WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH
By Larry White
(Originally delivered in Boise, ID. May 20, 2001)
I did the word study and found that there is no place in the scriptures that describes New Covenant worship or worshippers except John 4:23-24. Indeed this is the only passage that even mentions Christians worshipping.
WORSHIP = proskunew (proskuneo) literally, to kiss the hand towards one, in reverence. To prostrate oneself. In oriental thought, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead in profound reverence, (to make a "salam"). Latin: Veneror, Adoro. By kneeling or prostration to do homage, to make obeisance in respect or supplication. [Thayer]
[W. E. Vine] Note: The worship of God is nowhere defined in scripture. A consideration of the words defined by worship shows that it is not confined to praise, broadly it may be regarded as the direct acknowledgement of God, of his nature, attributes, ways and claims, whether by the outgoing of the heart in praise and thanksgiving or by deed done in such acknowledgement.
19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But 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.
24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
SPIRIT is the highest aspect of the human being. It is the thing about us by which we have communion with God. The aspect of our being that is in his image. It is the seat of contemplation, the place of the soul's meeting with God, the sanctuary where the true worship is celebrated. You can see this in Rom.1:9, "God whom I serve in my spirit"; and in Eph.6:18, "praying in the spirit".
When a person is born of the spirit, he becomes capable of realizing the true worship that God wants.
In spirit marks the intensity of the new worship.
TRUTH, the second aspect, is the corollary of the first, the normal result of worshipping in spirit. The worship given in the spirit is the only true worship, because it is the only one conformed to the nature of God himself, its object. We are the true children of God, in the true tabernacle, worshipping the true God who is a spirit. The truth of the worship is its inward character, in opposition to every demonstration without spiritual reality. The true worship is the real worship. The true worshippers are the real ones.
Now, even though this worship excludes all limitation of time or place, it is also true that by its very freedom, this worship can easily accept any conditions of time and place.
The character of this worship is expressed by the word "Father". The spiritual and true worship is "Abba", the constant expression of our inmost being.
SERVICE = latreuw (latreuo) is a term sometimes translated - worship. It means to serve for hire, to serve, minister to God or men, N.T. to render religious service or homage, to worship. In the strict sense; to perform sacred services, to offer gifts, to worship God in the observance of the rites instituted for his worship. [Thayer]
So, let us apply all this to the 5 acts of worship that we have been taught are for the New Testament church. Singing, Praying, Giving, Bible Teaching and the Lord's Supper.
1-2. Singing and Praying
The Hebrew writer talked about the weakness and unprofitableness of sacrifices offered by the Levitical priesthood, he then mentions our offerings through the spiritual High Priesthood of Jesus Christ.
15 Therefore by him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.
So, when we are singing and praying in praise to God - the fruit of our lips is called sacrifices. Sacrifices are the offerings of Priests, (which we are) and so fall under the category of Service.
Does that mean that we do not worship God when we praise him is song and prayer? Only you can answer that. I know that I worship. Worship is in spirit, in truth. Only you and God know if you are worshipping.
We are not commanded to tithe in the New Age, but we are exhorted to share what we have to further the gospel.
6 Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches.
15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no assembly shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only.
16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities.
16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
So, financial fellowship in the gospel is called a sacrifice and so falls under the category of Service.
4. Teaching and Preaching
These are called ministering the gospel. We as the true priests of God in the spirit, in the true tabernacle that the Lord built and not man - we become, all of us the ministers of Christ in going everywhere teaching and preaching Jesus Christ. Paul has this viewpoint in:
16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
This ministration of the word of God is an outward action performed by the true priests of God and along with those who are converted is called a sacrificial offering to God, and therefore falls into the category of Service.
5. The Lord's Supper
Paul writes to Corinth and warns them not to associate with idolatrous practices and sacrifices. To drive his point home he uses the example of the Lord's Supper.
16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the participation of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the participation of the body of Christ?
17 For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.
18 Observe Israel after the flesh: Are not those who eat of the sacrifices participants of the altar?
19 What am I saying then? That idolatrous sacrifices are anything, or that an idol is anything?
20 Rather, that the things which they sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to become partners with demons.
21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.
The person who eats of the sacrifice to anything participates in that sacrifice and becomes partaker and sharer in the deity to whom the sacrifice was offered. Participation in the Lord's Supper is a participation in a sacrifice.
10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.
So it is an external activity where the individual shares in a sacrifice and so is in the category of Service.
The things we do in our assembly are spiritual sacrifices, carried out through external action and are the means by which we all both individually and collectively serve the Lord.
Does that mean that we are not worshipping when we do these things?
Let us say that I convinced my brother Harry, who is a Buddhist, to visit the assembling of the saints. He sits through the services, he sings, he bows his head and even says Amen at the end of prayers. He eats the bread, he drinks the wine, he throws a dollar in the basket as it is passed and he listens intently to the sermon. On the way home he says to me, "That was interesting, but I don't believe in any of that malarkey."
Now, did he worship God? No.
To those who did not know my brother - it sure looked like he worshipped.
Worship is the ongoing, full-time prostration of the inner man, before Him who is the image of the invisible God, Christ Jesus the Lord in glory.
When we acknowledge who God is and acknowledge all the things he has done for us, that is when we fall before his throne and honor him from our grateful hearts, and submit our will to him and give him our lives.
That is worshipping God.
Our Service flows from our Worship.
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your rational service.
2 And do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may discern the will of God, the good and acceptable and perfect.
Our spirits and hearts are inwardly laid before his throne, moment by moment and our external bodies are sacrificial offerings to him in service. That is our spiritual work of service.
The five acts of worship are nowhere called worship, but are actually services to our God - and they only take on the aroma of worship when we are individually already prostrate before God in our spirits. We do not only worship God when we come together in our meetings. The new self that we have in Christ, with a new heart can worship God at all times like Jesus did in his earthly life.
God can make you new and redeem you and make you his own. If you want to come to God, then come to Jesus Christ, repent of your sins and be immersed into Christ. You will come out a new creature, born anew, alive in the spirit and able to worship God as you should.
"The Father is seeking such to worship him."