At the 6pm, we’ve just started our January series on the subject of worship. We caught up with William Taylor to ask him why he’s decided to tackle this subject. You can catch up on the Revolutionary worship series online.
William why have you chosen to do a series on worship?
I’ve been thinking about this series for over 18 months. People often say that Bible words have Bible meanings and I think that is nowhere more true than in the area of worship. We have a tremendous habit of thinking that we’re using Bible words biblically, but actually loading whatever meaning we want into those words. Then we justify what we want to do the way we want to do it, rather than doing what God wants.
In the New Testament, there are four big ‘worship’ words. What’s interesting is that they’re not predominantly used of what we do when we meet together in church. In the Old Testament, those words were used for what went on in the temple. When you come to the New Testament those words are mostly used for the whole of life in response to what Christ has done for us in fulfilment of everything that the temple pointed towards.
This is how glorious Jesus is and how complete his work is—he fulfils all the Old Testament worship categories. If we don’t recognise this we ultimately end up diminishing Jesus.
So why does it matter that we understand worship in the way that God wants us to understand it?
Because if we don’t understand it the way that God wants us to understand it we’ll get it wrong; the result will be that our worship will be really bad. It’s tempting to think if we misunderstand worship that it doesn’t really matter. But if we’re not actually doing what God wants us to do it will impact our worship. Our worship will be wrong and poor and bad.
So what are we actually expected to do when we meet together? We are expected to encourage one another, to draw near to God in prayer, to speak the word of God to each other in song and through sermons—those are the main things. But the word ‘worship’ isn’t primarily used about those things.
Now, I would want to qualify that and you’ll hear in the sermon series that I do qualify that. In Romans 1 we are to use the gifts God has given us as we serve him when we meet together. So it’s not right to say “we don’t come to church to worship” as some people say. Part of our worship is encouraging one another and strengthening one another when we meet together.
When we meet together we do those things so that we’re strengthened for worship in the way that the Bible expects us to worship—which is actually with the whole of life.
It’s fascinating that in Romans Paul says our spiritual worship is presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice. We do that in a response to all that Jesus has already done but he applies it to our encouraging each other, loving one another, loving our enemies out in the world and paying our taxes. In Hebrews when the author talks about worshipping with reverence and awe he applies it to keeping the marriage bed pure, not being consumed by the love of money, showing hospitality, speaking evangelistically to others. So the actual sphere of our worship is much bigger than what we do when we meet together; it’s our response to all that God has done for us already in the Lord Jesus.