Friday, July 8, 2016

SPIRIT AND TRUTH

WORSHIP Part 3

But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24)


Jesus left us with a statement that begs an explanation, for which no immediate explanation is given.

The idea of a “true worshipper” worshipping in “truth” takes us far beyond just the notion of ‘truly’. While sincerity may be an admirable trait, it is not a test of true worship.

Bigots and hypocrites worship sincerely, but it is not “in truth”, because of the condition of the heart. (Lk. 18:11)

If one is deceived, especially in this area of worship, that one may be sincere, but he/she is sincerely deceived, and offers deceived worship.

Some will probably twist this to mean that ‘sinners’ cannot worship God properly. Please. Don’t be a Pharisee.

True worship is that which is in harmony with the nature of God.

When Jesus spoke to the woman, He probably gave her something she had never considered up to this point. He used the loving term “Father.”

He is not Vengeance to be appeased, nor Power to be dreaded, but Love to be received. The tender softness of ‘Father’ elicits our adoration.

The word translated “truth” is noted by Vine’s Expository Dictionary as “objectively, signifying the reality lying at the basis of an appearance.”

From this we see that to worship ‘in truth’ speaks yet again to the heart of the worshipper—not simply his/her actions.

Just ‘going through the motions’ of singing, giving, listening and leaving is not the reality if the heart is somewhere else.

What about worshipping ‘in spirit?’

I’ve always been amused by the charismatic who believes that ‘in spirit’ means ‘with tongues.’ For them, if they attend a service and no one speaks in tongues, then there has been no worship.

Obviously, Jesus meant something much deeper than a manifestation of a spiritual gift.

The spirit of man is the most important part of the tripartite being. It is more important than the body which will decay, or the soul which is given life by the spirit. It is the part of our being that is most like God.

To interpret His meaning, however, I am left with only my opinion. I can’t find any scripture that may give a clue, nor can I find any commentary by those much more knowledgeable than I to shed any light.

So I offer the following strictly as my opinion.

Some would take it to mean “with the entirety of your being” as in Luke 10:27. I think Jesus would have added more here if that were His meaning.

The specificity of ‘spirit’ is limiting.

The word “spirit” here is in what is termed the dative case, or in English grammar would properly be referred to as the indirect object. The word “in” can mean ‘in, with, or by.’

It could mean, therefore, that we are to worship the Father with our spirit or by our spirit. The latter is somewhat complicated and would lead us to believe that we are to worship ‘by’ the Holy Spirit. The capitalization of “Spirit” in your bible is more often than not merely an interpretation by the translators.

Allow me to put forward the notion that we are to worship the Father with our spirit.

You may say, “Wow, Dale! That is such a cool concept. I really like that. What does worshipping the Father with my spirit look like?”

Good question.

Lousy answer—I’m not sure.

Again, I am left with only offering my opinion.

Since the spirit is the most important part of your being, it is designed to influence every other part of who you are.

New Agers like to say that we are spirit beings having a human experience.

I believe that we are human beings learning how to live in, with and by the spirit so that the things of this earth no longer have a pull on us. (John 14:30; Rom. 8:14; 1 John 2:15-16)

If the spirit of man is to influence his existence, then only the spiritually-minded person is able to truly worship God. (Rom. 8:5-10)

If we go back to the passage under consideration, we will find this to be true.

There is an emphasis in the Greek construction of this verse (John 4:23) that would better read “…for such the Father also seeks His worshippers to be.”

He desires that we not only function in or with, but also that we are to be.

We are to be those who worship in spirit and truth, because spirit and truth are our nature, the essence of our being.

It is a process that we are learning each day as we discover what it means to “set (y)our affection on things above…” (Col. 3:2)

This is the first step on the road of learning what it means to be “spiritual.” (Gal. 6:1)

I will close this section by confirming that last statement with a verse that also leads us to consider certain aspects of worship.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Rom 12:1)
We will consider “reasonable service” next time.

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