When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well their discussion quickly became spiritual. Jesus concluded by saying, “Woman, believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:21-24
What does it mean to worship in Spirit and in truth?Perhaps you’ve asked yourself that question before, maybe not, but it’s time you do.
When I first began to read the Word, I reckoned it meant to worship God with all my heart, soul, mind, and according to Biblical truth. But now I question my thinking. Was that truly what Jesus meant? Could he have meant something else?
I now realize that I had never really put much thought or effort into understanding the passage. I couldn’t believe how incredibly shallow I had been. I simply read the passage and came to a quick conclusion. No research, no questions, just a conclusion. The very fact that I was now questioning my own conclusion also testified against my lack of depth, perception and understanding.
Now, determined to find the truth, I reread the passage several times disseminating the text, asking questions, and looking for clues to its meaning.
Below is a list of crucial facts and clues as to what worshipping in Spirit and Truth means:
- Worship will not be restricted to any one place.
- A new form of worship would come.
- The old form of worship would fade away.
- God only seeks those whom will worship in Spirit and truth.
Conclusion: Today it is mandatory to worship God in Spirit and truth. Any other form of worship of God will be in vain.
The first clue was rather obvious and easily answered. Today we see churches practically on every corner in America. People do worship God anywhere and everywhere. Finding that churches are everywhere validates what Jesus said. Worship isn’t confined to one place anymore, specifically meaning Jerusalem.
The second and third clues are obvious too. The time for worship change has already arrived and the old form of worshiping God has totally disappeared. Man no longer sacrifices animals at the Temple in Jerusalem, no more do people arrive in Jerusalem to celebrate festivals. No more do people have to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem
Answering those three clues is nice and all that, but it still leaves us in the dark in regard to our original question; “What does worship in the Spirit and truth truly mean?”
Because God seeks those who worship in Spirit and truth we now know that it’s mandatory. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon us to discover its meaning and genuinely put it into action. That is, of course, if we want to be accepted by God.
However, if you or I decide that it isn’t necessary to discover what genuine worship in Spirit and Truth means then there is also a good chance, based on our own logic, that we are not worshiping in Spirit and truth.
How can we be sure where that we stand in agreement with God then?
Doesn’t God say that His thoughts are not our thoughts?Isaiah 55:8-9 If I am not worshipping in the Spirit and Truth then most certainly there will be dreadful consequences because I won’t be worshiping as God intended!
Yeah, that’s a scary thought, but fear is the beginning of wisdom.Proverbs 1:7
Now wanting more than ever to understand what Jesus meant I decided to reread John chapters one though four in the hope that the gospel writer may hidden some clues in the text. By that I don’t mean that John actually tried to hide the meaning of God’s Word. On the contrary! John was writing to those who were already worshiping in Spirit and Truth therefore it went without saying.
Because I had taken this line of reasoning I finally did discover some clues that led to me exactly understand what Jesus meant. Therefore, hoping for you to discover the same at this conjuncture, I would like ask you to reread those chapters also before you finish this article.
When reading them please keep in mind our question. What does it mean to worship in Spirit and truth?
Read John Chapters 1-4.
OK, now that you have finished the assignment we can see that chapters one, three and four offer plenty in regard to our question, but chapter two seems sort of out of place. It seems disconnected and independent so I began to wonder why it was included and how it connects with the other three. Chapter one is about Jesus being the word, God and the Messiah. Chapter two is wedding and a miracle and chapter three is about the coming Kingdom and finally chapter four lets everyone know that we must to worship in Spirit and truth as God designed and desires.
Getting back to chapter two I realize that it is a nice story about a wedding and Jesus’s first public miracle, but it doesn’t seem to be needed. Chapters one, three and four flow nicely without it or so it seems. Go ahead read those three or at least meditate on their continuity. Chapter two is out of sync. It’s almost as if the chapter isn’t needed, but there it is because God put it there. Therefore it must flow, but obviously I’m missing something. I languished in thought for a few days unable to find the missing link so to speak.
One day without much fanfare God let me see something that I had totally overlooked. It was a sentence that all of us who read the Gospels have read over and over again without really reading it. We see the words, but our eyes flow over them, we understand them, but do not capture their significance. Once I saw them, everything clicked and came together as though some sort of vortex sucked and pulled all indiscriminate parts together.
Here it is at a glance. Jesus’s His mother and His disciples are at a wedding. The bride and groom’s wine supply suddenly ran out and Mary wants Jesus to do something about it, she puts her son in a bind when she said, “Do whatever he tells you,” but they are probably the most important words ever spoken by a woman on earth then and now!
