From the Rising of the Sun to its Setting The Name of the Lord is to Be Praised! (Ok, but how?)

7 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – July 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 7 – From the Rising of the Sun to its Setting The Name of the Lord is to Be Praised!  – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

From the Rising of the Sun to its Setting The Name of the Lord is to Be Praised!

(Ok, but how?)

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

The manner in which we worship God is extremely personal and obviously every person and religious group believes it is doing “it” the right way. Anyone or anything that is different from the way we do it is usually denigrated by us. There are at least three reasons for this reaction. First, we believe we are worshipping God correctly, ergo anything different from our way is automatically wrong. Secondly, denigrating other practices helps to psychologically bolster our own position by creating an “us-and-them” mentality a subtle form of elitism. Thirdly, as fallen people it comes naturally for us to tear down than to build up.

I believe there is another way to rightly consider the worship of our God. The lens I want us to look through is taking place biblical? Many forms of worship may not be from our specific cultures or traditions, but that does not make them necessarily wrong only different. The only valid question to be asked is the way or method people worship biblically acceptable and if so we must not criticize them.

Regardless of what flavor the brand of Christianity being practiced does through the centuries one of the constants has been the role of music in the worship of the Lord God. Music can be one of the highest forms of emotional expression available to mankind and it is as varied in its presentation as are the cultures from which it springs.

The nascent early Church expressed itself musically by initially following the format of Jewish worship including its music; after all these were Jewish believers. The Psalms were set to music and without a doubt King David, who is often referred to as the “sweet Psalmist of Israel” was a keen musician and a great lover of music and he commanded the use of a wide variety of musical instruments in the worship of Jah:

David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their brothers as singers to sing joyful songs, accompanied by musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals. The musicians Herman, Asaph and Ethan were to sound the bronze cymbals; Zechariah, Aziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benajah were to play the lyres according to alamoth, and Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneish, Obed-Edom, Jeiel and Azaziah were to play the harps, directing according to sheminith. Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it. Berekiah and Elkanah were to be doorkeepers for the ark. Shebaniah, Joshaphat,Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah and Eliezer the priests were to blow trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-Edom and Jehiah were also to be doorkeepers for the ark. 1 Chron. 15:16,19-24

Jewish worship was (and still is among the Orthodox Jews) very expressive, animated, loud and joyful. Read First Chronicles 16 entirely and you will see where David dedicated a Psalm to Asaph and in vs. 36 we read the people verbally said “Amen” and “Praise the Lord” during their praising of God. I mention this because in most LCMS congregations such verbal declarations are unheard of (this is true in most mainline denominations) but such responses are indeed biblical.

Many times our understanding of the Bible is hindered by our lack of knowing the original languages. (1) This is especially true when it comes to our English word “praise.” When we come across this word we mentally default to our personal definition or experience of what praise means or is to us. Although this is something we all do it can be a very dangerous way to study the Bible and it can and has led to many misunderstandings and false doctrines. Never assume important reoccurring words have one simple direct translation into our language from their original languages because they do not. Good examples of this are the Greek words for “love.” There are four major Greek words for specific types of love and we err if we interpret them incorrectly.

The Seven Major Hebrew Words for Praise

When we think of praising our God often we think of the various styles of music we sing in praise of/to Him. However, music although preeminent and central to worshipping the Lord is only one of the ingredients which work together with others in honoring God. It behooves us to take a look into the Hebraic words we simply translate as praise in our English translations. There are no less than seven Hebrew words which are used to denote the praising of God.

1. YADAH: to worship with the extended had; the giving of oneself in worship and adoration. To lift your hands up unto the Lord. It carries the meaning of absolute surrender as a young child does to a parent – “pick me up, I’m all yours”. Scripture: Gen. 29:35; 2 Chron. 7:6, 20:21; Psalms 9:1; 28:7 Psalms 33:2, 42:5,11, 49:18; Isaiah 12:1.

Strong’s Concordance number 3034 yadah; a primitive root; used only as denominative from 3027; literally, to use (i.e. hold out) the hand; physically, to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands); intensively, to bemoan (by wringing the hands). Yadah in practice – Lift my hands to Him and say how I am surrendering myself to Him. The New Testament gives us the directive to lift up our hands in worship and prayer in 1 Tim. 2:8I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.” The word “yadah teaches us that it is perfectly biblical and acceptable to lift up our hands in worship to God.

2. TEHILLAH: to sing, to laud. A spontaneous new song. Singing from a melody in your heart by adding words to it. This refers to a special kind of singing-it is singing unprepared, unrehearsed songs. Scripture examples: Psalms 22:3, 34:1, 40:3, 66:2; 2 Chronicles 20:22.

Strong’s Concordance number 8416 tehillah; from 1984; laudation; specifically (concretely) a hymn, praise, adoration, thanksgiving (paid to God). Ephesians 5:19 “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,” might be an example of this type of praise.

3. BARAK: To kneel or to bow. To give reverence to God as an act of adoration. It implies to continual conscious giving place to God. Blessing the Lord and extolling His virtues. There is a sense of kneeling and blessing God as an act of adoration in the word BARAK. Physical application – To bow, kneel or to do this with the intent in my heart that He is my King and I yield to Him.

Strong’s Concordance number 1288 barak; a primitive root; to kneel; by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration), and (vice-versa) man (as a benefit); also (by euphemism) to curse (God or the King, as treason). It is biblical and is legitimate to kneel before God while praising Him.

4. HALAL: The Strong’s Concordance gives us a good working definition, its number is 1984 halal; a primitive root; to be clear (orig. of sound, but usually of color); to shine; hence, to make a show, to boast; and thus to be (clamorously) foolish; to rave; causatively, to celebrate; also to stultify; This word is used over 110 times in the Old Testament. Some scriptures using halal include: 1 Chron. 16:4, 23:5,30, 29:13; Heh. 12:24. From halal we get the word hallelujah. Halal songs are loud and clamorous in expression and are very emotional demonstrations of joy and celebration.

5. TOWDAH: To give worship by the extension of the hand in adoration or agreeing with what has been done or will be. This word is commonly found in connection with sacrifice-applying the giving of thanks or praise as a sacrifice before reception or manifestation. Thanking God for something that I don’t have in the natural, i.e. an expectant faith. Towdah implies agreeing with His Word – faith in His Word. This form of praise goes in operation just because His Word is true. Scriptures: Psalm 42:4, 50:23; Jer. 17:26.

Strong’s Concordance number 8426 towdah; from 3034; properly, an extension of the hand, i.e. (by implication) avowal, or (usually) adoration; specifically, a choir of worshippers: KJV — confession, (sacrifice of ) praise, thanks (-giving, offering). Today as Christians the only sacrifice we are told to give to the Lord is the sacrifice of praise as seen in Heb. 3:15 “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

6. ZAMAR: “To sing with instruments”. To make music accompanied by the voice. One of the musical verbs for praise in the book of psalms. It caries the idea of making music in praise to God as in Psl. 92:1. The word ZAMAR also means to touch the strings, and refers to praise that involes instrumental worship as in Psl. 150. The one word is usually translated “sing praises”.

Strong’s Concordance number 2167 zamar; a primitive root [perhaps ident. With 2168 through the idea of striking with the fingers]; properly, to touch the strings or parts of a musical instrument I.e. play upon it; to make music, accompanied by the voice; hence to celebrate in song and music.

