True Worship

Worshipping Together 2023
February 1, 2023
Tim Senn

In the middle of His conversation with the Samaritan woman (John 4:23-24), Jesus made a monumental declaration about the nature of true worship: “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  Jesus said that God seeks true worshipers and that true worship is characterized as being “in spirit and truth.”

Immediately, our minds tend to take Jesus’ words “in spirit and truth” and transform them into the words “in spirit and in truth.”  Then, we proceed to explain what it means to worship God in spirit and what it means to worship God in truth.  This can be a helpful discussion, and perhaps is an appropriate application of the meaning of Jesus’ words.  However, Jesus is saying something different, something more basic and fundamental about worship.
To understand what it means to worship God “in spirit,” we need to take note of the fact that John states in verse 24 that “God is spirit.”  Here, John is not referring to the Holy Spirit, but rather to the essential nature and essence of God.  God is “spirit,” meaning that He exists in a spiritual condition as opposed to a material or physical body.  The prophet Isaiah contrasts God as being “spirit” and men as being “flesh” in Isaiah 31:3: “Now the Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses are flesh and not spirit.”  God exists on an entirely different spiritual plane and in an entirely different sphere or realm!  He is spirit, and we are flesh!  God demands that our worship of Him match His nature and essence in the spiritual realm!  It cannot be produced from our human, “fleshly,” natural condition!  Therefore, worship is not simply a matter of being sincere.    

Worship is a matter of the heart, but an unregenerate heart is unable to properly worship God!  It is spiritually “dead” or unresponsive to the glory and majesty of God and does not properly perceive or appraise the infinite worthiness of God.  Thus, in order for a sinful man or woman to properly worship God, God must grant new birth and new life to him or her through the sacrificial death and glorious resurrection power of Jesus Christ!  This new birth creates faith and a heart consumed with the love of God and passionately devoted to Him!  Thus, the fact that God “seeks true worshipers” compelled Him to create true worshipers through His granting of regeneration!  Simply put, true spiritual worship can only be offered by those who have been made truly spiritual through Christ, through the cleansing power of His blood and the transforming and life-giving power of His Holy Spirit!
And once we have been born again and made new by God, we long to present ourselves to Him as sincere, passionate, enthusiastic worshipers!  We worship God in this new spiritual life that He has bestowed, which expresses itself in an eager and willing desire to praise Him with “all that is within us.”  And we worship God in truth, meaning that we worship Him in the manner in which He has prescribed.  Worship is so important to God that He has not left the manner of worship for men to determine.  Rather, He has revealed in His Word how we should worship Him and demands that we worship the true God in the true way, and in the right manner!  We are not allowed to worship God in any way we choose or in the way that pleases us, but rather are commanded to worship in the manner which God has chosen and in the manner which pleases God!  The Scripture must regulate our worship, and Scripture tells us that when we gather together as a church body for corporate worship, we should: read the Word; pray the Word, sing the Word, proclaim the Word; and visibly “show” the Word through the ordinances of baptism and communion.

God desires and demands worship from “spiritual” men and women, born again by His Spirit, and worship in accordance with His truth or instructions!  This is what it means to worship God in spirit and truth!