In his book, Worship in Spirit and Truth, author John Frame defines worship as “the work of acknowledging the greatness of our covenant Lord.” Frame who is Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Fl. does a great job of defining worship in his book. In the first chapter he highlights several main descriptors of Christian worship which I will list below.
Worship is God-Centered - Worship is not for ourselves but for the one we seek to honor. Frame states that when we leave a worship service, we should not ask what did I get out of the service, but how did I do in my work of honoring the Lord. So much of our talk about worship today is man-centered.
Worship is Gospel-Centered – In the Old Testament Hebrew worship was centered on the Exodus event. New Testament Worship should be centered on Jesus Christ, His atonement for sins, His resurrection, and the promise of new life to believers. Our worship should always be “cross-centered.”
Worship is Trinitarian – God-centered worship is always worship in the name of Christ and by the Holy Spirit. One person has defined worship as “adoration and worship of God the Father, through the mediation of the Son and prompted by the Holy Spirit” (Ralph Martin). Our worship should clearly be directed to God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Worship is Vertical and Horizontal – Vertical worship describes worship that is directed to our triune God for His pleasure. Horizontal worship is worship that is also encouraging to the saints (Christians in the worship service). In reflecting on Mark 12: 28-31, D.A. Carson states that worship is nothing more than loving God with heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.
Worship is Broad and Narrow – This phrase reminds us that worship is not only what happens on Sunday morning at the corporate worship of the Body of Christ (the narrow part of worship), but worship is all of life (broad part of worship). Frame states that authentic worship includes a life that is obedient to God. God condemned formal worship that was not accompanied by a concern for compassion and justice. “Our Lord wants us to live in such a way that everything we do brings Him pleasure.” (Frame, 10)
Worship in Spirit and Truth (PR Publishing, ISBN0-87552-242-4) by John Frame is an excellent introduction to a biblical understanding of worship in the life of the Christian and the church. Highly Recommended.