Worship and the Sacrifice of Giving

Howard E. Wilson
Scott City, Kansas

Worship and the question of whether contributing into the congregation's treasury is worship are both receiving quite a bit of attention from various people.

In an article by W. Carl Ketcherside, "A Feigned Fiscal Fiat," in the "RESTORATION REVIEW," Vol. II, no. 2, pp. 8293 (Spring, 1960), it is stated: "It is almost universally accepted that the contribution of money to the `church treasury' each first day of the week is a part of the worship of the church. In many tracts and periodicals `giving of our means' is listed among `the items of worship.' It is well to remark that in the King James Version, the word `worship' is a translation of at least twelve different Greek terms, not one of which ever applies directly to what is done in a corporate sense on the Lord's Day. The expression `the worship' is not once found in the sacred oracles. Since the entire life of the early disciples was an expression of covenant relationship with God, it would have been difficult indeed to single out any specific act or expression to label `an item of worship' to the exclusion of other things." (pp. 8283) . Again, "1. There is no indication that the congregation had been taking up a contribution on each Lord's Day before this time. (Referring to 1 Cor. 16:1-HEW) If this had been an item of worship, the instruction here given seems very strange indeed. 2. Paul planted the congregation at Corinth some five years before this. If a monetary contribution was essential as an act o f worship, why did he not give them the order at first? Why did he allow them to continue five years with an incomplete `program of worship'?" (pp. 84-85).

From the "BLUE and WHITE" published by Johnson Bible College of Kimberlin Heights, Tenn., in an article by the president, R. M. Bell; page 3 of March-April, 1961, issue: "Worship is not giving, Some givers worship; others do not . . . A person may go to the house of worship at the hour of worship and engage in all of these so called `acts of worship' and never worship for a single moment. Worship is not an act, but an emotion. It is not something that you do with your hands or your mouth, but something that you feel in your heart. Worship is not an objective, but subjective. It is something that takes place on the inside of the worshiper."

In the FIRM FOUNDATION for May 23, 1961, p. 327 (Vol. 78, No. 21), an article by Merrill Pence states: "Some have taught that it is an act of formal worship to give into the collection on the first day of the week. The first day of the week was an expedient time to raise this bounty that `there be no gatherings when I come' Paul said. The laying by in store was not an act of formal worship, but the fulfilling of the command of `distributing to the necessity of saints' ( Romans 12 :13 ) ."

All three of these men agree in one point giving is not worship; giving is not an item of worship.

This question, we think, should be discussed under two headings: I. The Meaning of "Worship;" II. Is Giving Worship?

I. The Meaning of Worship:

A. Brother Ketcherside states there are twelve different words translated "worship" in the King James Version. This is used as evidence that the Bible's teaching on worship has been studied thoroughly and that no expression of "the warship" or of any one thing called an "item of worship" was found. However, no material on the meaning of "worship" or of any of the words translated worship is given.

B. Brother Bell states, "Worship is not an act, but an emotion," and that warship "is something that takes place on the inside of the worshipper." Further on in his article he says, "Perhaps the best dictionary definition of worship is adoration." Then he says, "Genuine worship, like genuine love, is continuous.'" Again, "Worship, like love, is neither seen nor heard; it is felt. Worship is within." Again, "The word, `worship,' is used many times in the Bible, but it is never defined." But nowhere through the entire article is anything said about what the word translated "worship" in any one instance means.

C. Brother Pence uses the expression "formal worship." What exactly he means is not clear-he might mean "congregational worship;" he might mean worship that requires an act. But whatever he means, "laying by in store was not an act of formal worship."

D. The central passage on the subject of "worship" under Christ is John 4:19-24. Anyone who does not understand what this passage means does not know what "worship" is in the mind of Christ.

People who do not know or do not acknowledge the meaning of the word transliterated "baptize" can always object, "But it doesn't say `immerse'." Likewise, the person who does not know the meaning of the word translated "worship" can always object, "But it doesn't say what `worship' is."

The margin of the American Standard Version at Matthew 2:2 says, regarding the phrase "to worship," "The Greek word denotes an act of reverence whether paid to a creature (see ch. 4.9; 18.26), or to the Creator (see ch. 4.10)." So the word used tells nothing as to the nature of the being who is worshiped. Thus the word, briefly stated, means: "An act of reverence paid!" (From Young's Concordance or from Strong's Concordance, anyone can learn that this is the same word used by Jesus in John 4:19-24.) The lexicons show the same. Thayer: "hence among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence, (to make a `salam') . . . hence in the N.T. by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication." - p. 548. Arndt and Gingrich: "used to designate the custom of prostrating oneself before a person and kissing his feet, the hem of his garment, the ground, etc.; the Persians did this in the presence of their deified king, and the Greeks before a divinity or someth. holy; (fall down and) worship, do obeisance to, prostrate oneself before, do reverence to, welcome respectfully" -p. 723.

