Faith Fellowship Church…PO Box 1586…Broken Arrow, OK 74013…Pastor Terry Dashner
“Essence of Worship”
Is there a difference in the form of worship and the essence? Yes, as a matter of fact, many churches today are struggling with the proper form of worship. So widespread is this problem that many churches have divided into two services on Sunday mornings. In one service the form of worship is traditional music. Only hymns, piano, and organ are used while in the other service only contemporary music is used. One service is youthful, dressed down, loud, and “rock-and-rollish” music bursts. In the other, well you guessed it. The music is softer, older, and church hymnals are used to reflect on the words while they are being sung.
I want to speak to you today about the essence of worship. The essence of worship is imperative for “true” worship in the church, or any place you worship God. Jesus predicted the demise of worship form when He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter four. You may remember the scripture, “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father…an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21; and 23-24 NASB).
The New Testament reveals a stunning silence about the outward forms of corporate worship and a radical intensification of worship as an inner, Godward experience of the heart. The silence about outward forms is obvious in the fact that the gathered life of the church is never called “worship” in the New Testament. Moreover, the main Old Testament word for worship is virtually absent from the New Testament letters. Its usage clusters in the Gospels (26 times) and in the Book of Revelation (21 times). But in the Epistles of Paul it occurs only once, namely, in I Corinthians 14:25 where the unbeliever falls down at the power of prophecy and confesses God is in the assembly. It doesn’t occur at all in the letters of Peter, James, or John.
The Old Testament idea, captured in the Greek word proskuneo, implied a physical falling down in reverence before a visible majesty. This happened as people came to the visible, incarnate Christ in the Gospels. And it happened in Revelation as the saints and angels and elders were actually in the presence of the visible, risen Christ. But in the age between the ascension and the second coming Christ is not visibly here to worship. Therefore, worship is radically internalized and delocalized. In Matthew 15:8-9
Jesus says, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me.” Worship that does not come from the heart is vain, empty. It is not authentic worship.
Consider what Paul does to some of the other words related to Old Testament worship. For example, the next most frequent word for worship in the Old Testament (after proskuneo) is the word latreup which is usually translated “serve” as in Exodus 23:24, “You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them” (NASB). When Paul uses this word for Christian worship, he goes out of his way to make sure that we know he means not a localized or outward form for worship practice but a nonlocallized, spiritual experience. In fact, he takes it so far as to treat virtually all of life as worship when lived in the right spirit. Here’s another example, in Romans 1:9 he says, “I serve [or worship] [God] with my spirit in the gospel of his Son.” And in Philippians 3:3, Paul says that true Christians “worship” [God] in the Spirit of God…and put no confidence in the flesh” (NASB). Then again he says in Romans 12:1, for Christians to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Paul sees all of life and ministry as an expression of that inner experience of worship.
To be continued...keep the faith. Worship the Lord with everything in you, any time, any place. Pastor t.
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