and our attention. It most naturally leads to us worshiping God with our lives. This transforming worship is most evident by how we treat others, particularly those who know us best. They, of all people, have a window into the genuineness of the revelation of God we claim to have. Thus, the one who claims to be a worshiper of God yet displays little transformation into the image of Christ because they are continually angry, critical, offended, offending, or complaining, is displaying that they have not surrendered to the Beautiful One at all. Yet when those we love get up close to us and look through the window of our soul and they see a kind-hearted, forgiving, gracious, patient, generous soul, it is obvious to them that our worship of the Father has caused us to surrender in love to Him.
¶ I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
PREACHING AS WORSHIP LEADING
But how does preaching lead people to worship? The fact that we now even ask this question reveals just how far from the Biblical concept of preaching we have moved. Sound preaching not only unpacks the Scriptures. Sound preaching not only explains Christian doctrine. Sound preaching brings people to a clearer picture of God and summons people to worship Him! This is why every preacher should be a worship leader because they are leading people to worship the Magnificent One. This begins at salvation, continues through sanctification, and is completed in our glorification as we are united with the Father in Christ by the Holy Spirit for eternity. Since Christ calls pastors to shepherd people, that is lead people to a closer walk with Christ, the pulpit becomes the pastors most valued tool for achieving this. That’s why I resigned from simply preaching, and have focussed more of my energies on pastoring through preaching with the aim of bringing people into richer worship of our Heavenly Father. Thus, when I am preaching, I am now worship leading. Please join me in worshiping our Saviour. I’ll tell you why, this Sunday.