Emotion should be experienced in worship. Worship without emotion is not pleasing to God-Matthew 15:8 “‘This people honors me with their lips,but their heart is far from me; However, the Word of God should drive our worship.
Two elements of true worship
Worship without truth is not true worship. Jesus made it clear that the Word of God is what sanctifies us, not an emotional experience-John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. When speaking with the woman at the well Jesus told us what the true elements of worship are, spirit (emotion) and truth-John 4:24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” So,no truth, no genuine worship. No spirit, no genuine worship.
The average worship experience
Yet in many churches, especially Seeker Driven and Charismatic churches, there is a much greater emphasis on experiencing God through music and ecstatic praise rather than through the preaching of the Word. The music and praise supposedly brings the presence of God so His people can experience Him. One of the phrases you might hear in these churches is “Lord, send your presence!” or, “Lord, we want to feel your presence in this place tonight!” This is said usually by the Worship Leader as the praise band begins to play a song that’s void of any deep theological substance. Now don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with contemporary worship, or raising hands in worship, as long as long as the music itself is not the main focus of service. The preaching of the Word is to be the whole reason we come to Church.
What did Jesus and the apostles think?
Jesus and the Apostles had a high view of Scripture. They taught the importance of sound doctrine:
John 8:31-32 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
What shows that one is a true disciple? Abiding in the Word.
John 8:51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”
John 17:17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
Sanctification comes through knowing “truth,” (doctrine) rather than experience.
Acts 2:42 The Fellowship of the Believers And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
The early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (doctrine). Nothing here about ecstatic worship experiences.
Titus 1:9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Titus 2:1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.
1 Timothy 6:3-4 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,
None of the apostles or early church fathers would have ever elevated experience over the teaching and preaching of the Word. Yet as time draws nearer and nearer to the return of Christ, the Word of God will become less and less important to “Christians” and personal experience will reign. I truly believe we are in the midst of a famine. Not a famine of food, but a famine of hearing the Word. Amos 8:11 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God,”when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,but of hearing the words of the Lord. When asking today’s average Christian about Church, rarely will you hear them emphasize the preaching and teaching of the Word. This is because worship has become more about experience than hearing from God through the preaching of His Word.
Here is a short video by John MacArthur on what constitute true worship.