The Cost of Worship

The spiritual life of Abraham was marked by four great events. Each of these events involved the surrender of something most precious.

1. He had to leave country and kindred Gen 12:6

2. He was separated from his nephew Lot Gen 13

Lot was especially dear to Abraham—he was his possible heir. He also was a fellow believer.

3. He also had to give up his own coveted plans for Ishmael. Gen 17

4. Finally, he surrendered in worship his only son Isaac at God’s request. Gen 22

There was not an event in Abraham’s life in which God was so much glorified as the scene of Mount Moriah.

In his worship of God, Abraham gave his all.

Notice also that Abraham’s worship was based on a revelation from God. “And God said,” Gen 22:1.

It involved a costly presentation to God. “Take now thy son.” V.2 Note Abraham’s preparation for worship. Worship demanded a deliberate separation unto God. “Abide ye here.” V.5 Abraham left his young men and the donkey behind. He had also left behind his domestic affairs—his business connections—and earthly relationships in order to worship God.

When we are bowed in worship, privately or corporately, we must banish all intruding thoughts. We must expel anything that would divert our thoughts from full occupation with God alone.

To worship God in spirit and truth, and in the beauty of holiness we must go from “here” to “yonder.”

According to Phil 3, in order to “worship God by the Spirit,” we must be ‘rejoicing in Christ Jesus’ and have no confidence in the flesh.

It is only when you are able to crucify the world and the flesh, and resist the devil so that he flees from you. Then with Christ being pre-eminent in your hearts you draw near in true worship.

In this spiritual state the Holy Spirit will lead you into the realms of God’s glory, where Christ is all in all.

Occupation with Christ will be your material for worship.

Worship is the pouring out of a soul which is at complete rest in the presence of God. When one is truly resting in God’s presence and reveling in the worth and beauty of God’s Son:

1. No thought of unworthiness enters his mind

2. No thought of his many blessings diverts his attention

3. No thought of those around him distract him from the sublime object that fills and thrills his being—Jesus Christ.

“Savior Thou art enough the heart and mind to fill” “O fix our earnest gaze—so wholly Lord on Thee—that with Thy beauty occupied—we elsewhere none may see.”

There are two examples given of worship in its highest form. Revelation 5

The living creatures and the elders fall down and worship the One who occupied the Throne. Saying, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive honor, glory, and power, for Thou has created all things, and for Thy pleasure they were created.”

In Ch.8 the numberless hosts who surround the Lamb join in a glorious song, singing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor and glory and blessing.”

Please note that in these two instances not a single request is made. This is worship in its purest form. “Gazing on the Lord in glory,” etc.

These instances show us that worship in its highest form is the occupation of the heart, not with its needs, or even with its blessings, but with God himself.

See Colossians Ch.1

In verse 9 thru 11-we have Paul at prayer.

In verses 12 thru 14- we have Paul in thanksgiving.

In verses 15 thru 19-we have Paul in worship. Occupied with Christ alone.

To worship God in its purest form we must learn by experience the subtle difference that exists between prayer, praise and worship.

Prayer is a soul occupied with its needs.

Praise is a soul occupied with its blessings. Thanks for a meal.

Worship is a soul occupied with God Himself. The Triune God.

Praise and prayer may be mingled with God Himself, but strictly speaking they do not constitute worship.

Lord save my soul is prayer—Thank you for saving my soul is praise—Thank you Lord for what Thou art is worship.

Let me say at this point that it is good to praise and thank God for His blessings. O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, etc.

But the important thing to know is that worship transcends thanking God for His blessings.

Beloved, the highest form of worship is to speak to God about the excellencies and glories of His Beloved Son.

Let me illustrate at this point the difference between praise and worship.

A dear lady has only one son whose business keeps him on the other side of the world. She invites me for supper which is delicious. In the conversation that follows, which would please her more: for me to keep thanking her over and over again for the delicious meal, or to talk with her about her only son, whom she dearly loves. Only one answer is right.

Let us bear this in mind when we come to worship God. May we never be tempted to think that we are worshipping God when we are thanking Him for His blessings.

Preparation for Worship

If we are not daily worshippers, we will not be weekly worshipers. We cannot live carelessly six days of the week and then have a mini-purging on Saturday night preparatory to Sunday morning, and expect to worship God.

It is unfortunate but true, that many have no thought on Saturday night, of worshipping God on Sunday morning.

You may say, “That is said.” Brethren it is more than sad it is serious.

1 Corinth 11 says, “Let a man examine himself.” “Let a man judge himself.”

Despite these solemn warnings, there are many who do not examine nor judge themselves.

