Lord God, You Are Worthy Of Worship
Key Verse 4:11
“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
Worship is as old as the world is, as old as time itself. The first act of worship in the Bible was done by Abel. He built an altar to God and offered sacrifices to God by faith. It was his act of worship. It was a submission to God’s Kingship over his life and over the world that he lived in. Later on others worshiped as well, and carried on a legacy of worship until we witness another record of worship when Noah comes out of the ark to a new world. He too builds an altar, and worships God by sacrificing thanksgiving offerings to him. And the legacy of worship continues where we next see it in Abraham who built altars of worship to God and passed it on to his sons and his sons’ sons after him. All these people worshiped God without being told to worship God, for it was in their hearts to worship him. And worship was meant to be carried from heart to heart until the whole world had learned to worship God. But the sinful heart prevented men from doing what is one of the most instinctive elements of the human nature— which is to worship God.
When the people of Israel were liberated from slavery in Egypt, God himself had to teach them that the worship of God is imperative. He said to them: “I am the Lord your God… You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand [generations] of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Deut. 5:6-10) Therefore, from the moment they were released from slavery to freedom, one of the first acts of freedom was to worship God alone, and no other. God made it clear that not to worship God is a sin equal to that of hating God, and to worship him is equal to that of loving God and obeying his commandments. For this reason, God taught them this commandment that became the symbol of true worship throughout the generations to come. He said to his people: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deut. 6:5)
Jesus demonstrated this great act of worship to God— expressed in love and submission to God— when he resisted the devil at the time of his wilderness temptations. The devil visited him at the height of his weakened state and tempted him to worship him— the devil rather than God. The devil meant that if Jesus would only have to accept the easy way to glory which the devil would give him. But Jesus knew that if he would accept the way of ease over the way of suffering, it would be rejecting God’s will for his life, and therefore it would be as worship of the devil and submission to the devil’s will. We can imagine how terrible that temptation was to Jesus considering that human beings often fall to the same kind of temptation when life’s problems becomes too hard to bear and a way out of suffering looks good. But Jesus, in times of his great suffering answered the devil saying: “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matthew 4:10) In that one act Jesus re-taught the human race the importance of worshiping God alone. He set the example in life and in action, and after his suffering and death, he ascended to heaven to take his place at the right hand of God, where he is worshiped forever.
The book of revelation is a book of events that are to happen before the culmination of time with the victory of Good over evil in the world and in the heavenly realm. But the book is also a picture of the heavenly kingdom where God sits on his throne and rules all things in his glorious Trinity. Revelation chapter 4 draws that picture perfectly, and it also teaches us something about the nature of worship. Let us read 4:8-11 together. “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’ Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.’”
First, worship belongs to no man; it belongs to God alone. No man or woman is ever worthy of worship regardless of who they are or what they had done. The world plunged in sin from the beginning of time had really bent this most sacred rule that God alone is to be worshiped and nothing or no one else. In man’s fallen state, Paul tells us what happened to men living by the sinful nature, rather than by the truth of God. He says: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator— who is forever praised. Amen.” (Rom. 1:25) Truly men have exchanged the truth of God— that God is, the truth that God alone is worthy of worship— for a lie, the lie being that created things are worthy of worship. The concept of worshiping created things is not very clear to some, but in reality it is as clear as the sun. Men have forever sold their hearts to such things as power, authority, wealth, popularity, human glory, ease and comfort and such things— all being created things. In history men have lost their hearts to such things and gone after them, and even if they did not get them, in their hearts it was a dream to chase to the end of life itself. Idols have been the bane of man in history. But for women, it has been men. Men have been worshiped. The Samaritan woman is the perfect example. When her eyes were finally open to her sins, she realized that she had been worshiping men all her life. When she came to her senses, she asked Jesus how she could worship God and Jesus taught her to turn her heart away from mere men, who can never satisfy her inner desire of heart, to God who alone is worthy of her worship. Jesus taught her that to worship God, she must worship him in spirit and in truth. In truth, because God is worthy of her worship. And in spirit because worship is a matter of heart, and the heart belongs to no man but to God alone. And so is worship.
Second, worship glorifies and honors God— worship is to Praise God, through thanksgiving. Read verse 9. To worship God is to glorify and honor as God. Worship is to praise God. It is our sacred duty to offer praise to the one who is worthy of praise. How else can mortal man glorify God! We have no means to give anything to God. What we have has been given to us by God. God has given to us all that we have, weather talents or skills, or even poverty and wealth— all come from God. So what can mortal man give to God that other than what he or she has already been given? Nothing— nothing but praise, for praise is the one thing that declares that man is thankful for all that he or she has been given by God. We live in a world corrupted by greed and unholy desires. We want what we do not have, and we want more of what we have. All this corrupts our hearts until we are reduced from princes and princesses to beggars wanting more of everything. But God did not create us for greed, nor did he create us for unholy desires. He created us to worship him. He created us to lift our heads high to heaven and to give thanks for the most sacred thing God has given to us— our life, and the image of God which he instilled in us. The Bible does not tell us how the four living creatures who gave glory, honor and thanks to God. It only tells that they did. They praised him, time and again, because all creatures instinctively know how to give glory and honor to God, how to praise him, how to thank him for the many gifts he has given us. That is the heart of worship. To worship God is to sing his praises night and day, for the gift of life, and for life reborn through the sacrifice of his son. The living creatures of chapter 4 do not know the joy of the redeemed for they had not been redeemed. Still they praise God and thank him. How much more must we then give thanks for him who loved us and sacrificed himself on our behalf! Let no one ask, “How should I praise God” for every human being knows in his or her heart how to give thanks for gifts undeserved, for life and for the salvation which God designed for his beloved children.
