Pointing the way to

acceptable worship
Part Two
In John, Chapter 4, Verses 19-24 our Lord defines true worship.  In a discussion with the woman at the well of Samaria, He deals with both the place of true worship, and the manner of true worship.  When the woman refers to “Our fathers” in John 4:20, she was speaking of the Samaritans of which she was a descendant.  According to 2 Kings 17:24-29, following the Assyrian army’s takeover of territory held by the 10 northern tribes of Israel, an Israelite Priest was sent back from captivity to teach the Samaritans in Bethel how to worship after the Law of Moses.  They followed the practice of the 10 Northern tribes under Jeroboam of worshipping in the mountains of Samaria.  He built altars at Bethel and Dan.
“Our fathers worshipped in this mountain” (4:20) refers most probably to Mt. Gerizim (the Mount of blessing of Deut. 11:29).  On returning from Babylonian Captivity, the Jews refused the Samaritans the privilege of helping rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.  Therefore, the Samaritans set up their own priesthood and built their own temple on Mt. Gerizim.  This temple was destroyed by John Hyrcanus about 126 B.C., yet the Samaritan woman at the well said to Jesus, “Our Fathers worshipped in this mountain.”
Jesus affirmed that the Samaritans worshipped ignorantly and that the Jews were right under the law of Moses.  Jerusalem was the holy city with the holy place.  Then He sets forth this truth: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23).  All was changed under Christ.  Our relationship in Christ forms a new Holy Temple.   The saints would make up “ a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).  In Christ, we are not bound to a city: “the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the father in spirit and in truth...” (John 4:23).    In Him one can worship God anywhere.
Jesus next defines acceptable worship: “In Spirit and In Truth....” (John 4:24).  To be acceptable, we must please the one being worshipped.  We must determine what pleases God.  Israel gave Him thousands of rams and offerings which He grew to detest because their hearts were far from him (Amos 5:21-27).   Micah 6:8 “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”  In Mat. 15:8, Jesus said: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.  But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”
The text says that “God is a spirit.. . .”— The implication is that physical things are not what He desires.  Acts 17: 24, 25 — “... dwelleth not in temples made with hands … “Neither is worshiped with men’s hands as though he needed anything.”  Our worship is to be “In Spirit” — Worship is a thing of the spirit.  Worship is not an hour of boredom, but a “sweet hour of prayer.” This is comparable to John the revelator being in the spirit on the Lord’s day.   (Rev. 1:10).  Under the law, worship consisted of physical acts, burnt sacrifices, the blood of animals, incense, ceremonial acts, established rituals.  God wearied of these acts as Israel had no “spirit” or “heart” in them.  In Christ, worship consists in the expression or manifestation of the love, gratitude, praise, and adoration of the heart.   Our worship must be performed in spirit; it must be of the heart.
The Lord also affirms that our worship must be “. . . In truth” (John 4:23,24).   Not only must worship be sincerely done, but it must also be carried out in the exact manner laid down by Christ and his inspired apostles.  In order to worship “in truth” we must worship according to the directions given in God’s Word.  Jesus clarified this statement when He prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them through thy truth: Thy Word is Truth” (John 17:17). To worship in truth then is to worship according to the exact directions of the New Testament.  With this, as with all Bible questions, we must ask, “What does the Lord want us to do?”  What has he authorized.  Col. 3:17, “And whatsoever ye do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord.”

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