|- Kenneth Greatorex -
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 a Spirit, and those who worship Him MUST WORSHIP HIM IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH. John 4:23 & 24
In both the Old and New Testaments, worship is either an act of bowing down in reverence to a greater one, or an act of service to God. In the book of Revelation, worship has the added concepts of praise and adoration.
The various moves of the Spirit in the 20th century have placed within the Body of Christ, a desire to enter into praise and worship, that is probably greater than any time since the early Church. Books, magazines, teaching seminars, and even "think tanks" abound. Each has some good in it. However, as the degree of anointing from the start of a particular move has ebbed, the P&W (Praise & worship) has tended to become void of life. It often becomes a professional performance.
Many have learned the HOW of P&W. Some do truly enter in, yet so often the sound is that of HOLLOWNESS, an example of this will be given shortly. Often entering into worship stops short of what the Spirit intended in our giving of worship to the Almighty. The program must move on as the clock is ticking.
Another thing that STOPS WORSHIP, is the rushing into Spiritual gifts as soon as someone senses the anointing to do so. Prophecy and prophetic song can be held as. 1 Corinthians 14:29-32 informs us that the operation of the gifts are NOT uncontrollable outburst of the Holy Spirit, but rather the gifted one flowing DECENTLY AND IN ORDER,” that is, the order of the Spirit.
There are times when I have sensed the anointing to prophesy, and have held the prophecy for thirty to sixty until it was time for it. GENUINE P&W MOST OFTEN TAKES TIME! But, NEVER must we be doing it just to fill a time quota! There are times when it is Spirit led to be brief, and even TOTAL SILENCE for a lengthy time. This I can tell you because of over sixty years of observation, experience, and of having seen the glory of the Lord manifested when His people flowed in the anointing. My heart is saddened with the lack of spiritual worship in most circles. There is an answer, it is worshiping in spirit and truth.
In 1961 I made plans to visit a Vancouver Canada church that had a reputation of really entering into P&W. I attended the Sunday morning, the evening pre-prayer, and evening services. There was great activity, all the right sounds, and actions were made, yet, something was lacking. At the close of the evening service I remained for awhile as many had gone to the front for prayer. Then I began to laugh as the Holy Spirit saying to me: "WHAT WAS ONCE LIFE, THEY ARE DOING OUT OF HABIT." They knew well what should be done, BUT were doing it in the flesh. In the 1980's I re-visited the same church and sensed a freshness of the moving of the Spirit. A young Assistant Pastor stood up and told the people that what they had known from the revival of 1948 was NOT good enough for today. They needed a fresh move of the Spirit. This is even more true for ALL of us today.
The most difficult problem we face is not the mechanics of church worship, or of "singing in the spirit/Spirit,” as most have LEARNED this quite well. Nor, is it the diverse styles in various parts of the Body of Christ, or the new or old songs we sing. It is OUR HEART ATTITUDE. True worship is more an attitude than an action! WHAT IS OUR MOTIVATION? Are we seeking blessing? A sense of the anointing obtained by our efforts? The satisfaction we have performed well, and therefore God should be pleased as we did our best for Him?
Psalm 95:6,7 says it best, “Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.” It doesn't matter how excellent your performance, as long as it is God-ward and your heart is bowing down in adoration! Practice, planning and quality are beneficial, however, IT IS THE ANOINTING THAT MATTERS! Another extremely important factor is the unity, and sameness of anointing that the worship/song leader has with the elders/pastor of the local church, as they hold responsibility for all aspects of the service. This requires the submission of the worship/song leader to the spiritual leadership. There is no room for competition, or going your own direction!
It is true that we desire a sense of the revealed presence of God, for when He is revealed, He will speak or sing to His Church/Congregation, and it is then that the anointing for the gifts of the Spirit. However, many times have I been in services where they began with a prophesy, which then was followed by worship. Our Father longs for SONS who WILL WORSHIP Him in spirit and truth.
At age 13 I woke up one morning with a sense of the Lord's presence from what seemed to be a dream. In it I had been at one of the Pentecostal rallies we had in those days. The people were praising the Lord with great fervor, for this would bring the "glory" down. Then I observed Jesus coming down from a balcony at the front of the meeting hall. He then stood at the front just below the platform of preachers. Not one person saw Him! Eventually I walked up and asked Him why no one saw Him. He replied, “They are too busy praising Me to see Me.” In time, He sadly turned and walked away. This I have never forgotten. The center of P&W must be Christ, not our effort!
There is much worthless/worldly P&W today. Many have forgotten that worship as an expression of the heart flows out in words of adoration to God for WHO He is, NOT only for what He has done. TRUE WORSHIP IS BASED ON REVELATION. Sadly a round of applause, like the world, resounds in many services today, not just applauding individuals who may sing, etc., but toward The Almighty Himself. Following a PROPHETIC WORD, it magnifies the speaker, NOT God. Applause is like that of a TV talk show, it is cheap, and without meaning or commitment.
Psalm 47:1 is one of the few verses telling men to clap. “Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!” Then it continues with the forgotten, “Shout unto God with the voice of triumph!” Clapping as such, is neither right or wrong, BUT IT HAS BEEN SUBSTITUTED FOR WORSHIP. There are times when THE SPIRIT MAY lead a congregation in spontaneous clapping, and there is an anointing in it. The concern is that MOST, if not all, clapping/applause is but an imitation of the world's way of doing things. Anyone can do it and feel right at home, regardless of their spiritual condition.
In 1996 I told my wife Dale, that I had reached the conclusion that I could no longer teach Old Testament patterns of P&W, because they were under the Old Covenant, and NOT of the Spirit. Certainly there are excellent lessons, and words studies, on praise in the OT, and I am not suggesting these should not be taught. However, taught only as one would teach other Old Covenant principles like the Tabernacle of Moses.
