If you've heard Pastor Alistair Begg before, perhaps, like me, you feel that it is almost worth listening to his teaching solely by virtue of the sound of his voice (i.e., sweet Scottish accent). But it is truly the content of what he says, and not the manner in which he says it, that draws me to listen, as rich theology is typically the norm for his sermons. Earlier today I caught one of his teachings on the radio, of which I wanted to share a portion. The full message, entitled "Examining Our Motives" (ID: 1052), is from a series on evangelism called Crossing the Barriers, and can be accessed at www.truthforlife.org. The section I wish to highlight, italicized below, is in no way exclusively restricted to evangelism, but rather relates in part to the core of life in Christ.
"A deep rooted concern for God's glory is the example of the Apostolic church. And right alongside that, that biblical evangelism never puts a full stop after conversion, but regards conversion as a prelude to worship. 'Now, where do you get that from?', says somebody. Well, right from the words of Jesus when He spoke to the lady at the well, when He was involved in personal evangelism, if you like. You turn to it in John chapter 4 and verse 23. And Jesus makes clear to this lady, who's trying to sidetrack Him concerning the discrepancy between Samaritan and Jewish worship, and He says 'listen, lady, the time has come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.' So, here's the deal tonight: the Father is seeking worshippers. God does not need us; there is no gap in God that we must fill up. God is entirely Self-existent. But God has purposed that glory should come to His name, and He is seeking worshippers. So, when we go about the business of evangelism, we are aligning our wills with the God who is seeking others to add their voices to His song. Therefore, the evangelist should look beyond the benefit which comes to the convert who is saved to the glory which comes to the God who loves him. And, finally under this, worship expresses itself in witness, and witness expresses itself in worship."
When we worship God (in evangelism or in praise or in any area of life), is our motive such that we are incorrectly (and vainly) trying to fill in gaps of which God really has no need?
Or, when we worship God do we humbly bow before His presence knowing that, even in our gift and sacrifice to Him, we are indeed being filled by Him?
The Father seeks worshippers to worship Him in spirit and in truth, for there is no higher Good with whom we may have communion, and He desires our good. Indeed, "Man's chief and highest end is to glorify God, and to fully enjoy him for ever" - and this in Christ and by virtue of His death and resurrection (The Larger Catechism of the Westminster Assembly, Question 1).
(Also with regard to motive in evangelism, Pastor Begg proposes another pair of poignant questions later in the message on a somewhat different topic, but wholly worthy of contemplation (may God search and know our hearts!): Do we love people because we want them to get saved? Or, do we want people to get saved because we love them?)
The Larger Catechism of the Westminster Assembly. (1998). Glasgow, Scotland: Free Presbyterian Publications. (Original work published 1648)