|Volume 24 Number 8 August 2022
When I was a young boy, I learned about reverential worship through my Catholic upbringing. Worshipers entered the church building through a short foyer, finding themselves almost immediately in the sanctuary or the place of worship. Even before crossing the threshold separating the sidewalk from the interior of the edifice, each person quietly and reverently prepared himself or herself to arrive in what to him or to her was the equivalent of the throne room of Almighty God in Heaven. We felt as though we were in the very presence of God, Who deserved to arrest our complete attention along with our purposeful intention to worship Him. We strove to demonstrate our humility before and to express our awe of our Creator God. For the time spent there, our entire focus was on worshiping Almighty God.
The mechanism for fostering reverential worship, however, was of man’s design – a sanctuary. Under the authority of the Old Testament rather than under the authority of the New Testament, God did recognize a sanctuary (Leviticus 19:30), but He does not now authorize a holy place (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19). A sanctuary is “…in religion, a sacred place, set apart from the profane, ordinary world” (“Sanctuary”). As such, the sanctuary was always holy irrespective of whether worship were occurring. Despite the external encouragement to conduct oneself reverentially, true worship of God under Christianity demands of worshipers reverence toward Almighty God, even without an external mechanism. Nevertheless, “Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him” (Psalm 33:8 NKJV). “AWE The term refers to an emotion combining honor, fear, and respect before someone of superior office or actions. It most appropriately applies to God” (Holman). We ought to always approach God, but especially in our worship, “with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28).
For a moment, contrast taking on a reverential attitude in preparation to worship God with, on the other hand, boisterous commotion that has to be shouted down with the help of a public address system. Who could imagine God and Moses struggling to get the attention of Israelites at the foot of Mt. Sinai? Picture the following encounter between the people of God and Almighty God.
Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. (Exodus 19:16-20)
Are we taking God seriously enough when we assemble for worship? Is it possible that worship is just something we do – checking off the box on our checklist for Christianity? Christian worship must be more than simply something we do; we must not minimize the “spirit” in the exhortation of our Lord, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit [attitude or mental disposition] and truth” (John 4:24).
“Awe.” Holman Bible Dictionary. Nashville: Holman Bible P.,1991.
“Sanctuary.” Britannica. 2 July 2022. <https://www.britannica.com/topic/sanctuary-religion>.
Christianity was referred to in the first century as “the Way.” In fact, as Saul of Tarsus was still breathing out threats against the church, Saul went to the high priest and desired to go to Damascus and find those of “the Way” and bring them back to Jerusalem for trial (Acts 9:1-2). Several years later, Paul came to Ephesus and spoke boldly in the synagogue for three months, but some to whom Paul preached were hardened and began to speak evil of “the Way” (Acts 19:8-9). Of course, the insightful Bible student understands that “the Way” is none other than Jesus (John 14:6), and those who follow Him become part of “the Way” (Galatians 3:27; 2 Corinthians 5:17). “The Way” is used in contrast to all other ways! There is but “One Way” to please our heavenly Father. Sadly, today many believe there are many ways to please God, but that is completely foreign to the Bible. Becoming part of “the Way” occurs neither by chance nor by accident. Being in “the Way” requires thoughtful and scriptural obedience.
The Way begins with knowing. “It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me” (John 6:45 NKJV). Under the Old Testament, a person was simply physically born into a Jewish family and became part of God’s chosen race. However, becoming part of “the Way” is different (Jeremiah 31:31-34). One must come to the knowledge of the truth in order to be set free (John 8:32; 17:17). Those who become part of the Way must be able to give a ready defense as to what they believe and know (1 Peter 3:15). Further, part of this essential knowledge also involves knowing ourselves and checking our faithfulness to the Lord (2 Corinthians 13:5). Knowing comes only by hearing the Gospel (Romans 10:13-17), but just knowing is not enough.
The Way continues with growing. When the apostle Paul wrote to those of the Way in Corinth, he condemned them because they had not grown and matured (1 Corinthians 3). He later reminded these same Christians that it was past time for them to give up their childish ways and to become full grown Christians (1 Corinthians 13:11). The recipients of the letter of Hebrews were also condemned for a lack of spiritual growth.
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
Those of the Way produce “the fruits of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22-23) and continually add the “Christian graces” to their everyday faith (2 Peter 1:5-9). Growing is just as essential as knowing! Yet, those who follow the Way understand there is more.
The Way includes glowing. What we really are is written on our faces. Knowledge of God and His Word causes our faces to shine (Ecclesiastes 8:1). As Stephen defended the Way, those around him saw that his face glowed like that of an angel (Acts 6:15). Christians are beams of light in this dark world (Matthew 5:16; Philippians 2:15) as they glow and reflect the True Light (John 8:12). Others will notice when we truly have been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).
The Way involves going. Those walking in the Way (1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6) understand the great task that our Master gave to us (Matthew 28:18-20). It is our love for Christ that motivates us (2 Corinthians 5:14) to go, and we understand that if we do not go, the consequences are eternal (1 Corinthians 9:16). Our salvation and the salvation of lost souls demands that we go (1 Timothy 4:16). The earliest examples of our brethren walking in the Way show their willingness, even in the face of death, to go and to spread the message of salvation. “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4; Acts 11:19). I cannot faithfully follow the Way unless I go!
Being a part of the Way is the greatest privilege known to mankind, but there are responsibilities that come because of this privilege. The Way is not a sit down, get comfortable, go to heaven pathway. It begins with knowing, moves to growing, daily glowing and faithfully going. That is what the Way is all about. He Who blazed the Way is the Way (John 14:6), and those who follow Him, will follow closely, joyously and faithfully! Are you part of the Way?