Worship in spirit and truth (part 2)
(Week 3 of a 4 week study)
Lesson text: John 4:20-24
Preached in Quabbin Valley on 6-14-09
Psalm 95:6 Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! (Psa 95:6 ESV)
“‘To worship’, the late Dr. William Temple wrote, ‘is to quicken (stimulate) the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote (dedicate) the will to the purpose of God.’”
I would like us to recap what we have looked at over the last two weeks and then we will get into our continued study of worship. In week one, we looked at the definitions of worship we saw that there were two words translated worship most often in the New Testament. One of them meant to “bow down” while the other meant “to do service”. We also saw that God alone was to be worshipped. The idea of worship is different from respect. We are to show respect to all people but we worship no one but God alone.
In week two we looked at worshipping in spirit and what that meant. We saw that to worship in spirit has to do with worshipping from our spiritual nature, we all have a spirit, we were created in the image of God and so we are spiritual creatures and it includes our hearts and our attitude. We are to worship with our hearts longing for God and with a humble attitude. This week we will be looking at worshipping in truth and what that means.
1) In Truth
a. Knowing God
i. What does it mean to worship in truth? Worshiping in truth can only mean worshipping in full harmony with the truth of God as revealed in his Word. If we don’t know the word of God we will never know the God of the bible, how can we? I am not saying that we must know and understand everything about the bible and about God but we must know the basics of who God is as taught in the bible.
1. For example we are told that God is love and that God is light and that God is spirit. These are all telling us about his character. We know that God is a jealous God.
2. There are plenty of people who believe in some godish thing out there maybe like the force or they believe in some pagan god but these people are worshipping what they do not know and they are not worshipping the one and only true God. If we don’t know the bible which is the revealed word from the true God then we will not be able to worship in truth the one true God.
3. I am not suggesting that we worship the bible but the God of the bible.
ii. It’s not enough to know some facts about God. If we don’t know Jesus we will never know God because Jesus exegetes God, anyone know what that word means? It’s a term used in bible study and it means to draw out. Jesus explains to us who God is in fact if we look at Jesus we see the Father and get to know the Father. Jesus revealed God to us. If we want to know God we have look at Jesus. The Old Testament and the New Testament show us and teach us things about God but we must never forget that Jesus reveals to us and shows us who God is, after all we are told that Jesus is:
1. Colossians 1:15 … the image of the invisible God... (Col 1:15 ESV)
2. Hebrews 1:3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. (Heb 1:3 ESV)
iii. We need to know Jesus in order to know God.
1. John 14:6-10 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." 8 Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?... (Joh 14:6 ESV)
iv. If we don’t know Jesus we can never worship God in truth because he is the truth.
v. In times past God called people to worship him by the truth that he revealed to them. Cain and Able didn’t have the Mosaic law, they didn’t have Jesus but they were called to worship God by what he had revealed to them and so they were to worship God in truth. Abraham was called to worship God by the truth that was revealed to him but we have Jesus who is the final and full revelation of God to mankind.
1. Hebrews 1:1-2 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Heb 1:1 ESV)
vi. Jesus the Christ is God in flesh and he alone knows the Father for he and the Father and the Holy Spirit are the one true God.
1. Colossians 1:19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, (Col 1:19 ESV)
2. John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (Joh 1:1 ESV)
3. John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Joh 1:14 ESV)
4. John 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. (Joh 1:18 ESV)
vii. If we are going to know God and worship him in truth we must know Jesus. There are no exceptions.
b. Knowing what he wants
i. Corporate worship
1. We have spoken in general terms for much of our look at worship but now I want us to turn our attention to the Sunday morning worship, the corporate worship specifically. I want to warn everyone that this is not the only time or place we are to worship but it is important.
2. Now I am really only going to be listing the things that we are to be doing during our worship service and I am going to go somewhat quick through these just so you can see what God wants from us in our worship service. Remember we are both physical and spiritual beings and our worship is to be in spirit and truth which does include physical acts of worship.
