Category: W thru Z


What is a Christian work ethic?

  Colossians 3:23-25 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Another translation says to “work heartily” (ESV). Yet another says to “work willingly” (NLT). The Amplified Bible adds “from the soul.” Ephesians 6:7-8 shares a similar concept: “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.” In essence, this is the Christian work ethic. We are commanded to put forth our best efforts, to work from our heart and soul at whatever we do. We are accountable to God and stewards of the gifts He has given us. Our work flows out of our gratefulness to Him.

God instituted work with creation, prior to the Fall. Genesis 2:15 says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” After Adam and Eve sinned, work became toil (Genesis 3:17-19), but work itself is included in the “very good” part of creation (Genesis 1:31).

Throughout the Old Testament, God gave the Israelites specific instructions about how to do their work. He also gave instructions about providing for those who had less: “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 23:22). This command confirms the importance of work. God does not tell the people to harvest everything and then simply give food to the poor. Instead, He tells them to leave enough of the grain to allow the poor to work for themselves. Work has a way of giving us a sense of purpose, productivity, and dignity.

The Proverbs and Ecclesiastes contain some wise sayings regarding work. Proverbs 14:23 says, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” Proverbs 6:6-11 says, “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” A strong work ethic is confirmed, with warnings concerning slackness.

The New Testament contains another important principle regarding work: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10); that is, the refusal of an able-bodied man to work should have the consequence that he lacks food. Paul also says that an “idle” man who refuses to work should not be part of the church (verse 6). Paul and his companions set a good example of hard work: “We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you” (verses 7-8).

Christians should work hard. Work is integral to life, and approaching work as God-given will give us more pleasure in it. We can work cheerfully and without complaint because we are working for the Lord who loves us and has redeemed us. A good work ethic can also be a witness to others (Matthew 5:16). The world takes notice of our efforts and wonders why we do what we do.

It is important to note that the Bible does not condone workaholism. We do not work merely to amass worldly wealth (in fact, Matthew 6:19-34 warns about this). We work to bring glory to God. We also do not work ourselves into the ground or to the extent that our health is damaged or our families suffer.

God is more interested in relationship with us than He is in what we do. God instituted the Sabbath at the beginning of creation. He did the work of creation for six days and then ceased. God is omnipotent; He did not need rest; He was setting an example for us. In the Ten Commandments, God confirmed both the importance of work and rest. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work” (Exodus 20:9-10a). Later, we see that God even required a Sabbath for the fields (see Leviticus 27). Though the specific laws regarding the Sabbath no longer apply to believers, we are told that “the Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). It is a gift that we are wise to accept. So, while Christians are called to have a strong work ethic and to work hard at all that they do, they are also called to take times of rest.

The beginning of an essay penned by Bob Black in 1985 entitled “The Abolition of Work” read, “No one should ever work. Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you’d care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working.” In a leisure-loving culture, many would wholeheartedly echo Black’s sentiment. Americans spend approximately 50 percent of their waking hours devoted to work. Is work a curse, or is it something that humans were uniquely designed to do? In stark contrast to the assertions of Bob Black, the significance and beneficial nature of work is a resounding theme in the Bible.

The origin of work is depicted in the book of Genesis. In the opening passage, God is the primary worker, busy with the creation of the world (Genesis 1:1-15). The Bible states that God worked for six days and rested on the seventh day. These passages reveal that God was the first to do work on the earth. Therefore, legitimate work reflects the activity of God. Because God is inherently good, work is also inherently good (Psalm 25:8; Ephesians 4:28). Furthermore, Genesis 1:31 declares that, when God viewed the fruit of His labor, He called it “very good.” God examined and assessed the quality of His work, and when He determined that He had done a good job, He took pleasure in the outcome. By this example, it is apparent that work should be productive. Work should be conducted in a way that produces the highest quality outcome. The reward for work is the honor and satisfaction that comes from a job well done.

Psalm 19 says that God reveals Himself to the world by His work. Through natural revelation, God’s existence is made known to every person on earth. Thus, work reveals something about the one doing the work. It exposes underlying character, motivations, skills, abilities, and personality traits. Jesus echoed this principle in Matthew 7:15-20 when He declared that bad trees produce only bad fruit and good trees only good fruit. Isaiah 43:7 indicates that God created man for His own glory. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 we read that whatever we do should be to His glory. The term glorify means “to give an accurate representation.” Therefore, work done by Christians should give the world an accurate picture of God in righteousness, faithfulness, and excellence.

God created man in His image with characteristics like Him (Genesis 1:26-31). He created man to work with Him in the world. God planted a garden and put Adam in it to cultivate and maintain it (Genesis 2:8, 15). Additionally, Adam and Eve were to subdue and rule over the earth. What does this original work mandate mean? To cultivate means to foster growth and to improve. To maintain means to preserve from failure or decline. To subdue means to exercise control and discipline. Rule over means to administer, take responsibility for, and make decisions. This mandate applies to all vocations. The 15th-century Reformation leaders saw an occupation as a ministry before God. Jobs should be acknowledged as ministries, and workplaces should be considered as mission fields.

The Fall of Man depicted in Genesis 3 generated a change in the nature of work. In response to Adam’s sin, God pronounced several judgments in Genesis 3:17-19, the most severe of which is death. However, labor and the results of labor figure centrally in the rest of the judgments. God cursed the ground. Work became difficult. The word toil is used, implying challenge, difficulty, exhaustion, and struggle. Work itself was still good, but man must expect that it will be accomplished by “the sweat of his brow.” Also, the result will not always be positive. Although man will eat the plants of the field, the field will also produce thorns and thistles. Hard work and effort will not always be rewarded in the way the laborer expects or desires.

It is also noted that man would be eating from the produce of the field, not the garden. A garden is symbolic of an earthly paradise made by God as a safe enclosure. Gardens also symbolize purity and innocence. The earth or field, on the other hand, represents an unbounded, unprotected space and an emphasis on loss of inhibition and worldliness. Therefore, the work environment can be hostile, especially to Christians (Genesis 39:1-23; Exodus 1:8-22; Nehemiah 4).

It is said that man has three basic needs in life: love, purpose and significance. Many times, humans attempt to find purpose and significance in work itself. In Ecclesiastes 2:4-11, Solomon details his search for meaning in a variety of projects and works of all kinds. Even though the work brought some degree of satisfaction in accomplishment, his conclusion was, “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

Other critical biblical principles regarding work are:
• Work is done not only to benefit the worker, but others also (Exodus 23:10-11; Deuteronomy 15:7-11; Ephesians 4:28).
• Work is a gift from God and, for His people, will be blessed (Psalm 104:1-35; 127:1-5; Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, 5:18-20; Proverbs 14:23).
• God equips His people for their work (Exodus 31:2-11).

There has been much debate recently about societal responsibilities and obligations toward the unemployed, uninsured, and uneducated in our society. While many of those affected by economic downturns truly desire to work and can’t find employment, there are a number of U.S. citizens who have become generational welfare recipients, preferring to remain on the government dole. It is interesting to note that the biblical welfare system was a system of work (Leviticus 19:10; 23:22). The Bible is harsh in its condemnation of laziness (Proverbs 18:9). Paul makes the Christian work ethic abundantly clear: “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially those of his own household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).

In addition, Paul’s instruction to another church regarding those who preferred not to work was to “keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.” And he goes on to say, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat.’” Instead, Paul instructs those who had been idle, “Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:12).

Although God’s original design for work was perverted by sin, God will one day restore work without the burdens that sin introduced (Isaiah 65:17-25; Revelation 15:1-4; 22:1-11.) Until the day when the New Heavens and New Earth are set in place, the Christian attitude toward work should mirror that of Jesus: “My food, said Jesus, is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34). Work is of no value except when God is in it.

Many people have an improper and/or unbiblical understanding of church attendance. Some people feel that they must attend church legalistically, being at church virtually every time there is any kind of service or meeting. Some people experience a feeling of guilt whenever they miss a Sunday morning service. Sadly, some churches encourage this guilt by putting excessive pressure on people to attend regularly. In the matter of church attendance, the most crucial thing to understand is that the quality of a person’s relationship with God is not determined by how often he/she is in church. Similarly, God’s love for His children is not based on the number of times they attend formal services.

There is no doubt that Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, should attend church. It should be the desire of each and every Christian to worship corporately (Ephesians 5:19-20), to fellowship with and encourage other Christians (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and to be taught God’s Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Attending church should be a joy, not a dreaded and dreary assignment. Just as God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7), so He is pleased with a genuinely cheerful church attendee (Hebrews 10:24-25).

