THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 3-18-12
LESSON TITLE: “THE FATHER IS SEEKING SUCH TO WORSHIP HIM: WHO IS THE STANDARD OF WORSHIP?”
Paul once said, “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” 2 Tim.2:1! Here we are again on another beautiful Lord’s Day with the opportunity to be strong in the grace of God. What a great and wondrous privilege this truly is.
And with that in mind let me say, thank you for choosing to be with us as we together give this time to our creator. How blessed we are at this time to again sing praises to our God and to study from His matchless Word. I hope we all will do our part to make this time together acceptable in His sight. Now will you bow with me in prayer!
This morning we want to begin with a song which talks about are willingness to give ourselves fully to God. So, at this time won’t you join in with the congregation as we together sing, “I Am Thine Oh Lord.”
(SONG # 1)
When was the last time this old world or someone in it, let you down? Probably almost daily we have experiences that remind us of how little faith we can put in this world, in people, or even in the things of the world. However, the Bible tells us that this is just the way the world is! Because it is made up of the things of the flesh, therefore it can not be counted on.
On the other hand, God can be depended on in all areas of life. In fact, in Matthew 19:26, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Truly with God anything is possible and we can know He is able and will do the things which He says. However, with men, again we are unsure - never knowing whether we can depend on them or not.
Another verse which helps us with the dependability of God is found in Hebrews 6:18. There the writer says, “it is impossible for God to lie.” Isn’t it great to know that we can have full confidence in God and in what He promises. Everything that He has said and confirmed to us in His word, can be counted on!
Therefore we have the promise of the blessing of this earth and the ultimate promise of the hope of heaven. Again, keeping in mind that with God these things are possible but with men they are not.
So, where should you put your trust today? In the things of man or in the things of God. The problem is, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t serve God and mammon, as Jesus said in Matthew 6:24. Another verse which helps us with this whole topic is found in 1 John 2:15. There it says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” Again the point is we must chose to put God first or the World.
A few verses down we find the reason why we must choose God. In verse 17, we read, “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
So why not put your full confidence and trust in something you can completely count on - that is the creator of all, our God and Father in Heaven. If we make the right choice, we will receive all those things which God has promised us in His Word. So let me ask you, where does your faith lie today, in Jesus or the World?
This morning, we will continue with our series entitled, “The Father Is Seeking Such to Worship Him.” Our specific lesson of the morning will deal with, “Who Is The Standard For Worship?” So, please continue with us this morning and after our next song together I will return with our lesson of the day. Now, let’s join in our next hymn together, which is called, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives!”
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
I’d like to thank you so much for continuing with us this morning as we now go to God’s Word and consider another lesson in the series that we began last week concerning worship.
As we think about worship, certainly worship affects all of us as those who love God, and as we began to look at last week at really the definition of worship, I hope together through the Old Testament and the New Testament we are able to understand more clearly what the simple concept of worship is. We were able to look there at the concept found in the Hebrew as well as the idea that’s proposed and given in the Greek word that is used and translated as “worship” in the English. Most of them really have the same implications and ideas presented such as one who would bow themselves before or someone that would prostrate themselves and then we began to even look at the idea of why someone would do that and obviously would be in the case as such to God, but then we also so that really there are those of the world and there are many things that one might worship that are not even God. And so really the first mistake that many make in the religious world is confining the concept of worship to the idea of really the things that we are doing as an action and really the words that we are saying because really it is more so this action in relationship to how we carry it through, the mindset or desire to really bow ourselves and prostrate ourselves. So in other words, we might have someone who says, “I am going to worship God and they might even bow and prostrate but the problem is they may not be doing it in a worthy manner, in a proper manner.
So again, what are we looking at? The idea of the word “worship”, and so then we go for instance to Revelation chapter 4 and verse 10 and it talks there about the elders there in heaven, the many elders are worshipping God. What does that mean? It means they are bowing down and prostrating. It’s not necessarily talking about how they are doing it or their methodology or the character but it’s talking about the fact that they are in action carrying out this reverence or honor toward God.
