Worship . Grow . Serve
Worship God Acceptably
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire." Hebrews 12:28-29, NIV
The word “worship” is usually used today in a sense much too limited. We have Sunday morning worship services led by worship teams. In these services, Christians gather, sing, pray, read the Bible, celebrate the Lord’s Supper, hear sermons, and give offerings. To most Christians, these activities are worship. These activities are certainly Biblical and very important, but worshipping God “acceptably,” as stated in the above Scripture passage, is much more than what we do for an hour every Sunday. Worship is not about getting an emotional high, feeling better, and going home comforted. It is about how we live our lives 24/7 both in public and in private. (Romans 12:1)
If we are true Christians, genuinely trying to grow as disciples of Jesus, people will see a difference in how we live our lives. 1 Peter 1:14-16 says, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” None of us, while in the flesh, will ever achieve holiness as God is holy, but we are commanded to try and to try seriously. This is not a call to be perfect in obeying the Law, which is legalism leading only to failure and discouragement. Jesus, who was both 100% God and 100% man, is the only man who ever perfectly obeyed the Law. In fact, as Christians, we have been freed from the Old Testament Law, but we are obligated to the commands of Jesus and the Apostles as recorded in the New Testament. We will certainly not be perfect in our attempts to obey these commands, but they are given to us for our own good, and it is through obeying them that we show our love for Christ. (John 14:15)
Jesus gave us very specific instructions about worship in John 4:23-24 - “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
What does it mean to worship God in spirit? God is Spirit and has created us in His image so we can be in communion with Him. We must involve both the Holy Spirit and our human spirit in worshipping God. At our baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit, who lives within us, but we can seriously inhibit His effectiveness if we don’t try to live holy lives. In worship, we must try to empty ourselves of “self” (our will, our purposes, our desires, our glory) so we can allow the Holy Spirit to fill us with God’s will, God’s purposes, God’s word, God’s glory.
What does it mean to worship God in truth? The Bible is our only source of truth. In order to worship God in truth we must seriously and diligently study the Bible. It is impossible to read Acts and the New Testament epistles without recognizing the strong emphasis the Apostles placed on sound doctrine. If we want to worship God in truth, we must hold firmly to sound doctrine in our teaching and in how we live our lives.
We must worship God both with the fruit of our lips and through our Christian service to our neighbors and our Christian brothers and sisters. Hebrews 13:15-16 says, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” When God is pleased with both the fruit of our lips and our sacrificial lives of service, only then will we be worshipping Him acceptably. JBL