The Lord-He Is God!

Featuring Tom Kraeuter Posted on February 7, 2010

Even after our people understand the biblical perspective on worship, one of the main reasons that they may not fully enter into worship is that they don’t understand God. You can talk about how to worship all day long, but as long as people have a mistaken perception about the Lord, they will never really worship Him.

Many Christians see God as the big ogre, waiting to destroy them as soon as they mess up. With that kind of image of the Lord, they will never fully worship Him. Jesus told the story of the prodigal son to show us how the heavenly Father responds when His child returns to Him in repentance. When we humble ourselves and admit our wrong, He runs to us and celebrates our return. A read through the Old Testament prophets shows this has always been God’s heart toward His people. Again and again Israel turned away from God and His laws. Again and again He sent prophets to warn Israel of what would come if they continued to disobey, but these men always pleaded for Israel to return to God and know His tender mercy. His heart is to love and restore His own.

God is not waiting to smash us when we sin. He loves us. And that love is the basis for our worship. As long as we have a wrong perception of the Lord, we will never completely worship Him. However, as we begin to grasp that the Lord truly cares for us in a deep and intimate way, there will come a freedom for worship that won’t happen any other way.

Some Christians haven’t fully recognized that only God’s grace, mercy, and love make us acceptable to Him. They feel they can or must earn the Lord’s approval. Even mature Christians can fall into the trap of doing things that they believe will cause God to accept them more readily.

This is a simple, basic concept but, unfortunately, one that we often forget. It is all too easy for us to get what some have called “spiritual amnesia” and forget that it is only the love and mercy of God that allows us to do anything. When people begin to grasp how all-encompassing God’s grace is, however, they will find a freedom to worship Him that will not be found anywhere else.

The prophet Isaiah said, “...all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). All of the good things we do in our own strength are like filthy rags to God. Somehow I really don’t think that the Lord cares all that much for the “treasures” of all our good deeds.

The good news—the gospel—is that the Lord has redeemed us and because of His finished work on Calvary, we can stand holy and righteous before Him. All our good works—indeed, even our worship—are acceptable only because of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:5, “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (author’s emphasis). Our spiritual sacrifices—our worship—are only acceptable through Jesus Christ. Likewise, the writer of Hebrews says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name (Hebrews 13:15, author’s emphasis). It is only through Christ and His work on the cross that our sacrifices are acceptable.
Too many Christians have the mistaken notion that they need to be really good in order for God to accept them. None of us will ever be good enough. It is only because of what Jesus has done that anything we do is acceptable to the Lord. Further, it is as we recognize God’s love, mercy, and grace that we truly desire to worship Him. Because He has already accepted us, even with our numerous flaws, our desire is to honor Him.

Besides not knowing the heart of God or grasping the grace of God, many Christians imagine God in a much too tame or mundane manner. Yes, they acknowledge that He is God, but they really have no perception of His true greatness, power, majesty, or holiness. Do you recall the encounter between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel? Now there was a display of God’s power!

To me the response of the people really says it all. “When all the people saw this they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!’” (1 Kings 18:39). No one needed to tell them what to do or how to respond. They had recognized that God was far more powerful than they had previously imagined. Because of this, they worshiped. As the people in our churches begin to realize how powerful and great the Lord is, their natural response will be to worship Him.

When we take our first steps into heaven and see God in all His glory, we won’t need any classes or instruction manuals. Clearly, our only possible response at that point will be to worship. In the same way, as we begin to get a clearer image of the Lord here and now, our response will be to worship Him. Teaching the people everything we can about God—His power, His majesty, His holiness, His greatness—will cause them to worship Him.