True Worship

Bible Book: John  4 : 19-24
Subject: Worship; Music in Church; Worship Wars

John 4:19-24:

19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

A new expression has arisen in the body of Christ - A worship war. A man named Marlin Maddox has a nationwide Christian call in talk show. In 1998, on the last Sunday of the year, Mr. Maddox put himself on as the guest. The different host for this show asked Mr. Maddox, "What is the number one issue and controversy that the people have called this program about in 1998?" He answered, "It is neither abortion nor homosexuality; it was the issue of the new so called contemporary music. How it relates to the traditional music."

I. Traditional Music

A. Nostalgic

It is what the older members grew up on. It is filled with nostalgia. There are great memories. Christmas and revivals in little country churches. These great songs make us think of mother. The times in our lives that built the morality and the fabric of our lives. That made us the men and women we are.

B. Sentiment

The older we get the harder it is for us to change. There is security in stability. There is a whole chapter in Proverbs that tells us how difficult getting older can be.

C. Emotional

Those of us who are older have been ministered to by those great old hymns. We are moved to Jesus Christ by the Old Rugged Cross. There came passion and warmth that helped us get through those difficult times.

D. Theological

Most of us learned our biblical theology through those hymns. Before John MacArthur and Chuck Swindoll, there were no national preachers and very few local preachers that did verse by verse teaching of bible doctrine through the word of God and applied it to our lives. Most preachers before them were topical preachers. There was very little, if any, bible doctrine, verse by verse executed and explained through the pages of scripture to people growing up from the pulpit about the word of God. We learned our understanding of heaven, redemption and the deity of Jesus, His Lordship and eternity. Most of what we know are from the great lines of those great old songs. There is a certain majesty and dignity about them.

II. Contemporary Music

A. To Jesus, Not About Jesus

Most of the new contemporary music is to Jesus and not about Jesus. Our music is generally about Jesus Christ. You thumb through the church hymnal you will find that not over one out of fifty songs that address the Lord Jesus Christ in person. The new songs primarily are my telling Jesus about my worship and love for him. There are very few songs in the older songs that address Jesus rather than tell others about Jesus. There are very few new songs that don't primarily address Jesus. This is the key to why it is so important. Why? In society there are three basic securities for people. One is family. The other is the church. And the other one is the dependability, respect and the consistency of our government. The power to be ordained by God and obey them that have the rule over you gives   us a sense of honor for God as an extension of God's authority. What has happened in the home, the church and the government that has negatively impacted this young generation and made them tremendously insecure and hunger for something changeless, personal and intimate? Virtually everything. In the home there is a 60% divorce rate in America. In the church there are scandals.

Young people are driven away. Churches fight in battle over different issues. People are turned away from the church. In government the young people question the integrity of the leaders. Where do the young people turn to hook into and believe in that is real? You and I know, Jesus Christ. They hunger for a personal intimate relationship with him. Just talking about Him, how much I praise Him, is not nearly as warm and real to them as telling Him. That is one of the main reasons why it is so important and so successful in the life of young adults.

B. Personal, Not Traditional

This is music they understand. This is what they grew up with. This is their world. Music is important to young people today. Time magazine wrote this article: "Music is the single most important factor, not only of communication but also of emotion and a source of knowledge in the life of young people today. Thirty seven million teenagers are in America. Thirty five million have not been to church and are not going. If a young person today has a cd they are passionate about and they are starving to death, they will spend their last ten to fifteen dollars and buy the cd before they buy a sandwich." If you are planning to communicate to them you have to understand how important their music is to them. Music is their world. It is who they are. You don't force people to be communicated to through your language, but through theirs. If you are going to communicate with kids today about Jesus Christ, you have to learn their language. The message never changes but the methods must be ever changing. If you want to advertise an event today, you don't do like we did in the 40's and 50's. You advertise on TV or the internet. The methods are changing but the message stays the same. The apostle Paul said: "I've become all things to all men that I might by all means win some." If we are to communicate with the generations we live in, we have to learn to communicate the gospel in new ways through their media and hearts.

C. Scripture, Not Just About Scripture

Most of today's praise and worship is nothing but scripture set to music. They are learning from their music the language of the word of God too. Things change and change is not always for the bad. If music did not change we would be singing chants today and not hymns nor songs. Did you ever wonder why the Holy Spirit saw to the preservation of the words of the greatest music in the Judea Christian faith? They were all preserved in the songs. But he did not see to the preservation to the music. Why is that? I feel that the Lord knew that every generation would write its own music. But the words and the message are still there. How did Psalm 23 go? We don't know. It was set to classical music.

III. Real Worship

What is real worship? Worship is more than just music, but in context it is so much the heart of what we are talking about. Worship is not about organs or guitars. It's not about; loud or fast, or slow or quiet. It's not about robes or blue jeans. It's about the heart. They that truly worship God in a way acceptable to the Father, worship him in spirit and in truth. Spirit means the passion of the heart. It's about the truth based on the revealed message of God. We approach God on the basis of His word. Brian Grishman says, "God musical worship is emotionally charged and theologically grounded." Jesus was asked, "Which command is the greatest of all?" Jesus said "That you love the Lord thy God with all your mind, heart and soul." The mind is the seat of knowledge. That is where the word of comes in. The heart is the seat of the emotions. That is where the passion comes and where we feel. The soul is the seat of the will where we commit. So the purpose of the mixture of knowledge and passion in worship is to commit to an action. It does not matter how high you jump on Sunday morning. It matters how straight you walk when your feet hit the ground on Monday morning. It is mind, heart and soul! How do we respond? These are the facts. So what does the church do with that? The new music is here to stay. There are two dangers that we face. You don't want to resent the new and you don't want to lose the old. What do you do? You must find a way to do both. How do you do that? You have two separate kinds of service, a traditional service and a contemporary service.


God has a great variety in his heart. Another option is to have a blended service. Good music, good worship, good praise ought to be from the heart, on the word, through our lips, to the Lord, lived out in our lives.