7. SHABACH: to address in a loud tone, a loud adoration, a shout! Proclaim with a loud voice, unashamed, the Glory, triumph, power, mercy, love of God. This word implies that testimony is praise. The phase “shout unto the Lord” can be understood as the action of SHABACH. It is not just being loud. You should have the attitude of putting your whole being into it, an attitude of being totally uninhibited. Scripture citations: Psalm 117:1, 63:3-4

As you can see the word “praise” in our Bible refers to a great divergence of adorational (2) expression presented to and accepted by our Lord. All of these seven terms can and often do incorporate music. My dear brothers and sisters the bottom line is simply this — there is no one right “right” way to give praise to our God. Any one or all of the aforementioned seven expressions are legitimate. Here are some additional references to how the people of Israel worshipped The Ancient of Days:

Singers and singing ( 1 Chronicles 15:16-27 & 25:1-7)

Musicians and instruments (1 Chronicles 23:5, 25:1-7)

Ministry of Levites before the Ark ( 1 Chronicles 16:6, 6:37)

Recording (1 Chronicles 16:4, 28:12, 19)

Thanking the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:4, 8, 41)

Praise ( I Chronicles 16:4, 36)

Psalms (1 Chronicles 16:9, Psalms 98:6)

Rejoicing and joy (1 Chronicles 16:10, 16,25,31)

Clapping hands (Psalm 47:1, 98:8, Isaiah 55:12)

Shouting (I Chronicles 15:28, Psalms 47:1, 5; Isaiah 12:6)

Dancing (1 Chronicles 15:29; 2 Samuel 6:14, Psalms 149:3; Psalms 150:4

Lifting up hands (Psalms 134; 141:2) (Lamentations 3:41)

Worship (1 Chronicles 16:29, Psalms 29:1-2, 95:6)

Seeking the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:10-11, 2 Chronicles 7:14)

Spiritual sacrifices (Psalms 27:6, 1 Peter 2:3-5, Hebrews 13:15,16)

Saying Amen (1 Chronicles 16:36)

There is one very important fact that cannot be overlooked when considering these expressions of praise in worshipping our God. All of them are to be the result of an intense love for God; they are quite simply an outward manifestation of heartfelt devotion to the Savior. All of these manifestations can be a genuine spiritual expression or merely one’s flesh trying to appear spiritual.

Worship In Spirit & In Truth   (John 4:24)

The charismatic movement has embraced all of these biblical forms in their worship services (and yes added a few of their own). No one can rightly say that what they are doing is unbiblical because it is not. Admittedly, clapping, dancing in the aisles, shouting “glory to God,” etc. is not for everybody, but that does not make it “wrong” it only makes it different.

Spirit and truth are the two guidelines for genuine worship. Coming out of the charismatic movement I have seen all types of fleshly activities which frankly are virtually unavoidable due to our human condition. For instance, I can dance before the Lord or I can dance to be seen by those around me and secretly hope they deem me as spiritual because I appear to be caught up in the spirit. One way a leader can place some governance on the exuberance without putting out the “fire” so to speak is to challenge the people by asking them if they (sticking to my example) dance before the Lord at home when no one is watching but God. This same question can be applied to all these outer forms of praise.

Another issue is what I’ll call the “herd mentality,” in other words doing something simply because everyone else is doing it. I’ve been in services when one person may suddenly take off running around the sanctuary and before you know it ten or twenty others are following that person. Good exercise, without a doubt. Spiritual worship? Maybe it was for the initial runner, probably not for the others. Person “A” lifts his hands up to the Lord and in his heart he is crying out “I surrender myself to You Lord.” Babe in Christ. “B” sees “A’s” actions and posits “hmm, this is what spiritual people do, so I will raise my hands too” without any inner surrender to God, just the outward action.

At other times I’ve been in services where the praise leader begins to command the congregation to “clap your hands,” or “shout to the Lord” and this is wrong because it violates the principle that such expressions come from the heart not from outside the worshipper. It is also a subtle form of manipulation and I have seen worship “leaders” get people to do all sorts of things that normally they would not do which violates the command of Jesus regarding “in spirit” or from the heart.

This much is certain the act of praising God is multi-dimensional. It is first and foremost a private one-on-one communion between the individual and his God. If one is not connected to Jesus Christ by grace through faith then they cannot and are not worshipping God. This intimate love relationship is usually expressed corporately in worship with other lovers of the Living God. For example, I am singing a hymn to my Lord yet others around me are also singing the same hymn to Him, so we have both an individual and corporate experience going on. The focus of all worship is to be on our Triune God, who He is, what He has done on our behalf, what our response is to His love and not on what other people are doing or not doing around us. Anything that pulls my attention away from God during this sacred time is of the flesh. Speaking from my own experience the most precious times in worship is when I lose sight of myself and those around me and I am completely focused on Christ.

Everybody thinks their way is the “right” way to Praise the Lord

It is only natural to believe that the manner in which we worship the Lord is indeed the only proper way to do so. The Bible clearly states in Prob. 16:2 “All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits.”

When it comes to worship formats we must be honest with ourselves and ask some penetrating questions. Generally the manner in which we worship is dictated by our culture. I have spent the last year being somewhat mentored by confessional Lutheran pastors who firmly believe any worship format other than theirs is not of God. They decry any form of what they consider “contemporary” worship formats which includes the use of various instruments (guitars, drums, keyboards, etc) and uses songs not found in the standard hymnal. The truth is what these ultra-Germanic culture and expression founded in 15th century practice. That is fine and dandy if that is your culture. Te problem arises when you attempt to place Germanic culture in an African setting and force people from a totally different culture to accept the Germanic practice as the correct one. (3)

African-American Christians often worship God in a vastly different format than do, say LCMS Christians. Does that make the African-American believers wrong? No, it does not, it make them different based upon their culture and life experience as a people. The same can be said for Hispanic people, Native American Christians or Asian disciples.

After sitting under some very rigid teachers during the last two years all I can do is shake my head in wonder and sadness. These poor souls miss the beauty and freedom that is our biblical heritage in Christ when it comes to worshipping our gracious Lord. The complaints and finger pointing usually come from those who have no idea how vast a landscape of emotional expression is pained by our simple English word praise when it is studied in the Hebrew. We must never forget that our God is a lot bigger than our cultures, denominations and understanding and as long as what is being offered unto God as worship does not violate the given biblical practices then let us humble our hearts before Him and worship Him in the beauty of holiness, however it may be expressed.♦

Copyright © 2009 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. This is one of the reasons why I stress the importance of sitting under well educated pastors. Although I do not claim to be a Hebrew or Greek scholar I have taken (and pasted ) my courses in both original languages so I have at least a rudimentary understanding of what I am studying.

2. Ok, I admit “adorational” is not a formal word, I made it up, but then the Apostle Paul coined some words too

3. I use Africa merely as an example, it can be as simple as trying to make African-American “German” when it comes to worship. Frankly this practice is nothing more than racism regardless of who practices it.

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Worship Abuses & The Tabernacle of David

4 03 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – July 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 7 – Worship Abuses & The Tabernacle of David – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

WORSHIP ABUSES & THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID

By Rev. Robert S. Liichow

Some of you may be thinking that I am being fickle by calling for tolerance regarding worship styles in the fist article and now decrying worship “abuses” in this article. As you read on you will se that I am consistent.

In the prior article the question revolves around whether or not someone is engaged in a biblical form of worship. If it is, even though it may not be our preferred manner of expression, we should not decry what others are doing. However, if what is being done under the guise of “worship” violates the biblical precedent than it must be rebuked and considered a false practice.

Regardless of style all praise and worship is directed solely to God. It is not meant to entertain the congregation nor is it meant to uplift the individual’s soul per se. Let me quickly state that as a result of genuine worship to God our souls are uplifted, but that is the result and not the purpose.

Error #1 – Praise creates a place for God to dwell

Psalm 22:3 “Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.”

The KJV reads that “O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” and charismatic extremists take that to mean that God actually inhabits our praise and worship. “If you study out the Hebrew words in Psl. 22:3 you understand that it says that praise creates a place for God to come and sit as a judge.” (1)

This explains why such an emphasis is placed on praise and worship expression in charismatic meetings. They believe that what they are doing is actually creating an actual location in the spiritual realm for Almighty God to dwell. Once this place has been created (you know it has occurred by the various subjective experiences of the leaders during this time) then things can really begin to happen!

