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Part of series, “What Is Holiness? – Volume 2”
We are going to proclaim now John chapter 4 verses 23 and 24.
“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.”
Amen. Now we have been talking about holiness. I feel we’ve only just touched the margin of a vast ocean, but we have at least got to the margin. And in my final talk this evening my theme is that when you come in contact, or become aware of, or have a revelation of the holiness of God, there is only one appropriate response and that is worship. Worship is the response to God’s holiness. And without a revelation of God’s holiness, really we cannot have worship. We can have a song service, but we do not enter into worship until we have a revelation, however inadequate it may be, of the holiness of God. And the holiness of God is not explained. It can’t be defined. It can only be revealed. There are two passages in the Scripture, one in the Old Testament and one in the New where the word holyis applied three times to the Lord. No other adjective is applied three times to the Lord. It is unique. And in each case the person who became aware of it received it by revelation.
I want to read first of all the passage in Isaiah chapter 6 beginning at verse 1.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.
Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings; with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.
And one cried to another and said:
“Holy, holy holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”
And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
So I said:
“Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips.
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The LORD of hosts.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar.
And he touched my mouth with it, and said:
“Behold, this has touched your lips;
Your iniquity is taken away,
And your sin purged.”
Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying:
“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
That passage is very meaningful to me because the first time I went to a Pentecostal service, and I’d never been in such a thing before and I was coming from a background of philosophy, I had this one question. Does he really know what he’s talking about? And he took this text that I’ve read and when he got to the words, “I am a man of unclean lips dwelling amidst a people of unclean lips:” something said to me, “No one ever described you more accurately than that.” Because I was a soldier in the British Army and I don’t think there can be any group of men anywhere that better fit the description of a people of unclean lips. And I was just as unclean as any of them. So after that he had my attention. I didn’t know what he was talking about but I realized he did. And that was the door that opened to me to bring me into salvation.
I feel God wants me to give this personal testimony. I didn’t intend to do it, but... The preacher had previously been a taxi driver which is different from the kind of people I listened to at Cambridge. Although he started from this text, he didn’t stick with it. He was one of those preachers who moved up and down from the Old Testament to the New and back again, and I found him hard to follow.
But he got to the place where he was talking about David the shepherd boy and his relationship with King Saul. And he was conducting an imaginary dialog between King Saul and David, and he very rightly emphasized the fact that King Saul was head and shoulders taller than the rest of the people. So in his dialog when he was speaking as King Saul, he jumped up on a little platform, a little bench, and looked down at where he had been when he was speaking as David.
Well I was following this with some interest but in the midst of an impassioned speech from the bench as King Saul, the bench collapsed and he fell to the floor with a loud thud. Well if you had been planning to prepare something suitable for a Don from Cambridge, you would have left that part out. But the thing is in spite of everything, not because of everything, but in spite of everything I knew he did know what he was talking about. And furthermore, I knew that I didn’t.
Well he got to the end of this strange performance, and then every head bowed and every eye closed, I’d never been in a church where people did that. And then if you want this thing, whatever it was, put your hand up. And they had no background music, nothing. Just complete silence. And I sat there in what seemed a very long silence, and there were two voices, inaudible voices speaking in each ear. And one said, “If you put your hand up in front of these old ladies and you’re a soldier in uniform, you’re going to look very silly.” The other one said, “If this is something good why shouldn’t you have it?” and I was paralyzed. I couldn’t respond. And then a miracle took place. A real miracle. I saw my own right arm go right up in the air and I knew I had not raised it. And I was really frightened. I thought, “What have I got myself into?”
Well, that was all they were waiting for. The moment my arm went up, everything started moving again. I didn’t receive any counseling from the pastor, but a very kind elderly couple who kept a boarding house near the church invited my fellow soldier and me home for supper. And that was a very tempting invitation in the army. So we walked back together with them and this little lady of about sixty was telling me her experiences, and she described how her husband had been exempted from military service in World War I because he had tuberculosis. And I knew if it gained him exemption it must be a valid medical diagnosis. Then she said to me, “I prayed every day for ten years for God to heal my husband.” I thought to myself, “This is a dimension I have never even thought of to pray every day for ten years for something.” Then she said, “I was in the parlor praying, my husband was in the bedroom sitting up in bed spitting up blood,” and she said, “I heard a voice say, ‘Claim it.’ And I answered, ‘Lord, I claim it now.’” And at that moment her husband was completely healed in the bedroom. “Well,” I said to myself, ‘maybe this is what I’ve been looking for.” So that was my introduction to Pentecost.
