Vertical and Horizontal (Wk 3 – Worship Matters)
Jason White






There is a vertical and horizontal aspect of worship. We worship a transcendent God who exists above and independent of His creation, but we are brought together as the Church for corporate worship. Jesus works through our horizontal relationships to express worship to God.

2 Peter 1:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Corinthians 14:26 – When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up…





Sermon Audio Transcript
So about four or five years ago, we decided that we were gonna go on a family vacation to Red River, New Mexico, there was a few other families that we joined with it was in the summertime, we had never been to Red River in New Mexico and the summer I'd been before and got to go skiing in the winter. But it was, it's a beautiful place in the summer. And we had a lot of fun. And these were close friends, and they had kids and our kids had a lot of fun playing together, hanging out, just doing all the stuff, right. But one of the days, the dads and the kids decided that we were gonna go on a hike. And so this one family who had been there before had been on this one particular hike before and, and it was a little bit of a challenge, maybe for some of the younger kids that were going to go, but they said it is worth it. Because when you get to the top of the mountain, there is this lake up there. And it is just breathtaking. And so it's a challenge, but it's gonna be worth it. And all the above. And so we loaded up the car, and we drove over to where the trail was going to start. And, you know, whenever I get there, the first thing I kind of noticed is, you know, I mean, it looks like, I gotta have something to draw with here. It looks like any other, you know, mountain, that's what every other mountain kind of looks like. Right? All right. And so we're going with that. And somewhere up here is this, you know, lake that we were trying to get to. But the thing that I noticed is that the trail that we were going to start at when we got here didn't really go up the mountain, it wasn't like vertical, you know, the first thing that I noticed was that it looked like it was going straight across. And then all of a sudden there was this switch back that looked like it come back this way. And then there was another one, and then it was doing this. And I mean, we just kept going like this the entire way until you got there. And it was the reason for that is because it was just too steep, you couldn't go straight up the mountain. And so you had to kind of go horizontally. But you'll notice as you were going horizontally left and right, we were still making our way vertically up the mountain as well. And it took a little bit longer this way. But it was certainly worth it. And it really was breathtaking scenery. Whenever we finally got there, there were a few stories, one in particular that I'm not going to share, but you'll want to hear at some point it because it doesn't really tie into things today, what I want you to just see, I mean, the picture I just want you to get in your head right now is that both things were in play, right, you see the horizontal aspect of the trail, and you see the vertical aspect of the trails. And they were both working together. And the reason that I want this image in your mind right now, because as we continue this worship matters worship series, what we're going to be talking about is how worship involves a vertical aspect and a horizontal aspect to it. And we talk I think about the vertical aspect of worship a lot. But I don't know if we talk about the horizontal aspect of worship enough. And so maybe some of you are a little bit familiar with it. Maybe this will be even brand new for some of you to think of it from this perspective, but it's all in God's Word. Now, I need to say this upfront, when I am talking about vertical worship and horizontal worship, especially in particular vertical, I don't necessarily want to imply and for you to get this image of in your mind, like, okay, God's way up there somewhere. And I'm way down here. And there's this huge gap in separation between us. Because if you've put your faith and trust in Jesus for salvation, then your sins have been completely forgiven. And you've entered into this spiritual union with Jesus, where you're one with him. And guess what, you can't get really any closer than that. I mean, if you're spiritually in Union together with someone where you're one with them, then you can't get much closer than that. But we did talk during the first week of this worship matters series about how God was not just an imminent God, not just where he had made himself near and come to dwell among us and in us, but that he's also a transcendent God that He exists above and high and exalted above us as His creation, He is independent of His creation. And because of that, worship, in that sense, is vertical, it glorifies the exalted one who exists independently of creation. And so I'm not going to spend a lot of time on the vertical aspect of worship. But I do want to remind you of just a few things that we've talked about already, and in particular last week when we looked at John chapter four, where g You just met with the Samaritan woman and had a conversation with her that eventually was about worship, and said, true worshipers will worship in spirit. And in truth, since God's essential nature is Spirit, then it follows that worship must be of a spiritual kind. And so the image that we kind of get from that would be something like this. God, who we know exists as a Trinity, which is God, the Father, God, the Son in God, the