How do we worship?
This last question seems to be where most of the controversy remains. As mentioned, the driving purpose of worship is to know whom to worship which should result in better understanding every other aspect of why, when, where and how to worship. Nonetheless, the groundwork has been laid to address this last subject of how one should approach God in worship. It should be remembered that the only way to approach God is through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross when He opened the way for mankind to have access to the Father. Approaching God in this manner leaves the worshiper some degree of freedom, though with certain guidelines.
To begin with, an individual must approach God with “clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps.24:4). The psalmist means that one should have the right actions combined with proper motives. The believer approaching God through Jesus Christ comes forgiven in regard to their relationship with God, but must continue a life of confession of sin in regard to fellowship with God (1 John 1:7-9). Confession of sin is often equated with the vertical relationship with God, but it must also include a horizontal aspect involving right relationships with other people (Mt.5:23-24). God desires worshipers to be right with Him but also to be united in one body with no division of sin among the congregation. Worshipers fulfill God’s commands by loving God and loving others (Mt.22:37-40).
Beyond aspects of one’s heart before God there are certain biblical elements that are significant to a theology of worship. A synopsis of the Bible reveals a list of prayer (1Thess.5:17), singing/praise (Eph.5:19), teaching/preaching and reading Scripture (1Tim.4:13), making disciples (Mt.28:19-20), giving (1Cor.16:1-2), and even disciplining those in sin.(1Cor.5). Also significant to include are two ordinances that were given to the early disciples, the observance of baptism (Mt.28:19) and the Lord’s Supper (Lk.22:19). In observing these ordinances there is an aspect of proclamation to unbelievers of the gospel. Unbelievers may observe visual representations of the gospel as Christian’s are obedient in following this command. A final thought to be remembered is that God is not pleased with one’s ability to follow a ‘check-list’ of elements of worship. God condemned Israel in the Old Testament for a rote observance of such elements (Isa.29:13; Amos 5:21-24; Micah 6:6-8; Ps.51:16-17). Approaching God in worship must be done with humility and sincerity. God knows the hearts of His people and therefore must be worshiped in a manner that is pleasing to Him (Jn.4:24).