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Every Sunday, especially during the holidays, great masses of people will pass through the doors of a building with a sign out front that says, ”church,” on it. They go to participate in a service of worship, or some type of religious ritual. Sadly, with just a quick glance, one can quickly discern that vast differences exist between the various religious services offered. Quite a few have even replaced Sunday as the day of Christian worship with a Saturday evening service. So, does it really matter how one worships? Is there a specific way? Are there instructions as to what, when, and how Christians are to worship? These are all important questions for which any true disciple of Christ should seek answers. If we believe the Bible is the authority for all things religious, then let’s open it up to see what it says.
If we search for the word “worship,” we will discover there are certain kinds of worship in the New Testament. For example, Matthew 15:9 mentions “vain” worship. Acts 17:23 mentions worship to an unknown god. Colossians 2:23 talks about self-imposed worship, Mark 15:19, 20 demonstrates a mocking worship, and John 4:24 talks about worship that is in “spirit and truth.” But, what does “worship” mean? Our English word, worship comes from the Greek word, proskunéo, which means “to kiss the hand of (towards) one, a sign of reverence; kneeling, or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication.” (Thayer)
With this understanding, it should be clear from the above verses that there is a right way to worship and there is also a wrong way. The fact is, everyone worships something, or someone. We see this throughout the history of man and even in our society today. Man is a creature of worship. He will either worship a deity, or he will worship money, sports, fame, or anything that can become an idol. But, the Bible teaches that God is the creator of all of mankind, therefore, all mankind should worship Him and only Him. John 4:23 says, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” The fact is, God wants His creation to worship Him! So, what does it mean to worship in “spirit and in truth”? In simple terms, worshiping in “spirit” refers to the ATTITUDE one must have in worship, while in “truth,” means the manner, or the DOCTRINE by which we enact our worship. Let’s look at both of these a little closer.
Worshiping in the right “spirit,” or the right attitude, has to do with the heart, the whole heart. For example, what does Colossians 3:16 say we should have in our hearts? What does Ephesians 5:19, say we are to do with our hearts? Matthew 15:8 also demonstrates how important the heart is in worship. What all of this implies is, it is possible to be at worship physically, but to not be there mentally. If we are not paying attention to what we saying or doing, then we are not involving our hearts in worship. Or, if our attitude is bad, rebellious, or unbelieving, then it is equal to vain worship.
Worshiping God “in truth” means we are to follow the patterns and commands for worship as found in the New Testament. This is what is known as “doctrine.” It is a word that means “teaching.” It doesn’t take much digging to learn that the the inspired writers of the Bible taught specific commandments that we must obey and described examples that we can use to follow. According to those instructions and writings, there are five components, or actions of worship. They are:
Therefore, the answer to the question, “Are there instructions for worship?” is, “Yes, there are instructions!” We must follow the examples and commandments God gave in His Word. Changing any part, or characteristic, of worship results in the corruption of God’s plan for worship and the destruction of the identity of the church. In the next few, upcoming articles, we will discuss each of these five points of worship, individually and in detail. – God bless! TS