Worship: What is it?
Worship in Spirit and in Truth
God Alone is Worthy of Worship
There are numerous places in Scripture where God says that the church and/or the Jews will be His people and He will be their God. At first that may sound oppressive to some. However, when we stop and ponder what that actually means, it is far from being oppressive. We humans are prone to having many gods. They may be our jobs, our aspirations, our spouses, some sort of hobby, some sort of bad habit, the news, some sort of chemical addiction, our worries, certain people (including ourselves) in one way or another, perhaps even our church; the list goes on. When we think about these gods, and what we really get from them, they come up wanting, to say the very least. They do not bring fulfillment, they are very finite, they often drain us, enslave us, sometimes they can even kill us. We serve them, and they may indeed appear serve us to some extent, but again, they do not bring any lasting fulfillment. We then (often repeatedly/cyclically) may try to fix the situation by bringing new gods into our lives, and they too (repeatedly) take away much more from us than they are giving to us. Satan does not want us to be fulfilled, and he will do anything to keep our focus on these ultimately worthless and enslaving gods, and off of the real God, who alone can fulfill us.
The real God gives us good things that nothing else, or no one else, can give us. He started out by giving us time, space and matter to live in (Genesis 1:1). He then made us in His image (Genesis 1:26) and gave us the gift of life (Genesis 2:7). Despite our sin, that He must deal with justly, because He is totally just (Deuteronomy 32:4, etc.) and therefore trustworthy, He gave Himself (Jesus) in order to justly deal with our sins on our behalf (Romans 6:23, etc.). If we accept His gift of payment for our sins, He gives us eternal life in His presence (John 3:16, etc.), which is free from death, disease, sorrow, pain or suffering of any kind (Revelation 21:4, etc.). This is someone who is worth worshiping; being obedient to; having at the front of our minds; being the focus and motivation behind every decision that we make.
Let our obsession and ultimate loyalty to not be with some ultimately pointless, powerless, unfulfilling and very finite human activity (a god), but with the infinite all powerful, all knowing, all present, loving and perfect true God of the universe that wants to commune with us; who wants to be in us, with us in Him (John 17:21, etc.).
God alone is worthy of worship; we are all internally “wired” to worship. We are naturally disgusted with worship of people in particular, even though we ourselves may do it from time to time. We are usually even more disgusted with the arrogance of people who would somehow think that they are worthy of some kind of worship in one form or another. This is because these things don’t fit our “wiring;’ they don’t belong; they are out of place. Worship only fits with God. Worship only belongs with God. Worship is only properly in place with God. Therefore worship only truly feels right with God. I am so glad that my eternal home is not going to be not filled with parasitic, unreliable false gods, but with the real God who is totally reliable; who provides real fulfillment, and genuine contentment.
How do we worship God? We worship God in many ways; with our time, our prayers, our talents, our voices, our resources; financial and otherwise, etc. Regardless, the key to any of these being true worship is having one's true focus on God as the motivating factor for the action, and the desire to please Him and grow closer to Him. Granted, none of our motives are perfect this side of eternity, as we still have the flesh. Paul admonishes Christians (the saints; saved people who are going to Heaven) in Galatians 5:16 to walk in the Spirit; the new birth that we receive when we put our trust in the finished work of Jesus, so we don’t fulfill the lusts of the flesh, which are discussed in verses 19-21 of the same chapter. Obviously none of those listed are pleasing (worshipful; obedient) to God. Therefore true worship can only be done by the believer who has the Holy Spirit to walk in (John chapter 3, Ephesians 1:13, etc.). The nonbeliever doesn’t have the Spirit to walk in, thus he or she cannot worship in Spirit and truth, as believers are admonished to do (John 4:23-24). Jesus is of course that truth (John 14:6) and we only have the Spirit when we believe the Gospel, which is all about Him (Ephesians 1:13). That new birth (new self that is born of the Spirit) is sinless (1 John 3:9), desires to, and can indeed worship in Spirit and in truth; being presentable to God. God cannot look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13), thus no one can truly worship Him without the new birth. The unbeliever has only the flesh and their old self (which the believer puts off when born again) to attempt to worship God in, which God considers utterly vile (Isiah 64:6), thus God does not receive any part of it, because the unbeliever’s whole being is tainted with sin.
The believer who is choosing to obey God; to walk in the Spirit, is truly worshiping God in whatever he or she may be doing as result of that; whether it be singing an aria, cleaning a toilet, preaching to thousands of people, going to church, looking after the needs of someone who needs help, or whatever. God gives us our abilities (1 Corinthians 4:7) and our opportunities to use them (Romans 8:28, etc.). He is impressed by our obedience; our proper attitude; how we use what He has chosen to give to us, for His glory. This is true worship; worship in Spirit and in truth.
The works of the believer will be judged in the Judgement that the Apostle Paul writes of in 1 Corinthians 3: 11-15. I believe that the gold, silver and precious stones that will withstand the fire; that believers will be rewarded for, are representations of the works (or portions thereof) that we did that were truly acts of worship. The fire will remove the tainted portions of them; purify them. The fire will also remove anything that we may have done that was not an act of worship.
Nonbelievers cannot truly worship and will therefor not be present at this judgement. If that is you, you do not have to remain in this category for even another minute. Just put your trust in Jesus and believe the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and be sealed with the Holy Spirit RIGHT NOW; worship God for the first time! Acts 16:31 tells us that if we believe (fully trust) on Jesus, we will be saved. The Gospel (the good news!) is that He died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that he was buried and rose again on the third day, according to the Scriptures. We receive eternal life when we fully trust that what He did for us was ENOUGH to save us. When you believe the Gospel, putting your trust in Jesus, you are born again and are sealed with the Holy Spirit forever (Romans 11:29, etc.) No church ritual will save you, no good works, or lack of bad works will save you, and no special prayer will save you. However it would like a guide to saying your first prayer to God AS a believer (perhaps your second act of worship), please see the top paragraph on page 28 of Angles and Aspects of Salvation. If you have more questions on this, please browse more of this website, and read Angles and Aspects of Salvation in its entirety, found here on this website; it’s not a real long read. Feel free to (be encouraged to) print it and share it as much as you like, as with anything else on this site. Also, please feel free to reach out to me.
May God bless all of you.
Jerrold J. Reams
A dear friend of mine is very who is an accomplished musician and worship director, has produced some images accompanied by some of her favorite psalms and other Scriptures of worship that may be a blessing to you. I will include a link here. https://www.rosestevens.com/renewingworship