Worship: A Working Definition

Good afternoon! Here are notes from this morning. I’ll only post what we covered below:

Worship: A Working Definition


Romans 12:1 (ESV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (worship, service as a slave, divine worship)[1].


  • Worship is bigger than a worship service.
  • Worship is deeper than songs.
  • I’m convinced that if we were doing Romans 12:1 we could come in here and sing “This little Light of Mine” and have revival break out because songs will never usher in a spirit of worship.
  • Worship is all we are and do given over to God for God’s ends.

Illustration: If you gave the effort at your paid employment that you give to seeking Jesus’ rule over you in all things, would they fire you?

So, what we have is a working definition comprised of a thoroughly biblical survey from Genesis to Revelation that we will work off of.

A Definition of Worship

1) Worship is communion with God 2) in which believers, 3) by grace, 4) center their mind’s attention and their 5) heart’s affection on the Lord, 6) humbly 7) glorifying God 8) in response to his glory and his word.[2]

Definition Explained

  1. Worship is communion with God.

“communion with God”

Exodus 33:12-23

John 14:15-18

– Communion is to be united with God.

– In Jesus’ work, sin’s effects on relationship between God and man are abolished, so we dwell with God and he with and in us.

– We hear God.

– We talk with God.

– We begin to understand God’s ways.

– God becomes personal with us and us with him.

  • Worship, then, becomes your daily relational living with God by the Holy Spirit.
  1. Worship is an enactment of faith.


– When we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, we worship well.

Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) Now faith is the assurance (standing under; the foundation; the reality) of things hoped for, the conviction (persuasion; proof) of things not seen.

– Faith is a reality that produces tangible proof. Faith, then, is not mental ascent but rather truth that affects all aspects of our being in actions.

– My commitments parade what or who I honor and worship.

– My calendar exhibits what I believe in and worship.

– My budget divulges what I believe in and worship.

– My anxieties announce what I believe in and worship.

  • Worship is then your exercise of complete rest in and trust in God in doing things his way.
  1. Worship is the appropriate/right/fitting application of grace.

“by grace”

– Worship is the RIGHT response to the grace that is given to us.

Revelation 3:20 (ESV) Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

– Adam and Eve, in sin, hid from God when he came to walk with them in the garden.

  • Worship as communion with God, is the appropriate response to the invitation to intimate fellowship with God.

How might one exercise communion with God?

– Seeking the counsel and presence of the Spirit through his inspired Word.

– Acknowledging that I hear the counseling Spirit.

– Obeying the Spirit.

– Worship as communion with God is NOT having your emotions manipulated by environment and things that tug at emotional ports of entry into the soul.

How do we respond to the sermon this morning?

We will sing this morning in the larger context of an ordered service. Not because it’s the primary expression of worship (the primary expression is your life as a living sacrifice), but because God himself set out liturgy, God himself sings, God himself commands us to sing (see the Psalms), and the last thing Jesus did before going to the cross was to show that order and service and song matter by observing the liturgy of the Passover meal and sang a hymn as he went out to be arrested and crucified.

Mark 14:26 (ESV) And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Singing is a measurable tactic to one small component of worship. But it’s an important component, because it’s a unique image bearing activing we are privileged to participate in and Jesus, God, himself led his disciples to do before the most crucial event in history.

[1] Parenthesis mine.

[2] Definition adapted from the course, “Church Music” by Dr. Bruce Leafblad, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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