Spirit, right? Not three gods, three distinct persons, but yet of one essence, one God, God, the Father, God, the Son, God, the Holy Spirit exists high and exalted, and above his creation, right, he is independent of his creation here. But we also know that the son left the glory and riches of the Heaven, to be born into this world as a man, that he was born fully man, and fully God, sinless, and walked among his creation, sinless, until eventually, because he had no sin to pay for, he could take all the sins of the world upon himself to the cross, to pay the penalty for them. And of course, he did that he suffered, he bled, and he died on the cross for all of our sins, were told that he was buried, but then that three days later, he was raised from the dead. And then after spending some time here, and revealing himself to others after his resurrection, we know that he ascended back to heaven, right. But at Pentecost, we know something else happened that Jesus sent. The Holy Spirit. We talked about this a few weeks ago, in John chapter 14, where he would said he would send the helper he would sin, the spirit. And now when you and I put our faith and trust in Jesus, and we talked about this a lot last week, then something radically happens within us because we have a body, and we have a soul, and we have a spirit. Now the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. So our lowercase spirit plus capital S spirit, we enter into that spiritual union that we talked about. So the transcendent, God, who exist above and independent of his, I think I missed something in their transcendent somewhere, you get the idea. It's a lot of pressure when you have to spell in front of a lot of people, okay? Ah, but the transcendent, God made Himself near so near that he dwells within us and made us one with Him. Now, he's able to work in us and influence our emotions, and to influence our mind and our thoughts and our will to reveal truth to us, the spirit here, influences our emotions, our will our mind, then he can use our bodies or our voices and our hands and influence us to worship Him. And all that is expressed in this way, as the Spirit works in us and through us. It's expressed as worship, vertical worship to the transcendent, God who exists above creation. And so you see both aspects at play. At one time God is imminent, he is near he is with us, and even in us and expressing his life through us to be able to lift this vertical worship to God. So this is what we're talking about whenever we think of vertical worship, but here's what I really want to spend the rest of our time talking about. So if God is at work, reconciling people vertically to himself, if he existed high and above creation, right? And there's this barrier between us and him, which was sin, and He took care of all of that. And now the union has been restored between us. What I want you to see is that he also does this work of reconciling us together, horizontally through his finished work on the cross. And then through this horizontal work of us being united together in in this life together, he's at work spiritually in us to what vertically worship the exalted God above us, and these are both at play all of the time.Ready? Alright, well, let's dive into it. And let's see it in God's word. When you go to Peter, he gives us this image in this picture of this horizontal connection and reconciliation that happened The moment we say yes to Jesus and He gives us in analogy through a building, he says, As you come to him referencing Jesus, the living stone, notice it's capitalized. We're talking about Jesus God the Son, right? Rejected by humans, but chosen by God and precious to him. Now, he says, You also, here's what happens as you come to him and you put your faith and trust in Him for salvation. You also like living stones are being living, right? We weren't dead, we're now made alive are being built into something. What are we being built into a spiritual house, you can picture the bricks that are being laid and bricks are laid side by side and they're joined together and mortared together, right and laid on top of each other. We're being built together, there's a horizontal reconciliation and joining together that's happening for a certain reason to be a holy priesthood. Did you know you're a holy priesthood offering watch this spiritual sacrifices that are now acceptable? They're, they're acceptable now, to God. Why? Through Jesus Christ because he's the mediator, he's the one who's made this all happen. So you begin to see all of the the work, this is the church, this spiritual house is the church, not this building. The church didn't come to church this morning, right? The church came to this building to worship this morning. And here's why a little bit later, he kind of sums up what he's talking about here. And he says, But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, why? Why Peter, did you do all of this work of making us together, and all those so that you may declare the praises of him? What is that?Worship, you have been joined together as a spiritual house, as people united horizontally together in order to declare the praises of him to worship him. Why? Because he's the one who called you out of the darkness and into the wonderful light that you are in, in this moment. This is what he did, through His finished work on the cross, He reconciled us to Himself vertically, he joins us together horizontally in his work, and all of that to declare worship and glory and honor to his name. Now, if there's this horizontal aspect, then to worship, what does that begin to really look like? Peter kind of, again, calls this out and