As prayer, praise and worship create a place for God to dwell a number of things occur. First, the word of the Lord is easier to be heard and answers arrive quicker (Dan. 10). The prophets or those standing prayer watch will hear the strategies of the enemy like Elisha did in 2 Kings 6. The leaders will also take the spiritual intelligence before the Lord like King Hezekiah did in order to determine what they should do (Isa. 37). Second there is power that can be projected (Psl. 149:2). (2)

Here is how I would dialog with the author of this quote (I can easily play both sides, having been on both of them).

First question: How does one know when the temporary spiritual home for God has been created?

Answer: The leaders will know by subjectively discerning a change in the spiritual atmosphere in the meeting. This change is interpreted as the presence of the Lord.

Second question: Didn’t Daniel fast and pray for three weeks before the angel came to him and explained why he had to wait so long?

Answer: Yes, but that was Daniel, our praise dispels the enemy and thus under an “open heaven” we can clearly and easily receive the word of the Lord.

Third question: I thought the Bible was the complete and infallible “word of the Lord,” which word are you looking for apart from the Holy Bible?

Answer: We absolutely believe that the Bible is the Word of God, yet we also know that God is still revealing present day truth (2 Peter 1:12) and we must feed off today’s manna and not yesterdays.

Fourth question: Didn’t the O.T. prophet actually listen in on what Israel’s human enemies were planning and not demonic spirits? Wasn’t this done to prove to Israel’s enemies that there was indeed a “god” the Living God in Israel whom they should fear? Lastly, what strategies of Satan have any of you uncovered thus far? What spiritual, economic; societal or political plots have been foiled by your people during praise and worship?

Answer: Well a good many things have been accomplished and the works of the enemy bound up by our praise and worship!

Follow-up question: Name one!

Answer: Oh, you’ve got a pharisaical spirit and whatever I say you will dispute, let us move on.

Question: You state that power can be “projected” via praise and worship and you cite Psalm 149 as your proof of this. I have read the entire Psalm and it does tell us to praise the Lord with dance and make music with various instruments (vs.3), all well and good. But nowhere do I find the Church projecting power (your words) in the Psalm.

Answer: You miss the obvious; it is found in vs. 6&7 where we are to have the high praises of God in our mouths and the two-edged sword in our hands to inflict vengeance on the heathen. Via our high praises of God we are waging spiritual warfare against principalities, powers, dominions and the rulers of darkness (Eph. 6:12). While we praise and worship God we are binding up the demons and loosing the angels of God to carry out His divine justice in the world.

Follow-up question: When did praise and worship turn into a form of spiritual warfare? Praise has always been directed to God alone and never against Satan or demons throughout the entire Bible.

Answer: Obviously you are stuck with the letter of the law and not the spirit because it is apparent that you are not filled with the Holy Spirit. If you were you would plainly see that this text proves that God uses our praise and worship to judge His enemies End of discussion.

I give the charismatic movement high marks in their restoration of ancient praise and worship formats. Unfortunately, they take this good thing too far and twist it into something it was never meant to be.

They have made praise and worship a means to an end. Instead of simply being the emotive expression of love-filled hearts towards their God they have turned it into a mechanism by which all sorts of mystical transactions are alleged to occur. We do not praise our Lord in order to hear some “new” revelation from Him, we adore Him because He is our God and we are His people. Nor do we praise Him in order to discover what Satan and his demonic forces are up to. There is absolutely no biblical support for viewing praise and worship in that light. Lastly, while one might feel empowered after taking time to genuinely worship the Lord thee is nothing in scripture that says the very act of praising God releases or projects some form of spiritual power.

Error #2   Prophetic Praise?

All of the charismatic extremists teach that there is such a thing as prophetic praise.

Through prophetic praise God speaks or sings changes that manifest to the earth in the form of restoration for His people and defeat for the enemy. Through prophecy in song people are healed, delivered and given direction as individuals. God also sings prophecy to the church body as direction, comfort, rebuke, warning etc. (3).

The belief that music is prophetic is tied into the belief that God has (and is) restoring apostles and prophets back to the Church. If one accepts the premise that God has placed prophets and apostles in our midst to guide us to perfection it is only a small step to believe that God speaks prophetically through praise and worship led by these restored leaders. Books have been written and conferences given around the world to help train-up people to release their prophetic gift and if such a person either sings or plays an instrument then they are encouraged to “prophesy” via their singing or playing!

There are greater governing sounds, and songs, coming from the Church: music that carries the glory of God, rending opens the heavens, music that breaks strongholds over churches, cities, and nations—this is the power of Apostolic music. (4)

The music the writer is speaking about is the music used for praise and worship not some other form or setting of music. Note how the focus has shifted from the simple heartfelt adoration of our God to something else completely. “Music that carries the glory of God.” there’s no such music in the Bible. “Music that rends open te heavens”. I did not know the heavens were closed! There is no such intimation of a “closed heaven” in the entire New Testament. We have full access to the throne of God 24/7 through Jesus Christ. Sad to say the congregations that my wife and I were a part while we were extremists did not experience the breaking of “strongholds” over those churches. Truthfully the warfare congregations of Detroit have all experienced breakdowns and church splits not breakthroughs. Detroit is in the worst shape it has ever been in economically, socially, educationally, , health-wise and on just about every level…where is the apostolic breakthrough that has been being prophetically sung for years into the heavenlies above Detroit by restored prophetic psalmists? Like the old lady in the Wendy’s commercial I feel like shouting “WHERE’S THE BEEF?” People can make all manner of claims and declarations but the FACT remains — what they are teaching and practicing is not coming to pass in any way shape or form.

The idea that through praising God evil spirits are sent running is not a biblical teaching at all. One can see such practices on the Discovery channel where they do documentaries on pagan societies in the Amazon or Africa. Pagans have always used their music and dance as a means to drive out evil spirits and invite their gods to bless them. Unfortunately this raw form of paganism has crept into the many charismatic extremist groups because they use praise and worship to achieve these same ends. Not only are songs and music used as vehicles to discombobulate the Devil but they also claim that singing and music can heal the sick! If this were so, then the health rate among charismatic’s would be extremely high and Benny Hinn’s miracle crusade attendance very low (since mostly charismatic believers healed via “anointed” music. I have met many people who Jesus has healed, but not through music. There is not one example of anyone being healed by music in the New Testament.

Error # 3   Prophetic Praise Dancing

In the previous article we saw that it is possible to dance before the Lord as a legitimate form of worship. I have seen some very artistic interpretative dancing to worship songs, but since I am watching and not dancing it does not bring me closer to my Lord in a worship sense, but maybe that is just me.

Even though dancing before the Lord may at times be a genuine expression of praise it too has been pulled out of its setting and made to be “prophetic” by the extremists. There are a multitude of web sites dedicated to so-called prophetic dancing, all touting the prophetic significant and benefit of dancing. (5) Some of these dancing prophets declare that “He [Jesus] wants to express himself in us through the dance.” (6)

Not only is dancing taken on prophetic significance among these people, like the pagans dance is now a means of intercession.

“As intercessors, we must be willing to bear in our bodies that which the Lord is trying to release.” (7)

There are specific dances for intercession, specific dances for healing and for warfare. This paganism run amok in these congregations, utter foolishness! Dancing before the Lord in worship can be a beautiful expression of joy between the worshipper and God. Yet now it has been abused and has been hijacked out of its pure setting and changed into something that it was never meant to be.

In closing let me reiterate that personally I am all for the various biblical forms of expressing our praise and worship to God. I have experienced every thing from the solemnity of singing the ancient hymns to the enthusiastic dancing and shouting of wild Pentecostalism and “experienced” the presence of God in it all. However when you take anything biblical out its context and make it into something it was never meant to be then it becomes carnal and misleading.

