The worship of God is not defined anywhere in Scripture. A close study of the subject shows that worship is not confined to praise alone. Worship, as an act of homage or reverence, may flow from the sanctified heart as we acknowledge God’s nature, attributes, ways, or claims. It may express itself as praise, thanksgiving, or in our service.
The Worship of Believers
In 1 Peter 2:5 we are introduced to the holy priesthood of the believer. In verse 9 we find that we are not only holy priests, but also royal priests. As holy priests we offer up spiritual sacrifices and enter into the Holiest to worship God. As royal priests we proclaim the excellencies of God and go into the world to witness. The difference between the two priesthoods is illustrated in the prison at Philippi (Acts 16:2-5). As holy priests, Paul and Silas sang praises to God. As royal priests they preached the gospel to the jailer. Another example is what I am doing at the moment: I am functioning as a royal priest, telling forth the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Note the spiritual emphasis made with regard to the holy priesthood of believers. The contrast is made between “living stones” and a “spiritual house.” The concepts are meant to illustrate the difference between the temple of the Old Testament built with beautiful stones and materials and the church built with living stones. In the old economy, the priests came from the house of Levi and the family of Aaron. The priests were forbidden to enter God’s presence. Only the High Priest could enter God’s presence one day of the year—on the Day of Atonement. In the present dispensation all believers, as holy priests, can enter the throne room at any time. They do not come to offer animals, birds, or meat—they come to offer spiritual sacrifices.
So, what are some of the spiritual sacrifices we offer? Hebrews 13:15-16 helps us enlarge our concept of worship. As holy priests we offer:
The sacrifice of praise - the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.
The sacrifice of good works - See Ephesians 2:10 and Galatians 6:10. This sacrifice is pleasing to God.
The sacrifice of possessions - Do not forget to share. This also is well-pleasing to God. Consider the gift of giving.
The sacrifice of service - In Romans 15:16 Paul speaks of his ministry to the Gentiles as a priestly offering. The presentation of our body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, is your reasonable or worshipful service.
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good works unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
The Worship of Christ, the Son
In contrast to this, let us briefly consider Christ and the cross.
Through the gate of the city they led Him bearing His Cross as He walked down the via Dolorosa. He fell under its weight. Relieved of His burden by Simon the Cyrenian, “He was led as a lamb to the slaughter.” He was nailed to the cross, but it was love that bound Him. He could have called 36,000 angels to His rescue, but instead He chose to be “Crowned with thorns upon the tree.” Isaac was saved from the fire and from the knife plunging into his body, but not so with the Lord. “Jehovah has His sword evoked.”
God, the Father, felt the nails—the thorns—the spear. We know something of the agony of the Lord’s heart in this abandonment. We give little or no thought to the punishment, agony, or anguish of God’s heart as He watched the darling of His bosom being made sin and paying the price for the sins of the world. When God, the thrice Holy God, could not look any longer on His blood-splattered Son, He turned away from Him. Can you imagine what this meant to God?
Here, then, is the challenge to you: submission, obedience, and sacrifice.