Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 10, 1958

Acceptable Worship

Robert C. Welch, Birmingham, Alabama

Men need to be constantly reminded of the realities of life. They even need to be reminded of the nature of true worship. While Christ was upon the earth men had forgotten the true object of worship and men are still doing it. They then worshipped the sun, sea, moon and stars. they now worship the atom, electronics and all its devices; and now as then they worship the god of war. It is a religion of materialism. God, the Father of all, is not created material; he is Spirit. Worship of God is more than materialistic fear. God is not a subject of man's discovery and invention, hence is not subject to error and change; he has revealed his eternal self unto man in the truth that endures for ever. Therefore, he is to be worshipped in spirit and truth; "God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24.)

Not Mere Attitude

Worship is not a mere attitude. Sometimes one hears people speaking of the attitude of worship. They talk of certain external incidentals about the place of worship as creating the right attitude of worship. Neither attitude nor truth is worship; but we are to worship with the right attitude (spirit) and according to truth. We must have the proper motive in our worship. It cannot be a mere formality. It cannot be from the purpose to please others but must be simply directed to God. Animals can be taught to prostrate themselves and to say words by rote which could be used in worship; but they do not worship God. We must worship from the heart. The devotion, praise and reverence is to be paid from spirit to Spirit. Worship is active, not mere attitude; and true worship is action from the heart and according to the truth of God.

Not Pageantry

Showmanship and pageantry, pomp and parade, is so often witnessed in worship these days. They wear their colorful robes of religious distinction as they engage in special ceremonies and rites. neither the robing nor the ceremonies being provided in the word of the Lord. They robe their clergy and their choirs; all of which is pageantry and not simple worship in spirit and truth. They parade the streets in the name of Christianity, making a show; but Christ never authorized it; hence it is neither in spirit nor in truth. An example of acceptable worship can be seen in these words; "Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men, to be seen of them . . ." (Matt. 6:1.)

Not Will-Worship

There is a tendency for men to try to devise a system of worship which will be an improvement upon the simplicity of New Testament practices. They seem to think that their plan will be more "spiritual," or more reverent, or more humble than that which the Lord has provided. Thus they have "candlelight services," masses, responsive readings, solos, even in foreign languages, silent prayers, lenten seasons, and others too numerous to mention. All such things are foolishness to the person who wants to worship in spirit and truth. "Why . . . do ye subject yourselves to ordinances, handle not, nor taste, nor touch...after the precepts and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but are not of any value against the indulgence of the flesh." (Col. 2:20-23.)

Worship Vs. Service There is a difference between worship and service. We serve God when we obey his commands; but worship specifically denotes homage, praise, acts of adoration, memorial observances. We are losing the word worship in our speech and substituting the word service. We assemble for worship, not for a "worship service."