Third, worship of God is never ending— and ever a part of the Christian experience. According to verse 8, the four living creatures never stopped their worship, day and night they kept worshiping God. In other words the nature of worship is not momentary but a continuous process of praise to the Living God. But how can we continuously worship God when there are other things to do in life, whether night or day? Is it possible to worship God continuously? Of course it is! It is possible when the heart knows the grace of God, and is set on that grace night and day. We know that the four living creatures were doing exactly what they should do all the time, which is offer God due worship. But we also know that they are not a part of that wonderful grace that we sinners enjoy in our Lord Jesus. Yet they never stop offering God worship. How much more do we, who are so blessed by his grace offer worship to God! But the question is still this: How can we? And the answer is when we know the grace of God and make that grace the vital part of our lives. The prophets did in the past, and they worshiped God night and day. In other words, the grace of God was on their hearts always, and consequently the heart was always in a state of worship. So were the apostles, and all the great men and women who have gone before us. They too lived and breathed the grace of God. Never did they abandon or forsake or forget the grace by which they were saved. And consequently they too lived in a state of worship night and day.
How can we grow until we too can have that grace rule and overrule our hearts? Paul tells us. He says: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5) Paul is talking about the whole human being, the mind and the emotion and the spirit of man as well. He tells us of his own personal experience with the gospel of God’s grace. He too had feelings that were unholy and thoughts and desires that prevented him from basking in the grace of God every moment of every day. But Paul disciplined himself. He took every thought and every feeling that were not in agreement with the gospel, and he made them subject to the grace of God. He put all things in his life under the grace of the Lord. One by one he defeated every lie with the gospel truth, and every desire with the gospel power. He did so until every faculty of his being had come under the grace of God, and so he lived in worship. If that is possible for Paul it is surely possible for all who genuinely call on the name of Lord and worship him in spirit and in truth. When we have tamed our hearts and minds and thoughts and feelings and made them subject to the gospel of God’s grace, it will be time for us to worship God continuously.
Fourth, worship is in action and not just in word of mouth. When the elders worshiped God, they fell down before the throne of God in worship. It was an action and not just a word of mouth. The prophets warned us against lip service. Isaiah tells us: “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.” (Isaiah 29:13) How detestable it is to God when men and women offer only lip service to the creator God. Time and again, the prophets warned us against turning our worship to God into ritual and ceremony that are so meaningless in the sight of God. Worship must be a matter of heart and not a matter of mouth. It must be in action. Later Jesus confirmed what the prophets had told us just so as to teach us how important it is for us to avoid lip service in our worship and to embrace the heart service and worship of God. He says of those who had violated worship, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.” (Matthew 15:8-9) How then can we worship God? True worship must be action and not just words of mouth. These days there are many who seem to worship God, but in truth they worship God only by words of mouth. When we see their actions— their daily lives— they seem to live and to serve themselves and their own desires. But as for us, we must learn to worship God with our very actions and lives. Our lives and our actions reveal whether we worship God or not. Again Paul teaches us a great lesson about action worship. He says in Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.”
Fifth, worship is to proclaim the holiness of God. Read verse 8. God is holy. He is perfect. There can be found in him no corruption, and no sin. Jesus is the perfect example of what holy means. He lived a life worthy of God. He lived as a servant and a teacher of truth. He brought healing where there was disease. He brought love where there was hate. He brought joy where there was sadness. He brought hope where there was despair. He finally offered his life as a ransom for our sins. That is the image of holiness. And though we are far from being perfect because of our sinful nature, God would still have us— command us— to be holy as Jesus is holy. He tells us in 1 Peter 1:16 “Be holy, because I am holy.” Therefore, to proclaim the holiness of God is also in action. To proclaim the holiness of God we must live as holy disciples, teachers of his way and servants of the gospel. It is to live a life worthy of God’s holiness. In that way we declare to the world that God is Holy.
Sixth, worship is done together. Worship is a community affair. As much as worship is a matter of each man or woman’s heart, so also worship is a community offering to God. Worship is a battle that no minister of God’s word can fight alone. So God gave us community. He gave us a community of believers to worship together— to fight the good fight together with us. Every member of Jesus’ community is responsible before God to set an environment for worship, beginning with the elders of the church who represent the body of believers, to the growing disciples of the Lord. Every man and woman must come together in a spirit of worship to give praise and honor to God— to give thanks to him— to defend the church from outside influences that corrupt the church and the body of believers— to pray before the throne of God for the message to honor and glorify God. We come together to pray for the deliverance of souls that do not yet know the grace of God. We all come together as a body to worship God and we must do so with a spirit of unity and of love, a love that emanates from the very throne of God who loved us. So I urge you to come to church early enough to pray and to strengthen the fortress of worship so that God’s word may go out to our hearts and to the ends of the earth. Amen. May God give each of us a spirit of true worship that we might truly worship him on earth as he is worshiped in heaven among all his creations for he is the Lord, and he is “worthy … to receive glory and honor and power, for [he] created all things, and by [his] will they were created and have their being.” Amen.