What the Bible Teaches



Chapter 450

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Topic 10:   What is Worship?

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POINT 10:   Worship is the soul bowing itself in adoring contemplation before the object worshiped. To worship God is to bow before God in adoring contemplation of Himself.

      Exodus 4:31 and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.

      Exodus 24:1-2 [1] Then he said to Moses, "Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, [2] but Moses alone is to approach the LORD; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him."

      Exodus 33:10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshiped, each at the entrance to his tent.

      Exodus 34:5-8 [5] Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. [6] And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, [7] maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." [8] Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped.

      Joshua 5:13-14 [13] Now when Joshua was near Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with a drawn sword in his hand. Joshua went up to him and asked, "Are you for us or for our enemies?" [14] "Neither," he replied, "but as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, "What message does my Lord have for his servant?"

      2 Chronicles 7:3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, "He is good; his love endures forever."

      2 Chronicles 20:18 Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD.

      2 Chronicles 29:29 When the offerings were finished, the king and everyone present with him knelt down and worshiped.

      Nehemiah 8:6 Ezra praised the LORD, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, "Amen! Amen!" Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

   The word worship is commonly used in a very loose and unscriptural manner -- e.g., we speak of the whole service of Lords Day morning and evening as "public worship," but there is a great deal in it that is not worship. Reading the Bible and meditating upon it is not worship. It may lead to worship but it is not worship. Listening to a sermon is not worship. Praying is not worship. It may be, and should be, accompanied by worship; but it is not worship. Singing is not necessarily nor generally worship. There are hymns which, if sung intelligently and in the proper spirit, would be worship, but they are comparatively few in the hymnology of the day. Worship is a definite act of a character very clearly defined in the Bible. It is, as said, the soul bowing before God in adoring contemplation of Himself. The root of the Hebrew word translated "worship" in the Old Testament means "to bow down." It has been well said "in prayer we are occupied with our needs, in thanksgiving we are occupied with our blessings, in worship we are occupied with Himself."

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Topic 20:   Whom to Worship

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POINT 10:   We should worship the Lord our God and Him alone.

      Matthew 4:10 Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: `Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"

   We may admire men, we must worship God alone. No holy man, saint, nor angel should be worshiped.

      Acts 10:25-26 [25] As Peter entered the house, Cornelius met him and fell at his feet in reverence. [26] But Peter made him get up. "Stand up," he said, "I am only a man myself."

      Revelation 22:8-9 [8] I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. [9] But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!"

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POINT 20:   We should worship the Lord our God and Him alone.

      John 4:23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

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POINT 30:   We should worship the Lord our God and Him alone.

      Hebrews 1:6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him."

      Philippians 2:10-11 [10] that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

      Revelation 5:8-13 [8] And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. [9] And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. [10] You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth." [11] Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. [12] In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" [13] Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"

   QUESTION: How can we reconcile this with Point 10?

   ANSWER: John 20:28 Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus Christ is the Lord our God.

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Topic 30:   The Duty to Worship

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POINT 10:   Worship of God and of Christ is commanded.

      Matthew 4:10 Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: `Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"

      Hebrews 1:6 And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, "Let all God's angels worship him."

   We owe worship to God. It is His due. We owe love to man, obedience to parents, worship to God. It is our first duty toward Him. He is the All holy, All wise, Almighty, the Infinite, All Perfect One, and our rightful attitude toward Him is that of bowing before Him, or prostrating ourselves before Him, in adoring contemplation of His infinite liveliness and glory, of His attributes, of Himself. If we do not worship God we are robbing Him of what is His due. It is not enough that we obey Him, that we pray to Him, that we return thanks to Him, that we seek to serve Him and do His will. We must worship. Have you ever worshiped God? How much time do you spend daily in worshiping Him -- in pure and simple worship, in bowing before Him in silent and adoring contemplation of Him?

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POINT 20:   God is seeking true worshipers.

      John 4:23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

   The one thing above all else that God desires of men is worship. God desires obedience of men, He desires service, He desires prayer, He desires praise and thanksgiving, but His supreme desire from man is worship. He is seeking "worshipers."

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Topic 40:   Where to Worship

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POINT 10:   The place is not important.

      John 4:19-23 [19] "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. [20] Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." [21] Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. [22] You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. [23] Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

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Topic 50:   How to Worship

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POINT 10:   We should worship on the ground of the shed blood of Jesus.

