Pastor Jeffrey Khoo
St Augustine said, “Worship is the mother of all virtues.” Why is worship the mother of all virtues? It is because worship involves a personal relationship with a thrice holy God.
Worship changes lives. But please know that it is not any kind of worship that will bring about a changed life. It must be true worship of the only living and true God that will bring about a holy life. Jesus in John 4:24 said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” So if we want to worship God truly and properly, we must first be born again (born of the Spirit), and we must worship Him according to His ways as taught in the Scriptures (in truth), and not in our own ways.
Are We Worshipping God?
Are we worshipping God truly and truthfully? We engage in false worship when (1) we worship idols, or ourselves, and (2) when we are still in the depth and guilt of sin, not yet washed by the precious blood of Christ. So before we talk about worship, we need to ask ourselves this question: Am I still an unbeliever, still outside of God’s kingdom and not part of God’s family? Be reconciled to God, make peace with Him, believe in Christ and you will be saved. It is only when we are God’s children that our worship of God would be acceptable. “God wishes first of all for inward worship, and afterwards for outward profession.” (Calvin).
We are now worshipping God on earth. But do you know that there is also worship in heaven? Worship is something that will not end. Even when we pass away and enter into the next life, worship continues. In the book of Revelation, we get a glimpse of what worship in heaven is like.
It is troubling that the worship service in many churches today is of the casual, frivolous, flippant type. It is not heavenly but earthly worship. A good worship service according to popular Christianity is that it must be filled with energy, excitement and entertainment. The Church is supposed to be in the world but not of the world, but today we find the Church both in the world and of the world. Christians must worship God not according to Hollywood but according to the Holy Word. Our worship must not be earthly but heavenly.
What Is Heavenly Worship?
What is heavenly worship? Worship is a very serious and solemn exercise. In the book of Revelation, we find worshippers falling prostrate, faces to the ground in humble submission to God (Rev 4:10, 5:8, 14), displaying reverential fear. If we are required to conduct ourselves most decently and properly before secular dignitaries, how much more ought we before our God who is the King of kings and Lord of lords! Calvin warned, “What contempt will be incurred if we do not preserve dignity in the Church, by conducting ourselves honourably and becomingly!”
Who Is the God We Worship?
Do we know the God we worship? There are people who think of God as a glorified Santa Claus. He smiles all the time, and gives anything you ask for or want. Who is God? What is God? The Westminster Shorter Catechism says, “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.” If we know who God truly is, and the kind of person He is, what He is characterised by, we will be very careful to worship Him correctly. You will not want to offend Him. You will not want what you want in worship, but what He wants and requires.
When we worship God, we are really worthshipping Him (Rev 4:11). We worship Him for Who He is—His nature and His attributes and His marvellous deeds to the children of men. We find the people in heaven worshipping His Holiness (Rev 4:8a). He is three times holy—God the Father is holy, God the Son is holy, and God the Spirit is holy. The holiness of God should cause us to realise our sinfulness, our need to confess and repent of our sins. To worship Him correctly involves coming before Him with clean hands and pure hearts. We come before Him to beg for His mercy and grace. We come before Him not proudly but humbly. We do not want to be like the self-righteous Pharisee who prayed, “I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess” (Luke 18:11–12). We ought to be like the penitent publican who prayed with his head bowed, not daring to lift his eyes towards heaven, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13).
Calvin was right to observe, “There is no worship of God without sincerity of heart,” and “No one rightly worships God, but he who is taught by His Word.”
We also find the saints in heaven worshipping His Almightiness (Rev 4:8b). God is all-powerful, all glorious, all-majestic. He is sovereign and controls all things. When we worship, we must submit to His will. When we pray, we pray not according to our will, but according to His will. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The prayer of Jabez (1 Chron 4:9–10) is not a secret code. There is no magic formula in prayer, e.g. chant certain words repeatedly in a certain way and God must give what you ask for. Such arrogant and presumptuous prayers God will not hear, nor will He answer. James 4:2–3 says, “Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” Our almighty God says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still and know that I am God.” Ecclesiastes 5:2 says, “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” If God is almighty, then let us always pray, “Lord, no matter what, let Thy will be done.”
The Lord is also worshipped for His Pre-existence (Rev 4:8c): “which was, and is, and is to come.” He is the I AM THAT I AM. He is the God of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and Kingdom to come—the Millennium. We ought to worship the Lord in light of His return, with a spiritual and heavenly mind and heart, and with eternity’s values in view. May we never worship Him falsely with a carnal, worldly, and earthly mind and heart concerned only for things of this world, for prosperity, health, and success in business. We should rather pray for God’s grace to be spiritually prepared when Christ returns.
How Do We Worship in Heaven?
In heaven, worship is characterised mainly by adoration. These are the features of our worship in heaven:
1. Praise. We praise the Lord for Who He is and for what He has done. Angels and saints will praise Him (Rev 5:11–14).
2. Thanksgiving (Rev 11:17–18). We will thank God non-stop because we will be so filled with eternal gratitude.
3. Singing. Heaven will be filled with music and song (Rev 5:9). We will sing a new song. The word “new” here is “new” in terms of quality. Worship in the Old Testament was good, worship in the New Testament is better, but worship in heaven will be best. “New” here does not mean singing in “tongues” (charismatic gibberish). The words are distinct, and full of meaning (Rev 5:9–10).
Note that there is no confession of sin, no petition, no supplication, no intercession for one another. All these are what we do while we are still on earth, when our sinful nature is still with us. In heaven, all sins will be removed; there will be no more diseases, tears, pain, etc. We will have our perfect and glorified bodies. No need for confessions, petitions, supplications, intercessions. [Yes, the time will come when there will no longer be any need to pray for ourselves or for others like before. When will it happen? It will happen when all the saints—the whole Body and Bride of Christ—finally arrive in the new heaven and the new earth, and the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:1–3). It is only then that “the former things are passed away…. Behold, I make all things new.” (Rev 21:4–5). Praise the Lord!]
Let us worship God with a heavenly mind and we shall live a heavenly life on earth in preparation for eternal life in heaven when Jesus finally returns or when He calls us home.
“Heaven is a wonderful place, filled with glory and praise.” Will you be there? Make sure! Make peace with the Lamb! Worship Him now, and you will worship Him forever more. Amen.
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