For Ellen White the meaning of true worship today should be marked by a biblical simplicity and some basic biblical principles.
First, God alone should be the object of worship (Exodus 20:3-5; Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 269). In a world in which not only idols of wood and stone are worshiped, but in which human accomplishments, pride, and money are made gods, we are reminded that we are to “worship and serve the Lord God, and Him only. [...] Anything that is made the subject of undue thought and admiration, absorbing the mind, is a god chosen before the Lord” (Sons and Daughters of God, p. 56; see also Evangelism, p. 133).
A second biblical principle underlines the futility of exterior forms of worship deprived of biblical meaning and foundation (Exodus 20:4-6, 23). Today, many are tempted to look upon “outward forms” and ceremonies as sufficient indicators of true worship (Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 48). For Ellen White, however, such “cannot be substituted for inward piety” and obedience to Christ (BE, June 1, 1887).
Jesus explained that the spiritual renewal occasioned by the new birth experience is essential in true worship (John 3:5- 8; DA 189). True worship is thus the fruit of the work of the Holy Spirit upon a person’s life; it is the result of conversion and inspired by a “true knowledge of Jesus Christ” (John 17:3; Medical Ministry, p. 112).
A fourth biblical principle highlights the close relationship between worship and obedience to God’s will. Genuine worship cannot be separated from a genuine Christian life. “True worship consists in working together with Christ” (Matthew 25:34-40; James 1:27; RH, August 16, 1881).
Ellen White’s foremost concern which shaped her counsels on worship was to help Christians be ready to “appreciate a pure and holy heaven, and be prepared to join with the worshipers in the heavenly courts above, where all is purity and perfection, where every being has perfect reverence for God and His holiness” (5T 500).
Denis Fortin is the Dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrew University.
This was originally published in “Best Practices”, a free email newsletter from the North American Division Church Resource Center.
Elder John Graz recognized with First Freedom Award
On January 13, 2011, Dr. John Graz, Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association who directs the Adventist world church’s department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) received the Counsel on America’s First Freedom’s “National Award” for his contribution to advancing the cause of religious liberty. He has launched a successful series of festivals of religious freedom around the world, including the First World Festival of Religious Freedom held in 2009 in Lima, Peru, with more than 45,000 attendees. The Counsel on America’s First Freedom exists to promote religious freedom and owns the site where Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom was enacted in Virginia—the statute that was the precursor of the religion causes in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Dr. Graz was praised at the event for his tireless efforts to promote religious freedom in many areas of the globe. During his acceptance speech, Dr. Graz noted his family’s rich history of defending human rights, including the example of his grandfather who perished in the Dachau concentration camp where he was imprisoned by the Nazis for his role in helping Jews and French resistance members escape from occupied France to Switzerland. He also outlined his dream of active organizations in every corner of the world ensuring that the promise of religious freedom becomes a daily reality.
Each January, the First Freedom Center acknowledges extraordinary advocates of religious freedom with the First Freedom Award granted this time to three champions of this cause: John Graz, Asma Jahangir, and J. Brent Walker. Graz, who also serves as church elder at the Spencerville Seventhday Adventist church in Maryland, U.S.A., is the first Adventist leader to receive a First Freedom Award.
“We are very proud of Dr. Graz,” notes Dr. Ted N. C. Wilson, the President of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. “His contribution to the field of religious freedom is outstanding, and it is not surprising that his stature in the field has been recognized at such a prestigious event. He is a great resource for our church; indeed, he is a great champion for all people of faith.”
James Standish and Alfredo Garcia-Marenko
RON CLOUZET TO HOLD NET 2011 FOR NORTH AMERICAN DIVISION
Prophecies Decoded begins September 30
Does the past reveal your future? It’s the question that will attract the attention of all who receive a handbill for NET 2011: Prophecies Decoded. It’s also the question that will be answered nightly September 30—October 29 for those who choose to attend.
Ron Clouzet, director, North American Division Evangelism Institute (NADEI), is working with his team to offer a full message resource for every church in the United States and Canada. Following the Share the Hope initiatives in 2009 and 2010 where pastors, and subsequently lay leaders, were encouraged to hold meetings in their communities, the Division is providing a satellite reaping series in 2011 to assist with local church outreach and evangelism.
Just prior to the NET series, September 30—October 29, Drs. Ron Clouzet of Andrews University and Michael Hasel of Southern Adventist University will co-host a 5-night archaeology seminar—Astonishing Discoveries in the Land of the Bible. The strategically planned mini pre-NET series September 14-18 is expected to create community interest which will support the evangelistic series.
Prophecies Decoded will be uplinked live from the Madison Campus Church, Nashville, Tennessee, and can be downloaded from Hope Church Channel. It is not too late to register to join the team of host churches. Register to host the event by calling 855-NET-2011 or online at http://host.propheciesdecoded.com where additional information and resources including print materials can be found for event planners.