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Keralabrethren.net: General Forum: WORSHIP AND ITS CHARACTERISTICS

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# 09376 :  WORSHIP AND ITS CHARACTERISTICS

WHAT IS WORSHIP?

The key to worship is ‘recognizing someone of their rightful authority, someone as greater than us’. When we worship God, we recognize and ‘own’ Him as our God – God who is infinitely greater than us. Only you are worthy of honor, …. is what we hear in the heavenly worship (Rev 4:11).  This heavenly worship in Revelation typifies the ultimate form of believer’s worship.

Reverence and gratitude are two emotions that make one fall down before God in spirit and truth. Unless we have these emotions, we cannot truly worship God. More than the posture of bowing down, our hearts should show the attitude of worship. The posture should follow the heart. When we acknowledge the greatness of God and our inability to stand on our own merits prompt us to fall before Him and worship. Since external actions are unimportant in Christian worship, there is no rule regarding whether we should sit, stand, fall down, be quiet, or sing praises loudly while in corporate worship. No one should judge others by any of these externals, nor watch what others are doing or not doing; nor saying or not saying.

(a) WORSHIPPING IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH.

Often our appreciation of the real import of what Scripture says is hampered by our familiarity with the words and expressions involved. This phrase is regularly employed by us. So we assume that we understand what Scripture means by it. I have heard of “worshipping in spirit and truth” as long as I can remember. But time and again I have had to think about what it really meant.

John 4:20-26 "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." (Note: I capitalized for emphasis.)

The woman from Samaria spoke as if the major issue between her people and His was that they disagreed on where to worship. The Lord answers her that, that is not the crucial issue. You should worship the true God: “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know.” Worship “in truth” has to be worship of the true God.

He then addresses the matter that she presented as the foremost issue: place of worship. “An hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” For the moment, true worship is linked to place (Jerusalem). But a time is coming when the physical location will become irrelevant, for true worship happens in the spiritual realm. In fact, he tells her, that coming hour is already here.

The reason that place is not an issue for worship is that God is not place-bound. He is Spirit, non-corporeal. So, the true worship is characterized, not by external associations, but greater realities. The phrase “worship in spirit and truth,” teaches that our worship must involve a true knowledge of Him, and the adoration must be genuine (see Isa 1:11-16; Isa 29:13 quoted in Matt 15:8.)

So, our worship in Spirit and truth is the sincere acknowledgment, by word and deed, of the infinite majesty of God, out of a genuine knowledge of Him, and through the operation of God’s Spirit in our lives.

Many of us  have given their own specialized nuance and understanding to this phrase, and employ it with the conviction that “worship in truth and Spirit” is what routinely happens at the weekly remembrance meeting. A mere verbal acknowledgement of this great truth is not what the Lord is seeking from His worshippers. What most of us need to realize is worship, as taught in the Bible, or even more specifically in the New Testament, is much more than the remembrance meeting. Worship is a life lived to God, which continually acknowledges God in word and deed.

(b) EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW BEFORE HIM

 

In Phil 2: 9-11 we read; “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This includes all that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth. There is a demand that all should worship God formally.

When Satan and his angels bend their knees, it is out of the necessary requirement and not a voluntary submission to God’s rightful authority as believers do today. It becomes an inevitable event. When Satan tempted Lord Jesus Christ as we read in Matt 4:10; “You shall worship the LORD your God and Him only you shall serve,it is possible that the Lord had Satan’s ultimate surrender to Him also in consideration.

WORSHIP IN FORMAL AND INFORMAL SETTINGS

1. FORMAL

Worship can be done in formal and informal settings. A proper understanding of these would relieve us of much tension.  In both cases only believers with a worshipful heart can worship God. Formal setting is what we see in an Assembly gathering, most likely on a Sunday, with the breaking of the bread by submitting to the Lord’s command. Those with worshipful obedient hearts can worship God at the ‘Lord’s Table’ corporately. God has only children and no grandchildren. So, even in such formal settings, even among the baptized believers, some might not be worshipping God in an acceptable manner. God knows each heart. Even in a congregation, participants need to be aware that he/she is worshiping God fully on an individual basis. How someone else is worshipping is not of great importance to another person.

DO WE HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO DENY THE OPPORTUNITY TO FORMAL WORSHIP TO A CHILD OF GOD?

The Lord’s Supper is one of the aspects of formal worship at a corporal level. We sometimes refuse other believers from taking part of the Lord’s Table for reasons that are unscriptural. If we were to deny the participation from the Lord’s Table, it has to be for situations as we see in 1 Cor 5. It was for persistent immoral life style that was detestable; not for personal disagreements. Also, we must follow the pattern of Matthew 18: 15-19, prescribed to us by our Lord as a guideline for conflict resolution. Thoughtless denial of the Lord’s Table is unbiblical. We need to rest in the ultimate wisdom of God in this regard and use extreme caution knowing that the Lord Jesus Christ has invited His children to partake of these emblems and no individual should have the audacity to deny it unless gross continuous sinful pattern is found in a person and the proper steps as we see in Matthew 18 is thoroughly followed. When a person is denied the Lord’s Supper, as we see in 1 Cor 5:5, he or she is turned over to Satan so that the sinful nature could be destroyed and his or her spirit be saved. This is a very serious step and it has to be taken with great care on the part of the leadership, lest they deprive the Lord’s Supper to someone the Lord has invited and given the privilege to partake off.   

