Worship is the willing, proper response of moral beings to the revelation of the Triune God. By divine initiation, God graciously discloses Himself, His purposes, and His will to man. Man, in response to God’s gracious initiation, worships God. This is my understanding of the biblical definition and portrayal of worship. God tells us something about Himself or His acts, and we willingly respond to Him in appropriate ways, which He has also revealed. This is worship.
In Romans 12:1 when Paul says, “I appeal to you, brothers, by the mercies of God” by “mercies” he is referring to our eternal, secure, everlasting salvation! He has been building this case, doctrine upon doctrine, through the first 11 chapters. We are saved because of divine initiation. Our salvation has nothing to do with us because we have all turned from God and rejected His revelation (ch 1-3). Therefore, God is credited with every single aspect of our salvation. He has totally, completely, eternally saved us. He sent His Son to pay for our sin so that we can be saved if we would just believe (ch 3). Having believed in Christ, He sent His Spirit to indwell us as believers and sanctify us as believers that we would no longer serve sin but serve Christ (ch 4-8). He made sure through sovereign election that we would believe because if He did not choose us before time we would never have chosen Him in time (ch 9-11).
God has been incredibly merciful to us in every phase of salvation. He has acted. He has initiated. Now living our lives as worship to God is our willing, proper response to divine initiation. So Paul says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”
Wil Owens, Teaching Pastor