Why We worship
A holy God demands and deserves our worship (Isa. 6:1-4; Rev. 14:6-7; Psalm 99). In fact, this holy God calls us to worship Him (Ps. 29:2; 99:5).
Worshiping God is the great purpose of human life, and the end towards which all people, Christian and non-Christian alike, are created. (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Cor. 10:31; Ps. 73:25-28).
Worshiping God is the great privilege of those who have been called out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9), those who have been united to Christ and reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:17-21; Rom. 6:3; Eph. 1:13). We know ourselves as those who have come to “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Heb. 12:22-24)
The goal of worship
The goal of worship is, simply put, to honor and glorify God.
All creation gives honor to God and displays His glory (Ps. 19:1-6). You hear it from the seraphim that Isaiah hears and sees (Is. 6:1-4), as well as in the angelic annunciation to the shepherds in Luke 2:14. The psalmists give us the songs to praise the Lord (Ps. 34:1-3; 47; 75:1; 100; ). And you hear it in the grand symphony of voices in Revelation, as the voices of saints and angels join together to glorify God and the Lamb (Rev. 4:1-11; and Rev. 5:6-14).
How we worship
We worship God as God commands: “in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24); with gratitude and in “reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:28-29); and by the Spirit of God,” glorying “in Christ Jesus,” and putting “no confidence in the flesh” (Phlp. 3:3).
Acts of worship are proper only insofar as they are in accord with the Word of God. Therefore, our worship service is also according to God’s commands in Scripture. (See below for a typical liturgy/order of worship).
This is commonly called the Regulative Principle of Worship. It is defined well in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 21, which says, in part, “But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation or any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture.”
what are the elements of worship?
Those acts of worship which God’s Word commands are commonly referred to as “elements” of worship. Those elements are as follows:
- The Reading, singing, and preaching of the Word of God. The Word of God is at the center of true worship (Luke 4:15-20; Deut. 31:10-13; 1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 10:14-15). It has been rightly stated that in public worship, we read the Word, sing the Word, pray the Word, and preach the Word.
- The Singing of Psalms & Hymns. God desires that we sing to Him (Ps. 96:1; 1 Chron. 16:23; Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19). And He has given us songs (Psalms) to sing! We sing hymns that are in line with the truth, beauty, and depth of God’s Word .
- The Offering of Prayer. The Psalms themselves are prayer in song. The life of Christ was a life of prayer (Luke 3:21; Mt. 14:23; John 17; Mt. 26:36-46; 27:45-50). The New Testament commands God’s people to pray (1 These. 5:17; Luke 18:1; 1 Tim. 2:1-2).
- Confessing the faith. We do this using the Scripture, the historic Creeds of the church, and our Catechisms and Confessions (See Titus 1:9; 2:1; 2 Tim. 1:13; 3:14-15).
- Observing the Sacraments (Mt. 28:18-19; Acts 16:13-15; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).
- Taking Oaths on special occasions (Deut. 6:13; Neh. 10:39).
- God, not man, is the focus of our worship. Therefore, our aim is to please Him, rather than ourselves and to render praise to Him after His own design, rather than ours. (see Rev. 14:7; 19:10; 2 Kings 17:36; Acts 12:21-24)
- The quality of our worship must reflect the majesty and glory of the One who is the object of our worship. (See preparations for tabernacle and temple in following passages: Exodus 31:1-11, 2 Chronicles 2-7; also Ps. 29:2). That does not necessitate a lot of outward adornment with stained glass and gold, but rather the way in which we approach, structure, and offer our worship.
- Worship is a congregational activity. There are no spectators in worship! Both Old and New Testament expect the participation of the “assembly,” “congregation,” or body of “saints” (Ps. 26:12; 40:10; 1 Cor. 11:17-22 expects that the people will “come together” to worship; Col. 1:2 is addressed to the gathered ‘saints”).
- The only infallible measure of the quality of our worship is its adherence to the Word of God. Human emotion is an untrustworthy measure of the success or failure of our worship (1 Chron. 13:9-13; 1 Sam. 15:22)