Introduction to Worship (part 1)


I. Introduction

Beyond refutation, the single most important aspect of the spiritual life is worship. It is not only demanded and prescribed by God, it is the very essence and deepest expression of man’s relationship with his Creator, God, and Father. Because worship is necessitated by the very nature of the Creator/creature distinction, its exercise is timeless, not being bound by time and space or the issues of sin. For all of eternity the preeminent, focal activity of the saints and the heavenly hosts will be the delightful, unhindered, and glorious worship of the Most High.

In view of the centrality and preeminence of worship, it is all the more appalling that so few of those who call upon this God seem to know what it means to worship Him. Though worship is a personal disposition and act of intimacy with God, it is nonetheless crucial to understand that worship is defined, delineated, and described by Him, and those who draw near to Him must come before Him in an acceptable manner.

If a person were to study the matter of worship, where would he go in his Bible? Which book, more than any other, sets forth the nature and parameters of acceptable worship?

Almost beyond question, it is the book of Leviticus, for from beginning to end it sets forth in a definitive way the acceptable approach to God. ar’q.YIw: , “And He proclaimed” is appropriately its Hebrew title, for the prescriptive statement, “The Lord spoke,” occurs 36 times in its pages.



II. Definition of Worship

Worship is the proper response of the soul to God. This response is made:

  • consciously, with a biblically determined knowledge and understanding; coming to the God who is, not the “god” we have fabricated through our own delusions and ignorant speculation, (, )
  • purposefully, with a focused vertical orientation, undistracted by temporal and personal concerns.
  • preparedly, with a soul made alive by union with Christ and a heart and mind set upon things above, filled by the Spirit with the delights of God, His glory, and His mercy and grace in His Son (; ).

Therefore, worship can be rightly defined as entering into the presence of God consciously, purposefully, and preparedly for the sole purpose of acknowledging and exalting Him through prayer, praise, and proclamation. (cf. )



III. Delineation of Worship

A. Worship and Sacrifice

When one studies the Old Testament system of worship that conveyed in shadow and type the true worship that was to be brought to full flower through the redemptive work of Christ, it is immediately and powerfully evident that the very essence of the worship of the children of Israel was sacrifice. Regardless of the specific expression of Old Testament worship, sacrifice was always the central focus of that worship.

Many tend to see this intimate relationship between worship and sacrifice as resulting from the Law of Moses, so that sacrifice as essential to acceptable worship was unknown prior to Sinai. Nothing could be further from the truth, for from the beginning these two components of spiritual exercise were bound together. ()

The significance of this fact is the perpetual reality that, for man in his fallen and estranged condition, there is no approach to God without sacrifice, and hence no possibility of worship.

  1. God pressed this truth in a fearful way by the veil that served to separate His presence from the presence of men. Though all of the nation of Israel camped around the Tabernacle, personal access to God was denied to them and the maintenance of their relationship with Him was accomplished by the sacrificial mediation of those whom God appointed to stand before Him.
    As the distance from God’s stated presence decreased, the number of men allowed to come was drastically reduced, and that approach was always made acceptable by sacrifice.

    • Only the Levites could minister in things associated with the maintenance and transportation of the Tabernacle.
    • Only the priests could enter the holy place of the Tabernacle.
    • Only the high priest could enter into the very presence of God in the Holy of Holies, then only once a year, and then only after sacrificing the prescribed sin offering for himself and his family.

    The fundamental significance of the Levitical ministry, and the overarching theme of the book of Leviticus, is that God alone determines, defines, and demands the who, what, and how of the approach to Himself. Not one place in all of the Scripture is that matter left to the judgment or conviction of men.

  2. The necessity of sacrifice to an acceptable approach to God is perhaps seen most powerfully in the ordination process God established for Aaron and his sons, as well as all those who would follow as priests appointed to serve before God. Central to the priests’ ordination was the prescribed sequence of three separate bloody sacrifices. Not only were those specific sacrifices ordained by God, He prescribed both their substance and mode of presentation. God is not only the sole recipient of worship, He defines and prescribes its features and content.
    1. First came the sin offering, which was the most important of all the sacrifices. It differed from the trespass offering in that it made atonement for the person, not simply a single offense. Because it was primary, it had to be offered first. The particular animal offered was determined by the circumstances and the theocratic standing of the offerer. In the case at hand – the ordination of the priests, a bull was to be offered which represented the highest form of sin offering.
    2. Second was the burnt offering, which symbolized the entire consecration unto God of the offerer and God’s pleased acceptance of him. Many view this sacrifice as picturing the consuming fire of God’s wrath, but the Hebrew idea is not so much “burning” as “causing to smoke”, and what is pictured is a soothing aroma acceptable to God (). Significantly, its acceptance depended upon the acceptance of the previous sin offering.
    3. Finally came the ram of ordination, a second type of burnt offering which expressed the consecration of the priests. Accordingly, it conveyed the consecration of the whole man () without qualification ().

    In similar fashion, immediately following the period of ordination Aaron offered a series of sacrifices on behalf of the people. This sequence also began with a sin offering followed by a burnt offering. However, these were then followed by the peace offering, which was the most joyous of all the offerings, for it represented joyful fellowship with God who had condescended to “feast” with the offerer at a sacrificial meal. It was this participatory meal that was of primary importance in this sacrifice; a sacrifice which was preeminently expressive of the gratitude of a soul justified and made acceptable to God ().
    Note the significance of what is conveyed: An acceptable approach to God demands atonement, propitiation, and reconciliation.

    • The reason is that worship implies intimacy between God and the worshipper and the crux of human sinfulness is estrangement.
    • Moreover, they are accomplished in a fixed order. For there is no propitiation (satiation) without atonement for the entire person, not just for a certain sin. Likewise there is no reconciliation where enmity continues, so that reconciliation (with its goal in sonship) stands upon propitiation (cf. ; ; ; etc.).

B. Worship and Worshippers

In consideration of these truths, who is it that may worship?

  1. Not religious persons, no matter how sincere, devout or upright;
  2. Not everyone who claims the name of Jesus Christ or any self-proclaimed, self-styled “spiritual” follower of God;
  3. Only the redeemed who have been reconciled to God by the atoning and renewing work of His Son and joined to Him by His indwelling Spirit (; ; cf. also and ).

All others seek to “enter by another way” and bring upon themselves due condemnation, for they have failed to “make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean”; they have failed to enter by the appointed door (; ).

What does this say about:

  • structuring worship, whether content or style, around the “unchurched”?
  • striving to attract the “unchurched” to worship services?
  • failing to instruct the congregation with regard to the peculiarity and sanctity of worship and the condemnation that comes upon those who would worship God in sin, hypocrisy, and unbelief?



IV. Description of Worship

Finally, then, what does God reveal about the nature of true worship? What are the principles that govern an acceptable approach to Him, even by those who have been enabled to draw near through atonement, propitiation, and reconciliation? Although it is not the purpose of this study to amass an exhaustive list of biblical principles of acceptable worship, the book of Leviticus provides some fundamental principles of worship for those who would draw near to God.

A. The Consecration of the Worshiper

The first principle is unqualified consecration to God. In the context of , Aaron’s sons offered “strange fire” which they had not been commanded. At the commencing of the Levitical system fire had come from the Lord to ignite the brazen altar and consume the burnt offering, and it was that fire – God’s ordained fire – that was to be used in the burning of incense before Him (9:24, 16:12-13). Though it is not clear that this positive commandment had already been given, what is evident is that Aaron’s sons were not the least concerned about worshiping God in a self-determined manner.

B. The Perspective of the Worshiper

The second principle, derived from the same context, is that in every expression of true worship God will be regarded as holy.

  1. God’s demand of those who “come near” has reference in this context to a person’s spiritual approach, and the import of this principle is that there is no spiritual approach to God apart from a profound regard for His holiness – that is, for who He really is. This understanding is crucial in discerning Christ’s words that worshippers of God must worship in spirit and truth.
  2. It is also significant to note that this verb, “come near,” in the causal stem is most frequently used in connection with the presentation of sacrificial offerings to God. This fact again emphasizes the inseparable bond between worship and sacrifice.

C. The Testimony of the Worshiper

The third principle from this context demands that in every exercise of worship there is to be the indisputable testimony of the honor of God.

  1. Whereas the previous principle concerns the disposition and affection of the heart apart from the scrutiny of men, this principle is concerned with the outward testimony that is portrayed in the sight of men.
  2. Just as God looks on the heart, so that true worship is an issue of the inner man, where the heart is right before God there will necessarily be the outward manifestation of that inward sanctity. The significance of this truth is profound, especially for those who would lead God’s people in His worship.
    1. An irreverent testimony discloses an unsanctified heart, which makes a mockery of worship and dishonors God ().
    2. It portrays to the saints a disdain for God’s holiness and honor, encouraging in them a corresponding irreverence and disdain for God ().
    3. It communicates to them the acceptability in God’s sight of a lack of reverence and sobriety and indirectly (if not intentionally) moves them to share in the sin of the worshiper.

    Yet God’s design is that those observing our worship will gain a clear and convicting testimony of His infinite and awe-inspiring “weightiness” as the holy and blessed Sovereign concerning whom “even Lebanon is not enough to burn, nor its beasts enough for a burnt offering” (; cf. ).

D. The Discernment of the Worshiper

The fourth principle derives from God’s command issued to Aaron and his sons regarding their ministry in the Tabernacle. In God demands that they take no wine or strong drink prior to entering the tent of meeting in order to “make a distinction between the holy and the profane, and between the unclean and the clean.”

  1. The seriousness of making this distinction in the context of worship is such that to fail to do so was sufficient under the Law to incur the death of the violator. This principle, like the others, finds its true meaning in relation to Christ, but this only heightens its importance: If estranged Israel was obligated to distinguish between the holy and profane, how much more those who possess the mind of Christ.
  2. How desperately do the Church and its leaders need to discern and insist upon this principle in its worship. Every person who professes to know this God ought to examine his own worship and renounce whatever is profane in his approach to “high and exalted One”: the uncleanness of his hypocrisy, triviality, distraction, temporality, and selfishness.

E. The Spirituality of the Worshiper

The final principle is two-fold and is extracted from an overall consideration of the book of Leviticus. This book, like the entire Old Testament, prophesies of and prepares for Christ, and it does so particularly with respect to the topic of worship: It informed Israel’s perception and understanding of its daily life in relation to its covenant God and Father.

  1. In the first section ( through 16), Leviticus deals primarily with a person’s approach to God – its basis, means, and essence. In a beautiful way this section ends with God’s instruction concerning the most holy of convocations, the Day of Atonement. This feast is the preeminent picture of the atoning work of Christ which is the sole basis of man’s acceptable worship of God.
  2. The second section is concerned with a person’s walk before God, and in it God discloses that those who would have fellowship with Him are to be characterized by uprightness of heart and conduct, even as He demands, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy” ().
  3. And so it is that those who would worship God must worship in “spirit and in truth,” coming before Him in the truth and confidence of an acceptable atonement that has been offered and received on their behalf. They are partakers of “so great a salvation” and have an enduring obligation to offer up “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”: the joy of a renewed, transformed and disciplined mind and the devoted love of a heart that exults in and proclaims the “surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”


“Drawing Near to God” (part II)

The Practical Implications of Biblical Worship


I. Prerequisites to Worship

In the previous section it was seen that worship can be defined as entering into the presence of God consciously, purposefully, and preparedly for the sole purpose of exalting Him through prayer, praise, and proclamation.

In consideration of this definition, worship presupposes three primary realities:

A. A Spirit-imparted and Spirit-nurtured Knowledge of God

This knowledge of God is in Christ as mediated by the Spirit of Christ. God cannot be truly known, honored or praised, except as He is known, honored, and praised in Christ. Therefore, only the redeemed and regenerated can worship;

B. A Heavenly Perspective and Priority

True worship involves a vertical orientation – a mind and heart set on things above and in which the word of Christ dwells richly.

It is important to note that this statement does not deny or overlook the truth that the entirety of the Christian’s life in this world is to be one of worship – a life of constant, conscious communion with God, and that this life of communion is filled with temporal, horizontal, and personal concerns. But it does recognize certain distinctives within the life of worship.

  1. The first is that a distinction must be made between life as worship and directed times of personal and corporate worship. All of life is lived in conscious communion with God in Christ by His Spirit, but that communion expectantly and rightly expresses itself in purposed times of focused, undistracted intimate worship free of any engagement in temporal or personal affairs.
  2. The second is that worship is free of personal distractions only in the sense that it is not self-focused or self-seeking.
    1. At the same time, worship is intensely personal in that it is the person himself who is worshiping.
    2. Even more, the Christian’s worship necessarily has a profound sense of self simply because true worship praises and thanks God for His great love and work of redemption in Christ, which love and work have direct reference to himself.



II. Practical Considerations

Having considered the nature of worship and the principles that must govern it, it is necessary to address how those principles are to be implemented in practice. If worship is a personal encounter with God through a conscious, purposeful, and proper approach into His presence, how is this encounter provoked in the context of the corporate gathering?

A. The Fundamentals of Worship

At its heart, worship involves the worshiper rehearsing, acknowledging and rightly responding to God’s great and all-encompassing saving work in His Son. Note again the worship scenes in the book of Revelation.

  1. Therefore, true worship must always be set in a context of biblical and theological accuracy (, , , ).
  2. As well, it must have a conspicuously vertical intention and orientation. This is evident in all the Scripture’s worship prescriptions and examples.
  3. It must always be conducive to a spiritual encounter with the true God in the context of a personal, saving knowledge of Jesus Christ (; ; ).

B. The Role of Liturgy in Worship

  1. Worship is to be purposeful and directed; liturgy provides this structure and focused orientation.
  2. Liturgy brings order and predictability, but it must also allow for anticipation and responsiveness. Worship is neither mechanical nor rote: It is a corporate encounter with the living God.
    1. Patterns bring familiarity and order that act to minimize distraction from the necessary vertical orientation.
    2. Nonetheless, spiritual worship must have a degree of spontaneity.
    • That which is rote actually evokes distraction through boredom and lack of concentration.
    • There is a personal and “mysterious” aspect to an encounter with God that defies the imposition of a rigid structure.

Worship must be ordered but not orchestrated; it must be structured but not stilted; patterned but not pragmatic.

C. Leadership in Worship

  1. Leaders must model all of the aspects of true worship themselves.
  2. They must establish an environment that is conducive to the focused meditation upon God and that which is holy.
  3. They must manifest holiness and the “fragrance of Christ” as they strive to bring the life and power of God to His people.

D. Participation in Worship

  1. Participation is absolutely essential because worship is personal.
  2. Worship that is “spectator” oriented is nothing more than entertainment or the ministration of “priest-craft.”
  3. Corporate worship must be ordered and orderly, but not programmed or mechanical (ff).
    • Non-participative worship is ordered and orderly, but denies the very meaning of corporate worship and destroys its life. (Note that every member is to participate in worship whether or not he contributes to the mechanics of the worship service.)
    • On the other hand, participative worship engages the body, but can forfeit order and orderliness and result in fragmentation and distraction.

    The solution is found in a congregation’s right understanding of worship – personal as well as corporate – and its right implementation of the dynamics of corporate worship.

    1. There is a necessity for the proper use of the gifts in worship.
    2. There is to be a plurality of contribution as determined by biblical propriety, but it must serve the cause of instruction, exhortation, and edification of the whole body.
    3. Everything is to be done decently and in an orderly manner, free from independence and self-serving expressions.
    4. In the context of the formal worship of the body it is only through order, propriety, and mutuality that God is honored and His worship is adorned.

E. Music in Worship

  1. Perhaps more than any other aspect or component of worship, music has a profound capacity to move the worshiper toward God or away from Him. Music is inherent to worship in that it touches people in their innermost being. And precisely because of personal differences, different types of music move people in different ways and to different extents.
    1. Apart from any consideration of the lyric content, the capacity of a certain kind of music to evoke feelings of reverence, distraction, or irritation is very much influenced by cultural factors.
    2. Certain hymns that epitomize musical worship to one person may leave another person cold and unmoved.
  2. Despite these differences, there are clearly certain parameters that must govern music in the context of worship.
    1. The lyrics associated with it must be biblically and theologically correct and evoke a high view of God.
    2. The music must not be provocative in that it moves the worshiper from his prepared, vertical focus.
    3. The music, in either its content or presentation, must not draw attention to the person or persons who are performing it. The tendency to gravitate toward “entertainment” must be vigilantly guarded against.
    4. As with every “offering” of the Body of Christ within the context of corporate worship, music must be offered out of a prepared, earnest, and devoted heart.
  3. Aside from these considerations, what must determine matters of style, instrumentation, or format?
    1. Is “special music” or choral music acceptable? Many argue that it is not simply because the Bible does not specifically prescribe it. But the truth is that both musicians and singers were integral to Israel’s corporate worship, and God was pleased with that worship. At the very least, this fact makes it impossible to insist that God is displeased with musicians and singers as such, unless one is ready to accept that God has changed with respect to what He regards as pleasing worship.
    2. Must instruments be limited to the organ or piano? What about the use of guitars or drums? What about orchestra instruments
      • The former consideration shows that various string and percussion instruments were used in Israel’s worship. This means that such instruments are not inherently unacceptable for use in worship.
      • At the same time, musical instruments – and more particularly, musical forms – that are not conducive to the defining worship principles of sober reverence and undistracted devotion are to be avoided. Again, the natural and subtle tendency for worship to slip into self-centered entertainment must be discerned and avoided.
    3. Is contemporary music of any kind appropriate in worship? If all contemporary music is to be rejected in favor of traditional Western church music, then it must be argued that musical expressions in other cultures are equally unacceptable to God. In reality, musical structures are always culturally conditioned – what is strange, distracting or even unpleasant in one culture is normative in another.
      • If a particular musical form serves only to distract and alienate, then it cannot be conducive to true worship. To impose 17th century English hymns upon an African congregation would surely serve only to prevent their worship, just as would the imposition of their music upon an American congregation.
      • On the other hand, “pop culture” cannot be the determining factor in worship music either, for its orientation is purely temporal, secular, and sensual. To the extent that so-called “contemporary Christian music” has become the property of the music business, and therefore of pop culture, it must be rejected as inappropriate for the worship of God.
      • That said, musical styles that are more contemporary can be acceptable for worship, but they must not be distracting or provocative to the worshipers. As well, the lyrical content must be scripturally accurate and reverential. Consistent with this understanding, many have sought to wed together more modern musical styles and instrumentation with the lyrics of the Psalms.
    4. What if people feel alienated from the hymns of the past? This question is simply the reverse side of the previous one, and so is answered in the same way. Many Christians in contemporary America have grown up without any exposure to classical music, let alone traditional hymns. “High church” music is entirely foreign to them, and so cannot help but present a distraction to their worship. At the same time, the Church has an incredibly rich heritage in its music, and it is appropriate to begin to broaden the exposure of such individuals for the sake of their own edification, while being careful to avoid frustrating or alienating them.