She tells the servants to do whatever he says.
For argument’s sake; What would happen if the servants refused? Would they have witnessed a miracle? Would they have known Jesus? Would Jesus have known them.
Here is something that you, I and everyone else should never forget. Her command wasn’t just for those porters. It’s for us too! The attitude that every follower of Jesus must have. Do what Jesus says.
Now that I knew the importance of chapter two everything came together and this is what I see.
John chapter one is about Jesus being the light and that light is the life of men. Mankind is in darkness, and that darkness is death. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not understand it. In other words, life comes into death and the very thought of life is beyond death’s comprehension. Death cannot comprehend life because it is 100% alien.
We also need to know that some translations say darkness does not understand the light and others say that darkness does not comprehend the light.
The reason I bring this up is because it is it is imperative to know what the Greek word is really trying to describe a disparity that is far greater between darkness and light than imagined. The Greek word ‘katalambano’https://www.blueletterbible.org/niv/jhn/1/5/s_998005 hover over the tools button verse 5 and select linear.and discover it means to actively fight against rather than not to understand or comprehend.
We in darkness cannot understand the truth of God because we actively fight against it before we know it is true so that when the truth is finally revealed to us we reject it!
Therefore, be warned! It is when you and I disagree with truth that the darkness is trying to trap us. If and when you feel yourself fighting against the word being declared cry out, “Jesus save me, open my eyes!”
In summary John chapter one tells us that we’re in darkness and dead, but believing in Jesus we can become children of God. Let’s ask some questions about being dead.
If you are dead can you understand? If you are dead can you roll over and get comfortable? If you are dead can you breath? If you are dead can you do anything at all?
There is absolutely no commonality between life and death. Nothing! If you are dead and don’t like where your buried you can’t get up and lie elsewhere, or if you’re thirsty you can’t get a drink. Those things are impossible! You are incapable of any and all living activity. You can’t even like or dislike your situation. You are dead.
We see that Jesus comes to his people and they are in darkness. They are incapable of understanding Jesus. They are incapable worshiping God. They are incapable of understanding anything at all that pertains to life! Comprehension is beyond their grasp. They actually fight against Jesus as evidenced by their murder of Him! For the dead, the worship of God is an act of complete vanity and utter futility. The dead cannot worship God.
Note: Please keep in mind that this is God’s perspective which is the perspective of life. From our perspective we naturally want to fight against God’s perspective but it is the perspective that we need to obtain. We need to see through God’s eyes and that’s what exactly what Jesus is always attempting to do. He wants us to see.
It is into this environment that God thrusts his Son and rescuer Jesus. It is a world utterly devoid of life. He is the light, but even his own people can’t recognize him.
Therefore God sent one of their own, John, because men are willing to accept another man’s testimony. John came as a witness to the light but he himself was not the light. He came only as a witness to the light so that all men might believe. Jesus came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. Children not born of natural descent or human decision or husband’s will, but born of God.
What we know so far:
- God is seeking those who worship him in Spirit and truth. It is mandatory.
- We ‘mankind’ by nature are dead and cannot worship God because we a dead.
- God desires to change our dreadful situation.
- God sends Jesus to rescue us.
- Those who believe Jesus is the Christ are given the right or power to become children God.
- Some sort of adoption or birth must take place after our belief in Jesus.
We’ve made some headway and have discovered that we have a ‘Spirit’ deficit when it comes to worshiping God. We also discover that an adoption or rebirth is necessary for us to reboot a spiritual connection to God.
We are now left with two questions.
- When and how does one obtain the Spirit?
- When and how does one become a child born of God?
Most will assert that at the moment we believe in Jesus we are born again and receive God’s spirit. But is that true?
Why would I ask such a question?
Because John 1:12-13 states that to all who did receive [Jesus] him, to those who believed in [Jesus] his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, nor a husband’s will, but born of God.
Let me ask you a question dear reader.
You as a citizen of this country have the right to become a lawyer; does that belief make you a lawyer?
At this point dear reader you may be feeling a little uncomfortable. I know I did. This teaching went against everything that I had been taught. Let’s remember what you just read a few moments ago. The truth will make you uncomfortable. You will naturally fight against it.
Verse thirteen affirms that belief only gives us the right to become a child of God. In the original language it states that being born of God is not by the will of flesh, nor blood, nor by the will of man.
Let me ask you another question dear reader.
