This book is a good critique of our modern ideas of worship by setting forth the truth in Scriptures about the right way to serve God. Many people are idolaters, or at least worshipping in an idolatrous way, perhaps more so than we would have thought. "Fundamentally, idolatry is thinking thoughts about God that are untrue of Him, or entertaining thoughts about Him that are unworthy of Him." Macarthur spends some chapters going through the Trinity, and showing from the Scriptures that correct worship involves a correct knowledge of God. Muslims, Buddhists and other faiths not solely focused upon the Bible as God's Word(the Old and New Testaments) are not worshipping the true God, as they have an incorrect knowledge of who He is. People who do not acknowledge Jesus as one with the Father are rejecting who God is and His salvation. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me."(John 14:6 ASV) "Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.."(Joh 14:9 ASV) Peter speaking of Christ said: "And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved. (Act 4:12 ASV) Salvation is not found by worshipping any other god other than the God of the Bible.
"It is significant that Jesus spoke of truth, not music, as the distinctive mark of true worship.(John 4:23-24)" And yet nowadays, music and ecstatic feelings are regarded as the height of worship, if not the only true worship. And then there are others who equate Christianized Old Testament practices as worship(sacrifices = sacraments, alters, priests, atmosphere, Church building = the temple). MacArthur takes these ideas to task with the Scripture's definition of worship stating that, "Some would insist that any kind of sincere worship is acceptable to God, but that is simply not true. The Bible clearly teaches that those who offer self-styled worship are unacceptable to God, regardless of their good intentions." He shows that the Israelites, in making their golden calf, seemed quite sincere in their actions, and even equated the calf with God not with false gods, "And he received it at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it a molten calf: and they said, These are thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To-morrow shall be a feast to Jehovah. (Exo 32:4-5 ASV Emphasis Added) God threatened to completely annihilate them for it(Ex 32:9-10) but had ordained that Moses would plead for Israel. Many of them were still killed. Sincerity is not worship in and of itself. God defines what worship is, not us.
"Music and liturgy…cannot make a non-worshipping heart into a worshipping one. The danger is that they can give a non-worshipping heart the sense of having worshipped." "Worship is a response to truth." States MacArthur. As Christians, we worship God by believing what He says, in His Word, and by obeying what He says. We can, and ought, to worship Him everywhere and all the time. And we ought to worship Him as He says we are to worship, not what seems more worshipful to us. We do not need to add liturgical aspects to our service, or define practices by the Old Testament. Macarthur uses the example of the Hebrew Christians written to in the book of Hebrews: "To worship God the Hebrews had to say no to the old covenant and its ceremonies, sacrifices, symbols, pictures and types. The old was gone - it was set aside. A new and better covenant had come, and they had to be willing to come to God in full confidence of the revealed faith of the New Testament. The New Covenant, in contrast to the Old, is not a system based on ceremonies, sacrifices, and external obedience to the law. Its truth is not veiled in types and figures."
As with any book, there are things that I do not agree with that are stated, but I do not see the need to address them here, as they do not affect my recommendation of this book.
Thanks to MoodyPublishers for sending me a free review copy of this book! (My review did not have to be favorable)