by Rick Pidcock
It has been a while since I last posted anything with much substance to my blog. My schedule has been pretty crazy lately. But I’ve finally finished working on the next article in our series on God-centered worship. In this article, we will be exploring the role of the Holy Spirit in worship.
THE WORSHIPING SPIRIT IN REVELATION
Worship is a response to revelation. In his excellent book entitled Facedown, Matt Redman says, “All worship is a response to a revelation—it’s only as we breathe in more of the wonders of God that we can breathe out a fuller response to Him.”
1. The Spirit reveals the glory of God in His Word.
“Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” –2 Peter 1:20-21
When I was younger, I never understood why there was so much wasted paper at the end of 3rd John. Why couldn’t God have put another book of the Bible in that space? So I decided on a solution. I, myself, would write the book of 4th John. Of course, I couldn’t figure out as a five year old why my parents were not ecstatic that I had written the newest book of the Bible.
Thankfully, God does not reveal His truth to us through the opinions of five year olds or fifty-five year olds. Instead, He has revealed His glory to us in His Word through the work of the Holy Spirit.
2. The Spirit reveals the glory of God in Christ.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” –Luke 4:18-19
Even though Christ was God Himself, He still remained dependent upon the Spirit of God throughout His life. The reason that Christ was able to live out the gospel was that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him. Therefore, apart from the Spirit, we would never be able to know the glory of God in Christ.
THE WORSHIPING SPIRIT IN SALVATION
Have you ever stopped to consider the moment of salvation as a worship event? In that moment of conversion, God reveals His glory to the sinner in a way that irresistibly compels that sinner to respond in repentant faith. And what is that response of repentant faith if not worship?
The moment of salvation is a worship event because every single aspect is dependent upon God, revealing His glory. We explored this God-centered view of the gospel more completely in Part Two. But let’s consider a few additional truths surrounding our salvation as it relates to the Spirit.
1. The Spirit gives new birth to every true worshiper.
“Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” –John 3:5, 6
Just as a child has no input into his physical birth, we have nothing to contribute to our spiritual birth. John 1:12, 13 explains this truth so beautifully. It says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
You might ask, “But do we not contribute to our new birth in that we must place our faith in Christ?” While it is true according to this passage that we must receive God by believing in Christ, we must also understand where that belief originated. And just as we saw in our study of God’s election in Romans 9, our new birth is a fruit, not of our own will, but of the will of God.
2. The Spirit forever indwells every true worshiper.
“…to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” –John 14:16,17
Notice how the Spirit’s role in revelation is once again connected to His role in salvation and in worship. The knowledge of God can only come if the Spirit dwells with and in a person. Because God dwells in a person through the Spirit, that person can see and know God. And because that person sees and knows God, they respond in the worship of repentant faith.
Of course, all of this must happen simultaneously. It is more of a logical distinction than a chronological one. There are not people walking around who are indwelt by the Spirit but who have not received Him. However, the distinction is vital to having a God-centered view of the Spirit’s role in worship because it once again shows how our dependency is upon God, rather than on ourselves.
3. The Spirit seals every true worshiper.
“In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” –Ephesians 1:13-14
We have a great inheritance in Christ because Christ is the Creator and Lord over everything. Yet, even though we can experience tastes of our inheritance on this earth, we cannot even fathom the depth of it until we reach heaven.
So how do we know for sure that this inheritance is guaranteed? We can know because the Spirit seals us. What is the result of such sealing? Worship. Verse fourteen says that it is all “to the praise of his glory.” How could we have any other response to such a rich promise than to simply gaze upon it and worship God?
THE WORSHIPING SPIRIT IN SANCTIFICATION
Sanctification is a fancy word for our ongoing growth in Christ. In other words, it is the very essence of living worship. As we close this article, let’s briefly look at six main aspects of the Holy Spirit’s role in sanctification.
- The Spirit gifts every true worshiper.
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit…. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good…. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.” –1 Corinthians 12:4, 7, 11
The first thing that we must understand about our gifts is that they come from the Spirit. The Spirit gives every worshiper the exact gifts that He desires for them to have. Once again, just as in revelation and salvation, we begin to see how even our spiritual gifts are given based upon the sovereign choice of God, rather than ourselves.
Another vital truth is that there are many gifts. God has not created us as cookie-cutter Christians who all carry out the same function. The body is one. But there are many body parts. Imagine if every worshiper were a hand. What would happen when we needed to eat? We would hopelessly starve and die. God has gifted His body of worshipers through the Spirit to have many different gifts.
