Lesson Eleven – Worship


Lesson Aim:  To show the value of worship to spiritual growth.


O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee.  In a dry and weary land where there is no water.  Thus I have beheld Thee in the sanctuary, to see Thy power and Thy glory.  Psa. 63:1, 2

King David beheld God’s power and glory in his worship.  Moses said, “You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him, and swear by His name.”  Deut. 6:13.  Jesus quoted Moses when He dismissed Satan from His presence after His forty day fast.  “Then Jesus said to him, “Begone, Satan!  For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”  Matt. 4:10Christians worship one God; the God who created us (Acts 14:15).  One reason Christians worship God is because He desires it and we appreciate His desires; however, there is a value in our worship for our own spiritual growth.

In this lesson we will consider the value Christians receive from our worship to God.  We will study the acts of worship but it will be assumed we already know what God desires.  We will be concerned with the influence of our worship on the mental environment of Christians “in Christ.”  We believe God enjoys our worship when we worship Him in spirit and truth; however, we will emphasize the result of our worship on our own lives (John 4:23).


According to W. E. Vine’s Greek dictionary there are several different Greek words translated worship in the New Testament.  We will examine a few of these in order to develop a composite picture of the meaning of the word “worship.”  For instance, in Paul’s confrontation with the Areopagites, two different words are used in the Greek manuscript.  Paul said, “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship (sebasma), I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown God.’  What therefore you worship (eusebeo) in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.”  Acts 17:23.  Eusebeo means to be reverential or pious, and sebasma means the object of worship or devotion.  In Acts 17:25 the NAS translators translated therapeuo, served, and in the KJV it is translated worshipped.  It means to serve, cure or heal.  The Greek word threskeia is translated worship in Col. 2:18 and it means a religious observance.  Latreuo is translated worship in Acts 7:42 in the KJV and serve in the NAS.

The most often used Greek word in the New Testament that has been translated worship is proskun.  It means to kiss toward.  This is the word used in Matt. 4:9, 10 and John 4:20-24.  Another commonly used Greek word is sebomai as in Matt. 15:9.  It means to venerate or reckon venerable, that is to feel awe.  What then do we do when we worship God?  A composite picture drawn from the foregoing definitions shows faithful Christians’ worship consists of a feeling that we would like to kiss God.  We piously reverence Him as holy and serve Him with a religious service.  Armed with this definition of the word “worship,” we will consider the different worship services the Lord has authorized for our worship to Him.  Our aim will be to understand the impact of a particular type worship on our life in Christ.

The Lord’s Supper is a Christian worship where we commune with Jesus while we remember His death on the cross.  In this worship we show the world we believe in Jesus Christ as our sacrifice for sins (I Cor. 11:17-26).  In reference to our definition of worship, we serve Him each Lord’s Day with this religious service (Acts 20:7).  We piously remember the suffering He did for us which makes us desire to kiss Him.  Once a week faithful Christians take a stand for Jesus Christ.

When people take a public stand for a cause, we are prone to include that cause in our set of values.  It is even more forceful when we take a stand with a group.  By partaking of the Lord’s Supper, an individual Christian takes a stand with the church and communes with Jesus.  Any time we have an opportunity to specifically engage in an act with Deity it strengthens our identification with the Divine Being.  This is especially true if our emotions are aroused during this experience.

The Lord’s Supper encompasses all aspects of the composite definition of worship and it plays a key role in the Christian’s spiritual life.  It takes place at seven day intervals and it is an emotional experience.  This type worship demands character as well as strengthens character; consequently, the value of this act of worship is strengthened character for the worshipers.  Of course, God is pleased and so other good things work for our good.  The church’s public participation in the Lord’s Supper may also have an evangelistic value because sinners receive a message when they witness our worship.

Although the Lord instructed the church in the first century to take the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, it was not a ritual.  Today, some religious groups have decided to avoid the possibility of ritualism by taking the Lord’s as they please.  We do need to be concerned because Christian practice has no value for the practitioner when it becomes a ritual.  The Apostle Paul gave one reason; “…but (rituals) are of no value against fleshly indulgence.” Col. 2:23.  The things the Lord asks Christians to practice are for our spiritual growth as well as serving God’s other desires.

In order to avoid ritualism all three elements of the Christian religion must be properly involved in every practice of a Christian, whether it is worship, evangelism, or the processes of the new birth.  The three elements are: what we believe (theology), the manner in which we behave (ethic), and what we do (practice).  We have an illustration of this point in I Corinthians 11:17-34.  Some members of the Corinthian church were performing the correct practice at the proper time.  They were taking the Lord ’s Supper on the first day of the week.  Paul reminded them of the correct theological doctrine they should have had in mind during this practice.  They may have been remembering Jesus’ death but their worship had no value because they were practicing in an unethical manner.  He said, “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number are asleep.” I Cor. 11:30.

