We often claim that we worship God in truth and in spirit. Yet when we are asked to explain the term, many of us would point to the so called “Praise and Worship” session in our church gatherings.
If we search the entire new testament, it is not even once said about church fellowships as “worship services”, but gatherings to break bread (Acts 20:7). Paul and Silas were praising and singing hymns to the Lord in prison (Acts 16:25). Worship is much deeper than praising, thanksgiving, prayer or even fellowship.
Worship in the Old testament period was strictly related to the Temple and sacrifices. Even for Abraham “worshiping” God meant sacrificing his own son (Genesis 22:5). There were five elements in their worship:
- The Worshiper
- The sacrificial animal or object
- The priest
- The altar/the temple
- God, who accepts offerings with fire from heaven
Old testament pattern was the shadow of the “things to come” in the new covenant. Romans 12:1 urges us to “offer our flesh as living sacrifices” Holy and pleasing to God. Therefore, in the new covenant pattern, the five elements in Worship must be:
- The Worshiper
- The sacrificial object – In place of bullocks and goats, ones own fleshly desires and self-will
- The priest (Every believer is a priest in the new covenant)
- The temple (New testament temple is the body of the believer)
- God, who accepts our offerings
Again, how does HE accept our offerings? By sending fire from above. Jesus came to baptise us with Holy Spirit and Fire. Baptism in fire is meant to facilitate the new covenant sacrifice of denying our self-will and carrying the cross every day of our lives. The fire on the altar came from heaven and was never allowed to put off and consumed the flesh of animals. The fire in the new testament should also fall from heaven and is meant to consume our flesh or render our flesh which is the curtain as in the case of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10: 20) and should last a life time.
Let us submit ourselves to our father and allow HIM to crush us completely till the veil that kept the old testament believer from dwelling in God’s presence 24/7, the one that separated soul and spirit, is torn in two. Even the psalmist could Worship God in his body and soul but not in spirit. But the true worshipers for whom our heavenly father seeks (John 4: 23) worship HIM in their body, soul and spirit.
Dear beloved, Worship in the new testament is more than praising, thanksgiving or fellowship, its nothing short of “SELF-SACRIFICE” and the first worshiper in the new covenant is none other than Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us learn from his example.