What is True Worship?
A theme in this book is the concept of "worship." In most people's minds, worship involves some sort of public service with hymns of praise, prayers and a well-planned liturgy. Such services epitomize for many what is involved in worshiping God. Yet this provides only a partial picture.
A dictionary definition of worship is "reverence tendered to a divine being" and "an act expressing such reverence." The word "worship" comes from an Old English word meaning "worth-ship" and refers to worthiness, respect and reverence directed toward God.
Appreciation for God's worth
Our worship of God would therefore literally mean showing our appreciation of God's worth. Certainly forms of outward religious practice, with their rituals, ceremonies and prayers, can show worship for God. But we must pay careful attention to what God tells us in his Word, the Bible.
God makes it clear He seeks those who will worship Him "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23, 24). When Satan sought to tempt Christ to worship him, Jesus Christ sharply rebuked him, saying, "You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only shall you serve" (Matthew 4:10). The apostle Paul equated his worship of God with "believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets" (Acts 24:14), referring to what we call the Old Testament.
God wants humanity to worship Him in truth. We do this by honoring Him, serving Him and giving heed to His instructions. God asks us to live "by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Our worship of God is shown in how we live our daily lives. Christianity is a way of life (Acts 18:25, 26; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22). It is a way of thinking, acting and living. It affects every aspect of our life.
What true worship involves
True worship of God involves nothing short of the inward transformation of the human heart by faith in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. External worship practices alone are inadequate. God is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit, from a converted and transformed heart.
True worship, then, is much more than praise of God in a public worship service. This broader meaning is indicated by the fact that five Greek verbs are translated "worship" in the New Testament. "The worship of God is nowhere defined in Scripture . . . 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 deed done in such acknowledgement" (W.E. Vine, Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, "Worship").
Jesus Christ sharply rebuked the religious leaders of His day because they misrepresented God's commands and substituted their own humanly devised teachings (Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:7). He said such worship was in vain. Christ reserved the harshest words of warning for those who would profess to worship God (who say "Lord, Lord," Matthew 7:21), but refuse to do God's will or obey His laws (verses 21-23). Such worship is empty and without merit, unacceptable to God and Jesus Christ.
We live at a time when many people are disillusioned with traditional worship services. They find them vacuous, without meaning and irrelevant to their lives. It is time to take a fresh look at what true worship is all about. When we come to understand its real significance, true worship becomes supremely relevant to our lives now and to our human destiny.
Sabbath full of meaning today
Many people, and professing Christians in particular, might be shocked to learn that the seventh-day Sabbath—God's commanded day of rest and communal worship—is not abrogated for the Christian today. It remains very much in force, as shown throughout this booklet. It is full of meaning and supremely relevant to the lives of all humanity. We are missing some of God's most wonderful blessings if we ignore the observance of His commanded day of rest.
True worship of God honors God's commands concerning the Sabbath. In contrast, Sunday observance does not rest on God's authority or that of His Word, but on the authority of man. The hard question must be asked whether God accepts such worship when His clear commands regarding His Sabbath are ignored.
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