Summary: Worship is the spiritual, intellectual, and emotional response to who God is and what God does. God is the focus of worship.

Worship: What A Way To Live!

Acts 17:16 – 23


Last week we looked at Discipleship. It was defined as the lifelong process of learning and following Jesus, going where He would go, doing what He would do, and saying what He would say. How did you do this past week?

Where did you go that everybody else ignored, but you knew Jesus would go? What act of love, extension of mercy, offering of forgiveness, lavishing of grace, came from you this past week? After all, that’s what Jesus would do.

How was your speech, did you speak peace to the storms, set demons to flight, brought healing to a hurting co-worker, spoke to a crying soul this past week? Jesus spoke to those issues and more. The challenge is the same for this coming week, live as a disciple; it is the way to live.

Now, I would like to tackle another subject again. And that is the subject of worship. I have preached and taught on it before so consider this a refresher if you will, a reminder, a compass, a thermometer to check your worship temperature.

Don’t tune me ought because you believe you know it or are regularly practicing it, but anticipate what the Holy Spirit is prepared to speak to you today afresh.

Worship is the furnace of the spiritual life. Many of our fore parents never threw in the towel when the going got tough. Why? Because many of them had what we don’t have, a worshiping lifestyle.

Why address worship when so many churches and Christians seem to be flying off the charts with praise and worship? Because I believe today that for many people worship is still a distant concept, but also it is foundational to the Christian’s life.


Listen; let me connect last week with this week. You can’t be a follower of Jesus Christ (discipleship) without developing a lifestyle of worship.

You have heard in the news of parents who are so engrossed in what they are doing from trying to get to work on time to unloading a car full of groceries only to discover that they left something behind – the child in the car seat.

And such are some of us, we are so engrossed in what we are doing from running hear to running there only to discover that we have left something behind --- the worship of God in the car seat.

After attending church one Sunday morning, a little boy knelt at his bedside that night and prayed, "Dear God, we had a good worship service at church today--but I wish you had been there!"

Let me spell out for you a definition of worship and then let’s move into the text for the morning. I have defined worship to be the spiritual, intellectual, and emotional response to who God is and what God does. God is the focus of worship.


Worship is the spiritual, intellectual, and emotional response to who God is and what God does. God is the focus of worship.

I want to first talk about the People of Worship, then the Choice to Worship then I will conclude with the God of Worship.

I. The People of Worship

16. Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols;

22. Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, "Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious;

23. "for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to the unknown God.

Paul’s issue wasn’t that these Athenians worshiped but what and to whom they were worshipping. And he related their worship to being religious or superstitious. Paul was irritated and angry because of all the idols he saw. The writer of this history said that the city was given over to idols. That is, it was overrun with idols everywhere.

He connected their worship with religion and not relationship (verse 22). Did the Scripture speak? You can worship religiously and not relationally. That is, they were doing what they were doing not from the advantage point of relating to God but to avoid punishment or not to missing any blessings.

That’s why they had all of those idols --- they either didn’t want to make a god mad or they didn’t want to miss out on a blessing that might be theirs.

Remember, religion is for people in search of God. These Greeks had all these idols and altars, up in search of a god because they didn’t know that there was one God over all.

Not only did Paul connect their worship with religion, but he also connected it with ignorance. Look at verse 23 again…

Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing…KJV

What therefore ye worship in ignorance…ASV

And then I found one inscribed, TO THE GOD NOBODY KNOWS…MSG

They knew to worship intuitively, but did not know whom they were worshiping. Not only was their worship religious that is without life, but it was also in ignorance. (Remember the woman at the well)

Paul designated these idols that he saw as “objects of their worship” (verse 23). Now before you jump out of the text and declare those Greeks were some messed up people. Let me take you on a personal journey.

Suppose that instead of Paul being in Athens, let’s suppose the Holy Spirit is in your life. Instead of Paul standing on Mars Hill able to survey everything down below, suppose the Holy Spirit is standing on the hill of your heart surveying everything down below.

