It does not go unnoticed that the Holy Spirit has been almost silent in the Pauline Epistles (ROMANS through PHILEMON) concerning worship. Surprisingly, less then ten times is worship found in any form or any usage, and just two Greek words are used in reference to worshipping GOD.
One Greek word is proskuneō, and means "to bow down, to prostrate one's self in reverence" (A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, E. W. Bullinger) and is found only in 1 CORINTHIANS 14:25.
The other Greek word is latreuō, and means to serve. It is found only six times in the Pauline epistles (ROMANS 1:9, 25; 9:4; 12:1; PHILIPPIANS 3:3 2 TIMOTHY 1:3). It is with this word latreuō, to serve, of which we will be primarily concerned in this study.
Of course we have heard of the varying places of worship, and at each place varying forms of worship, and even of the varying positions of worship. But these are all of men and do not concern us here. Even recent opinions as to the ways of worship, each claiming to have the only way, doesn't need to concern us either.
If the scriptures speak to us of our worship of the Father, as they plainly do, then there is something for us to know. Every concept must flow with and not against the scriptures. Those scriptures must be the scale, the measuring stick of our thinking.
As we have seen in an earlier study, the first and great commandment is to love GOD with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as our self. We have also seen that we cannot love GOD by simply saying we do (EZEKIEL 33:31). Only once is it recorded that Yeshua (Jesus) said that He loved GOD, and that occurrence was during a teaching to His disciples.
JOHN 14:31 But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.
"Even so I do!" To love GOD requires more than just words--it requires action! To love GOD we must obey GOD (1 JOHN 5:1-3). That's how Yeshua showed His love, and that is how we are expected to show ours.
The close connection between serving, obeying, loving and worshipping GOD throughout the Bible cannot be missed, yet we find so little service and obedience in today's worship. We do find sacrifice, as if GOD needed something from us, but little obedience. The ways of man today seem to have changed little from what we have recorded from those days of old;
JEREMIAH 7:22-24 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: but this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.
"But they hearkened not…and went backward, and not forward!" GOD's requirement is simple, "Obey MY voice". What GOD desires of us is a relationship, and one that is developed and maintained by our service and obedience to HIM. But what appears to be that service and obedience is not true if it lacks HIS direction.
Throughout the Bible we have many examples where people try to show how much they love GOD. Some build temples (ACTS 17:24-25), some feed the poor (JOHN 12:3-8), some even make long prayers (MATTHEW 6:5-8), but none is true service without GOD's direction.
"a true servant"
Early on in scriptures we are given a wonderful example of what a true servant is. It's concerning Abraham's servant in GENESIS 24. In this one chapter the word servant is used more than a dozen times. If true worship is related to our service, then let us not associate it with those who claim to be, or are even called servants. Let's look at what GOD shows us a servant is to be. Then we can be better prepared to serve our Lord.
First off, we see Abraham commission his servant for a very important assignment:
GENESIS 24:4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.
The servant was sent to seek a wife for Isaac, his lord Abraham's son. How interesting, as we ourselves are may from time to time also be sent on our own personal missions for our LORD and HIS Son.
GENESIS 24:5 And the servant said unto him [Abraham], Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest?
This servant indicated no doubt in his ability to find a wife for Isaac. He was only concerned with her willingness to return with him. There is a lesson here for us. Not only has GOD prepared us for the challenges that lay before us, but HE has also prepared all else. HE has left nothing undone!
GENESIS 24:10 And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.
Of course any service, any mission will have needs arise and Abraham did not expect his servant to worry about financing the expedition himself. This servant needed certain things for a successful journey, so his lord supplied his need. Do you suppose that what we need to serve our LORD will be provided? Certainly!
And now this servant of old does something very remarkable:
GENESIS 24:12 And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham.
Isn't that something? This servant was praying to GOD. He must have had a relationship with GOD, even here in ancient times!
GENESIS 24:13-14 Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: and let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.
Not only was this servant talking to GOD, he was daring to ask GOD for a sign. What a great principle! If we are running our race, out doing the work of the LORD, we will see such wonderful things it will cause us to cry with joy. GOD has had time since before the world began to prepare our course for us. HE will bring things across our path that will astound us in ways we will never forget. Remember who we're dealing with, the Creator of life itself. HE has ability we can't even comprehend.
2 CORINTHIANS 4:7 says that they had a treasure in earthen vessels. The reason GOD put HIS treasure in a physical mortal body is so that they would always know the power was from GOD, not themselves. It's all to show HIS greatness and HIS glory.
Now, watch this amazing record unfold:
GENESIS 24:15-19 And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.
And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking.
Isn't that something? See how specific he asked the sign to be and how she unknowingly performed it to the last detail, even "before he had done speaking!" Only our GOD could pull that off! Even before he had finished asking GOD for the sign, GOD was answering him. Something isn't it? I'm telling you, if you're on track with GOD you had better buckle up for the ride of your life. GOD knows the end even from before the beginning. How can we loose by serving HIM? We can't!
GENESIS 24:26-27 And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren.
In this distant land GOD had led this servant to the very person he needed to find. How? Because HE is GOD! It's high time HE got a little credit for HIS ability.
And the servant "bowed down his head and worshipped the LORD". He was so blessed, so humbled, so overjoyed at the greatness of his GOD. That is true service! That is true worship! However, had he not been sent, and had he not obeyed and gone, would he know anything of his GOD or of HIS abilities? Far too many of GOD's people sit around all the time wondering where GOD is.
True worship, true service is only found on the faith side of the fence, none other. It's not contingent upon which outfit you join or don't join, where you live or don't live, what you know or don't know. What matters most is, do you walk by faith. I have found the most wretched kinds of immorality in the most ideal spiritual environments, and I have learned great truths while everything around me was caving in. Why? Because when we are weak in ourselves, then are we strong in Him (2 CORINTHIANS 12:10b); and we count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations (JAMES 1:2), and not only so, but we glory in tribulations also, knowing that tribulation accomplishes patience (ROMANS 5:3).
If under the proper direction, resistance builds strength, as any weight lifter knows. Each experience of life is for the purpose of teaching us something. We must therefore not let the burdens of life hold us down but learn what we can and move on. Proper guidance and direction is the key to our growth and spiritual maturity. We of course don't go out looking for trouble just to see if GOD can rescue us from a calamity we may have ourselves created. But if we are to see GOD at work in our lives, then we must get out there and be active participants.
True worship, true service, and true love all require true direction. That's why there is no plan we can rely on for our relationship with GOD. You know, like praying a certain amount each day, perfecting our witnessing, giving till it hurts, or even learning more than the others. The plan itself cuts at the heart of any real relationship with GOD. Men invent these plans hoping to get our obedience and our service, yes even our worship for their organization.
In many of these outfits we can find wonderful loving Christians who would draw us into a trap they cannot see because they themselves are within it. Unfortunately, as the months turn into years we can often see their genuineness and their love diminish right along with their enjoyment of the Bible. They may become masters of their organization's dogmas, and even defend with near worship their masters, but their love for truth is all but passed. It is sad to see them entangled in a web they themselves are oblivious to (GALATIANS 5:1 2 TIMOTHY 2:4).
A man in error, who sincerely believes he is right, lies just beyond the hand of deliverance. We can only thank GOD by HIS mercy and grace that we are here and not there. It's only by GOD's mercy, by GOD's grace, that we remain free today. It is true enough that we have no guarantee for tomorrow.
We can have tremendous opportunities to speak for GOD, but only as the LORD leads and directs, never as man devises or perfects. When our LORD directs, as HE so magnificently can, we find "the secrets of their hearts made manifest, and so falling down on their faces, will worship GOD, and report that GOD is in you of a truth" (1 CORINTHIANS 14:25).
It's always as the LORD directs, not man. The concept of us moving GOD has resulted in a lot of confusion regarding the manifestations of the spirit which are listed in 1 CORINTHIANS chapters 12 and 14. There is neither operation of prophecy, nor operation of any other manifestation where man wills to move GOD. Where do we find such talk? Not from the scriptures! It was invented by some man and carried on by others. Let's just read and believe what is written.
1 CORINTHIANS 12:4-7 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God, which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
But the manifestation! Verse 4 says that there are different gifts, verse 5 says that there are different administrations, and verse 6 says that there are different operations. Now, in verse 7, it changes from gifts, administrations, and operations to manifestations. It changes from operations to manifestations, it doesn't combine them.
One doesn't operate a manifestation, an evidence. That would be backwards. Something may however be an evidence of something else being operated, but we can't operate the evidence. Turning on a lamp offers a simple illustration. Flipping the switch is operating the lamp. Having the room illuminated is the evidence or the manifestation that we operated the lamp. The manifestations in 1 CORINTHIANS 12 are simply the evidence that the spirit is in operation.
GOD tells us to part the Red Sea by lifting up our hands and we obey. The five senses evidence is the miracle that the Sea parts. How logical the Bible is when we don't read into it but simply read it.
When the Lord tells us to go over and speak words of edification to someone, when we react by believing, the evidence (manifestation) is prophecy. The whole key is who initiates it! Is it under the Lord's direction or man's? If the Lord is initiating it, it will be truly loving. If we initiate it, it will be self-glorious, perhaps even false.
See how logical the next verse (after the listing of the manifestations) flows?
1 CORINTHIANS 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he [GOD] will. (See also 1 CORINTHIANS 12:6, 18, 28)
As GOD wills, not man. But that is far from what some men wish it said. They would always like to be at the helm, directing the LORD as to which way HE should go. We can see it in their very prayers. Rather than resting in the assurance that GOD knows the end from the beginning (MATTHEW 6:8), many men endeavor to counsel GOD as to which way is best, and what HE should do to correct the ills of our planet. "Oh, if GOD had man's compassion, the world would be a much better place to live" (so they think). Sure, there is a definite and vital place for prayer, but it's not for dictating to GOD how HE should handle a certain situation we may find ourselves in. No, we should allow our LORD to rule, and as HIS sons, simply serve HIM with joy.
PHILIPPIANS 3:3 For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.