Addendum to Lesson 4 – Worship, In Spirit and In Truth
Taken from “Worship: Heaven’s Imperative or Man’s Innovation” by Curtis Cates
Scriptural worship is composed of certain specified, specific, prescribed activities (the faithful child of God has no discretion to calling them “acts” or “avenues” of worship) in which the Christian draws near to and communes in heart and spirit with his creator (John 4:24). Man’s own spirit reaches out to God, whom he praises as the embodiment and source of life, strength, righteousness, love and grace. Those who are redeemed praise and magnify God for his great and matchless gift of his only begotten Son (John 3:16), whereby he is saved. The Christian longs for and seeks out every opportunity to pour out the deepest gratitude of his adoring, reverential attitude of heart. Though he must worship according to the Divine pattern, that worship is NOT mechanical nor is it material and with machinery. The very nature and design of Scriptural worship appeals to the spirit, not to the flesh.
1. Does Worship include everything the Christian does, from his Obedience to the Gospel to the Grave?
1.1. One of the ways of attempting to circumvent God’s prescribed pattern of worship is erroneously to affirm that everything the child of God does is worship. Such perversion of Bible teaching is an attempt to permit anything and everything to be done in worship; there would be nothing which is unauthorized.
1.2. The argument which is used to promote this error goes something like this: Just as we assemble around the Lord’s table to honor and serve the Lord, just so is the Christian’s whole life praise to God: everything a person does in living each day is worship. His very style of life (every activity, every thought, every word, every motive, every attitude) is worship, whether in recreation, personal hygiene, working on the job, driving one’s car, studying in school fulfilling one’s role as a spouse or a parent and so forth.
1.2.1. The advocates of this argument make no distinction between worship and service; in their mind they are identical. Worship, they say, is continual and perpetual.
1.2.2. Often the false teacher will appeal to the English dictionary definition of “worship”. But just as we do not let the English dictionary define baptism for us, we should not let it define worship. We use God’s definition.
1.2.3. As commonly practiced by those attempting to defend false practices and innovations, appeal is made to the various versions of the Bible, which often mistranslate the original. The New International Version reads in Romans 12:1, “…”This wrongly translates latreuo, the word for “service” and thus translated in the American Standard Version and King James Versions. One should remember that placing false doctrine and mistranslations in so-called “versions” does not make such the Truth nor does it become that by which all of us shall be judged in the last day.
1.2.4. What saith the scriptures on whether all life is worship, sixty seconds of every minute, sixty minutes of every hour, twenty four hours a day, 365 days of every year of one’s lifetime as a Christian?
1.3. The Word of God makes a clear distinction between “Worship” and “Service”
1.3.1. Of the many such verses found in the Old Testament, note the following:
220.127.116.11. Exodus 20:5
18.104.22.168. Deuteronomy 6:13
22.214.171.124. 1 Kings 9:9
126.96.36.199. Jeremiah 25:6
1.3.2. Note the same careful distinction in the New Testament:
188.8.131.52. Matthew 4:10
184.108.40.206. Romans 1:25
1.3.3. To serve is more broad than to worship. Thus we can say all worship to God is service to him, but not all service to God is worship to him. The refusal/failure to recognize this distinction brings forth confusion and departure from the Biblically authorized worship.
1.4. Men and Angels are often described as serving while not at the same time worshipping.
1.4.1. We are forbidden to worship men (Matthew 4:10); however we are commanded to render service to orphans and widows (James 1:27), to all men and especially saints (Galatians 6:10), to “all the saints” (Phil. 1:1), as “your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5).
1.4.2. Angels “do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14). Do the angels or we worship those whom we/they serve? (See Psalms 29:2; Revelations 19:10; 22:8-9)
1.4.3. What about Christ who came “to minister” to (serve) man (Matthew 20:28)? Did he come to worship man?
1.4.4. David is described as having “served his own generation by the will of God” (Acts 13:36). Did he worship his fellow men as he served them as king of Israel?
1.4.5. “Worship” and “Service” are not always interchangeable or synonymous!
1.5. God’s People Have Gone To and Returned from Worship
1.5.1. When the patriarchs gathered around the altars, they were doing things that they were not doing as they came to the place to worship and returned.
1.5.2. Abel brought his sacrifice (Gen. 4:4), as did Noah (Gen. 8:20).
1.5.3. “And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass, and I and the lad will go yonder; and we will worship, and come again to you” (Gen. 22:5). If worship is continuous, why did Abraham speak of “going” to worship? He would have been worshiping all along. Would not such have been redundant and superfluous? (This also refutes the idea that worship is simply and solely an emotion, rather than also an act.)
