Lesson 26: The Vertical Expression of Edification – Worship | Biblical Foundations for Living

Lesson 26: The Vertical Expression of Edification

In the previous lesson, we learned that the primary activity of the local church is the education of its members and that education is the foundation of their edification. Edification is expressed in two ways: toward God ( worship ) and toward other believers (fellowship ). This lesson will deal with worship.

[The relationship with God is sometimes called “vertical” while that with other believers is sometimes called “horizontal.”]

Many years ago, the English word “worship” was spelled worthship .” Originally, the word was associated with the concept of worthiness. It referred to the act of displaying the worth or value of a person or object. Worship is any activity whereby believers display the worth or value of God .

[Note that it’s not just what goes on at church during the “worship” service. One can worship God in many ways and at many times. So were not just talking about a church service.]

In this lesson, we will study the following aspects of worship:

1. The object of worship [who we worship]

2. The means of worship [how we worship]

3. The outgrowth of worship [the result of worship]

4. Improper worship

I. The Object of Worship

The sole object of the believer’s worship is God .

Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. – Exodus 34:14

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'” – Luke 4:8

A. True worship is based upon the character of God.

Because of His character, God alone is worthy of worship.

[The character of God is who he is. Psm 150:2 “Praise him for his surpassing greatness.”]

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”   Revelation 5:11 12

The first section of this curriculum described several of God’s attributes which make Him worthy of our worship.

1. God is to be worshiped because He is great .

David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.” – 1 Chronicles 29:10-13

[Verses like this tell us of the awesome majesty of God. This is why we need to be reverent and serious about God and worship. We don’t play fast and loose with God, God’s name, God’s church, etc. ]

2. God is to be worshiped because He is good .

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. – Psalm 100:4-5

When a believer reflects upon God’s character, it should cause him to worship God all the more.

[Remember that God’s attributes/characteristics can be separated into these two categories: greatness (power) and goodness (moral perfections). We worship God because of Who He is.]

B. True worship is a response to the works of God.

[That is, we worship God because of what He has done/does. Psm 150:2 “Praise him for his acts of power.” ]

1. God is to be worshiped because He is the Creator and Sustainer .

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” – Revelation 4:11

2. God is to be worshiped because He is the Savior .

You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. – 1 Corinthians 6:20

When a believer reflects upon God’s work, it should cause him to worship God all the more.

C. True worship is inseparably linked to the Word of God .

People often think of worship merely as an emotional experience. While worship does affect one’s emotions, it primarily depends upon the believer’s knowledge of the Word of God. Apart from understanding the content of the Bible, true worship is impossible, for it is only in the Bible that the character and works of God are thoroughly explained.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.   Colossians 3:16 17

II. The Means of Worship

[That is, how we worship. These are the ways we worship God. These activities emphasize or highlight God’s character and thus display His worth/value.]

A. The believer worships God by confessing his sin .

Confession is the believer’s acknowledgment of his sinfulness and God’s holiness.

Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, and give him the praise. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.” Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel.” – Joshua 7:19-20

Besides displaying God’s holiness, confession of sin also displays God’s grace.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.   1 John 1:9

B. The believer worships God by living a godly life .

Believers should always be reflecting the character of God in the way they live.

In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.   Matthew 5:18

[C.f. also 1 Pet 2:12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. ]

C. The believer worships God by praying .

A significant part of the believer’s prayer life should include praising God.

This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”   Matthew 6:9

[“Hallowed” mean “to be made holy.” Thus, “may your name be recognized as being holy.” ]

Prayer is the believer’s way of communicating with God. Besides praise, prayer includes confession, thanksgiving, and petition. Every aspect of prayer ultimately depends upon the believer’s understanding of God’s character. For example, confession of sin recognizes that God is both holy and gracious; praise recognizes God’s greatness; thanksgiving recognizes God’s goodness; and petition recognizes God’s omnipotence and sovereignty.

D. The believer worships God by singing .

Singing has always been an important part of worship. The Bible contains a book of songs (the Psalms) which ascribe glory to God.

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night, to the music of the ten stringed lyre and the melody of the harp.   Psalm 92:1 3

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.   Psalm 100:1 3

III. The Outgrowth of Worship

The natural result of worship is service . One of the Greek words for worship in the New Testament is often translated “service.” It was Paul’s favorite word for worship because it emphasized its practical nature.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God  this is your spiritual act of worship.   Romans 12:1

IV. Improper Worship

God is interested in the form worship takes. There are many forms of worship that God finds unacceptable. Sincerity and fervor do not “sanctify” an incorrect form of worship.

[It’s amazing what passes for worship these days. Worship practices should be strictly limited by biblical principle. That is, what the Bible presents as worship should be our guide. Don’t add or subtract from that standard.

From the Westminster Confession of Faith: The acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.]

A. Idolatrous worship

[Aaron] took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” – Exodus 32:4

Some people use statues, pictures, etc. as aids in their worship. Such a practice is forbidden in Scripture.

[For example, Catholics use lots of statues, Greek Orthodox use icons (pictures, engravings). It is likely that the Israelites were doing the same sort of thing: attempting to worship the true God thru this calf. C.f. verse 5: “Tomorrow shall be a feast unto the LORD.” Aaron was employing an illegitimate means of worshipping the true God. ]

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God. – Exodus 20:4-5

God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth. – John 4:24

[Note that worship must be “in truth.” It doesn’t matter how sincere worship is if it’s not the right form or the right way.]

B. Disobedient worship

God does not accept worship that is not in keeping with the teaching of Scripture.

[The priests] confronted [Uzziah] and said, “It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the LORD God.” – 2 Chronicles 26:18

[This is an example of a king who attempted to do something good –burn incense to God– which was unacceptable to God. The king had no right to burn incense; it was the priest’s job. This tells us that even if one is trying to do a good thing, if he disobeys God’s word in the process, it’s wrong. How would this idea affect something like baptism? communion? evangelism? God does care about how we approach and serve him. We can’t just do as we please. ]

C. Rebellious worship

God does not accept worship from rebellious people.

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! – Isaiah 1:15-17

[He’s not talking here about sinful people, but about rebels. No Christian is perfect. If you are rebelling against God, it does no good to attend church, pray, give money, etc. “Worship” from rebellious people is worse than worthless; God hates it. Cf. Isa 1.11, 13-14: Your New Moons and festivals “my soul hates.”]

D. Disorderly worship

God does not accept worship that is chaotic.

Everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way. – 1 Corinthians 14:40

[Organization and decorum should characterize a worship service. Many are anything but that. E.g., the “laughing revival,” much of Charismaticism, even some fundamental churches lack orderliness. This is important because we serve a God of order. ]

Note: The context of the preceding verse finds Paul reprimanding the Corinthian Church for their improper worship practices.

Learning to Live It

1. A friend of yours often talks about worshiping God. Yet, he has clear areas of disobedience to the Word of God in his life. What impact does disobedience have upon one’s ability to truly worship?

It greatly hinders one’s ability to worship. God does not accept the worship of disobedient or rebellious people. One may as well not bother.

What should you tell him?

He needs to get right with God before worrying about worship. He’s being a hypocrite. Furthermore, part of worship is living a godly life.

2. You hear of a church where during the service some of the people mumble incoherently, some get up and dance around, and others lay on the floor laughing uncontrollably. Could this be called true worship? Why or why not?

no; True worship is orderly, not chaotic (1 Cor 14:40).


  1. I would add to this that worship should be TRANSformative, not informative. But great post!

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