The church exists for the purpose of worship and witness. In the latter the church seeks, draw and gather more people to worship the Triune God by the gospel. Worship is the primary reason for the existence of the church. If Christ’s church will miss this, then she will lose her direction and purpose. In fact in glory we will spend all eternity in worship – it better begin now and here! This is the most important thing for us to consider – for we must worship God and get it right!
It is tragic that the church of our day is making unnecessary imaginations and sometimes-blasphemous inventions of worshipping God, without any regard or with little consideration on whether such worship is acceptable and pleasing to God. There is no question that God demands and commands His people to worship – in fact the Father is seeking such people who will worship Him. But the question is how? Christ provides a very definite answer to this:
“You worship what you do not know, we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father, in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:22-24
Will you continue to worship what you do not know or you will worship the thrice-holy God? As Christians we worship what we know. We worship God who has saved us and made us His covenant people. Of course salvation came from the Jews. For to them belonged the special revelation - the law, the patriarchs, the promises, the prophets and even the Messiah. However, God has made Gentiles, who were far off, to belong to the commonwealth of Israel so that He has made us both one (Ephesians 2:14,15). The remnant of Israel and the fullness of the Gentiles make the full Israel (Romans 11:25,26), which is the church. “For we are the circumcision who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” (Philippians 3:3)
The hour has come for true worshippers to worship the Father in Spirit and truth. What does this mean? Christians worship God guided by His Spirit so that it is spiritual worship and worship Him as He has revealed Himself in His Word (in truth) glorying in Christ who is the truth, that has been revealed to us. For why did He reveal Himself to us?
The Bible is the story of God’s redemptive history. But it is also a guide of how God should be worshipped. God is not just looking for any worshipper but for true worshippers to worship Him as He demands and commands. Therefore we ONLY worship God in the manner He has commanded in the Scriptures and draw our example from the New Testament church. Let us consider these two aspects as to how we may worship God:
A. TRUTHFUL WORSHIP – Notice The First Four Commandments:
1. The Object Of Worship – The Lord our God
The 1st commandment requires us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God and our God (1 Chron. 28:9; Deut. 26:17), and to worship and glorify Him accordingly (Mt. 4:10; Ps. 29:2). This command forbids the denying (Ps. 14: 1), or not worshipping and glorifying the true God (Rom. 1:21), as God and our God (Ps. 81:10, 11), and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due to God alone (Rom. 1:25). In this commandment we are taught that God, who sees all things, takes notice of and is much displeased with the sin of having any other god (Ex. 8:5ff).
2. The Manner Of Worshipping The True God: as prescribed by God
The 2nd commandment requires the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire all such religious worship and ordinances, as God has appointed in his word – the Bible (Deut. 32:46,47; Mt. 23:20; Acts 2:42). This commandment forbids the worshipping of God by images (Deut. 4:15-19; Ex. 32:5, 8), or any other way not appointed in His word. Why must we worship God ONLY in the manner He has revealed to be worshiped in His Word? The reasons annexed to this command are God's sovereignty over us (Ps. 45:6) His propriety in us, and the zeal He has to His own worship (Ex. 34:13, 14).
3. The Subject Of Worship – The name of the Lord
The 3rd commandment requires the holy and reverent use of God's names (Mt. 6:9), titles (Ps. 68:4), attributes (Rev. 15:3, 4), ordinances, (Mal. 1: 11, 14), word and works (Job 36:24). This commandment forbids all profaning and abusing of any thing whereby God makes himself known (Mal. 1:6, 7, 12; 2:2; 3:14). You notice that the breakers of this commandment may escape punishment from men, yet the Lord our God will not let them to escape His righteous judgment (1 Sam. 2:12, 17, 22, 29; 3:13; Deut. 28:58, 59).
4. The Specific Time For (Public) Worship – one day in seven
The 4th command tells us that God has appointed a day to be the weekly Sabbath. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day (Ex. 20:8, 10), even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days (Ex. 16:25-28; Neh. 13:15-22); and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God's worship (Luke. 4:16; Acts 20:7; Ps. 92; Is. 58: 13-14; 66:23), except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy (Mt. 12:1-13). It forbids the omission or careless performance of the duties required (Ez. 22:26; Amos 8:5; Mal. 1:13), and profaning the day by idleness (Acts 20:7, 9), or doing what is in itself sinful (Ez. 23:38), or by unnecessary thoughts, words, or works, about worldly employments or recreations (Jer. 17:24-27; Is. 58:13).
