Human beings are instinctively worshiping creatures (Psalm 42:1), and the fact of the matter is that men are going to worship something or someone. Unfortunately, it may be the sun, a cow, a golden idol or oneself. So in considering the identifying marks of the Lord’s church, we must examine what and how people must worship to be favorable with God.
Worship is a dominant theme in the Bible. The concept is represented by several terms in the Hebrew scriptures and in the Greek New Testament. Basically, worship involves a deep sense of religious awe that expresses itself in ritualistic acts of devotion and service. The English word “worship” liter-ally means “worthship,” and it denotes a being or object that the worshiper deems worthy of devotion.
As He was traveling from Judea to Galilee, Jesus stopped at Jacob’s well near the city of Sychar. There He had a conversation with a Samaritan woman regarding worship. Jesus said in John 4:23, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” So the Lord desires that we be “true worshipers.”
Christ then set forth three components that were to constitute the kind of worship with which the Father would be pleased. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). The proper object of worship is “God.” The correct attitude is “in spirit.” And the standard by which acts of worship are to be measured is “the truth.” Each of these is crucial.
The church of the first century engaged in several devotional acts in the Lord’s day assemblies. Disciples engaged in prayer (Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 14:15-16), singing (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:17), partaking of the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29), studying the scriptures (Acts 20:7; Romans 1:16) and contributing of their means (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:6-7). When a faithful member of the Lord’s body participates in these actions, they are worshiping in “truth.” It is disheartening to see some who reject the idea of any kind of divine directives in worship. They claim that God nowhere intended to force upon man “pattern worship.”
However, Paul said in Philippians 3:3, “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” When we “worship God in the spirit,” it is equivalent to God directing us through the word of truth (Ephesians 6:17; John 17:17). Items such as instrumental music, partaking of the Lord’s Supper once a month, parties and recreational activities, women speaking or leading in the worship service and raising money by car washes and bake sales were completely foreign to the Lord’s church in the Bible. Let us always worship with great passion. We have been redeemed from sin and we are grateful for His blessings!