Imperfection in Worship

Dear Reader,

Thanks to Berean Wife I discovered this quote by Maxwell Nicholson:

“Even our repentance needs to be repented of and our very worship needs to be forgiven.”

This quote helps me make sense of two issue which have long bothered me. Both have to do with how our church worships. If you have read my other posts, you know what we sing the Psalms in worship exclusively. This is done from conviction that they are the Word of God and were given to His people for this purpose. We would no more sing a hymn in worship (and by this I mean formal, corporate Sunday morning worship) than we would preach a sermon from a book by Calvin (though we love Calvin and quote him and study his works at other times).

Despite my commitment to psalm-singing though, I have always been bothered by the section on it in the Testimony of our church (the document that says what we believe) because it makes it sound like any other style of worship is false worship. And while I do believe psalm-singing is right, I have a hard time saying that all other worship in other churches I have attended or which my Christian friends attend is false.

The second problem  I have is that too often I think that the psalms we sing are just bad translations. Some go so far that I think they no longer are God’s Word. People who get very adamant about which translation of the Bible they read nonetheless sing psalms, claiming they are the word of God, which are very bad translations indeed. It would be as if our pastor preached from the New Living translation. He would get an earful about that. But we put up with poorly translated psalms all too often. 

What the Nicholson quote helped me understand with regard to both these  issues is that all our worship is imperfect. Even if we sang psalms and only psalms in the best possible translations, our worship would be imperfect because we are imperfect. Jesus tells us that we must worship in spirit and in truth, but this is something none of us can do in and of ourselves. Our hearts are not right. But, just as the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when our prayers are not right, so too I believe the Spirit, because of the redeeming work of the Son, intercedes and perfects our worship before the Father. 

So if the worship in your church does not include psalms, I would ask you to consider them as a better way to worship God because they are His own words. But I would not call your worship false any more than my own. All our worship is false in that we are not able to approach God as we ought on our own. And if too often I feel that my own worship is lacking because I don’t like the translations of the psalms I am singing, I know that my worship is even more lacking because of the deficiencies in my own heart. But all these lacks, God Himself makes up for us. The Son redeems us and the Spirit works in us so that though we in ourselves are lacking, our worship appears before God as acceptable because of their intercession on our behalf. 

Nebby

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