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256 pages
May 2006
J. Countryman

The Worship Answer Book

by Rick Muchow

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The Basics of Worship

No. 1


Followers of the other great monotheistic religions— Judaism and Islam—sometimes criticize the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, saying we worship three gods. Even some Christians are confused about whether it is appropriate to worship Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Christians worship the God of the Bible—and him alone. Jesus was very clear when he quoted from the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Luke 4:8 kjv). Paul told the church at Corinth: “There is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:6).

We need to be very clear about three things:

First, the Bible teaches that there is only one true God. “There is only one God” (Isaiah 44:6 njb). “Have we not all one Father? Did not one God create us?” (Malachi 2:10). “One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6). “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5). “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder” (James 2:19).

Furthermore, the Bible uses many names for God. Each name leads to a better understanding of the nature and persons of God. For example, the Old Testament name Elohim—a plural word that reflects the fullness and completeness of God and hints at the future revelation of the Trinity—describes God as “God of all the earth” (Isaiah 54:5), “God of all flesh” (Jeremiah 32:27), “God of Heaven” (Nehemiah 2:4), “God of gods and Lord of lords” (Deuteronomy 10:17), God who created all things (Genesis 1:1), and God as judge (Psalm 50:6; 58:11). Theos is the New Testament name of God and a common translation for the Hebrew Elohim. The names Yahweh and Adonai mean “lord.”The name Jehovah is an artificial word created by combining the vowels of Adonai with the consonants YHWH. Christ is called God in the New Testament (John 1:1, 18, 20:28; 1 John 5:20), and he’s given the name that is above all names: “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:6, 9–11). Christ also is called the Savior (1 Timothy 1:1).

Finally, the Bible teaches that we worship one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Foundations curriculum written by Tom Holladay and Kay Warren says the Bible teaches that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are to be worshiped. The Father is God (John 6:27; 1 Peter 1:2), the Son is God (John 1:1, 18, 20:28; 1 John 5:20; Philippians 2:6, 9–11), and the Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3–4). In the Trinity, God is one—not three gods, but one God (Deuteronomy 6:4). The three persons in the Trinity are distinct from one another— separate but one. Although it is a mystery we may not fully comprehend, it is a clear teaching of Scripture. Christians worship one God—the God of the Bible.

No. 2


Many “worship services” are held, but worship doesn’t always happen. One reason is that we sometimes fail to allow the Holy Spirit to fulfill his proper role in worship.

In honoring God the Father and lifting up Christ, we also must be careful to give proper place to the Holy Spirit.

God’s Word says the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of Jesus” (Acts 16:7) and “the spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). He was involved in the creation of the world (Genesis 1:2). He brought us the Bible (2 Peter 1:21). The Holy Spirit caused the Virgin Mary to conceive (Luke 1:35). He guides us into truth (John 16:13), convicts us of sin (John 16:8), performs miracles (Acts 8:39), and intercedes with God for us (Romans 8:26). He assures us that we belong to God as he “speaks to us deep in our hearts” (Romans 8:16 nlt).

The Holy Spirit is a living gift to all believers and is the divine source of spiritual power and ministry (John 7:37–39; Acts 11:16–17; Romans 5:5). Excellent music cannot substitute for the Spirit’s power in worship. Eloquent speaking cannot replace the power of the Spirit in a person’s heart.

Authentic Christian worship happens at a spiritual level. Worship happens when the Holy Spirit in us rises to magnify the Almighty, giving the Father the honor he deserves and lifting up his Son, Jesus. Worship leaders may spend hours planning a service—seeking the Spirit’s guidance all along the way—but when the time comes to enter into worship, leaders and congregation alike must allow the Spirit to control the service. The Word says, “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).

As you strive to give the proper role in worship to the Holy Spirit, be sure to remember these three things:

First the Holy Spirit is our teacher. The Bible says, “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). As our teacher, the Spirit’s primary tool is the Scripture, giving understanding of its truth to those with faith. The Life Application Bible Commentary says, “Through learning about Christ’s life, we can understand (more) about how wonderful God is and what he is really like.”The Holy Spirit leads us to God’s truth “which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:5–6 kjv).

Further, God accomplishes his work in us through the Holy Spirit. Jesus said the Holy Spirit is the one who reveals the truth about sin—to unbelievers so they can turn to Christ and to believers so we can be used by God for his purposes: “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). The Holy Spirit allows us to live in God’s power: “The Holy Spirit will give you life that comes from Christ Jesus and will set you free from sin and death” (Romans 8:2 cev). As Christ died for us when we could not save ourselves, the Holy Spirit communicates with God in a way that also is beyond our ability: “The Spirit also helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26 nasb). The Holy Spirit also transforms us from within: “As the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more (2 Corinthians 3:18 nlt).

Finally, the Holy Spirit is the real worship leader. Worship is allowing God to take center stage in our lives—wherever we are. When we worship together, we surrender the experience to the will of the One who alone is worthy of worship. Authentic worship is that which occurs “by the Spirit of God” (Philippians 3:3). God is glorified in worship when the Holy Spirit reveals God’s truth to us: “He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” (John 16:14).

No. 3


The Bible does not specify an age requirement to worship. In fact, the Scripture holds up children as examples of the kind of faith and humility necessary for authentic worship. God’s Word teaches that little children sing praises to God, are model believers, and that God loves, protects, teaches, and calls them to serve like every other believer.

Jesus said, “Don’t you know that the Scriptures say, ‘Children and infants will sing praises’?” (Matthew 21:16 cev). He was echoing an Old Testament passage that says God himself gives even the smallest child the ability to glorify him: “You have taught children and nursing infants to give you praise” (Psalm 8:2 nlt).

The faith of a child is precious to God and an example to the rest of us about genuine faith. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Luke 18:16).

Youth is no barrier to serving God. Jeremiah was young when God called him into ministry: “ ‘Ah, Sovereign Lord,’ I said. ‘I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a child.”You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you’ ” (Jeremiah 1:6–7).

Let’s make three observations about children and worship.

First, children were present when Jesus spoke. For example, when the disciples asked who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, “he called a little child and had him stand among them” (Matthew 18:2). Not only were children present, they also were recognized as spiritual examples. Jesus continued, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Childlike humility is absolutely essential to worship.

Further, the spiritual life of a child is a priority to Jesus. He said, “Whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me” (Matthew 18:5). Welcoming children into worship is like welcoming the Lord. Jesus also warns adults to be good witnesses to the children: “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). In the process, he presents children as being capable of believing in him.

Finally, the Bible documents children “walking in the truth” and serving in leadership. John wrote, “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us” (2 John 1:4). And we must mention that the Bible says, “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). Obviously, this Scripture prophesied specifically about the time of our Lord Jesus—a baby who changed the world!