We must learn to interpret the OT in light of the NT, as George B. Fletcher wrote, "It is sound exegesis [explanation] to harmonize the Old Testament with the HIGHER LIGHT of the New Testament, and not vice versa. Whatever Christ taught by His Holy Spirit through the Apostles is final, authoritative, and infallible.. Therefore, we cannot go first hand to the prophecies in order to examine the New Testament by them. We must enter, rather, the prophecies with the New Testament key, by which they are opened to us, or by doctrine.” This approach applies to P&W and many other things, and we would have less doctrinal problems if this principle was followed.
What I am saying is that OT lessons on P&W MUST NOT be our PATTERN except by the leading of the Spirit. I am not saying that we may not clap, dance, etc, but rather the higher order is SPIRIT AND TRUTH, NOT MECHANICAL REPRODUCTION. It is true that there were times when OT worship moved into the spiritual, as in 2 Chronicles 29:27, where the Song of the Lord began. However, the veil is now torn asunder and we no longer NEED to start in the Old Order for it is ABOLISHED in Christ.
Our Father is not concerned whether, we stand, or sit, raise hands, clap, use instruments, dance or whatever else we have found in the Old Covenant order (Raised hands are found in the NT for prayer - 1 Timothy 2:8). BUT, these methods are often "legalistic." Too often people grow physically weary from all of this. Hearing the Word IS also a vital part of worship. It enables us to live a life of victory.
Therefore, sitting is as much in order for part of the time as standing is. It also demonstrates consideration for visitors, older people and those with physical problems. Should a congregation stand at the start of a service like a bunch of well trained seals? NO! not until requested! They should normally sit or stand as requested by the song/worship leader, who should demonstrate wisdom and consideration for others. If you will check out the OT Scriptures used to support continuous standing you will discover that it was the Levites, or appointed singers who did this. (2 Chronicles 20:19 & 29:26) It was their job. In 2 Chronicles 20:18 the king and people bowed down to worship.
The teaching about The Restoration of the Tabernacle of David with its' emphasis on physical manifestations of praise has caused us to emphasize physical means as a way of activating the Spirit. God's order is, spirit, soul and lastly, body. See: 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Luke 1:46,47. Note, Mary’s soul magnified because her SPIRIT HAS - past tense. Ultimately we must understand that the Tabernacle of David is not a system of P&W, IT IS THE RESTORED HOUSE OF DAVID. House meaning, family or dynasty. (See: Amos 9:11,12; Acts 15:13-17 and 2:25-36) The present reign of King Jesus is the restoration of the Tabernacle of David. Ours hearts, therefore, should flow in adoration to the One who is the Almighty King of David's House.
The Book of Revelation is akin to the Psalms when studying P&W, except the order is HIGHER, and the vision of the ONE worshiped/praised is clearer. IN REVELATION, WORSHIP IS ALWAYS DIRECTED TO OUR LORD, AND NOT JUST ABOUT HIM. Worship is in the NT pattern of CORPORATE WORSHIP. It is WE and US, not I and me/my. The EGO has been dealt with and the believer is now a part of the many member Body of Christ. We see Christ, not as He WAS, but as He NOW is.
The following songs in Revelation are used as a basis for chapters in Robert Coleman's excellent book: (4a) Revelation 4:8; 4:11; 5:9,10; 5:13:14; 6:10; 7:10; 7:12; 11:15; 11:17,18; 12:10-12; 15:3,4; 19:1-4; and 19:6,7. Take time and study them. Let these vibrant, Christ centered words be life to you. The following Scriptures should also be examined to learn how the early church began to use songs birthed by the Spirit after the NT order: John 1:1-14; Romans 11:33-35; Ephesians 5:14; Philippians 2:6-11; Colossians 1:15-20; 1 Timothy 1:17; 1 Timothy 3:16; and Hebrews 1:3; and 1 Peter 1:18-21, 2:21-25, 3:18-22. Fragments of these truths are to be found in the great hymns of the Church. Studying these passages will reveal the depth of truth and revelation in them. There is no comparing the songs of this century to them. We need a fresh revelation of Christ and of His glory!
In 1984 I wrote, "When we have a revelation of the One we are called to worship, then like the Prophet Isaiah (Chapter Six), our eyes are opened, our heart is melted, we see ourselves as we in our flesh are. And most of all we see HIM for who HE IS. Worship denotes that the rebellion has ended in me. That the self-seeking, self-promoting is ended. Worship is understood as we enter into a revelation of the LORDSHIP of Jesus Christ. We see Him for more than what He has and can do, we see Him as He is!”
About twenty years ago (early 1960's) we sang a chorus that went like this:
True worshipers of the King,
His worthy praises we now sing,
In earthen vessels, here to dwell,
And we ask NOTHING for ourselves.
Just what is, “worshiping in spirit and truth?” To worship "in Spirit" means that the worship flows from the regenerated human spirit, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit; not from the body or soul which may become involved in due course. "In truth" means that the "reality" of what is said or sung, is the truth as revealed by the Lord. The truth, or words sung, are birthed by the Spirit of God, and based upon the Word of God.
We do not call for a revival of Scripture choruses as we have known them, rather it is a statement of principle. This teacher/writer has come to believe that the next great move of the Spirit will be one in which there will be a REBIRTH OF MUSIC. Tears will flow as hearts melt before our Lord, as God's people sing songs and hymns of worship given by the revelation of the Spirit, with music of the Heavenly realm. Musical performances and the blasting of noise will end when broken hearts weep as the glory of the risen ascended Christ is revealed. May our prayer be, "Lord, cause our hearts to be prepared!" "Lord, hasten the day!" REMEMBER, Worship is more an attitude than an action.
True worship is based upon revelation!
Writings in This Series: