Biblical Acts Of Worship
Written by Jay Yeager
Thursday, 12 February 2009 02:39

BIBLICAL ACTS OF WORSHIP”

(By Jay Yeager)

 

“Biblical acts of worship”. The Bible has a great deal to say about worship, both negative and positive. Needless to say, God is very interested in worship, because He fully expects to be the object of that worship. He who created us wants our devotion, not in a worship that we invent, but a submission to the worship He governs. Not you, not I, but God will tell us how He desires for us to worship Him! To demonstrate how serious this matter is, God shows us how He views worship offered without His approval or authority.

 

Meaningless Worship

Israel was engaged in what they no doubt called worship offered unto God. On the other end of that so-called worship, God only heard the noise of their worship. “Take away from me the noise of thy songs…” (Amos 5:23). What they called worship was merely noise in the sight of God!

 

Heartless Worship

There are many who offer lip service to God. In other words, they say the right things, but worship that proceeds no further than the mouth is not worship at all. In words that none could fail to understand, Jesus labels pretentious worship as empty. “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying this people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:7-9).

 

Godless Worship

To trust in an object is more than absurd, it is useless. A lifeless figure cannot bless those who serve it, nor curse those who refuse to. “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not, eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths” (Psalms 135:15-17).

 

Mindless Worship

The apostle Paul in the city of Athens said; “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:23). To attempt to worship God without knowing who God is or how to offer that worship according to His will, is ignorant worship.

 

True Worship

There is one worship that is stated by the Son of God as being true worship: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). While our focus for this lesson will be on Biblical Acts of Worship, one cannot speak of true worship without acknowledging that there is more involved than any one item. In fact, to omit any item of true worship is to surrender acceptable worship!

True worship must have the correct object - God

The Bible speaks of those who were so vain in their own imagination that they thought themselves worthy of worship. In Daniel’s day, King Darius was foolishly flattered at the suggestion that none should offer petitions to God or man, save to him for thirty days (Daniel 6:7). The enemies of Daniel were able to trap the king with the arrogance of his own mind, in order to have reason to accuse Daniel of wrong doing (Daniel 6:5-9).

 

The lions’ den, where God protected Daniel from any harm, did more than prove that God was with Daniel, it humbled king Darius who had forgotten his place. Hear him, “I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end” (Daniel 6:26).

 

King Herod, in his folly, did nothing to refrain those who cried that Herod spoke with the voice of a god, and not of a man (Acts 12:22). In short, Herod accepted their homage, a reverence that belongs to God alone. His death ought to sound a bell of warning to any and all who would be pompous enough to allow others to bow down before them (Acts 12:23). The apostle Peter faced with a similar situation absolutely refused to allow it to happen. “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man” (Acts 10:25-26).

 

The apostle John, no doubt overwhelmed by all that he was privileged to see and hear, momentarily forgot himself and fell at the feet of an angel; however, the angel was having no part of it. “And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God” (Revelation 22:8-9). God,, the Father is the object of our worship!

 

True worship must be in spirit (sincere from the heart)

The attitude of the worshipper is vital to acceptable worship. The human heart is involved in every act of Christian worship. Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). Now, if we love God with all of our being, surely that will be evident in our worship offered unto him.

 

Reverence - we will have the proper reverence. In a time when reverence toward God is sadly lacking in our society, that lack is glaringly apparent in the fact that just the mention of God creates uproar in many places. Yet among us there must be that awe and reverence. “But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silent before him” (Habakkuk 2:20). “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and reverend is his name” (Psalms 111:9).

Joy - David said, “I was glad when they said unto me; Let us go into the house of the Lord” (Psalms 122:1). There is a joy that accompanies Christianity. “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full” (I John 1:4). “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (I Peter 1:8). When people visit and see the true worshippers of God that joy should be evident to them.

 

Gratitude - we are worshipping our creator, he who gave us life twice. Our souls were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), who formed the spirit within us (Zechariah 12:1). Then through the sacrifice of his Son (II Corinthians 5:21), and our obedience to Christ (Hebrews 5:9), we were born again (I Peter 1:23). We need to be ever so grateful “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (II Corinthians 9:15).

