R.C Sproul has written an excellent book entitled A Taste of Heaven. In that book he asks this very important question, “What is the purpose of worship?”
His answer was “It’s not evangelism. God never designed worship for the purpose of evangelism. And in the Old Testament, the assembling of the people of God was for the purpose of worshipping God the way He commanded them to worship. Now today we try to design worship to grow the church, to reach the secular people. Now I do think we need to have a plan to reach the secular people, but not in corporate worship. Corporate worship is designed for the people of God. And it’s designed not to accommodate the unbeliever, it’s designed to please God. God is exceedingly jealous biblically, that He be worshipped the way He wants to be worshipped.”
Jeremiah Burroughs’ book, Gospel Worship, is right in line with Sproul’s thinking as he reminds us that Nadab and Abihu’s offerings of strange fire on the altar ended with tragic consequences because they were worshipping God their way instead of the way God commanded them (see Leviticus 10:1-2).
Getting back to R.C. Sproul, he states, “The principle is that God says, ‘I will be regarded as Holy by all who come near to Me.’ You look into the inner sanctum of heaven, what are the angels of heaven doing? They’re praising the Holiness of God. That’s what at the center of their worship experience.”
When R.C. Sproul was asked, “What does worship look like in your congregation?” His answer was, “When people walk into the church, they greet, fellowship, and so on until 10 minutes before the worship service starts. Then the prelude begins, and there is an indication in the bulletin that this is now a time of silent preparation for worship. We ask people to prepare themselves for coming into the presence of God. We talk frequently about the transition, that the door, the entrance to the church, is a threshold. We’re leaving the common, entering the uncommon. Leaving the secular, entering the sacred. Leaving the profane, entering into the holy.”
I think R.C. does a superb job of reminding all of us (myself included) that every time we worship as a congregation, we are coming before a perfectly Holy God who allows us to do so soley on the shed blood of Jesus Christ our Lord Savior. Let us come before Him with our greatest preparation, reverence and with our deepest gratitude and praise!