What then are appropriate reasons for missing church? Is it acceptable to miss church to attend a sporting event? Yes. Is it acceptable to miss church while on vacation? Yes. Is it acceptable to miss church when you are sick/ill? Yes. Is it acceptable to miss church because you are tired from a difficult week? Yes. Like so many other issues in the Christian life, church attendance can become legalistic instead of a matter of grace. A person does not have to attend church to be saved, to be a good Christian, to grow spiritually, etc. Rather, a Christian should attend church to learn about the greatness of God’s gift of salvation, to learn how to become more like Christ, and to have opportunities to minister to others.

Why do you attend church? Is it to make yourself appear spiritual? Is it to interact with possible business contacts? Is it out of legalistic thinking that says the more frequently you walk through the doors of a church, the more God is pleased with you? Is your Sunday morning filled with family strife, arguing, and screaming, followed by attending church with pasted-on smiling, happy faces? In such an instance, it would be better to stay home and work on biblically resolving the conflict in your family, instead of making a token appearance at church.

It all comes down to perspective and priorities. The busyness of many people’s lives makes church attendance more of a chore than a blessing. If attending church is not important enough, or valuable enough, to make it a priority, either something is wrong with your church or something is wrong with your attitude about church. Is your church attendance nothing more than arriving one minute before the service starts, sitting bored and inattentively through the worship and sermon, and then leaving immediately after the service ends? If so, you might as well have missed church, as you did not take anything from it, and you contributed nothing to it.

We should want to attend church so we can fellowship with others who have also experienced the amazing grace of Jesus Christ. We should avoid missing church, whenever possible, because we recognize the importance of hearing God’s Word, applying it to our lives, and sharing it with others. We should attend church, not to collect spiritual bonus points, but because we love God and recognize what His Word says about the importance of corporate fellowship and worship (Hebrews 10:24-25). Every Christian should attend church regularly. At the same time, missing church for a good reason is in no sense a sin or something that should cause feelings of guilt.

When you miss (do not attend) church, do you miss (have a longing for) church? If so, that is a sign you have a good and biblical connection with church. If not, that is a sign you need to re-evaluate your choice of church and/or participation in church. God knows our hearts. God is not impressed by a person attending every Sunday morning service, Sunday evening service, mid-week service, and Bible study opportunity a church offers. God’s desire is that we utilize the local church for our own spiritual edification and the use of our spiritual gifts to minister to others.

In Jesus's TimeThe Bible tells us we need to attend church so we can worship God with other believers and be taught His Word for our spiritual growth. The early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). We should follow that example of devotion—and to the same things. Back then, they had no designated church building, but “every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46). Wherever the meeting takes place, believers thrive on fellowship with other believers and the teaching of God’s Word.

Church attendance is not just a “good suggestion”; it is God’s will for believers. Hebrews 10:25 says we should “not [be] giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Even in the early church, some were falling into the bad habit of not meeting with other believers. The author of Hebrews says that’s not the way to go. We need the encouragement that church attendance affords. And the approach of the end times should prompt us to be even more devoted to going to church.

Church is the place where believers can love one another (1 John 4:12), encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13), “spur” one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24), serve one another (Galatians 5:13), instruct one another (Romans 15:14), honor one another (Romans 12:10), and be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32).

When a person trusts Jesus Christ for salvation, he or she is made a member of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). For a church body to function properly, all of its “body parts” need to be present and working (1 Corinthians 12:14–20). It’s not enough to just attend a church; we should be involved in some type of ministry to others, using the spiritual gifts God has given us (Ephesians 4:11–13). A believer will never reach full spiritual maturity without having that outlet for his gifts, and we all need the assistance and encouragement of other believers (1 Corinthians 12:21–26).

For these reasons and more, church attendance, participation, and fellowship should be regular aspects of a believer’s life. Weekly church attendance is in no sense “required” for believers, but someone who belongs to Christ should have a desire to worship God, receive His Word, and fellowship with other believers.

Jesus is the Cornerstone of the Church (1 Peter 2:6), and we are “like living stones . . . being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). As the building materials of God’s “spiritual house,” we naturally have a connection with one another, and that connection is evident every time the Church “goes to church.”

Some people give special honor to Mary since she was the mother of the Savior. Some even think she was perfect. But the Bible says all have sinned (Romans 3:23), and the Bible forbids worshipping mere humans or praying to them. Jesus said, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10).

When a woman pronounced a blessing a Mary, Jesus pronounced a different blessing: “As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, ‘Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.’ He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it’” (Luke 11:27-28).

Those who worship or pray to Mary disobey God’s commands. Mary herself worshipped God after she found out she was to give birth to God’s Son:

“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever’” (Luke 1:46-55).

While the virgin birth doesn’t mean Mary was perfect, it does point to Jesus’ perfection. Ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed, every person has inherited the same guilt and sin nature: “. . . sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Every one of us has sinned, breaking God’s laws such as these:

• Loving God above all (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37)
• Loving neighbor as oneself (Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 22:39)
• Honoring parents (Exodus 20:12; Matthew 15:4)
• Not committing adultery or lust (Exodus 20:14; Matthew 5:28)

Jesus, however, was born of a virgin and didn’t inherit the sin nature. Although He was tempted to sin, He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). Instead, He displayed God His Father’s perfect righteousness.

Just as Adam’s sin affected all born after him, Jesus Christ’s righteousness affects those who are born again and cry in faith to Jesus: “For as by the one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s [Christ’s] obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).

How can we be “made righteous”? We cannot make ourselves righteous. We are “made righteous” by God through the righteous Jesus. According to God’s Word the Bible, Jesus lived as the perfect God-Man, died on the cross to take the punishment for believing sinners, and rose from the dead as living Lord and Savior.

God awakens the sinner’s heart, who responds by turning from sin to trust in Jesus alone for salvation from sin and hell. God pardons the sinner and declares the sinner righteous based on the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1-4). Because God made the believer’s sin Christ’s when He bore sin on the cross, God makes Christ’s righteousness the believer’s. A matchless exchange!

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:5).

A man once opposed these truths, throwing Christians in jail and watching as a Christian was stoned to death. This man thought he could please God by following God’s law perfectly. But when Jesus called and saved him (Acts 9), Paul testified of righteousness by faith in Christ:

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:7-11).

Worship can be defined as the act of honoring and loving a deity, idol or  person in a “selfless” manner. The act of worship involves the total self in  giving praise, thanksgiving and reverence to that deity, person or material  object. It is not a half-hearted affair, and it is only after we distinguish  between that which is and isn’t worship, with regards to the divine objective,  that we can begin to answer the above question more fully. True, biblical  worship, as defined by the scholar A. W. Pink (1886 – 1952) in his exposition of  the gospel of John, says this: “It is a redeemed heart, occupied with God,  expressing itself in adoration and thanksgiving.” Likewise, A. W. Tozer, once  regarded as a prophet of the 20th century, said, “True worship is to be so  personally and hopelessly in love with God, that the idea of a transfer of  affection never even remotely exists.”

So, the true worship of God is  distinguished by the following criteria: first, it comes from the redeemed heart  of a man or woman who has been justified before God by faith and who is trusting  in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness of sins. How can one worship the  God of heaven if his sin has not been dealt with? Never can that worship be  acceptable that proceeds from an unregenerate heart where Satan, self and the  world hold sway (2 Timothy  2:26; 1 John  2:15). Any worship, other than that from a “washed” heart, is vain.

Second, true worship of God comes from a heart that desires Him alone. This was  precisely where the Samaritan people erred; they sought to worship both God and  idols (2 Kings  17:28-41), and this is reaffirmed by the Lord Jesus Christ when He  discourses on the subject of true worship with the Samaritan woman who came to  fetch water from the well. “You Samaritans worship what you do not know” (John 4:22). These people  worshipped God “half-heartedly” because their total affection was not set on  God. It is possible for even true believers to fall into this second error. We  might not assent to having physical idols, like the Samaritans did, but what  absorbs our will, our time, our resources most of all? Is it careers, material  possessions, money, health, even our families? Let us cry out, like King David  in Psalm 63:5,  “My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips, my  mouth will praise you.” Nothing less than God should satisfy the heart of the  regenerate man, and his response to that divine satisfaction, comparable to the  best food ever, is the fruit of lips that sing God’s praise (Hebrews 13:15).

Third, true worship of God is the desire to continue to build up our knowledge  of God. How we have lost that desire in these days! Apart from the Bible, which  we should be reading daily, we need to supplement our knowledge by reading other  good books, too. We need to fill our minds constantly with the things of God;  God should always be on our mind, and everything we do should be done with  reference to Him (Colossians  3:17; 1  Corinthians 10:31). It is interesting that the Greek word for “worship” in  Romans 12:1 can also mean  “service.” So, our daily lives should also be considered as worship. Every day  we are to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. The  church is supposed to be “squeezing” the world into its own mold, the mold of  Jesus Christ, but too often it’s the other way around.

Let us purify our  hearts if we really want to worship the triune God in spirit and in truth. Our  God is holy; He is altogether “Other,” a God who cannot share us with other  objects of our affection. Indeed, a God who WILL not share us, for the sake of  His holiness. We were made to be worshipping creatures, but the Fall has  crippled and ruined us. Worship is the most natural thing for man, but until we  are restored to God through the sacrifice of His dear Son, then all our worship  is but a vain thing. It is as “strange fire” before the altar (Leviticus 10:1).

Humans are instinctively worshiping creatures. The psalmist best expressed this  when he wrote, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for  you, O God” (Psalm 42:1).  As far back as the time of Cicero of the first century B.C., it was observed  that religion, regardless of its form, was a universal trait of man. Seeing that  men are going to worship something or someone, we must ask what is worship, whom  and how shall we worship? What constitutes a biblical worship service, and, most  importantly, will we be “true worshipers” (John 4:23) or  false worshipers? True worship involves a deep sense of religious awe that  expresses itself in acts of devotion and service. The English word “worship”  literally means “worth-ship,” denoting a being or object deemed worthy of  devotion.

Christ commanded that true worshipers worship in spirit and in  truth (John 4:24).  The apostle Paul explained that we worship by the Spirit of God (Philippians 3:3),  meaning that true worship comes only from those who have been saved by faith in  the Lord Jesus Christ and have the Holy Spirit living in their hearts.  Worshiping in spirit also means with the proper heart attitude, not simply  adhering to rites and rituals. To worship in truth means worshiping according to  what God has revealed about Himself in Scripture. In order for our worship to  truly be biblical, it must not go beyond that which is authorized by the Bible  (Leviticus  10:1; 1  Corinthians 4:6), abiding within the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9; see also Deuteronomy  4:12, 12:32Revelation 22:18-19). True worship involves only the  instructions given in the Bible and nothing else—not a Book of Confessions,  Rules of Order, or other manmade books of instructions or guidance.

The  first-century church engaged in several devotional acts in their worship  services, from which we can determine what makes up a truly biblical worship  service. The communion supper was observed (Acts 20:7),  prayers were offered up (1  Corinthians 14:15-16), songs were sung to the glory of God (Ephesians 5:19), a  collection was taken (1  Corinthians 16:2), the Scriptures were read (Colossians  4:16), and the Word of God was proclaimed (Acts  20:7).

First, the communion supper commemorates Jesus’ death during  our worship as we memorialize His resurrection until He returns again (1 Corinthians  11:25-26). As with the Lord’s Supper, prayer must also conform to the divine  pattern taught in the Scriptures. Our prayers should be directed only to God (Nehemiah 4:9; Matthew 6:9), never to any dead person as in the practice  of Catholicism. We are not authorized to use devices such as rosary beads or  Buddhist “prayer wheels” that supposedly send written requests into the far  regions of the universe. Most importantly, our prayers must be in harmony with  the will of God.

Third, we are authorized to sing. The apostle Paul  commands us to “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the  Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20).  Singing to the Lord and to one another conveys truth set to music as a form of  teaching (Colossians  3:16), singing with both the spirit and the mind in order to produce  understanding on the part of those involved (1  Corinthians 14:15-16).

Part of true biblical worship is giving of  our tithes and offering on the first day of the week, as Paul instructed the  Corinthian church: “Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told  the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you  should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so  that when I come no collections will have to be made” (1 Corinthians  16:1-2). Our regular giving for the support of the Lord’s work is a serious  responsibility and is part of true biblical worship. Our giving should be viewed  as a thrilling blessing, not as a burdensome matter for grumbling (2 Corinthians 9:7).  Additionally, it must be stressed that giving is the only authorized method for  financing the work of the church of Jesus Christ. We are not authorized to  operate businesses, conduct bingo parties, hold pay-at-the-door concerts, etc.  The church of Christ is not meant to be a commercial enterprise (Matthew  21:12-13).

Finally, preaching and teaching are major ingredients of  true worship. Our teaching must be the Scriptures alone, the only means of  equipping believers for life and godliness (2 Timothy  3:16-17). The godly preacher or teacher will teach only from the Word and  rely on the Spirit of God do His work in the minds and hearts of his listeners.  As Paul reminded Timothy, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of  season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful  instruction” (2 Timothy  4:2). A church gathering that does not include the Word of God as a major  component is not a true biblical worship service.

