Because…

We don’t worship to make God love us, but because God loves us. Nothing in worship should imply otherwise.

We don’t sing in order for God to be present, but because God already is present. Nothing in worship should imply otherwise.

—John Witvliet, “Teaching Worship as a Christian Practice,” in For Life Abundant: Practical Theology, Theological Education, and Christian Ministry, 139

Defining Worship 41

Worship is an active response to God whereby we declare His worth. Worship is not passive, but is participative. Worship is not simply a mood; it is a response. Worship is not just a feeling; it is a declaration. . . . It is the celebration of God!

—Ronald Allen & Gordon Borror, Worship: Rediscovering the Missing Jewel, 16,18

Defining Worship 24

Worship is the proper response of all moral, sentient beings to God, ascribing all honor and worth to their Creator-God precisely because He is worthy, delightfully so. This side of the Fall, human worship of God properly responds to the redemptive provisions that God has graciously made. While all true worship is God-centered, Christian worship is no less Christ-centered. Empowered by the Spirit and in line with the stipulations of the new covenant, it manifests itself in all our living, finding its impusle in the gospel, which restores our relationship with our Redeemer-God and therefore also with our fellow image-bearers, our co-worshipers. Such worship therefore manifests itself both in adoration and in action, both in the individual believer and in corporate worship, which is worship offered up in the context of the body of believers, who strive to align all the forms of their devout ascription of all worth to God with the panoply of new covenant mandates and examples that bring to fulfillment the glories of antecedent revelation and anticipate the consummation.

—D. A. Carson, Worship by the Book, 26

Defining Worship 20

Worship is when you’re aware that what you’ve been given is far greater than what you can give. Worship is the awareness that were it not for his touch, you’d still be hobbling and hurting, bitter and broken. Worship is the half-glazed expression on the parched face of a desert pilgrim as he discovers that the oasis is not a mirage.

Worship is a voluntary act of gratitude offered by the saved to the Savior, by the healed to the Healer, and by the delivered to the Deliverer.

—Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, 163

Defining Worship 9

Worship in the Bible is the due response of rational creatures to the self-revelation of their Creator. It is an honoring and glorifying of God by gratefully offering back to Him all the good gifts, and all the knowledge of his greatness and gracious-ness, that He has given. It involves praising Him for what He is, thanking Him for what He has done, desiring Him to get Himself more glory by further acts of mercy, judgment, and power, and trusting Him with our concern for our own and others’ well-being. . . . As worship will be central in heaven (Rev 4:8-11, 5:9-14), so it must be central in the life of the church on earth, and it should already be the main activity, both private and corporate, in each believer’s life (Col 3:17).

—J. I. Packer, Concise Theology, 98-99

All That Is within Me

In worship we are ascribing greatness, goodness, and glory to God. It is typical of worship that we put every possible aspect of our being into it, all of our sensuous, conceptual, active, and creative capacities. We embellish, elaborate, and magnify. Poetry and song, color and texture, food and incense, dance and procession are all used to exalt God. And sometimes it is in the quiet absorption of thought, the electric passion of encounter, or total surrender of the will.

—Dallas Willard, Daily Devotional, Day 4: “Worship” in Renewing the Christian Mind: Essays, Interviews, and Talks

God’s Initiative and Our Response

The biblical view of worship, which governs the actual worship of Jews and Christians, is distinguished from all other religious understandings of the cultus [worship practices] by the fact that the worship of God’s people in the Bible is always represented as the worship offered by those who have been redeemed. Thus it would be no paradox to say that for us worship does not start with man, but with God, who has taken the initiative to which we respond when we worship Him. He has made His Name known to us, and so we worship that Name.

Worship takes place within the Covenant, and the Covenant is established by God on the basis of His own redemptive acts which He has already performed.

—William Nicholls, Jacob’s Ladder: The Meaning of Worship, 16-17