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Part 2

(John 4:19-24) The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a
prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem
is the place where men ought to worship.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall
neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship
ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 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. God is
a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.  
(KJV)

What is Worship? In Spirit

By Roderick L. Ross

In his journey to Galilee from Judea in the fourth chapter of John, Jesus passed
through Samaria, a land which most of the Jews would walk around (though it took
them miles out of their way) rather than through. Samaria had been infested by men
“from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from
Sepharim” as the king of Assyria had placed them there following the captivity of the
nation of Israel. God then sent lions upon them to destroy them because they “feared
not the Lord.”

“Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, Carry thither one of the priests whom
ye brought from thence [Israel]; and let them go and dwell there, and let him teach
them the manner of the God of the land. Then one of the priests whom they had
carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they
should fear the Lord. Howbeit every nation made gods of their own, and put them in
the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in their
cities wherein they dwelt. … They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after
the manner of the nation of the nations whom they carried away from thence. Unto
this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they
after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law and commandment
which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob, whom he named Israel; … So
these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children,
and their children’s children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day” [2 Kings
17:27-29,33,35,41]

Thus, from the days of the Assyrian captivity to the time of Christ there had been
animosity between the Jew and Samaritan on two points at least: (1) the dual
allegiance of the Samaritans to Jehovah and to their idol gods; and, (2) the incorrect
worship of Jehovah by worshipping at Mt. Gerazim rather than at the temple in
Jerusalem.

This animosity between Jew and Samaritan was so intense that when Jesus sat down
and rested at Jacob’s well while the disciples went into the city to buy food, and asked
a Samaritan woman for a drink of water, she was greatly surprised that He (being a
Jew) would even speak to her (since she was a Samaritan).

Jesus then spoke to her of the living water which gives eternal life [John 4:9-15].
Then after telling her to go get her husband, and reminding her that she had had five
husbands and was not now living with one who was her husband, the woman realized
He was a prophet [John 4:16-19].

Thus, the age-old animosity between Jew and Samaritan came to her mind.
Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place
where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour
cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the
Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the
Jews. 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. God is a
Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:20-24
KJV)

“The Samaritans worshipped in Mt. Gerazim, but they so in ignorance; the law of God
showed that Jerusalem was the place to worship (Deuteronomy 12:5-11; 1 Kings 9:3;
II Chronicles 3:12). But Jesus shows the woman at the well that she should no longer
be concerned about this question, a time was coming – and indeed had already come
– when it would make no difference whether worship took place at Mt. Gerazim, in
Jerusalem, or any other place upon the face of the earth. Under the grace of the
gospel, all requirements as to the geographical location were removed. God as a
spirit is not limited as to time or as to space, and can be worshipped in any place
upon the face of the earth. What was important was that the worship of God be
accomplished by the spirit of man according to the truth.”

As brother J.W. McGarvey wrote: “Jesus draws the mind of the woman from the place
of worship to the Person or Being worshipped, and from the form to the spirit of
worship. God seeks for genuine, and not formal worshippers, and for those who
worship him in truth; …” [THE FOURFOLD GOSPEL; p. 149]

A basic problem in dealing with acceptable worship is a defining of Jesus’ statement
in John 4:23,24. Misconceptions, misunderstandings, and ignorance of the principle
of worship put forth by the Son of God in this passage have been the source of
many, if not all, of the evils that have beset Christian worship since the days of the
apostles. Therefore, a thorough understanding of Christ’s words and all they imply
must be understood to be able to comprehend the difference and distinction between
acceptable and unacceptable worship.

What is “In Spirit”?

We have defined “worship” as: an adoration of the heart that finds itself expressed in
action toward God. To worship “in spirit” is to have the adoration of the heart; it is the
first and foremost requirement for acceptable worship. Unfortunately, far too many
assume worship takes place merely by sitting in a pew or by going through the
motions while the heart and soul may be a million miles away. That, however, is no
more worship in its true sense than is a burlap bag  that is empty with “sand” written
on it a bag of sand. True, to have a bag of sand you must have a bag, but you must
also have the sand; and, to have worship you must have the acts, but you must also
have the adoration of the heart.

