In the early 1960s a newly converted young man, A.W. Tozer, accepted his first call to pastor a small congregation. It was during his pastorate of this congregation that he fell in love with the corporate worship of the local church. The singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs stirred his heart with joy. The prayers of the people carried him to the throne room of heaven. The preaching of the Word of God was clear, concise, and simple – yet, beautiful.
As Dr. Tozer reminisced about his time with these beloved people, he grabbed a pen and a scratch-sheet of paper, and then jotted down, “I can safely say, on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven.”
Whew! What a quote! At the same time, however, how true this quote is!
Through the worship of the church God is working in the lives of his people, and that should cause us to rejoice! Through the singing of beautiful hymns and songs, the prayers, the giving of tithes and offerings, the confessing and affirming our faith, God is working within us in many different ways: teaching us, correcting us, and strengthening us.
But it does not stop there, for through corporate worship, God is making us look more like Christ. If I can use a theological term here, God, our good and gracious Father, is sanctifying us by our worship. In John 17, Jesus is praying for us and he asks the Father to “sanctify them in truth, Your Word is truth” (v. 17). That is happening in our worship services. God’s Word is being read and preached, and God is sanctifying us every time we sit under the preaching of His holy and perfect Word.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism reaffirms this for us, in question 89, as it proclaims that God, through the reading and preaching of the Word, is saving sinners and building believers up in faith unto salvation.
With all of this, it is not hard to figure out why the author of Hebrews commands us to “not forsake the assembly of believers” (Heb. 10: 25). For when we do, we are missing a vital part of our Christian journey. We can go as far as saying that we are forfeiting a blessing from our Lord. We are denying that we need His tender care and sanctifying power.
Yet, when we come to worship, there should be much rejoicing! In our worship, we are getting a foretaste of Heaven – where God’s people are assembled together, their eyes and hearts are upon Him, He is in their midst, and praises are sung to His name alone.
What a powerful picture of worship! That every time we step into the sanctuary, God is sanctifying us and pouring out His blessings upon us; preparing and training us for the worship that we will enjoy forever and ever.
So, I think Dr. Tozer was correct. If we cannot find much joy in the gracious gift of corporate worship here in this life, then we are missing the point.
With churches beginning to re-open, may our God continue to build us up in the love for His church and the worship of His name.