 

True worship must be according to truth

 

The Acts of Christian Worship - Giving

God the giver

  1. God, the giver of the universe (Genesis 1:1).

  2. God, the giver of the heavens, earth and seas (Psalms 33:6-9).

  3. God, the giver of the sun, moon and stars (Psalms 148:1-5).

  4. He gave the heavens and earth to be inhabited (Isaiah 45:18).

  5. God, the giver of human life (Genesis 2:7-25).

  6. God, the giver of human prosperity (Ecclesiastes 5:19).

God, the owner

  1. The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psalms 24:1).

  2. The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof” (I Corinthians 10:26).

  3. I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded” (Isaiah 45:12).

  4. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:8).

  5. In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:10).

  6. In him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

 

Perhaps you may be thinking, “What does that have to do with giving in worship?” Beloved, it establishes that we exist only because of God. All that we are, and all that we have, we owe to the Almighty who made it possible. A vital piece of information when it comes to giving, we are not giving what is ours, but what is rightfully his.

 

Man, the ungrateful

  1. Some men take without ever acknowledging the giver (Job 21:13-15).

  1.  
    1. God’s provision extents even to the evil and the unthankful (Luke 6:31-36; Matthew 5:45).

  2. Others prosper and forget to be rich toward God (Luke 12:15-21).

Man, the worshipper

  1. Giving in worship offers the opportunity to:

  1.  
    1. Express our gratitude toward God.

    2. To ensure that the congregation can carry out the work we have been entrusted with.

    3. To obey the command to give – giving is not optional.

  2. The question is how much of our income do we give?

    1. Old Testament examples offer at least some insight into giving.

      1. Through Abraham we are introduced to tithing (Genesis 14:17-24).

      2. Abraham gave a tenth part of all that he had (Genesis 14:20; Hebrews 7:2; 4).

      3. That tenth part became a standard for Israel, not only of money, but all that they possessed (Leviticus 27:30-32; II Chronicles 31:5-6), even down to herbs, mint, anise and cummin (Matthew 23:23).

      4. The tenth was given to the tribe of Levi as they served the tabernacle and later the temple (Numbers 18:20-24).

      5. The Levites were to give a tenth of the tithes they received (Numbers 18:26).

    2. No police force existed to ensure everyone gave. The nation of Israel was to give voluntarily (Leviticus 1:3).

      1. Did some abuse the giving of tithes? Yes! Some gave their leftovers and thought God would be satisfied with such, but God told them in blunt terms – you have robbed me (Malachi 1:7-8; 10; 13; 3:8). In other words, your leftovers are not acceptable.

 

Some thoughts for man, the worshipper

  1. Giving is an act of worship. Worship means to pay homage, reverence (Habakkuk 2:20).

  2. Giving is not a matter to be published abroad (Matthew 6:3-4).

  3. There is no police force to ensure all give as they should.

  4. Giving is a barometer of our spirituality (II Corinthians 8:8).

  1.  
    1. Show me a person’s check book, and I will show you what they value (Matthew 6:19-21).

  2. Christians live under a better covenant with better promises (Hebrews 8:6).

  3. Unless our righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).

 

God’s financial plan for the church

  1. Christians are to give on the first day of every week (I Corinthians 16:1-2).

  2. Christians are to give as they have been prospered (I Corinthians 16:1-2).

  3. Christians are to purpose their giving (II Corinthians 9:7).

  4. Christians are to give from the heart (II Corinthians 9:7).

  5. Christians are to give cheerfully (II Corinthians 9:7).

  6. Christians are authorized to give beyond their means (II Corinthians 8:3).

  7. No congregation can rise above the free-will giving of its members.

 

Giving is an act of worship in which:

  1. We acknowledge the giver and owner.

  2. We collectively look to the God-given mission of the church

  3. We reveal our hearts to the God of heaven.

 

A tenth? The basement of the Old Testament law would seem to me as the minimum for those who have been given so much. Please, do not lose your soul by robbing God. He has promised to take care of those who put the kingdom first (Matthew 6:33).

