Worship in the New Testament.
If I could summarize the shift in how worship is presented in the New Testament from the Old Testament it would be with this: Jesus.
The book of Hebrews provides a beneficial outline for coming to this conclusion. The Old Testament placed great value in worship through the priesthood, sanctuary, sacrifice, and covenant, while in Hebrews Christ is presented as superior in all those areas.
Our main role in worship is to respond to this superiority of Christ (Hebrews 10-12). Many will say that the Old Testament valued external worship and the New Testament placed great value on internal (heart) worship. This, however, presents a great problem for the believer.
The Bible presents one God and therefore one holistic way of worship, not a worship that changes as the book continues. Rick Muchow connects this well,
“Jesus understood that worship includes living a life that honors God, the way you respond to temptation has a profound impact on your worship. When the devil confronted him in the wilderness, Jesus responded by talking about worship: ‘You must worship the Lord your God, serve only him.’”
Worship in the New Testament places great value on not only a heartfelt connection with God, but also on obedient living.
Many will also say that the Old Testament was merely a foreshadowing of the worship we are able to engage in today. James Torrance seems to echo that sort of statement as he connects the dots in how the priesthood is viewed in the Old and New Testaments. He says,
“The New Testament writers saw this as a foreshadowing of the mediatorial ministry of Christ. Firstly, he comes from the Father to be the true priest, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh…Secondly, he consecrates himself for this ministry of leading us into the presence of the Father.”
What we must do now is unpack the implications of Christ’s role in our worship and in turn, the role of the Trinity in our worship and how that should affect our theology of worship.