Recently, there is a renewed focus on worship—what it is and how it is to be  done. The church that does not operate under the biblical theology of worship is  in danger of both failing to give God glory and failing to offer worship that is  pleasing to Him. Worship is as misunderstood a doctrine as any other within the  church. Contrary to popular belief, worship does not begin and end with the  singing portion of our church services. Worship is also not limited to only  bowing in reverence before God. To begin with, worship is only determined by God  Himself, and not everything we do is acceptable to God as worship just because  we are sincere or it makes us feel good.

Hebrews  12:28 tells us that we must “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly  fear” (NKJV). The Greek word translated “serve” here is a form of the word  “worship” and is used 21 times in the New Testament in the contexts of service  and worship. Another form of the word “worship” is the Greek word  therapeuo—from which we get the English word “therapy”—and this is most  often seen translated “heal” in reference to the healing of others. In the New  Testament, this word is seen in every case of Jesus’ healings.

Other  Greek words translated “worship” are prokeneuo meaning “paying homage”  (1  Corinthians 14:25), sebazomai, meaning “to render religious honor”  (Romans 1:25), and  sebomai meaning “to revere or adore” (Acts 16:14).  We see this same word used by Jesus to describe the vain, hypocritical worship  of God (Matthew  15:9), leading us to the conclusion that not all “worship” is acceptable to  God.

But true biblical worship is to be first and foremost reverent (Hebrews 12:28). This means  it is to be done with the understanding of who it is being worshiped. God is  holy, just, righteous, perfect, powerful, loving, wrathful etc. Those who wish  to worship biblically must worship God as He is revealed in Scripture. Second,  we must worship in truth (John 4:24).  This means that it needs to line up according to the truths in Scripture. Adding  our own version of worship and “expressing ourselves” is not true worship if it  does not accord with the Word of God. Personal expressions of worship are not  indicated anywhere in Scripture and can lead to activities that are not  God-honoring. Third, true worship is worship in Spirit. Because God is Spirit,  true worship is a pure, holy, spiritual worship, the offering of the soul and  the homage of the heart rather than merely that of the lips. Finally, true  worship will always produce a change in the heart of the worshipper, causing a  greater desire to love and obey the God we worship. If worship does not propel  us into greater obedience, it isn’t worship. Unless we come out of it with a  greater commitment to obedience, it isn’t worship. Jesus said those who love Him  will keep His commandments. If we say we love and worship Him, but do not obey  Him, our worship is worthless.

True biblical worship of the one true  and living God is to be a lifestyle, not a moment in time (1 Corinthians  10:31). Just as they will be in eternity, our lives now are to be lives of  total worship of God. When we eat, sleep, work, serve, and live from sunup to  sundown, all that we do is to be in a spirit of worship of God. We are not to  offer temporary, experience-oriented worship on Sunday, and then lead a secular  life the rest of the week. True worship is offered to God from the depths of our  inner being in praise and prayer, in song, in giving, and in living, but always  based upon His revealed truth.