 

The Acts of Christian Worship – The Lord’s Supper

There are a number of memorials given in the Bible for a variety of reasons:

  1. The rainbow in the sky is a memorial of the promise made by God that he would never destroy the earth again by water (Genesis 9:8-17).

  2. The Sabbath day is a memorial of Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:15).

  3. The Passover is another memorial of deliverance (Exodus 12:11-14; 13:5-10), the scope of which extends far beyond Egypt and Israel (John 1:29; 36; I Peter 1:18-19; I Corinthians 5:7).

  4. A memorial was written to insure the deeds of Amalek would be punished (Exodus 17:14).

  5. The Jubile was a memorial of freedom from slavery (Leviticus 23:23-25; 25:9-17).

  6. The two days of Purim, a memorial of the failed plot of Haman against the Jews (Esther 9:26-28).

 

But the death of Christ is a memorial that surpasses all others. This memorial is referred to in the scriptures as:

  1. The Lord’s Supper (I Corinthians 11:20).

  2. The Lord’s Table (I Corinthians 10:21).

  3. Breaking of bread (Acts 2:42; 20:7).

  4. Communion of the body and blood of Christ (I Corinthians 10:16).

There are so many things in the New Testament about the death of Jesus Christ. I offer a few for our sober reflection:

  1. The precious blood of Christ was the only possible price for our redemption (I Peter 1:18-19).

  2. Christ died for our sins (I Corinthians 15:1-4).

  3. He bore our sins in his own body (I Peter 2:24).

  4. Jesus tasted of death for every man (Hebrews 2:9).

  5. The blood of Jesus can wash away our sins (Revelation 1:5).

  6. Through death, Jesus destroyed him who had the power of death, that is the devil (Hebrews 2:14-15).

  7. Reconciliation unto God in one body (Ephesians 2:16).

  8. Jesus purchased the church with his blood (Acts 20:28).

  9. Jesus became a curse for us (Galatians 3:13).

  10. Jesus gave himself for us (Galatians 2:20).

  11. For our sakes, Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame (Hebrews 12:1-2).

  12. We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Christ (Hebrews 10:10).

 

The Lord’s Supper was instituted by none other than Jesus himself, on the very night that he would be betrayed into the hands of those who sought his death (Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:19-20; Mark 14:22-25). “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:19-20).

 

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (I Corinthians 11:23-26).

 

The significance should escape none. The memorial has nothing to do with his birth (Christmas) or his resurrection (Easter). The Lord’s Supper was given by Jesus as a memorial to be observed by faithful Christians to show forth his death until he comes again. The elements are unleavened bread (Mark 14:22) and fruit of the vine (Matthew 26:29). How often? Every first day of the week (Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 16:1-2), with our focus back on Calvary and the sacrifice made on our behalf (I Corinthians 11:27-30).

 

The Acts of Christian Worship – Singing

 

Beloved, the battle rages even as we speak over the use of instrumental music in Christian worship, and some among us are waving the white flag of surrender and acceptance. I frankly admit, I have nothing unique or profound to offer that would serve as a solution acceptable to all. Nor would I attempt to find a middle ground upon which everyone holding differing views could agree. Not because I do not desire unity on this point, but because there is no middle ground. Either instrumental music is acceptable in the sight of God, or it is not.

 

Those who advocate the use of instrumental music in Christian worship declare confidently that God is pleased with their use. If such is true, we in the Lord’s church have failed to do all that is pleasing to God. However, before we rush to the nearest music department to purchase an organ, bells, guitar and chimes, would I be labeled as overly cautious to ask how they know instrumental music in Christian worship is pleasing God? Surely you would agree that simply saying it is pleasing to God does not make it so. The Bible clearly forbids that sort of acceptance (I Corinthians 4:6; I Thessalonians 5:21).

 

The first and most frequent answer offered is, “They used instrumental music in the Old Testament” (Psalms 150:1-6). I am not unaware of their use in the Old Testament, which proves little to nothing, for the same ones who point to the Old Testament for justification of instrumental music, would refuse to accept other practices originating from the same source; such as, animal sacrifice (Leviticus 9), feast days (Leviticus 23), stoning (Numbers 15:32-36) and polygamy (I Kings 11:3; et al).

