Worship in Spirit and Truth

Remember the perfections of that God whom you worship, that he is a Spirit, and therefore to be worshipped in spirit and truth; and that he is most great and terrible, and therefore to be worshipped with seriousness and reverence, and not to be dallied with, or served with toys or lifeless lip-service; and that he is most holy, pure, and jealous, and therefore to be purely worshipped; and that he is still present with you, and all things are naked and open to him with whom we have to do. The knowledge of God, and the remembrance of his all-seeing presence, are the most powerful means against hypocrisy.

Richard Baxter

The meaning of the New Testament Greek word most often translated “worship” (proskuneo) is “to fall down before” or “bow down before.” Worship is a state (an attitude) of spirit. Since it’s an internal, individual action, it could/should be done most of the time (or all the time) in our lives, regardless of place or situation.
John 4:21-24(HCSB)21 Jesus told her, “Believe Me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans[h] worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Therefore, Christians worship all the time, seven days a week. When Christians formally gather together in worship, still the emphasis should be on individually worshiping the Lord. Even in a congregation, participants need to be aware that they are worshiping God fully on an individual basis. There is another word for worship called doxology and it comes from the Greek doxa, (“glory, splendor, grandeur”) and logos, (“word” or “speaking”). Although the word doxology is not found in the Bible, the themes expressed in doxologies are certainly scriptural. Praising God for His blessings (Ephesians 1:3(HCSB)3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.
ascribing to Him all glory(Romans 11:36(HCSB)For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.  Ephesians 3:21(HCSB)21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
and affirming the Trinity Matthew 28:19-20(HCSB)19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
These have always been integral parts of true Christian worship. We study God’s word — that is, we have theology(the study of God and of God’s relation to the world Theology comes from two Greek words Τheos meaning “God,” and -logia utterances, saying, a subject of study; a branch of knowledge when combined mean “the study of God.” Christian theology is simply an attempt to understand God as He is revealed in the Bible. No theology will ever fully explain God and His ways because God is infinitely and eternally higher than we are.  — but we can learn more about him; that knowledge should then lead to praise of God — that is, doxology. The more we know about God, the more we are compelled to worship and praise him, awestruck at his greatness. We can not worship a God we do not know. To know God means a few things, first we have to understand who He is, then we have to understand the nature of God. Yet, many Christians, including some leaders today, are proclaiming that theology is not important or needed; all we need to do is to love Jesus. If you have ever read through even one book in the Bible and paid heed to God’s Word, you will know that this is not true! You could not get through John or any Epistle with that assumption. Yes, a lot of negative attacks and abuses have come to Christians and to the Church and its infighting over the centuries. The amount of unfair fights would make one wonder if theology and doctrine really are important. Some Christians view the word “doctrine” or theology as almost a curse word. The thought process of most American Christian’s  is essentially “doctrine is to be avoided because doctrine causes division among Christians, and God desires Christians to be united as it says in;
1 Corinthians 1:10(HCSB)10 Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.” While it is true that doctrine does cause division, if the division is due to a disagreement over an important biblical teaching, division is not necessarily a bad thing. Paul declares,
2 Timothy 4:3(ESV) “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear”.
Titus 1:9(ESV)“He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it…
Titus 2:1 (ESV)But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.”

The Christian faith, more than any other, is based on doctrine. The doctrines of the deity of Christ (John 1:1-14), the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:17), and salvation by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9) are absolutely essential and non-negotiable. If any of these doctrines is removed, the faith is empty and void. There are other doctrines in the Christian faith that are very important, such as the Trinity, the inspiration of Scripture, and the reality of the eternal state of man. If Christian doctrine is causing division on any of these points, so be it, as those who deny these doctrines need to be separated from. Romans 16:17 says, “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”  That’s right, Paul says to avoid those causing divisions by teaching false doctrine!  He does not say to protect the false teachers from discerning Christians. Nor does he say to go to prayer meetings, agree with them, nor to defend them. The problem comes in when the one teaching and speaking the truth is thee one that is looked at as the one causing the division, but it is the one who is not teaching true doctrine that is being divisive.

JC Ryle said this [Dislike of dogma] is an epidemic which is just now doing great harm, and specially among young people. It produces what I must venture to call a “jelly-fish” Christianity in the land: that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power. A jelly-fish is a pretty and graceful object when it floats in the sea, contracting and expanding like a little, delicate, transparent umbrella. Yet the same jelly-fish, when cast on the shore, is a mere helpless lump, without capacity for movement, self-defense, or self-preservation. Alas! It is a vivid type of much of the religion of this day, of which the leading principle is, “No dogma, no distinct tenets, no positive doctrine.”