1.5.4. The Hebrew men also had to assemble for worship (Deu. 16:16; Exo. 34:23-24; Lev. 17:8-9; et al.).
1.5.5. The Samaritan woman had this in mind when she observed, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father” (John 4:20-21). (Here, Christ was not announcing a change in the nature of worship and true worshipers; He has always required worship “in spirit and in truth” (Jos. 24:14), as the present tense of the verb “seeks” shows. He was announcing to the woman a change in covenants and that under the new covenant there would be no prescribed temple, or city, or other physical holy place where worship would take place (as in Jerusalem, in the physical temple).
1.5.6. As were the going and coming of the wise men in Matthew 2:11-12, “And they came into the house and saw the young child with Mary his mother; and they fell down and worshipped him…And…they departed into their own country another way.”
1.5.7. Notice that the Ethiopian “had come to Jerusalem to worship; and her was returning….”(Acts 8:27-28).
1.5.8. Notice other similar references: “Now there were certain Greeks among those that went up to worship at the feast” (John 12:20); “But she [the Canaanitish woman] came and worshipped him, saying, Lord help me” (Mat. 15:25); “…I cheerfully make my defense: seeing that thou canst take knowledge that it is not more than twelve days since I (Paul) went up to worship at Jerusalem: (Acts 24:10-11); “Behold, I will make them to come and worship before they feet, and to know that I have loved thee” (Rev. 3:9).
1.5.9. Interestingly, not one verse in all the Bible declares that all of life is worship! If words mean anything, worship is to be viewed as specific, authorized acts, which have a beginning and an ending.
1.5.10. The necessary implication is that if all of life is worship, worship neither begins nor ends (except when on obeys the Gospel and dies) nor is any act a person might perform (from addressing an envelope, to eating a common meal, to rebuilding an automobile engine, to zigzagging around a mountain, et al.) unauthorized.
1.6. Fourth, Distinct Hebrew and Greek Words Are Used for “Worship” from Those Which Are Used for “Service:”
220.127.116.11. The word used in the Old Testament for worship is hishtachwah, from the root shachah, and saged (closely akin to hishtachwah). This refers to specific worship acts.
18.104.22.168. In the New Testament, the words that refer to worship are proskuneo, sebomai, and threskeia.
1.7. Hebrew for “minister” or “serve” is often sharat, which is generally translated leitourgeo in the Greek; it is never translated “worship” in the KJV. The word abad in the Hebrew is the main word for “serve,” which includes the thought of work; its Greek counterpart is Latreuo, indicating service.
1.8. There are five items of worship set forth clearly in the New Testament; there is a Divine pattern for worship. The early church engaged in those acts (Acts 2:42).
1.8.1. Arriving on Monday Paul stayed in Troas seven days to engage in those acts in the assembly on the Lord’s Day.
1.8.2. Clearly evident is the fact that the church engaged in specific worship activities together, which they could not have done had they not been assembled.
1.8.3. Further, to fail to make the Bible distinction between worship and service is to blind people to God’s Truth regarding how we are to worship Him. Thinking they are worshipping scripturally, they could be engaging in false worship. This would mean that each person would become his own authority relative to how he worships.
1.8.4. Subjectivity would replace the objective pattern of the scriptures
22.214.171.124. Jude 3
126.96.36.199. 2 John 9-11
188.8.131.52. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
1.9. If all one does in life is worship, no one can worship in the wrong way: any and every innovation is authorized, whether burning incense and counting beads, or washing feet and dedicating babies or whooping and hollering, or using mechanical instrumental music and serving hamburgers and Coke on the Lord’s table. Yet further, why would anyone feel obligated to worship with the saints at any time, even in the Lord’s Day assembly?
2. Great responsibility has always rested upon the worshiper, in the Old Testament as well as in the New. Not only must one have the right object, but also he must have certain attitudes.
2.1. First the True Worshiper Feels the Desire to Worship
2.1.1. “Both young men, and virgins; Old men, and children: Let them praise the name of Jehovah; for his name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and the havens” (Psa. 148:12-13). “These things I remember, and pour out my soul within me, how I went with the throng, and led them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude keeping holyday” (Psa. 42:4). David exclaimed, “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go unto the house of Jehovah” (Psa. 122:1). Man needs to realize his need for his maker and thirst for Him. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, So panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God; When shall I come an appear before God” (Psa. 42:1-2)? Job cried, “Oh that I knew where I might find him! That I might come even to his seat” (Job 23:3)!