When you believed in Jesus who’s will, who’s decision was that? Didn’t the scripture just tell us that being born of God is not by our will, or the will of man?
You may be feeling very uncomfortable right now, but please remember it is because you are hearing the truth.
The truth is we need to discover how to actually and truly become children of God.
Let’s continue if you are still reading?
The next chapter concerning Nicodemus will help answer our question.
Nicodemus, is a member of the Jewish ruling council, he comes to Jesus at night having observed Jesus doing miracles during the Passover feast at the Temple.
Nicodemus acknowledges that Jesus is from God by what he said, “No one could be doing the miracles your doing if God wasn’t with him.”
Jesus gets right to the point and says, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” John 3:3-8 NIV.
There you have it. This passage answers our questions. The reason we’ve never seen it before is because we weren’t really looking.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that none can even see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again.
Earlier the scripture said we have the right to become children of God, but it that earlier passage doesn’t tell us how to become a child of God.
Here we see Jesus telling us how. We must be born again.
We already learned that believing in Jesus doesn’t equate to being born again therefore it must be something else. The earlier passage said we can be born of God, therefore if it’s not by our will then begin born again must be by God’s will. In other words the method is determined by God and not us! It is not of human descent, meaning it has absolutely nothing to do with our natural birth; it has nothing to do with a human decision or a fathers will. It is 100% from God and of God.
Nicodemus astonishingly even asks how can we be born again when he asked, “How can someone be born when they are old? Surely they cannot enter their mother’s womb a second time to be born?”
To Nicodemus’s credit he wasn’t aware of what we’ve already learned from John chapter one. That the rebirth has nothing to do with the natural birth, but he instinctively knew that a physical rebirth was an impossibility and that being reborn of God had to be something else.
Jesus desiring Nicodemus to see the truth replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
Here we see that being born again as a child of God is a prerequisite to entering the Kingdom of God. Therefore to become a child of God we must be born again. Born of water and the Spirit.
Now many will even try to say that being born of water is concerned with our natural birth. But argument is one from darkness trying to fight against the truth.
If natural birth fulfills the requirement of water to be born again; then doesn’t that negate the Word which earlier said being born of God is not by flesh, blood or by man’s will?
A mother’s water breaking is an act of flesh, but God says being born again has nothing to do with our flesh. Therefore being born of water must mean something else.
That is why Jesus followed up with, “Flesh gives birth to flesh and Spirit gives birth to Spirit.” Flesh give birth to flesh separate from that of the Spirit which gives birth to Spirit. One does not have anything to do with the other.
Jesus makes a clear distinction between the flesh and Spirit. Spiritual birth is from God and has nothing to do with the flesh.
Therefore being born of water can only mean one thing and that also comes from scripture.
On the day of Pentecost, the very first day of the New Testament times, or the New Covenant, after Jesus rose from the dead Peter preached the most important sermon to humanity which became the foundation of Christianity.
Read Acts chapter two.
Peter preached that Christ died on the cross as an atoning blood sacrifice for the sins of mankind, but he also preached that his audience with the help of the Romans were guilty of killing the very Messiah for whom they were seeking.
On hearing this Peter’s listeners were filled with guilt and asked, “What can we do?”
Peter knowing they believed his message replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
“With many other words, he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” –Acts 2:38-41
We see that at baptism, which means immersion in water, our sins are forgiven, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and we’re added to their number meaning God’s Kingdom, children of God.
These are the type of worshipers that God seeks! You must be born again of the water and the Spirit.
God is seeking baptized believers! Peter message is true.
Knowing this also helps us understand Jesus when he said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” —Matthew 7:21-23
Ask yourselves which one fits God will. Asking Jesus to come into your heart or being baptized as Peter instructed?
Worshiping God in any other way or fashion is an act of complete futility because other ways is always the way of man. Mankind is in darkness. We are dead therefore any and all of our attempts to worship are categorically dead.
Isaiah evens says that our good deeds are even like filthy rags.–Isaiah 64:6
I know this is a difficult lesson. I know that some of you may be angry. Some are embittered by this article. I was too at one time. I also had to reconcile my heart with my head. There is only one way to do that. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength! If and when you do God will open your eyes.
If you refuse to believe then you are refusing to believe God. You are not arguing with me or the article you are arguing with God. And when you do that you can’t see the truth.
If that’s what you want then have it your way. But please remember Satan has already lost there’s no sense in letting him win. He only comes to destroy.
Flee from sin and choose God’s way. God wants you to win and you can only win if you choose God’s side.
Please know that God loves you and I love you.