WHAT IS WORSHIP?
Worship is translated from the Hebrew shahah which means bow down or prostrate, and the Greek proskyneo which means to prostrate or do obeisance to. The English word means “worth-ship,” and denotes the worthiness of the individual receiving the special honor due to his worth (Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, p. 899).
Worship means to pay divine honors to; to adore; venerate; to idolize; to perform acts of homage or adoration; and to perform religious service (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary).
In the Bible public worship is found in four stages of development.
1. Primitive Worship – Man worshiped God on an individual basis with animal sacrifices as the accepted mode.
2. Temple Worship – The highly organized Temple worship, which had its origin in the wilderness Tabernacle, was led by the priests, assisted by the Levites, and included a complex ritual system of animal sacrifices.
3. Synagogue Worship – The Synagogue worship began during the exile of Israel. Although the Temple, which was in Jerusalem, remained the central location of worship, the synagogue served as a place of worship wherever Jews were.
4. New Testament Church Worship – Christian worship developed along the lines of the Synagogue, although the ceremonial and sacrificial system ended with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Public worship of Christians consisted of prayer (1 Cor. 14:14-16), of singing (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), of praise (Acts 2:46,47), of alms-giving (1 Cor.
16:1,2), of Scripture reading (Col. 4:16; James 1:22), of preaching (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 14:19), of speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 14:39), of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-34), and of feet-washing (John 13:4-17).
The synonyms of worship are adore, admire, dote, esteem, exalt, love, magnify, regard, respect, revere, and venerate (Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary).
WHY WORSHIP GOD?
1. He Is Worthy – The question of importance lies not in whether to worship or not, but whom to worship. God is worthy because of who He is (Rev. 5:11,12). God spoke to Moses, “I AM THAT I AM . . .” (Exod. 3:14). ” . . I even I, am He, and there is no God with Me . . .” (Deut. 32:39). God spoke to Isaiah, “Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there
be after Me. I even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no Saviour” (Isa. 43:10,11). Paul declared God’s Word: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself . . .” (2 Cor. 5:19). God spoke to John, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, THE ALMIGHTY” (Rev. 1:8). To know Him is to worship Him!
God is worthy because of what He has done. Moses composed a song praising God for the miraculous deliverance of Israel from Egypt bondage through the Red Sea. As they sang, Miriam and ALL the women joined in with tambrels and with dances unto the Lord (Exod. 15:1-21). Hannah praised God for giving Samuel to her after a long period of childlessness (1 Sam. 2:1-10). Following Christ’s atonement for our sins at Calvary and His resurrection from the grave, the disciples went to Galilee and worshiped Him (Mat. 28:16,17). We who have been born again can praise God, because our name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20). David said, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men” (Psa. 107:8,21,31).
2. Called To Worship – Israel was called to worship God. Desiring a visible image, they gave their worship to a golden calf in preference to the one true God. Their idolatry provoked the wrath of God and would have brought them destruction if Moses had not interceded for them. (See Exod. 32:11-14.) We are all called to worship God. Anything that captivates our hearts, takes away our desires, or robs us of our time to worship Him, becomes our idol and will provoke God’s wrath. “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me . . . for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God . . .” (Exod. 20:3-5). In response to satan’s temptation, Jesus said, “. . . Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve” (Mat. 4:10).
3. Created for Worship – All of God’s creation are inherently worshipers. God created within every man’s spirit an inward craving that can only be fulfilled in true worship to the Creator. Paul wrote, ” . . All things were created by Him, and FOR HIM” (Col. 1:16). “We should be to the praise of His glory . . .” (Eph. 1:12).
4. Need to Worship – Jacob, in his earlier life, allowed material things to become the object of his worship instead of God. After realizing his need to make a change in his life, he encountered God at Bethel. As a result, God transformed his life and gave him a new name (Gen. 32:24-29). Thus, Jacob became a worshiper of God.
The woman at the well, who had gone through five marriages and was living with another without the sanctity of marriage, was trying to satisfy the craving of her spirit with her relationship with men instead of with God. But when the Saviour spoke to her about living waters, she cried, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not . . .” (John 4:15).