The charismatic extremists have done this to worship. They have taken something good and made it aberrant and thus turned it into something God will not honor. The entire Tabernacle of David 24/7 prayer, praise and worship is nothing more than excited ignorance and is an attempt to make God ‘move” because of their enthusiasm. God is sovereign and His will cannot be thwarted nor His timetable changed by human activity. It is enough of a supreme privilege for me to be allowed to know and worship the True God. I rejoice in the liberty I have in Christ but I do not abuse that liberty and turn it into license.

Copyright  © 2009  Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.watchmanministries.org/tabernacle_of_david.html on July 2, 2009

2. Ibid.

3. http://www.trumpetoftruth.com/lect_files/what%20is%prophetic%20praise.html on 07-02-09

4. www.awesomecitymusic.com a quote from their book The Power of Apostolic Music by Stephen Bennett.

5. Some of these sites include http://www.dancingforhim.com; http://www.thefoolishthings.homestead.com

6. Ibid. the foolish things.homestead.com

7. Ibid





Why I love the Liturgy

19 02 2010
Truth Matters Newsletters – February 2009 – Vol. 14 Issue 2 – Why I love the Liturgy – by Rev. Bob Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Why I love the Liturgy

By Vicar Bob Liichow

Every Church is “liturgical” to one degree or another. It is impossible to escape having some set format of worship. Even the charismatic extremists who declare that they worship God in spirit and truth {see John 4:24} end up with some regular worship style.

No matter what denomination you are in there is a set format even in places where they pride themselves on having no “liturgy” they still fall into certain rhythms each Sunday. Offerings are taken at a certain place, so many songs are sung, the sermon is preached here, an altar call is given now, etc.

So the question for us to begin to consider is whose “liturgy” is it we are practicing? Did it come from the direction of God or the creativity of man? One of the things charismatic extremists pride themselves on is striving to practice New Testament Christianity and having a New Testament Church, i.e. having what they consider to be a style of church that is patterned after the Book of Acts. Really what it can be boiled down to is having a format that includes the use of the sign-gifts and accepting the role of restored prophets and apostles giving immediate direction from God the Spirit alone with new revelations and insights from Him. I will readily admit that was part of the history of the early church, but it was not the format of worship expected to be carried on until the return of Jesus for His people.

One thing about God is that He is very specific in all His dealings with mankind. When God interacts with man He does not leave it up to mankind’s fallen abilities to come up with ideas on how God’s will is to be accomplished. A good example of this is seen in God’s dealing with Noah in building the ark,

So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood: make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches of the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks. Genesis 6:13-16

Notice that God did not simply tell Noah to build a “big boat.” He gave him a specific design to follow. God told him what type of wood to use, what type of sealant to caulk the joints with and the exact specifications regarding its size and how many floors it was to have. Noah obeyed God and followed His directions to a “t” and in the end he and his family were saved. There is little dispute over the fact that the ark is a type of the Church; ergo the Church is built and established according to the direction of God. Probably another more familiar example in the Old Testament is found in Exodus 25:

Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you. Have them make a chest of acacia wood-two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the chest to carry it. The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. Then put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. Exodus 25:8-16.

Notice again that God reveals to Moses exactly how His house of worship is to be constructed. God did not leave it up to Moses to be “creative.” God was so exacting in His details that He even gave specific instructions as to the colors used, the size and weights of the implements and the location of each piece of furniture, etc. It is a fascinating study when one looks at every aspect of the Tabernacle and one can easily see it fulfilled in the life of Jesus. The very structure they worshipped around was a picture of Christ.

As with Noah we see that God had a specific design in mind. He did not tell Moses “worship Me anyway you want.” He gave Moses detailed instruction not only on how the tabernacle itself was to be built, but also specific instruction on how He was to be worshipped within the context of the tabernacle. From the tabernacle in the wilderness up to the Herod’s temple in the life of Jesus we find God’s people worshipping Him according to the pattern (let’s call it the liturgy) He Himself established.

In fact, it is only fair to warn my “anti-liturgical” brethren that they are in somewhat of a surprise when they get to heaven. How so? Where do you think Moses got the pattern for the tabernacle?

In heaven there is the true tabernacle or temple. There is an actual place within heaven where God is worshipped by innumerable angels and people from every tribe, tongue and nation {see Rev. 5:9}. When we get to heaven God has a liturgy for divine worship and a divine temple in which every facet of it undoubtedly declares His awesome splendor as did the copy Moses built on earth, corrupted as it was being made of cursed materials. After all if every part of the earthly tabernacle pointed to Christ how much more the original? If God gave Moses specific directions on how He was to be worshipped do you think when you get to heaven that it will be a free-for-all? I think not because God does not change {see Malachi 3:6} and this is the God who directed the apostle Paul to write “let everything be done decently and in order” {see 1 Corinthians 14:40} so our worship of the Ancient of Days shall be done in an orderly, but no doubt exuberant manner.

Liturgical worship goes back to the Jews and was carried over into the Church by saved Jews. The Jews had a specific format in their temple worship, in the local Synagogues and even at home during the sedar meals or Passover celebration. The order of liturgy used in the Synagogue was this: 1) a reading from the Torah; 2) a psalm; 3) a reading from the Prophets; 4) a reading from Psalms; 5) a reading from the historical writings; 6) a psalm; 7) interpretation of the Word by the Rabbi; 8) the Shema or O.T. creed; 9) the Sanctus and 10) a closing prayer. Conservative Synagogues follow this pattern of worship to this day.

The early Jewish Christians continued to go to the Temple at the hours of prayer {see Acts 3:1} and continued to practice the Jewish liturgy but in light of what Christ had done for them by His sacrificial death, burial and resurrection. Acts 2:46 reminds us they were in one accord daily in the temple. In Acts 5:20 we read that the angel commanded them to go speak in the temple “all the words of this life.” Please keep in mind that Jesus never rebuked the Jews regarding temple worship, He himself went to the temple and into synagogues to worship and teach {see Matthew 13:54}. Oh yes He drove out the money-changers on two occasions but they were in the outer courts and were not part of orthodox Jewish worship.

The early believers in Christ continued to the tradition of their Jewish forefathers, worshiping as they had in both the Temple and the Synagogue. To this worship practice they added the distinctly Christian components which were in fact, transformed Jewish worship practices. These included Baptism,

The early believers in Christ continued in the traditions of their Jewish forefathers, worshiping as they had in both the Temple and the Synagogue. To this worship practice they added the distinctly Christian components which were in fact, transformed Jewish worship practices. These included Baptism, the Eucharist, the Agape meal, and others. Baptism was also present in Jewish religious practice as a personal repentance for sin. Baptism, like the Lord’s Supper, was transformed in both meaning and content by our Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism became not only a repentance for one’s sins, but being baptized in the name of the Trinity now also assured forgiveness and incorporation into the Body of Christ, the Church. Baptism was the once and for all initiatory rite whereby one received the Holy Spirit and came into the Church. (1)

Over time as the Church to include both Jews and Gentiles the liturgy was shaped and re-shaped to focus solely on Christ Jesus while incorporating aspects from the ancient Jewish format,. Historically the Orthodox Church has always been liturgical and still is. Liturgical worship is the original worship format of the earliest Christians who met in homes and which became more formalized as the Church grew and became accepted.

For the first three hundred years of its existence, the Christian Church was illegal and frequently persecuted. Therefore, very ancient liturgical documents before the fourth century are quite limited because the early Church was not “producing” liturgies but focusing on celebrating the Eucharist and surviving persecution. (2)

In the East

Some of the earliest writings concerning liturgical worship can be found in the following texts: The earliest rises in the Eastern Church include the Jerusalem liturgy of St. James, the Alexandrian liturgy of St. Mark, the East Syrian liturgy, the West Syrian liturgy of Antioch, the Armenian liturgy, and the Coptic liturgy and scholars agree all of these agree more than disagree with one another. All of these liturgies were written in the very late 300’s and early 400’s A.D. Liturgical formats began to be written down and codified once the Church was no longer an “illegal” cult and could practice its worship openly, but also as a means to stop heresies and false practices. Two of the earliest liturgies that are still in use today in the Eastern Churches are those of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil.