A Singular Allegiance

The Samaritans had, as we saw in 2 Kings, a divided allegiance. Their adoration was
divided between the idol gods of their native land and the God of the land in which
they now dwelt. Jesus had said in the Sermon on the Mount.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or
else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and
mammon. (Matthew 6:24 KJV)

The Christ had reference to the god of possessions (the idolatry of covetousness)
which reigns in the hearts of many men today. Yet, what Jesus said of mammon was
true of the idol gods of the Samaritans. They could not acceptably worship God with a
divided allegiance.

Joshua faced this same problem as the nation of Israel had obtained all of the land
which God had promised unto their fathers (Joshua 21:43-45).  Before his death, the
successor of Moses “gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the
elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their judges, and for their officers; and
they presented themselves before the Lord” (Joshua 24:1). He reminded them that
Abraham and his forefathers had lived in another land and served other gods; but,
Abraham left them in his homeland when he obeyed the voice of God to go to
another land. Joshua reminded them that it was Jehovah who had given them victory
over the people who worshipped the gods of Canaan. He ends by saying,
Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away
the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and
serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this
day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the
other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for
me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:14-15 KJV)

Having rehearsed before the people the victories which God had wrought for them in
conquering the promised land, there could be no other choice than to serve the One
True and Living God, forsaking all others.

Elijah faced the problem of a divided heart in his day. Jezebel, the wicked wife of king
Ahab, had slain many of the prophets of God although Obadiah had saved one
hundred, fifty. She erected idols thoughout the country for the people to worship.
Elijah had fled, but was now sent back by Jehovah to conduct the “Battle of the gods.”
The people of the nation were gathered together and Elijah said to them:
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two
opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people
answered him not a word. (1 Kings 18:21 KJV)

He proposed a test to show beyond a shadow of a doubt who was truly god.
And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on
the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there
was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was
made. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for
he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or
peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut
themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon
them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time
of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to
answer, nor any that regarded. (1 Kings 18:26-29 KJV)

Now it was Elijah’s turn. He built his altar and dug a trench around it. Then he had the
people fill four barrels with water and pour them over the sacrifice, the wood, and the
altar three different times. Twelve barrels of water were poured over the altar so that
even the trench around the altar was filled with water.

And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the
prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be
known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have
done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may
know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and
the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all
the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God;
the LORD, he is the God. (1 Kings 18:36-39 KJV)

There can be no question as to the God who deserves our undivided allegiance. He
is the same God whom Joshua chose to serve and whom Elijah called upon. He is the
Creator of all that is, the Almighty, Lord of hosts, Lord God of all, the One True and
Living God, Jehovah. When God had spoken unto the nation of Israel from Mt. Sinai,
He told them:

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the
house of bondage.  Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make
unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or
that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not
bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God,
visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth
generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that
love me, and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:2-6 KJV)

To worship God acceptably, one must have a singular allegiance. Our allegiance
cannot be divided.

A Pure Allegiance

The singular allegiance in order to worship God acceptably that one must have must
be a pure allegiance. A lawyer of the Pharisees came to Jesus one time
… asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great
commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great
commandment. (Matthew 22:35-38 KJV)

Luke records a similar event with a slight change in the wording:

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as
thyself. (Luke 10:27 KJV)

From both of these statements it is clear that the love with which we love God is to be
an all consuming love. We are to love God with all of our emotional being, with all our
spiritual being, with all our intellectual being, and with all that we have. The love of
God must permeate our entire existence.

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be
called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
(1 John 3:1 KJV)

God’s love is a pure love. Even while we were yet sinners, alienated from our Creator
by our sins, He loved us. His love is a sacrificial love.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16 KJV)

Our Father in heaven has extended to sinful man the ability to become His sons. A
love which will sacrifice even the only begotten Child is a love beyond bounds.
But, this great love is not only limited to the Father. Jesus willingly died on the cross.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John
15:13 KJV)

For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some
would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we
were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7-8 KJV)

As the apostle John writes of our love for God:

We love him, because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19 KJV)

With the great love that God has shown to us, how can we help but love Him?