At first James and John the sons of Zebedee did not realize their proper place as worshipers of God. Hiding behind a holy mass of zeal, they aspired for a position of power and authority in the kingdom instead of seeking a relationship with the King (Mark 10:35-37). But on the day of Pentecost they were filled with the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4).
“By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:24,25). Realizing that the pleasures of sin have no lasting satisfaction, Moses chose to worship God!
PROVISIONS FOR WORSHIP
God never created an inner drive without providing a channel of fulfillment. For example: the drive of hunger is satisfied by eating good food (Psa. 22:26); sex drives are meant to find fulfillment in marriage only (Heb. 13:4); and the need for rest is supplied by adequate sleep (Psa. 127:2). Likewise the desire for and the need to worship, which is divinely created in every human being, will only find fulfillment in a holy relationship with God.
1. Separation from Sin – For sinful man to be restored to fellowship with a holy God he first must be separated from sin; then, he must remain separated from sin. Through the shed blood of Jesus Christ at Calvary, provisions have been made for everyone to be redeemed from sin (1 Pet. 1:18,19), and be restored to fellowship with God in His kingdom (John 3:5).
2. An Holy Relationship with God – Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). In obedience to Christ, Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38). Paul preached, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, (how?) by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).
Jesus announced, “The hour cometh, and now is, when the TRUE WORSHIPERS shall worship the Father IN SPIRIT and IN TRUTH . . .” (John 4:23). The new birth restores our fellowship with God and enables us to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. Such an holy relationship completely satisfies the inward drive of man.
THE SPIRIT OF WORSHIP
1. Essentiality – The work of the Holy Spirit within us is essential to produce acceptable worship to God. Jesus revealed, “Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth . . . He will shew you things to come. He shall GLORIFY ME . . .” (John 16:13,14). To glorify means “to give glory as in worship.” The lack of worship in a person simply reveals that the Spirit is not in control in his life. The Holy Spirit will always lead us to worship Jesus as the God of our salvation. (See John 16:13; Acts 2:36; Eph. 4:4-6.)
2. Knowledge – By the Holy Spirit we receive the mind of Christ which gives us the knowledge to worship God. (See 1 Cor. 2:16.)
3. Direct Connection – The Spirit of Christ is imparted unto us by the Holy Ghost. (See John 14:16-20,26; Rom. 8:9-11.) This gives us direct contact with God as sons and daughters. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Rom. 8:16).
4. Supernatural Communication – The Holy Spirit enables us to communicate with God on a supernatural level of speaking in tongues! “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the Spirit he speaketh mysteries” (1 Cor. 14:2). “. . . The Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26).
5. Flow of the Spirit – The Spirit must flow to produce true worship. The Holy Spirit emanates from God to us, flows like rivers of living waters through us (John 7:38,39), and returns to God with our worship. This becomes a continual cycle as we allow the Spirit to keep moving. The flow of the Spirit is maintained by our holy lives, separated from this sinful world and dedicated to God. (See 2 Cor. 6:17; 1 John 2:15,16.) It is wonderful to witness the moving of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers to produce worship that honors God.
6. Holy Life – The Spirit of worship will produce in every true worshiper a beautiful life-style of holiness. Since worship gives glory and honor to a holy God, the worshiper must be holy! ” . .
Give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His Name: WORSHIP THE LORD IN THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS” (Psa. 29:1,2). Worship is far more than just a feeling or an action, it is a way of life that affects our behavior outside of the place of worship as well as inside. A true worshiper is determined by his actions on the job, his attitudes in the home, and his enthusiasm at church. (See 2 Cor. 7:1.) He will always glorify God wherever he is by the word of his testimony and by the life he lives.
7. Conviction of Sins – When the church maintains an atmosphere of worship, the Holy Spirit will convict sinners of their sins and will reveal things that hinder the flow of the Spirit. For example: Joshua said to Achan, who had disobeyed God at Jericho, “My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel . . .” (Josh. 7:19,20). It is impossible to give true worship to God if sin is in your heart. If there is anything hindering your worship to God, I urge you to repent! It is imperative that we maintain the Spirit of worship!
ATTITUDES OF WORSHIP
Our attitudes must work in harmony with the Holy Spirit in order to produce true worship.