Now let’s go back to Isaiah 6. It says he saw the throne and one who sat on it, and above it stood the seraphim. Now phimis the Hebrew plural, so they were seraphs if you want to put it in English. The word seraphis directly connected with the word for fire. In modern Hebrew a ______________ is a fire. So these were fiery creatures and each one had six wings and they were crying, “holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.” And to me there’s something about holiness that is fiery. I’m very interested in things like this.
The seraphim had six wings. On the other hand the cherubim that is spoken about in Ezekiel chapter 1 and elsewhere, had four wings. Now the seraphim overshadowed the throne of God. The cherubim, the cherubs were his, what would I say, his transportation. He traveled on cherubs. Wherever they went he went. Wherever he went they went. And it’s interesting, I didn’t intend to get into this but when I’m interested in something I can’t... The word ceruin modern Hebrew means a cabbage. And I always ask myself, “Well how come that the word for cabbagewas applied to the cherubs? And I believe myself, this is my belief, it’s because their wings came out from their body in the way the leaves of a cabbage come out from the stalk. So I find them extremely interesting.
Now, the behavior of the seraphim was noteworthy. Each of them had six wings. They used two to cover their faces, two to cover their feet, and two to fly with. Now covering your face and covering your feet is worship. Worship is always a posture of the body wherever you go in Scripture. And so they used four wings for worship, two wings for service. That’s the proportion in heaven. I believe it should be the same on earth. I believe we should give twice as much to worship as we give to service. And when we do that our service will be altogether different.
So that’s the Old Testament picture. But I want to emphasize the covering of their faces and the covering of their feet was worship. And I will show you briefly a little later that every word in the Bible for worship describes a posture of the body. There is no such thing as inanimate worship. It’s really a contradiction in terms. Worship is our response to the holiness of God. And if we have no vision of holiness we cannot worship. All we can have is a song service. And basically that’s all that most people have in most parts of the world today with some wonderful exceptions is a nice song service. Well, that’s all right. There’s nothing sinful about a song service, but it’s a great mistake to call it worship.
Now we turn to the New Testament and again the only word that’s applied three times to the Lord is the word holy. I love the book of Revelation. At one time I said to Ruth, “I just don’t understand the Book of Revelation. I don’t get much out of it. Let’s read it right through.” So we did. Then I said, “I still didn’t get much out of it. Let’s read it right through again.” And we did. The third time “the penny dropped,” as they used to say. You don’t even understand that, do you? You do. I mean something opened up and if I had to choose what passages I’d like to read, many, many times I’d choose Revelation 4 and 5 because this is a scene of worship in heaven. Let’s read it.
After theses thing I looked, and behold a door standing open in heave. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold a throne set in heaven.
The first thing he saw was a throne. Then when his eyes had adjusted to the throne he could see the person who was sitting on the throne. Now Ruth and I counted just the other day I think how many times the word throneappears in the eleven verses of chapter 4. It’s fourteen times. So this is the throne room of God. This is the place from which the universe is governed. And what goes on in it? Worship. It’s out of worship that the universe is governed. Let’s look at what the living creatures – they’re not called either seraphim or cherubim in this place. Well let me read a little bit.
Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads.
And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
That’s the last visible presentation of the Holy Spirit and it’s seven lamps of fire. In Hebrews it says, “Our God is a consuming fire.” Not is likea consuming fire, but isa consuming fire. That’s not God the Father, that’s not God the Son, that’s God the Holy Spirit. He is a consuming fire. And when the fire fell at the sacrifice of Elijah on Mount Carmel the whole people fell flat on their faces shouting, “The Lord He is the God.” They fell on their faces because they were not present before a spiritual manifestation, they were present before God Himself, the third Person of the Godhead, the One who is a living flame of fire. And then verse 6.
Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.
The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle.
We really don’t know if whether these are the same seraphim that are mentioned.
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!”
And whenever 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 crown before the throne, saying:
“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And Your will [or because you wanted them] they exist and were created.”
You know the best reason for anything for being the way it is that’s the way God wants it. And so they were there because God wanted them there. When you’ve come to that that’s the final reason. There’s no further reason to look for.
So how did they worship? They fell down before the throne. They had a revelation of the holiness of God. And I believe that’s essential for us if we are to have true worship. It is a response to the holiness of God. No revelation of holiness, no worship. You can have a nice song service. You can have praise. But worship you cannot have without a revelation of holiness. And when we know the holiness of God in any measure whatever, the appropriate response is always worship. And in Psalm 29:2 and elsewhere it says,
...Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
Holiness is spiritual beauty. It’s not physical beauty, but spiritual beauty. And I have been amongst so many different kinds of Christians that I find that sometimes the people who outwardly have very little to commend them, have more of holiness. I think of one or two Down Syndrome children that I’ve known, and in a way they’re simple. But when it comes to knowing God in their own way, they know Him much better than most of us. They have the inner beauty of holiness, and it often goes with outward problems, physical weakness, distortion. But if I had to choose and God hasn’t told me to choose, I’d rather have the inner beauty of holiness than any kind of elegance or strength or power. I covet that beauty for others, for myself.
