Worshiping in Truth
Read John 4:23-24 (ESV)
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
How is living in obedience to God’s Word an act of worship?
Barna Group published research in 2017 called “Competing Worldviews Influence Today’s Christians.” As part of that study, they polled practicing Christians who regularly attend church and consider their faith to be an important aspect of their lives. They found that only 17% of those Christians actually hold to a biblical worldview. Let me emphasize something. That is not 17% of the entire population. That is 17% of people who go to church often and consider their Christian faith to be an important part of their life! Other ideologies that influenced the other 83% were mostly New Age spirituality, postmodernism, Marxism, and secularism. But the point is, many Christians in the US today don’t believe the Bible is authoritative or should be the standard for their morality.
Why does this matter? Can we be true worshippers of God even if we don’t believe or act as if the Bible is completely true? In today’s verses, Jesus has an answer for us. He says that true worshippers will worship in “spirit and truth.” But what does He mean by that?
First, Jesus is saying that an hour is coming (His death, resurrection, and ascension) when true worshippers will not be distinguished by where they worship (a temple, church building, etc.) but how they worship.
Second, Jesus identified these true worshippers as people who worshiped Him in spirit. That means, they don’t just worship Him with external religious rituals and in certain physical places. Worshiping in spirit is internal, spiritual worship. True worshippers of God worship through Jesus Christ and from their hearts.
Finally, Jesus said that true worshippers worship in “truth”. This is important because Jesus’ statement confirms the existence of absolute truth which many competing worldviews in our culture today deny. So what is this “truth”? Well, in John 14:6, Jesus identified Himself as “the truth” and in John 17:17 Jesus prayed that God would “sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”. In these two statements, Jesus identified what is to be considered truth—His Word and God’s Word. In other words, Scripture is truth. Our Bible is true.
In John 8:31-32, Jesus had more to say about who is truly one of His followers: “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you truly are my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” If you live in His Word, if you worship in His Word, if you obey His Word, you are truly one of His disciples. The Bible matters in Christianity. It should shape the way we think about the world. As God’s true words to us, the Bible has the authority to tell us how to live.
If we are in Christ we are a new creation and we have been given new life (2 Corinthians 5:17). We completely belong to Him. Therefore, Paul said: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). The only acceptable form of worship to the Lord is to offer ourselves completely to Him. We must submit to His will and yield to His ways.
Friends, we have to make sure we are worshiping God in truth. We can’t call ourselves Christians and then try to worship Him any old way we want. When we do that, we are making ourselves our god instead of Him. We have to worship His way—in obedience to His truth.
Lord, I confess that so often, I want to make up my own rules. I want the benefits of Christianity but I want to follow my own desires instead of fully submitting to Your Word. Please forgive me for all the times I’ve gone astray. I want to worship You in spirit and in truth. Please continue to sanctify me in Your truth. Amen.