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Book Review: Worship: The Ultimate Priority by John MacArthur

Thursday February 21, 2013 20:29

MacArthur, John. (2012) Worship: The Ultimate Priority. Chicago, IL: Moody. 211p


Reviewed by Stephen Smith


John MacArthur has been a faithful minister of Christ’s church for many years. Hence, when he writes a book on an important subject such as worship one knows it will be spiritually edifying! Indeed, this is a very helpful book. This book was originally published in 1983 but has been recently revised with an extra chapter and an appendix added.


The major theme that runs through this book is that God must be worshipped in the way prescribed by Holy Scripture. Idolatry is an ever present danger. Scripture alone determines the way and manner in which a sinner should approach God, and worship Him. MacArthur argues that this is why a church should have a Biblical expository preaching ministry. The scriptures must be preached (2 Timothy 4:2). Genuine worship is a response to divine truth that God has revealed about Himself.


An important aspect of worshipping God correctly is understanding His attributes. God is unchanging and all-powerful. He has infinite wisdom. God also is holy. MacArthur helpfully applies the teaching on God’s holiness to worship by stating that one “needs to return to the biblical teaching on God’s utter and awesome holiness in order to be filled with the gratitude and humility that characterises true worship.” (p121)


This book also contains some helpful insights on how to worship the members of the Trinity itself. MacArthur writes “Trinitarian doctrine is essential to true worship. Within the Trinity each member has a unique ministry. The Holy Spirit calls us to the Son, and the Son calls us to the Father. Thus in a sense our worship involves all members of the trinity and all are worthy to be worshipped.” (p151)


The book includes with some insights on how to glorify God. Psalm 100 reminds us that God has made us and we are His. God made everything to give Him glory.


The appendix is a plea to promote content, truth-focused Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs in the church.


There is a study guide for this book at


All in all this is a very helpful book. It reminds us that we cannot worship God on our own devices but God is to be worshipped as He commands – as revealed in the Scriptures. May this book help to that end.