What is True Worship?

Written by M. Ashley Evans

January 10, 2020

There is one event a year that I get head-over-heels excited about. While I love holidays and vacations – I am so much more excited about attending the G3 Convention than going anywhere else. This year, the focus of the convention is on Worship. Since Striving for Eternity will be represented at the convention, I thought it would be appropriate to go ahead and look into the topic of Worship.

What is Worship?

“’Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.’ Jesus *said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.’” John 4:20-24

Most people will go to church to see what they can get out of it. “Oh I really like the music at that church,” they will say. Others will say, “I wish the worship service was more contemporary so I could get more out of it.” Some people will say, “I go to church to get blessed.” Or “I go to the church over here because I get more out of the sermon.” Then there are some people will choose to attend a certain church simply because their kids are getting more fun out of the youth group than at another church. But at church, we attend so that we can worship God. Not to see what we can get.

Worship is honoring God or giving him homage or adoration. Worship is giving glory and praise to God. Many people worship other beings or objects other than God. Pagans worship many gods. And many people worship an idol of their favorite sports team. Worship is giving honor. And in a church, we are not there to worship the pastor – though we should give him respect. Our entire life’s purpose is to give glory to God – we were created to worship God. Worship should be an all-consuming desire within believers. We should desire to give all of ourselves to God.

God Seeks True Worship

Many people think worship is a feeling. A rising joy within their heart when they hear certain music. Some people think that worship is a feeling like a euphoric rush that comes upon you after so many repetitive adoration songs. Other people say that they can’t worship unless there is a certain style of worship music to help them along. But that is not worship. Those feelings can come and go with any sort of emotional music – even music that has nothing to do with God at all. People who go to church looking for that sort of experience are not worshipping God. Their idol is their own self. They attend to get a euphoric emotion. Worship is only for God. Worship is distinctly focused on God – regardless of how we feel.

John MacArthur said, “But let’s compare that ministry concept with worship.  Ministry is very important.  We have to have that.  But ministry can be looked at in this way: ministry is that which comes down to us from the Father through the Son, in the power of the Spirit, to one another.  God, through Christ, by the Spirit, gives to us spiritual gifts to minister to one another.  Worship is the opposite.  Worship starts from us, by the Holy Spirit, through the Son, to the Father.  And both are in perfect balance.  There must be worship.  God seeks acceptable, true spiritual worship.  Did you get that sentence?  God seeks acceptable, true spiritual worship.  Every one of those words is critical, and you’re going to understand, I hope, each word by the time we’re done in its fullness.  God seeks acceptable true spiritual worship….. Worship is a heart that is so warmed by the truth about God that it boils over in praise.”

We are commanded repeatedly in Scripture to worship God. That is one of the primary emphases in scripture. In both the Old and New Testament worship is seen as a priority in the life of the believer. It is not just mentioned casually as if it is a good idea. It is repeatedly commanded. And never in Scripture is worship discussed as if it is an experience to be had or an emotion to crave. Worship is our giving honor to God, regardless of what we are experiencing.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” Psalm 150:6

“God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42:11

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 1:12

God seeks acceptable, spiritual worship. And this true worship only happens when a believer offers his life as a living and holy sacrifice. Spiritual worship is not a feeling within your soul – nor is it an out of body experience. We know that because in Romans 1:12 it says we are to present our bodies as a sacrifice in order to spiritually worship God. Because it is within our body that our soul is kept. It is within our body that our own true self resides. This act of worship is all-encompassing – it is our physical body as well as our soul. Our entire being needs to be given to the Lord for our adoration of Him to be considered true.

Go back and read Romans 1:12 again. We are only able to truly worship God because of His mercy. It is God’s mercy that chose for Himself before the foundations of the world His people. It is because of His mercy that He chose to bestow grace to us so that we might believe in Christ who died for our sins. It is only mercy that enables us to be covered with the blood of Christ so that His imputed righteousness might make us presentable to God. Only His mercy makes it possible for us to worship. If not for His mercy, we wouldn’t be able to worship God.

Any worship offered to God that is not done right is unacceptable. Only those who are the recipients of His mercy are able to worship God rightly. Therefore, people who do not worship God rightly do not enter into eternal life with Him. They are cast into Hell. Worship is at the very core of our faith. There is acceptable worship and then there is unacceptable worship. Everyone is worshipping something. Even an atheist worships – he worships himself. But everyone worships because we are created to worship. Some men will worship false gods, whether it is an idol on a shelf or someone who worships success or wealth. Unacceptable worship is also worshipping God in the wrong way. He has clearly dictated what He views as acceptable worship. Anything outside of that parameter is unacceptable. Even if you are trying to worship God, but are doing it in a way that you think is best, but that is not the way God has specifically commanded you to worship Him. We can see this in the life of Saul and also in the life of Uzzah:

“Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, ‘Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.’ And Saul offered up the burnt offering. Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. ‘What have you done?’ asked Samuel. Saul replied, ‘When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.’ ‘You have done a foolish thing,’ Samuel said. ‘You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.’” 1 Samuel 13:7b-14

“David again brought together all the able young men of Israel—thirty thousand. He and all his men went to Baalah a in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals. When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.” 2 Samuel 6:1-7

God requires us to worship Him – and to worship Him rightly. True and acceptable worship only occurs as the result of salvation given to us by the mercy of God. True and acceptable worship only happens when a believer gives all that he is to the glory of God. True worship will encompass every aspect of a believer’s life.

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