Pilgrim Worship

2014 Linger Conference

The gospel has the ability to penetrate any culture in the world. It is good news for all people. However, as Christians grow in Christ, they grow more and more at odds with their culture, like aliens in a foreign land. In this 57-minute session from the 2014 Linger Conference, John Piper works from Hebrews 13:14–16 to reveal how Christians should worship in a world which is not their home. John is Chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, MN. He has authored over 50 books including Desiring God, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, and Let the Nations be Glad.

Hebrews 13:14-16 (ESV)

14For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.15Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.16Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

There are two principles that exist simultaneously in Christianity:
  • The Indigenous Principle
    Anyone from any culture can become a Christian, and thus a Christian is at home in every culture.
  • The Pilgrim Principle
    All ethnic cultures, as a result of sin, are fallen, meaning that Christianity is at odds with them. Thus, Christians are truly never at home in any culture.

John gave several examples of how the two principles exist in tension through various types of church architecture (cathedral vs. store front church), and various kinds of instruments used to bring worship to God (pipe organ vs. guitar). In your life, do you tend toward one principle over the other? How are you indigenous? How are you pilgrim-like? How do you maintain a proper tension between the two?
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John observed that the Bible strikes the strongest note on the pilgrim principle, expressing his belief that Christians are at a greater risk of becoming too at home in this world than they are of becoming too alien.

In what areas do you struggle with being too at home in your culture? Where, specifically, do you see the values of your faith at odds with the values of your culture?
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Four Marks of Pilgrim Worship from Hebrews 13:14–16:
  1. Jesus Christ is the mediator of all worship
  2. Praise to God is the continual expression of the lips
  3. Practical evidences show that your treasure is in heaven, revealing God is worth more than the world
  4. God takes pleasure in it because He delights in people who delight more in Him than in the world

On a practical level, how do you give acknowledgement to the reality that every act of worship you perform is done through Jesus? How can you let Christ's sacrifice on your behalf frame any sacrifice of praise or sacrifice of service that you offer to God?
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When is it most difficult for praise to God to be on your lips? Why is He worthy of your praise, even in the most difficult times?
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List a few practical evidences that your treasure is in heaven. Are there other evidences in your life that would seem to indicate that you value things on earth more than God? If so, how is God infinitely more valuable than those other things?
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Describe what delight in God looks like in your life. What increases your pleasure in Him? How can you seek to fuel your delight in God?
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Ultimately, this world is not your home. You are a pilgrim. Know that as you stand at odds with your culture, Christ stands as the great mediator, offering intercession to the Father on your behalf. Let praise flow continually from your lips. Live generously, not clinging to material wealth, but showing the surpassing value of God in heaven. Delight in Him, knowing that fulness of joy is found in Him alone.

For information about the next Linger Conference, visit www.lingerconference.com