The English word “pray,” like worship, is translated from several different Greek words in the New Testament.  When we develop a composite definition of prayer from all sources, our definition is as follows:  We beseech God with our wishes, we ask Him to intercede in our tribulations and we pour out our life before Him.  Prayer is an instant avenue of worship that can be entered into at any time and at any place by Christians (I Thess. 5:17).  Even the Christians who have fallen away can instantly beseech God to forgive them of their sins if they are repentant (Acts 8:22).  Worship in prayer demands the recognition of a power greater than us.

One type of prayer Christians most often pray is to ask God for help.  This type of prayer should be divided into three parts: analyzing, asking and projection.  We must analyze our lives before God Almighty, then we ask Him to “fill in the gaps” for us where we perceive we need help to achieve a projected goal.  This type prayer calls upon us to consider our own strengths and weaknesses.  We must determine where we stand at the time of our prayer.  We also determine what we need from God to accomplish our projected goal.  Note, in an asking type prayer, a statement is always included about what we expect to do with what we ask God to do for us.  Our projected achievement is based on our analysis of our own ability – added to what we are asking from God.

Please read John 17:l-26 and then separate the various phrases under the following three headings:  the part where Jesus analyzed His situation, the part where He asked God to intervene, and the part where He projected what He expected to happen as a result of the other two parts combined.  For instance, in verse one, Jesus analyzed His situation and concluded “the hour has come.”  What He asked God to do was to “glorify Thy Son.”  His projection as a result of the hour at hand and God glorifying Him during the “hour,” was “that the Son may glorify Thee (God).”  All Jesus’ prayer in John chapter seventeen can be classified under these three headings.

One value of this type of prayer worship to God is found in its power to cause us to evaluate ourselves.  Some people rarely evaluate themselves because they don’t like what they find.  Christians need to examine ourselves regularly before God looks at us on Judgment Day (II Cor. 13:5).  Sinners who do evaluate themselves may find deficiencies which they or their friends cannot overcome.  Christians who will make a projection before God of what we expect to happen if He does fulfil  our request have a right to ask Him to intercede (I John 5:13-15).  Another value of this type worship is it builds our faith in God that He listens and causes things to happen.  We receive help and accomplish goals for God and ourselves.  We never lose heart if we pray without ceasing (Luke 18:1; I Thess. 5:17).

In another type prayer we tell God about the things that happen in our lives with Him in it.  Please read Acts 4:24-31.  These Christians were praying by telling God a story about what was happening to them in Jerusalem at that time.  They told this story with God and them in it.  Every parent loves to hear their children tell a story about themselves with the parent included.  God loves to hear His children tell Him the story of our daily lives.  He wants to be a part of the story.  This means we are attuned to God and also our reality while on earth.  Our real world includes the kingdom of God now in time, along with what is going on here.  This removes the space between our religion and our life.  The result is a healthy integration of our self and a close fellowship with Deity.  All of our prayers must be straight forward and meaningful.  Jesus said, “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.”  Matt. 6:7. 

Giving is another form of worship.  It was the Lord who said “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:35.  He did not say it is not blessed to receive.  We all feel blessed when we receive, especially if it is something we receive from God after an analytical prayer.  However, Jesus declared worship involving giving is even more blessed.  We can be sure this is why God has always included giving in the worship by His people in all ages.

What is the personal value of giving?  We find one good answer in II Cor. 9:12-15.  Note how a triangle was developed when the churches of Asia helped the poor saints in Jerusalem.  The triangle was formed by emotional relationships between the giver, receiver and God.  The receivers had their physical needs met through this divine act of worship; consequently, their thanksgiving overflowed to God.  God was glorified by the receiver, who also yearned for the givers.  The worship of giving meets needs, glorifies God and causes partitions to be made to God for the givers.  The grace of the givers’ hearts knitted the Christians of the first century together in Asia and Palestine.  This “indescribable gift,” which is a sharing heart, was one thing God used to knit the Jews and Gentiles together in order to form the body of Christ.  It would, no doubt, solve many of our ethnic quarrels today.  Before we start our drums beating for the underprivileged of the world, please note in this case it was the churches who were helping destitute churches who were caught in an emergency situation (II Cor. 8:1-6, 14).

Another benefit Christians derive from the worship of giving is it helps to rehabilitate thieves.  Christians who do not give as we are prospered rob God (Mal. 3:8).  Giving, and giving only, solves this problem.  It will also help if we have the problem of stealing from the government, the company, or our neighbor. Consider this thought from the following scripture:

Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need.  Eph. 4:28

The giver’s motive is the key factor in determining the spiritual growth value to the giver of the worship of giving.  Jesus said if we give to impress ourselves or others, we will not receive a blessing from God (Matt. 6:1-4).  We must conclude He means we must know enough about the cause to which we are contributing to be emotionally involved.  Paul said, “And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”  I Cor. 13:3.  We need to give from a heart of love but what if we don’t have the love?  We can use the same plan people use to develop muscles.  We need muscles to lift weights.  We lift weights to develop muscles.  The church is offered many opportunities to help people receive the graces from the Lord we have already received (I Pet. 4:10).  These should be presented to the members so we can get emotionally involved in our giving.  There is no value in a program where the members give and the leaders decide what to do with the funds later.  This type of giving went out with the Law of Moses.  Personal participation in the worship of giving will bless us personally with a soft heart.