We have hundreds of “jelly-fish” clergymen, who seem not to have a single bone in their body of divinity. They have not definite opinions; they belong to no school or party; they are so afraid of “extreme views” that they have no views at all.Worst of all, we have myriads of “jelly-fish” worshippers–respectable church-going people, who have no distinct and definite views about any point in theology. They cannot discern things that differ, any more than color-blind people can distinguish colors. They think everybody is right and nobody wrong, everything is true and nothing is false, all sermons are good and none are bad, every clergyman is sound and no clergyman is unsound. They are “tossed to and fro, like children, by every wind of doctrine”; often carried away by any new excitement and sensational movement; ever ready for new things, because they have no firm grasp on the old; and utterly unable to “render a reason of the hope that is in them.”

The Christian life depends upon sound doctrine. But is it harmful to Christian unity to rebuke false doctrine and separate from those who willfully assist in its advancement? Some seem to think so. Yet Christians are nowhere in Scripture called to unite around false doctrine or practice, but to reject error and instead speak the truth in love to one another. We are to ‘contend earnestly for the faith which as once for all delivered to the saints’ Jude 1:3-4 HCSB “Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all. For some men, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into promiscuity and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord.”

2 Peter 2:1-3 HCSB “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their unrestrained ways, and the way of truth will be blasphemed because of them. They will exploit you in their greed with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.”

The nature of Christian worship is from the inside out and has two equally important parts. We must worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). Worshiping in the spirit has nothing to do with our physical posture. It has to do with our innermost being. First, we must be born again. Without the Holy Spirit residing within us, we cannot respond to God in worship because we do not know Him.
1 Corinthians 2:11(HCSB)11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man that is in him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.. The Holy Spirit within us is the one who energizes worship because He is in essence glorifying Himself, and all true worship glorifies God.

Worshiping in spirit requires a mind centered on God and renewed by Truth. Paul exhorts us in Romans 12:1-2HCSB)Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God. Only when our minds are changed from being centered on worldly things to being centered on God can we worship in spirit. Distractions of many kinds can flood our minds as we try to praise and glorify God, hindering our true worship.

The second part of true worship is worship “in truth.” All worship is a response to truth, and that which is truth is contained in the Word of God. Jesus said to His Father,
John 17:17(HCSB)Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth. Psalm 119 says, Psalm 119:142(HCSB)Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your instruction is true. and Psalm 119:160(HCSB)The entirety of Your word is truth,and all Your righteous judgments endure forever. To truly worship God, we must understand who He is and what He has done, and the only place He has fully revealed Himself is in the Bible. Worship is an expression of praise from the depths of our hearts toward a God who is understood through His Word. If we do not have the truth of the Bible, we do not know God and we cannot be truly worshiping. The goal for every Christian should be obvious: to become a sound, biblical theologian who develops an understanding of doctrine that submits finally to the authority of God’s Word even as it looks to the church’s historical understanding of Scripture for guidance. Spiritual maturity requires theological study, there can be no growth without it. More than just a mental grasp of the content of biblical theology is needed, for spiritual maturity only comes as we receive the Word in our hearts and allow it to transform us through the power of the Holy Spirit. Only the Spirit can give us the willingness and the ability to respond to divine revelation in this manner

In Romans 12:1(HCSB)Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. Now we don’t offer animals as sacrifices but our very selves. The Christian’s whole life is an act of sacrificial service to God. God desires worship, the offering of one’s own self in its entirety. In this regard, surely the mention of “your bodies” is meant to suggest that even the most base or mundane element of the self—this wretched body that suffers and will die due to the effects of sin and curse—may and can be offered unto God in praise.

Or consider Hebrews 13:15(HCSB)15 Therefore, through Him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of our lips that confess His name Praise is our sacrifice, and we offer it continually—not just for an hour on Sunday morning. The fruit of lips that acknowledge God’s name includes songs of praise, but much more too: boldly confessing the gospel in public, speaking words of truth and love to others, bringing every word we say under Christ’s dominion.

This means that “worship” isn’t something we mainly do at church on Sunday. Instead, worship should infuse our whole lives. For the Christian, worship isn’t confined to sacred times and places, because we are united by faith to Christ, the one who is God’s temple, and we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, making us both individually and collectively the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16–17(HCSB)16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20(HCSB)19 Don’t you know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.;
Ephesians 2:22(HCSB)22 You also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit..

What then characterizes corporate worship in the new covenant? Reading and preaching Scripture; singing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs together; praying; celebrating the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper; and stirring one another up to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24–25(HCSB)24 And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25 not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

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