1 Chr. 25:1 π Mt. 13:24-30 π Mt. 13:36-43 π Mt. 13:41-42 π Mt. 13:49-50 π Mt. 20:25-26 π Jn. 4:23-24 π 1 Cor. 14:26 π Eph. 5:19
Unquestionably God has gifted certain people with musical talents and He expects those whom He has so gifted to use them in praising and worshiping Him. But just as the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues can be abused by publicly speaking the tongue out of order, so too can the gift of musical talent be exercised out of order.
The first thing we need to notice is that there is no "worship leader" position to be found in the pages of the New Testament. Rather the New Testament speaks of singing one to another ( Eph. 5:19 ) and of each one having a song to share. ( 1 Cor. 14:26; top ) The fact that these passages conflict with and would not fit into our modern religious practices of "church" and "assembly" shows that our modern notions are quite different from those of the New Testament writers.
Because there is no "worship leader" in the New Testament, we can know for certain that, when Christ builds His ekklesia (with worship as an integral part), there will be no worship leaders. We find that difficult to picture, but it is a Scriptural truth nonetheless. And because there is no "worship leader," anyone who finds himself leading "worship," needs to be careful to impart to those he leads the ability to worship God. - that is, he needs to quickly work himself out of a job. If, after the people he is leading have had time to grow up spiritually, if the same person is still leading the same people in "worship," then something is out of order. Either the "worship leader" is trapped in an unScriptural position he cannot escape from or he is holding the people captive under his personal lordship, something the Lord Jesus said we were to never do. ( Mt. 20:25-26; top )
The question is: What is worship? Worship is not necessarily singing - though that is what we, after centuries of the traditions of men, which have produced hymns, psalms, worship songs and ditties of all varieties, have come to believe. Worship, speaking primarily now of its verbal aspects, is nothing less than the immediate response of the human spirit after contacting the living God. If there is no contact and God evokes no response from the human spirit, there is no worship. There may be praise, for we may indeed instruct our souls to praise God, but there will be no worship. Soulish praise is not what God is searching for. Jesus said, "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." ( Jn. 4:23-24; top ) He did not say that God was searching for those who would praise Him with their souls but rather those who would worship Him with their spirits in truth.
To praise God with the soul is simply to speak or sing descriptions of God that the mind knows or can read and then mouth - often quite religiously throwing them at God as appeasement to cover over our most-often disobedient lives. This soulish praise indeed stirs the emotions and strengthens the will to be more religious, but it rarely, if ever, rises to the level of spiritual worship. As this is the common experience of most who attend "church" because they think it to be God's house, most religious people will be greatly offended at the things beings said here. That which they call "worship" is one of the most sacred of their cows and to touch it is to directly touch their facade over the lie that they - and not God - shall be the one who determines what actions they will and won't take in their expression of "worshiping" God. When we determine the way in which we will worship God, and leave God's instructions out of the equation, then we worship the I-god and not the One True God, the Lord Jesus Christ. To worship the One True God, our spirits must catch some glimpse of Him and pour forth only in response to Him and His touch. If we remain in charge of how and when we will "worship" God, we will never worship God - only ourselves.
Where there is a "worship leader" long past the time when instruction and demonstration of worship is needful, several evils are committed. First, the "worship leader" no longer instructs the congregation on how to worship - he or she obstructs the ability and desire of the Holy Spirit to individually lead each person in the congregation. When the Holy Spirit has to lead by proxy, that is, when He must lead the people through the person of the "worship leader," then the people are no longer taught to hear the Holy Spirit and follow Him. Rather, they are instructed in the notion that they need someone else, some human leader, to hear the Holy Spirit for them and direct their actions. When the "worship leader" position is firmly entrenched, then the people are actually taught to be afraid of over-stepping their position as a spectator and will experience great trepidation at the thought of standing up and saying or singing a praise or worship to God. This is not worshiping God in spirit.
The second evil that is common where there is a "worship leader" is that those who are singing, supposedly to the Lord, sing words that are not expressive of their own experience with God or that are not expressive of their own current attitudes of the heart. The greedy man sings, "Lord, You are more precious than silver or gold..." The selfish man sings, "Only You, Lord..." The man who is downcast or brokenhearted sings, "Let us rejoice..." These are lies because they have no basis in the experiential reality of the one singing the song. This is not worshiping God in truth.
Those whom God has gifted with musical talent and ability face the difficult responsibility of submitting their talent and giftings to the leading of the Spirit of God. While they can indeed produce a pretty song that stirs the emotions, the Holy Spirit is not a necessary ingredient to their performance of "worship music." But for the people of God to worship God in spirit and truth, they must outgrow their need for a worship leader and they must learn to follow the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit both individually and corporately. Those who play musical instruments must follow the same Holy Spirit, learning to, as did David, prophesy on and with their instruments. (see 1 Chr. 25:1; top ) Until the instruments support the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing forth true worship from the people of God, those instruments are the very enemy of the work of God.
There is one more key issue we must address. True worship is only - only - in response to a direct contact of the human spirit with the Holy Spirit of God. This cannot be scheduled or programmed. It will happen when God makes it happen. It cannot happen just because some human desires it to happen. And it cannot happen by any activity of the soul - the mind, will and emotions of man - nor will the soul of man be the primary factor touched and moved by the act of worship. It is also quite unlikely that we will even be able, outside of divine revelation, to anticipate just what pure worship of God in spirit and truth really looks like. The one thing we know is that what we called "worship" within the man-made traditional "church" systems was a soulish expression laced with deception, hardly anything worth presenting to God though He, overlooking our ignorance and foolishness, did receive it quite graciously in times past as He waits till both the wheat and tares become fully mature. (see Mt. 13:24-30 ; 36-43; top )
Worship, the vocal response of the human spirit to fresh glimpses of God, will be an integral part of the righteously pure and spotlessly readied bride of Christ. But what we traditionally call worship is not true worship and it will have no place in the true body of Christ. Those who refuse to reject the traditional, soulish, religious expression of "praise and worship" so that they might enter into the fullness of worshiping God in spirit and in truth, may find themselves being taken out with the other false children and cast into a fire and burned. (see Mt. 13:41-42 , 49-50; top ) Those who find the courage to cast off religion and man-made traditions to embrace the movings of the Holy Spirit will be among those who find that they have a ready and welcome entrance into the kingdom of God.
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