part of the what is truth? series

It may seem like an odd or obvious question, but it’s definitely worth asking. Christian’s should be mindful of who we worship when coming together. More and more evidence in the Evangelical and Christian world today would suggest the question of who we worship is either forgotten or not terribly important.

Advocacy for worshipping wherever and however you like is abundant. Gathering together for corporate, formal worship at all isn’t even universally accepted. For example, engageworship.org offers suggestions during Covid that “include a simple prayer or worship activity which families can engage with together, using movement, interaction, craft, play and more. We will be varying the themes and types of engagement with God, and we are sure that you’ll be able to adapt the ideas to suit your family.”

More and more it seems that who we worship is ourselves. We gather together for our own benefit and enjoyment. It lets us feel good. It soothes our conscience. Let’s be reminded from Scripture of who we worship when gathered together.

how Scripture answers "Who do we worship when gathered together?"

Followers of Christ are to worship God1,4,5, and God alone3,4,5. While Scripture is clear about who Christians are to worship, they are also clear that worship to God can be done in vain2 and to false gods3,4.

We should be careful to remember who we worship, why we worship Him1,4,5 and that what we think is worship may not be acceptable or pleasing to God2,3.

the answer above is based on and footnoted with the following Scripture Blocks
1
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

The blood of animals, when sprinkled on those that had sinned, cleansed them and purified them ritualistically. Far greater is Christ’s blood offered to God through the Spirit; offered in order to purify individuals from dead works (sin) for worship to the living God.

Hebrews is a letter encouraging Jewish Christians to “hold fast” because their faith in Christ is “better” than the Mosaic law they were under in numerous ways.

How does it inform?

Christian’s are purified through Christ’s sacrifice in order to, among other things, worship God.

Does it apply? Yes

2

They worship me in vain, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.

Some where worshipping “me” in vain due to teaching their own ideas (“of men”).

Jesus is responding to the Pharisees and scribes that were challenging him.  He is quoting from Isaiah the prophet, thus the words are actually God’s (the “me” in question).

How does it inform?

Not only does God expect to be worshipped, but worshipped in a way according to His doctrine/commandments, not man’s.

Does it apply? Yes

3
The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them. He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation, and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed.

A “beast” was permitted to war against, win and subsequently have “ruling authority” over the saints on earth.  All will worship him….except those whose name has been written in the “book of life” that belongs “to the Lamb who was killed.”

Revelation is prophetic text and therefore, by its nature, highly figurative.  In the midst of this great vision of John’s, we are introduced to a dragon (or serpent) that is “furious with the woman” and makes war on her offspring, aka “those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” (12:17)  The dragon is worshipped who gives power and authority to a beast that is also worshiped. (13:4)

How does it inform?

It’s a negative application, but shows that that there is a contrast of worship between those worshipping God vs those worshipping Satan (the dragon).

Does it apply? Yes

4
For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an unknown god.’ Therefore what you worship without knowing it, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives life and breath and everything to everyone.
[Paul] observed objects of worship including idols and alters to things other than God, including that which is unknown.  However, there is a God (the one, true God) that made everything and has dominion over it. He is not of the world and not dependent on it but is the sustainer of all life and matter.

Paul’s sermon to the Greeks on Mars Hill in Athens.

How does it inform?

It not only emphasizes God as the only true object of worship, but underscores why that’s the case.

Does it apply? Yes

5
So I threw myself down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “Do not do this! I am only a fellow servant with you and your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony about Jesus. Worship God, for the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
[John] began to worship [an angel] but was implored to stop since he too was a fellow servant and believer in Jesus.  He was instead told to worship God.

John’s vision is culminating with a worship scene at the throne of God and a wedding celebration for the Lamb and the “bride” (the church, vs 9).  An angel instructs John to write invitations, “Blessed are those who are invited to the banquet at the wedding celebration of the Lamb!”

How does it inform?

Worship isn’t to men (or angels), but to God.

Does it apply? Yes

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If you know of some other verses or you have something to add to the verses already listed for this question please leave a comment below! We welcome the public discussion and will incorporate your input into the Framework above. We have nothing to hide and invite your help in considering all that God’s word has to say.

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