Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. Lord, bless us as we study Your Word. We will bless the Lord at all times, His praises shall continuously be in our mouth. As we study, Lord, help us to gain closeness to You and Your Holy Spirit. Bless us to walk in the spirit of truth daily. Help us to sing worship songs in our hearts to You, even as we lay down and rise up in the morning. AMEN.
Scripture Reading: (John 4:24) (Psalm 150)
Study 1 Worshipping in the Spirit:
The idea of worshipping the Lord "in spirit and truth" comes from Jesus' conversation with the in . In the conversation, the woman was discussing places of worship with Jesus, saying that the Jews worshipped at Jerusalem, while the Samaritans worshipped at Mount Gerizim. Jesus had just revealed that He knew about her many husbands, as well as the fact that the current man she lived with was not her husband. This made her uncomfortable, so she attempted to divert His attention from her personal life to matters of religion. Jesus refused to be distracted from His lesson on and got to the heart of the matter: "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to worship Him ( ).
The overall lesson about worshipping the Lord in spirit and truth is that worship of God is not to be confined to a single geographical location or necessarily regulated by the temporary provisions of Old Testament law. With the coming of Christ, the separation between Jew and Gentile was no longer relevant, nor was the centrality of the temple in worship. With the coming of Christ, all of God's children gained equal access to God through Him. Worship became a matter of the heart, not external actions, and directed by truth rather than ceremony.
In , Moses sets down for the Israelites how they are to love their God: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might." Our worship of God is directed by our love for Him; as we love, so we worship. Because the idea of "might" in Hebrew indicates totality, Jesus expanded this expression to "mind" and "strength" ( ; ). To worship God in spirit and truth necessarily involves loving Him with heart, soul, mind and strength.
True worship must be "in spirit," that is, engaging the whole heart. Unless there's a real passion for God, there is no worship in spirit. At the same time, worship must be "in truth," that is, properly informed. Unless we have knowledge of the God we worship, there is no worship in truth. Both are necessary for satisfying and God-honoring worship. As soon as the emotion is over, when the fervor cools, so does the worship. Truth without spirit can result in a dry, passionless encounter that can easily lead to a form of joyless legalism. The best combination of both aspects of worship results in a joyous appreciation of God informed by Scripture. The more we know about God, the more we appreciate Him. The more we appreciate, the deeper our worship. The deeper our worship, the more God is glorified.
This melding of spirit and truth in worship is best summed up by Jonathan Edwards, the 18th-century American pastor and theologian. He said, "I should think myself in the way of my duty to raise the affections [emotions] of my hearers as high as possibly I can, provided that they are affected with nothing but truth." Edwards recognized that truth and only truth can properly influence the emotions in a way that brings honor to God. The truth of God, being of infinite value, is worthy of infinite passion.
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 (). 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.
The nature of Christian worship is from the inside out and has two equally important parts. We must worship "in spirit and in truth" (). Worshiping in the spirit has nothing to do with our physical posture. It has to do with our innermost being and requires several things. 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. "No one knows the things 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.
Second, worshiping in spirit requires a mind centered on God and renewed by Truth. Paul exhorts us to "present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind" ( ). 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.,
Third, we can only worship in spirit by having a pure heart, open and repentant. When King David's heart was filled with guilt over his sin with Bathsheba (), he found it impossible to worship. He felt that God was far from him, and he "groaned all day long" feeling God's hand heavy upon him ( , ). But when he confessed, fellowship with God was restored and worship and praise poured forth from him. He understood that "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart" ( ). Praise and worship toward God cannot come from hearts filled with unconfessed sin.
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, "Thy word is truth" ( says, "Thy law is truth" (v. 142b) and "Thy word is true" (v. 160a). 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.).
Since external actions are unimportant in Christian worship, there is no rule regarding whether we should sit, stand, fall down, be quiet, or sing praises loudly while in corporate worship. These things should be decided based on the nature of the congregation. The most important thing is that we worship God in spirit (in our hearts) and in truth (in our minds.)
