“By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.” (Hebrews 11:4, ESV)
This text contains one of the most important truths about worship one can ever learn: It is not the sacrifice that makes the one who offers it acceptable, it is the acceptance of the one who offers it, which makes his sacrifice acceptable…
In the continuing problem of putting right-side up, all that the Fall has flipped up-side down – worship has taken a mighty hit. The whole of human religion is rooted in finding some form of sacrifice, work or worship which somehow makes the person acceptable. But in fact, it is Jesus alone who makes us acceptable, so that we can then enter upon the privilege of worship – hence the need to be “in Him” or “in Christ”. “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:25-29, ESV)
Did you catch the idea in last sentence? Since we have received this Kingdom (from and on account of Christ Jesus) THUS let us offer to God acceptable worship.”
It is only as we are reconciled to God in Christ that we CAN worship in any acceptable way – we NEVER worship in order to BE accepted. And, in that reality rests one of the most glorious ideas we can enter upon. For to truly worship God, is to enter upon something which only God Himself can do rightly. This is why it is such a high privilege to worship in Christ. To “worship” is to rightly ascribe worth to something – to declare its “worth’s-ship” if I may coin a phrase. And only God has the ability to truly and rightly discern His own infinite worth, to rightly value that worth, to love that worth and to declare that worth. This is a distinctly Trinitarian activity. And in Christ, we are not only invited into it, we are equipped for it as partakers of His mercy and grace.
Only the Father can love the Son as He ought to be loved – given who and what He is. Only the Son can love the Father as He ought to be loved – given who and what He is. And only the Spirit can work hearts and minds in us which can love the Father, the Son and the Spirit Himself according to the way He ought to be loved for who and what He is.
The honor that is bestowed upon the redeemed human, is to behold God, to understand that we are beholding Him, to apprehend something of what this God truly is, and to enjoy the glory of the revelation. Endlessly. This is what we are brought into the new life for. Not to worship as a duty – but to worship as the manifested love of the Triune God apprehending, appreciating and supremely delighting in all of His infinite glories.
Now, think about this as you approach worship next Lord’s Day. think about what Christ has opened the door for you to do. To do what only God can properly do – to know Him, and to revel in Him.
That beloved – is worship.