gives us this image and talks about how it's for this purpose of worshipping Paul, another New Testament writer, who also wrote to various churches, and we have those letters within the New Testament of our Bible. Paul was discipling, these new believers, the church, these people who had been uniting together, teaching them what happened to them, and he's writing about all the same stuff, hey, you've been joined to Christ, you've been joined to each other. And here's what this means. Here's how it plays out. In in some times, we get to see in very specific matters, even in the context of worship, for example, in First Corinthians, Paul's writing to them, and he's having to write some stuff about how this fleshes itself out in worship, because they're arguing about it. They're talking about their spiritual gifts, and how one does this and one does that and one's better than the other. And he's trying to have to correct them and all of this stuff. And by the time he gets to the very end of it, he makes application and here's what he says to them, when you would come together.This is what we call corporate worship. That's what we're doing this morning, when you come together as God's people as the spiritual house that you've been built into. Here's what happens practically. He says, first of all, notice this, each one does does each one mean just the pastoral staff. Does each one mean just the band up here? Right? Of course not. It doesn't mean just the people that are on the stage, right? Each one means each one. Every single one of us has a hymn or a lesson or a revelation or a tong, he's just listing out these different things that happen in the services and were happening in their services when they came together at the time. All right. And so he's given all these examples of how God works horizontally in and through All of the people to express vertical worship to Him in a practical way. And all these things here saying are done, why? For building up for edifying for building up the church. And so this is the discipleship, the teaching that Paul was having to give them and instruct them on. This word here in the original Greek building up is the same word that Peter used when he was talking about BIA Jesus building up the church. So in other words, we have both things at play. Peter says, Jesus is building up the church as people come to him. But then Paul goes on and says, somehow, the exact same thing, the exact same thing, but something very similar is happening, building up is happening, but it's done through what you and I are doing as the church. Jesus is building up the church by adding us into it. But then somehow, through the things that we're doing horizontally, the church is also being built up here. So my first thing to just call all of us to is this, did you know that you have a role in worship? I mean, we did talk about this a few weeks ago, and the difference between coming to view of performance and coming to worship, it's participatory, it involves participation. And that means each one of us walks in here with an attitude of Jesus, what role do you have for me in worship today? A lot of times, we probably come in and go, I wonder what the band is going to sing this week, one word the pastor is going to do this week. But how many of us walk in and go, what's my role, as we come together in corporate worship today, because that's what we're getting at, in this horizontal aspect of it. God is at work. And each one of us when we come together, the image of the house isn't the only one just want you to see this again, real quick. From him. Paul says it this way, the whole body. So now we have the image of a body, look at the key language again, joined united together, held together by every supporting ligament, that's us. So you kind of picture the horizontal and once again, builds itself up, same exact word in Greek that's written in those other ones there as what each part again, does its work, each part means each part, all of us, young, old men, women, whoever is in the room that has said yes to Jesus. Now, Paul goes on and uses this language, again, in another letter to one of the churches, right, we talked about this in our one another series not real long ago, and this exact same verse here. But Paul writes to them and says, encourage one another, and then build up one another that, again, is the exact same word that's used in all of those other ones that Peter did. And Paul used in all of these other words, so whatever, whatever Paul means, by this horizontal aspect of the roles that we play, you can see whatever he means by that is, at least related to this idea. Here. If you're going to write this together, and say, to encourage one another and build up one another, then you get the idea that these things are similar and related. And I, I don't know about you. But I've certainly seen this at play, when the Lord has been at work in that horizontal aspect of worship in my own life. And that vertical aspect of worship, let me give you just a few examples. There have been a number of times where I've come into a worship service. And there are things that I'm just dealing with. I mean, there are things that are going on in my life that may have been really difficult that week, or maybe it was just that morning. All right, in the Spirit is at work at me during that service, while maybe we're singing. And instead of leading me to sing, he's just nudged on my heart to kneel down and begin to pray about those really tough things that are going on in my life right now. lifting them up to him, trusting him with those things, asking him to work in a moment to show me what he's up to