In this excerpt from a Ligonier conference message, Alistair Begg reminds us of the importance of knowledge in worship.
“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven not built by human hands.”
We know…we know.
The Christian faith engages our minds. This is something that we ought to keep reminding ourselves of, so that we don’t allow our minds to fossilize, and that we continue to be sharpened and to make progress.
I was at a church in California just a few weeks ago now—back in August I think it was, time flies—and I went there. I had a Sunday free and I was staying with friends, and I went down to the church and I was excited because I get to go now, and I don’t have to do anything at all except do whatever they tell me to do. And so I sat there and I waited for it to begin. And it was quite fascinating actually. They had big screens, and they had a clock on the screens. And when I got in it said “5 Minutes” and I had only been in about 2 seconds, and you won’t be surprised, it said “4 Minutes, 58 Seconds.” And then it counted down, and eventually it counted down, “10, 9, 8, 7, 6…”. And just right on the moment of time, the band began…and I was waiting for David Letterman at that point. I didn’t know what was going to happen next. And then eventually the band did what it did, and then the person who was to lead the praise, his opening gambit was this, “Hey! How do y’all feel this morning?” Well that was enough for me. We could have had the benediction right there that was so good. I thought, what kind of New Testament question is that? How do y’all feel this morning?
If I told you how I feel, especially in light of the last 5 minutes, you would question whether I was even a Christian at all. So don’t ask me that question. Ask me what I know. Ask me what I know. Don’t ask me what I feel about myself. Ask me what I know about God. Ask me what I know about His Word. Ask me what I know to be of verity that can deal with my soul. That’s what I need. Don’t make me sing songs about how I feel. Don’t! These silly repetitive songs again and again, ‘I just want to praise you, lift my hands and say I love you, you are everything to me’. Goodness, at half past eight on a Sunday morning I’m barely ambulatory. I can’t start there. And you want me to say that? I just kicked the dog. I don’t even have a dog. I got in an argument with someone because they took my parking space. I spilled my coffee, I didn’t read my Bible, I’m a miserable wretch, and now you want me to start here—‘how do you feel?’ I feel rotten, that’s how I feel! What do you got for me? The answer, nothing. I got nothing for you.
That’s why you have to get yourself under the control of the Scriptures. That’s why it is what we know—the verities of the Scriptures which fuel our hearts and our emotions, and lead us on. Hence, ‘praise my soul the King of heaven, to His feet thy tribute bring. Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven. Who like thee His praise should sing?’
Okay, now we’ve got something to sing about, for we have been reminded of truth. You have been ransomed; you have been healed; you have been restored; you have been forgiven. You’re looking away from yourself now. You’re looking out and to Christ. And it is in this that we have something that fuels our praise.
Knowing vs. Feeling in Worship , Copyright 2013 by Alistair Begg, Ligonier Ministries