“When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.”
– Lamar Boschman
Our journey now takes us to the elements of worship. In all religions there are many common elements making up their system of worship. Devotion, commitment, adoration, and reverence are common to all religions. There is one essential element to worship that we must mention separately. For without this element, it is impossible to please God. The element of faith is found in all forms of worship, but just as the object of our worship must be fundamentally correct, so must also be the object of our faith. They are actually one and the same thing.
In Mark 10:17-33 we have the story of the rich young ruler who came and bowed down before Jesus. He asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life. Jesus, knowing his heart told him to sell all and follow Him. The young ruler went away sad for he had great possessions. He was looking to his riches to provide for him what only God can give. His faith was in his riches and not in God. Jesus said in Matt. 6:24 “Ye can not serve God and mammon (money).”
2. Are you looking to money to provide what only God can give you?
You can have all the elements of worship and still not have true worship. In Acts 10:1-2
Cornelius, a devout Gentile who feared God and gave alms to Him couldn’t truly worship Him.
His prayers only came before God as a memorial – vs. 44.
“The essence of worship is Faith”
Yet when these essentials are mixed with faith they become a powerful force in your God–centered worship. In this way we can actually bring balance into our lives. Rather than waiting for Sunday or Wednesday to roll around, we can walk with the Lord all day every day.
At this point you may be asking the question, ‘Can a believer who has a blind spot in his/her life or has unknowingly committed a sin worship God? The answer is a resounding – Yes he can, and we do! How many times have we gone to church and participated in a wonderful worship service and had our hearts stirred up, only to be reminded we have offended a brother or let some weakness slip by.
Matthew 5:23-24 tells us to leave your gift at the altar and go and be reconciled with your brother and then come and offer your gift (paraphrased).
There are few other questions that must be addressed before continuing:
The first is, ‘Can a non-believer worship God?’ and the second ‘Can a believer worship God using any means (i.e. the world’s methods, or unscriptural methods)?’
The answer to both questions is again – Yes But!
Their worship may be directed to God, but may not be accepted by God. In the case of Cornelius and centurion who was “a devout man and one that feared God with all his house, and gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.” (Acts 10:2)
The best that he could do is have his worship come up to God as a memorial. The Athenians “ignorantly” worshipped God as Paul pointed out in Acts 17. God did, however, respond to both forms of worship by sending someone who could tell them how they could have a personal relationship with Him in order to truly worship Him. As far as a believer worshipping God using the “world’s methods (i.e. sensuous music, sensuous movements etc.) We need to look no further than Leviticus 10:1-2 to find what God thinks of using the wrong methods of worship. “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.”
Does that mean that God will kill us if we sing a song that is too rhythmic, too fast or too stylistic? By no means, am I suggesting that. However, our goal should always be to offer worship that is acceptable to Him. In Isaiah.1:13 we read, “Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.”
“Our worship maybe directed to God, but it may not be accepted by God.”
3. What does God’s Word say about acceptable worship?
The Psalmist said in Psalms 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”
Paul made it clear what is acceptable to God when he wrote in Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.”
The verses leading up to Romans 14:18 describe that right heart attitude preparatory to acceptable worship. “For he that in these things serveth Christ [is] acceptable to God, and approved of men.”
Hebrew 12:28-29 states it this way, “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.”
I Peter 2:5 remind us that we are, “lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
The answer to the question should be obvious by now. That from God’s perspective there are certain elements that are required in order to have our worship accepted by Him.
How sad it would be to come to the end of one’s life of ministry using the ‘world’s’ methods to achieve worship and have it all burned up as wood, hay and stubble in the fire of God’s consuming presence.
The continuation of this study will help guide us in developing a style of worship, which is acceptable. Now that we understand what true worship is, let’s look at the Description of Worship.
Thank you for your comments. Please visit the archives for past posts of Seeing Jesus – a Three Dimensional Look at Worship