In the West

The early Church had two main centers of influence, Constantinople (east) and Rome (west). Both centers had formed liturgies reflected their cultures while adhering to some of the ancient Jewish format. We can gain some insight into early western liturgical practice in the following

Who stands in front of the assembly)—presumably the bishop or his designate — preaches a homily. After the gifts of bread and wine are brought forward the president improvises a prayer of thanksgiving or Eucharistic in which all assembled participate with their acclamation of Amen. From the texts of all the later Eucharistic prayers that come down to us, we may assume that this presidential prayer was not freely invented, but followed standard structure and form similar to the Jewish hodayah prayer of praise and thanksgiving. (3)

Around 251 A.D. Latin replaced Greek in the liturgy and a more direct Roman language was used as opposed to the more flowery Greek in the eastern liturgies. The Roman Presbyter Hippolytus gives some detailed accounts of these early Roman liturgical practices.

So we see that from the days of the house church in Jerusalem to those more organized in the Grecian communities up to those communities in Italy and Spain that worship has always followed a liturgical format.

Copyright ©  2009 Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Obtained from http://www.liturgica.com/html/litECLitWEC.jsp on 02-09-09

2. Obtained from http://www.liturgica.com/html/litEOLitEarly.jsp#Heresies on 02-09-09

3. Ibid. Underlining and bolding added for emphasis

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SADLY

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Why I like to Kneel In Church

28 08 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter – June 2006 – Vol. 11 Issue 6 – – Robert S. Liichow

Discernment Ministries International

Why I like to Kneel In Church

Today, many congregations and denominations are quickly jettisoning almost everything that could remotely be construed as “Traditional.” Some congregations have done completely away with singing the classic hymns and have replaced them with simple pietistic refrains that are repeated over and over. (1) Other church leaders have taken crosses out of their sanctuaries lest it offend the seeker they are attempting to reach with, I assume, the message of the very cross they have removed.

Many Evangelical and Protestant groups no longer recite the Lord’s Prayer and fewer still ever declare the Nicene or Apostles creed in their services. Part of the philosophy behind striping away the elements of historic orthodox Christianity is because they are seen as an impediment to the targeted demographic. (2) These aspects of our common faith are viewed as being non relevant in today’s “have it your way culture.”

What the Church Growth Movement (aka “Seeker Sensitive”) does not comprehend is that worship service is about Jesus and not our comfort or making us feel good about ourselves. (3)

Another ancient practice that will not be found in this contemporary form of Christianity is that of Kneeling before The Ancient of Days and whole on our knees confessing our sins in unison. For twenty years in various church/denominational settings my wife and family never knelt and confessed our sins as part of the worship service. I am glad to be a part of a congregation that has not lost any of our historic Evangelical practices, including kneeling for confession, prayer and kneeling during the reception of the Holy Supper.

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. Psalm 95:6

And it was so, that when Solomon had made an end of praying all this prayer and supplication unto the LORD, he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven. Kings 8: 54

There is something that strikes me at a deep spiritual level when I kneel before the transcendent God of all creation. It reminds me that I am the creature, and He is the Creator. It is a posture of submission and humility. It is an attitude of supplication and an acknowledgment that I am poor in spirit and I am in continual need of God’s grace.

Perhaps some churches don’t kneel because it smacks of “Roman Catholicism” in their thinking. Possibly they think that they don’t have to kneel, after all God sees the heart so our posture is unimportant. Let me address these two misconceptions right now before we continue. First, the Church knelt before the Lord long before Roman Catholicism existed. Secondly, yes God does see our heart and if we could see it as He does we’d be on our faces and not just our knees!

When people encountered Jesus during His earthly ministry they often knelt before Him when making their requests:

And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. Matthew 17:14-15.

And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house: Luke 8:41.

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed. Luke 22:41.

Kneeling before the Lord is the Biblical pattern. There are few examples of people simply walking up to Jesus and looking Him face-to-face petitioned Him for something. We see this pattern of humility in prayer modeled by both the Apostle Peter and Paul of Acts:

But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes; and when she saw Peter, she sat up. Acts 9:40

And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. Acts 20:36

Even throughout the Old Testament people usually knelt in prayer to God.

When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:3

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Daniel 6:10

So when I kneel I sense a deep connection to al the ancient people of God upon whose shoulders we all stand. If people knelt in prayer before the advent of Christ, then knelt to Him during, His earthly ministry, how much more so should we kneel today now that He has ascended back to the right hand of God the Father Almighty in all His glory?

Some might argue that kneeling can become a form of pietistic pride “see I kneel, so I am truly humble.” If that is anyone’s attitude then they are simply wasting their time. Any spiritual practice can be abused and turned into a form of works righteousness, but this need not be the case if one truly understands the reason behind what is being done or practiced.

One thing that can keep people away from feeling sanctimonious is the purpose behind our kneeling. In our congregation’s worship service we kneel initially to confess our sins before our Holy God. The pastor begins by inviting God’s people to kneel and confess our sins to God (the pastor kneels as well, knowing himself to be a sinner in need of God’s grace too). Here is what we confess as a people in unison:

Silence for reflection on God’s Word and for self-examination.

Pastor: Let us then confess our sins to God our Father.

Congregation: Most merciful God, we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against You in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy name. Amen. (4)

Certainly this confession can become just so many words habitually spoken without any impact in some people’s lives, but as we would all agree, God knows our hearts. He knows who is sincere in their repentance and who is just going through the motions. People can be just as hypocritical standing a kneeling.

Trust me when I say after years of charismatic indiscrimination it was initially hard to verbally say out loud that I am by nature “sinful and unclean.” I had been wrongly taught and had taught others that yes once we were sinners, but now we are the very righteousness of God in Christ! Just try to get a Word of Faith cultist to confess they are sinners (good luck!). So, actually verbalizing those words brought some initial cognitive dissonance within me. However, I did confess that negative confession because it was true. The following quotation is an answer to this very issue of saying we are poor miserable sinners:

You are certainly correct in affirming the scriptural truth that believers are set free from sin through Christ and are no longer slaves to sin, and consequently are also free from its penalty, death. As St. Paul plainly says in Romans 6, “So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11). Yet this same apostle in the very next chapter of Romans writes of his struggle as a sinner/saint: “I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched [the Greek word here means “miserable, wretched,” “distressed”–A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 9881 man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (7:23-25). On the basis of Paul’s teaching in Romans 7 Luther spoke of Christians as paradoxically at one and the same time “saint and sinner” (simul iustus et peccator). He wrote, “The saints in being righteous are at the same time sinners; they are righteous because they believe in Christ whose righteousness covers them and is imputed to them, but they are sinners because they do not fulfill the law and are not without sinful desires. They are like sick people in the care of a physician: they are really sick, but healthy only in the hope and insofar as they begin to be better, healed, i.e. they will become health. Nothing can harm them so much as the presumption that they are in fact healthy, for it will cause a bad relapse.” It is altogether proper and fitting, therefore, for Christians to confess that they are poor miserable sinners, and with full seriousness, while at the same time they rejoice in the forgiving love of Christ who has taken away their guilt-the love which is announced and imparted to them in the absolution. (5)

Then once we have made our confession of sin something amazing (and greatly misunderstood by many people) happens in the service! The Pastor stands up and says:

Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Chirst, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. [John 20:19-23]. (6)

We are forgiven all of our sins! We are “absolved” of them based totally on the mercy of God and merit of Christ Jesus on the cross for us. What confuses some Christians is that they mistakenly think that The Evangelical Church believes that it is the pastor who upon hearing our confession of sin forgives our sins. This is simply not the case. Roman Catholicism believes that their priests have the authority to actually forgive sins, but that is not what the Bible or The Evangelical Church believes. To absolve simply means to set free from sin. By virtue of his office and in the name and stead of Christ a pastor absolves those who have confessed their sins. (7) So when we hear the words “I forgive you all your sins” in reality it is not the pastor speaking per se, it is no less than Jesus Christ Himself, for those are His words. Glad tidings indeed!! As long as we are on the subject of confession and absolution, one need not be a pastor to forgive another their sins —

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availed much. James 5:16

Every Christian is called upon (see Eph. 4:32, Col. 3:13) to do this two-fold work: (1) confess their sins and (2) to forgive those who sin against them. In our formal worship setting we do this as a body together, but it can be done privately, and if you are anything like me, I am throughout the day asking my Lord’s forgiveness when I stray in word, thought or deed.