in my own life, or how he's gonna resolve those particular things. And so I've got my eyes closed, I've got my head down, and I'm not paying attention to anyone else. And there have been times in those moments where all of a sudden, I feel someone's hand on my shoulder. I don't know who it is. It's just another brother and sister or sister in Christ, and they had made themselves available to the Holy Spirit and said, spirit, how do you want to use me in this horizontal aspect of worship this particular week, and all of us Sudden they saw me in the Spirit said you go to him, You don't know what's going on in his life right now. But obviously, I'm dealing with something in it so much so that he's knelt down and praying about it. And I want him to feel that you are going to help carry his burden with him as another brother and sister in Christ. And the moment that I felt that hand, I knew that's what was happening, that someone was in this with me. And sometimes they knelt down close enough and just said, Man, Father, I don't know what Jason is going through. I don't know what he's talking about. But you just led me to pray for him. And I lift him up to you in this moment, and we just work in it. And do you know what that does to my spirit in those moments? fires me up, fire me up right nowwas encouraged. That was built up, I was being edified, because this horizontal aspect because someone else said, You know what I have a role in worship in this is my role right now to go and to be a part of this aspect of it. And all of a sudden, we're both being compelled to vertically worship the transcendent, high and exalted God above us, there been other times where the exact opposite kind of situation has happened, I'm seeing I'm sitting there and all of a sudden out of the corner, my eye catch someone else. And I know, like I mentioned to you sometimes that person may not have known what I was going through. But I know what those other people I know what that person is going through. Because they made it publicly known that they lost a father or a mother, they lost a child, they are dealing with cancer, they're struggling with their finances, a wayward child, I mean, something it's heavy, and you know, it's impacting them greatly. But what the Lord caught out of my eye and what he he's spurred, or what he was at work, and for me to notice over there was that this particular person was singing with everything that they've got, while we were praising the Lord, that they were raising their hands, and I'm all of a sudden now thinking, Oh, my gosh, I know how hard life is right now for them. And yet, Father, this is showing me that you are so faithful, it's reminding me that you are so faithful, because obviously you are at work in their life, to declare praises to you, and they're trusting you for what it is that they're going through, and how you're going to work and all of those things. And guess what that does in my spirit, now, all of a sudden, I'm standing up, and I'm singing a little bit louder. And now I'm raising my hands a little bit more, because now I'm thinking about what he's doing in their life, and how he's been so faithful to me. And that's all because of this horizontal aspect of worship, where he's using each one of us, to encourage one another, and to build one another up as he gets the glory and praise and is receiving that worship through us. I'll give you one more quick, when I was a student pastor, we would go to summer camps. There were oftentimes there was a time of response and an invitation at the end. People had a chance to go forward and accept Christ if they had never made a public declaration of faith or taking a step of faith in their life to receive Him or respond whatever way and there were always the students who would go and and you could tell throughout the week that they were God was doing something in their life, right? I mean, you could just tell the way they're talking, you've got to learn more about what was going on in the backstory and all of that stuff. And, and you know, as a youth pastor, you're kind of, you know, we're closing our eyes, and we're bound our heads, but I'm not really right, as a youth pastor, I'm wanting to know is, is God doing something in the life of my students do I need to be aware of and praying for them during this moment here and have had the opportunity to see that somehow the Holy Spirit made someone aware that one of their friends who could just tell through their mannerisms, like really wanted to go light, like the Lord was calling them to respond during this time of invitation, but to step out in front of three or 4000 other people is a scary thing to do, and can be a little bit intimidating. And so all of a sudden, out of the corner of my eye, I'm watching a student go over and wrap their hands around them and say, Hey, I don't know. But it just, I'm sensing that you're really feeling led to go down in this moment. And if you are, I just want you to know that I'll go with you. If it's really hard to take the first step right now. And all of a sudden, move out of these the chairs, go walk down the aisles. And this person is praying to receive Christ in that moment and have their life transformed and changed forever. Why? Because another student was sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who is saying what's my role in worship, you want to use me to encourage my friend to build them up to give them the strength to walk down to something that you're calling them to in this moment? I'm available use me, Lord and Now all of a sudden, guess what I'm doing, I'm standing up a little bit more, singing a little bit louder. There's