On the pages of the Bible and in our day to day experience we find ourselves faced with a seemingly endless list of possible expressions of worship. Some are common practices in churches and others are often given no thought at all. Thankfully however, being a worshipper of the Living God was never intended to be a one-size-fits-all calling. One of the greatest joys of the life of a worshipper is that we get to explore the vast treasure trove of Biblical expressions of worship.
Yes, there are sinful expressions that God forbids (Exodus 32 for example), but for the most part, we find that the Bible gives us great freedom. There are God-given boundaries, but thankfully within those boundaries the kind of worship that God delights in comes in all shapes and sizes. In Scripture there are a number of words which have been translated into the English word ‘worship’, or, that are used to describe some part, or expression of our worship. The Bible lays a colourful and exciting table of worshipful acts, and we are invited to eat our fill.
When we attempt to define the boundaries of what worship is, and to discuss how it should be expressed in the local church context we must look back to the Scriptures and let them shed light on the topic. It must be God’s Word alone, his revelation in the pages of Scripture that ultimately shapes our understanding. Sadly, there are some things that Christians do in churches to which the name ‘worship’ is given that we would struggle to find solid new covenant Biblical examples for. And perhaps more distressingly, some things that are undoubtedly new covenant Biblical expressions of worship are overlooked and never given the attention or time they rightly deserve. God doesn’t want us to miss out!
That’s why I’m writing this blog. In each instalment we will explore a different expression of worship as seen in the pages of Scripture. Often, we will find ourselves in the pages of the Psalms. John Calvin commented on the Psalms that ‘there is no other book in which we are more perfectly taught the right manner of praising God, or in which we are more powerfully stirred up to the performance of this religious exercise’. It is the great hymn book of God, giving insight and guidance for mankind to discover the kind of worship God looks for.
However, any exploration of a Biblical theme so vast as this would be incomplete were it not to consider the whole canon of Scripture. If we were to find ourselves glorying only in the Old Testament, or solely seeking insight from the pages of the New Testament, we would certainly miss out on the revelation of the other. Our worshipping diet must contain the flavours of both the Old and the New Testament. The complete canon of Scripture is our guide and inspiration for how we are to worship, where and when our worship takes place, and whom we are to worship.
We will also lay out some practical examples of how we can go about incorporating these varying expressions of worship into the life of the churches we are part of. We will look at how we can bring the big picture of Biblical worship into real situations. My hope is that the church you are part of will be blessed and released into greater depths of worship through the ideas contained within this blog series. I hope they will begin to inspire thought and initiate further creativity in whatever context you find yourself.
I hope that this blog series offers some assistance to worship leaders, musicians and pastors, but also that it will also be a resource for all believers who wish to understand this great and glorious theme more fully. My aim is to encourage you in your own pursuit of Biblical worship. I pray it would be a tool that helps you to grow to delight more in the riches of what it means to be a worshipper of the Living God in the day to day. This series will by no means be an exhaustive list of worshipful expressions. To achieve a complete summary of Biblical expression of worship would be a near impossible task, but my aim is to broaden the language of worship that we use in our churches for his glory and our good.
The first expression we will look at is ‘Singing’. Warm up your vocal cords and watch this space…