Your Identity as Worshiper!
This has been a fun, frustrating, exhilarating, and exhausting study. The struggle of this study has been trying to mine the depths of an endless excavation site. To present a study on one’s identity as a worshiper, it requires studying worship. To study worship, it demands a look into the nature, aseity, and character of God. This, as you can imagine, leads one to look into the concept of mankind being created in the image of God. After the anthropological study is complete, one may then proceed to dive into the cultural and historical practices of worship by the Jews. It is only appropriate, after that, to look into the New Testament Scriptures on worship. Identifying the New Testament Scriptures of worship will demand that you compile a list of ways that worship (under the New Covenant) has changed, shifted, or been divinely redirected. This list will force you back to the Old Testament where you will get distracted with all the shadows and types of worship that were prophetically intended to lead us to the New Testament where we see the fullness of worship being satisfied by the work of Jesus. And then, if you give a mouse a cookie, you will eventually end up with a study on worship and our identity as worshipers.
But in all seriousness, this has been a challenging study because our Inspired Text proves worship to be no simple, unimportant, or insignificant thing. Worship is deep. Worship is profound. Worship is inextricably tied to the very fabric of our humanness. Our Identity as worshipers is equally deep.
So before we jump into this teaching on our new identity, let me briefly offer some Biblical examples of worship in an attempt to define worship. In both the Old and New Testaments worship has been conveyed as the heartfelt expressions of song, praise, thanksgiving, and musical accompaniment. In both halves of the Bible, Scripture clearly presents worship as being sincere expressions (and inspired outbursts) of praise. From the Psalmists to the Apostles, worship is something that is corporately and individually expressed in song. In Psalm 66:4 it says, “All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.’ Selah.” Also, Psalm 96:1-4 declares,
“Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day today.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.”
Worship is also conveyed as being the reading of the Word (Deut. 31:11-13; Joshua 8:33-35; Neh. 8:1-8; etc.)
Worship is described as being silent before the Lord (Deut. 27:9-10; Hab. 2:20; Psalm 62:1-2, 5-7)
Worship includes prayer (Acts 16:25; Psalm 51:1-17; Luke 2:37; 2 Sam. 7:18; Isaiah 56:7; etc.)
Worship is described as expressed through bowing and prostration (Exodus 34:8; 2 Chron. 20:18; Gen. 17:3; Mar. 3:11; etc.)
Worship is communicated as being devotion (often even to false gods) (Deut. 8:19; 1 Chron. 29:2-4; Exodus 22:20; Matt. 6:24; etc)
Worship is seen a heartfelt response to the Presence of God (Psalm 22:23; Psalm 102:15-16; Hosea 3:5; etc)
So many inspired descriptions of worship lead us to question why we would limit our understanding of worship to only being the song and music. And furthermore, it causes us to ask the question of how does one define worship? What is it?! Perhaps the best definition of worship I have heard is this: “Worship is an outward expression of an inward reality" (unknown). In other words, worship is any (and all) outward expressions that demonstrate the object of your affection. What does this mean? This means prayer is an act of worship. Fasting is an act of worship. Singing praises. Serving the Lord at church. Restraining from profanity. Mopping the floors. Raising your kids. Driving your car. Acts of obedience (large or small). Reading Scripture. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord...” This is worship. It is expressing our affections for the Lord in everything we do! In both the scholastic theological and spiritual formation realms, worship is understood as being intended to encompass the entire scope of Christian living. Everything!
Charles Spurgeon says, “All places are places of worship to a Christian.” There is not a place we can go where we cannot, nor should not, serve the Lord. He is the object of our affections. He is the One we esteem the most. We are to practice, regularly, expressing our gratitude and our adoration and our appreciation for our Savior. This is something we can do anywhere. On a very practical level, we can start by practicing a militant thankfulness. 1 Thess. 5:16-19 tells us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.”
Now that we have briefly covered what worship is, let us look at who is identified as a “worshiper” in the Bible. This might surprise you! From the front of the Book to the end of the Book, the Bible clearly describes humankind as worshipers. Man and woman. Jew and gentile. Slave and free. Christian and non-christian. From Cain to the Philistines. From the pagans to the Jews. From the Canaanites to the Babylonians. From the worship of God to the worship of idols. Mankind has been inherently created to worship! It is obvious that within the intricacies of our DNA we are worshipers. There will always be some object upon which mankind places their affections. We serve and devote our time and our money to the things we value most. If you turn to social media, you will see the worship of philosophies and ideologies. You will see the veneration of political agendas. You will see people expressing the affections of their hearts for something. From worshiping and serving their sexual appetites to expressing their love and devotion to the object of addiction.
God crafted this in us that we might be drawn to worship Him. The problem was the fall. In the garden of Eden when Adam and Eve introduced sin and death into the world, the world was launched into a tailspin. The Bible states, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Our identity as worshipers was corrupted by sin, and now we worship things that do not deserve our affections. In our fallenness, we worship our careers, our wives, our theological frameworks, our preferences, our sport, our ideas of marriage, our code of ethics, our cars, our homes, our scientific presuppositions, etc. We are worshipers, and we will worship something.
The difference between our worship and the worship of the world is that we worship something eternal – Someone that is worthy. The Object of our worship is the invisible, personal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, immutable God. We express our affections for a God that would give Himself for His people. We serve and obey a God that created the heavens and the earth. The God Who created an escape plan from a temporary world that is scheduled to go up in flame like a match-stick. We serve Jesus Christ. He alone can save us. He alone can help us. He alone can heal us. He alone can deliver us. He alone can comfort. He alone can bring fulfillment and lasting satisfaction. He alone can work the impossible! This is the difference between our worship and the worship of the world.
Now staying true to our goal for this series, before I attempt to answer the question of “what does this say about God and what does this say about us?"
What does this Say about God?
“And they sang a new song, saying,
‘Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation...’
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!’
And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’
And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”
There is only one God – one thing – that was able to accomplish the impossible work of salvation. And there is only one God who can perfectly accomplish the ultimate and final movement of redemption on earth.
This reveals a God who is of insurmountable worth. He is the Object to be obtained at any cost. He is the most valuable and treasured Possession to be had. He is greater than any amount of silver or gold. God is precious and to be treasured above all else.
Psalm 36:7, “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
1 Peter 1:18-19, “knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.”
Lastly, being designated a worshiper of Yahweh also reveals something of relationship. There are a vast number of passages that connect a personal relationship with God to the worship of God. Look at the contrast here in Deut. 4: 28-29. It says, “And there you will serve gods of wood and stone, the work of human hands, that neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Compared to the worship of inanimate objects, God makes himself available. He is a personal God. He is living and active. He is able to respond to the cries and prayers of His people.
Also, it shows a relational partnership. We get to work with God in this world to accomplish His will. Our worship includes serving God. This reveals a God who is personally involved in the lives of his people and the world. This emphasizes a relationship and partnership with God in administering His love, grace, and mercy to others. We do not just sing songs of worship to our God; we serve God and serve with God in accomplishing his plans.
1 Peter 2:9,
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
Col. 3: 15-17,
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Married with two boys, Dusty is dedicated to his family, the Church were he pastors, and the life-long pursuit of knowing God more fully. There is nothing Dusty loves more than serving God by helping others understand the treasures of Scripture.