tears rolling down my face, right? Because the Lord has captivated my heart with what he was doing through that horizontal aspect of worship as well, guys, this is what the Spirit does when you and I make ourselves available to him. Each time we come in, to worship, He uses us in this horizontal way to encourage and build one another up and to compel us then to worship Him. And because of this, this, what we do in corporate worship is so so important. This is why we do this every Sunday. And why we don't take Sundays off. One of the things that I just want to read it's a little bit lengthy but but it's from a another pastor and author related this, I just think captures what we're talking about. So well. And we'll kind of conclude with this. But But here's this is from Greg Gilbert is what he says he says, I think we ought to encourage every member of our churches to sing every song in the service with gusto. Even if they don't particularly resonate with the song. Every Christian has a certain set of hymns and songs that deeply resonate with them, the melody the words and experience they had when they first heard it. And our natural tendency is to give those favorites everything we've got. But then sort of check out when we when the next song is one we don't particularly like. But here's the thing, he says, When you sing in a congregation, you're not just singing for yourself. You're singing for every other member of the congregation for their edification and building up in Christ. In first Corinthians 1426, Paul tells us that when we come together, everything we do, including our singing is done for each other. singing hymns then is not just an opportunity for us as individuals to worship God in our own way. It's an opportunity for the church as a whole to worship God. Together. That means that even if you don't like a particular song, it's likely that someone else in the congregation resonates with it deeply. They feel about it the same way you feel about your favorites. And so you have a responsibility to love that person by singing that song with all the heart you can muster. In other words, this is the last part. Don't check out on songs that aren't your favorites, seeing them and seeing them loud. And heartedly not because you particularly liked them, but because you may be helping to edify another brother or sister whose heart is engaged deeply with those songs. Worship isn't finally an individual experience. It's corporate, and everything we do. Everything Paul tells us, including our singing should be done for the building up of the saints. Yes, yes. So there is not only this vertical worship element of worship, there is this horizontal element that we cannot neglect when we come together in these particular settings. So as we wrap up, how does this apply to you today? Just a couple of quick things to highlight number one, I'd say if this is what we're really talking about, and it's that important that God is at work in each one of us, then it's probably pretty important that we're here most Sundays. Because if there's a horizontal aspect to worship, and we don't show up, guess what ain't happening. The horizontal aspect of worship, if I'm the only one here, there's gonna be a lot of vertical worship going on. Right, but when we come together, these are the kinds of things that happen. And so of course, this isn't legalism, not trying to guilt you can't ever miss a Sunday. But obviously it if it's that important, it'll be a priority to us because we want to engage in those things. We want the spirit to use other people to edify and build us up. We want the spirit to use us to edify and build others up as well. And then secondly, it goes back to what I just said earlier, how about we all just start committing that the second we walked through these doors or that we go back to our worship center? We each walk in asking the same question. God how to you want to use me today? In worship, how to what's my role today? Not what's the people on the stage and their roles? What's my role? Do you want to use me to sing along with someone to pray with someone else todayto encourage someone else today? What is what is it you're calling me to, as we gather together because each one of us has a role? I think one of the ways that we can be reminded of this horizontal aspect of worship is through participating in the Lord's supper together. Because not only did these elements remind us of Jesus's body and His blood that was shed for us to reconcile this vertically, it reminds us of the horizontal. And one of the ways it does that is because we know originally, this was a meal. How much more of a horizontal aspect of relational building can you get than sitting around a table sharing a meal together, and Jesus was at work in those things. So why don't we pass these elements out in just a moment, I'm going to I'm going to pray that deacons are going to come forward, they're going to pass the elements out, Emily's going to sing a song during this time to just help us focus in a little bit more again on what all this time is about. And and I want you to be thinking and continue to dwell upon how it is the Lord wants you to respond as we conclude worshiping out together because after we finish, and I lead us all in partaking of the elements together. So again, hold on to your elements because I'll come back and lead us in that we're going to continue by worship and singing. And I hope we'll all make ourselves available to say Jesus, how do you want to use me during this time? Is it is it to sing? Is it to pray with someone? Is it to encourage someone I mean, what's what's my role in this whole thing? Let's pray.