What is Worship?
Text: John 4:19-24
I. I was asked recently to address a question of what constitutes worship
A. Defining terms, such as worship, is interesting because there is a tendency in the religious world towards vagueness.
1. Pentecostal beliefs emphasize the emotional experience (the spirit). Worship is not real unless you can feel it and, on the flip-side everything that brings a spiritual high is worship.
2. Catholics wrap their worship in rituals. There are certain acts that you do periodically and they are declared to be worship, even it the participants do not fully understand what they are practicing. These rituals are done in all manners of occasions, lending the aura of worship to many things.
3. This blending of worship with everyday events has led many to conclude there is no end to worship.
B. However, we cannot define beliefs by religious trends.
1. God has given us all things pertaining to life and godliness - II Peter 1:23
2. We learn of these things through the word – the knowledge of him.
II. Examining a few incidents of worship
A. The wise men worshiped Jesus - Matthew 2:11
B. Satan wanted Jesus to worship him - Matthew 4:8-9
C. A man worshiped Jesus when asking for his daughter to be healed - Matthew 9:18
D. The Samaritan woman wanted to know where people should worship - John 4:20
E. People were involved in worshiping demons and idols - Revelation 9:20
F. Notice that worship was a distinctive action. It was not a vague concept that permeated a person’s life.
G. Notice that while worship belongs only to God, other things and beings have been worshiped.
H. The word worship means “the honor and respect given to a divine being or supernatural power.”
III. Jesus’ definition of worship - John 4:21-24
A. Worship requires a worshiper.
1. Worship is an action taken by people
2. The existence of a rock is not worship. Animals do not worship.
B. It requires an object of worship – God
1. Mankind has often misdirected it’s worship - Isaiah 2:8
2. It was called futile (useless) worship because man cannot make God - Romans 1:21-23
3. As Jesus told Satan, only God is to be worshiped - Luke 4:8
4. One falsehood that is frequently circulated is that it really doesn’t matter who you worship. Allah and God are the same being, just call by different names. The God of the Muslims is not the God of the Christians. The God of the Muslims does not exist, he is a figment of Mohammed’s imagination. God of the Christians is the only true God. The God of the new age movement, Gaia, is a falsehood and cannot be equated with the God of the Bible.
C. It must be done in the proper spirit
1. Matthew 22:37-38 - Love God with our whole being
2. Worship of the Creator is not a frivolous thing. Paul warned the Corinthians to make sure their partaking of the Lord’s Supper was done in a worthy manner (proper frame of mind) - I Corinthians 11:27-30
3. It cannot be done accidently.
4. Even when doing the proscribed actions of worship, the worship is in vain (useless) if the heart is not in it - Matthew 15:8
D. It must be done in truth (as God commands)
1. The Jews used their rules for serving God. Jesus declared them useless - Matthew 15:9
2. God is the object of our worship and He tells us how He wishes to be served. God doesn’t have to accept anything man may happen to send His way – God doesn’t need man’s worship. Man cannot tell his Master what God will accept. - Isaiah 29:16
E. So what is worship?
1. It something a man does that is giving praise and honor to God.
2. It is limited to things that God has told man to do to worship Him.
3. And it requires a proper attitude by man towards God while doing what God has directed.
IV. Worship versus Service
A. If you think back on several of the verses that we have read, perhaps you will notice that the word “service” is often connected to the word “worship”.
B. They are closely related ideas, but they are not the same.
C. Worship is giving God honor and praise. Service is giving God obedience.
D. Service is the way we conduct our lives. When choices are presented, we choose the path that is pleasing to our Master. We follow the commandments of the one we serve.
1. Part of our service to God is our worship to him, but all service is not worship.
2. Exodus 20:4-5 - Notice the distinct but related usage.
3. Also clearly seen in Daniel 3:12-18. They neither served the false god nor worshiped the idol.
E. The confusion comes into play in the translation of some verses.
1. For example, Romans 12:1-2 our lives are given to God.
a. The word at the end of verse one means religious service. Some translations add the word worship. Yet other verses using the same word is simply translated as service.
b. Example: John 16:1-2
c. Even though our lives are offered to God, it does not imply that everything we do with our bodies is worship as Jesus defined worship, but everything we do ought to serve God and His purpose.
2. Another verse commonly sited is Col 3:17
a. Everything we do is to be done in accordance with Jesus’ authority.
b. Everything we do should be done thankfully
c. But everything authorized by God is not necessarily worship.
d. Let us use Abraham as an example - Genesis 22:3-8
(1) Was traveling three days authorized by God? Yes. Was it worship, no that came later.
(2) Notice that Abraham did not consider everything he did worship.
(3) He told his servants to stay while he and Isaac worship.
V. The idea that everything is worship actually takes away from the concept of worship.
A. Worship becomes common, ordinary, and routine.
B. Worship is a distinctive action reserved for God alone.
C. The things we do here today is to give God glory and honor by serving Him. It is not a time for us (though we do benefit). It is a time to worship our Lord.