Tonight I will have completed a series of 21 lessons with our youth focused on the attributes of God. One of the books I found to be of great assistance was John MacArthur’s God: Coming Face to Face with His Majesty. This has since been republished under the title Our Awesome God.
What a joy it was to rediscover many of God’s attributes in preparation for each of the studies. From God’s omnis (omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience) to His grace, mercy, goodness, immutability, faithfulness, wrath, sovereignty, glory, and holiness—to name only a few. Indeed, our God is an awesome God.
Dr. MacArthur in the final chapter of his book asks, “How can we prepare ourselves to worship God in an acceptable way?” He then unpacks from Hebrews 10:22 a checklist of four essentials for the believer in preparation to worship.
The passage reads in the NASB, “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
FOUR ESSENTIALS FOR WORSHIP1
The verse begins with the phrase “let us draw near.” MacArthur points out that this is a call to worship from the pages of Scripture. “Acceptable worship does not happen spontaneously. Preparation is essential.” And so it should be the desire of all believers to worship God with a true and right heart—for that is why we have been redeemed.
But specifically, how is it that we can draw near to God with the right motives? Here are four biblical essentials to help us answer this question of great importance:
1. Sincerity: worship with your whole heart.
We are to draw near “with a sincere heart.” Our heart is to be devoted to glorifying God. It is hypocritical to be worshiping God when we really are apathetic or preoccupied with self. God wants us to worship Him with our whole heart.
2. Fidelity: worship with assurance of faith in Christ.
We are to draw near “in full assurance of faith.” The Hebrews were clinging to Old Covenant forms of worship, but the New Covenant made it clear there were to be no more ceremonies or sacrifices. Each person had to be willing to say, “I’m coming to God in full confidence that I am no longer under a system of ceremony. I come fully by faith in Jesus Christ.” We too are to be fully assured that God accepts our worship because of our faith in Christ.
3. Humility: worship with awareness of your unworthiness.
We are to draw near to God “having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience.” That is, we are to come to God with the knowledge that we’re unworthy to be in His presence. The only reason that we can come to Him is because of the blood of Christ, which was shed on the cross to cleanse us from our sin.
4. Purity: worship with a clean heart.
Before we approach God, we’re to have “our bodies washed with pure water.” That refers to a daily cleansing. Before we can worship, we have to deal with any known sins in our lives through confession (1 John 1:19). Even though our hearts were cleansed at the cross, our feet still pick up the dust of the world from day to day.
Each and every time we worship, we should prepare our hearts to come near to Him. Now that we know these essentials (or perhaps you’ve been reminded)—write them down in your Bible. Then, before spending time with God, review them until they have been memorized: sincerity, fidelity, humility, and purity. For this is how we are to draw near in sincere worship to our awesome God.