Appreciation for gifts from friends and acquaintances cause fondness to grow in the
heart, when those gifts are but passing moments here on the earth. When those gifts
are expressions of the heart, the emotions are raised to a greater degree. When
those gifts represent a sacrifice, especially a great sacrifice, the heart melts within us
and it is a genuine feeling of love that swells within our breast. If these emotions find
themselves as natural reactions to the gifts of those here on the earth, how much
more should love find its way into our minds, hearts, and very souls when we think of
God. Daily He provides us with the sustenance of life – air, warmth, food, shelter.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the
Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17
KJV)

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and
godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: {to:
or, by} Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by
these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that
is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:3-4 KJV)

With so many, and so great gifts given to us, “We love him, because he first loved us.”
The love with which we love God must exceed the love which we have for any other
her upon the face of the earth. Jesus said,

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth
son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37 KJV)

Even the ties which we have with our families cannot be greater than that which we
have toward God. We must love God more than we do our husband, wife, or any
members of our family.

If our worship is to come out of a pure allegiance to God, out of love for Him, we could
not close our discussion without looking at the chapter of love, 1 Corinthians 13. Here
the apostle shows the importance of an all consuming love.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am
become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of
prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all
faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And
though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be
burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is
kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave
itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; {in the truth: or, with the truth}
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity
never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be
tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. (1
Corinthians 13:1-8 KJV)

And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
(1 Corinthians 13:13 KJV)

It makes no difference what we do, if our heart is not full of love. It is meaningless.
That is true of worship. We can go though all the right motions, do all the right acts;
but, if we fail to do them out of love, they are meaningless – our worship is vain and
empty. For true worship to take place, it must begin with a pure adoration – love – of
God.

A Practical Allegiance

The singular, pure allegiance in order to worship God acceptably that one must have
must be a practical allegiance, worshipping no other deity; and a pure allegiance,
loving God from the heart; but, if it is not a practical allegiance which maintains
obedience to His word, then worship cannot be acceptable. Too often, there have
been those who have felt they could acceptably worship God and fail to be obedient
to His word. They have felt that as long as they “worshipped,” as long as they
attended worship services and went through the motions, they were just fine in the
sight of God. But, that is not the case.

The prophet Samuel told King Saul of Israel what God had commanded him to do:
Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not;
but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass. (1
Samuel 15:3 KJV)

Yet, when King Saul returned from his mission, Samuel went out to meet him and said:
And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the
lowing of the oxen which I hear? (1 Samuel 15:14 KJV)

And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the
head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? And the
LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the
Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. {they...: Heb. they
consume them} Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst
fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD? And Saul said unto
Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which
the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly
destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief
of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD
thy God in Gilgal. And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings
and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than
sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft,
and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of
the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king. {witchcraft: Heb. divination} (1
Samuel 15:17-23 KJV)

Even the king of Israel, anointed of the Lord, needed to obey the word of the Lord in
order to be acceptable to God. Even a desire to worship God could not replace the
need to obey.

Isaiah dealt with a similar problem with the nation of Judah in his day. He declared
unto the people:

Hear the word of the LORD, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye
people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me?
saith the LORD: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and
I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to
appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no
more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and
sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn
meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a
trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will
hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your
hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings
from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the
oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason
together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as
snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and
obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be
devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (Isaiah 1:10-20
KJV)

All of the sacrifices which the nation of Judah offered, all of the assemblies they
attended, all the feast days they observed, were unacceptable in the sight of God
because they failed to be obedient. Whey they would hold forth their hands for help,
God would not see. When they prayed, God would not hear. Unless their allegiance
was a practical one, their worship was vain.

The apostle Paul uses similar language to Isaiah in writing to the young evangelist
Timothy:

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and
doubting. (1 Timothy 2:8 KJV)

The hands that are spread forth in prayer to the Father must be holy. As the wise
man said,

The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the
upright is his delight. (Proverbs 15:8 KJV)

And,

The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.
(Proverbs 15:29 KJV)

Hands that have engaged in evil and wickedness are not acceptable in worship.
To offer acceptable worship one must first be obedient. Jesus clearly taught this
principle when He said,

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother
hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be
reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matthew 5:23-24 KJV)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus plainly showed that without obedience, man could
not be acceptable to God.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven;
but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that
day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out
devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto
them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever
heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which
built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the
winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be
likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain
descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and
it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:21-27 KJV)

Thus, before we come in worship unto the Father, let us remember the words penned
by inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw
nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify
your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter
be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of
the Lord, and he shall lift you up. (James 4:7-10 KJV)

Understanding

A singular, pure, practical allegiance allows the worship to be acceptable; because it
will allow the worship to be done from the heart, soul and mind – to be done with the
understanding.