2.2. Second, the True Worshiper Feels Profound Gratitude for the Wonderful Grace of God
2.2.1. He seeks every opportunity to acknowledge his dependence upon God and his awareness that without God’s blessings, he could not live. “O praise Jehovah, all ye nations; Laud him, all ye peoples. For his loving kindness is great toward us” (Psa. 117:1-2). “What shall I render unto Jehovah For all his benefits toward me” (116:12)? “I will pay my vows before them that fear him: (22:25). “Praise ye Jehovah. O give thanks unto Jehovah; for he is good; For his loving kindness endureth forever” (106:1)
2.3. Third, the True Worshiper Feels Reverence in and Worships God from the Heart.
2.3.1. We actively lift up praise and adoration to God within His prescribed way out of a heart filled reverence, gratitude, confession, praise, and supplication.
3. What are the characteristics of the true Worshiper?
3.1. True worshippers in every age of the world have been a people of God’s own possession, and peculiar people (1 Pet. 2:9).
3.2. They are wise, inasmuch as they listen to God.
3.3. They Draw near to the Lord not only in heart, but also in Life
3.3.1. Since sin separates from God (Isa. 59:1-2), man must return to God through humble obedience and reformation of life, blessed by God’s grace. God will not hear one who persists in sin and regards sin in his heart.
4. What are characteristics of true Worship??
4.1. Without question or dispute, God has always defined what constitutes acceptable worship; this has not been left to man’s discretion. Man apart from God (and thus apart from His Divine revelation) has always been perverted. Furthermore, human reason has always produced perverted religions and perverted worship. Those who professed/profess to be people of God have been united only when they adhered strictly to His Divine pattern in thought, words, teaching, and practice. The fruits of departure from God’s pattern have inevitably been division-sectarianism, denominationalism.
4.1.1. Read Exodus 29:38-46 and note the authority of god’s pattern to the Israelites. “I am Jehovah their God” No man-devised, human-conceived worship carried out no matter how piously and no matter how impressively and beautifully is acceptable to God.
4.1.2. Just because it meets man’s enthusiastic, sincere approval does not guarantee God’s approval! Many Old Testament “worshipers” learned that, the hard way!
4.1.3. The verdict upon Cain was that God had “not respect” for his presumptuous offering; it was rejected (Gen. 4:5). God’s verdict upon Aaron and the people of Israel when they fashioned the golden calf was, “Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them” (Exo. 32:10). His verdict upon Nadub and Abihu when they offered strange fire, “which He had not commanded them,” was, “…there cam forth fire from before Jehovah and devoured the, and they died before Jehovah” (Lev. 10:2). His verdict upon Israel’s insincere worldly lives and perverted worship was, “Woe unto you…” (Amos 5:18; 6:1; Amos 7:1, Joel 2:13).
4.1.4. God’s verdict upon the sectarian Pharisees, hypocrites, was, “But in vain they do worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men: (Mat. 15:9). He would/shall root up every perverted religion (Mat. 15:13).
4.2. To worship in any way other than according to God’s pattern was under the old law, and is today under the law of Christ, to disregard the Truth of God and to violate His precepts. “Thy truth” (Psa. 119:142). To worship other than according to the Truth, God’s law is perverted worship. “Thou art near, O Jehovah, And all they commandments are truth” (v. 151). Not to worship according to the Divine pattern is to engage in unacceptable worship (John 4:23-24; 8:32; 17:17); it is to reject God’s authority and to sin.
4.3. The one who failed/fails to worship God on His terms fails to respect His name, “An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings, and thy peace-offerings, they sheep, and thine oxen: in every place where I record my name I will come unto thee and I will bless thee: (Exo. 20:24).
4.4. Since God puts His name (authority) on the things commanded (Col. 3:17), to do things in worship not authorized by God or to omit things He commands is to sin and to be rejected, lost eternally unless one repents, ceases the practice, comes out of the perversion, and practices pure and undefiled religion.
5. What are some departures from God’s way of Worship?
5.1. Innovations constitute a departure from the New Testament pattern of Divine worship, a clear violation of Paul’s charge to Timothy, “Hold the pattern of sound words which thou hast heard from me” (2 Tim. 1:13), and of his command to the Colossians, “And whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name [by the authority, CAC] of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17).
5.2. The Divided Assembly
5.2.1. One innovation introduced by some is the divided assembly, also at time termed “children’s church,” “junior worship,” “children’s Bible hour,” or other names.
