Date: 1/18/04
Text: Exodus 20:1-5
Title: Worship 101
Theme: Because the Triune God has called us to worship Him, therefore we are to response to Him according to his regulations.


What on earth are we doing here? Last Sunday we learned that the chief end of man is to glorify God. In everything we do, we are told to honor and glorify Him. In everything we do, when we do it right, do it well, do it with the best of our ability, we are glorifying God.

When a student does his best in his studies, he is glorifying God. When the teacher does his best in his teaching, a researcher does his best in carrying out the assigned project, a musician does his best to compose and play the best music, this is how God is glorified.

Today we want to focus on Worship. When we worship God in the way pleasing to him, we glorify Him. As we look at the churches in this century, worship is probably the most controversial issue before us. One church in California has several worship services going on at the same time at different part of their campus. They have one service for the adults, one for the young adults, another one for the youth, or the generation Y. The music and styles are different, but the same sermon message will be beamed to the different locations. Some Churches have one traditional and one contemporary service at different time slots on Sunday. Other churches with less resource will have to live with the constant struggle and tension regarding what is the best way to worship.

What is worship? According to the Webster's dictionary, Worship is to adore a deity, to show reverence to a worthy subject. Some adore musicians or movie stars, such as Mui Yen Fong in HK. In this election year, politicians can become the object of adoration.

In the Bible, the word Worship is expressed or translated by 'to serve, labor', or to bend and bow down. When Moses pleaded Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, what was the reason he gave? So that my people can serve, worship God in the wilderness. In the Old Testament, we read how the priests worshipped in the tabernacle or temple by performing certain duties. So, simply put, worship is not a passive, spectator event. It is active. We worship by doing something. In recent years, there is a popular book called: Worship is a Verb. Worship is not something we come to enjoy but to take part in.

Worship is not something that happens once or twice a week. As we go about our daily living, we are also worshipping God. In your study this week, you will be studying more about this worship as a life style. This morning, our focus will be on corporate worship, when believers come together on Sundays.

I. We pay our reverence, homage to the Creator God. Exodus 20:2-3

The 1 st Commandment: I am the lord your God and you shall have no other God's before me.

In Genesis Chapter 4 we learned, that after Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, their children, Cain and Abel worshipped God. They worshipped the God who created the heavens and the earth. Noah, upon leaving the ark, the first thing he did was to worship. He worshipped the God who told him to build and enter the ark and this God established a covenant with him and his descendents.

This creator God called Abraham to leave his country and go to the Promised Land. When Abraham was told to take his only son Isaac to a mountain at Moriah, he explained to his servants that they were going there to worship God. When Abraham, and later Isaac, Jacob traveled, at different places they built altars to worship. Later, God would reveal to the Israelites as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Then in the Psalms, it was evident that individuals worshipped the creator of the heavens and the earth. He is the God who performed mighty acts in the Jewish history. To the Israelites, this was their covenant God.

This is also the God that sent his one and only son, Jesus Christ to earth, became man, suffered and died on the cross. Three days later he rose from the dead. The God sent his Holy Spirit to his children to convict them of their sins, bring them into his kingdom and to guide them in life's journey. This is the triune God. He is holy, merciful, and using a theological term, He is totally "Other" from us. We worship the Triune, Covenant God. The God who revealed himself in the Bible.

Moreover, this same God also desires us to worship him. John 4:23, " But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him." This God seeks people to worship him. I have mentioned this on several occasions, there is one true seeker in every worship service: the creator God. Since he is the supreme one, therefore he has all the reasons of asking his creation to worship him, to adore him and to place him in the highest place. And for this reason, in every man and woman, there is an inner desire of wanting to worship someone who is greater than us. He is the one who instituted Worship. He wants his people to worship him individually. And is so evident in both the Old and New Testament, he also wants his people to worship him corporately.

What does this mean to us? First because of this, whenever we come as a corporate body to worship him, we are responding to his call. He first calls us to worship him, and we responded. For this reason, the purpose statement in our Worship is: to respond to the Triune God's call to worship him. And this is also the reason in every worship service; we have the call to worship. Reminding us that God calls us to worship him, and we respond.

Secondly, when we worship, it is not about me, it is about God. When we sing, pray, or preach, it is about God and to God. Listening to the songs, prayers and sermons in many Christian churches, sometime including ourselves, an alert person would think our worship is all about us. About our needs, our aspirations and responsibilities. Worship is not about me, it is about this holy and almighty God. When we offer our prayer of adoration, it is not about us asking God for blessing, or meeting our needs, but about us telling God our adoration for his creation, thanksgiving for his salvation, and his daily guidance. It is all about him. It is to be God-centered.

II. Our worship is to be regulated by God. (How do we worship)

The 1 st commandment tells us to worship the creator God alone. Yes, we know we are to worship this creator God, who is holy and Compassionate, but How? If you go to 10 churches, there may be 10 different answers to this question.

You see, being sinful and finite, we may know that we need to worship God, but often we don't know how. How can a sinful, filthy sinner know how to worship the almighty and holy God? Consequently we often worship him the wrong way. We worship the wrong gods; we worship symbols, images, and even saints. We worship the earth-god, the thunder-god and even the kitchen-god.