1. Brokenness – David said, “The sacrifices of God are a BROKEN SPIRIT: a broken and a contrite heart, 0 God, thou wilt not despise” (Psa. 51:17). Jeremiah spoke the word of the Lord: “Is not My Word . . like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29). Jesus affirmed, “Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder” (Mat. 21:44). Worship requires brokenness.
2. Humility – A certain woman after breaking an alabaster box of ointment, washed the feet of Jesus with her tears, wiped them with the hairs of her head, kissed His feet, and anointed them with the ointment (Luke 7:37,38). Worship without humility is like love without commitment: it is shallow, external and fleeting. “. . God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the HUMBLE” (James 4:6).
3. Love – The motivating factor of worship should be love. “Thou shalt LOVE THE LORD THY GOD with ALL THY HEART, I and with ALL THY SOUL, and with ALL THY MIND, and with ALL THY STRENGTH . .” (Mark 12:30). When our worship is motivated by love we are able to give OUR ALL TO GOD.
4. Reverence – It is important to enter into the Lord’s presence with reverence. “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are abc Him” (Psa. 89:7).
5. Obedience – Worship without obedience is not acceptable unto God. Samuel told Saul, ” . . . To OBEY is better than sacrifice . . .” (1 Sam. 15:22). God spoke to Abraham to off Isaac his son for a sacrifice. In obedience to God, Abraham said V. . . I and the lad will go yonder and WORSHIP . . .” (Ge 22:5). When God saw the obedience of Abraham, He stopped him from offering Isaac and provided a substitute.
6. Not Ashamed – David and all the house of Israel brought the ark of the Lord to the city of David with shouting and with the sound of the trumpet. When Michal (David’s wife) looked out window and saw king David LEAPING and DANCING before the Lord, she despised him in her heart. After returning home, Day said to Michal, “It was before the Lord . . . And I will yet I more vile (undignified – N.I.V.) than thus . . .” (2 Sam 21,22). Regardless of family influence or peer pressure of the World, we should NOT BE ASHAMED to worship God. Jesus said “Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of Me and My words this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son man be ashamed, when He cometh in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38).
PERFORMANCE OF WORSHIP
Since worship is a response to a relationship with God demands performance! Although performance alone does n produce worship, it is an essential element of worship. Biblic worship has its times of giving, sacrificing, praying, weeping singing, and shouting.
1. Giving – The key to worship is to give not to get. True we hip gives glory to the Lord; it does not seek to get glory. A worshiper must come to God not to be blessed but to bless. ” . . . ‘s more blessed to GIVE than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
(a) Substance – Old Testament worship involved sacrifice ifts, and offerings such as burnt offerings (Lev. 1), offerings cooked flour (Lev. 2), peace offerings (Lev. 3), sin offering (Lev. 4), trespass offerings (Lev. 5), etc. No worshiper could approach God with empty hands (Exod. 23:15; 34:20; Deut. 16:16,17).
God spoke to Israel about their negligence in tithes and offerings: “. . . Ye have ROBBED ME. But ye say, Wherein have v robbed Thee? IN TITHES AND OFFERINGS. Ye are cursed with curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ALL THE TITHES into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:8-10). Although tithing was ordained under the law (Lev. 27:30-32), the fulfillment of the ceremonial laws did not affect it; for tithing was instituted before the law was given (Gen. 14:18-20; 28:22). According to the Scripture no other plan has replaced it. Tithes still belong to God (Lev. 27:30; Mark 12:17) and remain as His financial plan for the Ministry (Num. 18:21,24; 1 Cor. 9:13,14; Heb. 7:4-10). Tithes and offerings must be obeyed by all worshipers of God today.
The Psalms, which formed the hymn book of the early church (Eph. 5:18,19), exhorted the believers: “Give unto the Lord, 0 ye kindreds of the people . . . BRING AN OFFERING, and come into His courts” (Psa. 96:7,8). Paul taught the Corinthians, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let EVERY ONE of you LAY BY him IN STORE, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings (no collections will have to be made – N.I.V.) when I come” (1 Cor. 16:1,2).