The apostle Paul points to this important principle of understanding what you are
doing, and meaning it in his first epistle to the Corinthians:

What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I
will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. (1 Corinthians 14:
15 KJV)

The Corinthians had problems in properly using the spiritual gifts that had been given
by the Holy Spirit. They were utilizing what they perceived to be those spiritual gifts
without others being able to understand what they said, or even being able to
understand themselves. Paul thus instructs them that it was proper and good to use
the gifts of the Spirit, but that it should be done with the understanding.

Brother Paul had already shown the indispensability of worshipping with the
understanding to the Corinthians in speaking of their corruption of the Lord’s Supper:
Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily,
shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and
so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh
unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. (1 Corinthians
11:27-30 KJV)

Damnation was the result of partaking of the emblems in the supper without the
proper understanding of their meaning, if it be done “unworthily.” The proper spirit,
attitude and understanding of that which was done was not optional, it was a moral
necessity.

When addressing himself to the churches of Ephesus and Colossae, the apostle
emphasizes the need for understanding in singing.

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking
to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in
your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in
the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear
of God. (Ephesians 5:18-21 KJV)

And,

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one
another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to
the Lord. (Colossians 3:16 KJV)

It is to be done with the understanding, from the heart, full of meaning.

This is the very point Jesus was making when He taught His disciples:

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they
shall be heard for their much speaking. (Matthew 6:7 KJV)

Vain repetitions are those void of meaning, those said without understanding what it
means just because it sounded good.

Without a proper understanding of what is being done, and doing it for that reason,
worship is meaningless. It cannot be worship in its true sense for there is no attitude
of the heart, mind and soul expressed in action toward God, because it is not known
whether the action engaged in expresses the proper attitude of the heart, mind and
soul or not, or even if the action is directed toward God or some other! Without
understanding there can be no expression of the emotions or will. The actions
become senseless and reasonless. Surely, God cannot be expected to be pleased
with such worship.

Conclusion

To worship “in spirit” one must have:

1)        A singular allegiance – “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only
shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10; Deuteronomy 6:13; 10:20).
2)        A pure allegiance – “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and
with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind” (Luke 10:27;
Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12).
3)        A practical allegiance – “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things
which I say?” (Luke 6:46; Malachi 1:6).
4)        Understanding – “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship”
(John 4:22).

Each of these four components need to comprise our worship for it to be truly “in
spirit” and pleasing to the Father.

What is Worship? In Truth

By Roderick L. Ross

In the proceeding lesson we introduced the account of Jesus’ conversation with the
woman at Jacob’s Well in Samaria, and noted that He plainly stated:

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John
4:24 KJV)

We noted that to worship “in spirit” one must have: 1) a singular allegiance; 2) a pure
allegiance; 3) a practical allegiance; and 4) understanding. However, Jesus not only
stated that worship must come from the spirit or heart of man, but also be done “in
truth.”

What is truth?

When Jesus was being tried before Pontius Pilate, Pilate, after hearing Jesus say he
was born to

… bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate
saith unto him, What is truth? … (John 18:37-38 KJV)

However, the governor did not wait for an answer.

As we contemplate the words of Jesus to the woman of Samaria that worship must be
“in truth,” the question of Pilate comes before us – “What is truth?” The phrase, “in
truth,” is used also in Philippians 1:18 and 1 John 3:18.

What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is
preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. (Philippians 1:18 KJV)
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (1
John 3:18 KJV)

In both of these passages, the prase, “in truth,” is used meaning “in actuality.” In both
of these passages, it is used in opposition to the idea of pretence.

Had Pilate waited for an answer for his question, “What is truth?” he might have been
told the same thing which Jesus said

… to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my
disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John
8:31-32 KJV)

Or, perhaps he would have been referred to the prayer Jesus had prayed earlier in
the garden to His Father in heaven:

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. (John 17:17 KJV)

In either case, it would be “the word of the truth of the gospel” to which Pilate would
have his attention directed. (Colossians 1:5) The Bible, and in particular the New
Testament, is the truth.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, …(2 Timothy 3:16 KJV)

One cannot worship in actuality, or genuinely, who does not come to God in worship
according to the truth. One cannot worship God genuinely, yet ignore the manner in
which He has commanded that He be worshipped.

