Really, What Is New Testament Worship? (1)

“The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 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. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He” (John 4:19-26).

I was thinking the other day how we, as people, like to copy someone else’s success. If someone has a business model that works for them, before you know it everyone is copying that model. I know there’s a place for that in broad points and principles, but I don’t think that it should come at the price of losing creativity. No two businesses are the same, because no two people are the same and no two situations are the same.

We in the church world do the same thing. We like to copy what someone else does when we see success. But is that how it should be? Did they make themselves successful? Or were they following God’s plan for them, and He made it successful? Or worse yet, are they implementing their own plan and using worldly devices and allowing devilish influence into the church? Every denomination likes to point at the Bible and say, “This is how the early church did it! That’s why we do it this way.” Interesting how the early church had so many ways of church organization.

Have you noticed that God isn’t limited to blessing His people by their denomination, church government, or copying someone else’s vision? God has a plan for each and everyone of us as individuals, as the local church family, as a denomination, as a region and country, and collectively as the body of Christ. God has a plan for “every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” God’s greater than the whole of us put together. He has eternity mapped out for all His creatures. He’s not short on vision, but we certainly are. God wants us to grow spiritually and learn what His will is for our personal lives and our church. We’re walking with God; not being pushed into obedience or a religious system. Which brings us back to our text.

The woman wanted to know where to worship God, and Jesus told her how to worship God. We are to worship God in spirit and in truth. This is the desire that the woman sought. She said, “I know that Messiah is coming. When He comes, he will tell us all things.” She had religion. She seemed confused; disappointed in the rituals and the lifelessness; empty and unfulfilled. Are these rituals all we have? I know when Messiah comes, He’ll tell us all things. He’ll bring us light. He’ll make this real. Jesus’ response is: The Father is seeking true worship from the worshipers heart, not rituals. I’m the Messiah! She accepted Him and told others. She wanted true worship.

Jesus said, “The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). Where does this water come from? The new birth. What is the result of this new birth? Eternal life springing forth true worship. This is what the Father wants.

We see Paul give us a glimps of worship from the heart: “Do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God” (Ephesians 5:18-21). Haven’t you just spontaniously started praising and singing to the Lord without being prompted? Something just came out of your heart because of your joy and love for the Lord? I dare say, anyone that is born again has had praise and thanksgiving come out of him because the goodness of God toward him.

Again, Paul reiterates this same flowing spiritual worship in Colossians: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). Apparently, the new, born again worshiper is to bring something to a church gathering by “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” (If someone is taught, he’s learning something new. If someone is admonished, he’s encouraged to continue in what he’s been taught.)

Actually, there are different types of church services if you think about it for a moment. There’s evangelistic services where the service is geared toward the unbeliever with the intention to bring him to a decision for Christ. Then there are prayer services where we gather for the purpose of bringing God’s will into the earth. Of course, there’s services where we hear the teaching and preaching of the word for spiritual growth and direction. But then, I can see from the Bible, there should be believer’s meetings. Meetings where believer’s come together for worship; “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” I wouldn’t think these types of services would be at a time when we would be expecting many or any unbelievers. They would be a time where we come together as believers and learn to give to the body what the Lord has given to us for edification, exhortation and comfort. We certainly need such services, particulary in our current time. It would seem that our meetings should be less ritualistic and more alive with living waters that bring a filling and refreshing. Unfortunately, we seem to want to do it all in one weekly service.

I’m certainly not begruging anybody or any church. None of us have reached perfection, individually or as a church group. What I’m sharing with you, the Lord is admonishing me to do. I’m convinced there’s a deeper and more personal life in the Spirit than most of us ever touch upon. I want to know Jesus as He knows me. I want that life in the Spirit.

God wants a deeper, richer fellowship with all His people. Worshipping in Spirit and in truth is the way to the heart of the Father.

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