The magnitude of our worship in giving lies not in the amount given but in the amount kept. For example: the widow woman only gave two mites, but Jesus said, “. . . This poor widow hath cast in more than they all: for . . . she of her penury (poverty) hath cast in all the living that she had” (Luke 21:3,4).
(b) Time – Worship involves not only the giving of our substance, but also the giving of our time to the Lord. Under the dispensation of law, God required one seventh of man’s time (Exod. 20:8). Now that we should keep every day holy should we offer God any less of our time? The Bible states, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith . . . not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day (rapture of the church) approaching” (Heb. 10:23-25).
Time is also needed for witnessing. “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord …..(Asa. 43:10). (Also see Acts 1:8; 1 Pet. 3:15.) The sincerity of our worship is often revealed by the amount of time we give to the Lord.
(c) Talent – Real worship will also express itself by the dedication of talents to God’s service. (For an example see Acts 9:36-39.)
2. Prayer – The importance of prayer as a vital channel of worship is emphasized in the Bible. Jesus taught, ” . . Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). Paul exhorted the church, “PRAY ALWAYS with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit . . .” (Eph. 6:18). When the early church prayed the Spirit moved! “When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost . . .” (Acts 4:31). As worshipers we need to communicate with God in order to commune with Him. Certainly a prayerless Christian is not a true worshiper of God!
3. Praise – In our approach to God as well as in our response to Him, there must be praise. Praise serves as a vehicle of expression that brings us into God’s presence where true worship and praise is blended together in celebration to God. “Let us offer the sacrifice of PRAISE to God CONTINUALLY, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name” (Heb. 13:15). Our praise should be determined by what the Bible says and not by how we feel. Jubilation and joy characterized the expressions of Biblical worship.
“O come, let us SING unto the Lord: let us make a JOYFUL NOISE to the rock of our salvation” (Psa. 95:1). “Enter into His gates with THANKSGIVING, and into His courts with PRAISE: be thankful unto Him, and BLESS HIS NAME” (Psa. 100:4). “0 come, let us WORSHIP and BOW DOWN: let us KNEEL before the Lord our maker” (Psa. 95:6). “0 CLAP YOUR HANDS, all ye people; SHOUT unto God with the VOICE of TRIUMPH” (Psa. 47:1). “LIFT UP YOUR HANDS in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord” (Psa. 134:2). ” . . SING unto the Lord a NEW SONG . . . Praise His name in the DANCE …..(Asa. 149:1-3). (Notice that praise to God’s name requires a special praise!) “Praise Him with the sound of the TRUMPET: praise Him with the PSALTERY and HARP. Praise Him with the TIMBREL and DANCE: praise Him with STRINGED INSTRUMENTS and ORGANS. Praise Him upon the LOUD CYMBALS: praise Him upon the HIGH SOUNDING CYMBALS. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. PRAISE YE THE LORD” (Psa. 150:3-6). The performance of worship in David’s Tabernacle, as recorded in Psalms, was a type of the New Testament Church worship. (See Acts 15:14-17; Eph. 5:18,19.)
As Jesus triumphantly approached Jerusalem, a multitude of disciples began to REJOICE and PRAISE God with a LOUD VOICE for all the mighty works that they had seen; saying, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord . . .” Jesus said to the self-righteous pharisees, who asked Him to rebuke His disciples: “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:37-40). David declared, “Thou art holy, 0 Thou that INHABITEST the PRAISES of Israel” (Psa. 22:3). God still dwells among the praises of His people today. Isaiah prophesied that them Lord will give His people the following: ” . . Beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness . . .” (Isa. 61:3).
The original church continued daily in ONE ACCORD in the temple PRAISING GOD (Acts 2:46,47). Paul affirmed the order of praise: “. . BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT; speaking to yourselves in PSALMS and HYMNS and SPIRITUAL SONGS, SINGING and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:18,19). “QUENCH NOT THE SPIRIT” (1 Thes. 5:19). Paul exhorted, “I will therefore that men PRAY everywhere, LIFTING UP HOLY HANDS, without wrath and doubting” (1 Tim. 2:8). Peter informed, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people (rare treasure); that ye should SHEW FORTH the PRAISES of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
4. Lord’s Supper – Communion is a memorial unto the Lord. “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till He come” (1 Cor. 11:26). It is important that we understand the purpose of this memorial service. The broken bread represents the body of Christ which was broken for us. The cup represents the new testament (new covenant) in His blood (1 Cor. 11:24,25). “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities . . . and with His stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). Realizing the purpose of the Lord’s supper, Paul instructed, “Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep” (1 Cor. 11:28-30).
