New Covenant Worship for New Testament people
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Virtual Home Church GUIDELINES

In the Old Testament, a handful of priests, Levites, and choristers led the congregation in worship.

Unable to directly approach God for themselves except in prayer, worshipers depended on them to connect with the Lord in a religious experience.

That was then; but Christ has opened up a new and living way into God’s presence (Heb. 10:19, 20)––granting His followers direct access to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). The symbolic priesthood of Israel always pointed past the limitations of the Old Covenant––to the unprecedented priesthood of all believers. Serving under Him as the High Priest over God’s house, believers are now, “a holy priesthood,” that “offers up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5). As the writer of Hebrews urges us, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Heb. 13:15).

New Covenant Worship

Worship that honors the priesthood of all believers and encourages everyone to interact directly with God throughout the service, under God’s obvious control

Explained

The writer of Hebrews deliberately said this to eclipse the Old Covenant mantra, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and come into His courts with praise” with a newer, grander experience in the church. Just as Christ has a priesthood that outlasted Aaron’s, so His followers have a priesthood that survived the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple. Peter’s holy priesthood is “a spiritual house” made of “living stones” ––a new dwelling place for God made of consecrated people that replaced the Jerusalem Temple. Christ’s followers are the Temple of the New Testament.

Evaluated

In spite of this, most of today’s churches continue to worship God as if they still lived under the Old Covenant––depending on a handful of platform people to connect them with the Lord in a religious experience. Instead of urging everyone to make direct contact with God through Christ, they virtually deny what Christ won for us at the cross and deprive His New Testament “kingdom of priests” their bloodstained privileges.

Illustrated

So, we follow the Psalm 95 model for worship. Though the author does not mention his name, Heb. 4:7––in connection with a quote from Ps. 95: 7, 8––credits this song to David. An appeal to worship the Lord probably spoken by a priest or Levite at the temple in Jerusalem, it is––in the mouth of our High Priest––a call to approach His and our Father––expressed in three phases:

(1-2) A call to worship with joy (Praise and Singing)

(3-5) Explanation of his greatness

The community of the faithful should worship the Lord because He is the great King who, unlike local gods, rules over all creation.

(6) A call to worship with reverence (Expressions of Respect)

(7a-c) Explanation of our privileges

The community should also show Him reverence, because we are the people He has gathered from the world, like sheep in a flock.

(7d) A call to obey (Appeals for Loyalty)

(8-11) Explanation of its serious implications

The community should cap its worship experience with expressions of undying loyalty to the Lord, that last all the way into the Kingdom.

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