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Worship: Why and How

Worship for the Christian is their faith response to God that comes from a heart of thanksgiving because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice of himself on the cross, offered to God by him on their behalf. It involves the obedience that comes from their faith in Christ, through whom they offer themselves to God with holy lives in his service.

Why do we worship?

If that is what worship is for the Christian, the question is: 'Why do Christians need to worship God'? It is crucial to distinguish between Christ’s sacrifice offered for us, and our sacrifice offered through him. It is Christ’s sacrifice alone that obtains God’s mercy and favour for Christians. Only his worship on the cross reconciles us to God; that is, it alone brings us into fellowship with him. Our sacrifice is a duty that does not achieve anything for us; but rather it demonstrates the gratitude of those whom God himself has already brought into fellowship with himself through Christ: we worship God by offering ourselves to God through Christ in thanksgiving. The cross is the work that secures God’s favour for us. The obedience of our faith is our expression of thanksgiving for Christ’s work on our behalf. It is necessary for us to worship God, because it is necessary for us to be thankful to God. So then, "let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our "God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12:28-29)".

How do we worship?

The New Testament describes the church as a ‘holy’ and ‘royal priesthood’ in which all of God’s people act as priests, offering ‘spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ’ (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:6). But the question is: ‘how does the New Testament picture these sacrifices, in practical terms?’ They include just about any type of sacrifice of oneself that is from a thankful response to God’s grace in Christ, as the many and varied references to Christians’ spiritual worship in the New Testament shows: we offer our bodies by living a holy and pleasing lifestyle to God (Romans 12:1); we praise God by confessing his name to others (Heb 13:15); we pray for others (Acts 10:4; Revlation 5:8; 8:3-4); we continue to have faith (Php 2:17); we give to others (Acts 10:4; Philipians 4:18); we go good to others; we share with others (Hebrews 13:16); we preach the gospel (Romans 15:16; 2 Corinthians 3:15); we give our lives even unto death for the gospel (2 Timothy 4:6).

Praise and worship

Alongside the term 'worship', it seems that the concept of ‘praise’ is also a term largely misunderstood and often misapplied in the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements. The Psalms demonstrate that the chief way we praise God is by telling others about him (E.g. Psalm 22:22; and 2 Samuel 22:50); that is, we praise God to each other, and those who have not heard of him. It seems from a number of New Testament verses that a key expression of worship is the continual ‘praising of God’ to others - both to fellow Christians and unbelievers - which involves the confessing of God’s name; that is, speaking to others about the greatness of God. This is chiefly done in the New Testament by telling other people the gospel (Hebrews 13:15; 1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).

It seems then that the picture of Christian worship in the New Testament is a collage; there are a myriad of images all superimposed on each other in a way that leaves us wondering whether or not there is a picture at all.

Charismatic worship

At this point it is imperative to see that New Testament Christian worship looks in most part completely different to what the term ‘worship’ is used to describe in a Charismatic meeting. The point here is not that Charismatics or Pentecostals do not worship, but only that there is nothing about their ‘praise and worship’ 'services' and singing that is necessarily worship. It is only if during such ‘praise and worship’ ‘times’ that Christians engage in some type of sacrifice of themselves that comes from a thankful response to God’s grace in Christ that it is really worship in spirit and in truth.

In other words, if any Christian meeting is really a 'service', because in it Christians serve God and serve each other, then it may certainly be referred to as 'worship' to God. This may well take place as some respond by praying to God with a thankful heart. Others may find themselves looking around and with heartfelt thanks to God find themselves confessing his name through the songs to other Christians.

But even then, the ‘praise and worship time’ was not necessary (or even helpful) for this. For loud emotive songs can often distract from genuine and thoughtful prayer to God and for others. And most often than not confessing God’s name to others - whether to Christians or not - is most effectively done directly (that is, in person, over coffee).

talkingpentecostalism.blogspot.com | joe towns: christian discussion on pentecost, charisma, pentecostal and charismatic beliefs, the Bible and Jesus; including the origin and history of pentecostalism, baptism in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, gifts and miracles, divine healing and word of faith, prosperity and wealth, praise and worship, guidance and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit.