There are two words in the book of Revelation that echo a solemn warning, give forth a plaintive plea, and point humanity in the right direction. Those words are, “Worship God”—Revelation 19:10. In the second chapter of Acts, the gospel invitation was given by Peter and the other apostles, and 3,000 souls obeyed the truth. This fact is very important because the word of God does not require things of us that are not necessary or vital. No one can over-emphasize the importance of repenting and being baptized, but the divine instructions go much further. Man must continue doing the will of the Creator, or all else is in vain. The obligation of every Christian is to worship God. Worship is an act of adoration, and the outward act signifies what is in the heart. This does not give man the liberty to perform as he feels in his heart because God requires us to “keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life”—Proverbs 4:23. We are responsible to God as to how our hearts perform.
We find the record stating what the 3,000 did after they obeyed the gospel and became the lord’s disciples. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers”—Acts 2:42. This shows that the religion of Jesus is a revealing religion, not dependent on feeling but upon whether the commands are kept. It is possible for us to have the right motive prompting worship, and yet we may not worship God in the right way. For example, let us consider the case of Lydia in the 16th chapter of Acts. She was a saleslady quite a distance from home, and had assembled with other women outside the city of Philippi. When Paul arrived in that city, he speaks to the women who had resorted by the riverbank. According to Acts 16:14 this woman worshipped God, but she was not worshipping according to the law of Christ. She was worshipping according to the law of Moses which had ceased to be effective. We learn in Romans 10:4 that “Christ is the end of the Law for righteousness.” If Lydia’s worship was all right, why did Paul speak to her of the gospel and induce her to obey it?
Do you know there are four kinds of worship mentioned in the New Testament, and only one of the four is acceptable to God? Let us consider each one separately.
- 1st: Vain Worship. In Matthew 15:9 Christ States, “But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”Jesus says there is a vain worship, and if you say any worship is all right as long as a person is sincere, it is you and the Lord for it. The word vain means, “empty, devoid of any real value.” According to the Bible, this “vain worship” is brought about by using the doctrines and commandments of men instead of the law of Christ.
- Next, we have 2nd Ignorant Worship. When the apostle Paul went to Athens, and saw it given wholly to idolatry, he informed the Athenians that the “Unknown God” whom they “ignorantly worshipped” was the God he preached unto them. Ignorance has always been a curse, and always will be. According to Isaiah 5:13 the Israelites went into captivity because they lacked knowledge of God and of God’s ways. An understanding of the Bible is still the world’s greatest need. No one can acceptably worship God unless they know what God desires. Timothy was instructed to “study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needed not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth”—II Timothy 2:15. Is ignorance excusable? Absolutely Not! If I believed it was, I would quit preaching at once because if ignorance is going to save people eternally, the more ignorant, the better. Such thinking is ridiculous! The apostle Paul was not commending Israel when he said they “had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge”—Romans 10:2. Next, we will consider any other type of worship:
- 3rd. Will Worship. This kind of worship is also undesirable, as it is that which is self-willed, not God-willed. There are some people in the world who cannot see the truth for the simple reason that they won’t. They are embedded in the traditions of their religion to the extent that they won’t believe what the Bible teaches when it is shown to them in black and white. Jesus said he came “not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me”—John 6:38. Now let us consider the last and final form of worship.
- 4th. True Worship. There were plenty of religions in the world when Jesus came, but he came to set up a different standard. A standard that would meet the needs of all the people under all circumstances! Jesus informs us that “God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth”—John 4:24. Here we have the ultimatum, and there is no alternative. We must worship in spirit and in truth. There is only one way by which you can know if your worship is acceptable to God. It must be measured by the word of the Lord.