Worship: The Church in Relation to God

Lesson 1997?
Tags: Church; Worship; God
Excerpted from An Introduction to Local Church Ministry
Related Resources: The Discipline of Public Worship

The church’s overarching duty in relation to God can best be summed up in the term worship. Worship is defined as acknowledging God to be who he really is, that is, affirming the various attributes of his holy character. Worship does not pertain merely to words that are said or sung; it has to do with one’s lifestyle as a whole. To live an honest life is to worship God for his truthfulness and faithfulness. To trust God through difficult times is to worship him for his sovereignty, power, and wisdom. Worship, then, is closely associated with the concept of service; in fact, the two cannot be dissociated.

The word worship does not often appear in the New Testament epistles, where one finds most of the Bible’s teaching concerning the church. This is not to say, however, that worship should not figure prominently in the experience of the local church. On the contrary, Christians are specifically identified as those who “worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus” (Phlp 3.3). Furthermore, worship is said to bear a direct relation both to the building up of the church as well as to the evangelizing of the unsaved (1 Cor 14.24-26). The church at Jerusalem was known for praising God (Acts 2.47), particularly in its corporate prayers (Acts 4.24-28). Paul instructed individual churches concerning their worship life (1 Cor 14.15, 26; Eph 5.18-20; Col 3.16). Finally, references to worship in the book of Revelation indicate that it is important not only in time but also for eternity (Rev 4.8-11; 15.4; 19.10; 22.8-9).

Jackson states that

“[w]orship is the climax of all Christian activity. It is the most neglected part of ministry. Preaching is vital. It brings blessing and salvation to men. Meditation and study are essential for our own growth. Prayer, with intercession and petition, is basic for victory and provision of daily needs. But worship glorifies God. It does not center in what He does for us or what we need. Man is forgotten and the Lord is exalted. Worship focuses on Who God is and upon His holiness, glory, power, wisdom, love and mercy.” Jackson, Paul R. The Doctrine and Administration of the Church. Revised ed. Schaumburg, IL: Regular Baptist Press, 1980, p. 82.

Thus worship is one of the chief objectives of the local church, as Saucy notes:

“The primary end of coming together as a body of believers is Godward in praise and admonition and then toward itself in edification as the various ministries of the Spirit are manifest, especially the preaching and teaching of the Word.” Saucy, Robert L. The Church in God’s Program. Chicago: Moody Press, 1972, p. 93.

He later comments:

“Worship is central in the existence of the church. The words of the apostle Paul that God has chosen and predestinated sons unto Himself in Christ ‘to the praise of the glory of his grace’ (Eph 1:4-6) suggest that the ultimate purpose of the church is the worship of the one who called it into being.” Saucy, Robert L. The Church in God’s Program. Chicago: Moody Press, 1972, p. 166.