Friday: Through Christ Alone

Sermon: How to Worship

In this week’s lessons, we learn what worship is and what it means to worship in spirit and in truth.

Theme: Through Christ Alone

We see this idea of how to approach God in the Old Testament in the instructions given to Moses for the design of the tabernacle. What was the original tabernacle? It was not a thing of great beauty or permanence. It had no stained-glass windows, no gothic arches. It was just made of pieces of wood and animal skins. But every part of it was significant. The tabernacle, in other words, taught the way to God. It was a great object lesson. Take that tabernacle with its altar for sacrifice, its laver for cleansing, its Holy Place, and its Holy of Holies, and you have a perfect illustration of how a person must approach God.

The altar, which is the first thing we come to, is the cross of Christ. It was given to teach that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins, and to direct attention to the Lamb of God who would come to take away the sin of the world. The laver, which came next in the architecture of the tabernacle, is a picture of the cleansing which Christ provides when we confess our sins and enter into fellowship with Him. The table of showbread, which was within the Holy Place, speaks of Christ as the bread of life. The altar of incense is a picture of prayer, for we grow by prayer as well as by feeding on Christ and Bible study. Behind the altar of incense was the great veil, dividing the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. This veil was torn in two at the moment of Christ's death to demonstrate that His death was the fulfillment of all these figures and the basis of the fullness of approach to the Almighty. Finally, within the Holy of Holies was the ark of the covenant, with the mercy seat upon which the high priest placed the blood of the lamb on the Day of Atonement. There, symbolized by the space above the mercy seat, was the presence of God. We can now come into His presence because of His great mercy revealed in the death of Christ for us. 

There is no other way to come to God than to come through Christ–the Christ of the altar, laver, showbread, incense, veil, and mercy seat. We are to come honestly, that is, without hypocrisy. We are to come biblically. And we are to come focusing on Jesus Christ. In this way, we will attain to friendship with God and be awakened to His glory, which is the essence of worship. 

The wonder of Christian worship is that, when we come to God in this way, when we really come in spirit and in truth, we find Him inexhaustible and discover that our desire to know and worship Him further is increased. Bernard of Clairvaux is one who knew this. He wrote toward the middle of the twelfth century: 

Jesus, thou joy of loving hearts, 

Thou Fount of life, thou Light of men, 

From the best bliss that earth imparts, 

We turn unfilled to thee again. 

We taste thee, O thou living Bread 

And long to feast upon thee still; 

We drink of thee, the fountainhead 

And thirst our souls from thee to fill. 

When we so come, when we worship in this way, we find ourselves approaching what the compilers of the Westminster Shorter Catechism rightly described as the chief end of man. The first question of the catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?" And the answer is, “Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever."

Study Questions:

  1. How do the various articles within the tabernacle point to how we are to approach God through Christ?
  2. In a hymnal, look up “Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts.” What phrases or ideas attract your attention and help to deepen your understanding of God and your worship of Him?

Application: Review the opening question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. List specific ways you can glorify God, not only in your worship, but in every area of your life.

Key Point: The wonder of Christian worship is that, when we come to God in this way, when we really come in spirit and in truth, we find Him inexhaustible and discover that our desire to know and worship Him further is increased.

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to James Boice’s message from Psalm 95, “How to Worship God.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

Think and Act Biblically from James Boice is a devotional of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Think and Act Biblically and the mission of the Alliance.