The Source: Worship


Lesson 6


Ask & Discuss

–          What is worship? Give a definition.

–          Can you describe a meaningful worshipful experience in your life?

–          What scriptures do you think about that help focus your worship?

–          Describe & Respond statement: “I’m just not getting anything out of worship.”

Definition & Introduction:

The Bible uses various words for worship that can be placed into two categories. The first group refers to service or labor (latreuo). These terms are used primarily in the service of God carried out by temple priests in the Old Testament. However, they are also used to describe an entire lifestyle of worship unto God (Romans 12:1). The second group refers to awe, reverence, honor and even bowing (proskyneo) or kissing (Psalm 2:12) one whom is greater. Even our English term stems from worthship – the act of ascribing worth. Both categories help us to understand that worship is an action done to or for another; it is not for ourselves. After an overview of some worship concepts we will explore actions or expressions of worship.

Exodus 20:2-5 “I am the Lord your God… you shall have no other gods before me…You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God…”


JEALOUS: God has righteous jealousy because He is our Creator, who made us for Himself (Isa 43:7; Col 1:15-20; Rev 4:11). There is only one God worthy of worship and that is the Trinitarian God of the Bible (Acts 4:12; 1Tim 2:5; Rev 5:9-10). Another word is zeal/zealous, that is perhaps at the same root. God is zealous for us to worship Him alone; rival idols are not tolerated. This truth helps us to see worship from God’s perspective and not our own.


Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37-40 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”


LOVE: The greatest commandment and act of worship toward God is love toward Him and His created beings. This shows that worship involves both a vertical and horizontal aspect (cf. Mat 5:23-24; 1John 3:15, 4:7-21)


Psalm 37:3-5 “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this.”


TRUST/DWELL: God is sovereign and promises to provide and protect those who trust in him. Trusting Him and dwelling in His provision are acts of faith and worship.

ENJOY/DELIGHT: Many people view a relationship with God as a simple past decision they made, lacking joy and passion. Such a decision minimizes the intimacy and ongoing relationship a believer has with God. Trust in God calls for enjoyment in him as completely satisfying in all of life. Realizing this truth, the believer should intensify his or her pursuit for God.

Commenting on this verse, John Piper says, “The great hindrance to worship is not that we are pleasure-seeking people, but that we are willing to settle for such pitiful pleasures… Being satisfied with all God is for us in Jesus is the essence of the authentic experience of worship.”[1] Worship is the most important thing you will do and we must have the right object of worship rather than satisfying ourselves with things of lesser value than an eternal God.

Psalm 16:11 “In your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

COMMIT: The word literally means to roll in or to lay wallowing. In other words, the psalmist calls you to go all in when it comes to following God. Half-heartedness and lazy discipline are contradictions when it comes to following Jesus. God is looking for passionate, white-hot worshipers.

Romans 11:36-12:1 “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

Note two words in this passage.[2]

GLORY: Preeminence and Prominence, weight or heaviness. This is your life’s greatest treasure and priority.

SACRIFICE: We sacrifice and give for whatever is our glory. This involves our entire being, focus and resources.

These concepts are a broad overview for one’s life to worship God. In addition, worship can be specified to a specific meeting or event with God. God met with individuals at various places, along with altars being built (see Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc.). God also met with groups at various places (see the Tabernacle in Ex 25-28 and the Temple in 1Chron 28; 1Kings 6-8 and the Synagogue). Today, God meets with His people through His Spirit (John 4:24; Heb 10:19-23) and through His Church (Heb 10:24-25). God’s presence is no longer limited to a place but is fulfilled in a P(p)erson (Heb 9:1-5; 1Cor 6:19). Christians do celebrate together on Sunday in honor of the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 20:7; 1Cor.16:2)

Practice, Principles & Application

Beyond aspects of one’s life focus before God there are certain biblical expressions of worship in Christian gatherings (church worship services). A synopsis of the Bible reveals a list of prayer (1Thess.5:17), singing/praise (Eph.5:19; Col 3:16), 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 Christian circles, there has been no shortage of opinion and discussion on the subject of actually “how” we should worship. This has become known as ‘The Regulative Principle’[3]. The two sides of this principle are: 1) We may do anything in worship except what Scripture forbids, 2) We may only do in worship what Scripture commands or prescribes. Literally, this principle is a life and death matter. The wrong kind of worship can provoke God’s anger and wrath.[4] We must follow how Scripture teaches us to worship but there are areas of application that it does not define. Therefore, godly wisdom and discernment are needed in order to apply the regulative principle and bring glory to God (1Cor 10:31; Col 3:17).

A believer’s worship should be more concerned about whom they worship which will result in understanding why and even how to worship. Losing God as the focus of worship results in “worship wars”; an ironic joining of words indeed. When we emphasize personal preferences or human performance then God becomes secondary and God’s church struggles.

Some Principles:

ð      Worship is to be God-centered (John 4:23-24).
God is the Seeker, not man. We please an audience of One and seek to worship Him in head, heart and hands.

ð      Worship is to be gospel-centered (Revelation 5:9-14)

What God has done for us in the gospel is never forgotten on earth or in Heaven. We both receive salvation and respond in worship. Our worship services have reception components in the preached Word, song, and truths.[5] Likewise, our worship services have response components in multiple expressions of worship.

ð      Worship is to be personal & corporate (Romans 12:1-8).
Salvation stems from a personal encounter with God leading to ongoing encounters with God and His people. In addition, worship on Sundays with others is meaningless if not combined with personal worship of God the rest of the week.

ð      Worship is to be missional (1 Corinthians 14; esp. vv.23-25).
If not intelligible and understood by unbelievers then we are missing the intended result of worship. As one pastor says, “missions exist because worship doesn’t”. Our gathered worship leads to believers sent out in worship declaring God’s message (Isaiah 6).

ð      Worship is to blend old and new (Psalm 33:3; Matthew 9:16-17; 13:52)

There should be reverence for the past but also relevance for the future. Neither has to be negated.


ð      What aids your worship to be authentic and alive (truth and spirit)?

ð      What suggestions do you have for our corporate worship services?

[1] The Dangerous Duty of Delight, p. 55-56.

[2] Concept definition of worship taken from Mark Driscoll, sermon: “Doctrine: God Transforms” accessed

[3] A fuller discussion of the regulative principle can be found in John Frame, Worship in Spirit and Truth, pp.37 ff.

[4] Gen 4Cain’s offering unaccepted compared to Abel; Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire in Lev 10:1-3; Saul was impatient and untrusting in offering a sacrifice in 1Sam 13:8, ff.; David disobeys God’s instructions in 2Sam :5, ff.; cf. Psalm 24:4, 51:16-17; Isa 1:11-17; Isa 29:13; Isa 58; Amos 5:21-24; Pharasaic worship in Matt 23; Ananias & Saphira in Acts 5.

[5] An interesting point to note is God sings over us and gives us a song to sing in response (Zephaniah 3:17; Psalm 40:3)

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