Monday, July 7, 2014

"Worship" by John MacArthur: A Review

Worship, then, is the essence of the matter. The proper response - the only righteous response - to the saving death of Christ, is a heartfelt expression of true worship. (58)

While in my office engaged in study for an upcoming sermon on worship it became apparent to me how neglectful I had been on the subject of worship. One helpful resource I turned to was Worship: The Ultimate Priority by John MacArthur.

Most of MacArthur's books are fairly strightforward. As the best bible teacher in the West today, MacArthur tackles important subjects of the faith and unfolds before the readers' eyes what the Bible - the entire Bible - has to say on that subject. Thus it is not uncommon to see MacArthur weave passages from both Testaments countless times on each page. MacArthur's goal is always to explain to the reader what Scripture has to say, not what he or anyone else thinks. This book falls well in that tradition.

The origin of the book, according to the author, is found in his own exposition of John 4 and he interacts with that text throughout the book. There, Jesus tells the hurting woman at the well that we must worship God in both spirit and truth. This book, in many ways, is an explanation of what that means.

A couple of brief comments regarding what stuck out to me. First, MacArthur dedicates a few chapters on central attributes of God that compel us to worship Him. Scripture is clear that encountering God as He is leads to genuine worship. Furthermore, we cannot worship God without knowing who He is. The attributes emphasized include immutability, omnipotence, omniscience, and holiness. No doubt if a Christian were to dedicate the rest of their lives just studying those doctrines, theology will become doxology and spiritual growth.

Secondly, MacArthur vigorously defends the regulative principle based on the doctrine of sola scriptura. Though I will deal with this in more detail at a later time and in another post, anyone who is familiar with MacArthur and his theology will not be surprised by this. I hold generally to the doctrine confessing its limitations. Nevertheless, it is central to MacArthur and this book.

Thirdly, perhaps what I loved most about this book, is that it is a book by one of the greatest Bible teachers of our time on worship. After spending years in academia studying theology, it is clear to me that many theologians know God intellectually but have not applied their theology doxologically. Intellectual faith can become a cold faith. What I love about this book is MacArthur's balance. Theology leads to doxology. Its as simple as that.

Finally, MacArthur emphasizes both corporate worship and worship as a way of life.  Worship, he says, ought to be outward, inward, and upward rooted in our understanding of God and redemption. He later adds:
The source of most of the problems people have in their Christian lives relates to two things: either they are not worshiping six days a week with their life, or they are not worshiping one day a week with the assembly of the saints. We need both. (142)
Ultimately, the book could be summed up in the first sentence of chapter four: Worship is not optional.(53) Indeed!


This book was given to me for free for the purpose of this review
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