Thrust Statement: Worship is one’s way of life twenty-four hours a day.
Scripture Reading: Romans 12:1
The subject of worship is one of the least understood subjects among many Christians. As a result of this failure to comprehend the theme of worship, one discovers multiple divisions within Christendom. These divisions come out of a sincere desire to be true to the Word of God. Generally today, when one speaks of worship, one associates worship with five acts performed on Sunday morning in a prescribed manner. These acts are: singing, praying, preaching, communion, and giving. Each fellowship of believers claims to worship God according to the teachings of the New Testament.
Many Christian fellowships are alienated over the “elements” in a so-called worship service. Unless one understands the true nature of worship, one cannot bring an end to divisions within the Christian community. The Presbyterians are divided over the “elements” or “parts” in the so-called worship service. On the other hand, the Churches of Christ are also divided over the “pattern” to be observed in a so-called worship service, which is the same philosophy advanced by the Puritans—biblical forms and patterns. Both groups came out of the English Puritans. As a result of this background, the Reformed Movement became a movement with emphasis upon book, chapter, and verse for the elements in a worship service, which is a holdover from Catholicism. The Reformed theologians used the Bible as a blueprint or pattern for a worship service.
As early as 1728, William Law called attention to the fact that there is not one command in all the Gospels for public worship. In other words, there is not one precept to be found in the word of God that speaks of public worship. One does not deny that what one does on Sunday morning between the hours of 9a.m. and 10a.m is not worship. The issue is: Has God ordained a worship service with five elements or rituals to be performed in a prescribed manner in order for one to worship in spirit and in truth? Not one word that is translated “worship” in the New Testament is ever employed in association with a so-called corporate worship service performed on Sunday morning. One is never commanded in the New Testament to go to worship. Not one book in the New Testament ever speaks of a worship service. Christians are divided over something that the New Testament never speaks of. There is no mention of corporate worship in the New Testament. Worship acts are not outlined in the Scriptures. Christians are commanded to come together, but this coming together is to strengthen and encourage one another in the faith. This gathering is never called a worship service.
The Scriptures do not speak of the Christian assembly as a worship service. Worship is not a stop-and-go experience; it is a way of life twenty-four hours a day. Paul, in writing to the Romans, speaks of presenting one’s body as a living sacrifice, which is one’s spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1). Christians are to worship God with their lives. True worship demands ethical behavior twenty-four hours a day, not just one hour a week. Worship is a quality of the heart; it is an act of service. Christians have no right to separate worship and service. It is true that God gave to Moses certain rituals associated with the Tabernacle, but for the Christian, his/her worship is strictly associated with one’s way of life, not with rituals that consist of five acts performed on Sunday morning (see John 4:21-24). The present concept of worship today is the very opposite of what Jesus said to the woman of Samaria. Worship is not like a water faucet that one turns off and on.
Jesus describes true worship to an expert of the Law—loving God and loving one’s neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40). The point is that one’s worship, one’s devotion, and one’s ardent love are to be directed toward God rather than toward oneself. The traditional perspective on worship places great emphasis on specific acts or practices at sacred geographical locations, not holiness as one’s way of life. In the New Testament, worship is not applied in any specific way to Christian assemblies.
If one wishes to explore the subject of worship more fully, please go to my website: www.freedominchrist. The subject of worship is located under SERMONS AND ESSAYS and then under the caption WORSHIP.