Foundations in Faith 4:
Foundations in Faith 4:
Created to Worship
The great theme of the universe, of the Bible, of all history from eternity past to eternity future, is the worship of God. The Lord created human beings to praise His glory and though humanity rebelled against Him, refused to praise Him and invented a multitude of false gods and false religions, nevertheless, God still seeks those who will worship Him.
God sent a Savior into the world for the purpose of redeeming idol worshippers and transforming them into true worshippers. Jesus was born, died and rose from the dead to reclaim a people who will behold God’s glory and praise Him.
At the end of time, God will again be praised by His redeemed creation and by a holy church. If this is our destiny, to stand before the Lord, behold His glory and worship Him forever, is there any higher priority than learning to be people of praise?
The church has only one priority — to worship God. Everything else falls within this holy calling. The preaching of the Word is an act of worship. Proclaiming the Gospel to a lost world is an act of worship. Prayer is an act of worship. The offering of our resources, our time and talent, is an act of worship. Ministry to the hurting and oppressed, insofar as we are obeying God’s direction, is an act of worship. Loving our fellow believers is an act of worship. Truly, all that we do can be done as worship unto the Lord.
An old statement of faith says that the chief end of humanity is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him. In fact, the entire universe exists to glorify and enjoy God:
"The heavens declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1).
"The beasts of the field shall give me glory" (Isaiah 43:20)
"Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth" (Psalm 98:4-9)
"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" (Psalm 150:6)
The vastness of space exists as a stage on which God manifests His glory. The creatures of the earth and all people, were created for the glory and praise of God. Even beneath our hearing, there is the silent music of creation proclaiming God’s glory.
Humanity was created to behold the glory of God and declare His praise. History is the story of humanity’s worship, or refusal to worship, the true and living God. The fall of Adam and Eve was caused by their refusal to worship God. In disobeying God’s clear directions they were failing to ascribe glory to God. The first murder in history, Cain’s murder of his brother Abel, was motivated by God’s rejection of Cain’s unacceptable worship.
When God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, it was so that they could worship Him and He later judged Israel because the nation refused to worship Him acceptably.
When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, He said, “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you shall be my own possession ... a kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:4-6).
Israel was set free from Egypt to be a nation of worshipping priests. The purpose of the exodus from Egypt was not merely deliverance from slavery but entrance into intimate, worshipful relationship with God. “I brought you to myself,” the Lord said.
Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, Isaiah prophesied that the coming Messiah would set the captives free and those who receive His ministry will be called priests and ministers of the Lord (61:1-6). Peter adds that if we have come into relationship with Jesus, then we are members of God's holy priesthood (I Peter 2:9). All believers are priests, ministers. The purpose of our priesthood is “to proclaim the wonderful deeds of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (2:9).
Priests minister in a variety of ways. One area of ministry to which all priests are called is to bring offerings of praise and worship unto the Lord.
Foundations in Faith 4:
Created to Worship
Come and Worship, Royal Priesthood
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood” (I Peter 2:9).
As a follower of Christ, you are a royal priest. Your priesthood is unique, based on the talents, personality and opportunities God has given you. But one ministry we all have in common is offering praise and worship to God.
(Note: There are questions imbedded in the text to guide your study — you do not need to write out answers. The Study Questions are at the end of the lessons as usual.)
A. Praise and thanksgiving defined.
There are a variety of Hebrew (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament) words which have to do with praise and thanksgiving.
Halal (Hebrew): to boast or celebrate
Tehhillah (Hebrew): a hymn of praise
Yadah (Hebrew): to give thanks with hands extended
Zamar (Hebrew): to strike with the fingers, as a musical instrument
Epaineo (Greek): to applaud (related to the word praise)
1. Praise and thanksgiving are our response to God for what He has promised to do.
When three armies threatened complete destruction to Israel, the people stood up to praise (halal) the Lord. They were not boasting of their weapons. They were boasting of the God in whom they trusted (2 Chronicles 20:19). When it came time for battle, the choir went ahead of the army praising (halal) the Lord and saying, “Give thanks (yada) to the Lord for His mercy endures forever” (20:21). By the time the soldiers arrived, the battle was over — the enemy army had self destructed.
2. Praise and thanksgiving are our response to God for the great things He has done.
Take a moment and read Psalm 103:1-8.
a. What great blessings of God are listed here?
b. Having received these gifts, what would be an appropriate response?
c. Hebrew worship was very physical. How do you interpret "all that is within me” (103:1)?
