#2: Acts of Worship

Gaylon West


    Every aspect of a Christian's life is to be service to God, but not all service is what is traditionally called "worship." All robins are birds. But not all birds are robins. Both worship and service can be public and private. There are acts of worship that are performed only in a public assembly. Some acts of worship are done privately like the praying in one's closet that Jesus mentioned (Matthew 6:6).

    We need to be careful not to limit our worship to 3 or 4 hours of assembly time with the Lord's people per week. The Lord's Supper and the contributing of our means is specifically limited to public assembly. These acts can not be carried out privately. One does not carry home an assembly's treasury. The same is true with teaching and admonishing one another in singing. This aspect of singing can be fulfilled only in the assembly. Teaching and preaching can be done in or outside the assembly.


    "Going to church" is a common expression nowadays. It generally has the idea of attending a "traditional" worship. Actually the person is going to an assembly meeting of those of like faith at a specific location. The assembly will go through a series of acts of worship. Since the Bible commands attendance at assembly (Hebrews 10:25) it can be sound to say one is going to [a] service to God. But as has already been pointed out, all of godly living is service to God. Assembling is just one act of our service. We can stipulate that this is "assembly worship."

    Whereas our daily worship must be authorized by Jesus via the Spirit's Scriptures, even so the acts associated with assembly worship must be authorized by the Holy Spirit via Scriptures. The Bible authorizes at least five in number: singing, praying, teaching (or reading or preaching), benevolence, and communion. Except for the singing, the original church did all of these in their initial togetherness (Acts 2:42). They continued in the teaching by the apostles, fellowship (sharing of self and possessions, particularly according to needs), breaking of bread [communioneating of meals was from house to house] and prayers while at the temple. Singing of hymns is mentioned later when in the synagogue setting.

"Kiss toward God" (or bowing) worship in assembly.

    These are public acts of worship that are done with a reverential kiss to our God.xii We go to assembly for these acts. We can go to assembly and study the Bible, pray together, sing together, partake of the communion together, lay by in the common treasury in the assembly. These are acts of "bowing" or "throwing a kiss to God" worship; i.e., when we do it from our hearts to God.

    We can worship with a kiss to God by studying His Word and we are authorized to do this (2 Timothy 2:15), but we cannot "read this epistle among (plural) you" (together, Colossians 4:16) unless we are together. We are authorized to worship God by praying individually (1 Thessalonians 5:17) but we are to pray in words that are understood by others only when with others (1 Corinthians 14). The same applies to singing. Only here we have a specific command to do it is the assembly: we are to obey the act of singing to one another (saints; i.e., the assembly) as commanded in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. Those Scriptures specifically says that we are to do that while doing it to God in our hearts.

    There are two unique acts of "kiss" worship associated with the assembly. We can partake of the Lord's Table only in the assembly (1 Corinthians 10; 11). This cannot be obeyed or imitated (1 Corinthians 11:1) at any other place. If we do it, we are doing it without authorization by the Spirit's approved command or example. This act of worship is unique because it is the one of two worship acts that is restricted to the assembly. In other words, we are authorized to worship God in song any time and anywhere. The same is true with prayer and Bible study. We are to pray without ceasing. We are to be diligent in our Bible study. Anywhere and anytime.

    The only other act of kiss worship restricted to the assembly would be 1 Corinthians 16:2. Brethren and sisters are authorized by commandment and example to lay by themselves into the assembly's treasury. The collection must be into the common treasury to be distributed according to Biblically specified needs.

    Although announcements generally are not considered acts of worship, they are authorized in assembly (Hebrews 10:24) in obeying the provoking of one another to love and good works; for example, reading reports, noting those in need of prayers, etc., and letters of encouragement from brethren. Most of Paul's epistles contained personal messages and salutations and were to be read in the assemblies (Colossians 4:16). All of these are done in service to God through Jesus.

"Kiss toward God" (or bowing) worship outside the assembly.

