Is Worship a Purpose of the Church Gathering?

OK, so, here’s a theory.

I hear Christians say that one of the purposes of church, the gathering of believers, is for worship. What if I said, “Chapter and verse?” Prove from Scripture that one of the purposes of church is worship.

I’m not saying it can’t be done, I am saying that it aint easy! Not nearly as easy as we think it is! Who wouldn’t say a purpose for church is worship? Like, we all know that. Duh.

Right, and those things that “we all know” are my favorite things to analyze.

When you look up the word “worship” in a concordance, one of the first things you’ll notice is that it’s primarily used in the Old Testament.

Another thing you’ll notice is that Paul rarely uses the term.

“Worship” is used 188 times in the KJV; 115 in the OT and 73 in the NT; 9 in the Pauline Epistles including Hebrews.

Let’s just look at Paul’s usages for brevity:

Romans 1:25—heathen scum people worship and serve creation rather than the Creator.

1 Corinthians 14:25—when an unbeliever comes before the spiritual gift of prophecy, he might see his heart and fall down and worship God—this takes place in a church gathering.

Philippians 3:3—we worship in the Spirit not in fleshly demonstrations.

Colossians 2:18—false teachers will lead you to worship angels

Colossians 2:23—will-worship is spoken of in terms of outward, external rule keeping that looks religious.

2 Thessalonians 2:4—antichrist will exalt himself above God and will seek the worship intended for God for himself.

Hebrews 1:6—angels will worship God

Hebrews 10:2—speaks of the worshippers of the Old Covenant in relation to their repeated sacrifices

Hebrews 11:21—Jacob worshipped leaning on his staff blessing Joseph’s kids

These are the Pauline usages of worship. There is only one that talks about worshipping in a church service and that is one heathen scum guy responding to seeing his heart through the use of prophecy.

There is also a word translated in the KJV as “service” that can be translated “worship.” Most famous is in Romans 12:2—your reasonable service, which is not done in church but as a way of life.

Romans 9:4 also uses “service” in relation to Israel being given the service of God, or the worship of God. All the rules and regulations as spelled out in the OT about how the Israelites should worship God. No other nation was given these detailed instructions.

The same word is used in Hebrews 9:1 and 9:6, both in relation to the OT rules about sacrifices and how to worship God.

Which brings this back to the famous conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well.

Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

–John 4:20-23

I believe this is one of the most important passages if you want to understand worship in the New Covenant! Jesus is clearly saying that worship is not in a place. Worship is not done in a church building. You don’t have to go to a tabernacle or temple. You worship where the Spirit is.

Where is the Spirit? The Spirit indwells the believer, thus no matter where the believer is the Spirit is also there. This then CLEARLY means that I worship everywhere.

This also means that by default, if I as a believer with the Holy Spirit am in church I can indeed worship in church. But no one should ever think that I can only worship in church!

This is the main reason why you will never find any passage in the New Testament telling you that worship is a main point of the church gathering! Because if it said that, then you’d be tempted to think you have to be in that place to worship!

This was true in the Old Covenant because God dwelt in the temple, so you went to the temple to worship. But if God is in you, then you don’t have to go anywhere to worship!

So, yeah, I would not say that one of the purposes of the church gathering is for worship, mostly because the Bible never says that.

Prove me wrong! I’m interested if there are any verses that say worship is for the church gathering or that the church gathering is for worship. Let me know what I’m missing!

3 thoughts on “Is Worship a Purpose of the Church Gathering?”

  1. 1 Corinthians 11:18-34 – Meeting for the Lord’s Supper
    1 Corinthians 14:26 – Meeting to share “a psalm, a doctrine, a tongue, a revelation, an interpretation.”

    I’m not sure what else would be included in the term “worship” other than songs and teachings.

    Matthew 18:20 – “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” May or may not refer to church gatherings, but it shows that there is a special presence of Christ “in the midst” where more than one is gathered together. So even though we have Christ in us, yet there is a special blessing in gathering with others of like faith.

  2. There is a point to be made however, about transferring faith from the Word to buildings and ceremonies.

    I was driving through southern Alberta once, on a business trip; and a few mormons were with me. They wanted to go by a special temple in Cardston, which was supposedly planned and/or worked on by Joseph Smith himself. They were remarking how “holy” the place was. I asked what kind of things are done there? marriages?

    “Oh, no,” they replied, “it’s too holy for marriages. Those are done in the regular chapel across the street.”

    This is, of course, an Old Covenant idea…that God is too holy to dwell in us, but He dwells in special buildings that we make. Then to be holy, we go to the building.

    The New Covenant way is to go to Christ and receive His holiness directly: no building, mediator, or priest, in between. The building is only “holy” when holy people (people in whom God dwells) are dwelling in it.

  3. Good verses. I guess I’m going more for an explicit usage of the word “worship” and it’s lack of use in relationship to church gatherings. But as I said, worship certainly can take place there if people with the Spirit are there.

    I think most false religions tend to emphasize places. There’s gotta be something there that we’re drawn to. Might even be similar to God forbidding the making of graven images. We like physical stuff to prove our spirituality.

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