This is part 3 of 3 of a series of blogs written especially for this site by Simon Brading who leads the worship team at Church of Christ the King, Brighton. I've had the privilege of leading alongside this man of God the last couple of years at Mobilise and he's a huge inspiration to me so I'm sure you'll find this blog useful!
The Old Testament: Worship in Flesh
In the Old Testament, worship was about physical acts of worship, sacrifices and singing to God at a distance because of our sin. It was not in spirit, it was in flesh.
God’s presence was confined to small box (the ark), hidden behind a thick curtain in the Holy of Holies, inside the Temple - which did not have public access.
On the cross, Jesus completely removed this barrier of sin separating us from God - and they very next thing to happen was the curtain in the temple was torn in two (Mark 15:37). In the biggest twist of events, God made a new temple - not one made of stone, but one made of humans! When you become a Christian, the Father places His Spirit inside of you and your actual body becomes a temple for His Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). As flesh gives birth to flesh, the Spirit gives birth to spirit (John 3:6).
A 90’s Laptop
Your body a temple? Let me explain, when you’re just flesh, it’s like an old laptop from the 90’s that doesn’t have wireless: even if there’s free Wifi around, it doesn’t have the capacity to connect. But when you’re born of the Spirit, it’s like God installs a wireless card inside of you, enabling you to connect back-and-forth all day. God is Spirit, it’s the stuff He’s made of, so being born of the spirit means you’re able connect with Him in His native form - spirit. Like you speak in English, record music in Logic, type essays in Word, you worship God in spirit.
The New Testament: Worship in Spirit
God is Spirit and His worshippers must worship Him in spirit (John 4:24)
The end of external, physical, law-based worship - and the dawn of spiritual, heavenly encounter, grace-based worship! Here are 3 things this means:
1. The Spirit reveals God
Instead of worship being an external act of the will, the Holy Spirit dives into your heart, reveals the glories of Christ - drawing out true love and worship from inside of you!
We don’t just have physical eyes, we also have spiritual eyes (Ephesian 1:19) which the Holy Spirit opens. One of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit is to open these new spiritual eyes and continually reveal Jesus to us (John 16:12-15). One of the glories of NT worship is we expect to see Jesus again and again and again, causing our hearts to pump with worship.
2. The Spirit manifests God
Instead of worship being distant and isolated from God, the Holy Spirit makes God’s presence tangible - we actually get to feel God being present!
Because you are seated in Christ in the heavenly places, you now live in the Holy of Holies at all times - and His presence lives in YOU. There is no curtain. You don’t need to go to the temple at a certain time - you can draw near to God and feel His physical presence at any time, any place. And the Holy Spirit makes this an awesome reality, we actually get to feel God’s holy, pure presence.
When we decide to consciously draw near to God, we can begin to feel Him present - especially when the church comes together, it’s like a lots of mini-temples all coming together to form one big temple for God’s presence (Eph 2:21).
“Presence is a delicious word – because it points to one of our truly great gifts. Nothing else can take the place of presence, not gifts, not telephone calls, not pictures, not mementos, nothing. Ask the person who has lost a lifelong mate what they miss the most; the answer is invariable ‘presence’. When we are ill, we don’t need soothing words nearly as much as we need loved ones to be present. What makes shared life – games, walks, concerts, outings, and a myriad of other things – so pleasurable? Presence. God has made us this way, in his own image, because He Himself is a personal, relational being.”
3. The Spirit edifies us
Instead of worship being a one way street of us bringing our gifts to God, now the Holy Spirit gives gifts to encourage and edify us!
The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual gifts, many of which He uses in corporate worship; prophecy, tongues and interpretation, and words of knowledge to name a few (1 Cor 12, 14). These are done for our strengthening, encouraging and comfort (1 Cor 14:3). Even though worship is centered around God and for God, in the process the Holy Spirit actually comes alongside us personally to help us, edify us and build us up. These gifts aren’t just given to a select few, but to the whole ‘body’.
1 Cor 12:8 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good - to build up the church.
By Simon Brading 02/07/13