A third reality that we must believe is that the many gifts are given for the benefit of the whole body. So often, we view spiritual gifts as useful for benefiting mainly our own reputation. But they are for the common good.
Finally, we must understand that every gift is empowered by the Spirit. We do not exercise our gifts by depending on our own efforts and talents. We exercise the gifts of the Spirit by the power of the Spirit. When we view spiritual gifts as coming from the Spirit, for the benefit of the body that the Spirit has created, and empowered by the Spirit, how can our response be anything but worshiping the Spirit, rather than ourselves?
2. The Spirit fills every true worshiper.
“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart.” –Ephesians 5:18-19
The preface to corporate worship, which we will address in Chapter Eight, is being filled with the Spirit. So what does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? Notice how God illustrates the filling of the Spirit with drunkenness. It is allowing our thoughts, words, and actions to be influenced and controlled by the power of the Spirit, in contrast to a drunk person being influenced by the alcohol.
Just as being drunk with wine points us to the glory of a cheap temporary high, being filled with the Spirit points us to the glory of the eternal Holy Spirit. And thus, we respond to the glory of the Spirit in worship.
3. The Spirit counsels every true worshiper.
“The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” –John 14:26
The term “Helper” literally means “counselor.” The Holy Spirit is our counselor Who opens our eyes to the light of God’s Word and shows us Christ. Ultimately, He shows us that our sufficiency is not in ourselves, but in Christ. And as a result, He glorifies Christ and counsels us to become more complete whole-life worshipers.
4. The Spirit assures every true worshiper.
“For we know, brothers, loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit with full conviction.” –1 Thessalonians 1:4, 5
If you have spent any time with unsaved people, you may have asked them the question, “If you were to die to day, do you have assurance that you would go to heaven?” If their response to that question has anything to do with what they are doing, then you know that their faith is in their own effort, rather than in the cross of Christ.
However, we Christians often believe that our assurance is based upon how we are living as well. We think that if we read our Bible, pray, go to church, and do good to others, that we must be saved. But this view of assurance is also man-centered.
Assurance of salvation is dependent upon the sovereign choice of God, Who gives us the gospel in word, in power, and in the Holy Spirit. God often will allow unbelievers to hear the gospel in word. But He only grants the gospel in power and in the Holy Spirit to the ones that He has chosen before the foundation of the world. Yet again, we are pointed to the glorious beauty of our sovereign, sufficient God. And once again, we magnify Him alone.
5. The Spirit prays for every true worshiper.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” –Romans 8:26-27
Have you ever had moments where you felt so weak, that you were left silent, not even knowing what words to utter to God? In my life, I can remember a few moments of such brokenness as this. But the more I think about it, when are we ever strong enough to come up with worthy enough words of prayer on our own?
The reality is that we are always weak. The gospel exposes us for who we really are—totally depraved in every way and at every moment. The Spirit does much more for us than merely kick into praying gear during those half a dozen moments in life where we do not know what to say during prayer. He is always praying for us with prayers that go far beyond even the perfect words. He prays for us with prayers that are too deep for any words at all!
The interceding ministry of the Spirit exposes just how deep our weakness is. He is only sufficient to the degree that we are weak. Therefore, since He is infinitely sufficient, we are infinitely weak. And in His sufficient intercession, He is our only hope of reaching the heart and mind of God. How glorious and deserving of our worship the Spirit is!
6. The Spirit produces fruit in every true worshiper.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law…If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” –Galatians 5:22-26
The fruit of the Spirit is exactly what its title implies. It is fruit that comes from the Spirit. That may sound redundant. But it is vital to understand if we long to experience the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. It is not something that we can just decide to work on as if the many aspects of the fruit comes from our own diligence and effort. But rather, it is something that the Spirit produces in us because our life and walk is in Him.
So why would God follow up this aspect of the Spirit’s role in living worship with the words, “Let us not become conceited”? I believe that it is to show us once again the correlation between the Spirit’s role in sanctification and worship. If we truly believed that the source of the fruit in our lives was the Spirit, rather than ourselves, then our glory would be in God, rather than in ourselves. And if our glory were in God, then we would worship Him rather than ourselves.
I pray that as we continue exploring God-centered worship, that God will open your mind up even more to how all of these glorious roles of each member of the Trinity ultimately point us toward God-centered worship.
Earlier articles in this series included: