Drinking Deeply

Sunday, October 16, 2005 at 7:09 PM

Worship in Spirit and in Truth

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. - John 4:23

To take some basic conclusions from this verse (they are acting more as a springboard into the post):

1) God is seeking people to worship him.

This doesn't mean that God needs us. God is perfect, He doesn't need anything. cwu posted a good post about this. But at the same time, God is seeking people to worship Him. He created us to worship Him, so that we may share in His glory, but He doesn't need us himself. He could have been perfectly content to just be. I AM that I AM is His name. He IS.

2) True worshippers worship in spirit.

What does it mean to say "in spirit"? Taken in context, it points to the idea that we must worship in "Spirit" through the Spirit. What does this look like? My best guess would be in bearing the fruit of the Spirit. We must not only say the words, but we must act them (and *shudder* feel them. I'm not a big fan of how emotional some people play Christianity up to, but I do acknowledge that there is an emotional aspect to Christianity). Reading the Bible should inspire us to deep worship, an acknowledgement of God, who He is, what He's done. Singing songs should do the same thing.

3) True worshippers worship in truth.

Just "feeling it" doesn't cut it for God. We worship in truth. If you read the context, you see that in the text, Jesus is criticizing the idea that we must worship at a specific location. Jesus rebukes this idea that worship is because of a location, but the thing he puts in place of a location isn't merely a "feeling" but also in "truth." What does it mean to worship in truth?

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. " - John 14:6

Jesus is the truth. So we worship through the Spirit and we worship in Christ? Yes of course, but what does it mean that Jesus is the truth? What else is said to be truth?

"Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. " - John 17:17

God's Word is truth! Isn't Christ said to be the living Word? Of course! All of Scripture is breathed out by God. (2 Tim. 3:16) Scripture is truth. Worshipping in truth means we worship in accordance to the commandments that God has laid forth. Do we remember the false worship ascribed to God at the bottom of Mount Sinai? Exodus 32

In short, the people wanted an idol to worship. They made a golden calf and worshipped it saying, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!" Were they worshipping? Yes! Moses himself says "It is not the sound of shouting for victory, or the sound of the cry of defeat, but the sound of singing that I hear."

The results were disastrous. This was false worship and God almost demolished the entire nation of Israel, but relented because Moses spoke up (and we won't get into the whole divine sovereignty issue here, the text does say that God relents. I still believe God is completely sovereign (and active) over everything).

Thus we must worship in truth. Worship ascribed to a false God, or offered inconsistent to God's commandments are not pleasing to Him. There is example after example of harsh punishment for what may seem like just an innocent mistake in worship. But with God, there is no such thing as innocent mistake. God demands that we worship in spirit and in truth.

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We sang a song on Friday that really rubbed me the wrong way, and I was like "hmm, a blog post!" I didn't mean that this blog is going to be a forum where I decry the human condition, but rather one where I share what I'm learning and urge my readers to test everything we do against Scripture (of course we will fail a great deal, but that's part of what we've become, and God's grace is enough to cover over a multitude of offenses).

We sang a song called "I will not forget you" by Waterdeep and I got to thinking about the lyrics:

(vs1) Many men will drink the rain
And turn to thank the clouds
Many men will hear You speak
But they will never turn around

I will not forget You are my God, my King
And with a thankful heart I bring my offering
And my sacrifice is not what You can give
But what I alone can give to you

A grateful heart I give, A thankful prayer I pray,
A wild dance I dance before you
A loud song I sing, A huge bell I ring,
A life of praise I live before You

(vs2) Many men will pour their gold
And serve a thing that shines
Many men will read your words
But they will never change their minds

The more I thought about it, the less I liked the song. The overarching theme seems to be "these people didn't remember God, but I did." It almost sounds like boasting. I know it wasn't intended as such, but reading it more and more, it sounds more like it. "Many men will read your words but they will never change their minds." This is absolutely true in one sense. People don't turn to God. But yet, the songwriter doesn't go on from there to praise God for His mercy and grace, but rather to promise to God that "I will not forget you."

Something about this sounds very wrong. "I will not forget You. I will praise You." Now given, I could have easily italicized the "You" over and over, but notice who is doing the action. I am giving to God. I am praising God. What exactly does this song teach us about God? It sure claims that we can do a lot for God. In fact, it claims that we can even give a sacrifice that God cannot give! This borders on an explicit contradiction to Scripture.

Let us remember that all our good works, even our worship and sacrifices are "good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."(Eph. 2:10) We also have explicit areas where sacrifice is given by God for God: Joel 2:14-16

12
"Yet even now," declares the LORD,
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13and rend your hearts and not your garments."
Return to the LORD, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
14Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the LORD your God?

Our worship isn't just about a song. It isn't about our emotions. It isn't about how much we enjoy the beat. Worship's value is found in the thing we're worshipping: God. It is ascribing to God the highest value. It has value only as God gives it value. Let us long to make our worship pleasing to God by worshipping Him in Spirit and in Truth.

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Blogger cwu said...

awesome

it's a 24/7 type thing. not just sunday worship or friday fellowship. it's all the time when you're awake and when you're asleep! He is the only most worthy of praise!  

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