      Hebrews 9:7, 14 [7] But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. [14] How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

      Hebrews 10:19 [19] Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, [20] by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, [21] and since we have a great priest over the house of God, [22] let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

   There is no approach to God except on the ground of shed blood.

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POINT 20:   We should worship by the Spirit of God.

      Philippians 3:3 [3] For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh

      Compare: John 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.

   The only true worship, worship which is acceptable to God, is the worship which the Spirit inspires. Not all worship of God is "in the Spirit." Very much is of man himself, in the power of his own will. It is of the flesh. The flesh seeks to intrude into every sphere of life, even the highest and most sacred. The flesh has its worship. Men seek to do the things that please God, and win credit for themselves, of their own motion and in their own strength. But this worship is not acceptable. Men may be very earnest in this worship, very sincere in it, but it is not acceptable. It is not what God is seeking. God is seeking worshipers who worship in the Spirit, and who have no "confidence in the flesh." To worship aright we must recognize the utter inability of the flesh -- i.e., ourselves untaught, unprompted and ungoverned by God's Spirit -- to worship acceptably. We must realize the danger there is of the flesh intruding itself into our worship. In utter self-abnegation we must cast ourselves upon the Holy Spirit to lead us in our worship. The first thing we should do when we would worship, is, with a realization of our own utter helplessness, to look up to the Holy Spirit to teach us and enable us to worship aright. He must present God to our mind for our contemplation. He must subdue and awe our hearts before Him in true adoration. The only living that is acceptable to God is living in the Spirit, the only walk that is acceptable to God is walk in the Spirit, the only service that is acceptable to God is service in the Spirit, the only prayer that is acceptable to God is prayer in the Spirit, the only thanks that are acceptable to God are thanks in the Spirit, and the only worship that is acceptable to God is worship in the Spirit. Would we worship aright our hearts must look up and cry "Teach me, Holy Spirit, to worship"; and He will do it.

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POINT 30:   We should worship "in truth."

      John 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.

   QUESTION: What does it mean to "worship in truth"?


      1 John 3:18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

      Philippians 1:18 [18] But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,

   Not in mere form or profession or pretense, but in reality. There is much worship that is not real. The head bows, the body is prostrated, but the soul does not bow in true adoration before God. The Spirit alone leads to worship in truth.

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Topic 60:   The Results of True Worship

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POINT 10:   When there is true worship the Father is satisfied. He has found what He seeks.

      John 4:23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

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POINT 20:   The worshiper is satisfied. His highest joy is found.

      Psalms 27:4 One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

   There is no higher, no deeper, no purer joy than that which springs from the adoring contemplation of God. I have walked miles, and climbed through underbrush and briers and over crags and precipices, just to get some beautiful view, and as I have looked out upon it, and feasted upon the never-to-be- forgotten vision of mountain and valley, forest and river, village and hamlet, cloud and sunshine, I have felt well repaid for the trial and suffering and weariness. I have sat by the hour before a great painting in joyous beholding of its beauty. Earth has few purer joys than these, but they are nothing to the profound and holy joy that fills the soul as we bow before God in worship, asking nothing, seeking nothing from Him, occupied with and satisfied with Himself. Was the Psalmist thinking only of the future, or of what he had enjoyed in the present, when he wrote: "In they presence is fulness of joy"? (Psalm 16:11.) One of the highest privileges of heaven will be that we shall see His face.

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POINT 30:   The worshiper is transformed into God's likeness with ever-increasing glory.

      2 Corinthians 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

   Beholding God and worshiping God we become like God.

      Exodus 34:29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD.

   Our complete transformation into His likeness will come through the complete and undimmed vision of Himself.

      1 John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

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POINT 40:   Worship empties us of pride, and reveals our weakness and vileness.

      Isaiah 6:5 "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty."

      Job 42:5-6 [5] My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. [6] Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.

      Isaiah 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

   It is true that power comes in answer to definite prayer, but not only in answer to prayer. Power belongs to God, and the coming into contact and remaining in contact with God in worship fills our souls with power. Spiritual power has many points of similarity to electric force, and just as a receptive body can be charged with electricity by being insulated and brought into contact with some source of electric energy, so we can be charged with the energy of God by the insulation from the world and contact with Himself that is found in worship. As we worship God His power flows into us. Nights spent in contact with God, on our faces before Him in worship, are followed by days of power in contact with men. One great secret of the lack of power in service today is the absence of worship in our relations to God Himself.

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