What Is Worship?
Updated: Oct 15, 2022
By John Piper
We worship God authentically when we know him truly and treasure him duly. Then the word “worship” refers to that valuing, that inner valuing, becoming visible in the world in two basic ways in the New Testament.
One is acts of the mouth: acts of praise and repentance in worship services or small group gatherings.
The other is acts of love with the body and the hands and the feet: acts of love that show the supreme value of God by what we are willing to sacrifice for the good of others.
“True worship is based on a right
understanding of God’s nature, and it is a
right valuing of God’s worth.”
I get those two things from Hebrews 13:15–16. Listen to this amazing summary. It says, “Through him, then,” — through Christ — “let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
Those two verses begin and end with the term “sacrifice.” Of course, the sacrifice is an echo from the Old Testament sacrifices which were at the center of the worship and were to display the value of God as we gave up a bull or a goat and showed that God is precious to us.
We value his redemption that comes to us through the sacrifice and now through the sacrifice of Christ. So through Christ two things become worshipful sacrifices in our life: the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name; that is, worship services in singing and praying and repenting and confessing, and secondly, the fruit of deeds.
Don’t neglect to do good. Share what you have. Such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Both of those are acts of worship.
Heart of Worship
You see it again in Romans 12:1: “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, which is your spiritual service of worship.” So all of our bodily life done in love for other and in reliance upon God display the worth of God above all things and make us worshipers in our daily life.
So, here is my summary: The inner essence of worship is to know God truly and then respond from the heart to that knowledge by valuing God, treasuring God, prizing God, enjoying God, being satisfied with God above all earthly things. And then that deep, restful, joyful satisfaction in God overflows in demonstrable acts of praise from the lips and demonstrable acts of love in serving others for the sake of Christ.
About the Author
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently What Is Saving Faith?
Article excerpt taken from DesiringGod. Read the full resource here: “https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/what-is-worship”