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Worshipping in Spirit and in Truth, by Joseph Tkach

About the authors

About the publisher

Grace Communion Seminary

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What Is Worship? A Survey of Scripture

By Michael Morrison

Many Christian churches have changed their worship styles. As is often the case with experiences, we have different impressions and reactions to worship styles. In this article, we examine what the Bible says about worship. Let’s look at the way God’s people worshiped before Moses, after Moses, and after Jesus. Then let’s see how that biblical insight can help inform our worship in the modern world.

Definitions

The Bible doesn’t give a formal definition of worship. But perhaps we can start by seeing what various words for worship mean. The English word “worship” comes from two Old English words: weorth, which means “worth,” and scipe or ship, which means something like shape or “quality.” We can see the Old English root word “-ship” in modern words like friendship and sportsmanship – that’s the quality of being a friend, or the quality of being a good sport.

So worth-ship is the quality of having worth or of being worthy. When we worship, we are saying that God has worth, that he is worthy. Worship means to declare worth, to attribute worth. Or to put it in biblical terms, we praise God. We speak, or sing, about how good and powerful God is.

This is a purpose for which we are called: “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9). We were called for the purpose of praising God, worshiping God. That is one of the job descriptions of a Christian. We should declare that God is worthy, worth more than everything else put together.

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