It may seem like an odd or obvious question, but it’s definitely worth asking. Christians 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 God1,4,5,6, and God alone3,4,5,7. 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, and why we worship Him1,4,5. What we think is worship may not be acceptable6 or pleasing to God2,3.

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

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.

Scripture-block application to this question

Christians are purified through Christ’s sacrifice to, among other things, worship God.

And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands? And he said to them, Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.

The Scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples didn’t abide by the tradition of the elders by eating with unwashed hands.  Jesus responded by calling them hypocrites and saying that Isaiah was prophesying about them when he said that God’s people were only worshiping in words/actions, and not their hearts/minds.  They elevated tradition over God’s command and thus worshiped in vain.

Jesus is responding to the Pharisees and scribes that were challenging him.  He is quoting from Isaiah 29:13, a context where God is speaking out against the false prophets of the day.

This exchange is also recorded in Matthew 15:1-9, where He adds an example of a specific command of God that they had “altered.”

Scripture-block application to this question

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

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.”

The book of Revelation is what John saw and was told to write down (1:1-2). Using “in the Spirit” as a structural marker, the book can be sectioned into four visions in particular:

  • Vision One (1:9-3:22) – Jesus speaking to the seven churches
  • Vision Two (4:1-16:21) – Seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls of wrath; “one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls” introduces the last two (and therefore possibly connected):
    • Vision Three (17:1-21:8) – Babylon the Harlot
    • Vision Four (21:9-22:5) – Jerusalem the Bride

In the midst of this second vision, 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 and gives power and authority to a beast that is also worshipped. (13:4)

Scripture-block application to this question

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

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.

Scripture-block application to this question

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

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.

The book of Revelation is what John saw and was told to write down (1:1-2). Using “in the Spirit” as a structural marker, the book can be sectioned into four visions in particular:

  • Vision One (1:9-3:22) – Jesus speaking to the seven churches
  • Vision Two (4:1-16:21) – Seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls of wrath; “one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls” introduces the last two (and therefore possibly connected):
    • Vision Three (17:1-21:8) – Babylon the Harlot
    • Vision Four (21:9-22:5) – Jerusalem the Bride

In chapter 19, 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!”

Scripture-block application to this question

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

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
As a result, let’s be grateful for joining a kingdom that cannot be moved and offer acceptable worship to God  – with reverence and awe – for He is a consuming fire.

In a letter dedicated to reminding the faithful to “hold fast” and remember the “better” things in Christ, the writer is making a final plea in a series of “Therefore’s”. In his grand conclusion and “victory chapter”, he argues their endurance is for the spiritual Promised Land – a city that is not made with hands (vs 26). This text beginning in vs 22 correlates with the throne scene and the 144,000 in Revelation 14 as well as the prophet Haggai’s temple/kingdom prophecy in Haggai 2.

Scripture-block application to this question

As part of God’s kingdom, we offer worship to God that is “acceptable”, “with reverence and awe”.

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

Then Jesus told Satan to leave, since it was written that worship should be made to God, and Him alone.

Right after his baptism and just before his public ministry begins, Jesus is tempted by Satan in the wilderness. In one of his temptations, Satan asked Jesus to bow down and worship him in exchange for “all the kingdoms of the world” (vs 8).

Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy 6:13 

Luke (4:1-13) also records the details of this event. Mark only briefly mentions the fact that Jesus was in the wilderness “being tempted by Satan”.

Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus confirms that it is God alone to be served and worshipped.

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