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Worship, Confession, Gospel, & Missions By Michael Oh


NOTE: Before this article was published for Japanese Christians  in Living Life Magazine in Japanese language by Onnuri Church in Seoul, Dr. Oh kindly sent it to me for publishing it here in English.  In honor of his recent new appointment as the Executive Director/CEO of Lausanne, I’d like to repost this for you, dear readers.  Michael was my former Church History teacher and pastor.   I hope you are blessed as I have been greatly blessed by his ministry.

Dr. Michael Oh is President of Christ Bible Seminary; and the new CEO of Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization. If you’ve been blessed by the article, kindly make use of the comment box below to respond and I’d be glad to forward it to him.  Or you can also connect with him on Twitter & Facebook.

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“Life-changing” is a strong phrase to ever use.  It would be a pretty rare thing to watch a movie and say that it was “life-changing.”  And the actual change in life might not really be so big.  You might read one or two books in your life that you could really say are “life-changing.”  You might meet one or two people in your life that you could say in some small or bigger way is really “life-changing.”

But in chapter 6 Isaiah describes a truly life-changing encounter – in heaven with God.

And Isaiah also learns that his personal drama and encounter is a part of a great big glorious global drama written by and executed by the very hand of God. My hope and prayer is that this encounter becomes your encounter.

My hope and prayer is that this drama becomes your drama. To have a life-changing experience with the living God!  And to be a part of a great, eternal and glorious story of God’s work in this nation and in this world for His glory!

In the first 9 verses of Isaiah 6 we read:

[6:1] In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. [2] Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. [3] And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

[4] And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. [5] And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

[6] Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. [7] And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

[8] And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” [9] And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’   (Isaiah 6:1-9 ESV)

There are four scenes in this drama – and these four also lay out a pattern, I believe, of what every Christian experiences in life-changing encounter with God.

The four are: worship, confession, gospel, and mission.

First worship:

[6:1] In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train[f1] of his robe filled the temple. [2] Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. [3] And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”[f2]

[4] And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.

In one simple sentence Isaiah writes about an experience that is indescribable. “I saw the Lord.”  He doesn’t even attempt to describe God.  Unlike King Uzziah, who had died, the Lord is LIVING and SEATED upon a THRONE, HIGH and LIFTED UP!

William Hamilton is best known for his writings on “The death of God.”  His idea was that traditional Christianity based on belief in an actual existing deity had run its course in modern society and in an interview with the newspaper, Oregonian, in 2007 stated that “We needed to redefine Christianity as a possibility without the presence of God.”  Earlier this year he died.

He now knows that God is indeed living! And He is INCOMPARABLY GLORIOUS!  Again, Isaiah doesn’t even attempt to describe the Lord.  He just describes the WORSHIP of God by the heavenly seraphim.

When I was studying at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Dr. Robert Coleman used to take “his boys” who were in his advanced discipleship class with him on the road.  I would enjoy going together with him to Wheaton College where he would teach a class and I would find something productive to do!

I would sometimes go to the Billy Graham museum and wander into the “Hallelujah room” where a motion sensor would turn a darkened room suddenly into a brightly lit, mirror-surrounded blue sky with Handel’s Hallelujah chorus beginning to play.

My heart would leap with thoughts of my Lord Jesus and His pending return in the sky with trumpet sound.  I would lift my hands and bask in His worship!  But first I would check to make sure no one was watching me.  

I am Presbyterian, you know.  : )  The worship that Isaiah describes and participates in is NOT that kind of worship!

This is not walking into the sanctuary, sitting in the front row, waving your hand to say “hi” to God; then the service begins, music starts, and you lift your hands in worship.

This is – you walk in; you look up; you see God in ALL HIS GLORY AND POWER AND MAJESTY; and BAM!!!  You fall flat on your face before the Lord of glory!  This is INVOLUNTARY worship!

There are both voluntary and involuntary dynamics of worship.

But there is something glorious when we meet God, when we experience God – and our hearts SOAR into worship!

Some of you know what I’m talking about.  Some of you, all of us perhaps, want to know this experience MORE!