Paul was disgusted with all the idols he saw. Remember an idol is the image of God perceived by the people because they had become religious (without relationship) and ignorant (without truth) in their lives.

How many idols would you say that the Holy Spirit would count in your life at this moment? How many altars have been erected in your life? I am speaking of the areas in your life that operate without a right relationship with God and without truth?

I have had some altars all over the place in my life. There were places in my life where I was worshiping my accomplishments; I was worshiping my ability not to allow anyone to take advantage of me; I was worshiping being in control.

I had erected an altar, worshiping what I believed was the god of approval and what I thought was the god of more to do and more to have.

I have been an idol worshiper because I have worshiped in areas of my life on what I perceived was about God but I was not relating to Him there. There was no relationship. So, I allowed my own desires and my own passions define what I wanted to believe about God and then worshiped it.

And my ignorance about God has led me to take what I thought I knew and fashion ideas and convictions around that – then I began to worship God ignorantly.

I am not saying today that none of you have not been a worshiper, but maybe your worship has been religious (without life) and ignorant (without truth). The Greeks were not guilty of worshiping, but of what they were worshiping.

When you find that there is an area in your life where you are bowing down to or giving honor to (work, family, money, career, self, etc.), but God is not Lord there then it has become an idol because God isn’t there.

When you are not cultivating a personal relationship with God then whatever you are doing is without life. That is why it is so easy to become disconnected when a crisis happens or to become frustrated when it seems like God doesn’t show up.

And when you are not in the Scriptures pouring over truth then you form your own image about God that isn’t true and struggle when what you thought was suppose to come to pass doesn’t.

Why are there so many Christians struggling in their Christian life? Because maybe there is the absence of a relationship with God and no presence of real truth about Him.

What many of us call the worship of God is really just leftover energy, leftover time, leftover resources after giving to other gods or idols. We find it easy to stay up Saturday night and then think that because we showed up Sunday morning, we worshiped.

Some folks struggle with worship of God on Sunday morning (corporate) because their worship of God weekly (privately) is anemic.

That is if your image of God was formed without relationship to God and without the truth of God weekly, then your worship of God on Sunday will be a disconnect from the God revealed in this service.

But how many today want to worship God personally and because of what He has revealed about Himself?

II. The Choice to Worship

Acts 17:23c Him I proclaim to you

Acts 17

23When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, TO THE GOD NOBODY KNOWS. I’m here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you’re dealing with. – The Message

Do you know what Paul did for these Athenians? He redirected their worship. He refers to God as personal and someone that they can know. He providing for them an alternative to what they thought they had.

Paul was offering them to trade in their worship of many gods to the worship of one God. He was challenging to change the receipt of their sacrifices, their adoration, their fears, their hopes, their hearts to the one who is the Sovereign Creator.

He wanted them to know that you don’t have to worship in the dark feeling your way around. You don’t have to fire up to heaven hoping that you will hit something. There is a God and He is the one I want to introduce to you.

Did you understand today that God wants to have a relationship with you and for you to come to know Him?

Worship is the spiritual, intellectual, and emotional response to who God is and what God does. God is the focus of worship.

Ephesians 1:17 and ask the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you the Spirit, who will make you wise and reveal God to you, so that you will know him

I John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Listen, we are the only group in the universe that has to decide when we get up in the morning, “Am I going to give God the worship He deserves this morning?” We’re the only ones who have to ask ourselves, “Do I feel into worship today?”

Would I be out of line if I made the statement that, everybody worships, but not everybody worships God? That was one of my observations about this particular passage of Scripture.

Let me say this, Scripture informs us that creation apart from human beings automatically worship God. Every day birds sing and the bees buzz as part of creation’s praise to God.

