In the last few months, and even years, the worship experience or encounter has reached a fever pitch. The invasion of worship has hit the church by storm.
In the eighties, Ron Kenoly and others introduced a modern worship experience. The album “Lift Him Up” was a hit. Maranatha Music then was hitting its stride. Depending upon your worship taste, several albums were made.
Some were good. Others were complete duds.
Then the nations of the earth caught on to what was happening in the 80’s and 90’s.
All across the United States, the worship experience hit church after church. Some churches abandoned traditional Congregational Hymn singing to sound like what’s on the scene.
It packed places of worship, arenas, stadiums, and other venues.
I remember going to a Christian Book Store called “New Life” in Flushing Queens NY. Every week, we would go to see if there was any new praise and worship albums. We would also go to Christian Publication in midtown Manhattan, or Maranatha Book Store on Livingston Street in Brooklyn, NY. Before Maranatha Book Store closed, they’ve moved to Flatbush Avenue.
Book stores were judged by who had Maranatha Music or similar albums.
New Life took things to a new level. They’ve built booths where you could sample the music before you bought it. They would have a cafe and they would invite many of the singers to perform their songs on a small stage. It was the new standard that Christian Publication and Maranatha couldn’t match or come close.
Was it a move of God or was it a move of man?
In the Book of the Apocalypse or Revelation, (that’s what the word “apocalypse” mean. Revelation) chapter 4, we see that worship is in heaven. Worship of God is indispensable. We see that there would be 4 living creatures and 24 elders.
Revelation 4:8-11 (NKJV) “The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:
“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”
The living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”
In the album, Lift Him Up, world class musicians on the west coast were assembled. Names that many in the music industry are very familiar with. The session was caught on video tape. It captured your attention.
Much like the late Walter Hawkins with “Love Alive.”
The Love Alive Center also used world class singers and musicians to bring a contemporary sound to traditional worship.
The “contemporary sound” broke barriers. But underneath all of these allegedly “wonderful” contemporary sounds really hit the church world in a way that most places received it.
The true standard of worship is found in John 4:23-24.
John 4:23-24 (NKJV) “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. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
To worship in spirit means to have His life within us. Not emotion, though at times, our emotions may be involved but is never predominant. To worship in truth is to walk in His ways “in righteousness and true holiness.”
We could go through the motions of a worship experience, but if we try to worship without His life and without His truth, we’ll attempt to worship God like the woman that showed up at Jacob’s well.
We’ll worship in sin and death, and that means worshipping God in vain. It’s all for nothing.
But what else was received?
With Love Alive, the spirit of homosexuality and sexual immorality was prevalent.
With James Cleveland and other signers and groups with traditional and contemporary sounds, the spirit of homosexuality was prevalent.
The contemporary sound is much like the world. The music sound of the world is the means by which the doctrines of devils and seducing spirits may have a way in.
Now this isn’t to say that all of the people associated with contemporary music brought in much sin and heresy. But it’s to say that when we open our hearts to anything, it may not have come from God, and it serves as the catalyst for false doctrine.
Music emotionally disarms us. Then it turns into a spider’s web and when we’re disarmed, we’re exposed to doctrines that come straight from hell.
Music. Good music opens the door of your mind to receive something in the heart.
When you’re disarmed, you’re vulnerable. When you’re not paying attention, you’re ready to receive something. If it’s not sound doctrine, you’ll be deceived. Most spiders stay in the middle after weaving their web. They wait for the slightest touch of the web.
As soon as they see that you can’t escape, this when they move in to completely cover you in their new spindle of web, and return to the center. They wait for others to be caught in their web.
The worship experience and encounters have brought in tremendous atmosphere’s. In many places, the sacred has departed and exciting hip hop or rock and roll sounds entered.
Is the Lord really there?
Many people will argue that He’s there. But look closely at your life. Look closely at the fruit of your life. Look closely at your obedience to His Word. The true measure of a worshipper is not the atmosphere but the obedience to His Word.
In Revelation 4, they cried “Holy, holy, holy.”
Are we holy? To cry “holy” can’t be done with active sin in our lives. Are we living revolving door sinners or are we repentant sinners, allowed into His presence by the blood of Jesus?
Are we sacred in our approach to the Lord?
Is it righteous? If not, when we worship, it’s not done in spirit and in truth. We’re lying to ourselves and pretending that we’re yielding our bodies as a living sacrifice.
But Paul tells us how to yield our bodies.
“…Holy, and acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service.“
Then what are we taught after praise and worship?
Are we taught to live holy before the Lord or are we receiving doctrine that we know is bringing a question to our minds? We wrestle with these questions because “The Spirit wars against the flesh and the flesh wars against the Spirit, and these are contrary to one another….”
1 John 3:19-22 (NKJV) “And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.
Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.“
We wrestle because conviction hits the heart. As in 1st John, does “…our hearts condemn us?
If our hearts condemn us, it’s for a reason.
Our alleged worship isn’t authentic and we need to receive the chastisement of the Lord to get it corrected so that when we present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, we have confidence.
We all want to experience God and encounter God, but we can’t do it knowing that we’re not pleasing to Him. And we can’t allow ourselves to join the band wagon of many tares among wheat that bring in world class music and musicians without pealing back the layers underneath the intent of the music.
Many songs from Hillsong, Elevation Worship, Bethel Music, Jesus Culture, among others, sound so great. Such music emotionally carries us away, but our spirits are vulnerable.
You should see the list of their teachings and see if it agrees with Scripture.
Anyone can weave the Word of God together to make the Bible say anything. Be a Berean in Acts 17:11. Then investigate what they believe with the fruit that it bears. If they’re a good tree, they will bear good fruit.
If they’re a bad tree, they’ll yield bad fruit. As Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruit.”
Then it’s a matter of Biblical consistency. 100 out of 100. When anyone misses it just once, give them no quarter. No excuses. God is the Only One that’s perfect. He will never tell us to do something and it never or stops coming to pass.
When you read the lyrics, we see that many of them sound like a sexual love song to a boyfriend or girlfriend.
The translators had a difficult time with the Song of Solomon, but they’ve concluded that it’s an intricate and intimate part of Scripture because of the love of God towards His people. There’s words in the Song of Solomon that will make many people blush, however the intent is clear that God wanted us to know how much He loves His people.
Kept in its place as part of the Poetic literature department of OT Scripture, it shouldn’t be exploited, suppressed, or avoided.
In Revelation chapter 4, and John chapter 4, the standard of worship is firmly established.
Don’t get trapped in the web of worship to the point that we create that kind of worship we want to the kind of god that we want that never demands and commands His people to worship Him in spirit and in truth, as well as in righteousness and true holiness.
“Pursue peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man could see the Lord.”