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Worship (Part 1)

By bro Alvin Lin


Who do we worship?

The word “worship” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “worth-ship”, that is, to declare the worth of God. It is an act of adoration and praise that requires us to come before God “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mar 12:30). We are to pour out our emotions, will, intellect, and being to give God the honour and glory that He alone deserves.


As the Psalmist rightly proclaims, “the earth is the LORD'S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Psa 24:1), so our Almighty creator has absolute power and right over His creation (Rom 9:20), whom He created for His “pleasure” (Rev 4:11) and “glory” (Isa 43:7). On the other hand, those who worship and serve “the creature more than the Creator” (Rom 1:25) and engage in all kinds of sinful indulgences (Rom 1:26-31) are “worthy of death” (Rom 1:32). Be warned - God will not share His “glory” and “praise” with any other (Isa 42:8).


What is worship?

In the account of God’s test of Abraham’s faith in asking him to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham told the young men with him to “abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you” (Gen 22:5). The word translated as “worship” here is from the Hebrew word “shâchâh”, which means “to bow down, prostrate oneself”, which was what Abraham did when the Lord appeared to him in the plains of Mamre (Gen 18:2). When the women met the resurrected Christ, they “held him by the feet, and worshipped him” (Mat 28:9). The word translated as “worship” here is from the Greek word “proskuneō”, which means “to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence”. From these passages, we can see that worship is an act of homage and obeisance.


In Paul’s second missionary journey, his first convert at Philippi was a lady by the name of Lydia, who was “a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God” (Act 16:14). The word translated as “worship” here is from the Greek word “sebomai”, which means “to revere, to worship”. Subsequently, Paul continued his missionary journey and came to Athens, where he met the superstitious Athenians and preached to them concerning “the unknown God” whom they “ignorantly worship” (Act 17:23). The word translated as “worship” here is from the Greek word “eusebeō”, which means “to act piously or reverently”. In the passage discussed earlier on how some “worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator” (Rom 1:25), the word translated as “worship” here is from the Greek word “sebazomai”, which means “to honour religiously, to worship”. From all these passages, we learn that worship requires an attitude of reverence and piety.


In Paul’s address to the Athenians, he described our Creator as one who is not “worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing” (Act 17:25). The word translated as “worship” here is from the Greek word “therapeuō”, which means “to serve, do service”. When Paul was later brought before Felix to give his defence, he confessed, “so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets” (Act 24:14). The word translated as “worship” here is from the Greek word “latreuō”, which means “to render religious service or homage, to worship”. This means that we are serving God when we worship Him, although service may not necessarily be worship. Just as God demands the personal lives of worshippers to be in order under the Old Law (Mat 5:23-24), our lives need to be “holy” when we come before Him in worship today (1Ti 2:8).


From the above, we get a fuller picture of what worship entails, that is, to declare the worth of God through acts of homage and obeisance that He has authorised, with a proper attitude of reverence and piety, in serving Him and living consistently according to His Will.

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