Thursday, March 16, 2006
Before the Throne - An interview on worship with Ern Baxter.
It was noted before commencing this article that "Ern Baxter recently celebrated his fiftieth year as a pastor and teacher. During those years his ministry has been characterised by a deep insight into worship and an ability to lead others into the Presence of God". You will find a great deal of similarity between what Ern Baxter had to say on worship and what Terry Virgo wrote in his article - this is something I have come to see again and again in my reading.
Questioner: How would you define worship?
Baxter: Worship is really the occupation of our hearts with God Himself. It does not include prayer for needs and thanksgiving for blessings. In prayer, I'm taken up with my needs, in praise I'm taken up with my thanksgiving, but in worship I'm taken up with Him. Worship offers. Prayer asks.
Q: What kind of priority does the Bible give to worship?
Baxter: For a person who claims to be submitted to the Word of God, worship is not optional. Worship is a command or a demand. I see worship as a means of restoration. (1 Cor 3:18) As a person beholds God in worship with the enlightened enablement that comes from letting the Word dwell richly in him as he extolls God's virtues, His attributes, His excellence and His holiness as seen in the face of Jesus Christ, then that person is changed into God's image. That is true for the Church and for a nation.
The creative aim of worship is the total transfiguration of the created order, a process in whch the incarnation of the Word finds it's goal. I think that's the infinately practical value of worship.
Q: What adjustments do we need to make to fulfill what God watns from us in our worship?
Baxter: First of all, I think we need to have a good balance between the Word and the Spirit. We all have a tendancy to be partial to one or the other. We can talk about worship in terms that are probably accurate but if we don't enter into it in real, spiritual practice thne we're all Word and no Spirit and our worship is unbalanced.
God continues to be the God of majesty, might and glory and my understanding of God requires that when I approach Him I address Him with the spontaneity that the Spirit provides, but with the restraints that the Word prescribes.
Q: If we make worship a priority in our lives, what do you think will be God's response?
Baxter: The finest insights with which God has blessed me and to some degree others have come when I was worshipping. I believe that spiritual gifts, insights, revelations and illumination are all His response to a heart that maintains an attitude of worship. My experience has been that all worthwhile activity derives from worship.
In beholding God through worship we are attracted to Him and we desire to emulate Him and to move toward Him. I see in worship an encounter with God that is absolutely essential to finding His purposes for us and for experiencing the restoration that God intends for His people.
Article Reference List of this website available here.