What can Genesis chapter four teach us about New Testament worship? Quite a bit.
Discerning and applying the truths of that passage to how we approach our King was one focus of a sermon Anthony Mathenia recently preached at Christ Church New Albany. We decided to have Anthony on the podcast to share his notes on the passage with you. (Link to Anthony’s sermon under Show Notes.)
If you have been through either of the Behold Your God studies, you are familiar with Anthony. But his role in Media Gratiae is much more than being in front of a camera. Anthony was one of the first board members of Media Gratiae. Outside of his service to Media Gratiae, he is an elder in Christ Church Radford and a board member of HeartCry Missionary Society.
Anthony’s sermon and this podcast ask a simple question: How does God want to be worshiped? It would be one thing if God never proclaimed how He desires to be worshiped. But, fortunately for us, He has not been silent on the issue. Throughout Scripture, God makes clear what worship He will accept and what worship He will reject. The fact that God rejects some worship should be a sobering reality that drives us into the Bible to learn what is acceptable to our King. While external elements are important, they must be accompanied by a heart of faith to be accepted by God.
0:00-7:00 Matthew introduces Anthony and shares the strong connection Anthony has to Christ Church New Albany. Matthew also introduces Anthony’s sermon. (A full list of the Scriptures and the link to Anthony’s sermon are under Show Notes.)
7:000-12:00 Matthew defines and describes the Normative and Regulative Principles. Every single church is an adherent to one or the other of these. Anthony distinguishes between the two and explains why he and many other Christians have the conviction of following the Regulative Principle. Matthew also brings in the historical perspective by reading from the Second London Baptist Confession.
12:00-19:00 Many people, including Anthony, grew up in a Normative environment. Matthew asks him what counsel he can offer to those who are only beginning to ask the right questions when it comes to corporate worship.
19:00-22:00 The center of the issue with the Regulative Principle is not just that churches have all the correct elements in worship. At its core, it is an issue of faith. Anthony elaborates on this point because it was one of the emphases in his sermon. He explains that the difference between Abel's and Cain’s offering was not simply one of meat versus plants. It was essentially one of faith and obedience.
22:00-26:00 One thought Anthony mentioned in passing during his sermon that caught Matthew’s attention was the pain that Eve must have endured. She lost one son to murder and another to his punishment. Anthony shows how Eve’s two sons represent the two types of people that exist: those who have faith and those who do not. And these two types coincide with one group who is accepted by God and one group who is rejected.
26:00-31:00 Nothing angers the self-righteous more than being told their worship is not acceptable to God. It happened with Cain and it can happen with us. But when God does the great work of opening our eyes to see His loveliness, we delight to come to Him in humility.
31:00-36:00 Matthew speaks directly to those who, wether in ignorance or conscious choice, follow the Normative Principle. He carefully explains that we are not calling them followers of Cain. He asks that they seriously think through these things. Anthony says we must give credence to the fact people are indeed saved in the midst of Normative practices. However, that cannot keep us from examining everything we do through the lens of Scripture.
36:00-42:00 Anthony points out the incredible display of God’s mercy after He rejected Cain’s offering. God tells Cain his countenance will be lifted if he will hear and obey the commands of God. This applies to us as well. When we are downcast, bitter, angry, or anxious, the solution is obedience. But if we refuse and choose to walk in our own way, sin is crouching at the door and its desire is to destroy us. And sin will destroy us if Christ does not rule us.
In lieu of a Supporter Appreciation Episode, we encourage you to take time and listen to Anthony’s sermon, Worship Warnings.
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Anthony’s sermon, “Worship Warnings”
UPDATE: After we released this podcast, a great resource was published by Sam Waldren, The Regulative Principle of the Church. We highly recommend it.
1 Samuel 13
1 Timothy 4:12-16
1 John 3