For most of my life, I’ve attended what I would consider to be serious-minded, theologically robust churches. The ministers of these churches often impressed upon us the need to prepare ourselves to enter the worship service with a sense of reverence appropriate to coming into the presence of a majestic and infinitely holy God. Every worship service began with a call to worship from the Psalms. The Word was then read and preached, hymns were sung, prayers were offered, and the Supper was attended with a deep sense of reverence.
I think the emphasis on the need for reverence was good. However, as I look back, I wonder if something important was missing from those services. The ministers sometimes gave the impression that if we are to come into God’s presence reverently, then we must do so with something of an austere demeanor. But that’s not the picture of worship the Bible gives us. The infinitely holy God commands His people to come into His presence with great joy and thanksgiving. What sort of God commands His people to worship Him with jubilant thanksgiving? Yet we find such commands sprinkled throughout the Psalms.
Psalm 95, one of the more sobering of the worship Psalms, begins with the psalmist calling the people of God into the presence of God:
“Come, let us shout joyfully to the LORD, shout triumphantly to the rock of our salvation! Let us enter his presence with thanksgiving; let us shout triumphantly to him in song” (vv.1–2).
What better way to worship of our Creator and Redeemer than to begin by joyfully and gratefully praise Him for our salvation in Christ. We have peace with God through Jesus. His sacrificial death has rescued us from the clutches of Satan and redeemed us from sin and death. Our future is as bright as the promises of God are sure.
The grace of God in the gospel is so spectacular that Jesus says “there is joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). If there is joy in the heavenly worship room over the grace of God bringing a lost sinner home, then there also should be great joy in the presence of God on earth as those same redeemed sinners gather to worship the One who has redeemed them. In light of these precious truths, we gladly “enter his presence with thanksgiving” and “shout triumphantly to him in song.”
Written by Nick Batzig