Walking by Faith

Brother M.C. Kurfees, in his classic tract –
WALKING BY FAITH: ORIGIN OF
INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC IN CHRISTIAN WORSHIP
--, says:

Christianity is pre-eminently a religion of faith. Let us get this fact well and firmly fixed
in our minds, for it will be seen that upon a proper understanding and appreciation of
this vital principle, all acceptable service to God depends.

Many skeptics attempt to throw discredit upon the Bible because its religion is purely
a religion of faith. They fell us we have never seen the joyous “summer land,” nor
heard the enchanting music of angels in sweet vibrations “beyond the river,” but that
it all rests on faith. But the same may be said of other things founded on faith whose
credibility, in the estimation of skeptics, is not affected by this circumstance. The fact
that in sowing and reaping, boarding a railway car for transportation, or carrying on
commercial intercourse with each other, man can only believe success will crown their
efforts as it has the efforts of others in the past, is never urged as a reason for not
acting. On the contrary, it only shows that men act on the principle of faith, and that
they act in proportion as the evidence is strong and convincing. Hence, as a matter of
fact, it is not unreasonable to act where action rest exclusively on faith; and hence,
the objection has no force against the Bible.

But, not only is Christianity, as a system, purely a system of faith (Gal. iii.23), but in
order to its acceptableness, all service, which we render to God, must be of faith. No
proposition is more clearly established in the Word of God than this. Not only is it
plainly declared that “we walk by faith,” but in Heb. xi.16, is the explicit statement that
“without faith it is impossible to please God.” Any act of religious worship, therefore,
however great or small, must be of faith in order to please God. This does not mean
that every act of man outside of religious service must be of faith.  Man may follow his
own wisdom or reason in the management of his own affairs, but in the service or
worship of God, the only legitimate use of man’s wisdom or reason is to acquiesce in
whatever divine wisdom has revealed, and to thus “walk by faith.” In the management
of all affairs exclusively his own, man has the unquestionable right to follow his own
judgment, provided he contravenes no principle of moral propriety or righteousness.
In other words, beyond the regulation of man’s conduct in all spheres of action by
principles of moral integrity and righteous dealing, God has no where legislated for
man, except in the service to be rendered exclusively to Him. In this sphere, however,
God has legislated. He has ordained the worship to be rendered to Him, and human
wisdom must neither add to, take from, nor in any way modify what He has
prescribed, otherwise those who do so are walking by their own judgment, and not by
faith. Hence, that we may see the principle on which all acceptable service to God
must be rendered, let us now consider –

1.        FAITH DEFINED IN DISTINCTION FROM OPINION.

Two questions properly answered will present this distinction in its true light.

1.        What is it to walk by faith? In Rom. x17, Paul declares: “So then faith comes by
hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” This settles it as to how faith comes; it
comes by hearing the Word of God. Accordingly, where there is no Word of God
there can be no faith; and if no faith, then no walking by faith. This is not the opinion
of any man or set of men; it is the unquestionable teaching of God’s Word. Hence, if
hearing the Word of God is the way faith comes, then where the Word of God is,
there can be faith, but none beyond that. If, therefore, the Word of God says nothing
concerning a given course, there can be no faith in pursuing that course, for FAITH
COMES BY HEARING THE WORD OF GOD. And hence, since we are to “walk by
faith,” and “without faith it is impossible to please God,” it follows that in any matter
whatsoever in which we are not directed by the Word of God, we are neither walking
by faith, nor pleasing God. This prepares us for the second question:

2.        What is it to walk by opinion? In Jno. Iii.1,2, we have the words: “There was a
man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; that same came to
Jesus by night and said unto Him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from
God; for no man can do these miracles that thou does, except God be with him.” But,
you are ready to ask, what has such a passage to do with the question before us?
Let us see. There are two questions in connection with this famous conversation  to
which I wish to call attention: (1.) Did Nocodemus come to Jesus by night? The
universal and unanimous response from all believers in the Bible of every class and
distinction is, that he did. But what is the cause of this perfect unity of sentiment?
Simply because the Bible says he came by night, and there is always union where all
follow what the Bible says. (2.) Why did he come by night, and not by day? It would be
easy to find an answer to this question among the theologians. But the trouble with
this class of wise men is, that to attempt to follow their guidance in such matters is like
the attempt to ride two horses in opposite directions at the same time. One class of
them tells us Nicodemus acted in this instance through fear of his colleagues in the
Jewish Sanhedrin, choosing the curtain of night behind which to converse
unobserved with the Great Teacher. Others tell us it was not through fear, but to
avoid the crowds that gathered about Jesus during the day, the eminent ruler of the
Jews preferring the stillness of the night that he might converse undisturbed with the
Galilean Reformer. Now, one or the other of these views may be correct; but, as the
Bible does not say one word about it, no mortal can know why he came by night. And
this is precisely what is true of all the learned theologians. They only tell what they
think about it; that is, they express their opinion. The word opinion signifies what one
thinks, and in religious matters, it means what men think concerning matters on which
the Bible is silent. The distinction, therefore, between faith and opinion is perfectly
clear. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God; opinion is what men think where the
Word of God does not speak. Hence, when men introduce as worship to God, as
service to be rendered to Him, things on which His Word is silent, they walk by opinion
and not by faith.

In the Name of Jesus

The apostle Paul very plainly stated a fact of religious life in

Colossians 3:17 – And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the
Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

The phrase “in the name of” means “by the power or authority of.” This is illustrated
in our present language by the stated: “Open, in the name of the law!”  One is to
open or stop because of the authority of or power of the law. It is illustrated in the
New Testament by the question and answer given when Peter and John are
questioned concerncing the healing of the lame man at the gate of the temple called
Beautiful.

And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, And
Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were
of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they
had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye
done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the
people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the
impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all
the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified,
whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you
whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the
head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other
name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:5-12 KJV)

In the first century, when the servant was sent to the marketplace to buy materials for
his master’s house, he was given a clay tablet (much like a credit card) which enabled
him to buy in his master’s name. This allowed him to purchase what was necessary
because he was empowered or authorized to do so. Even so, we must be empowered
or authorized in our service to God to please Him. We must have His authority; we
must do it in His name.

Brother Foy E. Wallace, Jr. in commenting on the need for divine authority in worship,
said:

The principle is stated in Colossians 3:17: “Whatsoever ye do in word or in deed, do
all in the name of the Lord Jesus!” The only ground upon which to meet God in
worship is to worship in his name, where his name is recorded. God’s name has
always been recorded in what he has commanded. In the Old Testament God put his
name on physical altars, and later in the temple of Solomon … God speaking through
Moses, said, “In every place where I have recorded my name, there will I come unto
thee, and there will I bless thee.” And to these particular places the worshippers went,
in order to worship God. God had put his name there.

In the New Testament we worship “in the name”, but in a different way. God puts his
name on things commanded. If it has not been commanded, his name is not on it; and
that thing cannot be done by his authority. Therefore, we could not meet him in the
act.

It is a question, then of divine authority. It is a question of respect for the word of
God. I have been convinced for a long time that the fundamental error of the religious
world today, is the lack of respect for the word of God. The need for divine authority
for what is done in the realm of religion is no longer recognized. But the fundamental
principle of worship is simply this: In the realm of worship we stand in the realm of
revelation.

Two Attitudes

There are two attitudes, basically, which are held toward the concept of authority.
One is expressed by Martin Luther and is the attitude adopted by the majority of what
the world knows as Christianity:

I can do anything the Bible does not specifically forbid.

The other attitude is expressed by Dirk Phillips is his word, VINDICATION, dating from
the 1500’s and is the attitude which churches of Christ have held throughout the
centuries:

It is evident that whatever God has not commanded and has not instituted by express
commands of Scripture, he does not want nor does he want to be served therewith,
nor will he have his Word set aside nor made to suit the pleasure of men.

Each individual must decide which of these attitudes he will adopt in his religious
conduct. Will it be that of Martin Luther or that of Dirk Phillips?

Martin Luther’s position is that unless there is a direct command not to do something,
i.e. a “Thou shalt not …”, one of free to do whatsoever he wishes. Thus, the Bible
becomes basically a book or list of prohibitions.

Dirk Phillips’ position is that unless there is a command to do something, i.e. a “Thou
shalt …”, one cannot engage in the action. Thus, the Bible becomes basically a book
or list to guide us in what to do.

Which is more reasonable? How large a book would it take to contain prohibitions of
all of the things which the imagination of man could dream of doing that are wrong?
Would it not be more practical,and easier to give a book which would contain merely
the things which we are to do, basically?