We also kneel at the altar rail to receive the body and blood of our Lord in communion. As we approach the altar we bow, then the pastor invites us to come forward, upon doing so we kneel and the elements are distributed. After everyone has partaken the pastor pronounces a blessing over us and we return to our seats. During this time hymns appropriate to the Lord’s Supper (an audible gasp is heard from a seeker Christian who surreptitiously sneaks a read of your issue) are sung by the congregation. After communion is received my family chooses to kneel again in thanks for the gift the father has given us in His Son and for the strength of joy granted to us by His Spirit.

Let me close by reiterating that I, Bob Liichow, enjoy kneeling before our Lord. This practice is seen from Genesis to The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. It does not make me more spiritual to kneel nor does it make Christians who do not kneel less spiritual. It is simply part of our ancient Christian tradition (there I said that word again) and it is a tradition I fully appreciate. ♦

Copyright © 2006  Robert S. Liichow

1. I am not against contemporary Christian music. Based on over twenty years of singing “contemporary” songs I can unequivocally state that they lack the solid theological content of the traditional hymns of the Church. Admittedly the new music has a beat, you can clap and dance to it but that misses the point of the singing which is to focus on Christ, lift Him up and glorify Him.

2. Church Growth gurus believe that the major reason people do not attemd church is because it is too traditional, is not relevant to their daily lives, demands too much of its members. CGM gurus thus came up with a wide variety of marketing techniques to lure in the un-churched. They use everything from jugglers to clowns, stadium seating, tone down the message so it is no longer convicting and thus not a true presentation of the Gospel.

3. Naturally I am not saying that worship service does not meet our needs or that they are to be boring. The focus is to always be Christ centered and not man-centered.

4. Obtained from http://www.lcms.org/graphics/assets/media/Worship/DS2.pdf

5. Obtained from http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=2624

6. ibid

7. Concordia, The Lutheran Confessions, Concordia Publishing House, Saint Louis, p. 684.





Soli Deo Gloria

18 06 2009

Truth Matters Newsletter -January 2005 – Vol. 10 Issue 1 – Soli Deo Gloria – by Rev. Robert Liichow

scansoliDeoGloria0001

The Reformation reclaimed the Scriptural teaching of the sovereignty of God over every aspect of the Believer’s life. All of life is to be lived to the glory of God. As the Westminister Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” This great and all consuming purpose was emphasized by those in the 16th and 17th Centuries who sought to reform the church according to the Word of God. In contrast to the monastic division of life into sacred versus secular perpetuated by Roman Church, the reformers saw all of life to be lived under the Lordship of Christ. Every activity of the Christian is to be sanctified unto the glory of God.   (1)

This last of the five Reformation solas is really the capstone of them all because it points us back to the source from which the other four we’ve studied come from, that being Almighty God. The Cambridge Declaration gives us a very succinct statement on this glorious truth when it states:

We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone.

We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self-fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel. (2)

I especially enjoy the inclusion of the negative proclamation that God cannot be properly worshipped “if our worship is confused with entertainment.” Entertainment is exactly what the majority of charismatic extremist and today’s so-called evangelical churches worship portion of the service consists of.

As a recovered charismatic extremist pastor I can speak from experience when I say that our church services were divided up into basically four segments. First, we began with “praise” which consisted of fast paced songs and refrains written to get the people’s emotional juices going. The praise portion of the service was when the band would really begin to “rock out.” Some of us would get out into the aisles and dance (yes I used to cut-the-rug quite a bit in those days). People would clap in time to the songs, most of which were man-centered,  i.e. we sang about how good we felt about Jesus or how good He made us feel.

There was little theological content in anything we sang. The praise portion was where you’d hear the loud shouts of “halleluiahs” and the like. This specific type of singing would continue for a minimum of fifteen minutes to half an hour or more, depending on the congregation. (3)

After getting the people emotionally stimulated the worship team (we did not have a choir, most charismatic churches and many seeker-sensitive churches  do not believe in them, they smack of the dreaded traditionalism) would slow the tempo and we’d then enter into the second phase of the service called “worship.” Worship differed greatly in emotional content and rhythm. In our congregation the lights would be lowered to almost total darkness apart from the words on the screen. Allegedly, this was to help the people focus on “God” and not the person standing next to them.

These songs also lacked a strong theological basis yet in most cases they were directed towards God. Many of the songs were little more than refrains which were sung over and over again. This technique is really a form of hypnotism and helps those engaged in worship (and we were strongly encouraged to give over selves over totally to “God” during this portion of the service) empty their minds.

If you have ever attended a Benny Hinn non-miracle crusade you will see Mr. Hinn and his musicians utilize the same technique to get the people to swallow-and-follow whatever he is teaching. In our church, the dimmed lights, the repetitive chanting of simple refrains would go on sometimes as long as an hour.

Then the lights would begin to brighten and lo-and-behold the Pastor was standing behind the pulpit and the third portion of the service began with the delivery of the message. The Cambridge Declaration also mentions that God cannot be truly worshipped when the proclamation of the Law and Gospel is neglected and is replaced with messages on self-improvement, self-esteem or self-fulfillment. In fifteen years of active charismatic ministry in various leadership roles I never once heard the term “Law and Gospel.” Although in no way could we be considered liturgical in the confessional understanding, we did have our own form of preaching through our lectionary. Our charismatic “lectionary” consisted of sermons on: the nine sign-gifts of the Holy Spirit; financial prosperity; divine healing, submission to authority; the anointing; revival; the office of the restored prophet and apostle, etc. (4)

The fourth section of the church service was the alter call. This is here the pastor or visiting guest speaker do all they can to cajole the attendee to make a decision to receive Christ. During this phase of the service in our church we had four specific aspects which were usually mentioned: 1) salvation 2) rededication, i.e. backsliders to repent and renew their commitment to the Lord; 3) divine healing, where hands were laid on folks who usually got slain in the spirit at this point of the service; 4) baptism in/with the Holy Spirit, a second work of grace by which the individual was instructed on his or her need to be “filled” with the Holy Spirit and the proof they had in fact received the Spirit was that they would speak with other tongues. (5)

The reason I take time to go through these four aspects common to most charismatic congregations is that “worship” is seen as only one part of what is done, it is a specific moment in the service itself. We did not have the understanding that fro start to finish the entire service was to be an act of worship. Nor did everything we did point to Jesus Christ and His work alone on our behalf. A great deal of what was done and is currently being done in congregations such as these can genuinely be considered as man-centered entertainment and not done for the glory of God alone.

The preacher may be exalted after the service (as he is led away by his armor bearers) “oh, wasn’t pastor Jakes so anointed this evening!” The singer or musicians are often praised with uproarious hand clapping and hooting and hollering for more. People are lifted up and “glorified” but often God is alone in some back corner, only given lip service.

What Does It Mean to Give Glory To God?

Thomas Watson, a Reformed Confessional theologian made the following comments about the first question of the Westminister Short Catechism :

Q 1: What is the chief end of man?

A : Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. Here are two ends of life specified.