From this material it is clear that by "worship" Jesus did not mean something felt in the heart. He meant acts which the reverence one has would lead one to pay! This is also shown by his stating that this "worship" must be in spirit and truth. If the "worship" were something one "felt," then there is no point in Jesus saying it must be done "in spirit;" because what one feels is already in his spirit and it would be impossible to worship without its being "in spirit." But it is possible for a person to have reverence in his heart and come to pay that reverence in an act, then at the time of the paying of the act have his attention and mind on something else-even though he made his decision to worship out of genuine reverence!

Jesus did not say that "neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father" (John 4:21) because this worship was to be wholly internal. The Jews DID have to worship in Jerusalem on certain occasions under the old covenant if they were to do God's will. Jesus was showing that in the kingdom of heaven, the issue of the LOCATION of the worship would NOT be the issue. That was the issue the woman was raising. Jesus was showing her that it was so near the time when it would be no issue in the eyes of God that there was no reason to repeat what the Scriptures already taught that the place of worship was where God put his name-in Jerusalem (Deut. 12:11).

The "spirit" in the statement of Jesus refers to the spirit of the person who worships. His "mind, heart, or spirit" must be on the act that he is paying and he must be consciously expressing his reverence for God or for Christ in the act he is performing.

The "truth" in the statement of Jesus refers to the truth that he brought (John 1:17) . The person who is to worship God acceptably is not to have his heart, mind, or spirit set on the things that God had once revealed to man. Instead, he is to express his reverence by having his mind, heart, or spirit set on the acts of the truth in Jesus (Eph. 4:21). This is now the only hind of worshiper that is a "true worshiper" An the eyes of God, the only kind of worshiper the Father seeks, and the only kind of worshiper that is worshiping as he must worship! (John 4:23-24).

II. Is Giving Worship?

A. Worship is "an act of reverence paid." It is paid as the ancient subjects of kings paid their reverence by bowing before him, kissing the hem of his robe, etc. Regardless of how obedient they might be as subjects to the commands of their king in every day life, they had not "worshiped" until they "paid their reverence in an act"-an act acceptable to the king! Likewise, Christians can and should have reverence enough for God and Christ to obey them in every day life. This is what is referred to in Romans 12:1 in that we are to give our bodies as a living sacrifice which is our reasonable or spiritual "service." For "service" some reference Bibles give the marginal reading as "worship." Some translations translate "worship" instead of "service." But this is a different word entirely from that which Jesus used in John 4:19-24.

Obedience, then, is not worship as Jesus meant it. To worship as Jesus meant is to pay our reverence to God in the acts the word of truth teaches us. There are only certain commands or examples given in which the act of obedience is directed to God.

Since the Lord's supper is in the honor of Christ and is to be done "in remembrance" of Christ, it should be clear that this is an act in which we pay our reverence to Christ.

Since Christians are directed to sing "with grace in your hearts unto God" (Col. 3:16), there should be no trouble in seeing that this is an act in which our reverence is paid to

God. Paul and Silas sang "unto God" (Acts 16:25).

Since in prayer the knees are bowed unto the Father (Eph. 5:14-16), holy hands are lifted up to God (1 Tim. 2 : 8) , and thanks are to be given to God (Col. 3 :17) , there should be no doubt that prayer, too, is an act in which we pay our reverence to God and to Christ. And either singing or praying or both may be included in Heb. 13:15, "Through him then let us offer up a sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of lips which make confession to his name."

But what of giving? The very next verse, Heb. 13:16 says, "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." Paul calls the help brought to him from Phillippi "an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God" -Phil. 4:18. Christians "are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5). Let anyone take a good square passages and see if he can say that spiritual sacrifices are not worship or that giving is not such a spiritual sacrifice. If any one can say either of these, I would like to hear his reasons.

I think from this it should be clear we do not worship in the sense that Jesus meant in John 4:19-24 until an act is performed) And that that act performed is not acceptable unless it is an act which resulted from reverence toward God (or himself-both men and angels worship him according to the scriptures: Matt. 2:2, Heb. l:b) which is paid to God in spirit and truth.

I think also that it is clear that giving is one of the spiritual sacrifices which Christians offer to God. It is true that we have not attended to some other questions which are related to this problem; but I think and hope that it should now be clear that worship is not just in the heart and that giving is worship in the sense of John 4:19-24.

Truth Magazine, V:10, pp. 8-10
July 1961