Yet from the very beginning, God had expressed to us that he has certain expectations on how we worship. You remember Cain and Abel. We will not discuss why one offering was rejected while the other accepted by God. But it points out that God expected them to worship him in a certain way. Exodus 20:4-6, The 2 nd commandment: "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything…." Hebrews 12:28," Wherefore we receive a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: ??" In Matthew 15:8,9 “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." These verses clearly tell us that we don't just worship Him in anyway we like or want. Yes, God wants us to worship him, but according to his way. He wants us to worship with truth and spirit. He wants us to worship with the sincerity of heart. These passages clearly tell us that Worship is instituted by God, and is also regulated by him. He has certain expectations and has communicated to us how he wants us to worship him. He wants True Worship from us.

What is True Worship? To some, true worship is based on what God has specifically commanded plus anything that is not expressly forbidden. This is the position of the Roman Catholic church. They have included many ceremonies, symbols and activities. However, the fundamental principle we uphold is that True Worship is only what has been commanded by God. Therefore, anything that is outside of what God has commanded is not true worship. God's words as revealed and recorded in the scriptures are sufficient to provide us with what we need to know.

There are two dimensions in True Worship. First it is about God and Towards God. The music and prayers are to be directed to God, honoring and adoring Him.

The second dimension of worship is Towards Men. In the book of Hosea 6:6, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." Sacrifice is a part of worship. Mercy is being kind to those in need. Here, God is not saying that I don't want you to worship me. Instead he is saying, worship is important, but if worship without care for those in need, is meaningless. Therefore true worship also includes our concern for one another. Hebrews 10:24,25 " And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,.. " 1 Cor.14:26 " When you come together……..Let all things be done for building up. " The content must be able to build up one another into spiritual maturity.

Besides the two dimensions in worship, what are some of the components in worship? When we study the Bible, it is very clear that there is no one listing stating that in every worship one must do this and that. But there are scripture references suggesting what some of the components are. Take for example, 2 chronicles 29:28-30 gives us a glimpse of what goes into a worship service. "The whole assembly worshiped, and the singers sang and the trumpeters sounded. All this continued until the burnt offering was finished. 29 When the offering was finished, the king and all who were present with him bowed themselves and worshiped. 30 And Hezekiah the king and the officials commanded the Levites to sing praises to the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer. And they sang praises with gladness, and they bowed down and worshiped." In the NT, especially in the book of Acts, from the early Christians we learn that when they met, there were praises, prayers, communion, reading and teaching of the word.

There was music (singing, a group of singers, like a choir). This is one reason the Christian faith is also known as a religion that sings. There was also offering. In this context, it is to offer an animal to atone for the sins they have committed. Since Christ has already offered himself once and for all, we don't need to sacrifice an animal anymore. But we are to offer, give ourselves to God. One visible expression of offering ourselves to God is through financial giving. We have a tradition in this church that we do not pass a plate or bag during the worship service. Instead we have an offering box at the back. We want to encourage you that financial giving is not just because the church has a need, therefore we give. Independent of church needs, we offer our monetary possessions to God as a part of our worship. And even how much we give is to be regulated by God's word. We'll address this topic sometime in February.

• We worship God on a day set by him.

In the 4 th Commandment, 20:8 "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." The commandments not only tell us whom to worship, how to worship, also when to worship. The Saturday is the seventh, the Sabbath day. In the OT and into the NT, the Israelites kept the 7 th day as the Sabbath, the day when they rest and worship.

However, the early church, in remembrance of Jesus'' resurrection on the first day, that is Sunday, began to get together for worship on Sunday. As we study the book of Acts, we'll notice that early on the believers met on Saturday, the Sabbath. Then they met on both Saturdays and Sundays. Later on, they made a complete switch and began to meet on the first day of the week. This is the scripture's teaching and example for the believers to come together to worship God on the first day of the week. And this has been the Christian church's tradition for 2000 years.

You see, we come to church on Sunday, not just to attend another meeting. But on this day, we are obedient to God's teaching, and follow the example of the first Christians, come to this place, together with other believers, to praise and adore God; none other than our creator, who is holy and compassionate. It is a very serious occasion.


Worship is instituted by the holy, merciful and mighty Triune God. Our worship is also regulated by his revealed words, the Bible. When we worship him in the way he wants us to, we glorify him.

I would like to leave two parting thoughts with you. First, very often at the end of the worship service, we make comments that I didn't get anything out of it. It is kind of boring. Certainly, as a church we need to examine and ask why. However, it is very important to remember that it is not necessarily what I got out of the service, but what have I done to worship God. You see, worship is a verb. Have I done my best to praise, pray and offer myself to him?

Second thought is this: if God has first extended the invitation to us to worship him, and in response, we have come to worship him, then it is a very serious occasion isn't it? If so, then we need to prepare ourselves physically and spiritually before we come. It will imply that we get plenty of rest on Saturday evening and be here on time. For we have not come to another meeting or gathering. But have come to worship the holy, compassionate and almighty God.