Now I want to say something which I’ve said before, but there’s very little, I’d say there’s very little real response to it, and I’m going to try to show you out of Scripture briefly. Every word for worship in the Scripture describes a posture of the body. There is no such thing as motionless worship. There’s no such thing as worship in which our body makes no response. In many, many churches and some of us have been in some of them, they have the morning worship service. What happens? People walk in, find a pew, sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up, sit down, stand up and walk out. And they call that worship. It’s not even the beginning of worship. It has nothing to do with worship. Worship is intensely active. I want to give you just a few examples. Starting at the top of the body and working down, worship is bowing the head before the presence of God. In Exodus 4 verse 31 when Moses came to the elders of Israel and told them that God was going to deliver them, in the last verse of Exodus 4, verse 31.
So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.
So, one posture of worship is bowing your head.
Then one which many of us are familiar with is lifting up our hands. Let’s look in Psalm 63. There are many passages we can look at.
Psalm 63 verse 4,
Thus I will bless You while I live;
I will lift up my hands in Your name.
I don’t... ever thought about this, but far the most famous pictorial representation of prayer is the praying hands of Albrecht Durer. Has it ever occurred to you he’s not depicting the lips? He’s depicting the hands. Worship really has not too much to do with the lips. It has something, but with the hands. I don’t know whether you know the, I just read recently the story about that. There were these two German friends, believers, and they didn’t have enough money for each of them to go to the art school, so Albrecht Durer went and the other worked to make enough money to pay for His friend’s education. And then when Albrecht Durer became a famous painter, he went back to say thank you to his friend. And his friend’s hands were gnarled and twisted and worn by the work he’d been doing, and Albrecht Durer took those hands, and they’re the ones he painted and called “Praying Hands.” So there’s a romance behind that. But you see, our hands are very expressive. There’s many different ways we can use our hands. We can hold our hands like that.
We just recently were in India, the country of my birth. I don’t know whether you know, but they had the most beautiful custom. When they say good-bye they stand in front of you and bring their hands together. I tell you they were beautiful people, those Indian Christians. They were jewels. I was proud of the land of my birth when I met them.
So we can do that. We can lift up our hands like that. Really in a position of receiving whatever we need. We can lift up our hands like that and in a sense direct our prayers. There are many different postures of the hands and arms, all of which are part of worship.
And then in Psalm 22 verse 29 it says,
All the prosperous of the earth
Shall eat and worship; [this is the kingdom of Christ on earth.]
All those who go down to the dust
Shall bow before Him,
So worship is also bowing the upper part of the body, which is amongst Orientals, the Japanese and the Chinese. It’s the way you acknowledge somebody. You bow before them. And then there is kneeling in 2Chronicles chapter 6, the description of Solomon dedicating his temple. 2 Chronicles chapter 6, verse 13. We’ll have to read from verse 12. This is the dedication of Solomon’s temple.
Then Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread out his hands [that’s another way of worship]
For Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits broad, and three cubits high, and had set it in the midst of the court; and he stood on it, and knelt down on this knees before all the congregation, and spread out his hands...
So he both used his arms and his legs. He knelt down and he spread out his hands. And then there’s Daniel, chapter 6 verse 10. How many of us are like Daniel? We wouldn’t give up our prayer time even if it meant going into the lion’s den. I’m not saying I would, but at least that’s a way to measure how much prayer means to you. You know the story. The decree had been written and signed by the king that if anybody prayed to anybody but the king of thirty days he was to be cast into the lion’s den. Now when the decree was written, this is what Daniel did, verse 10,
Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, [which is the way all Jews pray until this day. They always face Jerusalem, o matter where they are in the world.] with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day. And prayed and gave thanks before his God as was his custom since early days.
So Daniel had a regular practice of prayer. And he prayed kneeling down. Both Solomon and Daniel kneeled down and stretched out their hands. And then in Ephesians 3 and verse 14, Paul says,
For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
So bowing his knees was an attitude or worship. But the final word, thereal word for worship in Hebrew _________________ which means “falling prostrate on your face.” That really is theword for worship. And that is thefinal supreme act of worship. I think I commented here, I smile when I hear Christians in church singing that thing that says “let angels prostrate fall” and they wouldn’t dream of doing it, but it’s a good enough for angels.