The question is, however: which position would God have us to assume? Martin
Luther’s law of license, or Dirk Phillips’ law of exclusion?

The law of exclusion (silence)

We have already seen that we must walk by faith if we are to be pleasing to God.
And hence, since we are to “walk by faith,” and “with out faith it is impossible to
please God,” it follows that in any matter whatsoever in which we are not directed by
the word of God, we are neither walking by faith, nor pleasing God.

This means that we cannot go beyond (transgress) the commands of God by adding
anything to that which is commanded.

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He
that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:
9 KJV)

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If
any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are
written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this
prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city,
and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19 KJV)

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do
it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through
Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:11
KJV)

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof,
for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect,
throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV)

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus
our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto
life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and
virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by
these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that
is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:2-4 KJV)

If in the scriptures we find guidance to every good work and “all things that pertain to
life and godliness,” what need is there for us to attempt to add to what God has
commanded?

When we command, or tell someone to do something, we do not have to tell them
everything they should not do. When we tell them what to do, that immediately
eliminates everything else. When we tell someone to leave by the door, we do not
have to tell them not to leave by the window; our telling them to leave by the door has
already done that.

When I was a little boy, my dad told me to get in the bathtub. I went to the bathroom,
stepped in the bathtub, got back out and went to my room to play. When dad came
into my room and found me there, he wondered why I had not done what I was told. I
responded that I had, but he did not tell me that I could not go to my room to play.
Needless to say, my defense was not acceptable. My dad was not pleased.

My son was told to get a cookie from the cookie jar, and got two cookies. His mother
caught him and asked why he had gotten another cookie. He replied that she had not
said he could get another one. She was not impressed with his argument.

Can we truly expect God to be pleased with our feeble arguments made upon the
same basis?

When

And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except
ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore
Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they
determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to
Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. (Acts 15:1-2 KJV)

When the matter was brought before the apostles and elders, they and the brethren
sent a letter back to Antioch showing that these certain men were teaching falsely.

This letter used the law of exclusion to show the fallacy of their teaching, saying:

Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you
with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law:
to whom we gave no such commandment: (Acts 15:24 KJV)

Notice, in the absence of such a commandment, it was wrong.

When Paul was writing to the Hebrews concerning the pre-eminence of Christ, he
uses the law of exclusion to prove his point, saying:

For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I
begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
(Hebrews 1:5 KJV)

The absence of such statements directed toward the angels proves his point.

Once more in the Hebrew letter, brother Paul uses the law of exclusion to show the
superiority of the priesthood of Christ to the Levite priesthood of the law of Moses,
saying:

If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people
received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after
the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the
priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For
he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man
gave attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of
which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. (Hebrews 7:11-14 KJV)

Because it was spoken of, it could not be according to the law.

Nowhere is this law more forcefully illustrated than in the death of Nadab and Abihu,
the sons of Aaron.

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire
therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he
commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them,
and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the
LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the
people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace. (Leviticus 10:1-3 KJV)

They offered worship unto the Lord; but, not as he commanded (Leviticus 10:12,13).

They used a fire God had not said to use. God had not said not to use it; He merely
said what fire to use. Failure to observe the law of exclusion cost Nadab and Abihu
their lives.

Can we then say that it makes no difference which attitude toward authority we
adopt? That it makes no difference whether we walk by faith, being directed by God’s
word, or whether we walk by opinion, going beyond what is written? God forbid.

Think for a moment of Noah and the ark which God commanded him to build
(Genesis 6:9-22). He was instructed to build the ark of gopher wood. If he had made
it of another type of wood, or had added another type of wood in its contruction,
would Noah have obeyed God? The answer is no.

What of Moses in building the tabernacle (Exodus 25ff) and Solomon in building the
temple (1 Kings 6ff)? If they had added a room, or if they had changed or added to
the material, would they have obeyed God?

Surely, then we can see that authority from the Bible is necessary in order to worship
God acceptably.

Correctly deriving authority


Biblical authority is established in two different ways: 1) Direct Command, or Implicit
Statement; and, 2) Approved Apostolic Example. All authority comes from these two
categories. A Direct Command, or Implicit Statement, is a command that says
specifically to do something or not to do something. An Approved Apostolic Example
is an example of the early church doing something with the approval of the apostles.

