Credit to this article goes to Stuart Gramenz who fathered Paul Thomas.
Hello and greetings to all fellow Saints!
This month I would like to discuss a very important topic which I think we need to know and understand, WORSHIP.
This particular subject I think has been seriously distorted and believers in general have had a very dim view of what this is really all about.
We know that God has His commands, His principles, His traditions. Since the dark ages, He has been restoring truths and replacing our traditions with liberty and freedom. Even in that restored truth, we can make a tradition out of something that was birthed by the Spirit of God.
Traditionally, when we hear the term “praise and worship,” many of us think of a period of time at a church meeting where we sing songs of devotion to the Lord. In many cases, these times of “praise and worship” consist, on average, of around 30 minutes out of the entire week of 100 hours, allowing for sleep and rest.
I know that I, along with countless others, have enjoyed this kind of corporate worship, sensing a closeness of His presence.
However, what I would like to talk about is not primarily designed to instruct us what to do during that 30 minutes. There is already much information and many books written on the subject. What we do wish to examine is the rest of the week (the 100 hours) and see what part praise, worship and God’s presence should play in it.
WORSHIP – TWO ASPECTS
Scripture teaches us that true worship is expressed, not just by what we sing but also by what we do.
If a king’s subjects bowed down and worshipped him, what would this mean?
The bowing down indicates a laying down of their life to serve their ruler. If all they did was say or sing, “You are my king,” it would be mere hypocritical lip service. True worship of their king would mean both lip service and active service.
Let’s see what the Bible has to say.
In the Old Testament we are more familiar with words translated as “worship” (such as “shachah”) which indicate bowing down or prostrating one’s self. Regarding other words translated as “worship” in the Old Testament, The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia says:
Other Hebrew words; “caghadh” is associated 7 times with “falling down” and 5 times with “serve.” “Abhadh” meaning to “work, serve, labour,” is rendered “worshipper” in some translations and “servant” in others.
The Old Testament idea is, therefore, the reverential attitude of mind and body or both, combined with the more generic notions of religious adoration, obedience and service.
Already we can begin to see that the act of worship goes far beyond giving praises to God in song. It obviously involves our obedience and active service.
In the New Testament, we are going to look at two Greek words for worship.
The first “proskuneo,” which means to “kiss in front of,” has the idea of paying homage to someone, probably by kissing their feet. As with the Old Testament concept of bowing before a king, it goes beyond mere lip service and at the very least, it is a form of submission. (Matt 4:10 ; John 4:21-24)
The second “latreuo” means “to serve or render religious service.” The noun “latreia” means a “servant.”
Let’s see how these definitions may change our understanding of the following scriptures.
“But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, so I worship [latreuo – serve] the God of my fathers….” Acts 24:14
“For we are the circumcision, who worship [latreuo – serve] God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh…” Phil 3:3
Traditionally, many of us would have interpreted “worship” to mean to sing rather than to serve.
Jesus, our model of the perfect worshipper, was confronted by Satan in the desert and was offered the world by him. The word “latreuo” translated “worship” in other scriptures is actually translated “serve” in this case.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship [proskuneo] the Lord your God, and serve [latreuo] him only.’” Matt. 4:9-10, NIV
Our Translation: “Away from Me Satan! For it is written: With your heart and mouth worship the Lord your God, and in your service you shall worship Him also.”
These two basic expressions of worship are given in this Scripture. Jesus was expected by Satan to do more than simply bow down and give lip service. It was an expectation to worship Satan by doing his bidding or works.
This is why Paul beseeches us to:
…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service [latreia].
The NIV also expresses this understanding of worship meaning “to serve.”
…offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Rom 12:1.NIV
Although we rarely see believers bowing down in a church service, when we worship Him by laying down our lives, it is a practical way of bowing to His commands. The laying down of our lives and sacrifice are synonymous.
Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Heb. 13:15,16
True worship incorporates being a living sacrifice, being dead to our desire, and laying down our lives to serve the Lord.
We can see that worship is the sum total of living a life totally dedicated to Him, in our hearts and mouths, and in our actions.
If you worked for a boss and all you did all day was praise him because he was a great guy, he’d be extremely annoyed. Because they weren’t doers of the word, the Lord rejected Israel’s hypocritical lip service of just singing to Him.
“Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.” Amos 5:23
The New Living Translation is a little more scathing.
“Away with your hymns of praise! They are only noise to my ears. I will not listen to your music, no matter how lovely it is.” Amos 5:23, NLT
It certainly wasn’t idol worship, but it was “idle worship.”
Now that we have a broader understanding of what worship is, let’s have a look at what Biblical praise is and what part it plays in worship.
W.E. Vine confirms that praise is just one part of our worship.
The worship of God is nowhere described in scripture. A consideration of the (above) verbs shows that it is not confined to praise. Broadly it may be regarded as the direct acknowledgement to God of His nature, attributes, ways and claims, whether by the outgoing of the heart in praise and thanksgiving or by deeds done in such acknowledgement.
We can see by W.E. Vines description of worship that it incorporates, first of all, our expression of praise and, secondly, the “service” part of worship, our deeds.
In the cat family, all tigers are cats. However, all cats aren’t tigers. In the worship family, all praise is worship but all worship isn’t praise.
Because of the traditional teaching which tells us that praise and worship are simply two different forms of singing, there has also had to evolve an explanation of the difference between these two. Some have been taught:—
We worship God for who He is
We praise God for what He has done
However, we can praise our parents in appreciation for who they are. “My parents are just great; they’re honest, hard working, and loving.”
We can also praise them for what they do. “You really helped me. Thanks for that, dad.”