Without question, God,  in His divine wisdom, has provided the perfect model of true biblical worship so  that we can worship in a manner pleasing to Him. As we follow the course of true  worship, let us worship God with great passion. We must not convey to the world  the impression that the worship of our God is a boring, lifeless ritual. We have  been redeemed from sin. Let us therefore praise our Creator as His children who  are grateful for His bountiful blessings. “Therefore, since we are receiving a  kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably  with reverence and awe” (Hebrews  12:28-29).

The answer to this question largely hinges on Jesus’ identity. If Jesus is  regarded as deity in the same sense as His Father, then we should worship Jesus.  If the New Testament documents identify Jesus with Yahweh, then we should  worship Jesus. If He is merely a prophet of God, the worship of Jesus would not  be appropriate. Given the Bible’s insistence that worship is to be directed to  God alone, any God-fearing individual will need a satisfactory answer to this  all important question.

The Apostle Paul called Jesus “our great God  and Savior” (Titus 2:13),  and points out that, prior to His incarnation, Jesus existed in the “form of  God” (Philippians 2:5-8). God the Father says regarding Jesus:  “Your throne, O God will last forever and ever” (Hebrews  1:8). The Apostle John says that “in the beginning was the Word and the Word  was with God and the Word [Jesus] was God (John 1:1).  Other passages identify Jesus as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16-17Hebrews 1:2). Jesus receives  worship several times in the gospels (Matthew  2:11, 28:9, 17; Luke 24:52; John 9:38, 20:28). Jesus is never said  to reject such adoration. Rather, He accepts such worship as well placed. So  does the Bible portray Jesus as fully deity? The answer is certainly “yes”.

With that being said, Christians need to recognize that the Bible also  teaches the deity of the Father (John 6:27; Romans 1:7; 1 Peter 1:2) as well as the  Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-41  Corinthians 3:16). And yet the Scriptures teach that there is only one God  (Deuteronomy  6:4; 1  Corinthians 8:4). How can this be? The Christian church has historically  taught that the Bible is clearly portraying God as one Being who exists in three  persons. This doctrine is known as the Trinity.  Dr. James White, author of The Forgotten Trinity, has provided what we believe  to be a helpful definition of the Trinity. Here it is: Within the one Being that  is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the  Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We contend that this is the clear teaching  of Scripture and should be affirmed by any biblically faithful Christian.

These biblical distinctions go a long way in providing the proper  balance in Christian worship. We must remain conscious to not overemphasize our  adoration for any one Person in the Godhead at the expense of another. The Bible  teaches that while the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit perform unique functions and  have different roles, all three Persons of the Godhead are equal in power and  majesty.

In summary, the Bible teaches that Jesus of Nazareth is  nothing less than God the Son, the second Person of the Triune God (Trinity). In  view of this, He is due our full worship and devotion. To fail to do so would be  sinful.

Understanding the difference between praise and  worship can bring a new depth to the way we  honor the Lord. Throughout the Bible, the commands to “praise the Lord” are too  numerous to mention. Angels and the heavenly hosts are commanded to praise the  Lord (Psalm 89:5103:20; 148:2). All inhabitants of the earth are instructed to  praise the Lord (Psalm 138:4Romans 15:11). We can  praise Him with singing (Isaiah 12:5Psalm 9:11), with shouting  (Psalm 33:1; 98:4), with the dance (Psalm  150:4), and with musical instruments (1  Chronicles 13:8; Psalm 108:2150:3-5).

Praise is the joyful recounting of all  God has done for us. It is closely intertwined with thanksgiving as we offer  back to God appreciation for His mighty works on our behalf. Praise is universal  and can be applied to other relationships as well. We can praise our family,  friends, boss, or paperboy. Praise does not require anything of us. It is merely  the truthful acknowledgment of the righteous acts of another. Since God has done  many wonderful deeds, He is worthy of praise (Psalm  18:3).

