NT Text: Matt. 4:1-11, esp. v. 10
OT Text: Neh. 9:5ff (esp. vv. 5-8); the prayer of Nehemiah
by Robert J. Young

Abstract: Worship involves the proper person giving adoration to the proper object in a proper way.

Our text uses two words for worship. This provides another look, insights, an understanding of worship. We often speak of the acts of worship. This is a phrase not in the Bible. Worship is an attitude reflected by an action, thinking reflected by doing. There are various acts of worship. Worship involves who I am; worship must ask, "What is my life?"
Worship involves acts of reverence, homage, honor, respect paid by the worshiper to a person, place, or thing which the worshiper believes to have influence over destiny, and to which the worshiper thus desires to express homage, honor, adoration. Thus Romans 1:25 speaks of that to which one ascribes godliness, that which one serves.
This study is the study of religion. Worship is tied to religion. We worship because we are "bound back to God." The word religion is used three times in the Bible: Acts 26:5; James 1:26-27. James 1:27 provides an interesting definition. Religion is to bridle the tongue, keep oneself pure, help others.

Rethinking Worship
We have said there is in the Bible no phrase, "acts of worship." Neither is there a listing of the five traditional acts of worship, whether we call them outlets, channels, forms, or items. They are not listed in the Bible. This is because in one sense all the church does is reflective of religion, and thus is connected to worship. Worship and service are often used interchangeably. A Christian worships in the assembly, but may (should) also declare honor to God at work, at home, and on the job. Worship in the assembly is unique, designated by God, not to be changed. But when we study the acts of worship, we must broaden our concepts and understanding of worship, but not at the expense of assembly.
Romans 12:1-2 puts a Christian within the confines of the will of God, and such a person offers continual worship to God, being God's temple and possession (1 Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19-20). This is worship, but is not a replacement of the assembly. Worship is people, we are God's temple, and temples are places of worship, but even in the New Testament, the church assembles for worship.

Expanding Worship Concepts
If Romans 12:1-2 suggests that all of life is connected to worship, we are being transformed as a result of our spiritual worship or service. We present our bodies, living sacrifices. The word used here is a ceremonial word The Jews were required to offer burnt offerings again and again. But Paul said Christians (as a temple) have a continuing, living sacrifice which is worship.
Every Christian's body is the home, temple, place of God. Every Christian is a priest with access to God, 1 Pet. 2:9ff. Priests are always on duty.
But that life and actions in our daily routines may in some sense be connected with worship does not do away with assembling together. The connection is that life and worship must both reflect our relationship to God. One may easily reach wrong conclusions. One may reason, "If all of life is worship, then there is no need to assemble. I can worship better in other places."
God's church is to assemble for worship, and unless we are hindered beyond our control, we sin against God when we violate that command to assemble. What distinguishes the assembly? This is not an easy question, but one answer notes that which we can sing, preach, teach, and give outside the assembly, bit if we are sharing the communion feast, we are in assembly.
Heb. 10:25 says the assembly is important. Heb. 10:21-24 adds reasons for that importance. We can encourage, admonish, and correct one another. In the context of the priesthood of believers, we can worship. Our study of worship must not neglect this assembly.
Because we are worshipers, desiring to ascribe to God honor and praise and glory, we come and act with an attitude that verifies those acts as worship. It is action plus attitude that composes worship. Action and attitude are obedience. Singing, praying, teaching, studying, giving, and the Lord's Supper are God's divinely ordained actions for ascribing praise, and honor, and glory. In the assembly, these are the actions God commands and sets forth.
We can also praise and honor and give glory to God in life. These are actions in harmony with God's will, plus an attitude that commits all of life to God's hand.

Biblical Words

  • Latreuo--serve, minister, worship. See Luke 2:37; Heb. 12:28-13:16. In Scripture this service may be seen to involve brotherly love, hospitality, care for the unfortunate and oppressed; marital loyalty, freedom from materialism, respect for spiritual leaders, loyalty to Bible truths, doing good, sharing what you have.
  • Latreia--Rom. 12:1-2 (the noun).
  • Godliness--1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Pet. 1:3; 2 Tim. 3:12. There is no greater honor paid than imitation, obedience.
  • Minister and serve, worship God by serving others. Rom. 15:16,27.

    Worship is ascribing to God praise, honor, and glory for His majesty, splendor, grace. It is action and attitude in Christian living, ascribing honor in song and prayer, by teaching about Him, by giving to Him as a reflection of His claim upon us, and by remembering His past great actions on our behalf. We worship by obeying, serving, by doing his will.
    The real honor to God is our imitation of Him. Will we be like God?

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    Last updated March 3, 2003.