3. It is important that we remember that throughout the different ages and covenants that God has always told his people in what ways he is to be worshipped.
a. The first thing to think about is our worship service must be orderly.
b. We cannot worship God in truth if the cooperate worship is disorganized and unruly. God is a God of order and not chaos.
c. In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul is discussing how the worship service should be conducted. He is correcting an error. The Corinthians are out of control. Let me set the scene for you. This church had many who were given miraculous gifts like the ability to speak in tongues and prophecy and other gifts but they were disorganized and anarchy reigned in this church and Paul says after a long discussion:
i. 1 Corinthians 14:40 But all things should be done decently and in order. (1Co 14:40 ESV) or as the New American Standard translates it: 1 Corinthians 14:40 … let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner. (1Co 14:40 NAS)
d. God requires our worship service to be orderly. It’s not to be out of control and we are not to be acting crazy flying by the seat of our pants but all things are to be done in an orderly fashion. Why? Because our worship reflects the one we are worshipping. If our assembly is out of control we are saying that’s the kind of God we worship but our God is a God of order just read Genesis chapter one and see the order of the creation.
a. The next thing to think about is prayer.
b. We are told and encouraged to make prayers to God for different things and at different times not just on Sunday morning but Paul while writing to Timothy says: 1 Timothy 2:8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; (1Ti 2:8 ESV). When he writes this it is in the context of the corporate assembly. This is part of worshipping in truth. That the men of the congregation are to pray.
c. In 1 Thessalonians we read: 1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray without ceasing, (1Th 5:17 ESV) which includes the worship service.
d. Prayer is to be a part of the service.
a. God has instructed us to sing and make music in our hearts.
i. Ephesians 5:19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Eph 5:19 ESV)
ii. Here we have both singing and praying.
iii. Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Col 3:16 ESV)
b. I am not going to get into the whole issue of instrumental music I will just say that we are told to sing and not play. God wants all of us to sing. Whether or not you think you sing well God wants you to sing because to him it’s wonderful music.
i. I tell the story of a woman in the Manchester church who was tone deaf or something and she would sing loud and to the world her singing was terrible I mean terrible but I always loved to hear her sing because she sang to God and not to be praised by men. I love that and I know it was pure beauty to God’s ears. Let’s not put microphones on the people we think sing are the best to aid in our singing. Let’s not add choirs but let’s all do as God has told us. Let’s sing to him and not worry about what others might think because if we are all singing to the Lord no one will care if you’re the best or worst singer from a worldly perspective.
ii. We have a report from secular a source that Christians gathered on Sunday morning and sang songs.
1. Pliny, the Roman governor of Bythinia. In a report that Pliny sent to Trajan, the Roman emperor, he describes the activity of the Christians in this way: "They meet at dawn to sing a hymn to Christ as God."
7. Reading scripture
a. We are encouraged to read the scriptures and as we said earlier, if we don’t know the bible we will not know the God of the bible.
b. In New Testament times very few people owned a copy of the scriptures it’s not like today in America where many of us have multiple copies. If you look in my office you will find more than 50 different English translations of the Bible. It wasn’t like that for the first Christians. The only way they could know the word of God was to come and gather together on Sunday and hear it read. The reading of Scripture has always been a part of the worship service and we here continue that practice.
a. Paul writing to Timothy a young evangelist, preacher says:
i. 1 Timothy 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1Ti 4:13 ESV)
b. Here we have the reading of scripture and teaching being done in public which most certainly happened at the Sunday morning worship.
9. Eating the Lord’s supper
a. We read about how the early Christians gathered on first day of the week to participate in the Lord’s Supper.
i. We even have secular sources who tell us that Christians were accused of being cannibals because they ate and drank the blood of Christ. This is an obvious reference to the last supper where Jesus said this is by body this is my blood in reference to the bread and fruit of the vine.
b. We are commanded to “do this in remembrance” of Christ. We are to eat the supper as a community of believers. This is in fact really the hub or the main part of our worship period. We read the scriptures and pray and sing hymns but the main focus is around our time at the supper, or it should be after all this is the proclamation of the death burial and resurrection as Paul said:
i. 1 Corinthians 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (1Co 11:23 ESV)
To worship in truth involves knowing the God whom we worship and to do that we must know Jesus. When we gather for our corporate worship service there are some things that God has called us to do. Prayer and reading of scripture along with teaching and singing and the participating in the Lord’s Supper. We don’t have people juggling because God hasn’t asked us to juggle and so we must strive to worship God as he has commanded us and not add things to the worship service because we think they will liven up or make it more relevant to the culture. We are not here to worship the culture but to worship God. Let’s remember that always. I am not here for myself. I might and probably will get a lot out of the time I spend in corporate worship but I am not here that but to worship God in the way he wants me to worship him. When we do that we will be blessed.