The Church's Purpose to Love God
Is Expressed Through Worship
Putting God First
The Priority of Worship:
- refusal to worship caused Satan's fall (Isa. 14:12-14)
- central in O.T. law (Ex. 20:1-7; 34:14)
- detailed plans given to Moses for tabernacle worship (Ex. 25-30)
- detailed plans given to David for temple worship (1 Chron. 22-26)
- Israel judged because they did not worship God (2 Chron. 7:21-22; 24:18; Jer. 16:10-11; 22:8-9)
- people have risked their lives rather than stop worshiping God (Dan. 3:10-18, 28; 6:1-28)
- Jesus lived to glorify the Father (Jn. 2:13-17; 8:29; 13:31-32; 17:1)
- integral part of early church life (Acts 2:42-47)
- will continue into eternity (Rev. 4:10-11; 7:11-12; 11:16-17; 19:4-8)
Worship is the logical response of the created toward the Creator.
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under His care. (Ps. 95:6-7)
The chief end of man and all heavenly host is to glorify God. What greater way to show Him love than to lift Him up as the One of whom there is no greater and the One from whom all blessings flow? Failure to do so yields grave consequences.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts ... (Rom. 1:21-24a)
Resources abound to help us worship.
The Program for Worship:
- substance over style/form (Col. 2:16-17; Heb. 10:22; Jn. 4:20-24)
- individual and corporate (Rom. 12:1-2; Lk. 10:38-42; Ps. 150:1; Acts 2:42-47; Heb. 10:25)
- inward response then outward expression (Isa. 29:13; Ps. 51:15-17; Lk. 6:45)
- integrated into whole of life not compartmentalized nor limited to a time or place (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17; Heb. 13:15-16; Jn. 4:20-24)
- reverence and awe (Heb. 12:28-29) yet not exclusive of joy (Ps. 100:1-2)
Worship must be done God's way to be acceptable. It must flow from a heart that is humbled and bathed in His holiness. Outward expression means little if not founded upon one's redemption, focused on the God of Scripture, and first felt in the heart.
Worship is more than a service. What happens within the walls of a building is reflective of what is happening throughout the week in the lives of each member. And, what happens corporately fuels the individual's everyday life.
The Process for Worship:
- offering spiritual sacrifices (Heb. 13:15-16; 1 Chron. 16:29; Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:4-5)
- ascribing to God the glory due His name (Ps. 29:1-2)
- responding to truth from preaching, teaching and reading of the Word (Ps. 86:11; Jn. 4:23-24; Col. 3:16; Neh. 8:2-6)
- giving of our material resources (Phil. 4:18)
- thanksgiving and praise (Heb. 13:15-16)
- doing good and sharing with others (Heb. 13:15-16)
- singing and instrumental music (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19; Ps. 150)
The style or form worship takes can be as varied as the number of believers who gather to worship. Personality, background and cultural differences influence the way one is able to best express himself. Obviously, because "God is not a God of disorder but of peace" (1 Cor. 14:33), everyone cannot be doing what is right in their own eyes when the Body meets together. There must be a "submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph. 5:21) as you "speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs" and as you "sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks..." (Eph. 5:19-20).
Fundamental to accepting our differences is the understanding that the process is merely the means of worship and not the worship itself. Music, whatever the style, is not worship. It is a vehicle or tool. Clapping, raising of hands, or other outward manifestations, are only means of worshiping.
What truly matters is not what we get out of the worship service but what we give to God. In worshiping, self needs to be put on the altar. Being blessed is a by-product, not the motivation for worship.
The Product of Worship:
- honor and glory given to God (Ps. 50:23)
- purified hearts yielded in service to God (Ps. 24:3-4; Isa. 6:1-8)
- testimony for God lived before unbelievers (Rom. 15:16)
When the church grasps hold of the on-going, all-encompassing nature of worship, and emphasizes God Himself more than the means and place of worship, people will see themselves for who they are. Like Isaiah we will cry out "Woe to me! .... I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips ..." Humbled, we will begin to understand the grace and forgiveness of the Lord. We will respond "Here am I. Send me!" (Isa. 6:1-8) People will see our good deeds and praise and glorify our Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:16)