How do we know Him more?

First of all through FAITH in His Son – relationship starts here.

Secondly through His WORD – the Bible.

Thirdly through PRAYER.

Fourthly in WORSHIP.

Fifthly in RELATIONSHIP with His people.

And sixthly as we’ll see later we know Him more as we respond to His MISSION.

And to know Him is to worship Him.  The second experience in life-changing encounter with God is CONFESSION.

[5] And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

In God’s presence you see your sin in light of God’s holiness.

Isaiah’s response – WOE IS ME! BAM! Flat on ground – “I’m a sinner!”

“I’m a dead man!”  Some of you know without a doubt that you are a sinner.

Some of you think that you’re a pretty good person.  Or at least that there are times when you are pretty good.

But standing before a HOLY HOLY HOLY God – EVERYONE, EVERY TIME will know without a DOUBT that they are a SINNER worthy of DEATH.

As we see in this passage, as we see God, we see our own sin.  As we know God, we know our own sin more.

Through the 5 things I described earlier in how we can get to know God more – through FAITH in His Son, God’s WORD, PRAYER, in relationship with God’s people, in worship, and through His mission – God brings conviction of our sin – and our response is confession.  We need first of all to open our hearts, to ask God to reveal our hearts and sin.  And to do so earnestly.

And because God grants us His Holy Spirit – conviction can come to our hearts.  And our confession and repentance should be heartfelt and honest.

We see God and we know that we are sinners worthy of death.  But that is not the end of the story.

Because thirdly we see the gospel

[6] Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar.

At this point Isaiah thinks he’s a dead man; a glorious heavenly Seraphim grabs tongs with a burning flaming coal; and it is bringing it toward Isaiah!

But instead of killing Isaiah, Isaiah is cleansed and healed.  His lips, his unclean lips, are touched.  And the angel declares – “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Not death!  But instead purification, cleansing, forgiveness – the beauty of the GOSPEL!

Not God simply overlooking the sins of sinners – that would be unjust.  He doesn’t simply say, “let’s pretend it never happened.”

If He did, God Himself would be sinning.  In other parts of Isaiah we can see how that forgiveness will happen.

GOD will become a MAN.  He will be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14).       His name will be Immanuel (“God with us”) (Isa 7:14). He will suffer and die for our sins – Isa 53:4-6, 8.

God’s forgiveness of sins is JUST because Jesus took the punishment for the sins of all who believe in Him.

If you would believe on Jesus, if you would place your trust in Him – even at this moment you can receive eternal life.  Your lips, your heart cleansed by a Holy God.  Your guilt removed!  We do not clean ourselves and then God accepts us.  We approach God as sinners to be cleansed.  And God has a purpose for us all beyond simply enjoying forgiveness – God has for us a mission.

[8] And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”

Only the gospel can lead so quickly from verse 5 – “WOE IS ME!” to verse 8 “SEND ME!”

It’s amazing that God would include us in His purposes and His mission!

Our mission, our calling is to share the message of Isaiah 6 – GOD is glorious and holy and WORTHY to be worshiped!  We are SINNERS who stand condemned!  God is MERCIFUL and will atone for our sins through His Son!  And there is a glorious blessing to enjoy in relationship and worship of the God who made us – and a glorious future – that death is not the end – but the beginning of eternal life to be enjoyed with our God and Savior.

Japan is the largest unreached people group in the world.  Undoubtedly among the most difficult mission fields in the world.

What will be the key to seeing this nation won for Christ?

GOD revealing Himself to the Japanese.  Japan will be won for Christ when Christ wins the Japanese to Himself.  God alone can save.  And He will among the Japanese.  What timing?  Only God knows.  It is happening today.  We desire to see it happening even more.

What will be the canvas and foundation toward that end?

Our whole-hearted and passionate worshiping of the holy, holy, holy Lord of hosts!  Our cries to God to FILL the WHOLE EARTH with His glory!  And our calling of Japan and the WORLD to give Him the glory due His name!

[3] And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

MAY JAPAN AND THE WHOLE EARTH BE FILLED with HIS GLORY!

