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“My glory I will not give to another.” – Isaiah 48:11

What is worship?
Worship is a particularly sensitive issue which has been largely misunderstood over the better part of the last half century. Sadly, worship makes us think more often of war than that for which it is intended – the giving to God “our deepest devotion [and] our most ardent love.”[1]  Worship is not about the worshiper, his preferences, imagination, or any contriving on his own.
 
Worship is the giving to God our deepest devotion and our most ardent love.
 
Who do we worship?
Worship is the giving to God our deepest devotion and our most ardent love. Who, then, is God? To say that we worship God is to affirm our understanding that God is Trinitarian, three-in-one without distinction or confusion. Turning to the Nicene Creed provides a succinct systematization of our belief. “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” When we examine the scriptures we see that God created all things “by the word of his power in the space of six days and all very good.”[2] The agent of creation, the one in whom and through whom and for whom all things were created is Jesus.[3] Finally, we see the work of the Holy Spirit, noting that “there are three persons in the Godhead: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”[4] The Holy Spirit draws us and enables us to worship, convincing and convicting us of our sin.

Worship is the giving to God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – our deepest devotion and our most ardent love.

How do we worship?
So much of the emphasis regarding worship relates to singing and finds its expression in style. Many church websites refer to their worship as a style, be it traditional, contemporary, or blended. When we think of worship the “how” ought to thoroughly be determined and shaped by the “who.” God, in his Word, has given us the elements of worship, “reading of Holy Scripture, singing psalms and hymns [and spiritual songs], the offering of prayer, the preaching of the Word, the presentation of offerings, confessing the faith and observing the Sacraments; and on special occasions taking oaths.”[5]
 
Every church has a liturgy, whether it follows a contemporary catalog, or a more historical liturgy. The standard for worship is not the closeness or distance to traditionalism. It is Scripture.
 
We worship the living God of the universe, and therefore the how of our worship ought to be informed, or regulated, by Him alone. Styles are not mandated in Scripture. Substance, however, is, so we seek to worship according to Scripture.

Worship is the giving to God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – our deepest devotion and our most ardent love according to Scripture.

Why do we worship?
“Worship is the workshop where we are transformed into his image.”[6] As we read God’s Word, confess and pray, sit under the teaching of Scripture, partake of the sacraments, and sing to God our prayers and petitions in hymns and psalms, our lives cannot help but to be transformed more and more into the likeness of their Maker. “We worship God because God created us to worship him.”[7] John Piper explains in his book Let the Nations be Glad that missions exist because worship does not. In heaven, we will have no need of missions for the entirety of eternity will be consumed with the worship of God. Jesus said, in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Eternal life does not begin when this life ends. Jesus said that we have eternal life now, a life that never ends, that believers never die. We worship because God is graciously giving us a preview of that with which eternity will be filled, the worship of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Worship is the giving to God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – our deepest devotion and our most ardent love according to Scripture in order to grow in grace.

When do we worship?
When the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt the Pharaoh who did not know Joseph increased the requirements of God’s people to the point of unrealistic expectations, including tirelessly working seven days per week. When God drew his people out of the bondage of Egypt and promised them a good land he provided a means of rest for his people: the Sabbath. One day in seven God’s people were to rest and worship. Not only was this modeled by God in the creation account, but it was a clear and definitive break from the old way of life in Egypt. “The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”[8]
 
So, too, in our day, earthly masters are continuously increasing the burdens, both formally and informally, on God’s people. From enlarged work responsibilities to the demands of children’s activities, God’s people are running ragged. Today, we need to recover the dutiful delight of remembering and honoring the Sabbath, not as a legalistic ploy to gain God’s favor but as a recognition of his sovereign grace to provide rest for his people, a rest that one day, we will fully enter.
 
Worship is the giving to God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – our deepest devotion and our most ardent love, according to Scripture, in order to grow in grace by resting in Christ.
 
Where do we worship?
“For where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”[9] “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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.”[10]
 
These are New Testament passages admonishing us to meet together for the worship of our God. We gather together in God’s presence, with other believers, to worship God. This is not to neglect personal or family worship. Corporate worship, the time in which God’s body is drawn together for his adoration and praise is the view when we discuss where we worship. We are not tied to a particular building or location, but togetherness in corporate worship – in His presence – is the focus.

Worship is the giving to God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – our deepest devotion and our most ardent love, according to Scripture, in order to grow in grace by resting in Christ in His presence.

 

[1] Old, Hughes Oliphant. Worship, Reformed According to Scripture, p. 2.

[2] Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 9

[3] See John 1, Colossians 1

[4] Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 6

[5] Book of Church Order 47-9

[6] Old, p. 6

[7] Ibid, p. 1

[8] 2 Corinthians 5:17

[9] Matthew 18:20

[10] Hebrews 10:24-25