The Psalms is filled with passages depicting and demonstrating the worship that comes from creation. From angels to the stars, from the sun to the moon, fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word; Mountains and all hills;

Fruitful trees and all cedars; Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and flying fowl; all automatically worship God.

People are the only created being that has a choice when it comes to who and what it will worship. So to summarize in a blanket statement, everybody and everything were created to worship.

Everything non-human does it automatically; everything human has a choice. Here is another verse to substantiate what I have said…

Romans 1:25. Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

From that verse you can immediately understand that even today that there is everything from the worship of trees, rivers, hills, stones to nature worship, the worship of the sun, moon, and stars, as the supposed powers of nature to hero worship, the worship of deceased ancestors, or of heroes.

Worship is the bowing down, the bestowing honor upon, or the giving reverence to…everybody out there worships something or someone. Everybody in here worships something or someone. These Greeks here in Acts 17 were worshippers, they just did worship God.

Don’t misunderstand. Worship is a choice for human beings now, but one day all people who were ever created will someday worship God for all time. The Bible says that someday,

Philippians 2:10. that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11. and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The choice we have is to worship willingly, out of love. But every person will worship God for eternity, even the people in hell. There are no atheists in hell. People in hell know full well who God is.

If the universe lives to worship God, and you were made to worship God, then you need to know something. If you are not worshiping God as a way of life, you cannot be really living.

You can exist without worship, but you can’t live without worship because that’s the reason you are here.

Worship is to the Christian life what gasoline is to the automobile; it is the fuel that keeps the engine running. Worship is in you because the Spirit dwells in you. Worship is valuable because God seeks it and because it was what you were made for.

If you don’t chose to worship God personally and truthfully, you lose. God does not lose. Our lack of worship does not diminish Him. He is going to get His glory. The question is do you want in on the action? I do!

III. The God of Worship

24. "God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25. "Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.

Worship is the spiritual, intellectual, and emotional response to who God is and what God does. God is the focus of worship.

Worship it’s the celebration of God for who He is and what He has done. To put it another way, worship is all that I am paying homage or honor to all that God is.

It is my joyful reflection of God’s worth, my recognizing God as God. When God is not recognized as God, He is not being worshipped.

God is not hurting for worship, as I have already made clear. God is looking for worship because He deserves it. Look again at what Paul states the Athenians:

24. "God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25. "Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.

That’s God the Creator. But the God we are called to worship is defined as our “Father.” God is your Father because you are a member of His family. That means worship is a family affair.

We do not only worship God because He is the Creator, but because He is “Daddy,” the loving Head of our household whom we follow. We worship Him out of relationship not religion.

God is also Spirit. That’s why you can’t worship God with your body alone. You can have the body of a worshiper; yet not have the heart of a worshiper.

The worship of God does not begin with the body but what’s in the spirit of a man. And there can be no reaction from the spirit, which leads to the movement of the body without the exposure to the truth.

The fuel of worship is truth, the furnace for worship is the spirit of man, and the fire of worship is the Holy Spirit. Put those three together and…

Commit yourself to continuous, lifestyle worship. Every now and then won’t do it. One church service a week won’t do it. When you make your life a life of worship it will bring you intimacy with God, restored faith in God, defeated enemies, contentment in life, salvation for others, and a transformed life.


Worship is what you give to somebody who has everything. Worship is saying, “God, I adore you.” When are you ready to worship? You are ready to worship…

When you understand that the meat on your plate came from the animal God made, you understand that He deserves to be praised.

When you understand that the water you drink is from the rain He supplied, you understand that He deserves to be praised.

When you understand that the table you eat on is carved from the wood of a tree that God made, you understand that He deserves to be praised.

When you understand that the ring on your finger and on your toes is formed from the gold and silver God made, you understand that He deserves to be praised.

When you understand that the furniture on your house is designed from the wood and metal God made, you understand that He deserves to be praise.

You are ready for worship when you put in your mouth like food the words:

1. I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad.

3. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt His name together.

4. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.