Feet-washing is an act of humility that helps produce a bond of unity in our performance of worship. According to the Bible this is connected with the Lord’s Supper and was instituted by the Lord Himself. Jesus emphasized the importance of washing feet when He said to Peter, ” . . If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me” (John 13:8). (Also see John 13:13-15.)
RESULTS OF WORSHIP
1. Transformation – The history of idolatry proves that the character of every idolatrous nation and tribe has been molded and shaped by the character attributed to their gods. For example: The early Egyptians were brute-worshipers having their sacred bull, ram, heifer, and goat. Their works of art reveal debased, vile, and unnatural desires. During Paul’s day the Greeks worshiped the goddess Venus whose temple stood in Corinth. This idol was a personification of lust. Temple prostitution was done in worship to Venus, which was the major source of revenue to the ungodly temple. As a result the Corinthians were stooped in the debauchery of sin. Indeed man becomes like the object of his worship. (See Psa. 115:4-8; Rom. 1:23,24.)
To be Christian is to be Christ-like. The more we worship God in Spirit and in Truth the more like Him we will become, until we become assimilated info His character. Paul spoke about some of the Corinthians who had come to God from the depth of sin: ” . . Such were some of you: but ye are WASHED (cleansed), but ye are SANCTIFIED (set apart), but ye are JUSTIFIED (made valid) in the NAME of the Lord Jesus, and by the SPIRIT of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9-11). Some of the Ephesians were changed from darkness unto LIGHT IN THE LORD (Eph. 5:8). “If any man be in Christ, he is a NEW CREATURE: old things are passed away; behold, ALL THINGS ARE BECOME NEW” (2 Cor. 5:17). Paul exhorted, “If ye then be risen with Christ (by the Spirit), seek those things which are above . . .” (Col. 3:1,2). “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that GOOD, and ACCEPTABLE, and PERFECT, WILL OF GOD” (Rom. 12:2). The ultimate goal of every worshiper should be to CONFORM TO THE IMAGE OF CHRIST (Rom. 8:29; Gal. 4:19). So let us reject everything that does not please God, and let us accept everything that does conform to His standards.
2. Victory – Worship brings victory! When Israel completed their victory march around the wall of Jericho, the priests blew their trumpets and the people shouted with a great shout; then, the wall fell flat (Josh. 6:20). When the Moabites and the Ammonites came against Judah, Jehoshaphat appointed singers unto the Lord, to PRAISE THE BEAUTY OF HOLINESS. As Judah went to battle they sang, “Praise the Lord; for His mercy endureth for ever” (2 Chr. 20:21). As a result, God set ambushments against the enemies and gave His worshipers victory! When Paul and Silas were in jail, they PRAYED and SANG PRAISES UNTO GOD at midnight. Suddenly a great earthquake shook the foundations of the prison, and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one was loosed (Acts 16:25,26). No matter what the problem may be – whether physical, financial, domestic or spiritual – the key to victory is to worship! The Bible states, “In everything GIVE THANKS: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thes. 5:18).
3. Heaven – The zenith of every true worshiper is to worship God for ever! Jesus assured, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). “For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a SHOUT, with the voice of the archangel, and with the TRUMP OF GOD: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thes. 4:16,17). By divine revelation, John heard the thrilling sounds of all God’s worshipers in heaven: “I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thundering, saying, ALLELUIA: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife (the church) hath made herself ready” (Rev. 19:6,7).
If you desire to worship God in heaven forever, you must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth now! “For the Father seeketh such to worship Him” (John 4:23). Worship is NOW AND FOREVER!
The above article, “The Truth About Worship: Biblical Principles,” is written by Eddie Jones. The material was excerpted from a pamphlet printed by Know The Truth Literature.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.