How to Make Sure God Will Receive Our Worship

After they were cast out from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had two sons named Cain and Abel. When these boys came of age “in the process of time,” they offered worship to God: Cain by bringing “an offering of the fruit of the ground,” and Abel by bringing “of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat” (Genesis 4:3-4). The Bible says that God “respected [had regard for – ESV; “looked with favor on” – NIV] Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering” (Genesis 4:4-5). Why didn’t God look favorably upon what was ultimately an act of worship to Him?

This text has troubled many scholars and produced a wide variety of opinions. Unfortunately, some see in this text an opportunity, as one scholar suggested, to discuss “a God who authors… mysterious and inequitable acts of choosing,” by saying that God simply arbitrarily chose Abel and rejected Cain. This ignores the obvious context in which God told Cain that he could “do well” and “be accepted” (Genesis 4:7). God does not show favoritism or partiality but receives the obedient (Acts 10:34-35; Romans 2:11).

Most correctly see that Cain didn’t “do well” with his sacrifice. But what did he do wrong? Some suggest that Cain’s offering was wrong because it came from the earth; even though God would later receive grain offerings from the Jews, perhaps He did not in the time of Cain and Abel. Some think Cain’s offering was inferior because while Abel brought “the firstborn… and fat” nothing is said of the quality of Cain’s offering. Some argue that Cain had a poor attitude or made his offering with some other fault in his character. A few say that he might have offered at the wrong time (applying the “time” statement of Genesis 4:3 to only him) or in the wrong way (Genesis 4:7 in one of the Greek translations accuses Cain of not “dividing” his sacrifice).

Those willing to look outside of the text of Genesis 4 though find both a solution to this problem of understanding and a challenge for worshippers today. Hebrews 11:4 says, “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” That’s the difference: Abel’s offering was by faith. Whether Cain’s unfaithfulness was a lack of heartfelt trust and belief in God within or a lack of obedience without can’t be known, but what can be known is that if my offering to God is not “by faith” it won’t be received. And, since faith comes by hearing God’s word (cf. Romans 10:17), as a worshipper I must allow God’s word to guide both my attitude and my actions.  

As you prepare for your next occasion of worship, please take seriously the fact that worship must be offered “by faith” to be received by God. Indeed, “the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).
-Patrick Swayne
Posted in , , , ,






1 Corinthians 12 1 Corinthians 14:15 1 Corinthians 14 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 1 Corinthians 7 1 Peter 1:6-12 1 Peter 2:9 1 Peter 3 1 Peter 5:6-7 1 Peter 1 Samuel 4 1 Thessalonians 5:18 1 Timothy 4:1-3 2 Corinthians 6 2 John 1:9 2 John 9 2 Kings 2 Peter 2 2 Peter 3 2 Peter 2 Samuel Abel Abraham Absalom Acts 17 Acts 19 Acts 2 Acts 8 Acts Alcohol Alleged Contradictions Apostles Ark of the Covenant Attitude Authority Autonomy Autumn Balance Baptismal Regeneration Baptism Barnabas Benevolence Bible Contradictions Bible Questions and Answers Bible Study Bible Biblical Interpretation Bishop Body of Christ Borrowing Broad Way Cain and Abel Cain Calvinism Catholicism Catholic Celibacy Challenges Children Christian Living Christmas Church Funds Church Leadership Church Membership Church of Christ Church Circumspection Citations Citizenship Colossians 3:16 Communication Communion Community Confidence Congregations Contend for the Faith Contentment Covetousness Creation Credit Current Events Dating David Debt Forgivness Deconstruction Degrees of Punishment Deity Deliverance Denominationalism Devil Difference Different Discipleship Divine Nature Doctrine Dragon Drinking Easter Ecclesiastes 7:10 Ecclesia Eldership Elders Elder Elijah Elisha Encouragement Enoch Ephesians 2:8-9 Ephesians 5:15 Ephesians 5:16 Ephesians 5:18 Ephesians 5:19 Ephesians 5:5 Ephesians 5 Esther 4:14 Evangelism Ezekiel 36 Ezekiel 6 Faith Alone Faith Only Faithfulness Faith Fall False Teachers False Teaching Fathers Fear Feeding of the 5000 Fornication Free Will Fundamentals Galatians 4:9-10 Gender Roles Generosity Genesis 22 Genesis 4 Genesis Gift of Tongues Gifts Giving Godhead Godhood God Gospel Meeting Gospel Grace Gratitude Greater Sin Greed Grief Grieving Hallelujah Praise Jehovah Hallelujah Hebrews 13:4 Help Hermeneutics Holidays Holy Spirit's Deity Husbands Hymns Hypotheticals Idolatry Imperatives Influence Insomnia Instrumental Music Instruments in Worship Intertextuality Isaac Isaiah 2 Isaiah 6 James 1:19 James 1:27 James 1 James Jehovah Witnesses Jehovah Jerome Jesus Temptation Jesus' Deity Jesus\' Deity Jesus Job John 11 John 19:11 John 4:24 John Calvin John the Baptist Jude 1:11 Jude 3 Jude Judgement Judging Judgment Kindness Lamb of God Lamech Lazarus Leadership Leaven Lemuel Lending Levites Limited Atonement Living Sacrifice Local Church Lord's Supper Luke 1:28 Luke 5:1-11 Mariolatry Mark 1:12-13 Mark Marriage Martin Luther Mary Matthew 5:13-16 Matthew 5:3-12 Matthew 5 Matthew 7:13-14 Matthew 7:1 Melchizedek Men's Business Meeting Men\'s Business Meeting Men\\\'s Business Meeting Men Metaphors Minor Prophets Miracles Miraculous Gifts Money Mormonism Mothers Mount of Olives Mountain of the Lord's House Mountains of Israel Mountains Murder Music Mutual Submission Narrow Gate Narrow Way No Elders Non-Denominational Olive Trees Olives Olivet Olive Once Saved Always Saved Parenting Pastor Patience Patriarchs Pattern Paul Peace Pentecostalism Persecution Perseverence Perspective Philippians 3:20 Philippians 4:6 Plagiarism Poetic Language Politics Prayer Praying to Saints Praying Pray Preacher Preaching Priesthood Priests Proverbs 31:6 Proverbs Providence Psalm 148 Quotations Reader Response Redeeming the Time Relationships Relationship Religion Religious Pluralism Religious Syncretism Remission of Sins Restoration Movement Restoration Revelation 12:9 Riches Roman Catholic Church Romans 12:1-8 Romans 12:10 Romans 12:15 Romans 12:1 Romans 12 Sacrifice Saints Only Salvation Satan Scarecrows Sermon on the Mount Serving Others Sexual Sin Silence of the Scriptures Singing Sin Sleep Sobriety Song Studies Sons Sovereignty of God Spending Spirit and Truth Spiritual Death Spiritual Gifts Spiritual Leadership Stephen Straight Gate Stress Student Debt Submission Suffering Temptations Thankfulness The Beatitudes The Problem of Pain and Suffering The Problem of Suffering The Way of Cain The Way Tongue Speaking Total Hereditary Depravity Tradition Trials Trinity Types and Antitypes Uncleanness Unconditional Election Understanding Unity Unknown Tongue Vulgate Wealth Wide Gate William Kirkpatrick Wives Women in the Church Women's Roles Word Study Work Worship Zechariah clergy death sickness