Worshipping and delighting in God
In the history of the Christian church some believers (those who drafted the Westminster Catechism) said the goal of life is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever! I believe that this is what the Bible teaches. To glorify God and worship Him is why God has made us. And we glorify God by enjoying Him and His presence. We glorify and worship Him by being satisfied with Him in all that Christ is for us, by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, as we meditate on the accurate revelation of God in the Holy Scriptures and in general revelation. We see God for who He is in the Holy Scriptures contained in the Old and New Testaments. We can know Him partially in general revelation but intimately and redemptively in the Holy Bible. We cannot worship God without knowing God, can we? So, before we can worship God and enjoy Him, we have to know Him! Therefore, we first must receive revelation of God before we can worship Him (Matthew 11:27-29).
Jesus said in the gospel of John that God seeks worshippers that will worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23,24). We cannot worship God unless we are in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit and know the truth about Him. And we cannot be in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit unless we have received Him, and we cannot receive Him until God regenerates us (John 3:3-6); regeneration happens when God calls us to faith and repentance by the preaching of the gospel! So, the goal of evangelism (namely, to worship God) is achieved by the means of grace: the proclamation of the gospel! In heaven no one will evangelize to win lost people! There will be no need for it. Evangelism is not an end in itself: It is a means to the glorious end of glorifying God and enjoying him forever! The Bible makes this emphatically clear throughout both Testaments.
“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days (Psalms 90:14 ESV).
“Exalt the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy!” (Psalms 99:9 ESV).
““And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped” (Revelation 5:13-14 ESV).
“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35 ESV).
So, what is worship essentially? Theologian John Piper answers: “God is most glorified is us when we are most satisfied in Him.” I believe this statement is true. Glorifying God means to be happy in Him; it means to enjoy Him and to have joy in Him and to be fulfilled in Him. When Jesus said believing in God means never to thirst or hunger anymore, He was referring to spiritual satisfaction and fulfillment. Saving faith entails being satisfied with Christ. Worshipping God means more than just praising Him and singing songs to Him to set tunes and lyrics. Glorifying God means your affections and emotions are involved! In a sense it means to be ecstatic about God, but with understanding. If I love my wife it means I have good and wonderful feelings about her. If I praise her for her beauty and joy I do so with affection and warmth. And so, it is in our relationship with God. If I love and worship Him I do so with affection and amazement, not just with words. But words are important because words complete our worship. Not saying to my wife “I love you” but just showing her that I love her is not sufficient in a healthy relationship. With God it is the same, we should say that we love God and that we praise Him: the words complete our worship. But this is not all there is in worship, there is more.
While expression of affection and words are both essential to worship so is correct knowledge of whom we worship. But if our actions don’t authenticate our worship then it is not real. Worship must move from the cognitive to the affective level; and from the affective to the verbal level and ultimately to the volitional (or behavioral) level. For faith without works is dead (James 2:14-17):
“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” (Romans 12:1 ESV).
It is clear from this text that Paul says worship is a continual presentation of our bodies and its members to what is good and righteous (see also Romans 6:13). What we say, what we do with our hands and feet, and so on, are all acts of worship. That is why Paul said to the Corinthian church: “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 9:31). We worship when we chat about the weather and politics, fix a doorknob, drive a motor vehicle or work on the computer… Everything we do involves worship, not only what we do on Sunday mornings! We worship by showing what we value and prize.
We therefore worship God by showing our love for Him by loving each other. Jesus made this truly clear in Matthew 25:31-46. What we do for the least in the family of God we do for Christ. Therefore, service to the church is service to Christ. Visiting the sick and those who suffer and giving food to the hungry are acts of worship to Christ, when we do it in union with Christ. We worship God and we show that we value Him above all when we love and care and pray for one another, even if we have to suffer. Glorifying God also means that we obey God and follow Him even when there is no happy emotion. Jesus didn’t feel wonderful and happy on the cross when he bore the wrath of God for His people. It is impossible to glorify God without the love of God in your life, and that love comes from the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). True worship of God involves our affections but acts of worship also often involve acts of sacrifice and suffering.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
(Galatians 5:6 ESV)
Christians will worship God forever and ever in the new heavens and the new earth. This worship will not only include praise and thanksgiving, it will involve service and work in a body and soul that can never sin! It will be the most pure and ecstatic worship, together with greater understanding and knowledge of who God is.
“For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV).
This is the goal of evangelism and making God known: to worship God in Spirit and in truth, and to reach out to people across all ethnic groups to join those who are worshippinghim, in order to maximize the number of worshippers.
Will you join us in worshipping and enjoying the One who is most valuable and precious?