When we look at the word worship we see a few common definitions. But what is the Bible definition of worship? How does the Bible define worship?
The common definition of worship
Worship is commonly defined as follows (1): Noun- 1. The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. 2. Adoration or devotion comparable to religious homage, shown toward a person or principle. Verb- 1. Show reverence and adoration for (a deity); honor with religious rites. 2. Treat (someone or something) with the reverence and adoration appropriate to a deity 3. Take part in a religious ceremony.
The Bible definition of worship
Biblically, every decision is an act of worship (Joshua 24:15-16). Worship is defined and detailed in an encounter between Jesus and a woman at a well in Samaria (John 4:1-26). Samaritans practiced a basic form of Judaism (2 Kings 17) and were seen by Jews as a cult. Jews and Samaritans did not associate with one another for this reason.
Jesus was traveling through Samaria and came upon a well. He asked the Samaritan woman for a drink. She asked Him how He, being a Jew, could ask her for a drink when Jews do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus said if she knew the gift of God and who asked her for a drink He would have given her living water.
The woman said she had nothing to use to get the water and asked if Jesus was greater than Jacob, who dug the well. Jesus said that whoever drinks of the water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water He has to give will never thirst and the water will be a spring of everlasting life. The woman asked Jesus for His water. He told her to get her husband and come back. The woman said she had no husband. Jesus then told her about her former husbands and current relationship. Hearing this, the woman said she perceived that Jesus was a prophet.
The woman said that her ancestors worshipped in the mountain and that He (a Jew) says that men ought to worship in Jerusalem. Jesus said that the hour is coming when she will not worship the Father in the mountain or Jerusalem. He added she did not know what she was worshipping, but that Jews did because salvation was of the Jews.
Jesus said the hour is coming when true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth and the Father is seeking those who worship Him in that way. She said that she knew the Messiah, which is called Christ, is coming and will tell them all things. Jesus replied that the person speaking to her, Himself, was He (The Messiah). At that moment she left and told others that the Christ had spoken to her.
A closer look at Biblical worship
This conversation tells us the following:
The foundation of worship is salvation through Jesus Christ (John 4:10-15).
The object of our worship is Jesus Christ. He demonstrated His love for us while we were still unbelievers by dying on the cross to provide us the gift of everlasting life (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). Because He demonstrated His love for us, we are motivated to love Him (1 John 4:19). Worship motivated by love is acceptable to God (Isaiah 56:6-7; 2 Corinthians 5:5-9).
A person seeking God is receptive to God’s instruction and can discern basic truth (John 4:16-19).
When we receive the Holy Spirit at salvation (Ephesians 1:12-14) we receive the ability to understand God’s instructions and discern wisdom (Isaiah 11:1-3; 1 Corinthians 3). Christ, as the Word of God (John 1:1, 14), is our source of wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30.) Christ lives in us as the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-21). As we read and memorize His Word, He makes us wise (Psalms 119:11; 1 Corinthians 1:17-31; 2 Timothy 3:15).
A person seeking God will question their prior worship practices (John 4:20-22).
Love and wisdom motivates us to examine ourselves to see what sort of person we are in light of God’s Word (James 1:21-25). We seek to worship properly because of our new understanding of God and who He is (1 Corinthians 5:4, 6-8). We learn that our prior worship practices were based on ignorance that amounted to worshipping of demons (1 Corinthians 1:18-22). Finally, our worship can be done anywhere and anytime.
A believer will worship God in Spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).
These verses help to determine the appropriateness of our worship and the music we listen to or use in worship. The first is worshipping in Spirit, which should reflect the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Does our worship produce love instead of hatred? Joy instead of sorrow? Peace instead of anxiety? Patience instead of impatience? Gentleness instead of cruelty? Goodness instead of sinfulness? Faith instead of godlessness? Meekness instead of arrogance? Self-control instead of wildness? If yes, then we are worshipping in Spirit
Second, is worshipping in truth. Does our worship reflect proper Biblical doctrine (Psalms 71:22-24; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Ephesians 4:17)? Does our worship of God exalt Him above all other things (Romans 1:22-25)? If so we are worshipping in truth.
A believer will share what they have learned with others (John 4:25-42).
Whether it is worship or the message of salvation, we must remember we are missionaries for Christ. We should take what we know to others so that when they learn the truth and receive His Spirit, they too can worship in Spirit and truth.
Every decision is an act of worship. Worship is based on our salvation and reflects the Spirit and truth of God and His Word. Worship reminds us of our position before God and His worthiness and position above us. Worship is for God’s glory, praise, and honor.
Dr. Michael L. Williams is a pastor, author, Christian educator and Biblical counselor who has served in ministry since March of 2000. Dr. Mike holds under-graduate through post graduate degrees in Christian Education and formerly worked as a nurse. Dr. Mike is the Senior Pastor of Selah Mountain Ministries, which he founded in March of 2010 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA (selahmountain.org). In addition to counseling, he teaches how to overcome life issues Biblically on topics such as anger management, marriage, addictions, and other subjects typically referred to as mental illnesses. Dr. Mike is also a writer at What Christians Want To Know. Dr. Mike lives with his wife Pamela Rose and adult daughter Hollie Rose. He and Pamela have other adult children and several grandchildren as well. Learn more about Dr. Mike at his personal ministry web site Wisdom4Today
Resources – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version. (1) Google. (2014). “Worship”. Retrieved from Google, https:// www .google. com/?gws_rd=ssl# q=what+is+worship