The Temple in Jerusalem
Referring to the Temple in Jerusalem, Tim Keller says, ‘The Temple was to be the center of a ‘world-winning worship’ (Worship by the Book, p. 218).
Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him;
tell of all his wondrous works!
The psalm instructs the people of God to tell the nations about the wonderful works of God and to sing praises to him. These simple instructions, if followed, makes worship well-rounded.
The Well-Rounded Worship Service
Well-rounded worship includes two plains: (1) the horizontal plain and (2) the vertical plain.
Worship on the horizontal plain, speaks to people. Worship on the horizontal plain edifies the people who are there—that is, they are taught the truths of God and his marvelous plan of salvation and sanctification. Psalm 105.2 instructs Israel to ‘tell of all (God’s) wondrous works’ to the peoples of the world. Telling involves teaching. Israel was to teach the nations about God.
Worship on the vertical plain speaks to God. Worship on the vertical plain gives all the glory to God, praising his name and adoring him as God. Psalm 105.2 also instructs Israel to ‘Sing to (God), sing praises to him.’ Singing is an important way that believers glorify God.
On the horizontal plain, the people are edified by the words of the hymns, by the prayers of the people, by the liturgy of the sacraments, and by the preached message and the proclamation of God’s holy word. On the vertical plain, God is glorified in the hymns we sing, the prayers we offer, the sacraments we celebrate, and the sermon preached and his word proclaimed.
Both elements must be evident for a worship service to be well-rounded. If the people are not nourished through the proper teaching of the truth, then believers go away hungry and emaciated and, even more tragically, non-believers go away starving with no hope of eternal life. If God is not glorified through the praise and love of his people, then holy worship has not occurred.
Teaching the people who are present and glorifying the living God go hand-in-hand in the worship service.
Jesus Christ Replaces the Temple
The old, physical temple in Jerusalem (the building, the system of sacrifices, the laws that governed how the ceremonies were to be conducted) has been replaced by something better, Jesus Christ. Now the worship of God is not limited to one place (the Temple in Jerusalem) and one time (the Sabbath); since Christ has risen and is in heaven, worship is everywhere and always.
‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’…But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
A Testimony to the Power of God-glorifying Worship
A young man from a privileged family was living a life of reckless abandon—his nights were filled with drinking, partying, and carousing—when he woke one morning and remembered that it was Sunday. Dim memories of going to church as a child nudged him to go to church. But since he wasn’t familiar with any churches in his neighbourhood, he entered the first one he came across.
Entering the sanctuary, he was struck by the worship of the congregation. He intuitively sensed that the guest of honour that hour was God himself. The transcendence of the moment pierced his heart.
Tullian Tchividjian was impacted by the place of honour which God had in the worship service.