The word most commonly translated "worship" in the New Testament, apart from the gospels and Revelation, is latreuein, meaning to serve. This service is to God, and is often expressed through serving God’s people. Thus, you serve God by serving his people.
Let's look at some examples:
Hebrews 9:13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.Christ's sacrifice has freed us from the law, and given us the freedom to serve. How do we serve the living God?
Romans 12:1, ‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship’. The noun for worship here means service, and the context of this service is our whole lives. The reasonable conclusion a Christian must make when he realizes that God preserved a remnant and grafted him in, making him part of God's family is that he must serve the living God.
Romans 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
God gave His chosen people eternal life. He called them by His grace. Paul has just explained that the Gentiles have been grafted in, wild branches into the cultivated olive tree. When he thinks about the grace of God, he breaks into praise and says,
Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen
We are to offer ourselves as a sacrifice to God, which is our reasonable service, or our reasonable service of worship. According to Romans 3:23, All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. All deserve death. But God provided a way for us to be at peace with Him. He paid the price for our sins. He causes all things to work together for our good.
In light of all of this, it is reasonable for us to serve our Master. Every moment of our lives should be spent in service to our God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
1 Thessalonians 5:12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak,be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Hebrews 12:28 – ‘Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship (‘serve’) God acceptably with reverence and awe’. The writer then spells out what this looks like for us (ch.13) and it includes loving each other, honoring marriage, being content, remembering church leaders, and so on.
Remember, in the last post we noticed that JESUS CHANGED EVERYTHING.
- worship was duty
- the location of worship was the temple
- the manner of worship was proscribed specifically and included daily sacrifices
Now that Jesus has been raised from the dead,
- He has made us children of the living God
- We don't need to go anywhere to worship; He indwells us by His Spirit
- We are called to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice
All of life, everything we think, or say, or do, should be offered for His glory!
Too often we limit the significance of worship to what goes on in Church, or even to singing, commonly known as the ‘worship time’. However this skews the breadth of the Bible’s teaching on worship.
To say you go to church to worship is as silly as saying you go to bed to breathe. You don't start breathing when you go to bed... you breathe all the time! You don't start worshipping when you go to church. You are to be worshipping God with every thought, every word, and every deed! All of the time, in every way, you are to glorify God. You do so by serving Him and serving others.
Implications to ponder
1. We ought never to refer to the church building as "God's House". I know I did that when my children were little. But God does not dwell in a building made by human hands. The Temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, and there is no special building meant for worship. WE are the temple of God.
2. We ought not call Sunday gatherings "Worship Services". There are negative implications associated with this practice:
- implies a special standing with God as we gather
- we can feel we have satisfied Him for another week by going to church
- we feel we've done our duty
- this encourages a legalistic, rule-based mindset
We gather to encourage one another, to love one another, to exhort one another, to pray for one another. We gather because we need each other, and because it is a blessing to us!
All of our lives should be lived in worship. God doesn't require one day per week to be set aside - He wants ALL of us.
Consider tithing as an example. Christians are happy with themselves when they tithe. They check off their list, feeling pretty good about themselves. But God doesn't want us to tithe. He wants ALL of us. He wants us to see that everything we own belongs to Him. He wants us to dedicate all of our money, our time, our energy, our efforts to Him, for His glory and for the good of His people. All of our lives should be lived in service to God. It's our reasonable service.
3. We ought not to think worship means coming, singing, praying, giving... The New Testament shows us that we need to minister to each other. Our gatherings should encourage that. We should spend time together, sharing the difficulties and the joys of our week. Don't just attend and pray and sing and listen and take notes, then scoot out the door. Be involved. Interact. These people are your brothers and sisters in Christ. Spend time with them. Encourage them!
4. We ought not to judge or evaluate the service by how we feel. It can be very subjective.
Did I feel the presence of God?
Did the music move me?
Instead, we should be asking, "Why am I here?"
- to learn
- to praise
- to pray
- to minister
Our emphasis should be on ministering to one another. We should be teaching and admonishing each other, addressing each other in song. The goal is to glorify God by edifying each other to equip one another to face another week of spiritual warfare.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Ephesians 5 be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in v psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
We give the truth to each other when we meet together, singing the praises of God shoulder to shoulder. We equip each other to face a difficult week full of trials and triumphs.
Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
We have the confidence to approach God. Everything has changed. We have the greatest, best High Priest, who is always with us, always interceding for us, helping us to live for Him. So our reasonable service, our act of worship, is to encourage one another, to build each other up in the faith. This is worship.
Assignment: Go through the New Testament and write down what Christians did when they met together. You'll be blessed.