What Do We Know About Worship?


          Those that became Christians in the first century assembled for worship steadfastly or regularly. They understood their own spiritual need and the spiritual need of other Christians for worship. They also understood the commandments of God to worship in spirit and in truth. Those that fail to worship as God commanded will die spiritually. Worship is of such importance that God will punish with vengeance those who willfully neglect it. "For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:30-31)


            The Bible does not give a specific definition of the word "worship."  By observing words such as friendship and sportsmanship we are able to gain some idea about worship. The word "ship" has to do with "something like" or a "quality of." Thus friendship is the quality of being friendly. Sportsmanship is the quality of being a good sport. "Worship" (worth-ship) is the quality of giving worth to our great God, Jehovah. Worship declares an attitude of worth toward the Almighty. Christians should declare that God is worthy. "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light." (1 Peter 2:9) The purpose of a Christian is to praise or worship God. In worship we bow down before God and serve Him. Worship involves speaking, listening and doing as God commands. Our worship has an effect on our daily conduct!


            We know that God seeks our worship. God made man for companionship with Himself. In some very real sense Adam and Eve walked in close fellowship with God. "And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden." (Genesis 3:8) God is our loving Father. He seeks our wor­ship, just as we want to be with our children. "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23-24) Jesus expressed His desire for worship with His disciples in the words of Luke 22:15. "And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer." It is the desire of Jesus that we worship God through Him. Is it your desire to be faithful in worship?


            Those that come to see God as our great Creator will worship Him or give Him "worth." The psalmist wrote, "Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalms 46:10) God deserves our worship because He is Creator or Maker. His "will" caused all of creation. The Bible says, "Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." (Psalms 100:3) Worship grows out of thankfulness for and appreciation to God for His goodness and greatness. The unthankful will not worship as they should. "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened." (Romans 1:21) Thankfulness within me is expressed in my outward worship.


            We know that ignorant worship and vain worship is sinful. Worship is our attitude response to God. Therefore, not all worship is acceptable to God. It is possible our worship to be in vain. Cain is an example of one that worshipped God in an unacceptable manner. "And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. (Genesis 4:3-5)


            Jesus said men's commands and traditions make worship vain or useless. "But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Matthew 15:9) A careful study of the Bible must be made so as to distinguish between truth and tradition because worship by tradition is as vain as idolatry. Worship to please man is an abomination to God. "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination." (Proverbs 28:9) Jesus came to this earth to do the will of God. "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." (John 6:38) Both in living and in worship our aim must be to do the will of God. God's way of worship is acceptable while man's way is always unacceptable! Matthew 15:8 says, "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me."


            We know that true worship is done according to truth and that it must come from our heart. In John 4:24 we learn that, "Spirit and truth" are the two elements which distinguish true worship from worship which is unacceptable. "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." Christian worship must be regular or steadfast. It includes teaching, giving, communing, praying and singing. (Acts 2:42, Acts 2:47) Do you worship God in truth and by your heart?


            Communion is part of true worship. Jesus gave His body and blood on the cross to provide remission of our sins. If it was not for Jesus' sin-offering we could not have fellowship with God. (Matthew 26:26-28)


            Bible Christians prayed together. Prayer is our communication with God. "Pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17)


            Singing is also a part of worship "in spirit and in truth." "Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." (Hebrews 2:12) The only instrument to be used is our "heart."


            Original steadfast worship also involved giving. "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him..." (1 Corinthians 16:2) Give with gladness because you will never out give God.


            Bible Christians heard gospel preaching. "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." (Acts 20:7)


            We know that the worship of a Christian must be steadfast and regular. Hebrews 10:23-31 is a warning to Christians. "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 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 approaching. For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Christians are commanded not to forsake assembling for worship.


            Acts 20:7 tells us how the early Christians assembled for communion regularly every Lord's Day or Sunday. "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread." Forsaking worship indicates that you are neglecting salvation. "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him." (Hebrews 2:3) Those that deliberately miss worship are allowing their salvation to slip away. "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip." (Hebrews 2:1) Christians grow weak and sickly without the strength of worship. (1 Corinthians 11:30) Therefore it is important that Christians encourage one another so none will be hardened by neglecting worship. (Hebrews 3:13)


            Our attitude toward worship should be that expressed by David in Psalms 122:1. "I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." Let us worship for our own spiritual strength and growth. Let us worship to encourage others. Let us worship because it is our duty to God. Jesus will be looking for you in the next assembly of the church. Will you keep your appointment with Him?


            Will you accept God's wonderful good news that Jesus died for your sins? Will you be baptized into Christ to put on Christ so that your sins can be forgiven by His blood? "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." (Galatians 3:26-27) Believers contact Christ's saving blood by being baptized into His death. Those that become children of God have reason to rejoice. (Acts 8:39) Following man's response to God's good news man can worship in spirit and in truth.


By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA