Wisdom International Mission - "He who believes and is baptized shall be saved" Mark 16:16

Scriptural Worship
Revision 12/17/17
 
   This message that I am giving is based on my sincere desire to always look at the scriptures rather than the teachings and traditions of men.  I know that it is Satan’s plan to subvert the church through deception, and he does this through the errant teachings of men and misguided allegiance to religion or to leaders rather than to the pure evidence of the scriptures.  I want to clarify my point by using my experience with baptism, but that is not the key subject of this article.  When I was searching for God I read in the scriptures that I must be baptized for the remission of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  There were many teachings about baptism in the religious realm that contradicted this message in accordance with the teachings of men, but I chose to follow what the scriptures were telling me.  I searched until I found the church that was teaching the message that I found in the scriptures.  There was a plethora of concordances and commentaries that sought to distort this simple teaching, but I chose to believe the scriptures themselves rather than the teachings of men.  If we read the teaching on a subject written by uninspired men and it is not compatible with the evidence of scripture, then we must put it away and adhere to the scriptures.
 
     Satan is very patient.  One of the ways he likes to deceive us is by changing the meanings of words.  If you are to look at the definitions of baptism given today, you will see things like “Ceremonial cleansing of the Christian religion by the act of sprinkling, pouring or immersing in water.”  This definition is created from many years of cultural change and influence by Satan for the purpose of deception.  For one to truly learn the meaning of the Greek word “baptidzo” one has to go to the context of its original use and study it.  Sincere translators will always look to the writings of the same era and look at the context of how a word is used to get perfect understanding.  As for the word baptism, the context of scripture makes it clear that the original meaning was immersion:

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“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4 NKJV);
 
“When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him” (Matt. 3:16).
 
     If I had followed the teachings of men I would have believed that my previous sprinkling was correct, but it was not.  Because of this I am convicted that all subjects must be studied in light of what the scriptures say and that definitions must be proven by scriptural context rather than the teachings of men.  If I follow this line of rightly dividing the word for baptism, but I refuse to follow this process of thinking on other scriptures and, therefore, I choose to follow traditional teachings in the church, I become a hypocrite and I am no better than the denominations who distort baptism.  It is for this reason that I do not just believe a doctrine that is being given out simply because it is considered to be some standardized church doctrine. We must remember that it was the Apostles who were ordained of God to present the terms of pardon to us and to set the doctrine of the church.  It is the apostles doctrine that we keep, not Church of Christ doctrine:

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“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42 NKJV).
 
     God gave us a logical mind to use, and if we are true in our faith we will find truth through the Word of Truth.  It is not my purpose to introduce some new thing in the church or to cause a backlash.  My purpose is to restore what Satan has stolen by deception.  I believe that Satan has taken away the act of “proskuneo” in the church over the years by broadening the meaning of worship to cover many activities and, thus, eliminating the obvious act of worship portrayed in the scriptures.    
 
     My teachings are structured to present the scriptural picture of worship that is void of the influence of tradition or of men’s teachings in keeping with the command of 1 Peter 4:11:
 
“If any man speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God.” 
 
     In order for one to be assured that he is seeing the scriptural picture of a matter, he must set aside all prejudicial thoughts that may be influencing his mind so that he is seeing the clear picture God intended.  Over years of time the meanings of words change.  In my own lifetime the meanings of many words have been changed to hold a different meaning than when I was young.  In a period of 2000 years words have changed drastically in their meanings.  If one is going to have a clear picture of the true meaning of a subject he must seek the original meaning and intent of meaning by the original writer.  As it was previously stated, any translator who is sincere in making an accurate translation will study the meaning of a word through the context of the writings of that same document and of similar documents of the same era.  This is the formula that will render the true meaning and true doctrine of a subject.  It is this concept that will render truth in this study apart from man’s devices.

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     The word that is generally translated as worship in the English language from the Hebrew of the Old Testament is, “shawkhaw.”  According to the Strong’s Dictionary the original meaning of the word is to, “depress or to prostrate.”  Subjective words are given as to more modern understandings, but the context of scriptures verifies the original meaning, as in the book of Genesis: 
 
“Moreover she said to him, "We have both straw and feed enough, and room to lodge." Then the man bowed down his head and worshiped the Lord” (Gen. 23:25-26).
 
     The word for “bowed down in this text is the Hebrew word “kadad”. “ Kadad” was used in combination with “shawkhaw” commonly throughout the Old Testament.  The original meaning of “kadad” was to contract or to bend.  In the New Testament the Greek word that is most often translated as worship is “proskuneo”.  The original meaning of this word is derived from two Greek words that have been united to form it; “pros” which means forward and “kuon” which means dog.  In the context of literature it is used to show a fawning or crouching position as a dog would act as he is timidly moving to his master.  As the case in the Old Testament with “shawkhaw” and “kadad,” this word, “proskuneo,” is often preceded by the word “pipto” in one form or another.  This word means to fall down or forward, hence, to fall down and worship as it is found in Matt. 2:11:

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“And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him.”
 
    And 1 Cor. 14:25,
 
“And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.”
 
     And Revelation 4:10-11,
 
“the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying  ‘You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.’"
 
     And Revelation 5:14,
 
“Then the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.“
 
     From the contextual use it can be determined  that “kadad” from the Hebrew and “pipto” from the Greek were used to express the action of moving into the position of worship, but “shawkhaw” and “proskuneo” were the positions held during the worship. It also appears from context that in order for the act to be a completed form of worship it had to be accompanied by praise or an exaltation of the recipient.  For example, in Genesis 23:12 we are told that Abraham bowed down before the people of the land.  The word that is translated as “bowed down is “shawkhaw.”  It is certain that Abraham was not exalting them as God and, therefore, this act of bowing is not complete worship as we have seen it defined in these scriptural contexts when we direct it at God with praise to Him as God, but it was an act of respect. 


 
     In the modern day teachings of men, worship is generally taught as having five avenues of action carried out by the church.  They are: teaching, singing, praying, The Lord’s Supper and giving.  Not once in the scriptures will one find those actions listed in combination with worship, “ proskuneo” and “shawkhaw.”  In these teachings of men, the act of falling down and exalting God from a humble and prostrate position is not even considered.  Hence, Satan has succeeded in so changing the scriptural meaning of the word that even when the evidence is presented that this case is clear many will choose to ignore the evidence and follow what the traditions of men. Satan has succeeded in eliminating the act of worship, “proskuneo” in the lives of most Christians who see it as an unnecessary and humiliating act. 
 
     Translators are partly to blame for the confusion due to poor forms of translation that bend the reading to their own concepts of a word meaning rather than allowing the original context to dictate the meaning. They also translate other words into worship in the English other than “proskuno’ and “shawkhaw”.  One example is Matt. 15:9, where Jesus is quoted as saying:
 
“And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

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     The word in this text that is translated as worship is “sebomahi,” which in its original meaning is to revere.  Even more damaging is the translation of the New American Standard that adds the word worship into its context where no word appears. The original American Standard translated Romans 12:1 as follows:
 
“ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service” (Rom 12:1 ASV)
 
     This translation is correct as it translates the Greek word “latriah” into the English word service.  When the new translation came out it was translated as “service of worship”. The word worship appears out of nowhere, as there is not even a Greek word to be found in the text at that point to support it.   The addition of this word only serves to add confusion, as the context has nothing to do with worship as it is found in every other context. 
 
     Other misconceptions arise when people draw conjected conclusions from Jesus’ statement in John 4:24:
 
“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:24 NKJV)

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     The context of the scripture was about where to worship and not how to worship.  The woman had asked where the right place to worship was, in Jerusalem or at the mountain of Samaria.  When the New Testament church began the new order became that they would receive the indwelling Holy Spirit, making them the temple of God.  As it is written in 1 Cor. 6:19:
 
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
 
     The believers would no longer have to go to Jerusalem or to the mountain of Samaria to worship because God will be in them. They would now be able to worship Him freely anywhere.
One argument that arises is the claim that if it requires a physical prostration, it is no longer a spiritual act.  However, that argument has no credibility, since other spiritual acts are combined with the necessity of a physical action, such as baptism, the Lord’s Supper, praise, singing and so forth.  All of these acts are spiritual acts that require the component of a physical act.   After the New Testament Church came, the context of how to worship in prostration remained the same, as it was previously proven by the New Testament scriptures listed in this lesson.

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     I must emphasize at this point that true worship is a spontaneous act of humility and exaltation of God in the New Covenant. Consider the example of 1 Cor. 14:25.  It was when the man was convinced and convicted that he fell down on his own accord to worship God. When we look at the situations of the elders in the book of Revelation, we see that even though they fell down together, it was a spontaneous act that they were moved to do by the Spirit in the moment.  The point we need to ponder is, why is this a profound part of the spiritual lives of those in the scriptures, yet, most people today are not moved in their hearts to humble themselves and worship God.  As those who have the Holy Spirit in us, we are free to worship God anywhere.  We do not have to make the trek to Jerusalem, Samaria, or Mecca to worship God.  Spiritual worship is not about an orchestrated corporate ritual, it is about being in awe of the God whom we serve and being moved by the spirit in our humility and honor of such a God.
 
     The purpose of this lesson is not to take anything away from other acts that are being done and are called worship, but it is to bring out the realization that the original act according to its meaning has been systematically taken out of the Christian life.  If the scriptures are studied in context, one will conclude that the acts of worship, teaching, prayer, singing, The Lord’s Supper, giving and so forth are distinct from one another.  They may all be listed under categories such as sacrifice to God:

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“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Heb 13:15).
 
Or as service:
 
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).
 
But scripturally, each aforementioned act is separate and distinct.
 
     Again, the matter here is not that any of these things should be taken out of our service to God but, rather, that what has been taken out by the cunning of Satan needs to be revived in the church.  Many churches call the assembly the worship service and, ironically, the act of the original worship is never practiced.  Even the reference to calling the assembly of the church the worship service is an unfounded reference, as you will never find that reference to the church (eklessia).  Those of us who consider ourselves to be the true church and seek to wholly follow the original doctrines often condemn the act of calling scriptural things by unscriptural names because we know it can distort the true meanings of words and, hence, the doctrine; yet in this case that principal is not followed.  Many will claim that we should not use terms out of their scriptural context or meaning, such as calling the preacher reverend, or pastor, calling sprinkling baptism, or calling the church by a denominational name, but they make themselves hypocrites by calling the church (eklessia) the worship service.  They will refer to the order of the assembly as the order of worship.  The acts of teaching, singing, praying, The Lord’s Supper, and giving are all listed as being the order of the church, but I challenge anyone to find any reference in the scriptures to those acts as being acts of worship. 

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    It is only safe for us when we speak what the scripture speaks and we do not teach as doctrines the teachings and concepts of men.  This is also important to prevent hypocrisy in other areas.  This is certainly true for those who teach that it is an offense to play an instrument in what they erroneously call worship.  If one says that the instrument is not to be played in “worship,” one has to realize that “worship” is not confined to being in church or in a church building.  If singing praise to God is to be considered worship, it is worship wherever and whenever one performs the act, as Christ was teaching the woman at the well.  If one says that playing the instrument along with singing is “worship” and it is wrong because we are not to “worship” God that way, then he is condemning himself if he listens to others who are singing to God with instrumental music in his home or in his car and not just in the assembly, and even more so if he sings along.  He is then “worshiping” God with instrumental music.  We know that all who are in the church are doing this.  Or if one’s child is playing music in his school and he is required to play a spiritual song in a program or to even sing it while others are playing instruments in the school, he is in the wrong if one is not to “worship” in this traditionally altered definition of the word worship.  However, if the context of the scriptures is held to, then the restriction applies to the assembly of the church as it is designated in the scriptures, and it would not apply outside of that.  I am willing to listen to any scriptural evidence that would amend this teaching, but as for books or articles that have been written and do not present a valid contextual case, I have no use for them.
  
    I pray that God will bless you with wisdom and strength in your study of this matter.
 
His servant
 
Bob Hartman                                       
 

 
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