Most of the words we use concerning worship in the Bible either regard temple worship or heavenly worship. Otherwise, “worship words” are used figuratively. In a word, the vocabulary pertaining to temple worship is not translatable to our Sunday gatherings.
One often hears talk about church being worship, our buildings being sanctuaries, and the Lord’s table being an altar. This is greatly disturbing, not least because it is so biblically wrong. All the language of temple, altar, sanctuary, service, priests, and offerings is taken up and fulfilled in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest. He is our temple, our tabernacle, our offering, and our sacrifice. Thus, our whole lives are our spiritual worship as we obey him and do his will. We do still worship in church – but only in the sense that we breathe in church. We don’t go to church to worship any more than we go to church to breathe.
These ideas no doubt go somewhat against the grain. “Many have sat, Sunday after Sunday, for years on end, hearing our pastor say, ‘We welcome you today to our hour of worship.’ Yet study the Scriptures and see.” (from Telling the Truth; Phillip Jensen and Tony Payne)
Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29)
O Lord, that we would worship you with our whole lives and that we might learn from your word what true worship is. Amen.