In John chapter 4, the Lord Jesus explained to the Samaritan woman that the day was coming when the Father would seek worshippers ‘in spirit and in truth’. But what is worship? If we look across 21st-century Christendom, worship often equates to music. Worship can certainly be expressed in appropriate hymns and spiritual songs that proclaim the greatness of God. However, worship is more than music that stirs emotional feelings. Bear in mind that, sadly, many worship songs are not actually grounded in scripture and may promote a distorted view of God and His word.

The dictionary definition of worship is usually something along the lines of the Oxford Dictionary, ‘the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity’.

Heaven will be marked eternally by the united worship of the Lord Jesus; it is the expected reaction of the redeemed heart, Rev. 5. 14. Worship is not seen in the New Testament as a gift. Instead, it is the reaction of the heart to the character and work of God and His Son that ought to mark every Christian.

Of course, we are called to show our worship now. In the widest sense, this involves presenting ourselves on the altar of God’s service and accepting and proving His will for us, Rom. 12. 1. Most often, though, when scripture has the idea of worship in mind it involves sacrifices being given to God to express adoration and to magnify His greatness. In the Old Testament this usually entailed the sacrificial killing of an animal that, depending on the type of offering involved, pointed forward by way of picture to various aspects of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, the once-for-all sacrifice of the Lord Jesus means that we do not need to make animal offerings anymore. Instead, Hebrews chapter 13 verse 15 exhorts believers, ‘By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to [or perhaps better “confessing”] his name’.

Worship for the believer, therefore, involves us bringing to God what we appreciate of His Son. It involves us presenting by our lips the fruit of our thoughts about Christ. The scriptures speak of Christ. So, to be able to worship God acceptably, we need to know the scriptures, and spend time thinking about His greatness.

In the Old Testament, worshippers did not have the privilege of entering the divine presence. Only the High Priest could do this, and then only once a year. On the annual Day of Atonement he would enter into the Holiest of all, where God’s glory was, with the blood of a sacrifice which pointed forward to the death of Christ. The Lord Jesus has, however, opened up a new and living way so that we have the privilege of entering straight into the presence of God through Him. How is your worship? Do you spend time meditating upon the Lord Jesus in the scriptures? If so, your heart should be overflowing in worship to God for Him.

Just as there were priests in the Old Testament, there are priests in the New. 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 5 describes the people of God as being ‘an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ’. So, every believer is a priest with the opportunity, and responsibility, to worship.

Worship is not restricted to the Breaking of Bread, but it is inevitable as we remember the Lord Jesus that worship is the result. To effectively add spiritual contributions on that occasion, we will not only need to ensure that there is no unconfessed sin, and that we are in the right spiritual condition (read 1 Corinthians chapter 11 verses 27 to 34), but also that we have spent time considering the Lord Jesus in preparation for the time of remembrance and worship. Given that worship is not restricted to a special few, every saint, males, audibly, and females, inaudibly, 1 Tim. 2. 8; 1 Cor. 14. 34, should be a worshipper at the assembly meetings.

The scriptures are full of illustrations that demonstrate the holiness required when we enter God’s presence to worship. Leviticus chapter 10 records the solemn incident when Aaron’s sons were executed for approaching God with the wrong offering in the wrong way. We should be marked by reverence and obedience.

Practical Issues

  1. Is my choice in music biblically sound?
  2. Is my prayer life in private marked by thanksgiving and worship?
  3. Do I prepare and contribute to the Breaking of Bread meeting?
  4. Am I reverent and obedient in my approach to God?