 

The apostle Paul dealt with those guilty of the same fatal error; namely, seeking justification by the Old Testament (Acts 15:1). Concerning them, he penned by inspiration these words, “To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Galatians 2:5). To emphasize that point in unmistakable terms, the Bible issues a clear warning to those who attempt to justify their religious practices by the Old Testament. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

 

The study of the Old Testament ought to thrill the soul of every sincere Bible student, for God has recorded tremendous lessons for our learning and admonition (Romans 15:4; I Corinthians 10:6-11). But brethren, the Old Testament is not our authority – Jesus Christ is (Matthew 17:1-5; 28:18; John 12:48; Colossians 3:17; Hebrews 1:1-2; et al). The serious question is this; what is authorized by Christ, and thus meet the criteria of worship according to truth? The following is a list of all the passages that deal with worship or praise offered unto God in the New Testament:

 

And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:30).

 

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them” (Acts 16:25).

 

And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto they name” (Romans 15:9).

 

What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” (I Corinthians 14:15).

 

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19).

 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).

 

Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee” (Hebrews 2:12).

 

Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms” (James 5:13).

 

Folks, in every single case they sang and the melody was made in the human heart. That simply means this; Jesus does not authorize the use of instrumental music in Christian worship; therefore, it does not meet the criteria of true worship, and that ought to settle the matter for every honest soul.

 

The Acts of Christian Worship - Prayer

By way of introduction, let us notice some of the fundamentals of prayer. Prayer is a matter of teaching; the disciples of Jesus wanted to learn how to pray (Luke 11:1). Now, this question, why did they need to be taught? They prayed in the Old Testament:

  1. Elijah prayed (James 5:17).

  2. Hannah prayed (I Samuel 1:10-11).

  3. David prayed (Psalms 51:1-19).

  4. Jonah prayed (Jonah 2:1).

  5. Daniel prayed (Daniel 6:4-10)

  1.  
    1. I Kings 8:33; 35; 38; 44; 48 may be the origin of praying toward Jerusalem.

Here is the answer - Jesus was teaching something very new to them, the privilege of calling God “Father”, and they wanted to know more about it. Two things we need to bear in mind as we go forward:

  1. This teaching is in anticipation of the kingdom (church) coming (Mark 9:1; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4).

  1.  
    1. The disciples were instructed to pray for the kingdom to come (Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2).

  2. The privilege of calling God “Father” is inseparably connected to the new birth.

    1. Being born again, and its necessity to enter the kingdom, are provided in the instruction offered to Nicodemus (John 3:3-5).

    2. How, is stated in Galatians 3:26-29.

    3. The full impact (if you will) of entering the kingdom occurs in Galatians 4:4-7.

When one becomes a child of God, they have the right and privilege to address God as “our Father which art in heaven”. In other words, prayer is a restricted privilege (Ephesians 1:3).

  1. We are to pray only to the Father – in Jesus name (John 16:23; Ephesians 5:20).

    1. Jesus is our mediator (I Timothy 2:5).

  2. We must pray in harmony with God’s will (Matthew 6:10; I John 5:14-15).

  3. We must be persistent in prayer (Luke 18:1-4; Matthew 7:7-11).

    1. That will separate the serious from the trivial.

  4. We must pray to God in reverence (Luke 11:2; Psalms 111:09).

 

When the church assembled for worship, they prayed

Setting aside the miraculous gifts connected to the first century church, in I Corinthians 14:14-16 we find this: When the church assembled for worship, they prayed. That prayer was led, and the one leading the prayer was to pray in such a way that every member present could say amen at the conclusion of that prayer. What are some of the things the one leading the prayer ought to petition God for?

 

  1. Thank God for the opportunity to come together and worship (Ephesians 5:20).

  2. Pray for our forgiveness (Matthew 6:12; Acts 8:22; I John 1:8-10).

  1.  
    1. Notice that our forgiveness is connected to our willingness to forgive (Luke 17:3-4; Matthew 18:21-35).