The reasons given for observing this command, are God's allowing us six days of the week for our own lawful employments and labour (Ex. 20:9), His challenging a special propriety in the seventh, His own example, and His blessing the Sabbath (Ex. 20:11). By implication, unfaithfulness in having a special time for public worship of God will mean unfaithfulness in labour for the rest of the week!
Before the resurrection of Christ, God appointed the seventh day of the week to be the weekly Sabbath (Ex. 20:8-11; Deut. 5:12-14); and the first day of the week ever since, to continue to the end of the world, which is the Christian Sabbath (Ps. 118:24; Mt. 28:1; Mk. 2:27, 28; Rev. 1:10; Luke. 24:1, 30-36; Jn. 20:1; Acts 1:3; 2:1, 2; 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1, 2).
Those who think that the Ten Commandments are no longer applicable or are abolished need to explain from the Scriptures if God has ceased to be holy. He is thrice holy!
B. SPIRITUAL WORSHIP: Let The Lord Show Us Right Worship
In considering what spiritual worship, we could fast track the heavenly worship – which must be most truthful and most spiritual. God’s own definition of worship is set out in a remarkable detail in Revelation 4 & 5 (Please read them) and this provides key insights into the arrangement, tone and matter of worship.
Notice the following in the heavenly worship:
1) The Object of worship is God – He sits on the throne and is at the center of those who worship Him – God is surrounded by worshippers – whether angelic or human. Everyone is facing the throne.
2) The worship described is the most glorious and awful as such appearances as jasper and carnelian, rainbow with an appearance of emerald surrounds the throne of God, Elders (not children, or youth, but mature men!), flashes of lightening, sea of glass like crystal.
3) The worship is very orderly and meticulous. There is a great sense of reverence and holy fear before God. The arrangement is amazing. The objective praise comes first from the four living creatures round the throne, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is, and is to come!’ God is named and described by several of the divine attributes – His holiness, sovereignty, power and eternity. Subjective thanksgiving comes afterwards. The second worship described is that of the 24 Elders, representing the church of all ages (Old and New Testaments), who fall down in humility and adoration and cast down their crowns before the throne of God, acknowledging God to be their sovereign ruler (see. 4:10; 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:4). Then they all join in worship as described in 5:9-10. The third contribution is made by the vast angelic voices (5:12). The final worship is subjective worship about us and what God has done for us in Christ. There is no place for confusion and disorder in the worship of a God of such meticulous order.
4) Human worship is described before the angelic worship!
5) Both human and angelic worship is composed of excellent words. They said or spoke or sang such words that honor and exalt and glorify the Lord God and each case the Name of God takes a very central place in the songs or words spoken to Him. Public worship is primarily done in words.
6) The human worship is also accompanied with prostrating before God (4:10; 5:14; 7:11; 11:16; 19:4). Worship literally means bowing before God.
7) The heavenly worship does not concern itself with the accomplished work of Christ on the cross, of His reign and His glory.
THEREFORE THE HEAVENLY WORSHIP IS:
1) TRUTHFUL – Biblical truths are at the center of heavenly worship
2) SPIRITUAL – The Holy Spirit is at the couch and director of worship. There are no externals in heaven except the prostration because it is in the spirit.
3) IT IS SIMPLE AND UNADORNED – there is no human inventions.
4) IT IS ORDERLY & DECENT – NO CONFUSION: our worship must be predictable so that everyone composes Himself for the next item (1Cor. 14:33,40)
5) THOUGHTFUL AND SERIOUS – no place for inordinate jesting.
1) Nothing should be done to attract men or make the worshipper feel better – worship is directed at God not men. We must always go home asking ourselves if our worship was acceptable and pleasing to the Lord.
2) We must make sure that the songs we use are very Scriptural
3) They must be Trinitarian and Christocentric (not man-centric)
4) We should be thoughtful and fully involved at heart in the worship
5) We should employ reverence and holy joy in our worship (Hebrews 12:28)
6) If body movements like raising of hands (1Tim. 2:8), kneeling or prostration (no dancing, as this will take away thoughtfulness and reverence), then such must not be to excite human emotion but to show the awfulness and reverence to God.
7) If instruments at all, then they should be used to aid singing and must not overwhelm it.
1. The Baptist Catechism
2. Hallelujah, Herbert Carson
3. Worship In The Melting Pot, Peter Masters
4. More Than Conquerors, William Hendricksen