This calling to share the gospel does not go along with the promise of short term success as God explains to Isaiah (6:9-13).  But there is guarantee of long-term success – God wins!  One day the veil that is over the nations will be removed and death itself will be swallowed up forever! (Is. 25:7-8).

Rise up O CHURCH in JAPAN!

Rise up and SEE the Lord of GLORY!

Rise up and WORSHIP Him with PASSION, with UNITY, and with HOPE!

Rise up and CONFESS that we are UNWORTHY sinners and hopeless apart from Christ!

Rise up and daily EMBRACE His GLORIOUS Gospel and salvation!

Rise up for His mission and cause – that He might have GLORY in Japan and even to the ends of the earth!

RISE UP O CHURCH!

Also you may like his talk at Desiring God Conference:

On his new appointment, he writes:

“My official start date as Executive Director/CEO of Lausanne is 1st March.  My first priority is to fast, pray, and seek God’s purposes and power in this new transition.  I invite you to join me.  Apart from Christ we can do nothing.  There’s no better place to start than to humble ourselves and to bow before our Lord in prayer.  My second priority is to get feedback from Christian leaders around the world regarding their hopes for how God might use Lausanne into the future. 

In the coming months we will seek to find ways to introduce Lausanne afresh to a new generation of Christians and leaders around the world.  I’m particularly excited to begin preparations for the 3rd Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering in 2015.  In 2006 in Port Dixon, Malaysia at the 2nd Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering, I, myself, was a younger leader inspired by the history and vision of Lausanne. 

The challenges ahead are great, but our God is even greater.  His purposes are sure and He will surely have the victory.  What a privilege and joy it is to be a part of God’s plans together with wonderful brothers and sisters around the world like you” (Lausanne Blog). 

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6 comments on “Worship, Confession, Gospel, & Missions By Michael Oh

  1. @”I would lift my hands and bask in His worship! But first I would check to make sure no one was watching me. I am Presbyterian, you know. : )
    ……………..

    hahaha.. you have a sense of humor.

    you enumerated worship in different forms. FAITH, His WORD…. MISSION

    I am reminded of a teaching it goes like this.

    the communion is the same gospel, but in another form.
    Baptism too is the same gospel, but in another form.

    well, it makes sense to say mission is worship in another form.
    although I am not deviating from the truth that worship involves music in heaven,
    but very much on this earth, worship can range from eating & drinking, driving your car,
    prayer, fasting, singing songs, reading poems – truly whatever we do as Paul says we do it all for the glory of God. amen.

    @”In God’s presence you see your sin in light of God’s holiness”
    ……………….
    I must say I am reserved on this one,
    but I believe that here on earth,
    when we acknowledge God’s ever presense in our lives
    as “God does not leave us, He Lives in us” we then see
    how small we are, how glorious He is

    we are in awe as God has cleansed us of all sins as Peter and Hebrews.
    We then come to God in a new and living way.
    the veil that separates the holy of holies has been torn.

    by the blood of Jesus we have confidence to enter His presence. amen.

    without the blood, we will perish. damned. outcast. evaporate like that in a nuclear blast

    @”And because God grants us His Holy Spirit – conviction can come to our hearts. And our confession and repentance should be heartfelt and honest.”
    …………………..

    amen. the holy Spirit lives in us and testifies, bears witness to what Jesus has done at the cross.
    all our sins forgiven of which we can cry to God ‘Abba’ Father.

    “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
    -Romans 8:15

    “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God.”
    – 1 John 4:15

    our confession is the confirmation that God lives in us, and that Jesus has paid for all our sins. amen.

    @”Not death! But instead purification, cleansing, forgiveness – the beauty of the GOSPEL!”
    ……………………..
    just plain awesome!

    indeed, not death! but Life!

    I see today Japan

    From “the Land of the Rising Sun”

    To “the Land of the Rising Son”

    come Lord Jesus and Rise over Japan! amen.

    – grace and peace

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  2. […] Worship, Confession, Gospel, & Missions By Michael Oh (outsidecampers.com) […]

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