Obviously, we can praise God for who He is and what He has done, without having to differentiate whether we worshipped or praised Him. Scripture also backs this up. There were times when people praised Him for who He is.
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised… Psalm 48:1
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say “Amen.” Praise the Lord! Psalm 106:48
Other examples can be found in: Psalm 61:8, Luke 2:14, Psalm 48:1; 106:48.
The definition is secondary here. The important thing is our honoring and thanking God from our hearts and mouths. As we have already said, if you are praising, you are worshipping Him from either your heart or mouth.
Would you like to be part of God’s ultimate worship service? Throughout the church, there is much teaching stressing the importance of worship and any genuine believer would desire to be considered a true and faithful worshipper.
Our concern is, that because of the major emphasis on music, many have incorrectly gained the impression that consummate worship was achieved by singing at the worship service. By doing so, they can unwittingly feel they have then fulfilled God’s requirement as a worshipper and are deprived of the understanding of what true worship is. Even worse, they may even feel guilty because, by not attending a service, they didn’t truly worship God that week.
For some who are taught and then follow a traditional narrow perspective on what genuine biblical worship is, the words of Jesus may apply.
…“These people draw near to Me with their mouths, and honor Me with their lips. But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Matt. 15:8-9
No sincere Christian would want to be worshipping the Lord in vain.
Can we expand our thinking and go beyond our tradition, and realize that God’s ultimate worship service is not limited to song, but is an every day lifestyle? If we don’t, we can run into the danger of idolizing our singing and continuing in idle worship. After knowing all of this would you want to run the risk of leading your people down this path?
Our traditional thinking of worship can nullify the effect of God’s Word in us. Much of our understanding of worship has been based on the Old Testament, but Jesus promised the church a new kind of worship.
Let’s look at a Scripture in regard to New Testament worship where Jesus was interacting with the woman at the well.
Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:21-24, NIV
Note that He said, “Yet a time is coming and now has come.…”
This is not the old form of worship. It’s a new one. True worshippers do this in Spirit and in Truth. Let’s look at this from the praise aspect of our worship, what we say, sing or think.
We read this in Hebrews:
Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. Heb. 9:1 NIV
It’s not unreasonable to assess from this Scripture that the new covenant in contrast to the first covenant didn’t have rules for worship, like a starting time and finishing time, nor a particular place you had to go. It’s spirit to Spirit…anytime, anyplace.
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips that confess his name. Heb. 13:15, NIV
Note how often we are to do this: “continually.” This is confirmed in the Psalms.
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
You can’t “continually” and “at all times” praise the Lord if you have to go to a building to raise your hands or are confined to the times set in a worship service.
To understand fully what it means to praise in spirit as a lifestyle, we need to remove the traditional tunnel vision many of us may have.
SINGING AND SAYING
Most of us are more than familiar with expressing our praise in the form of songs. Once again we wish to expand your thinking and help you realize that praise doesn’t necessarily have to be sung. Every time you want to thank your parents for something they’ve done, you don’t usually sing it.
Let’s look at what Scripture tells us.
…they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever.”
2 Chr. 7:3
Notice that it says, they “praised the Lord saying:”
“I will praise you O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of your marvellous works.” Psalm 9:1
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:13-14
These verses make it clear that praise is not confined to singing but can also be expressed by telling and saying.
YOUR TESTIMONY OF PRAISE
The use of the Greek word “doxazo,” which means: “to extol, magnify, praise or glorify” also exemplifies speech as praise. Here are a few examples:
Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.” Luke 5:26, NIV
…He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
Mark 2:10-12, NIV
They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” Luke 7:16-17, NIV
Also in the Psalms we read:
In God we boast all day long, and praise your name for ever. Psalm 44:8
We can see that testifying or boasting about what He does or has done is a great and natural way to praise Him.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind… Mark 12:30
IN OUR LIFESTYLE
Perhaps we can now see how, on a personal level, we “continually” praise all day long just by thinking of His many enduring attributes, as well as the daily things He does for others and for us. When we come together in small or larger groups, we can have a praise time by reminding one another, in a similar way.
What normally happens when we hear of the wonderful things God has done for others? We usually say within our hearts, “Oh God, you are so good.” Or “Thank you, Jesus.” Hearing a testimony in which someone is boasting about God’s goodness tends to cause the listener to praise Him as well.
Scripture would indicate that the telling and boasting form of praise was far more prevalent than the singing.
Understanding this, perhaps we could balance our traditional singing praise times with some faith building testimonies.
WORSHIP IN TRUTH
“…yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth,..” John 4:23 NIV
We have discussed how we can praise God spirit to Spirit. Now we need to discuss how to do this in truth. Again we wish to remind you, that we are not talking about praising in the church building, but praise as a lifestyle.
Truth here is the opposite of something feigned or false. It denotes honesty or sincerity.
The Message translates the preceding verse: “those who are simply and honestly themselves before Him in their worship….” In other words, it comes from our hearts.
Old Testament people were under law; they didn’t have Jesus in their hearts. Believers on the other hand, are given a promise.
“…I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts;…”
Jer. 31:33; Heb. 10:16
Old Testament people praised because they were told to praise; we praise out of our hearts, spirit to Spirit.
In his book “Worship as Jesus Taught It,” Judson Cornwall, says “Prisoners under the law wail rather than worship. Slaves of the religious system petition God rather than praise Him…!”
True praise can only come from those who “are simply and honestly themselves before Him” and have an intimate spirit to Spirit relationship with the Lord. We can all have our ideas on this and defend our traditions. However, our ultimate model is Jesus. So what did Jesus do???
I realize to many of you this would be a challenge! But let’s be transformed by the renewing of our minds!
Blessings to all in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.