Another type of valuable worship for Christians is singing.  The Lord has always enjoyed praises from His people by their singing of spiritual songs.  David, the psalmist, wrote:

Therefore I will give thanks to Thee among the nations, O Lord, and I will sing praises to Thy name.  Psa. 18:49

The Apostle Paul told the churches to use “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” in their worship to God.  They were also told to use these avenues to speak to and admonish one another (Eph. 5:18-21; Col. 3:16).  The question we might ask is, “Why not use the common speech to praise God and to exhort our brothers and sisters in Christ?”  Of course, we are told to use the common speech but we are also asked to sing.  Singing has not always been as complicated in the past as it is today; however, it was always different from “just talk.”

The elements of singing have a rhythm that appears to relate to the way God put us together.  Since the Lord understands the way He created us, perhaps, singing is a natural expression of our nature.  It lets us pour out our hearts to God.  Jesus joined His disciples in the singing of a hymn before He went to the Mount of Olives to prepare Himself to die on the cross (Matt. 26:30).  Singing allows Christians to blend their voices, hearts and minds together in praise to God (I Cor. 14:15).  It is also a natural expression of merriment.  James said, “Is anyone cheerful?  Let him sing praises.”  James 5:13.

A study of the psychology of music would, no doubt, reveal much more value in worship by singing than will be stated here.  We recognize the value of praising God and admonishing others but we can do this through prayer and speech.  There is a reason why God asks us to praise and exhort by singing.  We might conclude singing blends with our rhythmic nature and releases our emotions in a healthy way.  We need release, but not by wine.  We don’t need to get drunk in order to sing, but we do need to be filled with the Spirit.  Singing lets us release our emotions and serve the needs of others at the same time (Eph. 5:18, 19).

There is another way to worship God in the absence of a religious service.  We serve Him by offering our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice.

I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  Rom. 12:1

Our physical bodies are tools and clothes for our spirits in this world (Rom. 6:13).  We use them to translate the thoughts of our minds into mundane activity (Jas. 2:12).  We must be able to differentiate between our inner and outer man before we will be willing to engage in this type of worship.  Our Lord Jesus works to take our minds captive to His way of life.  He does not seek to direct our bodies directly as some lords on earth do.  He wants to take our thoughts captive (Rom. 12:2; II Cor. 10:5).  When this happens we are able to offer a “spiritual service of worship” by using our bodies to serve, preach and teach for Him.

The way this type worship is of value is found, first of all, in the fact that we get ourselves in charge of our body.  We have heard the old cliché, “mind over body or body over mind.”  It is very important for us to get our minds in charge of our bodies so we can keep control over our tendency to lust (Rom. 13:14).  When we are willing to use our bodies as a living sacrifice it shows we understand our bodies are only tools for time and this universe.  Another value of the service type worship is we accomplish the tasks the Lord wants done on earth.  We achieve His goals by our Christian service.  Our behavior is a co-operate act with God.  This type of worship lets us perform nutrient behavior.  We are useful to God, man and ourselves.

Worship attunes and welds our lives to the spiritual realm and breaks us away from the physical.  It strengthens our faith as well as the faith of others.  We take a stand with Jesus and His church before the world and we adopt this as a part of our self.  Our emotions are released before God as we analyze our lives in song and prayer.  We get in charge of life; therefore, our service to mankind is worship to God.  Worship recognizes God as Almighty (II Cor. 2:14-16).  We “kiss toward” our Father by our reverence to His will.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Why did God command Christians to worship Him?
  2. List the meaning of the different Greek words usually translated worship in the New Testament.
  3. What is the value of taking a stand on the issue of the cross each week?
  4. How does the partaking of the Lord’s Supper fulfil the meaning of all the Greek words translated worship?
  5. What, if any, is the value of ritualism in Christian practice according to Col 2:23?
  6. List the three categories of the Christian religion in which all elements belong.
  7. Which element was violated by the Corinthian church in relation to their partaking of the Lord’s Supper?
  8. What is different about the accessibility of prayer in relation to other types of worship?
  9. List the three categories of Jesus’ prayer in John 17.
  10. What is the value of telling God the story of our life with Him in it?
  11. Explain the triangle formed by giving worship in II Cor. 9:12-15.
  12. What is Jesus’ therapy for a thief?
  13. Give your theory on why Christians are told to sing rather than just talk.
  14. What is the value of the worship of offering our bodies as a living sacrifice?
  15. Summarize the value of Christian worship for the worshipper.

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