WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO WORSHIP?
This morning we are going to talk about worship and it what it means.
The first thing I want to point about worship is that has beginning and an end. Worship to God is something we do as specific act at a specific time. This is true in both the OT and the NT. First letís look at an example from the OT.
Genesis 22:5 And Abraham said to his young men, "Stay here with the donkey; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you."
Now in context Abraham was following Godís instructions and was going to sacrifice his son to God of course we learn later that was just a test of faith and God did not allow his son to truly be sacrificed. But notice, that Abraham was going to worship which means that his worship to God would have a beginning and would be at a specific place. When he returned this specific act of worship would be done.
Now in the NT when Paul was giving his defense before Felix the governor in Acts 24 he says this,
you may ascertain that it is no more than twelve days since I went up to
Paul wanted the Felix to
know that he was doing no wrong and certainly didnít have enough time to stir
up a great deal of trouble. But thing I want to point is that Paul went to
In the OT God designated the Sabbath day, which would be our Saturday, as a special day the children of Israel was to rest from their labors and worship and honor God. But today under the new covenant the first day of the week is special day set aside for Christians to gather together to form the body of Christ to bring honor and glory to God by worshipping Him. Also this time is used for edification and exhortation for the saints.† The reason the first day of the week is special is because Jesus Christ overcame the grave that day proving that He is the Messiah. Also, it was the first day of the week that church began to be proclaimed in Acts 2. Just as the Sabbath day was to be observed every Saturday, the Lordís Day is to be observed every Sunday. We can see the importance of this from,
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,† 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. †
In this passage the writer is stating the importance of Christians to assembly with one another. Notice the command is not to forsake assembly. The fact that †we are to gather together indicates that we have a specific time and place that we will meet which means worship to God has a beginning and end.
We have several other passages that show that the first day of the week is the special day that Christian assemble with one another for the specific purpose of worshiping God.
1 Corinthians 16:1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:† 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
While the church can assemble any day of the week to edify and exhort each other and to worship God, we learn from Scriptures like these that the first day of the week was a day that assembly came together to give of their means as the purposed in their heart (2 Cor. 9), which Paul calls the collection of the saints. Also, another reason they assembled on the first day of the week was to partake of the Lordís Supper.
Acts 20:6 But we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread, and in five days joined them at Troas, where we stayed seven days.† 7 Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.
according to Acts 20:16 Paul was in hurry to get
So our public worship to God has a beginning and an end. While we could have public worship every day of the week, the first day of the week is the day that we are to give of our money that we have purposed in our hearts for the collection of the saints and it also only day that we are to partake of the Lordís Supper.
There are about 6 different Greek words that are translated as worship in our Bible. Some carry the meaning of a specific worship to God while others simply mean a reverence or respect for God or for man. For example the Greek word used for worship in Jn. 4:24 where we are told to worship God in spirit and in truth is defined this way:
Louw-Nida: to express by attitude and possibly by position one's allegiance to and regard for deity - 'to prostrate oneself in worship, to bow down and worship, to worship.'
Bdag: to express in attitude or gesture oneís complete dependence on or submission to a high authority figure, (fall down and) worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to, welcome respectfully,
Thayer: of homage rendered to God and the ascended Christ,
Sometimes when this word is used it shows a person falling at the feet of Jesus or lying down as they worship God, but over all idea of worshipping God is being reverent and humbly submitting ourselves to Him knowing that are in complete dependence of Him. This has to do with our attitude toward God in public worship and in private.
†Even when we are not engaged in specific worship to God, we are still to show reverence to God and what He means to us by serving Him in other areas of our life. This all goes back to the fact that we are servants of God. So when do a good deed for someone or we do the right thing instead of the wrong thing we are paying respect and honor to God. Rightly did Paul say,
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.† 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. †
One thing I want to point out is that not all of life is worship. As we have seen there is a specific time we began and end our public worship together. Even when we choose to worship God at home or some other place on our own it still has a beginning and an end. Even when we render worship/reverence to God by the good deeds we do by serving others to glorify God, again these all have a beginning and end. †
Now letís take a look at what David has to say about purpose of worshiping God in,
Psalm 122:1 A Song
of Ascents. Of David. I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go into the
house of the LORD."† 2
Our feet have been standing Within your gates, O
Even though David was under Mosaic law his words here capture the very essence of what worship of God is all about. Notice he was full of Joy when it was time for him to go to the house of the Lord and notice verse number 2 they were standing within the gates ready and waiting with all kind of anticipation to begin worship to God. Now I want you to think about this for second how many of us have this mentality. Do we arrive at the building early with anticipation of worship God or do we just allow ourselves just enough time to make it just as services begin. What happens when we do this? Well, any little unplanned delay can cause us to be late for worship God. I think we all need to be prepared before hand so that we can make it to worship before it begins. David goes on to say the reason why he so glad to be at the house of the lord is to praise him, thank Him and pray to Him.
While one the reasons for our assembly is to edify one another according to 1 Cor. 14, but the main reason we gather at all is to worship God. The assembly is not some social hour where we just come to see our family and friends, it is time when we come together to help each other grow closer to God and show Him the respect that He deserves. If we come to worship just for entertainment or to be social then we have missed the entire purpose for our public worship.
Now that we have talked about what worship is, when it happens, and the purpose of worship lets now look at,
How we are to worship.
Do you remember when Jesus was talking to the Samaritan woman by the well in John 4. Jesus revealed to her that he knew about the husbands that she had in the past that the man she was with right now was not her husband. After he said this notice her response.
