Text: John 4:19-26 5/6/2012
Thesis: Jesus is the center and means of true worship
Jesus did not come to take people to a mountain for worship. Jesus did not come to take people to the temple for worship. Jesus has become the new center and means of true worship. Only by Him are we able to worship in spirit and truth.
Charles Spurgeon said, “it is far more difficult to worship God in spirit than in form. To patter through a dozen [Hail Marys] or [Lord’s Prayers] is so easy, that I can nearly go to sleep over them: to repeat a form of prayer in the morning and evening is a very small matter, and one can be thinking of the shop all the while; to go to church or chapel so many times a week is a cheap duty, and [with it all] one may still be a thief or a hypocrite; but it is hard, very hard, to bring the heart down to humble penitence, and the soul to holy meditation. The last thing that most people will do is to think. The noblest part of our nature is still the least exercised. Humbly to tremble before God, to confess sin before him, to believe him, to love him—this is spiritual worship! Because this is so hard, men say, ” No, no, let me crawl on my knees around a shrine!… Let me go every [week] to the steeple house and come out in half an hour, and feel I have done my religion.” That is quite easy, but the hard part of religion is the part of spiritual worship” (http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0695.htm accessed 5/1/2012).
Let us learn and actually worship in spirit and truth: John 4:19-26
I. The Jews and Samaritans were in a worship war (21-22)
The place doesn’t matter any more (21)
In verse 20 the woman asked Jesus about the place of worship, “Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” You see, the Samaritans believed that Mt Gerizim was the place that God chose to make his name dwell (12:5). But Jerusalem was the actual place where God made his name dwell. For centuries they had been fighting over the right place of worship.
In verse 21 Jesus destroys every argument for establishing a required place for worship. Verse 21 makes it impossible to say that true worship can only happen or must happen in a certain location be it a mountain in Samaria, a temple in Jerusalem, or a building in Hood County. “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.”
It is not the place that matters. You can’t go to a place and expect to worship because of your longitude and latitude. That’s like expecting to become a NFL football player because you go to Cowboy’s stadium. The place doesn’t make you a worshipper.
True worship requires saving knowledge (22)
The Samaritans believed that only the first five books of the bible were the word of God. They rejected the other 34 books of the bible. By rejecting the word of God they had purposefully embraced ignorance. So they ended up with this very weird religion that wanted to worship God without listening to God. They wanted to honor God while ignoring God. This sounds exactly like the religion in our day; people saying they want more of God while refusing to listen to His word.
Worship and knowledge go hand in hand, “we worship what we know.” But deeper than worship and knowledge is salvation; “for salvation is from the Jews.” Knowing God and being restored to God are the prerequisites for worshipping God. Going on, we are told that the way of salvation is from the Jews. The Jews had the full revelation of God. The Jews had the promises of God; they were His elect nation. And the Jews had the promise of the Messiah. Jesus, the Son of God our salvation, is a Jew. In every sense of the word, salvation is from the Jews.
Now we don’t worship the Jews. Instead, we are thankful for the Jews. The whole reason for their existence is the restoration of all of God’s people through the work of God’s Son. I think about it this way: the reason for the Jews is to provide a people for God who will be the recipients of God’s word and Son for the salvation of the nations. Salvation is from the Jews but now that Jesus has come being an Old Testament Jew is insufficient. Now what matters is being a true worshipper.
II. The three qualifications of true worshippers
Jesus makes it clear that there are three qualifications for true worshippers. True worshippers worship the Father, true worshippers worship the Father in spirit, and true worshippers worship the Father in truth
Worship the Father
True worshippers engage the Father through the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that the Father is seeking worshippers who will worship him. Therefore, worship must be boldly and clearly focused on God. This is why we must all work hard to hold out God to one another. David and I want to show you God so that you are summoned or called to worship him. We want to speak and act in such a way that you see God and are given reason to worship him. Here is God, now come and worship Him.
So who or what have you been worshipping today? Have you been worshipping God or have you been worshipping worship? Have your heart and mind gone God-ward or have you remained enslaved to the things of this world?
Has God revealed himself to you through his word and have you responded with worship (1 Sam 3:21)? Did you come here today for the expressed purpose of seeing God revealed by the word and worshipping Him? Or did you come to worship a Sunday tradition, a style of music, your friends, or a sermon?