3. Praise and thanksgiving are God’s gift to those whom He has saved.
Take a moment and read Psalm 40:1-3,9,10 (see also Isaiah 57:18,19)
a. What was God's response to the cry of the Psalmist (Psalm 40:2)?
b. What was the Psalmist's response to God (Psalm 40:9,10)?
c. Who gave the Psalmist that new song (Psalm 40:3)?
d. According to Isaiah 57:18,19, who creates the praise or fruit of our lips?
4. Praise and thanksgiving are an entrance into the manifest presence of God.
God is present in all places at all times but we don’t always recognize or experience His presence everywhere. As we praise the Lord, we enter His presence.
Take a moment and read Psalm 100 and Luke 17:12-19.
a. According to Psalm 100, how do we enter God’s presence?
b. In Luke 17, what was the man's response to Jesus' saving act?
c. Did his expression of thanks bring him into a deeper reality of Jesus' ministry?
B. Worship defined
Shachah (Hebrew): to bow down in reverence
Kara (Hebrew): to bow or kneel
Proskuneo (Greek): to bow down in reverence
Sebomai (Greek): to adore
1. Worship is our response to God as we stand in His presence.
“O come let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving … Come let us worship (shakah) and bow down (kara), let us kneel before the Lord our Maker” (Psalm 95:1-6).
a. How do we move into God's presence? (verses 1,2)
b. What do they remember as they worship God? (verses 3-5)
c. What are some of the characteristics of worship in the presence of God? (verse 6)
d. Who is the object of our worship? (verses 1-6)
2. Worship is what God deserves because of who He is.
God is always holy, all powerful, perfect in mercy, all wise. These qualities never change. Regardless of what we perceive God to have done in our lives, who God is does not change. Therefore we praise Him.
Take a moment and read Luke 7:36-50.
a. What was the woman's response to Jesus?
b. What do you suppose motivated her response?
c. Is this worship?
3. Worship is an act defined by God. God seeks worshippers who worship Him in the way He desires to be worshipped.
Take a moment and read John 4:19-24
God is Spirit. This means that we cannot know Him except as God chooses to reveal Himself.
a. What does it mean to worship God in spirit?
If we put a capitol S on Spirit, this means that the Holy Spirit leads and directs our worship. It is God who draws us into worship and directs us in it. If we use a lowercase s, this means that we worship God sincerely from our heart, our spirit.
b. What does it mean to worship God in truth and whose truth is it?
This means that we worship according to the patterns that God reveals to us in His Word. Our worship of God is consistent with His revelation of Himself in holy Scripture. It is God who teaches us to worship Him.
To worship in Spirit / spirit and in truth means that our worship is always fresh, passionate and focused on God as He truly is.
4. Worship is a holy act or it is not worship:
Take a moment and read Psalm 96:7-9
a. What does it mean to worship God in the beauty of holiness?
b. Does it matter how we come before a holy God?
We worship God in the beauty of His holiness. But if we will enter the presence of a holy God, we too must be dressed in the beauty of holiness. We pray, “My Lord, if there is anything in my life that would separate me from your holy presence, please show me, help me to repent of it and receive your cleansing, that I may enter in and worship you in the beauty of holiness.”
5. Praise and worship release God’s rule:
Take a moment and read Psalm 22:3
a. What does it mean that God dwells within or is enthroned upon our praise?
b. When God is enthroned, what is God doing?
c. How does this impact our understanding of God’s presence in our daily circumstances?
Where God is enthroned, God rules. Where God rules, God overrules. As we go through our day, we enthrone the Lord in praise and worship.
6. All that we do can be done as worship unto the Lord:
Take a moment and read I Corinthians 10:31 (or Colossians 3:17)
a. What does this mean, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God?”
b. How can my job become an offering of worship to the Lord?
c. How can my thoughts, the meditations of my heart, be an offering of worship?
Worship is not just a song we sing. It is the life we live, our response to God in every activity of life. True worship involves our whole being, all that we are and all that we do giving glory to God. Our entire life can be an offering of praise unto the Lord.
7. Worship has a transforming impact on the worshipper:
In Exodus 34:29, when Moses came down the mountain, his face shone, radiating the glory of God. This is a picture of the true worshipper — as we praise the God of glory, His glory transforms us. In fact, this is a spiritual principle true for all people: we are transformed into the image of whatever we worship, for good or evil.
Take a moment and read Hosea 9:10
a. Notice that they devoted (separated) themselves to the false god, Baal.
b. As Israel worshipped the false god, what did they become?
Take a moment and read Psalm 106:28,37-39
a. Notice that as they worshipped, they joined themselves to the false god (106:28).
b. Notice the downward spiral of depravity — they began to kill their children as an offering to the false god (106:37,38).
c. Notice that they became unclean as they worshipped that which is unclean (106:39).