Christ commanded that true worshipers worship in spirit and in truth ( ), abiding within the doctrine of Christ ( ; see also , ; ). True worship involves only the instructions given in the Bible and nothing else—not a Book of Confessions, Rules of Order, or other manmade books of instructions or guidance.). The apostle Paul explained that we worship by the Spirit of God ( ), meaning that true worship comes only from those who have been saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and have the Holy Spirit living in their hearts. Worshiping in spirit also means with the proper heart attitude, not simply adhering to rites and rituals. To worship in truth means worshiping according to what God has revealed about Himself in Scripture. In order for our worship to truly be biblical, it must not go beyond that which is authorized by the Bible ( ;
The first-century church engaged in several devotional acts in their worship services, from which we can determine what makes up a truly biblical worship service. The communion supper was observed (), prayers were offered up ( ), songs were sung to the glory of God ( ), a collection was taken ( ), the Scriptures were read ( ), and the Word of God was proclaimed ( ).
First, the communion supper commemorates Jesus' death during our worship as we memorialize His resurrection until He returns again ( ), never to any dead person as in the practice of Catholicism. We are not authorized to use devices such as rosary beads or Buddhist "prayer wheels" that supposedly send written requests into the far regions of the universe. Most importantly, our prayers must be in harmony with the will of God. ). As with the Lord's Supper, prayer must also conform to the divine pattern taught in the Scriptures. Second, our prayers should be directed only to God ( ;
Third, we are authorized to sing. The apostle Paul commands us to "speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" ( ). Singing to the Lord and to one another conveys truth set to music as a form of teaching ( ), singing with both the spirit and the mind in order to produce understanding on the part of those involved ( ).
Part of true biblical worship is giving of our offering, as Paul instructed the Corinthian church: "Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made" (). Our regular giving for the support of the Lord's work is a serious responsibility and is part of true biblical worship. Our giving should be viewed as a thrilling blessing, not as a burdensome matter for grumbling ( ). Additionally, it must be stressed that giving is the only authorized method for financing the work of the church of Jesus Christ. We are not authorized to operate businesses, conduct bingo parties, hold pay-at-the-door concerts, etc. The church of Christ is not meant to be a commercial enterprise ( ).
Finally, preaching and teaching are major ingredients of true worship. Our teaching must be the Scriptures alone, the only means of equipping believers for life and godliness (). The godly preacher or teacher will teach only from the Word and rely on the Spirit of God do His work in the minds and hearts of his listeners. As Paul reminded Timothy, "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction" ( ). A church gathering that does not include the Word of God as a major component is not a true biblical worship service.
Without question, God, in His divine wisdom, has provided the perfect model of true biblical worship so that we can worship in a manner pleasing to Him. As we follow the course of true worship, let us worship God with great passion. We must not convey to the world the impression that the worship of our God is a boring, lifeless ritual. We have been redeemed from sin. Let us therefore praise our Creator as His children who are grateful for His bountiful blessings. "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe" ().
1). What do Psalm 150 means to you?
2). What do you think worshipping in the Spirit of God means?
3). What is the overall lesson about worshipping the Lord in Spirit and truth?
4). Just as Deuteronomy 6:4 says, we are to worship God, how?
5). True worship engaged in what?
6). How is God glorified in our worship?
7). What lesson did you learn from reading Romans 1-3?
8). What are the two equally important parts of worship?
9). Explain what worship requires.
10). Worship is an expression of praise from where?
11). What does true worship not include?
12). Is communion worshipping God?
13). Is giving an offering worshipping God?
14). Name two major ingredients of true worship.
15). What is a true Biblical worship service?
Exercise: Week # 1 Walking in the Spirit today:
What did you do to know you were walking in the Spirit today?
I choose Love. . . No occasion justified hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. I choose love. Today I will love God and what God loves.
Father God, I thank You for giving me another study, and the time to study Your Word. Bless us to apply this study to our lives daily. Your love has kept me, and I trust Your love will grow in me and all the prayer warriors today. Your Word says, You loved the world so much that You gave your only Son to die for us, so that we would not have to perish. That love is what we need today in our lives. Father, I ask You to fill me with a deep love for You (Romans 5:5). Grant that my love for You be passionate and not lukewarm. Please fill me with Your powerful love for things that further Your Kingdom. Endue me with a love for souls and a passion to grow our church. Fill me with a burning love for serving You. Baptize me with a selfless, compassionate love for our families, and for those I meet each day. God, by the power of Your Spirit, please fill my hearts with Your powerful love. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen.
Weekly Reading: Week # 1 (Romans 1-7) Monday through Sunday