And then also we see in the same book, Revelation chapter 9, just a few chapters over, an idea of worship once again, but I want you to note with me that this worship is obviously an unacceptable worship because there he makes this statement as he challenges them to understand that there is only one type of proper worship. Read with me there in verse 20. He says, “But the rest of mankind who were not killed by the plagues did not repent of their works of their hands that they should not worship…” Now hear it! “They should not worship demons, idols, gold, silver, brass, stone, wood…” and so on and so forth. So the idea here that worship can take place even in relationship to secular things, that someone might bow and give reverence or honor to something that is not worthy. Guess what- that is still worship! It may not be acceptable. It may not be proper. It may not be the worship that we are talking about with God, but an individual can do that by themselves or a group can do that and they can engage in what they believe to be actions of worship, bowing down or honoring or reverencing something no matter what the object is. So what is worship? When we come together and we sing praises and we engage in actions that prove that we are bowing down or lauding God, magnifying, lifting Him up and showing who we are in relationship to Him, are we not worshipping? Certainly we are! And we better be because if we’re not as we will see throughout our series we are in trouble. We don’t have a right to begin to enter into the things of God in a flippant or a careless way.
So that leads us to our discussion even this morning. The idea now of really understanding the distinction in worship and I believe what most probably go on to really discuss which is true worship. There is a such thing as right and wrong in relationship to worship and what that means to us is that now we are going to look at the heart of the matter, not so much what the specific word means that really is general in nature that does apply in many circumstances and is worship whether we agree with it or not because of what the word means, but rather the idea of what is acceptable worship or true worship because the Bible, once again, gives us the answers in relationship to these things.
And so if you will, turn with me to a familiar passage on true worship there in John chapter 4. You might recall this is the instance when Jesus is there at a well in Samaria and there is a woman there who begins to speak to Him and certainly Jesus eventually identifies Himself as “the Very Bread of Life” or “the Water of Life”. He also there identifies Himself as “the Savior or the Messiah that was to come.” And so all of these concepts that really the Jews have been taught and heard about and really now the Samaritans have probably heard but they really are not as educated in a religious sense as the Jews. So it comes down to a certain place here in their discussion and then the woman says this in verse 19 if you’ll read with me. It says, “The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I foresee that you are a prophet. Our fathers worship on this mountain.’” Evidently she was near a mountain and she said, “On this mountain here and the Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” In other words, “I’m a Samaritan. I can’t go to Jerusalem. I can’t go into the temple. They won’t allow me. My fathers have worshipped on this mountain,” or as the Old Testament refers to these situations, “on that high place. That’s where my fathers have worshipped.”
You know what’s quite interesting? It shows that she and her heritage and fathers desired to worship God, but guess what? There were problems with their understanding. There were things they did not know and did not understand. We’re going to see that because Jesus says that next. But yet guess what she says I was doing. Worshipping! And do you think Jesus would have said that she was worshipping? Well she was going through the actions. She was doing things that were worshipful or according to the definition, but Jesus would not have said she was a true worshipper or an acceptable worshipper except the fact that she would do everything that God commanded.
And so look at this response. Jesus said to her in verse 21, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain or in Jerusalem worship the Father.” He then says in verse 22, “You worship what you do not know and we know what we worship for salvation is of the Jews.” In other words the Jews know. They have the law that is proposed and given. We do know. He says, “You worship what you don’t know and we worship what we know.” But guess what. Neither one really knows the way it’s about to be because it is going to be unique and different. They may worship but is it going to be acceptable? Is it going to be acceptable and is it going to be right in the eyes of God? “Because soon,” He says, “it is not going to be on this hill. It’s not going to be in Jerusalem. It’s not going to be those types of things. It’s going to be a true worshipper.” So what qualifies one to be a true worshipper?
Read with me now verse 23. “But the hour is coming and now is…” It’s coming, “and now is…” Jesus is about to offer Himself upon the cross and implement the new covenant through His blood. “ …when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”
Then He adds in verse 24, “God is a spirit and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.”
Now one thing that’s interesting is our main theme, you might have noticed is taken from verse 23. “The Father is seeking such to worship Him.” If I want to be a true worshipper, I better know what God wants. That’s what we’re going to look at next week.
But now I want you to think about what He says here in relationship to what is coming. “And now is the time when true worshippers…” You see He gives the equation, so to speak. If I want to equal a worship that is true, I’ve got to do something. I’ve got to have an A plus B in order to equal C which is true worship. So if I want to be involved in true worship or as He says here, “To be then categorized as a true worshipper,” what is required? He says there in verse 23, that one “worship in spirit and truth.” Then He repeats it a second time in verse 24 and says that “God is a spirit and those that worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Now so now as we think about this idea of this spirit and truth, and if I want to be a true worshipper which I think we all want, and again let me continue to make a clarification, we’re talking about true and acceptable worship which now adds the idea of an adjective that describes these actions which are being gone through that is more specific than general worship, that many enter into whether it be God or not or whether it be in a proper way or not, but what he is saying here is what is God’s way of worshipping? What is acceptable to God? What is according to His Will? That’s the idea of the true worshipper. And so what do we know? We know clearly as there in this text as we are told in spirit and truth, let’s understand what that means.
