The Wake-Up Call
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
God continues to issue a wake-up call to the church. No, I’m not a prophet. I haven’t received a new revelation from the Lord! There are no new revelations; the canon of Scripture is closed! God’s wake-up call was issued through His prophets in the Old Testament and His wake-up call to the church is likewise clear and simple. He has called His people to know Him! The church is commanded to be holy. Her primary responsibility is to teach God’s people the truth of who He is. God declared what He required. He told His people to do what is right, to love kindness and to walk humbly before Him (Micah 6:8). Each action—doing what is right, loving kindness, and walking in humility—requires knowing God as He has revealed Himself in His word.
The church fails in her purpose if she turns to pleasing men rather than God. If the church ignores her responsibility to teach the revealed character of God, then her members will not reflect His holiness.
Corporate Worship is the primary means by which the truth of God is declared and learned and demonstrated by God’s people. It is also the first place in which the church can be seen to either submit to God or pander to man. Some churches have chosen to design worship services to “attract people to God”. As well-intended as the motivation may be, the result is more people but less godliness. Jesus said that the Father is the seeker of worshipers (John 4:23). God has also revealed the content of worship, referred to as the biblical elements of worship.
The biblical elements of worship are reading Scripture, singing psalms and hymns, offering prayer, preaching the word, giving tithes and offerings, confessing the faith, and observing the Sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. These elements are ordained by God for His glory and our enjoyment of Him.
Conversely, man’s desire to serve himself is as old as the Garden. There is a narrative that records a truly “seeker sensitive” worship service emphasizing man’s desire to please himself.
Aaron, Moses’ brother, was motivated by the people to design a “seeker sensitive” worship service to satisfy the people’s felt needs rather than to honor God. Exodus 32 is the record of this worship service and verse 6 is especially telling. “And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” The people celebrated the satisfaction of their needs, when in fact they had become idolaters. The Apostle Paul quoted Exodus 32:6 in his warning to the church about the certain judgment of God against this kind of self-serving idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:6).
Psalm 50 is another example of God’s view of self-serving, empty worship. God indicted His people calling them “my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice” (Psalm 50:5). He then proceeded to tell His people to keep their useless rituals. He reminded them that He didn’t need any bulls to be sacrificed. He owned everything. He declared that those who call upon Him are to “offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Psalm 50:14).
The church of the Old Testament demanded that Aaron make gods for them. God judged them. The people of Psalm 50 received God’s rebuke and He judged them for their false worship. Yet in the light of God’s warning, many churches persist in structuring worship, ministry, and teaching around what people feel they need. Much of the church is being led by culture rather than by God.
Yes, the church meets needs. But what people feel they need is not what they need. The biblical elements of worship were revealed by God so that His church would engage Him and experience His holiness. Using His principles will lead men and women to be impacted by His word in concert with His Spirit. As a result, His people will desire to reflect the truth of God in this lost world. God promised to meet our needs. The Apostle Paul said, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).
May all who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus answer His wake-up call to know God and thereby live as a reflection of His revealed character. Seek a church that is faithful to God’s word, and invest in His Kingdom through that church.
The Wake-Up Call