after revelation comes consecration

July 2002

Let us receive the light
And we will receive God!
Let us receive the light
And become disciples of the Lord!
For he promised the Father:
I will reveal your name to my brothers.
In the midst of the congregation I will sing of you”.

Sing, O Word, his praises
And reveal God, your Father, to me!
Your words will save me
And your song will teach me.

(From a hymn by early church father Clement of Alexandria, written at end of 2nd century A.D.)

The journey of worship begins by seeing the Lord. God spoke to Abram, and he left his homeland to find the land of promise, worshipping along the way. Abram had to see God before following him. Similarly, God spoke to Moses through the burning bush, and so began the journey of delivering a nation into freedom and worship. Revelation precedes consecration.

William Temple, a former Archbishop of Canterbury, penned a beautiful definition of worship: “To worship is to have our conscience quickened by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God and to devote the will to the purposes of God”.

The final result of worship is to devote one’s life, energy and plans to God’s purposes.

Consecration follows revelation. You see it in all the spiritual giants of the Bible. After encountering God, Abraham goes to a distant land. After seeing God in the burning bush, Moses confronts Pharaoh and delivers a nation. After seeing the Lord exalted in the temple in the midst of worshipping angels, Isaiah says “I will go for you”. After being knocked off his horse by a light from heaven, Paul quickly becomes the most influential preacher of the gospel. Seeing God must lead to action. Otherwise the language of worship is just theoretical platitude.
New priorities

I was never a great risk-taker as a schoolboy. I was quiet, responsible, and conservative in my day-to-day choices. But when I came to know God, I was transformed. Nothing else mattered except following God. I had never had a good reason to do anything radical in life. But now I had met the God who created the universe, and he was making himself known to me. I was determined to please the Lord in every way I could, no matter what he required. God was beginning to form me into his worshipper.

Thus began my re-education regarding the priorities of life. As a high school student I had studied hard to earn grades that would qualify me to enter a prestigious university. Enrolling at UCLA was the first step in establishing a successful career that would bring fulfillment and a good salary. First I would choose an area of study, then I would work my tail off to make good grades. After college, I would find the right kind of job and then continue to work hard and succeed, securing a comfortable lifestyle for myself.

Before meeting Jesus, I basically had a humanistic worldview and a strong work ethic. I had learned that I could use my abilities to work hard and accomplish whatever I wanted to. I saw God as someone who loved me from a distance. I knew he genuinely cared for me, but I didn't think he intended to become involved in my day-to-day choices in life.

The Apostle Paul described in very black and white terms the difference between Christian and pre-Christian existence. To the church in Ephesus he writes: "Once you were darkness, now you are light in the Lord" (Eph. 5:8). Quite literally, it’s the difference between night and day. He says of himself: "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." (Gal. 2:20a) That's pretty radical. In spiritual terms, we become a new person when we receive Christ. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Co. 5:17).

Part and parcel with becoming a new creation is coming under the ruling force of the kingdom of God. We who have a new nature in Christ “do not live according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit” (Ro. 8:4). Now that we are light in the Lord, we must live as children of light, having nothing to do with the deeds of darkness. As a teenager in high school, my mind was given over to sensual lust. Though I was casually acquainted with Christianity, I wasn’t directed and motivated by the life-giving Spirit of God. I was living according to my sinful nature, and my mind was set on what that nature desires.

Because the Spirit of God wasn’t filling me daily, there was a power vacuum that was filled by self-centered desires. If we are not yielded to the overtures of the Holy Spirit, we default to the sinful nature. The only way to overcome sin is to live by the Spirit. It’s not enough to dabble in Christianity. It’s a way of life. It’s a constant surrendering to an authority higher than ourselves. This is what Paul means when he defines Christian worship as “offering yourself as a living sacrifice” . In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul describes their conversion as ‘turning from idols to serve the living God’. This turning (Greek – epistrephein) signifies a ‘total reorientation of life in abandoning idolatry for the worship of the living God’ .

Even after we’ve received Christ, we must constantly give ourselves over to him, not allowing any part of our body to become a tool of wickedness. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25).

When I met Christ, I came to know him as a loving Lord and Master who wanted to guide me and speak to me daily. My life was filled with prayer. I knew his presence in a real, tangible way. The idea of receiving direct revelation from God seemed crazy but it was happening all the time. As I looked into the scriptures, I saw that my dialogue with God was corroborated in the daily life of the early church leaders.

Just as God spoke to Paul to tell him which cities to visit and which ones to avoid, God still speaks today. Just as God gave Peter a vision of animals being let down from heaven in a sheet, God still gives visions today. And God was giving me visions! Just as God told David where to live, how and when to go into battle, just as he spoke to Philip to “go down the road towards Gaza”, so he speaks today.

On one weekend not too long after meeting Christ, I took some time to pray and fast. God showed me through dreams and visions that I would someday be involved in a ministry that would be influential. God was up to something; he had significant plans for me. I didn’t know what those plans were, but I knew I had better listen up.

In regards to a career, it was no longer up to me to choose my way. Sure, God would lead me to do something that was good for me. He would lead me into something that would ultimately bring fulfillment. But the fruit would come only after I let the seed fall into the ground and die (John 12:24). I came to grips with the fact that he was the boss. Because I had experienced his love firsthand, I could trust him to lead me. I knew he had better plans for me than I could ever conceive. But that didn't mean it was always going to be easy. The operative words for many years were to be: patience and surrender. I was learning to worship God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength.

1. The Macmillan Book of Earliest Christian Hymns, Edited by F. Forrester Church and Terrence J. Mulry, Macmillan Publishing Co., New York, pg. 85
2. Source Unknown?
3. Romans 12:1.
4. David Peterson, Engaging with God, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Mich., page 167. (See also Acts 14:15; 15:19; 26:18, 20).