God did not command sacrifices in order to busy His worshipers with earthly sacrifices. Rather He did so that He might lift their minds higher. This can be clearly discerned from His own nature: for, as it is spiritual, only spiritual worship delights Him. [John 4:23-24] . . . . The external rituals were to be a manifestation of faith and love (Deut. 6:5-6). When used merely as a disguise for a cold and distant heart, they became an abomination. The outward signs were to be manifestations of an inward reality. When they were not, God rejected the sign as having any real worth (1 Sam.15:22; Ps. 51:14-29; Isa. 1:11-18; Jer. 6:20; Mal. 1).
—Monte E. Wilson, “Church-O-Rama or Corporate Worship,” in The Compromised Church: The Present Evangelical Crisis (ed. John H. Armstrong), 72
As we gather for corporate worship tomorrow, we would all do well to remember that it is not a biblical necessity to enjoy the music—though it is not an outright sin to do so either—to which the truths of God’s word are set to melody, harmony and rhythm. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16 ESV) If the music or musical style does not suit your personal and private tastes, make it your spiritual aim to rejoice in message of the lyric, for that is much more important than the music.If you cannot rejoice in the message of the lyric, either the lyric must change, or perhaps your heart.
The true, the genuine worship is when man, through his spirit, attains to friendship and intimacy with God. True and genuine worship is not to come to a certain place; it is not to go through a certain ritual or liturgy; it is not even to bring certain gifts. True worship is when the spirit, the immortal and invisible part of man, speaks to and meets with God, who is immortal and invisible. [John 4:23-24]
—William Barclay, Gospel of John vol. 1, 154
I want to stress what I think that we (or at least I) need more [than instruction about sacrifice]; the joy and delight in God which meet us in the Psalms, however loosely or closely, in this or that instance, they may be connected with the Temple. This is the living centre of Judaism. These poets knew far less reason than we for loving God. They did not know that He offered them eternal joy; still less that He would die to win it for them. Yet they express a longing for Him, for His mere presence, which comes only to the best Christians or to Christians in their best moments. They long to live all their days in the Temple so that they may constantly see “the fair beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27,4). Their longing to go up to Jerusalem and “appear before the presence of God” is like a physical thirst (42). From Jerusalem His presence flashes out “in perfect beauty” (50,2). Lacking that encounter with Him, their souls are parched like a waterless countryside (63,2). They crave to be “satisfied with the pleasures” of His house (65,4). Only there can they be at ease, like a bird in the nest (84,3). One day of those “pleasures” is better than a lifetime spent elsewhere (10).
I have rather—though the expression may seem harsh to some—call this the “appetite for God” than the “love of God”. . . . It has all the cheerful spontaneity of a natural, even a physical, desire.
—C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms, 50-51
For there were many in the assembly who had not consecrated themselves. Therefore the Levites had to slaughter the Passover lamb for everyone who was not clean, to consecrate it to the LORD. For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “May the good LORD pardon everyone who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.” And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.
—2 Chronicles 30:17-20
God is jealous for His own honor and He rightly seeks His own honor. He says, “I the Lord your God am a jealous God” (Ex. 20:5) and “My glory I will not give to another” (Is. 48:11). Something within us should tremble and rejoice at this fact. We should tremble with fear lest we rob God’s glory from Him. And we should rejoice that it is right that God seek His own honor and be jealous for His own honor, for He, infinitely more than anything He has made, is worthy of honor. The twenty-four elders in heaven feel this reverence and joy, for they fall down before God’s throne and cast their crowns before him singing, “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they existed and were created” (Rev. 4:11). When we feel the absolute rightness of this deep within ourselves we then have the appropriate heart attitude for genuine worship.
—Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 1005
I think when you’re in church and a worship song is played (provided it’s not heretical), you have two choices:
2) Criticize, evaluate, and engage in pompous elitism.
I think what we need to do is just worship. When we got to church yesterday (we were very late) I didn’t feel like worshipping, for various reasons. And I may not have liked every song that was played.
But that’s my problem. None of the songs were heretical, and just because I wasn’t inspired to lift up Jesus, it doesn’t mean that the people around me were wrong to do so. In fact, they were right. I was wrong.
I think what’s needed in the worship wars, ultimately, is humility, thankfulness for what we have, and a renewal of the desire to worship God in spirit and truth. Worship, like grace, does not find an easy dwelling in an agitated, proud, critical heart.