Reexamining Biblical Worship -- By: Kenneth O. Gangel

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 142:566 (Apr 1985)
Article: Reexamining Biblical Worship
Author: Kenneth O. Gangel

Reexamining Biblical Worship

Kenneth O. Gangel

[Kenneth O. Gangel, Chairman and Professor of Christian Education, Dallas Theological Seminary]

Worship in evangelical churches today is too often a congregational adaptation of good old American pragmatism—people do what they like and they like what they do. Worship experience has become a means to an end as hynms, Scripture reading, and Prayer serve as “preliminary activities” leading up to the focal point of worship, the preaching of God’s Word. Without diminishing the importance of exposition, it is possible that one man’s comments about the Bible may be no more important than the worship pattern, no more truth-serving than singing God’s Word or listening to it read in its purest, uninterrupted form.

Biblical worship is often corrupted by boredom, lack of purpose, and nonparticipational behavior which leads the congregation to go through the motions without genuine heart involvement. The opposite extreme offers little more than secular entertainment with a religious veneer, a packaged plastic program so perfect and professional that even the most sincere worshiper can scarcely break through its shrink-wrapped design to get his hands on true worship.

What Is Worship?

Webber defines worship as “a meeting between God and His people” and calls for renewal of worship based on the Scriptures and the history of the church.1 He suggests that evangelicals actually suffer from an illness of which the failure to worship is a

symptom. He warns that “the remedy consists of repentance, a metanoia, a turning away from all shallow and uninformed approaches to worship.”2

Many people think the Gospel of John focuses on evangelism, the message that “whosoever will may come.” But in his presentation of Jesus Christ the Son of God, John is concerned that people recognize His deity and bow before Him in worship. A blind beggar came to faith in the Savior after his sightless eyes saw light for the first time. Within hours he fell before the One Who created sight and he worshiped Him” (9:38).

In the Lord’s encounter with the woman of Samaria (John 4) John mentioned “worship,” “worshiped,” or “worshipers” 10 times (out of its 13 occurrences in his Gospel). The 10 usages appear within five verses (4:20–24), dramatically demonstrating the difference between religion and Christianity. The Samaritan woman w...

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