What is Worship?

Biblical worship, simply defined, is the believer’s heart-response and life-pursuit to all that God has graciously revealed through His Word and by His Son. Life is all about the worship of God! The ultimate priority and necessity in life is to be a worshipper of God. Worship is ultimately why man was created; that is why the redeemed are being saved, and that is why we continue to exist on earth; and worship will be our ultimate passion in Heaven (Ps 29:1-2; 95:5-6; 150:6; 1 Mt 4:10; Jn 4:23; 1 Cor 10:31; Heb 12:28-29; Rev 14:7; 15:4; 22:1-5). Every human being is a worshipper of something or someone because we were created to worship. Adam and Eve were ultimately created to worship God as they subdued the earth, serving as God’s viceroys over creation (Gen 1:26-30; 2:2:15-25; Ps 8). Yet the allegiance and veracity of their worship changed when they elevated themselves over God and, in so doing, worshipped Satan (Gen 3:1-6; 2 Tim 2:25). They brought sin, destruction, false worship, and ultimately death upon the globe (Gen 3:7-24; Rom 5:12-21; 8:20-23).

Thus, man continues to worship in his fallen, sinful state, but it is a twisted, false worship that fails at every level and is unacceptable to God (Rom 1:18-26). That is why there are so many Scriptures displaying and condemning false worship (Ex 20:2-3). A large portion of the Bible—approximately half of the verses that interact with worship—actually deal with false worship! Therefore, God is sovereignly and graciously seeking worshippers (Jn 4:23) because everything and everyone was created for His praise and glory (Rom 11:36; Col 1:17; 3:17). This is really what must ultimately drive everything we do personally, and even corporately as a church (1 Cor 10:31; Eph 3:21; 1 Pet 2:9-12), including all of our evangelistic endeavors (Ps 67; 117:1-2; 2 Cor 4:15).

True worship has only one object, and it is the great Creator, God Almighty, who is the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (Ex 34:14; Isa 42:8; 43:7; Ps 115:1). Idolatry, which is an ever-present danger in our lives, is false worship for many reasons, but most assuredly because it is misdirected worship (Lev 19:4). Many Scriptures could be marshaled to prove this point, but just consider the first two commandments and how they emphatically declare this truth (Ex 20:1-2). Consider the temptation of Christ and how he responded to Satan (Mt 4:10). Consider Paul’s exclamations that everything in all the earth is ultimately for God’s glory, (Rom 11:36), and that we are to use every ounce of our being, even when doing mundane things like eating and drinking, to worship God (1 Cor 10:31).

At the heart of the matter, biblical worship is really about giving rightfully, joyfully, and sacrificially, not about receiving selfishly or even emotionally (Rom 12:1-2). This is pivotal because false worship—being worship that is hated by God and unacceptable to God—is usually misdirected in both the object and the attitude of the worship (Isa 1:10-20; 29:13; Mt 15:8). True worship that pleases God is not looking for something, but actually responding to what has already been received! What has been received by the redeemed? The gracious revelation of the awesome nature and merciful forgiveness of the holy God, primarily through the gospel of Jesus Christ (Heb 12:28-29).

Therefore, true worship is the believer’s heart-response and life-pursuit to all that God has graciously revealed through His Word and by His Son. True worship begins with internal devotion as you are humbled by who God is and what He has done. True worship involves external declaration that is moved by personal sin, divine holiness, absolute sovereignty, and the undeserving grace of the gospel. True worship will continue and deepen in eternal dedication as all of life proactively becomes the platform for perpetually proclaiming the inexhaustible glory of our all-satisfying God!