1. The glorifying of God.      2. The enjoying of God.

1. The glorifying of God. ‘That God in all things may be glorified’ (1 Peter 4:2) The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions. ‘Whether therefore ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God’ (1 Cor 10:31). Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial; now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to himself, and that should be, that he may lift up God in the world. He had better lose his life than the end of his living. The great truth is asserted, that the end of every man’s living should be to glorify God. Glorifying God has respect to all the persons in the Trinity; it respects God the Father who gave us life; God the Son, who lost his life for us; and God the Holy Ghost, who produces a new life in us; we must bring glory to the whole Trinity.

When we speak of God’s glory, the question will be moved, What are we to understand by God’s glory?

There is a twofold glory: [1] The glory that God has in himself, his intrinsic glory. Glory is essential to the Godhead, as light is to the sun: he is called the ‘God of Glory’ (Acts 7:2). Glory is the sparkling of the Deity; it is so co-natural to the Godhead, that God cannot be God without it. The creature’s honour is not essential to his being. A king is a man without his regal ornaments, when his crown and royal robes are taken away; but God’s glory is such an essential part of his being, that he cannot be God without it. God’s very life is in his glory. This glory can receive no addition, because it is infinite; it is that which God is most tender of, and which he will not part with; ‘My glory I will not give to another’ (Isa. 48:11). God will give temporal blessings to his children, such as wisdom, riches, honour; he will give them spiritual blessings, he will give them grace, he will give them his love, he will give them heaven; but his essential glory he will not give to another. King Pharaoh parted with a ring off his finger to Joseph, and a gold chain, but he would not part with his throne. ‘Only in the throne will I be greater than thou’ (Gen 41:40). So God will do much for his people; he will give them the inheritance; he will put some of Christ’s glory, as mediator, upon them; but his essential glory he will not part with; ‘in the throne he will be greater.’ [2]  The glory which is ascribed to God, or which his creatures labour to bring to him. ‘Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name’ (1 Chron. 16:29) And, ‘Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit;’ (1 Cor. 6:20) The glory we give God is nothing else but our lifting up his name in the world, and magnifying him in the eyes of others. ‘Christ shall be magnified in my body’ (Phil. 1:20).

What is it to glorify God?

Glorifying God consists in four things: 1. Appreciation, 2. Adoration, 3. Affection,  4.Subjection. This is the yearly rent we pay to the crown of heaven.

[1]. Appreciation To glorify God is to set God highest in our thoughts, and to have a venerable esteem of him. ‘Thou, Lord, art most high forevermore.’ (Psa.92:8). ‘Thou art exalted far above all gods’ (Psa. 97:9) There is in God all that may draw forth both wonder and delight; there is a constellation of all beauties; he is prma causa, the original and springhead of being, who sheds a glory upon the creature. We glorify God, where we are God-admirers; admire his attributes, which are the glistering beams by which the divine nature shines forth; his promises which are the charter of free grace, and the spiritual cabinet where the pearl of price is hid; the noble effects of his power and wisdom in making the world, which is called ‘the work of his fingers’ (Psa. 8:3). To glorify God is to have God-admiring thoughts; to esteem him most excellent, and search for diamonds in this rock only.

[2]. Glorifying God consists in adoration, or worship.  ‘Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness’ (Psa. 29:2). There is a twofold worship: (1) A civil reverence which we give to persons of honour. ‘Abraham stood up and bowed himself to the children of Heth’ (Gen. 23:7). Piety is no enemy to courtesy. (2) A divine worship which we give to God as his royal prerogative. ‘They bowed their heads, and worshipped the Lord with their faces towards the ground’ (Neh. 8: 6). This divine worship God is very jealous of; it is the apple of his eye, the pearl of his crown; which he guards, as he did the tree of life, with cherubims and a flaming sword, that no man may come near it to violate it. Divine worship must be such as God himself has appointed, else it is offering strange fire (Lev. 10:1). The Lord would have Moses make the tabernacle, ‘according to the pattern in the mount’ (Ex. 25:40). He must not leave out anything in the pattern, nor add to it. If God was so exact and curious about the place of worship, how exact will he be about the matter of his worship! Surely here everything must be according to the pattern prescribed in his word.

[3]. Affection This is part of the glory we give to God, who counts himself glorified when he is loved (Deut. 6:5). ’Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul.’ There is a twofold love: (1) Amor concupiscent, a love of concupiscence, which is self-love; as when we love another, because he does us a good turn. A wicked man may be said to love God, because he has given him a good harvest, or filled his cup with wine. This is rather to love God’s blessing than to love God. (2) Amor amicitiae, a love of delight, as a man takes delight in a friend. This is to love God indeed; the heart is set upon God, as a man’s heart is set upon his tresure. This love is exuberant, not a few drops, but a stream. It is superlative; we give God the best of our love, the cream of it. ’I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate’ (Song of Solomon 8:2). If the spouse had a cup more juicy and spiced, Christ must drink of it. It is intense and ardent. True saints are seraphims, burning in holy love to God. The spouse was amore perculsa, in fainting fits, ‘sick of love’ (Song of Solomon 2:5). Thus to love God is to glorify him. He who is the chief of our happiness has the chief of our affections.

[4].  Subjection  This is when we dedicate ourselves to God, and stand ready dressed for his service. Thus the angels in heaven glorify him; they wait on his throne, and are ready to take a commission from him; therefore, they are represented by the cherubims with wings displayed, to show how swift they are in their obedience. We glorify God when we are devoted to his service; our head studies for him, our tongue pleads for him, and our hands relieve his members. The wise men that came to Christ did not only bow the knee to him, but presented him with gold and myrrh (Matt. 2:11). So we must not only bow the knee, give God worship, but bring presents of golden obedience. We glorify God when we stick at no service, when we fight under the banner of his gospel against an enemy, and say to him as David to King Saul, ’Thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine’ (1 Sam. 17:32) A good Christian is like the sun, which not only sends forth heat, but goes its circuit round the world. Thus, he who glorifies God, has not only his affections heated with love to God, but he goes his circuit too; he moves vigorously in the sphere of obedience. (7)

When Christians live lives of Soli Deo Gloria, they live consciously for their King, the Lord Jesus Christ. Every aspect of their Sunday service is worship from the first words spoken to the benediction given. Everything points to Jesus Christ, His perfection, our imperfection, and the grace the Father has provided freely in giving us His only begotten Son.

What is more is that the early Evangelical Christians saw the entirety of their lives as mere extensions of what they participated in on Sunday. All of their life was, and rightly so, viewed as a form of worship and a way to glorify their Lord in even the most mundane aspects. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul when he exhorted:

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the mane of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Col. 3:17

 

This is the practical goal of this sola as Herbert Samworth says the following:

The Reformers also taught that it was possible to live victoriously and serve God in the world. This is the meaning of soli deo gloria. God receives all the praise for one’s salvation and, out of thankfulness, one dedicates their entire life to the service of God. That service of God might consist in different types of work but was united in the Person Who was served. In contrast, the Roman Church taught that the clerical life was the only life that truly could please God. Thus one had to withdraw from the world in order to live for God. The Reformers, while stressing that salvation was entirely of God, were equally determined to show that one honored God by living for Him. (8)

God is to be given the glory in all we do and say, for it is in Him that we live and move and have our being (see Acts 17:28). Sadly, this is not the case in the vast majority of the most well know charismatic “ministers.” The question which needs to be asked at the end of any spiritual endeavor is, who was glorified? Man or God (it will always be one or the other)? Here is an account given by Oral Roberts:

“Brother Roberts told his two visitors, “I want you men to know that my vow to God is to touch neither the gold nor the glory. I am sure God will meet the needs of my forthcoming ministry in an honorable way. And all the funds will be handled in the highest manner. (9)

That sounds humble, and possibly Mr. Oral Roberts even meant it when he said it. However, history has proven that he has broken his vows to God regarding touching the “gold and the glory.” To begin with Mr. Roberts is a multimillionaire. He and his remaining son, Richard (his other son committed suicide and his daughter died in a plane crash) own multiple homes and Oral sits on the boards of may prominent businesses in Tulsa, not to mention all the property his “ministry” owns.   Secondly, regarding the glory it seems that whenever a minister does anything to take the focus off of God and places people’s minds and hearts on himself, he has attempted to take God’s glory to some degree. EVERYTHING Roberts has created bears his name! Allow me to cite a few examples; “The Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association.” then later we had “Oral Roberts University,” and even “Oral Roberts Publishing.” His pictures and more than a few statues adorn the campus bearing his name. Isn’t this touching the glory a bit?