Church, we must intentionally worship the Father. This will only happen as we look for him in and according to the word. That’s Jesus’ first qualification of a true worshipper: worship the Father. Now the second
Worship in spirit
To make sure you and I dodn’t miss it Jesus said “you must worship in spirit” twice; once in verse 23 and again in verse 24. This is obviously important so let’s work to understand what it means.
1. Worship is primarily a spiritual action
Here, I believe Jesus is making a distinction. On the one hand you have what is spirit. On the other hand you have what is flesh. There is that which has been born from above and that which is according to this fallen world.
Think about Old Testament worship. Worship used to heavily involve a physical temple and physical sacrifices in order to go God-ward; but not anymore. Now we focus on that spiritual temple where Jesus has gone; that holy place not made with hands, that is, not of this creation (Heb 9:11). In worship we are not seated in a building. No, we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Eph 2:6). Worship in spirit is worship by faith.
Christian worship believes that right now though my body is here located at 1625 Mambrino Hwy my spirit is located with Christ in the presence of the Father. Are you with Christ or are you not? Is faith real or is it not? Believing is not about getting to heaven when you die. Believing is about enjoying the presence of the Father through the Son by the power of the Spirit right now.
Worship is something done in the spirit. Romans 8:16 speaks of the Holy Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God. That is a spiritual action from God to us. In worship, your spirit speaks to God who is spirit. Worship is a spiritual action from us to God. Therefore, if worship is going to happen
2. Worshippers must have been born of the Spirit (John 3)
There is a reason John 3 comes before John 4; what comes first helps us understand what comes after. In John 3 Jesus told Nicodemus, “Unless one is born again, or born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:3). Later he told Nicodemus, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again’” (Jn 3:5-6).
If you and I are going to worship God we must get past the spiritual deadness of our flesh. And how does that happen? You must be born again. The resurrection life of Christ must give life to your dead spirit. How exactly that happens we don’t know. Jesus said it’s like the wind. We don’t know where the wind comes from or where it goes but we see its effects. It’s the same with everyone who is born of the Spirit (Jn 3:8).
Let me give you some of those effects of the Spirit so you can test yourself to see if you are even capable of true worship. First, you have experienced the Holy Spirit’s effects of convicting you of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Jesus said in John 16:8 that the Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.
Spiritual people are people who have tasted the bitterness of their own sinfulness. One way you see the Spirit working in your life and in the lives of those around you is in a brokenness over sin. We hate the fact that we have turned away from God, gone our own way, and not obeyed Christ. Spiritual worship involves the personal confession of sin.
Spiritual people are also convinced of the fact that Christ is righteous. He has been vindicated through the resurrection and is now seated at the right hand of the Father. Jesus is righteous and he gives us his righteousness. True worshippers go the Father through the righteous Son. This is spiritual. It is the Spirit who convicts us of this truth.
And spiritual people are convinced that the ruler of this world is judged. He and his lies and his false guilt and his condemnation have been thrown down. Because of the victory of Jesus Christ you and I can cast off that sin and guilt and go to the Father. This too is spiritual.
There is more I could say but I must stop here concerning evidences of the Spirit. And I must ask if you see those evidences in yourself? Have you been convicted by the Spirit of your sin, the righteousness of Christ, and the condemnation of your accuser? Have you been freed by the new birth to worship in the presence of God?
If the Spirit is right now convicting you then follow him. Where he is leading you might be painful for the moment but it will produce joy for all eternity. Repent of your sins, place your faith in the righteous Christ, and you will be saved. You will be born again, you will be given a new living spirit, and that spirit can worship God who is Spirit. Worshippers must be born of the Spirit.
3. God requires worship to be in spirit like him
Back to John 4 verse 24, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” God is not like a president or king who has to be found in a place. He is spirit and isn’t bound up in this building or any other building for that matter. Since God is omnipresent spirit he can be worshipped anywhere.
And God does not have a physical body with physical appetites. He cannot be manipulated with the flesh of bulls or the blood of goats. He doesn’t get hungry! And he certainly doesn’t have sexuality as we define it so it is utterly foolish to try and manipulate God through lustful acts as false religion has tried to do throughout history.
