๐Ÿ“–๐Ÿ’ก๐Ÿ‘‘ What Is True, Biblical Worship?

Worshipful Life

Our doctrinal study begins with Godโ€™s command to Abraham to sacrifice his only son (Gen. 22:1-4), and Abrahamโ€™s announcement that he planned to โ€œworshipโ€ God in so doing (v. 5). The law of first reference suggests that the Bibleโ€™s first use of the word worship here defines it as a willingness to obey God no matter how oneโ€™s faith is tested, a good overall definition even today. And since Abraham indicated that โ€œthe ladโ€ was also going to worship, the willingness of Isaac to give his life up at his fatherโ€™s behest1 suggests that when we willingly offer our lives as living sacrifices at our Fatherโ€™s behest (Rom. 12:1), this too is an act of worship. We find confirmation of this when the Lord equated worshipping God with serving God in Matthew 4:10.

Years later, when Abraham sent his servant to his homeland to find a bride for Isaac (Gen. 24:1-11), his faithful servant prayed for Godโ€™s help (vv. 12-14). When he received it (vv. 15-25), he โ€œworshipped the Lordโ€ by thanking Him (vv. 26,27), suggesting that each time we bow to thank God for answered prayer, we too are worshipping Him.

Many years later, the people of Israel โ€œbowed their heads and worshippedโ€ (Ex. 4:31) when they acknowledged that God was honoring His promise to visit and redeem them from Egyptian bondage (Gen. 15:13-16). This leads us to believe that it is a form of worship when we today acknowledge and thank God when He honors promises He has made to us, such as that found in Romans 8:28.

Next, the Bible calls it โ€œworshipโ€ when the people of Israel brought โ€œthe firstfruits of the landโ€ to God (Deut. 26:10). Thus we believe that God considers it worship when we put God first in our lives. We well remember the day we asked one of the men in our church to help us with some work on the building. This faithful man listed all of the things that he had to do that week, then paused, and said simply, โ€œBut the Lord comes first.โ€ We believe he worshipped God that day, when he gave Him the firstfruits of his time and effort.

As we come to Judges 7, Gideon โ€œworshippedโ€ God for the assurance He gave him that his little band of 300 would defeat the Midianites (7:9-14). Similarly, when we thank God today for all the assurances we find in Godโ€™s Word, we believe God is thrilled with this kind of worship.

Then when we consider the patriarch Job, it takes our breath away to see how he โ€œfell down upon the ground, and worshippedโ€ after losing all of his children and possessions (Job 1:20). Here we see worship characterized as a firm resolve to maintain oneโ€™s spiritual โ€œintegrityโ€ (2:9) in the face of even the most horrendous ordeals of life. Add to this how David is also said to have โ€œworshippedโ€ God in the aftermath of his heart-wrenching loss (II Sam. 12:18-20). The worship of God at times like these is a powerful testimony to the lost that we have something they do not possess.

Contributing financially to the Lordโ€™s work is probably not commonly thought of as worship, but the worship of the wise men is said to have included presenting the Lord with their gifts (Mt. 2:11), suggesting that giving to the Lordโ€™s work is an example of worship that is fit for a King.

We donโ€™t always feel like worshipping God when a loved one is sick, and He does not extend to us the same โ€œmercyโ€ He granted Paul and Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25-27). But when the Lord refused mercy to the Syrophenician woman, she โ€œworshippedโ€ Him anyway (Mt. 15:21-25), and her faith and her understanding of why He was refusing to help her touched His heart (vv. 26-28). Surely Godโ€™s heart is still touched when we are able to worship Him at such difficult times, understanding that when He forbears to bestow such help, it is so that we will โ€œratherโ€ learn to rejoice in His all-sufficient grace, and the perfecting of His strength in our weakness (II Cor. 12:9).

If your heart longs to worship the Lord, but you find it difficult, remember that worship always comes much easier when you find yourself in the place where God has โ€œappointed,โ€ just as the disciples did long ago (Mt. 28:16,17). Of course, in this dispensation, God has โ€œappointedโ€ that we suffer โ€œafflictionsโ€ for the cause of Christ (I Thes. 3:3), but there is perhaps no time when our worship is more pleasing to God than when we worship Him in the face of such affliction.

A Worshipful Church Service

While we have looked at several ways to worship the Lord, we began by asking if the church service at a grace church is characterized by worship, and the answer to this is a resounding yes! To begin with, when Joshua is said to have worshipped the Lord, he asked, โ€œWhat saith my lord unto His servant?โ€ (Joshua 5:14). This worshipful attitude of seeking the words of God is the same mind-set we display every time we gather in a grace church to hear Godโ€™s Word taught, for it is only when the Word is rightly divided that we hear the Lordโ€™s words to His servants today.

Then too, remember how the Lord said of the Pharisees, โ€œin vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of menโ€ (Mt. 15:9)? Well, if teaching the commandments of men constitutes vain worship, then teaching the commandments of God must be considered true worship! And only grace churches are emphasizing the commandments of God given to us through Paul (I Cor. 14:37; I Thes. 4:2).

This does not mean, of course, that we throw away the law and the prophets, for even Paul himself professed that his โ€œworshipโ€ included โ€œbelieving all things which are written in the law and in the prophetsโ€ (Acts 24:14). Here we see that we worship God when we go to church and simply believe His Word, His entire Word. Of course, it is only when we recognize dispensational differences and changes that we โ€œworship God in the spiritโ€ (Phil. 3:3).

And so if others have caused you to feel that you donโ€™t worship at your grace church, we trust these thoughts from Godโ€™s Word have helped you to see that, as a grace believer, you worship God in ways that are far more pleasing to Him than those who attend services characterized by mere shallow emotionalism. We feel certain that if Jeremiah were to visit some of these churches, he would post a sign above the door that read: โ€œHear the word of the Lord, all yeโ€ฆthat enter in at these gates to worshipโ€ (Jer. 7:2). Hearing the word of the Lord is the highest form of worship, for when we recognize just who it is that is speaking to us through the Scriptures, we see that this too is a form of worship (cf. John 9:35-38).

A Worshipful Future

Finally, once we draw our last breath and enter His presence, we can look forward to worshipping the Lord in a very unique way. Consider how the people of Israel โ€œworshippedโ€ the Lord after they saw how He accepted their sacrifice (II Chron. 7:1-3). Then think of what a thrill it will be when we stand someday at the Judgment Seat of Christ and see Him accept every sacrifice we have ever made for Him, and reward us accordingly. It will be our highest honor and deepest privilege to worship Him in that day.

In closing, we would be remiss in this brief study of Biblical worship if we did not call your attention to Isaiah 66:23,24, where we read that in the kingdom of heaven on earth, they will โ€œworshipโ€ God by going forth on a regular basis, as God says, to โ€œlook upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against Me.โ€ The prophet speaks here of souls in Hell, where โ€œtheir worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched.โ€ At the present time, of course, our hearts break at the thought of friends and loved ones suffering eternal torment. But once we reach the eternal state, our minds will be so much like His that we will worship Him by acknowledging that even this most severe of all His judgments is โ€œtrueโ€ and even โ€œrighteousโ€ (cf. Ps. 19:9; Rev. 16:7; 19:2). What a burden this should lay on our hearts to reach these dear ones now with the wonderful gospel of the wonderful grace of God.

1 As a young man, Isaac could have easily overpowered or outrun his elderly father.
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Bible Verse for 12/10/18

The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; — Deuteronomy 18:15

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