    However, "kiss to God" worship is not to be limited to an assembly. Prayer at a meal should be worship. We ought to habitually set time aside to worship the Lord in prayers and Bible studies privately or in our homes (Matthew 6:6; Acts 12:12) in addition to that of a public assembly. Recall, Jesus made it a habit to worship the Lord individually in the mountains (Matthew 14:23; Mark 6:46; Luke 6:12; John 6:15). What a blessing to be able to express our thanksgiving and adoration to the Lord anywhere through prayer and song (Colossians 4:2; James 5:13). If we will do so; it will bring glory to God and elevate our faith in Him.


    "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him" (Colossians 3:17). As has been pointed out, "service" covers the multitude of our acts; this Bible passage reminds us that we are governed in all of our service by Scriptural authority. This passage is in the context of forbearing and forgiving our brethren, teaching our brethren in the worship aspect of singing, and the private relationships of family and master-servant. This context culminates with "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; for ye serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:23, 24).

   Everything we do must be authorizedxiii by the Lord through the Scriptures. Even then what is lawful must yield to what is expedient or helpful (1 Corinthians 10:23) to our fellows.

   Fasting is authorized by the Lord. It can be connected with prayer and is listed as a service but not as an act of public worship. Fasting is a private matter (Matthew 6:18); yet it can complement prayers in important decision-making such as commending elders in their service (Acts 14:23) and in marital relationships (1 Corinthians 7:5). It cannot be for show.


    "For whoever may will to save his life, shall lose it, and whoever may lose his life for my sake, he shall save it" (Luke 9:24).

   Here are some things the Bible says or illustrates of service we are to do for Jesus:

          1. Suffer physically and emotionally for His sake (Matthew 5:11; Acts 5:41; 9:16; 15:26; 21:13; Romans 8:36; 1 Corinthians 4:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:5). This would necessarily include what we do that provokes the suffering (such as teaching the truth).

          2. Settle down and work for a living (2 Thessalonians 3:12).

          3. Sacrifice social relationships (Matthew 19:12; Mark 10:29; Luke 6:22; Philippians 3:7-8).

          4. Join in prayers with others (Romans 15:30).

          5. Serve others (2 Corinthians 4:5).

          6. Show Jesus in our living (Mark 13:9; 2 Corinthians 4:11; 12:10; Ephesians 4:1; Philippians 1:13; 2:30; Philemon 23).

          7. Forgive and love (Philemon 9, 20).

          8. Be a good citizen (1 Peter 2:13).

          9. Give a cup of cold water (Matthew 18:5; Luke 9:48).

          10. Share the benefits (2 Corinthians 9:23).


    Romans 12:1 should never be used to define our "kiss" worship. Rather it should enforce our dedicated service and faithfulness to our vows of submitting our lives daily to the Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time this type of service will keep us from "forsaking (abandoning) the assembling of ourselves together" (Hebrews 10:25).

    A sad commentary is demonstrated in the movie of the "Hatfields and McCoys" and their "worship" in the church of Christ. They had things backward and I think we do sometimes. They were possessed with their hatred for each other's families but they let it rest on Sunday during their assembly while the antagonists sit on opposite sides of the building.

    As long as we attend assembly we should not consider ourselves as having done God His service. In this spirit, we do not "worship" Him from our hearts. We just go through some activities and that's it. If we consider "assembly worship" as our total service to God then our behavior during the week will probably suffer for it. We do not glorify God by our talk, our thinking, or our overt deeds. Perhaps we even do the opposite with cursing and hatred showing in our lives We have forgotten God until the next assembly.

    God wants the total service of our being. Jesus said, "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment" (Mark 12:30). This includes our daily "working worship" service and "bowing worship" service in public assembly.

xii proskuneo Strong: Probably a derived from ku on (meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his masters hand)
xiii "In the name of": both Strong and Thayer indicate that authority is inherent in the word.

"Throw Out the Lifeline"