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Theology > Church > The Purpose of the Church > Worship of God


God is; God has spoken; and the Revelation from His speaking has been verbally recorded in the Scriptures, providing man with Truth. By the Spirit this revealed Word is used to initiate faith, bringing life to the spiritually dead, and is used to develop faith, bringing maturity to the new believer. The one who has been given life hungers for the Truth, and the hunger increases as the believer matures. And the work of theology is the study of this Truth which God has so graciously given to man, with the study culminating in worship, a worship that deepens as comprehension of the Truth increases.

The Christian emphasis upon the Truth stresses the foundational significance of the knowledge that is gained from a study of the Truth. Knowledge is essential but it is not an end in itself. The ultimate goal for theology is not knowledge but worship, not the intellectual but the relational. Truth’s purpose is not to cause the head to swell but to cause the knee to bow, to bow before the Creator and Redeemer, to bow before the sovereign God in worship. Truth’s design is to elicit recognition and praise for the Giver of Truth, and only then has the telos of Truth been achieved. A Christian experience that terminates in knowledge alone is not a Christian experience, whatever the claim. The believer’s life culminates in worship, which is the inevitable experience of the true believer, and the believer who does not worship is not a follower of Christ.

There is a noticeable pattern in Scripture. A particular passage, most often in the Psalms or in Paul, will focus upon some Truth; in connection with the Truth there is adoration, praise, and worship expressed by the author, thus illustrating the inevitable relationship of the two. From this pattern we discern that Truth, which brings to the believer knowledge of God and His ways, prepares one for worship, enhances worship, and even initiates worship. Where there is Truth there is worship; it cannot be otherwise.

Ephesians 1:3-14 affords a superb example. Paul is presenting the great drama of salvation, referring to election, predestination, adoption, redemption, forgiveness, inheritance, and the sealing, which is the believer’s guarantee that the good work begun in him will be completed. Paul speaks of the Father planning salvation (He chose and He predestined), the Son purchasing salvation (His blood makes possible redemption and forgiveness), and the Holy Spirit protecting salvation (He is our guarantee). This is one of the greatest doctrinal passages in the New Testament; it is filled with theological Truth that summarizes the redemptive work of the Trinity. Its scope is from eternity to eternity.

But the key to the entire passage is in the initial word of verse three: “Blessed” (eulogātos, meaning: “well” plus “to speak”). Paul is literally speaking well of God because of who He is and what He has done—to bless is to speak well of, to esteem, to hold in high regard; Paul’s knowledge of Truth compels him to worship the God of Truth. For Truth has awakened in Paul the reality of God and His grace, which has met Paul’s need by imparting to him God’s provision. Truth’s invasion of Paul’s mind has brought moral and intellectual transformation, for the Trinitarian work in eternity and time has been individualized in Paul’s experience. And Paul is filled with wonder at God’s person and deeds. As a result Paul worships while he writes. God is blessed; God is praised; God is worshipped!  All of the spiritual blessing in the heavenly places that the believer receives is “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (v. 6), and “to the praise of His glory” (vs. 12, 14). For Paul, knowledge and worship flow together. Adoration, praise, and thanksgiving blossom from the seed of Biblical Truth.

From this and similar passages (Rom. 9-11; I Cor. 1:17-31; Eph. 3:1-19; 3:20-21), the intimate association of Truth and worship may be observed. They cannot be divorced. Truth culminates in worship, and it is a worship anchored in Truth. Truth provides man with knowledge of God and His ways; Truth declares who God is and what God does. Truth acquaints man with God, with His greatness and His holiness. Truth informs man of his sinful state and his insufficiency to rectify his condition. With transforming power Truth invades a life, convicting, converting, and instructing. As a result worship springs from the life that has been profoundly humbled and lifted to God because the intellect, quickened by faith and taught by the Spirit, has been made to understand its depravity and frailty and to know God’s grace and sovereignty. Truth creates worship.

The exhortation is: “Oh, come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand” (Ps. 95:6-7). Why is there this exhortation, this invitation to bow, to kneel, and to worship? It is predicated upon the recognition that God is the “Maker” (Creator), that He is “our” God (Redeemer), that we are the people of “His pasture” (Sustainer), and that we are the sheep of “His hand” (Sovereign). We worship Him because we have been taught that He is Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, and Sovereign. We worship Him because we know Him; we worship Him because we have experienced Him; we worship Him because we have been instructed by Him. We bow down and kneel because He is the Lord. It is inconceivable that one could claim to know Him and feel no compulsion to worship Him. How could any believer not respond to the words: “Oh come, let us worship?”

Worship may be personal or corporate. Personal worship can take the form of prayer, praise, meditation and contemplation, vows, or simply just silence before Him who is Holy. It may be intensely private, known only by God; for the believer alone is in the presence of God. The face may be raised in recognition or bowed in submission; the hands may be lifted in adoration or folded in humility; the body may be erect ready to burst forth in praise or prostrate in awe of the One on the throne. The soul is occupied with only God.

Corporate worship is the expression of a group of believers who join together in affirming who God is and what God has done. Both Testaments speak of meeting before God (Ex. 23:14, 17; Matt. 18:20; Heb. 10:25). As in private worship various activities may characterize the gathering, with the main emphasis being that “the praises of Him who called” are proclaimed (I Pet. 2:9). Unusual peace and strength are derived by a believer when he is with other believers worshipping the Lord, all with a unity of mind and a singleness of purpose.

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice,

“Fear God and give Him glory,
because the hour of His judgment has come,
and worship Him who made heaven and earth,
the sea and the springs of water.”
Rev. 14:6-7

And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” And from the throne came a voice saying,

“Praise our God, all you his servants,
you who fear Him, small and great.”
Rev. 19:4-5

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