They eat and drink unworthily—not discerning the Lord’s body.

“For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”

“For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” V.31

The story in Lev 10:1-5 is a very sobering one. Two young priests entered God’s presence totally unprepared and offered strange fire, and for doing so lost their lives.

The warning is clear, let us see to it that when we come to worship we are fully prepared and ready. That we are cleansed—that our bodies are filled with first fruits.

Before the priests could minister before God, and before the High Priest could enter into the immediate presence of God, great preparation had to be made.

They were separated from those around them—animals had to be slain—blood sprinkled—the washing with water—and the linen clothes. Lev 16.

At considerable cost and sacrifice they prepared themselves to serve and worship God. The meticulous preparation demanded by God before a man could appear before Him.

Failure to comply meant death. V.2 The time has come for us to consider the grave principles of truth.

In the light of this important principle may we prepare ourselves for worship by judging ourselves and examining ourselves, and thus avoid the tragic circumstance of being disapproved by God.

Finally, after Paul’s usual apostolic introduction in Ephesians he pours out his heart and lifts his voice in a magnifying hymn of praise, soaring into one of the New Testaments sublimest heights of worship.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus.” Verse 3. Praise—adoration—worship be unto God, etc.

Note also Thomas’ worship, “My Lord and my God.”

1 Timothy 1:17

“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever, amen.”

Revelation 5:13

“Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.”

Worship-Read John 4:19-24

Worship has been called the “missing jewel of the Church.” I would heartily agree. We have many meetings…careful planning…qualified leadership…and sound Bible teaching. We remember the Lord each Lord’s Day. But how seldom we worship our Savior and Lord.

First, notice the priority of worship.

The worship of God is the highest form/occupation of service that a believer can engage in. Following this, in order of importance, there is the Worship of God, the fellowship, and the building up of believers into full spiritual maturity. Walking with God. Thirdly, there follows out out-reach unto the world, working for God.

Note how theses priorities are substantiated in the Word. Hebrews 11 reveals the divine order.

1. Able offered a “more excellent sacrifice by reason of its inward worth” than Cain. Able worshipped God in and through a lamb, typical of Christ. Worship. God had respect and accepted Able and his offering.

2. The next patriarch we are introduced to is Enoch. Enoch walked with God—and walking with God he fellowshipped with those of like precious faith. Walk. Next to worship this is most important.

3. Next, we are introduced to Noah. Noah prepared an ark for the salvation of his house. Worth. Noah worked for God.

This then, is the divine order of the believers spiritual activities.

Since the afore-mentioned order is scriptural, and the worship of God is the fountainhead from which all power and direction flows-

“We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have learned, lest at any time we should slip away from them.” Hebrews 2:1

The time has come, brethren, to strengthen the things that remain, and to re-establish worship to its rightful place.

In this connection not the order in 1 Peter 2.

Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Peter is constrained to write first about Holy Priests.

V.5 “Ye also as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, a “Holy Priesthood,” to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Christ Jesus.”

When the believer fulfills his role of being a “holy priest,” he is ready to function as a “royal priest.” As a “royal priest” he shows forth the praises of Him who has called him out of darkness into His marvelous light.” It is Worship then Work.

My considered opinion is, that despite the warning of Hebrews 2:1, many have forsaken God’s ideal.

We are so busy preparing for our teaching and preaching, that our preparation for Worship is sadly neglected.

When we think of corporate worship we immediately consider the Lord’s Supper.

While it is true that no brother should govern the order at the Remembrance Feast. This in reality is the Spirit’s work and His alone.

Yet many who should know better have forsaken the worship of God for the ministry of the Word.

Many times this ministry is far removed from the Divine Object of our gathering—Jesus Christ.

On such sacred occasions we come together to praise and worship God—not to minister the Word.

If we feel constrained by the Spirit to minister, before the Breaking of Bread, let us see to it that the ministry is Christ-centered, and is a stimulus to worship.

There is a vast difference between “Worship” and “Ministry.” True ministry comes down to us from the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Then it is delivered through the human instrument whom God has prepared and gifted for this purpose. This can be stimulating to worship.

Worship is that which is generated in “the spirit” then it ascends from the believer, by the Holy Spirit, through the Son, to the Father.

Ministry descends to us from God. Worship ascends from us to God. God is not seeking your intellect, talents, to give money—He is seeking Worship. “The father seeketh such to worship Him.”

While there is a definable difference between the ministry and worship, yet there is an indissoluble link between the two.

Worship that does not produce service, and service that does not.