Take a moment and read 2 Corinthians 3:18
a. We behold the glory of the Lord in Scripture, in worship, in prayer.
b. As we do, we are progressively transformed in His likeness.
We may summarize the process with these principles:
a. Worship involves spiritual intimacy. We are joined to whatever we worship.
b. In the intimacy of this union, the object of our worship speaks into our lives. Worship initiates revelation, be it truth or lies.
c. Revelation produces transformation. The object of our worship implants its own spiritual substance in us, be it life or death, and this brings about transformation.
C. Discerning true praise and worship:
1. Is everyone in the world a worshipper?
2. What or who is the focus of true Christian worship?
3. Is all Christian music praise and worship?
4. What other functions are served by Christian music?
A communist is a worshipper of Marxist doctrine. A Buddhist is a worshipper of Buddha. Some people are passionately devoted to their career, their power or wealth or pleasure — you could say that their self-devotion is an act of worship. Everyone worships something or someone.
Christian worship is the act of giving reverence or adoration to God as He has revealed Himself through His Son Jesus Christ. In heaven’s worship, the focus is always on the Lord.
“Worthy are you, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things and because of your will they existed and were created” (Revelation 4:11 also 5:9,10).
The focus of true worship is always on the Lord as He has revealed Himself. One of the ways to enhance our focus is by discerning our worship material. Some Christian music is for exhortation and encouragement, some is for teaching, some is for praise and worship.
In every gathering of the Church, God desires to reveal Himself and release His ministry among His people. The entrance into that divine revelation and release is praise and worship. The Holy Spirit knows how to guide us into that entrance. The Godly worship leader discerns the mind of Christ, knows which songs are praise and worship and which are not and knows which songs are appropriate for that gathering.
A church that sings the same songs week after week, a church which violates Scriptural principles for praise and worship, is not discerning the mind of Christ. The music of that church may sound wonderful but in fact they may not be worshipping God in Spirit / spirit and truth. They may be missing much of what God wants to reveal and release to them.
D. A beautiful pattern of worship:
Take a moment and read Psalm 95:1-7
a. Notice they enter God’s presence with thanksgiving (Psalm 95:1,2)
b. They pause to remember, boast and sing of the greatness of God (Psalm 95:3-5).
c. They bow, kneel and worship in God’s presence (Psalm 95:6,7).
"Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).
"But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him" (Habakkuk 2:20).
d. God is the object of their worship but notice that in the presence of God they not only remember who God is, they also remember who they are, “For He is our God and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand” (95:7).
We don’t enter a worship service saying, "Bless my soul O Lord." Rather, it is “Bless the Lord O my soul.” If our focus is wrong, we will miss God and forget who we are. But when we focus on God, we not only remember who God is, we also discover who we are in God.
E. Three great truths of praise and worship:
1. We were created to praise and worship God (Ephesians 1:9-12)
Our destiny as God's people is to live to the praise of His glory.
2. In eternity, all that we do will be done as an act of worship (Revelation 4:8-11).
This does not mean that all we will do is worship God. It means that all we do will be done as worship unto the Lord.
3. God takes pleasure in His worshipping people (Psalm 149:1-4)
God hears your voice, notices the absence of your voice. God delights in your passion in worship, notices the lack of passion. God loves us and receives our worship as an expression of our love for Him. As our passionate, eternal Lover, God notices the quality, sincerity, depth, freshness and passion in His Beloved.
The reason the universe exists is to display the glory of God. The reason God created people is so that we may behold His glory and praise Him. The beginning of sin, historically and personally, is the failure to worship God properly. When humanity fell from relationship with God and would not worship Him, God launched a salvation campaign on planet earth, the purpose of which is to redeem idol worshippers and transform them into people who worship the true God in the right way.
Those who surrender to the Lordship of Jesus are called into ministry with Him as priests of the Lord. Jesus places us in His Church wherever He sees fit and gifts each of us for ministry. Though we share in a variety of ministries, all priests are called to bring sacrifices of praise and worship unto the Lord. As we do, we enter into His presence and are transformed in His likeness.
1. Why should we praise God?
2. What does it mean to worship in Spirit?
3. What does it mean to worship God in truth and whose truth is it?
4. What does it mean to worship God in the beauty of holiness? (see Psalm 96:7-9)
5. Does it matter how we come before a holy God?
6. What does this mean, “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God?” (see I Cor. 10:31)
7. What does this mean to you: You were created to worship God?
Created to Worship
Transformed As We Worship
The purpose of redemption is to create a community of true worshippers. The purpose of sanctification is the transformation of worshippers. As we worship in the intimacy of communion with the holy God, hearts are purified, lives are transformed. If we have truly worshipped then we will be truly changed, for we have been in the presence of the God who makes all things new.
