The Erosion Of God-Centered Worship


Soli Deo Gloria: The Erosion of God-Centered Worship
Wherever in the church biblical authority has been lost, Christ has been displaced, the gospel has been distorted, or faith has been perverted, it has always been for one reason: our interests have displaced God's and we are doing his work in our way. The loss of God's centrality in the life of today's church is common and lamentable. It is this loss that allows us to transform worship into entertainment, gospel preaching into marketing, believing into technique, being good into feeling good about ourselves, and faithfulness into being successful. As a result, God, Christ and the Bible have come to mean too little to us and rest too inconsequentially upon us. God does not exist to satisfy human ambitions, cravings, the appetite for consumption, or our own private spiritual interests. We must focus on God in our worship, rather than the satisfaction of our personal needs. God is sovereign in worship; we are not. Our concern must be for God's kingdom, not our own empires, popularity or success.

Thesis Five: Soli Deo Gloria
We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God's glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone. We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self- fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.

Source: The Cambridge Declaration


Nichole said…
I saw an illustration of this at church this Sunday. I have a little boy that is nearly 7 years old- I expect him to stand by himself through church, keep his hands to himself and a variety of other things that should be expected of a child that is growing up. I have a three year old that I hold from time to time- I have different expectations for him since he is younger. I saw a mother across from me holding her son that is nearly 8 years old- like I hold my 3 year old.

Seeing this post it dawned on me- that is exactly what is happening to the church today. For various reasons we have allowed culture to shape the church. Instead of growing in faith we sort of hold back. Kind of like it’s okay to “be saved” for the sake of going to heaven- but that entire surrender- “WHOA be careful there- let’s not go too crazy!” There’s more I can elaborate on that but that sort of overlaps the discussion on nominal Christianity.

1 Cor 13:11-12
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

1 Corinthians 3:2
1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.

Hebrews 5:11-13
11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
1 Peter 2:1-3
1 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Though- there’s many within the church today that are content being pew Christians. They “put their time in” at church on Sunday- or a few more times throughout the week- but outside the church you can’t see any difference- there is no “set apart-ness” in the lives of these people. I believe part of the reason for this sort of slide toward secularism is in large part because the church in generations past has just sat back and let it happen. I know within my family for the last 2 generations for sure they have been fairly passive and sort of “play” church to a degree.
Until I got to Bible College I really had no understanding of what the Apostle’s Creed, a spiritual discipline, laziness, greed, gossip, pride, envy, controlling anger, selfishness.

Sometimes with my kids they get to this place of “I don’t want to [pick up my mess]” or whatever the case may be. Sometimes they need a little influence of discipline to “help” them want to do what they are supposed to. There are children I know who do not have parents who discipline them or help them along as they should. Within the church we have gradually done the same thing, if we have this sort of childish attitude with life- that affects everything- even our life in the church.

If we in whatever form of leadership- keep the church sort of held back in a sort of infancy. I just heard something that made me think- sometimes even technology- though it can be very good- can also be a significant hindrance as well.

I have seen more than one church where the Spirit of God was moving in great ways- and the church leaders- board members etc- were like “nope we can’t have that going on”
Thanks for you posting Nichole.

There is definitely a spirit of secularism that is influencing the church today. However, the spirit of immorality is not the only threat on the gospel. A subtle threat of moralism has also crept upon the church and is many times being proclaimed in many pulpits as the gospel rather than Christ-crucified. The Cambridge Declaration condemns blatant secularism but also condemns the counterfeit gospel of moralism.

We need to keep in mind that 'growth' in the Christian life is not mainly a growth of moral improvement. In other words, we don't measure Christian maturity by how moral we are. Rather, growth in the Christian life is growth 'into' Christ. The Hebrews 5 passage that you quoted is an appeal for the church to move on not to better morals but to move on into the depths of Christ.

Frankly, the more that God pulls me into the depths of the Word (i.e. Law & Gospel), two things happen: 1) I realize every day just how sinful I am. In fact I would argue that as we grow in this Christian faith we continually grow in our understanding of our depravity... just how sinful we are, just how deceptive our sinful nature really is. From 'our perspective' in Christian growth we don't see ourselves as getting better and better everyday but realize everyday just how sinful we are... Christian growth from our perspective has quite the opposite effect; the Law continually reveals how sinful we really are... it actually seems as if we are getting worse 2) The second area of growth happens as we ponder this Gospel of Grace... as we are impacted by the reality of our sinful nature we are floored by the power of the Gospel that forgives, cleanses, etc... we are impacted by the reality and the depth/richness of the Gospel for us. We are humbled, driven to gratitude, driven to thankfulness in this Gospel; a gospel that is vast and all encompassing for us.

Paul's words in 1 Timothy 1:15 capture 30 years of Christian growth in the Apostle Paul's life... "The saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost."

Couple of posts that cover this are: