No. 1 What Is Worship?

If thou knewest the gift of God and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou won1dest have asked of him and he would have given thee living water (John 4:1010Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)).
These words tell us of the streams of God’s grace which flow down through the Son, by the Spirit, into our hearts; and just as a river has its eddies, and the water in those eddies flows back again towards its source, so is it with worship. It is the outflow of a heart, that has known God as a Giver; that has known the Son, through whom the gift flows down from heaven; that has tasted of the living water of God the Holy Ghost; and, having drunk, has found in that Holy Spirit a source of living water within his heart, that springs up unto everlasting life, and flows back again towards its source in adoration, worship, and praise (John 4:10, 14, 2110Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)
14But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14)
21Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. (John 4:21)
). It is the answer of a soul that has found out that it is by God’s will that he is saved and sanctified, that that will has been carried out by God the Son, by a sacrifice that has for ever put away his sins, and given him a perfect conscience; the Holy Ghost testifying to his heart, — Your sins and iniquities will I remember no more (Heb. 10:7-177Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. (Hebrews 10:7‑17)). Such an one will cry, “Abba, Father,” which name is revealed to us Christians, for the adoring worship of our hearts; and will be one of the true worshippers whom the Father seeks, during this dispensation, to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:2323But 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. (John 4:23)).
But we must go to the Greek Testament, in which language the New Testament was originally written, to see the exact meaning of the word “worship.” Two words in the Greek language are used to express it, proskuneo and latreuo. The former word signifies to do reverence or homage by prostration, to pay divine homage, worship, adore (Matt. 2:2, 11; 4:102Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (Matthew 2:2)
11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)
10Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. (Matthew 4:10)
; John 4:20, 220Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. (John 4:20)
2(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) (John 4:2)
l; Rev. 4:1010The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, (Revelation 4:10)). The latter is used in Heb. 9, 10, rather in regard to the public worship of the sanctuary, and is translated often by the word “serve,” “service” (Heb. 9:1, 6, 9; 141Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. (Hebrews 9:1)
6Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. (Hebrews 9:6)
9Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; (Hebrews 9:9)
). In other verses, however, it is rightly translated worship (Heb. 10:22For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. (Hebrews 10:2); Phil. 3:33For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:3)). The general idea, then, is giving praise and homage to God and the Father, for what he is in Himself, and for what He is for those who approach Him. Thus we see that it is the very opposite of prayer, which asks something from God, whereas worship gives to God. Prayer may be truly mixed up with it, and be included in the general thought, but I may pray without one thought of worship, beyond the acknowledgment of God.
Going to hear an Evangelist preach is not worship. The Evangelist addresses himself to the world, whereas worship flows back to the Father from Children’s hearts. The mixture, then, of the two together in one service is mischievous, and calculated to destroy the division which God has made between the world and the Church. Going to hear any kind of ministry is not worship, though it may produce it. Ministry flows down from God to the people, whereas worship is what ascends from the people to God.
Alas, alas, the idea of worship is well nigh lost in Christendom. The world is invited to worship God, the people of God are mixed up with it, and then in the same meeting oftentimes the Gospel is preached to the unconverted. The Word of God carefully keeps the two things apart; Satan has mixed the two up together to the great detriment of God’s children and dishonour to the Lord, for it is written, The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord (Prov. 21:2727The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind? (Proverbs 21:27)). See, also, Isa. 1:10-1510Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. 11To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. 15And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. (Isaiah 1:10‑15); Psa. 50:14-2114Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: 15And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. 16But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth? 17Seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee. 18When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers. 19Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. 20Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son. 21These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. (Psalm 50:14‑21). But let us look at two or three instances the Word of God gives us as to what worship is: — (See Deut. 26.) When Israel came into the land of Canaan, they were to bring the firstfruits of that land to the place where the Lord had chosen to put His name and offer it to the Lord. The offerer was to go to the priest, and to him profess that he was come into the land which the Lord had given to them. How beautiful! It was as an Israelite already come into the land, and professing it, that he offered his basket of first-fruits to the Lord. It is as a Christian already seated in heavenly places in Christ, and confessing it, that we worship the Father. (Cp. Eph. 1:3; 2:4-6, 183Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: (Ephesians 1:3)
4But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:4‑6)
18For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. (Ephesians 2:18)
.) Then he was to say to the Lord,
A Syrian ready to perish was my father; and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: And when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour and our oppression: And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: and he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the first-fruits of the land which thou, O Lord, last given me. And thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God {Deut. 26:5-105And thou shalt speak and say before the Lord thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous: 6And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: 7And when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labor, and our oppression: 8And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: 9And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. 10And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O Lord, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God, and worship before the Lord thy God: (Deuteronomy 26:5‑10)}.
Such is worship. The worshiper is himself seated in the heavenlies in Christ and blessed with all spiritual blessings. He gives back to the Lord the precious fruits of praise and adoration which spring from a heart filled with Christ. We have a beautiful picture of worship in Matt. 2:1-111Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:1‑11). The wise men having found the Christ they were seeking, in the manger of Bethlehem, right outside the religious center of worship at Jerusalem, they fall down and worship Him, presenting their best treasures as gifts — gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Lastly, in Rev. 4, 5, we see what the worship in heaven will be, and surely that is what we should follow most closely. In Rev. 4:1111Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. (Revelation 4:11), it is the worship of the Creator:
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour, and power, for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
Thou art worthy, . . . for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Such even now should be the pattern for our worship; but, alas, how few worship-meetings do we find where such worship is expressed. Reader, do you understand what such worship means? Do you find yourself in a meeting where such worship is expressed?
Yet, beloved reader, Christ is made unto all believers, sanctification; (1 Cor. 1:3030But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: (1 Corinthians 1:30)), That is, He is the measure of our separation to God. He is set apart for God’s use, in His very presence, as the High Priest Aaron was set apart for the service of the sanctuary. So are we. We are sanctified through His offering; we are separated to God, we have boldness to enter into the holiest through His blood. We are seated in heavenly places in Christ. Let us give then unitedly, and all together, the fruits of this heavenly land, an offering to the Lord. Let us own the Lord Jesus in heaven as the only center of worship, as we see in Rev. 5:6-106And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. 7And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. 8And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of saints. 9And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:6‑10), the redeemed saints in heaven will do, and as we see in Matt. 2 the wise men did, when He was a young child on earth. Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, and say, — “Thou art worthy.” Reader, do you know what such worship means? Surely, if you do, you must see that the general worship that goes on around falls far short of it. Is such worship what agrees with heaven? Will such worship do for the holiest? Are the worshippers that fill the churches of Christendom sanctified ones? Yet you must be that for worship in the holiest. The Lord give the beloved reader to consider what is God’s due, and to see that worship is a gift which is to be given to God, and therefore must be perfect to be accepted; lest any should get His rebuke;
If ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil; and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil; offer it now unto thy governor, will he be pleased with thee or accept thy person? saith the Lord of Hosts: But cursed be the deceiver which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing; for I am a great King, saith the Lord of Hosts (Mal. 1:8, 148And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 1:8)
14But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen. (Malachi 1:14)
).