When our Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper, He did not exclude Peter who within few hours had denied the Lord. Knowing fully well what Peter would do the Lord Jesus Christ said, ‘with fervent desire I have desired to eat’ with His disciples, including Peter who later denied the Master (Luke 22:14). This must be the overriding attitude we should have when sharing the Lord’s Supper with others. Great deal of care must be given when we deny the Lord’s Supper to His children. Beware that you are making a decision on behalf of God and be sure that His blessings be upon such drastic disciplinary measure. Matthew 18:18; “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven;” is the authority given to the leadership of a local gathering, provided all the previous steps are taken. But far too often, we deny the participation from the Lord’s Supper as the first step of disciplinary action, which in fact should be the very last and reserved for gross sins and for putting someone out of fellowship.

2. INFROMAL WORSHIP.

Worship in an informal setting is frequently seen in the Bible. Matt 14:33, we see disciples who were terrified by the storm ‘worshipped {KJV} Jesus Christ in the boat saying, “You are the Son of God.” This recognition is worship. John 9:38 – The blind man who was healed by Jesus said, “Lord I believe and he worshiped Him.” Here his belief made his worship possible. John 20:28 – Apostle Thomas recognized Jesus Christ as, “my Lord and my God.” Such declaration of closeness, fellowship and acknowledgement of Lord Jesus Christ’s rightful place and authority over people is worship. Matt 28:9; we see the women worshipping the risen savior; “So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.” Ps 86:5 – The psalmist acknowledged God as the ‘forgiving, abundant in mercy to all who call upon Him’; there is worship.

Moses was able to worship God when he acknowledged Him (Ex 34:6-7) And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

(a) IS IT POSSIBLE TO WORSHIP WITHOUT THE LORD’S SUPPER?

There are some who may think unless there is the breaking of bread service (remembrance service), that meeting cannot be considered worship. Yet in1 Cor. 11, where the Lord’s Supper is addressed, we don’t even see the word ‘worship’. That doesn’t mean that the observance of the Lord’s Supper is not worship; following one of the ordinances given to the church is our obedience to God and it becomes worship. Same way, a person gets baptized, there is worship of obedience. We are asked to observe the Lord’s Supper often; ‘as often as you do this’. For this reason we do it regularly, every Sunday. We are asked to ‘pray without ceasing’; there is worship in prayer. In the Old Testament we see Hannah worshipping God in prayer (1 Sam 1:14)

Col 3:16 – ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.’- There is worship in singing. Again, Ps 66:4 ‘All the earth shall ‘worship’ You and sing praises to You; They shall sing praises to Your name.”  Ps 95: 6-7 ‘Oh come, let us worship and bow down; Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.  For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture, And the sheep of His hand.’ – When we declare our dependence upon God as we see here, there is worship. There are great many such examples in the scriptures.

(b) THE EARLY CHRISTIANS – THE PATTERN OF WORSHIP

We see the early Christians in Acts 2:42 “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” There is worship in each of these – learning / teaching; fellowship; breaking of the bread & prayers. These are various aspects of worship. Here in Acts 2:42, the breaking of bread is very much a part of worship, but that in itself did not make the worship complete. Also, the scriptures do not demand that unless all four aspects are there the worship would be incomplete by any means. But scripture teaches that without personal and individual worship in our life, there cannot be a corporal worship. Worship is a life-style, our daily walk. Anything we do, audible or inaudible, expressive or non-expressive can contribute to our worship.

CONCLUSION

When we show love, contentment, joy, patience, respect, compassion, submissiveness, exercise proper authority, fear of God etc. in our life, we are worshipping God, if we have a relationship with Him through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. When we obey God, not out of fear or obligation, but out of our love to Him as our heavenly Father, everything we do could be counted as worship. When we eat a delicious meal we can worship Him by recognizing His provision. When we sleep well, we can worship Him by recognizing that God is the one who is giving us sleep, rest, peace and protection.

Out of the 168 hours of a week we devote two to three hours for corporate worship where we audibly praise (collectively) and share our thankfulness to God. Unless we have the rest of the 165 hours of personal worship, we are just wasting our time at the corporate worship, by degrading it to be just routine act and done out of ‘obligation’. The breaking of bread, singing, sharing etc. are only a small part of worship – a mere one in fifty sixth of our time (168 hours divided by 3). God is more concerned about the 165 hours our life. It is tragically true that even the three hours we devote, our lips could be moving but our hearts are far from it. Sometimes we sing and at the end of the song we wonder what we just sung.

God showed what He is looking for from man, even in the fist chapters of Genesis. He searches the heart. He denied Cain’s offering, not because he presented something form the ground (and not a living animal) but because his attitude was not worshipful, which brought hatred from God and lead to disaster. In the New Testament Jesus commended the widow’s mite. She had the true ‘worshipful heart’.  May the Spirit of God equip each of us to be true worshippers of Him!

Tom J

Post by : tomj  View Profile    since : 6 Oct 2018



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