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Worship: A Foretaste of Heaven
By Kyle Pope

One of the greatest blessings and privileges which God has offered to man in His scheme of redemption revealed in the gospel, is the opportunity to worship Him. To imagine that the God of all creation allows such frail and faltering creatures to come before His presence is a gift which we often fail to appreciate.

The Meaning of Worship

We can learn a great deal about what “worship” is by considering the many references to worship offered in the New Testament. It is not unusual in scripture to find a worshipper described as falling on his face at the feet of the one being worshipped (See Matthew 4:9; 28:9; Acts 10:25. 1 Corinthians 14:25; Revelation 3:9 & 11:16). Though we may not imagine worship as something requiring such humiliation the word most often translated “worship” (proskuneo) was used “To designate the custom of prostrating oneself before a person and kissing his feet” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testamnet and other Early Christian Literature, Bauer, Arndt & Gingrich 716). One scholar adds that the implication is “To kiss, like a dog licking his master’s hand” (Strong. no. 4352). Worship to God is something that demands recognition of the Lord’s presence with a humble submission to His will.

While it is true that Christians offer worship in every act of obedience (Romans 12:1), and God is with them at all times (Matthew 28:20) the reality of God’s presence is somehow much more apparent to us in acts of collective worship. The Bible tells us that worship as it should be will cause the sinner after “falling down on his face” at the uncovering of his heart’s secret sins to “worship God and report that God is truly among you” (1 Corinthians 14:25 NKJV). Is the Lord’s presence in the Christian assembly any greater than His presence in our private lives? Or, is it simply more real to us when we come together and see Christ living in others?

Spiritual Worship

Worship must be a spiritual exercise (John 4:24). A spiritual endeavor is not something purely emotional nor purely intellectual. It is instead something that develops the spiritual side of our nature. The Holy Spirit points out to us that, “The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness” (Proverbs 18:14). When we sow to the spiritual side of our being we will not only develop that which can sustain us through trial but lead us to eternal life (Galatians 6:8).  We must look to our times of worship as feasts upon spiritual sustenance. In the assembly we are neither self-serving nor deprived but given the opportunity to fill others as we ourselves are filled.

In the assembly we can grow spiritually by witnessing other disciples imitating the Master. Though we must never revere men as we revere God, we can often see God in the lives of other Christians. As a people seeking conformity to Christ’s image, our goal must be to, “walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6). When our brethren succeed to a degree in this goal, Scripture teaches us to follow such behavior to the degree that it conforms to the Lord’s pattern. Paul taught, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

A Glimpse of the Other Side

David wrote, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalms 133:1). Not only does worship help us to see God in the lives of brethren but it also gives us a taste of eternity. When brethren live in love and peace as they should we can experience as in no other relationship (except perhaps the family) a life free from competition, greed, malice, and selfishness. In this world we find no times in which those united by a common goal work for the good of all as can be seen in the peace and love demonstrated in the Lord’s church. We must, therefore, work to make certain our communion demonstrates this love lest we offer discouragement to each other.

I don’t know how many times in worship assemblies the thought has passed through my mind that if I could only be with brethren in worship constantly I could endure any trial or temptation. While that is somewhat of an idealized aspiration, unrealistic in this age, the hope is as it should be. One day that will be the condition of the saved—throughout all eternity, united in fellowship with all others in fellowship with God, in a place where, “There shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27). Let us all seek that future home and strive to make our worship now, like the tabernacle of old a, “Copy and shadow of the heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5).

Pope, Kyle. "Worship: A Foretaste of Heaven" Christianity Magazine 9.3 (March/April 1992): 34  

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