Worship, however, comes from a different place within our  spirits. Worship should be reserved for God alone (Luke 4:8).  Worship is the art of losing self in the adoration of another. Praise can be a  part of worship, but worship goes beyond praise. Praise is easy; worship is not.  Worship gets to the heart of who we are. To truly worship God, we must let go of  our self-worship. We must be willing to humble ourselves before God, surrender  every part of our lives to His control, and adore Him for who He is, not just  what He has done. Worship is a lifestyle, not just an occasional activity. Jesus  said the Father is seeking those who will worship Him “in spirit and in truth”  (John 4:23).

In  Scripture, praise is usually presented as boisterous, joyful, and uninhibited.  God invites praise of all kinds from His creation. Jesus said that if people  don’t praise God, even the “stones will cry out” (Luke 19:40).  When the Bible mentions worship, however, the tone changes. We read verses like,  “Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 96:9).  And, “Come let us worship and bow down” (Psalm 95:6).  Often, worship is coupled with the act of bowing or kneeling, which shows  humility and contrition (2  Chronicles 29:28; Hebrews  11:21; Revelation  19:10). It is through true worship that we invite the Holy Spirit to speak  to us, convict us, and comfort us. Through worship, we realign our priorities  with God’s and acknowledge Him once more as the rightful Lord of our  lives.

Just as praise is intertwined with thanksgiving, worship is  intertwined with surrender. It is impossible to worship God and anything else at  the same time (Luke 4:8). The  physical acts often associated with worship—bowing, kneeling, lifting hands—help  to create the necessary attitude of humility required for real worship. Wise  worship leaders know how to structure a worship service to allow participants to  both praise and worship the Lord. Often, services begin with joyous praise songs  and transition to a quieter, more introspective opportunity for worship.

Worship is an attitude of the heart. A person can go through the outward  motions and not be worshiping (Psalm  51:16-17; Matthew  6:5-6). God sees the heart, and He desires and deserves sincere, heartfelt  praise and worship.

The meaning of the New Testament Greek word most often translated “worship”  (proskuneo) is “to fall down before” or “bow down before.” Worship is a state  (an attitude) of spirit. Since it’s an internal, individual action, it  could/should be done most of the time (or all the time) in our lives, regardless  of place or situation (John 4:21).  Therefore, Christians worship all the time, seven days a week. When Christians  formally gather together in worship, still the emphasis should be on  individually worshiping the Lord. Even in a congregation, participants need to  be aware that they are worshiping God fully on an individual basis.

The  nature of Christian worship is from the inside out and has two equally important  parts. We must worship “in spirit and in truth” (John  4:23-24). Worshiping in the spirit has nothing to do with our physical  posture. It has to do with our innermost being and requires several things.  First, we must be born again. Without the Holy Spirit residing within us, we  cannot respond to God in worship because we do not know Him. “No one knows the  things of God except the Spirit of God” (1  Corinthians 2:11b). The Holy Spirit within us is the one who energizes  worship because He is in essence glorifying Himself, and all true worship  glorifies God.

Second, worshiping in spirit requires a mind centered on  God and renewed by Truth. Paul exhorts us to “present your bodies as a living  sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not  be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:1b, 2b). Only when our minds  are changed from being centered on worldly things to being centered on God can  we worship in spirit. Distractions of many kinds can flood our minds as we try  to praise and glorify God, hindering our true worship.

Third, we can  only worship in spirit by having a pure heart, open and repentant. When King  David’s heart was filled with guilt over his sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11),  he found it impossible to worship. He felt that God was far from him, and he  “groaned all day long” feeling God’s hand heavy upon him (Psalm 32:3,4). But when  he confessed, fellowship with God was restored and worship and praise poured  forth from him. He understood that “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a  broken and contrite heart” (Psalm  51:17). Praise and worship toward God cannot come from hearts filled with  unconfessed sin.

The second part of true worship is worship “in truth.”  All worship is a response to truth, and that which is truth is contained in the  Word of God. Jesus said to His Father, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17b). Psalm 119 says, “Thy law is truth” (v.  142b) and “Thy word is true” (v. 160a). To truly worship God, we must understand  who He is and what He has done, and the only place He has fully revealed Himself  is in the Bible. Worship is an expression of praise from the depths of our  hearts toward a God who is understood through His Word. If we do not have the  truth of the Bible, we do not know God and we cannot be truly  worshiping.

Since external actions are unimportant in Christian worship,  there is no rule regarding whether we should sit, stand, fall down, be quiet, or  sing praises loudly while in corporate worship. These things should be decided  based on the nature of the congregation. The most important thing is that we  worship God in spirit (in our hearts) and in truth (in our minds.)