Worship: A Working Definition 2


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.

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]

  1. Worship is centering attention on God.

“center mind’s attention”

Psalms 77:12 (ESV) I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.

Matthew 22:34-38 (ESV) 34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment.

1 Corinthians 14:15 (ESV) What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.

– Worship is disciplining our minds to think rightly on God.

To worship by thinking rightly we have to…

– Use our minds to learn about God.

– When we sing as an act of worship we do so with full intellect intact not wild and ecstatic folly.

– Worship is stewardship of our mind.

  1. Worship is expressing love to God.

“hearts affection”

Psalms 84:1-7 (ESV) How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! 2 My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. 3 Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. 4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6 As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion.

– Psalm 84 was written by the sons of Korah, who rebelled against Moses and were swallowed by the earth. Korah’s descendants learned the hard way that affection for God is better.

  1. Worship is humble exaltation of God.


Psalms 138:2 (ESV) I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

– “schachah”, “bow down” is and it means to prostrate before and is translated 99 other times as “worship”

– There is not “assuming” right when coming to God, but rather, approaching with a confident reverence.

– This is why setting up chairs, taking down chairs, making coffee, serving in Radical Kids is not just a labor and listening to preaching and singing and taking the Lords Supper are superior acts. If we humbly serve God’s ends and means then our order and engagement in that order takes on a whole new level of meaning.

– Humble tasks done to serve God’s ends are as much an exaltation as any other worship act.

– When we come to the order of worship and particular acts in it, humility is vital. We don’t assume that we know more, are experts and in our soul despise others we perceive as not knowing what we know.

– We humbly, therefore, exalt God. We don’t humbly consume our favorite parts and disdain the parts that are less our “jam”.

– God’s praise is the goal from my life as a living sacrifice and my actions from that as offering to God.

  1. Worship is glorifying God.


Psalms 22:23 (ESV) You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

– Glorify – to make heavy; to make weighty; to honor.

– Glorifying God is honoring God rightly; deferring; putting first; considering first.

– We glorify God when we consider obedience to his word as more vital than my perceived wants / needs.

Romans 15:1-6 (ESV) “1 We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

  1. Worship is response to God.

“in response”

Romans 3:10-11 (ESV) None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God.

Genesis 24:22-27 as a response to the Lord revealing himself through the providential circumstances of the journey.

Matthew 14:24-33

– Response to God’s glory in his person, in his deeds and his word.

– It is response by humbling oneself.

– It is response by recounting out loud or to yourself the glories of God.


[1] Parenthesis mine.

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

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