  2. Thank God for providing for us (Matthew 6:11).

    1. Everything belongs to God (Psalms 24:1). To remember that will keep our feet on the ground. When we thank God for providing for us, we acknowledge the owner and the giver of all that we have.

  3. Pray for those who are suffering (Hebrews 4:15-16).

    1. God is the God of all comfort (II Corinthians 1:3).

  4. Pray for those who preach the word (II Thessalonians 3:1-2).

    1. Paul requested prayers that the word of the Lord might have free course, and that they might be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men. “Brethren, pray for us” (I Thessalonians 5:25).

    2. Pray for more labourers (Matthew 9: 37-38).

  5. Pray for the lost (Romans 10:1).

    1. Then invite them to church!

  6. Pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). The most difficult prayer of all might be right here. What a contrast to the Jewish mind (Matthew 5:43; Deuteronomy 23:6).

    1. Jesus prayed for His enemies (Luke 23:34).

    2. Stephen prayed for his enemies (Acts 7:60).

  7. Pray for the civil government (I Timothy 2:1-3). Pray that the decisions they make will lead to a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

    1. Pray for all the world leaders. If you are old enough, go vote for those who stand for morality.

  8. Pray for our erring members (I John 5:16).

 

The Acts of Christian Worship – Preaching

 

For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (I Corinthians 1:21).

 

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight” (Acts 20:7).

 

For this cause have I sent unto Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church” (I Corinthians 4:17).

 

There is nothing on earth today that can begin to compare to the word of God, no soul is free from the force of its teaching. Moreover, to make known the manifold wisdom of God is a tremendous responsibility that has been entrusted to the church (Ephesians 3:10-11). Brethren, we dare not fail in our mission to preach the word of God faithfully (II Timothy 4:2; Titus 2:1). The following is a sample of what faithful preaching can accomplish in the assembly of the saints:

 

  1. The gospel identifies Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God (John 1:14; 18; 3:13; 18; I John 4:9), and the Saviour of the world (I John 4:14).

    1. There is salvation in none other (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

  2. The gospel will warn the lost of a judgment day to come (Acts 17:30-31), and offers them the hope of salvation (Romans 1:16; Hebrews 2:9; Matthew 11:28-30).

  3. The milk of the word will nourish the young (I Peter 2:2).

  4. Provides meat for the mature (Hebrews 5:14).

  5. Rebukes the erring (II Timothy 4:2).

  6. Comfort for the feeble (I Thessalonians 5:14).

  7. Teaches patience for the weak (Romans 15:1).

  8. Humbles the strong (I Corinthians 10:12; Philippians 2:3).

  9. Warns us of the reality of false teachers (II Peter 2:1), and how to address them (Romans 16:17-18).

  10. Commands us to keep the church pure (Matthew 18:15-17; Romans 16:17-18; I Corinthians 5:1-13; II Thessalonians 3:6; Titus 3:10).

  11. Teaches us how to settle personal problems among ourselves (Matthew 18:15-17; I Corinthians 6:1-8; Acts 6:1-7).

  12. Instructs us not to be conformed to the world (Romans 12:1-2).

  13. Provides the platform for unity (Ephesians 4:1-7).

  14. Reveals the one church (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:12-16; 4:4).

  15. Declares that Jesus Christ is our authority (Matthew 17:1-5; Hebrews 1:1-2; Matthew 28:18; Colossians 1:18; 3:17; Ephesians 5:23).

    1. He alone will judge the world (John 5:22; Acts 17:30-31; II Corinthians 5:10), his words will be the standard of judgment (John 12:48).

  16. The second coming will occur (I Thessalonians 4:13-18).

    1. No one knows when that will happen (Mark 13:32-33; I Thessalonians 5:1-3).

  17. The gospel reminds us of what is important (Colossians 3:1-4).

    1. Reveals what happens when we forget (II Peter 2:20-22).

  18. Shows the horror of hell (Matthew 25:30; Mark 9:43; 45; 47; Revelation 14:11; 20:15)

  19. Reveals the grandeur of heaven (Revelation 21:1-22:21).

  20. Encourages the faithful to finish the course (Revelation 2:10).

 

So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).