Worship, What Is It?

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

God created the universe and all that is in it. He created the earth and human beings to have dominion on earth. Satan deceived the first family and stole the dominion of earth away from them. His plan was to usurp the universe. He tried to get Jesus to worship him so that he could make himself as God. He wanted the worship that only God deserves. Satan is still working on his plan.

Since God does not violate the laws He established, it was imperative that He do something to restore His perfect creation. He knew all this would happen and had a plan in place long before the world was created. We see the unfolding of His plan all around us every day.

God feeds us and gives us our every breath. He surrounds us with beauty. He often protects us from harm, without interfering with our choices, according to His will for our lives. He made our bodies to be self-sustaining and self healing. He gave us the ability to love and to be loved. He gave us the ability to communicate with Him and with others. He gave us the privilege of joining Him in the creation of new life when we have children.

When we sinned in the beginning which he knew we would do, he made provision that we could be brought back into fellowship with Himself through the death and blood of His Son, actually Himself. So, we owe everything to God, all that we are, all that we have. His Son left heaven, came to earth and lived for approximately 33 ½ years here, most of the time under duress and contempt from many others, sometimes even his own family. Then he was beaten with a scourge until he was bloody and almost dead, then crowned with thorns and nailed to a cross, spit upon, slapped and mocked. Then He died.

He made it possible that we escape eternity in hell. We do not have to experience eternal flame, burning where the worm never dies and misery never ends, forever remembering our sins and wickedness here on earth. We do not have to hear the cries of others and ourselves being tormented forever. We do not have to experience eternal loneliness and thirst. Jesus makes eternal life, joy and riches possible, if we will only trust and believe in Him. He made life on earth better by His life and death and the fellowship He left on earth.

What is Worship? God demands and commands our worship. So, what is worship? Worship is an activity and attitude which proclaims God’s worth. God is holy; so holy that we cannot approach Him unless He invites us and makes us able to approach Him. His Word says that He desires for us to draw near to Him and to worship Him. He sent His Son to sanctify us with His Blood to enable us to draw near.

Worship is the act of glorifying God with our voices, our minds and our hearts. Worship is giving Him all of ourselves and what we have. God delights in us and we delight in Him. It is a celebration of Him. Although the primary purpose of worship is to glorify God, the scriptures teach that in the act of worship, something also happens to us. We are filled with joy. Praise given to God gives us courage and strength. He inhabits our praise. We are edified because we come to know God better.

So we learn something during worship from God’s Word and Holy Spirit. And we are drawn to one another because we find that when we love God together, that we love one another more. The more we look at God, the more we grow like Him in character and behavior. We want to glorify Him by exhibiting the same love to others that He has exhibited to us.

In the scripture, worship has many forms. Worship is a verb, an action word. It is motivated by a desire to honor God. There is a wide range of physical movement during worship; including bowing down, bending the knees, lying prostrate on the ground, lifting hands, clapping hands, processions, singing, dancing, the ritual of sacrifice, the act of giving food, money, an animal, a child, the price of a child or firstborn, the work of one’s hands, the position of listening, of ready obedience, giving a vow, fasting, burning of candles and incense, prayer, praising God with tambourine, musical instruments, drums, cymbals, lyre, harp, flute, etc.

Worship was expressed in the act of baptism. It was expressed in the act of ritual washing and the removal of one’s shoes. Mary expressed worship by washing Christ’s feet and anointing his head with expensive oil. Worship was expressed by speaking in foreign tongues and in ecstatic utterances.

Worship was expressed in jubilation and joy and also in weeping confession and repentance. It was done with blood, with wine, with bread, with wheat, with herbs, with birds, oxen and lambs. Reverence is another emotion associated with worship. Professional musicians, an orchestra, chamber music, trumpets, voices, guitars, solo, singers, professional singers, clapping and shouting, sacrifice and obedience mingled with the joyful praise. And there was a place for quietness and waiting for God to speak.

Worship is expressed through preaching the scripture. Worship is expressed in tithing and giving in God’s Name. It was expressed in the breaking of bread, eating a meal and thanking God for one’s food and drink. It was expressed in the giving of food to the hungry and in clothing the poor and needy. It was expressed in extravagance when Solomon dedicated the Temple and sacrificed twenty thousand cattle and untold billions in gold.

Worship is done daily when we are alone. But it is also done more specifically when we are gathered together with other believers and intentionally expressed in formal ways. God commanded us to gather together for worship. God didn’t give a commandment of where worship had to take place. He just said it had to take place. Jesus said His followers would worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. God lives in the bodies of believers. Where the believers are gathered, He is there.

The Bible gives us not only earthly views and ways of expressing worship but it also gives us a clear picture of how worship is conducted in heaven in the book of Revelation. There is continual praise being shouted back and forth, Holy, Holy, Holy, thunder and lightning, strange creatures, symbols of God’s power and glory, 24 elders, angels, seraphim, untold, uncountable numbers of souls, voices singing and shouting praises to God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Lamb is on the Throne, smoke and fire and earthquakes, a river of glass, trees of life.

Worship is an exalted, beautiful expression of love. It is not an ugly, humiliated, unclean or disgusting enterprise. It is not to be hidden, condemned or ridiculed. Although we are humble servants, the God we serve is not humble. He is the Creator of the universe. He is full of majesty, honor, beauty and power. We worship Him according to His attributes, not our own. The adjectives to describe Him are infinite. He is infinite.

Worship is not to be conducted in silence or selfishness. It should be done with honor to the One who alone is worthy. It is to be done so that all men can see and know who God is; so that unbelievers will know they are in God’s presence. So that no one can say that they never knew Who God is. Praise is given to Him, not men. He is the subject of our worship conversation, not self, not other people.

If a person has truly been born again, he or she will want to worship God out of the overflow of love for God. He or she will want to draw others into the circle of love, worship and salvation. Worship isn’t about trying to find comfort our pleasure for ourselves in the process. It is about exalting God and abandoning how we feel. It is to please Him, not us.

If you find yourself without a desire to worship Jesus, start thinking about how hell might feel. I don’t say that to threaten you. I say that to inspire you. Jesus had more to say about hell than any other person of the Bible. It is such a horrible place, He was willing for the ultimate pain to Himself so that we can escape it. Praise Him for His compassion to us.

So what is Truth? Since we are told that true believers worship in Spirit and in Truth we know that the Holy Spirit will be present and that He will convict us of Truth.

Truth is objective reality. It isn’t always the kind of reality that we want to acknowledge or think about. Truth is also rightness…righteousness. Truth is not a lie that has been painted up to be acceptable. Truth is not an imaginary story told to make a good moral point. John MacArthur says “Truth exists outside of us and remains the same regardless of how we perceive it. Truth by definition is as fixed and constant as God is immutable.”

Truth is not the title for a church system. Truth is not the name of a group of people. Truth is God’s Word…God’s Word is Truth. There are others truths that are not mentioned in scripture, but if they are true, they will not be in disagreement with God’s Word.

By Kathleen Lewis