Let’s look at a few examples. I have to say that I don’t know how close you’ve ever been to God if you’ve never been on your face before Him if you look at all the people... Let’s look first of all at Abraham in Genesis 17 verse 3. Beginning at verse 1,
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before me and be perfect.
And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.”
Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him,
So Abraham’s response to the direct presence of the Lord fall on his face. Then in Leviticus chapter 9 verse 24, after they had made the prescribed sacrifice in the tabernacle.
Fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
Actually I don’t believe they could remain standing. They were in the immediate presence of God, the Holy Spirit. And then in Numbers 20 verse 6.
So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and they fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them.
And you can continue all through the Scriptures. Joshua, when the captain of the Army of the Lord appeared to him he fell on his face. And then went Elijah called down fire on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel, the whole nation shouted. “The Lord He is the God” and fell on their faces. There was not one person left standing. That’s the response to the presence of God.
Ezekiel, we’ll just read the one passage, chapter 1 verse 28.
Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. So when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard a voice of One speaking.
Those are not all the Scriptures, but I believe I have moved from the head to the lowest parts of the body. Every major part of the body is involved in worship. And when we stand or sit rigid and motionless I really don’t know how much real worship we’re doing. I’m not trying to persuade anybody to do anything contrary to what you feel free to do, but I have come to see myself that worship involves the whole being, spirit, soul and body. It’s the most total response to the Lord that there is.
Now I want to lead into a time of worship because I feel it’s appropriate response which is worship because I feel it’s appropriate that we end this teaching on holiness by the appropriate response which is worship.
Now I just want to speak about access into the presence of the Lord and then worship in His presence. I just want two Scriptures in the Psalms. Psalm 100 verse 4.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
So that is theappointed method of approach into the presence of God. You pass through the gates with thanksgiving and through the courts with praise. And I don’t believe there’s any other way access into the presence of God. You can be like the lepers and stand a long way off and cry out for mercy and He’ll have mercy. But that’s not what He wants. I believe there’s just one appointed way. It’s thanksgiving followed by praise. And when we thank God, we’re grateful for what He’s done. When we praise Him, we’re acknowledging His greatness, but that’s not the end. But a lot of people stop there. They have a wonderful song service and that’s it. They’ve got into the courts, but what about being in the courts? What are you there for? You’re there to worship. So if you stop short of a praise song, well you’ve had a good time, but you haven’t really found the heart and purpose of God.
There’s one other Psalm that I want to use and then I’ll be finished. Psalm 95. I believe this describes our progression into the presence of God and a response to the presence of God. Psalm 95, I’m going to read the first five verses.
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
[You know what shout means? It means shout. Yes.]
let us come before his presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shoutjoyfully to Him with psalms.
For the LORD is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry ground.
So you come into the Lord’s presence with thanksgiving, thanking Him for what He’s done, with praise, praising Him for His greatness, and then you’ve got one more step which is worship. And it’s very interesting in this Psalm, verse 6, at the end of the thanksgiving and praise,
O come, let us worship [and do what?] bow down;
[And do what?] let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
You see, you cannot have worship without your body being involved.
For He is our God,
And that’s how we acknowledge God, the One we worship is our God. If we worship money, money is our God. If we worship success, success is our God. But the way you acknowledge your God is worshiping Him. That which you worship is your God.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.
Now if you’re reading your text if you’ve got it before you, and if you’re not don’t worry. It’s very interesting. There’s what the American’s call the period and we call the full stop. But it’s not the end of the verse. Normally you’d think well the verse should end there, but it doesn’t. And it starts a new thought,
Today if you will hear His voice:
And I believe that’s when we hear the voice of the Lord, it’s when we’re worshiping in His presence. I have often had different messages or revelations. Sometimes I wonder was that really from the Lord. But when I’m in the presence of the Lord in worship I have real confidence. There’s no other voice to speak to me then but the voice of the Lord. “Let us worship and bow down.” You see there’s not a single place where it speaks of worship without a response of the body. And some of us have bottled up. Our spirit wants to worship but our body is not responsive. And you need to break lose. I’m not telling you to do it here tonight. I’m not just saying what you should do, but bear in mind that until your body responds to the Lord, you’re not worshiping.
Sometimes it’s so frustrating. We have this beautiful praise service and then, you know, we close the meeting. There’s something in us that’s just crying out for more. It’s the presence of the Lord. It’s being in direct contact with the living God, and offering Him the only thing we have to offer, our worship.
I wanted to ask the Lord that by His grace He will enable us to enter into His presence. And when we’re in His presence begin to worship.