The authority from these two categories takes one of two forms: 1) General, or 2)
Specific. General authority gives the what of a command, but leaves it to human
judgment the most expedient way (the how) of accomplishing the command. Specific
authority defines the how as well as the what of the command.

Expediency can not go beyond the Biblical authority of a Direct Command, or an
Approved Apostolic Example; or violate the General or Specific nature of a command.
Nothing can be expedient which does not carry out a command of God. It is not an
expedient if it makes a General command Specific, or a Specific command General.

An expedient can not violate nor create a command; it must allow for compliance with
a command.

Apostolic Example is not necessary for something to fall into the category of being a
lawful expedient; and neither does the expedient have to be necessary, as long as it
neither adds nor subtracts from the command, but allows for compliance with the
command.

The same reasoning that is used to justify those things which we accept as lawful
expedients must be used to determine the acceptability of any generality or particular
before us. It must allow for the carrying out of a command without adding to or
subtracting from the command, retaining the General or the Specific nature of the
command. There must first be a command before there can be an expedient. This
also means respecting the silence of the Scriptures.

However, just as those things we accept as lawful expedients are permissible to use,
to demand that they must be used is wrong. For in demanding that they must be
used, human opinion is elevated to inspiration, and human doctrine is established the
equal of scripture. Conversely, those who have in the past (and continue to do so in
the present) opposed expedients as unscriptural elevated their opinion of matters of
allowable human judgment to inspiration and their objections to the equal of scripture.
Specific authority cannot be made General, nor can General authority be made
Specific. Responsibilities and duties cannot be ignored, nor can we enlarge the
responsibilities of the church or the Christian according to the scriptures. Therefore,
we need to exercise extreme care and caution in determining the acceptability or the
unacceptability of anything classified by ourselves or others as an expedient to be
sure that we remain constant in our reasoning.

May we ever have before us the command of Jesus to Peter, realizing that the same
restrictions apply to us.

And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou
shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on
earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:19 KJV)

Jesus instructed Peter that those things which were to be bound upon men were
those things bound in heaven, and that those things which were to be loosed from
men were those things which were loosed in heaven. May we never seek to bind
more upon men than God has; and, may we never seek to loose men from more than
God has.

Conclusion

It is not within the prerogative of the Christian or the church to ignore the authority of
God. Neither the Christian nor the church may disregard the commands of the Lord
and fail to fulfill them; neither may they minimize the importance of that authority by
adding to the commands of God the commandments and doctrines of men. The
Christian or the church that fails to obey the commands of God is disobedient and
lacking in the love that they ought to have for Christ (John 14:15). The Christian or
the church that adds to the commandments of God is guilty of presumption and
disrespect for our Lord, refusing to reverence and fear God (Matthew 15:7-9). God at
no time in the history of his dealings with mankind has been pleased with either
disobedience or additions to his commandments. From the first division of the Bible to
the last, God has warned mankind through his word against these corruptions
(Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Proverbs 30:6; Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 4:1-7;
11:4,13; 2 John 9-11; Revelation 22:18,19; 1 Corinthians 11:1,2; 2 Timothy 1:13; 2:2;
3:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:15).

Brother G.K. Wallace stated: “… God is the object of our worship, ‘Spirit’ is the
manner and ‘Truth’ is the law of our worship.” Worship is accomplished by the spirit of
man according to the truth. Jesus said in prayer to the Father, “thy word is truth”
(John 17:17). Worship must be according to the word of God, the Bible, especially the
New Testament (2 Timothy 3:16,17; Hebrews 8). Brother Roy J. Hearn wrote: “In truth
regulates the manner of worship. … Therefore, the worship of Christians is regulated
by divine law, which involves (1) the proper object – God; (2) correct attitude and
source – in spirit; (3) the proper manner – in truth. The right act with the wrong
attitude and wrong manner is not acceptable; neither is the wrong act which is done
in the right manner.”

To worship God acceptably, one must worship “in truth,” in actuality: (1) WALKING BY
FAITH; (2) IN THE NAME OF JESUS – by the authority of Jesus; (3) RECOGNIZING
THE LAW OF EXCLUSION; and, (4) CORRECTLY DERIVING AUTHORITY – allowing
expediency, but not abusing it.
Jesus' Conversation With
the Samaritan Woman
Part 2:
John 4.4-18