In Exodus 34:29, we read that when Moses came down the mountain, his face shone. Moses, radiating the glory of God, is a picture of the true worshipper. We praise the God of glory as His glory transforms us. In fact, this is a spiritual principle true for all people: we are transformed into the image of whatever we worship, for good or evil.
The process works like this:
1. Worship involves spiritual intimacy. We are joined to whatever we worship.
2. In the intimacy of this union, the object of our worship speaks into our lives. Worship initiates revelation, be it truth or lies.
3. Revelation produces transformation. The object of our worship implants its own spiritual substance in us, be it life or death and this brings about transformation.
This is true in a constructive and in a destructive sense. First, let’s look at a negative, destructive example.
"But they came to Baal-peor and devoted (consecrated) themselves to shame, and they became as detestable as that which they loved," (Hosea 9:10)
Peor is a mountain east of the Jordan River and refers to a Moabite deity, Baal, who was worshipped there. The Israelite nation came to a place devoted to the worship of a false god and devoted / consecrated themselves to loving / adoring / worshipping that god. The result?
"They became as detestable as that which they loved":
This is a spiritual principle: we become as that which we worship. We become as lovely and blessed or as degenerate, degraded and cursed, as the object of our worship.
Another perspective on this is provided in Psalm 106:
"They joined themselves also to Baal-peor and ate sacrifices offered to the dead ... They even sacrificed their sons and daughters to the demons and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with the blood. Thus they became unclean in their practices and played the harlot in their deeds," (Psalm 106:28, 37-39).
We are joined to that which we worship, there is spiritual intimacy and union in worship. Having been joined to something, we share in its substance / being, we become like it. They became unclean because they were joined to that which was unclean. Notice that God says they played the harlot; God calls them spiritual prostitutes because they were unfaithful to Him and had intimate relations with the demon-empowered idols.
The idols were not alive nor did they represent living gods. But even a dead idol can connect us to something that is real. Idol worship is demon worship, as the Apostle Paul points out in I Corinthians 10:19-21:
“They sacrifice to demons... I do not want you to become sharers in demons.”
The word sharers is the common New Testament word for fellowship, koinonos, and can also be translated partner, partake. It is related to the word communion. Idol worship joins people to the demonic powers which hide in the shadow of the idol. It is communion, a sharing in the substance or being of those demons.
Another example of this is found in II Kings 17:15.
“They rejected (despised) His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers, and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity (emptiness) and became vain.”
What happened to Israel? They went after false idols, and became false. They went after that which is empty and became empty. Further,
“They forsook all the commandments of the Lord their God and made for themselves molten images, even two calves and made an Ashera and worshipped all the host of heaven and served Baal” (17:16)
Ashera is a fertility goddess, the female counterpart of Baal. As they worshipped the male and female deities of the Canaanites, the result was predictable:
“Then they made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire and practiced divination and enchantments and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him” (17:17).
“Made their sons and their daughters pass through the fire” refers to child sacrifice of the cruelest kind. They literally placed their babies in the burning, red hot arms of their idols. Note the downward spiral of their spiritual life:
1. They despised God's statutes, His covenant, His warnings (17:15). In other words, they rejected the truth and rejected relationship with the God of truth.
2. They followed vanity / pursued that which is false. The word vain means empty. They worshipped gods which are empty of life, false (17:15).
3. They became false / vain (17:15). They became in the image of what they worshipped.
4. Verse 16 repeats the fact that they forsook, abandoned the truth of God while making idols. But notice also in verse 16, they served Baal. We not only become in the image of whatever we worship, we serve it. The word serve is abad which means to enslave, to keep in bondage. We become servants of Christ as we exalt His Lordship and worship Him. In the same way, the idol worshipper becomes a servant of the demons behind the idol.
5. They sold themselves to evil (17:17), participated in the abomination of child sacrifice. They were no longer their own persons. They were bought, purchased by the demons they worshipped. Ironic how enslaved sinners often boast of their liberty, their freedom to do whatever they desire, while ridiculing Christians as people bound in religious chains. The reality is that they are slaves to demons which only intend their destruction.
We too are slaves, but we are slaves to a Savior who redeems us, liberates us, restores us, blesses us and transforms us into His glorious image. The Apostle Paul said, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body," (I Corinthians 6:19,20).
We have been purchased but our captivity to Christ results in our everlasting freedom and transformation into the likeness of Jesus. Not so for those who worship idols and are enslaved by the demon who hides in the shadow of the idol.