No, God is spirit. He does not have a physical body. So if you are going to truly worship you must engage that part of you that is spirit. This is so hard to explain but it is necessary to understand. Think about it like this: does God consider it worship when you simply sing the words or bow your head during the prayers or half-heartedly listen to the sermon? No, worship involves all of you loving the Lord your God with Holy Spirit renewed heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Worship in spirit can be defined as worship from one who is born again and is all in. You know that God’s Spirit dwells in you (1 Cor 3:16). You are striving to take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor 10:5). You are loving God from a pure heart, good conscience, and sincere faith (1 Tim 1:5). Do not fool yourself. Worship is work. True worship is a sacrifice. True worship must be offered in the spirit.
Worship in truth
I’ll be shorter here because as a conservative bible believing Church we are big on the truth. And that is a good thing. But a good thing becomes a bad thing when it gets out of proportion. When we emphasize truth and ignore spirit we’re in trouble. When we emphasize spirit and ignore truth it’s equally dangerous. So what does it mean to worship in truth while keep the balance with spirit?
1. Worship according to Jesus
Jesus is the truth (Jn 14:6). There can be no true worship of the Father without the Son. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father but whoever denies the Son denies the Father (1 Jn 2:23). Hear me say it clearly. No person can worship the Father without believing in Jesus Christ. It is Jesus who makes worship possible. The necessity of Jesus is precisely why we must sing, speak, and think a great deal about the Son.
But in spite of what some claim about the Spirit, worship in spirit does not mean worship un-tethered from the word. True worship demands spirit and truth.
2. Worship according to truth
What God’s word says do you must seek by the power of the gospel to do. Obeying the truth is worship. What God’s word prohibits you must not do. Ignoring or disobeying the truth will always poison worship. True worship demands that our lives and our actions match up with the truth of God’s word.
3. Worship must be genuine without deception and hypocrisy
This is similar to the previous point but needs emphasis. True worship is from the heart; it is genuine. If you are faking it and pretending to be okay with God when you are not then you are not worshipping in truth. If you are pretending that everything is fine when you know your brother or sister has something against you then you are not worshipping God in truth (Mt 5:23-24).
Charles Spurgeon helps us here. What does genuine worship look like? It comes from a person who truly loves, really adores, and sincerely bows. Worship in truth is real, hearty, and earnest. Worship in truth means your worship offering is a way of life not a show you put on for a few minutes on a Sunday.
Knowing this, part of my worship offering is asking God to make what is on my lips true in my life. While I’m singing I’m confessing to God that what I’m saying is not completely true but I want it to be. Admitting your coldness towards God and praying for him to warm us according to the truth, through Christ, and by the Spirit is worship. When we own our condition and pray to God for change that’s not hypocrisy that’s Christianity. Hypocrisy is when we know our hearts are cold and entangled with sin but we act like our hearts are glowing within us. Genuine worship acknowledges the truth and abhors deception and hypocrisy.
4. Worship according to the truth of who you were– a sinner who is chosen, holy, and beloved
Worship involves thankfulness for the truth of the atonement. If what God has done for you in Jesus Christ gets old then you are in a dangerous place. Doug Wilson said that it is a good thing to carry your old sins around with you. Carry them around with you like king David carried around the severed head of Goliath. Rejoice that you are cleansed. Shout because you have been set free. With thankfulness tell others of what God has done. Never get over the great love of the Father that caused him to send his only Son for you. But don’t flatter yourself. God didn’t send his Son because he worships you. God sent his Son to make you a worshipper.
III. Do you want to be a spiritual worshipper immersed in the truth?
If you want to worship the Father in spirit and truth it is evidence of God’s grace in your life
If you have no desire to worship the Father in spirit and truth then that should be cause for alarm. Get with a mature brother or sister so you can read the Word and pray through what’s going on in your heart.
In Luke 19:10 Jesus said that he had come to seek and to save that which was lost. In John 4:23 Jesus said that the Father is seeking true worshippers to worship him. God, through his Son, by his Spirit, and according to the truth of the gospel is calling out and creating worshippers.
Are you among that group? Do you hear the voice of Jesus and are you following him? Does the Spirit convict you of sin, righteousness, and judgment? Do you sense when you live a life of worship and offer up thanksgiving that you are doing what God wants you to do? You were recreated to be a true worshipper.
The good news for us all is that if you are not living as a true worshipper, life can be different. Repent of your sins, put your faith in Jesus Christ, and you will be made into a true worshipper. By the power of the gospel root out the deceit and hypocrisy that is in you and you will be made into a true worshipper.
Church, God is working in and among us today. He is seeking out worshippers. Will you bow your head with me and do spiritual business with God today?