The title suggests that this post will be about worship, as indicated by the use of the Old English “worthship,” meaning acknowledgement of worth. “Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Your ways, O King of saints.” (Rev.15:3). God alone is worthy of praise and worship, for His works and for His ways.
One serious student of the word worship said of it: “To quicken the conscience by the holiness of God; to feed the mind with the truth of God; to purge the imagination by the beauty of God; to open the heart to the love of God; to devote the will to the purpose of God.” (unknown)
R.A. Torrey, associate of the 19th century evangelist D.L. Moody, observed that there is a great deal of so-called worship. He said that “reading the Bible and meditating upon it is not worship. It may lead to worship, but it is not worship. Listening to a sermon is not worship. It may be, and should be, but it is not worship. Praying is not worship. It may be, and should be, accompanied by worship, but it is not worship. Singing is not necessarily, nor generally, worship. There are hymns which, if sung intelligently and in the proper spirit, would be worship, but they are comparatively few in the hymnology of the day. Worship is the definite act of a character very clearly defined in the Bible. It is, as said, the soul bowing before God in adoring contemplation of Himself.” “And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshipping the Lord.” (2 Chron. 20:18)
Rev. Gordon Brown prayed the following petition before God’s throne as he led a congregation to worship: “O Savior of the world, Thou divine and human Christ, Thou who alone canst supply our needs, it is in Thy presence we bow at this quiet hour. Give us to drink, O Christ, of that water springing up into everlasting life. Our souls are athirst for God, and Thou alone canst supply our need, for no man cometh to the Father, save through the Son. We come that we may worship Thee. God is a Spirit. Grant that by the Holy Spirit’s working in our spirits we who are Thine own children may worship truly and spiritually. Enable us to offer sacrifices of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. Our hearts go out after Thee, that by faith afresh we may lay hold of Thee, that our souls may be filled with the fullness of God, so that others may share the blessing of our overflowing hearts.”
That prelude prayer pretty much captures the adoration, contemplation, confession, and admiration that are the essence of worship. But the Devil has long been trying to confuse religious activity with worship. Charles Spurgeon, the noted 19th-century London pastor, remonstrated that “the Devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them…providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church…the need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt that it sets men on fire.”
And, worship, heartfelt and soul-stirring, need not be done in the latest state-of-the-art facilities. One can worship in the humblest of surroundings. In 1989, with Dr. Ed Nelson and Natasha Vins, we joined hearts together in praise and prayer under the sky in a woods at the edge of Leningrad, Russia, where persecuted Christians were wont to assemble away from the gaze of the gawking KGB (Russian Secret Police), who had imprisoned many of the saints there for no other crime than gathering together with their families for worship. The pews were of beautiful, unstained wood, i.e., fallen forest tree limbs on which the women and children were afforded a place to sit, as all would come quietly before the Creator God to praise and petition Him. It was one of the most spiritually impacting worship services this pastor has ever attended, before or after that Soviet summer Sunday. But there were no high-tech instruments with which to enhance sights or sounds; just hearts ablaze with love for Jesus, His Word, and His Church. That kind of worship service is etched upon one’s mind, indelibly, by the Holy Spirit who orchestrated it to the praise of His glory.
In 2009 Jerry Jones, owner and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, spent over $1 billion to build a state-of-the-art stadium with the largest (at that time) Jumbo Tron in the world (7 stories high). The facility was replete with artwork everywhere, a retractable roof, platform decks, party suites, 120-feet-high glass doors, and a pricy average ticket admission of $160. But all of that could not, in and of itself, produce a winning team; that had to come on the field—out of the hearts, minds, and souls of the players. So with worship. It seems that, in today’s world, production substitutes for power; the band for the Bible; PowerPoint lectures that reach the head for plain preaching that touches the heart. Are we, the 2022 Church, better off for this trade off?
Keith Bashan, writing in the Bible Baptist Fellowship Tribune of August of 2008, says that he had visited a growing mountain-states church in four different buildings—three times of which had been in the past five years from the time of his writing. He said, “The services are always fresh, and in spite of the moves, there are always new faces to meet and greet. In late July I was with the church in its current meeting place, a school building. As expected, there were new people I had not met, and even some first-time visitors. Though the church has existed more than 50 years, the atmosphere and enthusiasm made it seem something new, almost like a newly planted church. The old church seemed like a new one.”
One astute observer offered the following analysis of the 21st-century church: “Like weak-willed politicians, American churches have reinvented themselves over and over to satiate the restless whims of an unregenerate world.” (unknown)
However, no matter how many times churches of today reinvent themselves, true worship will never be reinvented, and what Jesus said will be true until after time as we know it shall be no more: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and it truth.” (John 4:23, 24)
“The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship Him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Rev.4:10,11)
One thought on “Worthship”
Penetrating thoughts! Much of the trappings of the entertainment motivated and technologically saturated church, it seems, is obviously antithetical to simple and sincere worship of the heart. In the 60s I was with Buff Davis, Roscoe Brewer, Elmer Towns, and a few other guys visiting the ORU campus while at a youth workers conference in Tulsa. Upon observing the imposing and ostentatious Prayer Tower, Elmer commented: “I don’t think I need that to pray.” Well, as they said back in that day, “we’ve come a long way baby.” Oral’s prayer tower is a small sidelight in the world of blockbuster evangelicalism.
Still, the padded pew comforts, and accoutrements, of our nicely appointed fundamental church auditoriums can lull the would be worshipper to think worship is accomplished by these non-offensive traditions. We can go through the motions in our respectful surroundings and think worship is the natural byproduct. Bringing the lessons from the woods outside of Leningrad to our hearts in producing sincere and simple worship is not easy for our comfortable sensibilities. Thank you for this window of wisdom that encourages us to think and apply. Ps. 71:18