145:1 I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend your works to another,
and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

[The Lord is faithful in all his words
and kind in all his works.]
14 The Lord upholds all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food in due season.
16 You open your hand;
you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and kind in all his works.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
he also hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord preserves all who love him,
but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. (ESV)

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (ESV)

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— (ESV)

3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:16-17

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (ESV)

4:1 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!”

And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,

11 “Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”

Revelation 5

5:1 Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” 14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped. (ESV)

4:1 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground. In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering,

Genesis 8:20-21

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

Genesis 12:1-8

12:1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. (ESV)

but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. (ESV)

22 Then he presented the other ram, the ram of ordination, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram. 23 And he killed it, and Moses took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. (ESV)

25 Then he took the fat and the fat tail and all the fat that was on the entrails and the long lobe of the liver and the two kidneys with their fat and the right thigh, 26 and out of the basket of unleavened bread that was before the Lord he took one unleavened loaf and one loaf of bread with oil and one wafer and placed them on the pieces of fat and on the right thigh. 27 And he put all these in the hands of Aaron and in the hands of his sons and waved them as a wave offering before the Lord. 28 Then Moses took them from their hands and burned them on the altar with the burnt offering. This was an ordination offering with a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord. (ESV)

12 I must perform my vows to you, O God;
I will render thank offerings to you.

Psalm 116:17-18

17 I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people, (ESV)

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Romans 5:1-11

5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (ESV)

1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. (ESV)

2:1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. It has been testified somewhere,

“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
putting everything in subjection under his feet.”

Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,

“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”

13 And again,

“I will put my trust in him.”

And again,

“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (ESV)

5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. (ESV)

14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (ESV)

So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (ESV)

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— (ESV)

“Drink no wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. 10 You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, (ESV)

10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (ESV)

10:1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said, ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.

And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said to them, “Come near; carry your brothers away from the front of the sanctuary and out of the camp.” So they came near and carried them in their coats out of the camp, as Moses had said. (ESV)

“A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the Lord’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the Lord of hosts. 10 Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations. (ESV)

27 And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus the Lord has said, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? 28 Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29 Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ 30 Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. 31 Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. 32 Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. 33 The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. 34 And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. 35 And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. 36 And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, “Please put me in one of the priests’ places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.”’” (ESV)

15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.
16 Lebanon would not suffice for fuel,
nor are its beasts enough for a burnt offering.
17 All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness. (ESV)

23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. (ESV)

And the Lord spoke to Aaron, saying, “Drink no wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. 10 You are to distinguish between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean, 11 and you are to teach the people of Israel all the statutes that the Lord has spoken to them by Moses.” (ESV)

1:1 The Lord called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the Lord, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.

“If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the Lord. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Then he shall kill the bull before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

10 “If his gift for a burnt offering is from the flock, from the sheep or goats, he shall bring a male without blemish, 11 and he shall kill it on the north side of the altar before the Lord, and Aaron’s sons the priests shall throw its blood against the sides of the altar. 12 And he shall cut it into pieces, with its head and its fat, and the priest shall arrange them on the wood that is on the fire on the altar, 13 but the entrails and the legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall offer all of it and burn it on the altar; it is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord.

14 “If his offering to the Lord is a burnt offering of birds, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves or pigeons. 15 And the priest shall bring it to the altar and wring off its head and burn it on the altar. Its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar. 16 He shall remove its crop with its contents and cast it beside the altar on the east side, in the place for ashes. 17 He shall tear it open by its wings, but shall not sever it completely. And the priest shall burn it on the altar, on the wood that is on the fire. It is a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the Lord. (ESV)

“Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy. (ESV)

15:1 Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;

in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (ESV)

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— (ESV)

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (ESV)

17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.

33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. (ESV)

16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. (ESV)

3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— (ESV)

14:1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. (ESV)