is much more than attending a Sunday service. In fact, it
is a way of life. Worship is our response to God—it
is how we show him honour. This chapter looks at why we worship
and the ways we worship.
could have been no better time for a woman to anoint Jesus
with precious perfume. Jesus was acutely aware that he would
die in two days—he was alone, he dined with his betrayer
and close friends who didn’t understand. Meanwhile,
a woman humbly approached Jesus, broke the neck of a sealed
alabaster jar and poured its contents on his head. As the
perfumed oil ran down his face, the disciples mumbled against
her, spoiling her spontaneous act of love and worship.
1. Why did Jesus say “She has done a beautiful thing
to me” in v6?
2. It was a Jewish custom to give gifts to the poor on the
evening of the Passover. Were the disciples (Matthew 26:8)
justified in their accusation?
3. The perfume cost more than a year’s wages. Would
you willingly give this much money away for a godly cause?
Was this a godly cause or a frivolous act?
4. How was this act a form of worship?
Regardless of race, culture, location or time, people all
over the world seek to worship something. The Australian Aborigines
worshipped the earth, the ancient Egyptians worshipped gods
of nature, and the Japanese worshipped their Emperor. Today,
many people worship materialism, heroes and human rights—
democracy, freedom and peace.
We worship when we show reverence, adoration and honour. Why
do humans seek to honour something? The answer is quite simple—God
created humans to worship him. In each one of us is a desire
to worship someone greater than ourselves.
Exodus 23:24–25; 34:14; Numbers 25:3–5; Deuteronomy
4:19; 5:9; 8:19; 12:2–7; Judges 2:12–19; 1
Kings 12:28–33; 2 Kings 17:24–41; Daniel 3:1–30;
of true worship:
Chronicles 29:20–36; Nehemiah 8:1–8; Job 1:20–22;
Daniel 6:1–28; Zechariah 14:16–21; Matthew
about worship in the New Testament:
22:34–40; John 4:19–24; Romans 12:1; 1 Corinthians
11:17–34; Ephesians 5:19–20; Colossians 3:16.
evidence that the God of the Bible is the Almighty Creator
is overwhelming and undeniable, yet most people prefer false
gods and choose to ignore the truth. Ignoring truth carries
a great price—eternal death. God hates false worship.
Why reward faithless people who deliberately turn from the
truth and believe in lies? See Chapter 2. Reasons
to believe the Bible.
So what is true worship? Jesus beautifully summarised true
worship by saying,
the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your
soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and
greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love
your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets
hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37–40)
Jesus was quoting these commandments from the Old Testament—from
Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. Whether under the old
or new covenant relationship, the way to please God remains
. . true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and
truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks.
worship is honouring God. Whether we honour God through prayer,
singing, praise, fasting or feasting, taking bread and wine,
generosity, brotherly love, rebuking, tithing, teaching or
leading, we are pleasing him. If we please him, we are worshipping
him the right way and the only way.
let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD
our Maker. (Psalm 95:6)
Worshipping under the old covenant
God’s command to Israel was straight-forward: love and
obey me and I will bless you. Disobey and I will punish you.
if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to
love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart
and with all your soul—then I will send rain on your
land in its season. . . Be careful, or you will be enticed
to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them.
Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he
will shut the heavens so that it will not rain. (Deuteronomy
Old Testament times, Israel had to follow a complicated form
of worship—the Law of Moses. Rules for sacrifices, health
laws and holy days were set out in very specific detail. By
willingly obeying these laws of worship, Israel would be blessed.
the casual observer, the Law of Moses seems unnecessarily
complicated and impossible to keep. But these laws were given
for a very good reason—they taught the Israelites that
they were totally dependent on their Creator. In other words,
it kept them humble and focused their attention on worshipping
the true God. What was important was the motive: if you love
God with all your heart, you want to please him, so you obey.
If you obey unwillingly, it is false worship.
Jesus pointed out one of the most graphic examples of false
worship in his outcries against the Pharisees. One section
to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!
You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin.
But you have neglected the more important matters of the
law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have
practised the latter, without neglecting the former. You
blind guides!. . . You are like whitewashed tombs, which
look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full
of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. (Matthew
verses give a clear message: worship should be a loving response
to God, not merely following rules and rituals.
Worshipping under the new covenant
How we worship God is the same in both the new and old covenants—in
truth and spirit. But the way we go about it is different.
Under the new covenant there are fewer laws, mostly principles—principles
that the Israelites often ignored. Consider again Jesus’
criticism of the Pharisees: “you have neglected the
more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and
faithfulness”. We must follow these principles (and
others) in order to please God. Paul stated the heart of the
matter by saying:
I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer
your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this
is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)
An important aspect of worship is when we praise God through
prayer and singing. When we praise God, we are telling him
how we feel about him. There are many wonderful examples of
praise in the Psalms. Often they describe God’s character
or recall how he has dealt with people in the past.
Suggestion: try reading a Psalm as your own
prayer of praise to God.
Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of
the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD. (Psalm 117)
Worship is our response to God through which we show our reverence,
honour and adoration for him. To worship God is to love God,
honour God, and obey God. We can worship God in many different
ways including praying, singing, praising and meditating,
and through willingly giving ourselves in doing his work.
1. Read and consider the following cases carefully.
Cain and Abel each made offerings
Nadab and Abihu offered unauthorised fire
David ate consecrated bread
Ananias and Sapphira lied about a donation
Jesus was baptised
was God’s response different in each case? What does
this teach about worship?
Consider how, when and where you worship. Do you think the
way you honour God pleases him? How could you improve?
3. Music plays an important part in worship. Read the following
passages: 1 Chronicles 15:27–29; 16:39–43; Psalm
150; Ephesians 5:19–20; Colossians 3:16.
How do you use music to help your worship?
(b) Why does music help our worship?
(c) What are the important elements in using music to worship?
1. Select examples from the Old Testament and New Testament
of people worshipping God in different ways. What can you
learn from these examples?
2. Summarise the differences between worshipping under the
old covenant and worshipping under the new covenant.
The genius of discipleship by Dennis Gillett (published
by The Christadelphian, 1984). Chapters 21 and 22, 10 pages.
6. What is God like?
14. Holiness and obedience
36. The Lord’s Supper
57. Keeping the Sabbath