John 4:19 The
woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.† 20 "Our fathers worshiped on
this mountain, and you Jews say that in
She perceived that Jesus was prophet and wanted to understand more about worship and Jesus doesnít disappoint her because he tells a time a coming when people will worship God in spirit and in truth. Now he was talking about how Christians from the starting of the birth of the church would worship God. Our key verse that we want to focus in on is 24. Notice when we worship God we MUST worship IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH. These 2† elements must be in place for true worship to occur. When we worship in spirit this means we are worshiping from a sincere heart. Our thoughts are upon God. We must also worship God is truth which is the word God.
John "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
Now putting this all together our worship to God must come from a sincere heart and be regulated after the patter set out in Godís Word. It is the authority and our guide. Thatís why Paul tells Timothy,
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,† 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Since we have a guide to go by thatís why Paul further states 1 Corinthians 4:6 that we should not to think beyond what is written and he says in,
Colossians 3:17 †And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
You see our authority for what we do in public worship must come from the word of God. If God allowed us to worship anyway we wanted to it would end up in confusion and Paul told the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
Now that we have seen how we must worship God and how Godís word must be our guide let us now look at what kind of worship that God will not accept.
Vain worship.† It should be obvious that if there is right way to worship that there is also a wrong way to worship. We can see in action in Mark 7. The Pharisees were questioning Jesus of why his disciples were eating without washing their hands. Notice Jesus response.
Mark 7:6 He answered and said to them, "Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.† 7 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'† 8 "For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men -- the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do."† 9 He said to them, "All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 "For Moses said, 'Honor your father and your mother'; and, 'He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.'† 11 "But you say, 'If a man says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban" -- ' (that is, a gift to God),† 12 "then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother,† 13 "making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do."
Here† we see that these Pharisees had taken it upon them selves to corrupt the word of God by making their own tradition take the place of Gods way. Notice Jesus say that they worshiping God in vain. This kind of worship is not acceptable to God. So, we must be careful of who worship with. If the church you go to is not regulating their worship service according to Gods will then it will consider vain worship and he will not accept it.
Paul expands up on this type of self-imposed religion in,
Colossians 2:18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,† 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.† 20 Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations --† 21 "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,"† 22 which all concern things which perish with the using -- according to the commandments and doctrines of men?† 23 These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
Paul makes it clear that no one is to invent the own religion and as Christians we should not allow ourselves to be deceived by man and take part in man made doctrines or you will lose you reward. The reward Paul is talking about is making it into heaven. This warning should strike fear in those who broken themselves off the Lordís church and have created their own way doing things. People who form their own religious groups based on some manís or womenís teaching is nothing more than an broken branch from the true vine known as Jesus. God will not be pleased or accept self imposed religion no matter how sincere the people may because as Jesus said we must worship God in spirit and in truth. †
Another kind of vain worship is ignorant worship. We can see example of this in Acts 17. Do remember how these people had all kind idols and they were worshiping them even an alter to unknown God.
Acts 17:22 Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;† 23 "for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you:
Paul took the opportunity here to explain to the people who the true and only God was so that they could render proper worship. Of course only few listened to him. When Paul was writing to the Romans he also said this about those who ignorant of Godís plan.
Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for
Folks we donít have any valid excuses today for worshiping God in ignorance because we have Godís written word and it can be understood.
Acts "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,
So worshiping out of ignorance is still vain worship.
Another we learn about worship that is forbidden is found in the following verses:
Acts 10:25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him.† 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I myself am also a man."
Colossians 2:18 †Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels,
Revelation 22:8 Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.† 9 Then he said to me, "See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God."
Only God is to be worshipped. We are not to worship man, angel, or anything else.
Our final example of vain worship comes from what the soldiers did to Jesus before he crucified.
Mark 15:19 Then they struck Him on the head with a reed and spat on Him; and bowing the knee, they worshiped Him.† 20 And when they had mocked Him, they took the purple off Him, put His own clothes on Him, and led Him out to crucify Him.†
These men were making a mockery of God and Jesus. There are many who do this today because they donít take Godís word or God himself serious and they make light of his perfect will.
Those who blatantly disregard God by worshiping him vain will not make it to heaven and they will face the wrath of God.
2 Thessalonians 1:7 †when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,† 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.† 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
In conclusion, we can see that knowing what it means to worship God is very important. The key to worshipping God in the right way is by doing it in spirit that is from the heart and in truth, which comes from the Word of God. We cannot be the kind of people that goes through the motions and just shows up to warm up a pew so we can say we were there. No, when we assemble with the saints we must have our hearts engaged, when we sing we need to do more than just mouth the words, we need to sing like we mean it and realize that we are singing praised to God and at the same time we teaching and admonishing one another. We need to listen to prayers that are being said, and we need give cheerfully knowing that God has blessed with the money we have and that our money we give will be used to help grown the church here at Lone Grove and help other works be down. When we partake of the Lordís Supper, we need to use it as reminder of what Jesus did for us on the cross and used it to reflect on how we are living our daily lives for Christ. We need pay attention to the sermons that are being taught because they come from Godís precious Word. We need allow Godís Word to prick our hearts and cause change our ways to Godís way. Let us also use the assembly as at time to edify and exhort one another as well.
Also, let us never forget to continue to show reverence to God in our personal lives by living for Him in accordance to His will.
I hope that none of us ever stop showing reverence to God by worshipping Him in vain in our public worship or in our personal lives. Let us stand strong in His truth, and never let anyone or anything move us from His truth. That is what it what it means to worship God in spirit and in truth.