First of all, in the Greek you’ll notice there is no article here. And why we know that in English is because as it says, “We worship in spirit.” There is no “the” there. So what that tells us is that it is not referring to The Holy Spirit but it is talking about the spirit of man. It’s talking about really that which is within us and that which is a part of us. The best way I can really think to describe that is there in Matthew 22. There you might recall the question that was asked what is the greatest commandment and Jesus said, “To love the Lord thy God with all of thy heart and all of they soul and all of thy strength or might.” You see the idea of loving God but with the whole of man. There it is again. That idea of the spirit. It is not enough just to say, “I know God,” and “I know His Will and I believe,” but I have got to love Him with my all. That’s the idea. Worship in sprit with the all and the attitude and the right desire and making sure it’s the right motive and making sure that I am there for the right reason and that I am there giving my very best to God. All of those things that in spirit are character and attitude make me what I must be with clean hands presentable before God.
The second idea is truth. In John 17:17 the Bible says, “Thy Word or Your Word (God) is truth.” So if I am going to do it in the right character and attitude, spirit, and in the right truth which is the Way, or based on that of the Word, the Will of God. I’ve got to know what God wants and then I must do it. Well was it important in Jesus’ day? Certainly it was! We know that because over in the book of Matthew 15 and this will be a text that will be used in several weeks from now, but we see the idea of where they were being challenged to understand that there is a difference in God’s commandments and man’s commandments.
There in chapter 15 specifically in verse 9, Jesus said, “In vain they worship Me.” Do you know why? The next thing He says, “They were teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.” Not God! You see right there the idea of vain worship because the commandments, the truth, was not of God, but man. We’ve got to make sure the truth is of God! And the attitude and the spirit that we give toward our God and we show forth to our Creator is true. Otherwise, our worship is vain.
Now finally this morning I might make mention of a few other ideas that I think are certainly beautiful that show us that we have to not only have the right spirit and truth, but there are some other ideas applied that also must be a part of a man in order that his worship be acceptable. One, it’s found in 1 Chronicles 16 and I like there as the writer says in verse 29, that “we are to give the glory that is due the Lord,” but finally he says, “Oh worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” Now that’s a neat idea because what it is saying is that the one who is holy is able to worship.
Now we not only see that we need to have the right attitude and spirit and the right actions for truth, but now we also see a manner of person and really the desire that we are striving to be holy or as we read in the book there of 1 John chapter 3 and even in chapter 4 that “we be righteous and that we love as God loved.” You see all of those things certainly are obvious and clearly shown forth there.
Another example that might also begin to just give you a touch of the way the scriptures continue to deal with the idea of how really worship is found in Philippians 3 and verse 3. He there says this, “For we are of the circumcision who worship God in the spirit.” So there he says that those who are the followers of God, specifically there the Jews who are following Christ. He says, “We worship God in the Holy Spirit.” Well what do you think that means? Well what do we have from the Holy Spirit? The guidance and direction that was given to the apostles. What do we have through the Holy Spirit? The Word which was delivered. And so there again we see that they worshipped as the Jews according to what? The Word that was given by what? The Holy Spirit that they might do what? In truth! That they might by what? In spirit! That they might also in every manner of life, reverence, holiness, purity, righteousness, godliness, and all those things that make us ascribe to be what God wants that we might truly and fully worship our God. So as we think about the idea or action of worship, the actual going through the motions of a type of worship, may we understand that true worship is much more for it includes not only the actions but the way we do it, the things that we say, the words that we use, the attitude that we have, God’s spirit and truth being followed and ultimately that we want to give Him the best, and if we want to be true worshippers that we do it God’s way.
So let me challenge us all to study God’s Word, to know what He wants, to obey it fully and always give Him the best in worship that we might be found faithful today and in the end.
(SONG # 3 - “I Need Thee Every Hour!”)
Again, let me thank you for choosing to be with us this morning. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.
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May we never forget that God is the only true and perfect standard for all things pertaining to the life of a Christian. Are you following God’s pattern for worship as found in the Bible?