5.2.2. In the Old Testament, the place of worship was vital; Israelites were to bring their offerings to the tent of meeting, the tabernacle (Lev.17:5), not to another tabernacle. There was public acknowledgement, confession in the sin offering; nothing was hidden. This promoted unity, one priesthood, one place, one law, one sacrifice, one assembly. The individual tribes were not allowed to select the place, priest, time or other specified items. Jeroboam realized the power of such assembly for unity, and thus forbade the ten tribes to return to Jerusalem; he set up Dan and Bethel under the pretense of convenience, which actually promoted division-changed the priesthood, time, place, and object.
5.2.3. Leviticus is the background to understanding the assembly. The Hebrews were closest to God when they offered sacrifices together at the one tabernacle; God’s glory was just behind the veil (Lev. 1:1-2). It caused a realization of God’s holiness and of man’s needs and imperfections. It provoked holiness in one’s life, causing one to appreciate more the spiritual rather than the material. Likewise, when we assemble, Christ is present, and greater spirituality is produced (1 Cor. 10:14-22). Fellowship with God’s people is vital (Lev. 20:22-26).
5.2.4. Fellowship today is of vital importance, encouraging faithfulness and carrying out the great commission. How long would faithfulness continue if we went our separate ways? Here is God’s wisdom. We would lose fellowship, love, concern, mutual feeling and assistance. We work together, study, sing, pray, give, edify each other. If we met separately, what would result?
5.2.5. Notice that “all Israel” was called together to be taught the Law of Moses, including men, women, little ones, and the sojourner (Deu. 31:10-12). “And that their children, who have not known, may hear and learn to fear Jehovah” (v. 13). The children did not have to be separated to learn (see Jos. 8:34-35). The assembly called by Joel included the old men, children, “those that suck the breasts,” the bridegroom and bride, and all others. (Joel 2:15-17). Under Zerubbabel, “the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem (Ezra 3:1-2). Under Ezra, “there was gathered together unto him out of Israel a very great assembly of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore: (10:1).
5.2.6. Our Lord did not separate an segregate the multitude into various ages, backgrounds, or other groups, at the time of His sermon on the mount (Mat. 5-7), nor did He segregate the five thousand men, women and children (Mat. 14:14). Had he done so He would have missed the opportunity to use the lad’s five loaves and two fishes. He refused to hush up the children, who praised and worshiped Him in the temple, singing, “Hosanna to the son of David” (Mat. 21:15)!
5.2.7. What about the early church? They assembled together to partake of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:20), signifying the unity of the one body (1Cor. 10:16-17) and the unity with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit (1John 1:3-10). Division makes impossible the partaking of the Lord’s Supper (1Cor. 11:17-20, ASV). For this cause, many are weak and sickly, and are asleep (1Cor. 11:30). Note the phrases “we all partake,” “come together into one place”. Paul wrote, “If therefore the whole church be assemble together, “ “when ye come together” (1 Cor. 14:23, 26). He taught the same doctrine “everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4:17; 14:33; 16:1-2). He wrote, “In the midst of the congregation will I sing they praise” (Heb.2:12). Further he commanded, “Not forsaking our own assembling together as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another: (Heb. 10:25). How is this possible when we are divided and segregated into “junior church” and/or other groups?
5.2.8. When the church “came together, to break bread” (Acts 20:7, KJV), when they were “gathered together” (v. 8), did that include the children? Eutychus, a “lad: (v. 12, ASV), fell out of the window. This word is from pais, meaning “from the viewpoint of age boy, youth: “a child, boy or girl”; in other words, the assembly of the early church included children. Interestingly, John mentioned three different groups in the church –fathers, young men, little children (1 John 2:13-14). Why did he not write three letters, one for each level of understanding? They did not divide up into three assemblies for reading the letter.
5.3. The significant Greek words for this study of the assembly are:
5.3.1. Sunerchomai – (1Cor. 14:26) As to come together, to assemble
5.3.2. Ekklesia – (1 Cor. 11:18; 14:19, 35) An assembly of Christians gathered for worship; when you come together in church
5.3.3. Episunagoge – (Heb. 10:25) A gathering together in one place
5.3.4. Sunelthein/sunerchesthai – (1Cor. 11:20; 14:23) As having convened, come together to the same place
5.3.5. Sunago – (Acts 20:7) To be gathered, come together; assemble
5.4. Why could brethren worship “together” effectively in the Old and New Testaments, whereas brethren cannot in the twenty first century?