Frankly, any ministry which is named after its founder garners more than a little scrutiny from me. Such as Benny Hinn Ministries and Benny Hinn Media Ministries; Kenneth Copland Ministries; John Hagee Ministries; Marilyn Hickey Ministries; Joyce Meyer Ministries; T.D. Jakes Ministries Inc.; Jesse Duplantis Ministries; Jerry Servalle Ministries International; Creflo Dollar Ministries; Jimmy Swaggat Ministries; Peter Popoff Ministries; Leroy Jenkins Evangelistic Association. This list could go on for pages. Note that each of the ministries (or sinistries as a brother as called them) point directly to themselves. None of them have biblical names or even names which simply designate who or what they are about! What is more if you get their magazines (which I highly recommend) you will see their pictures on every other page. It is possible to get some literature that may mention the name of Jesus once or twice, but the founder’s name forty or fifty times.

Mr. Hinn is a classic case study in being a psychopath and fraud. It is no mistake that Mr. Hinn has instructed his mass choirs (my wife and I have been a part of several of them) to sing “How Great Thou Art” as Hinn ascends to the platform to begin his dog-and-pony show This is not done coincidentally, sure the song is about how great God is, but while the desperately ill and devotees are caught up in the song…there appears God’s man of faith and power the divine healer of the hour in his bright white suit & Nehru collar. Who is really receiving the glory, who is really the great one? God or Benny Hinn? Benny when pressed will confess that God is the Healer, since this is true, then why do people need to come to his miracle crusades? Well because God has chosen Benny as His conduit for miracles of healing. I urge our readers to go visit http://www.pfo.org and purchase he most recent copy of “The Confusing World of Benny Hinn.”   It is the seminal work exposing this man for exactly what he is. Also the Trinity Foundation has some outstanding videos/DVD’s exposing this fraud, visit them at http://www.thedoormagazine.com

None of the above mentioned organizations live for the glory of God and His glory alone. They exist to enlarge their sphere of spiritual influence by any means necessary. The messages they preach are devoid of any mention of Law or Gospel What is a shame is that millions of people are being led astray by these biblically illiterate preachers, who in some cases are outright charlatans, teaching their followers to live lives of selfish shallow pseudo spirituality. Well did the prophet Isaiah prophesy of such people when he said:

Wherefore the Lord said, Foreasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, [even] a marvelous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise [men] shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent [men] shall perish, shall be hid. Isa. 29:13-14

There is a great deal of excitement in the praise and worship aspect of charismatic services and revivals. Everything from smoke machines, dancing of all forms (including a form of conga-line/Jericho march two-step), banner waving pageantry, dramatic skits, dance ministries 9with women and men in varying degrees of immodest dress at times), not to mention the use of emotional testimonies thrown into the mix. All of these elements equal “worship” and are supposedly done unto the glory of God. Yet God is far from such nonsense, as well intentioned as it might be in some cases.

The Lord through the prophet says that these people do draw near to Him with their mouths, they even say the right words, i.e. got the “God-talk” down to a science. Yet for all their religiosity they fail and miserably so. Why?  Their hearts are far from God.  The Hebrew word for “far” (rachag) to become far or to become distant.   This heart distance fro the Lord was not an overnight experience, but a process begun in their lives by following the doctrines (precepts) of men versus adhering faithfully to the Word of God.

What is the Lord’s response to those who act religiously, but are in reality far from Him? He says that He will proceed to do a marvelous work a true “wonder” (those in the sign &wonders movement have received one from the Lord’s hand and do not even know it) among these apostates. The wisdom of their wise men (teachers) shall perish (ahad) has a very strong Hebraic meaning including: to be destroyed, to vanish, to be exterminated. The understanding (hiynah) which is defined as understanding or discernment of their leaders shall be hidden from them!

Some may wish to argue that the context of the text is referring to Israel, which is correct; however, it can be legitimately applied to those in the Church because our Lord applied to the religious leaders of His day and He is the Head of the Church today (see Col. 1:18)  so it can be applied to erring leaders in our time. If you want to see a great example of what I have been writing about then all you have to do is get on-line and watch and listen to a Bonnie & Mehesh Chavda service about “ushering in the glory” at http://www.maheshchavda.com/video/ushering_in_the_glory-april_2004.asp

See Video here on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKHaRYeJdBU     (It could disappear at anytime, like the TBN clip recently did, so see it while you can! )

Make no mistake as was stated earlier in the article by Watson that God will never share His glory with us. Yet so many conferences, books and tapes are produced about how we can tap into the glory of God versus teaching the flock how to live lives that bring glory to our Lord.

Soli Deo Gloria  must become the heart motivation of God’s people once again. There needs to be a genuine revival within the Church where God’s people again become humbled by the fact that all we are and all we have are because—of grace alone, by faith alone, in the work of Christ alone, according to the Scriptures alone and thus to God alone belongs all the glory…which we dare not even attempt to touch or usurp. Selah.   ♦

Copyright © Robert S. Liichow

End Notes

1. Strawbridge, Gregg, Ph.D This statement came from a document was originally written for the 1993 Reformation Celebration at Audubon Drive Bible church in Laurel, Ms, as part of a worship service and can be found at http://www.fivesolas.com/5solas.htm. Underlining added for emphasis

2. You may read the entire Cambridge Declaration on the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals located at http://www.christianity.com/ace.

3. Our former congregation, Jubilee Christian Church, was known as a warfare church because of our praise and worship which was consciously used as a tool of spiritual warfare against the principalities and powers over our city. We based this practice on Ps. 149:6-9 [let] the high [praise] of God [be] in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; Ps. 149:7. To execute vengeance upon the heathen, [and] punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written; this honor have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD

4. These messages would comprise a year’s worth of teaching. The list may vary a bit depending on what flavor of charismatic church you attend. Our church was a syncretism of Word of Faith doctrines and newer prophetic/apostolic restored teaching. Some church’s would have regular series of spiritual warfare, demons and deliverance, sign and wonders, etc.

5. DMI offers a book entitled: “Does the Bible Support A Doctrine of Being Slain in the Spirit?

6. My wife, Tracy, and I operated the prayer room for people seeking the baptism. We laid hands on approximately 1,000 people the vast majority of whom left muttering some form of gibberish which made them and us feel very good. When someone would fail to begin to speak ecstatically we then went into encouragement mode and told them they might begin to speak when they were alone in prayer or we’d be glad to minister to them again next Sunday.

7. Watson, Thomas, Westminister Shorter Catechism. Obtained from http://www.bpc.org/resouces/watson/wsc_wa_001.html Bold type and underlining added for emphasis.

8. Samworth, Herbert. What Was the Reformation? Obtained from http://www.solagroup.org/articles/faqs/faq_0034.html.

9. Roberts, Oral My Story. Tulsa, OK Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association, 1961 p. 73

10. I recommend people get their free materials, get on their mailing list because you will begin to build an original source collection of teachings, failed prophecies and a huge collection of “Spirit” empowered fetish objects, aka “point-of-contact” items. Plus you will become well versed in their lingo and fundraising techniques.

11. BibleWorks ver 4.0.03 p. For Windows, 1998 BibleWorks, LLC Software Hebrew cited from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.

12. For those who love the word of god and want to understand its proper place in our lives DMI is offering a CD entitled “Sola Scriptura” delivered by Rev. Liichow on 01-02-2005 (its different from the article).

13. Ibid

14. ibid