"The idols of the nations are but silver and gold, the work of man's hands. They have mouths but they do not speak ... eyes but they do not see ... ears but they do not hear, nor is there any breath at all in their mouths. Those who make them will be like them," (Psalm 135:15-18)
What will the makers of these idols be like? They will be like their idols, spiritually unperceptive, undiscerning, breathless, lifeless. We become in the image of whatever we worship. This is true in a destructive sense.
This is also true in a wonderful, blessed, creative sense.
“But we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed (changed) into the same image from glory to glory …” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Where do we behold the glory of God?
First of all, God has planted the knowledge of His glory in our hearts — it is how we came to repentance and faith:
“The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God ... For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness', is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4,6).
The same God who spoke light into the darkness of this universe has shined the light of the glory of Jesus into our hearts and we believed. We continue to encounter the glory of God in all of our life with Christ. The goal of our worship life as a church, whether we are singing before the Lord, celebrating the Lord's Supper, reading or teaching His Word, serving in ministry or pouring out our hearts in prayer, is that we would have intimate communion with the Lord. In that holy communion we are joined to Christ, we share in the life of Christ. Paul said,
“Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?” (I Corinthians 10:16).
This word sharing, koinonia, (from the root koinonos) is also translated communion and is the same word used in I John 1:3, “Our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.”
The service of Holy Communion is a good representation of our life of intimacy with the Lord. Just as in the elements of the Lord's Supper we are having holy communion with Jesus, sharing in the reality of His life, so in all of our worship, as we sing to the Lord, as we listen to His Word preached and taught, as we meditate on His Word and pray to Him, as we serve Him and live a life of praise to His glory, we are having holy communion with Him. In the intimacy of this fellowship, God speaks His transforming Word into our lives, transforms us in His likeness.
Just as idol worshipers are having unholy communion with the substance, the life of the demon behind the idol, and as the demonic reality of the idol transforms and shapes its worshippers, so Jesus progressively transmits His life to His worshippers and transforms us in His likeness. This is why Paul exhorts us,
"Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." (Romans 12:1,2)
We present ourselves to God as a living sacrifice in our daily life of worship. As we do, the Christ whom we worship transforms us in His image. The word transformed which we read in 2 Corinthians 3:18 and Romans 12:2 is metamorphoo:
Metamorphoo, from which we derive the English word metamorphosis, is translated into English by the word transformation or transfiguration. It is a word which has to do with inner change, the changing of the substance of a person. It is not about outward change in the sense of something merely looking different.
In 2 Corinthians 11:13,14, Paul talks about false apostles disguising themselves as apostles of Christ and Satan disguising himself as an angel of light. The King James translation says “transform” but most translations use the word disguise because it is a different word — metaschematizo which refers to outward change / disguise. Satan is capable of disguising his outward appearance but cannot transform his inner substance.
Metamorphosis is about inward change, the transforming of the substance of something. A caterpillar is transformed in substance into a butterfly. A butterfly is not an improved caterpillar, not a worm with wings. It is a new creation.
You are not a sinner with wings, a new and improved version of your former, spiritually dead self. You are a new creation, a new creature alive in Christ.
Constantly in the Bible God urges us to seek His face. Why?
Because to see someone's face you must stand close and God desires intimacy with us. In the intimacy of our life with Christ, He is able to speak into our lives and impart His life to us.
“They looked to Him and were radiant” (Psalm 34:5). As we behold the glory of the Lord and worship His glory, we radiate His glory, for we are being transformed in His likeness.
“But we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory …” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
1. Worship involves spiritual intimacy. We are joined to what we worship.
2. In the intimacy of that union, the object of our worship speaks into our lives. That is, worship initiates revelation, be it truth or lies.
3. Revelation produces transformation. The object of our worship implants its own spiritual substance in us, be it life or death and that brings about transformation.
Transformation will happen no matter what or who we worship. It is a spiritual law: we become in the image of whatever we worship.
God created us to be worshippers. He redeemed us to be worshippers. As we worship Him, there is a progressive transforming of our being into the image of Christ and transformed people change their world.
So come and worship, royal priesthood, holy Bride.
1. What happened to the worshippers of Baal-peor as the devoted (consecrated) themselves to the worship of their false god? (see notes on Hosea 9:10)
2. Is there a principle in this?
3. Is there a process in this? (see notes on Psalm 106:28, 37-39 and II Kings 17:15-17)
4. We become in the image of whatever we worship. Is this true in a wonderful, blessed, creative sense? (see notes on 2 Corinthians 3:18 and I Corinthians 10:16)
5. As we present ourselves daily as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, what does God do in us? (see notes on Romans 12:1,2)