Worship Part 4: Worship As Event
We're in the middle of exploring aspects
of biblical worship. So far, we've looked
at worship as exaltation, expression,
Another way Scripture speaks of worship
is as an event. While God's Word clearly
views worship as a way of life before
God, we are also commanded to meet together
in specific contexts to proclaim His
glory and exalt His name.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve
experienced unbroken communion with
their Creator. Life was one continual
succession of "worship events."
After the fall, however, our relationship
with God was broken. We were unable
to approach Him because of our sin.
Therefore, God established sacrifice
as the means by which He was to be approached
and worshiped. The spontaneous sacrifices
of Cain, Abel, and the patriarchs led
to a more developed pattern of worship
at the tabernacle, and finally the temple.
Although God made it clear He expected
daily devotion to His name and holiness,
He provided for yearly, monthly, even
daily reminders that He was Israel's
Creator and Redeemer.
the New Testament, less emphasis is
given to worship as an event. Much of
the terminology used for acts of worship
in the Old Testament (sacrifice, temple,
priest, altar, etc.) are reapplied to
our daily lives as Christians. Romans
12 says we are to offer up our bodies
as living sacrifices. That's an ongoing
activity, not something we can do once
a week (see also Heb 13:15-16). However,
Hebrews 10:25 tells us we are not to
neglect meeting together, but are to
encourage one another, all the more
as we "see the Day drawing near."
This passage, along with the book of
Revelation, reminds us that our worship
gatherings on earth are a foretaste
of the heavenly assembly where we will
worship God forever.
The early Christians continued to meet
together on the first day of the week
primarily to pray, hear God's word,
share the Lord's supper, and to fellowship.
If they followed the synagogue pattern
of that time, there were likely songs
of adoration as well. Despite the changes
in meaning assigned to worship vocabulary,
worship continued to be an event for
For the early Christians, however, worship
was more than the music. In fact, the
singing portion of meetings in the early
church probably took up much less of
the service than many of us today are
used to. If we are going to view worship
as an event, it's important that we
understand what is actually taking place.
We are no longer seeking to work our
way into the Holy of Holies through
our songs and sincere intentions. Jesus
secured our entrance already (Heb. 10:19-22).
Instead, we gather to remind ourselves
of what He has already accomplished,
and to respond with worship.
Peterson says it well: "At the
heart of Christian gatherings there
should be a concern to proclaim and
apply the truths of the gospel, to keep
the focus on God's gracious initiative,
to stimulate and maintain saving faith
and to elicit appropriate expressions
of that faith in the assembly and in
everyday life. Prayer and praise are
clearly worship when they are faith
responses to the gospel." (Worship:
Adoration and Action, ed. by D.A. Carson,
In other words, our songs of praise
and adoration are "worship"
as they focus us on the gospel and strengthen
us in our walk of faith. When we view
worship this way, we are edified, God
is glorified, and the church of Jesus
Christ is built up.
Next time, we'll take a look at worship
as everyday life.