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. I know I have. In the past, I reckoned it meant to worship God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and according to Biblical truth. But one day I questioned my thinking. Was that what Jesus truly meant? Could he have mean something else?
Suddenly I realized how shallow my thought process had been. I hadn’t put much effort into understanding the passage at all. I simply had read it and come to a quick conclusion. No research, no questions, just a conclusion. The very fact that I was now questioning my conclusion also testified to my probable error.
I reread the passage several times disseminating the text while asking questions and looking for clues to its meaning.
Here’s a list that I compiled.
1. Worship will not be restricted to a place.
2. The time for worship change has come.
3. God seeks those who worship in Spirit and truth.
4. Therefore it is mandatory to worship God in Spirit and truth.
The first and second clues are rather obvious and easily answered. Today, in America, we practically see churches on every corner. People worship God anywhere and everywhere. Interestingly, finding churches everywhere validates what Jesus said as truth. Worship isn’t confined to Jerusalem or some other place, therefore, worship change has already arrived.
That’s all nice, but it still leaves us in the dark regarding our original question, “What does worship in the Spirit and truth mean?” Furthermore, it is mandatory. Now if it’s mandatory and I don’t know what it means could it be that I am not worshiping in Spirit and truth? Also what are the consequences if I’m not worshiping God in Spirit and truth?
Those are extremely important and scary questions thst need answers.
Maybe the gospel writer provides some clues needed to discover the necessary answers in John chapter one, two and three to help us understand. Let’s reread them and please remember to keep our question in mind. What does worship in Spirit and truth mean?
Read John 1-3.
OK, having finished the assignment I see thst chapters one and three offer plenty in regard to our question while chapter two doesn’t. If you discovered anything in chapter two to help you that I may have missed please share it in the comment section below.
The first items that caught my attention in John 1 were Jesus is 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 life is beyond death’s comprehension. Death cannot comprehend life because to it, it is 100% alien.
Here’s what it seems to be saying. If you are dead you can’t do anything at all that pertains to life. There is absolutely no commonality. Nothing! If you are dead and don’t like where you lie buried in the ground 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.
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. Their 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 from the perspective of life. It is God’s perspective that we are trying to obtain. We need to see through His eyes and that’s what Jesus is trying to help us see.
Into this environment 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 as a witness to the light. John came as a witness testifying about the light so that through him all men might believe. He himself is not that light, he came only as a witness to the light. Jesus came to that which was his own, but his own didn’t 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:
1. God is seeking those who worship him in Spirit and truth. It is mandatory.
2. We ‘mankind’ by nature are dead and nullified from worshiping God.
4. God desires to change our dreadful situation.
5. God sent Jesus to rescue us.
6. Believers are given the right or power to become children God.
7. A birth into God’s family follows after our belief in Jesus.
In making some headway in answering our question we discover that we have a ‘Spirit’ deficit when it comes to worshiping God. We also discover that a rebirth is necessary to reboot a spiritual connection to God. That now leaves us with two questions.
1. When and how does one obtain the Spirit?
2. When and how does one become a child born of God?
The next scripture that comes to our attention should answer these questions. It is John chapter three. This is where Nicodemus, a member of the ruling council, comes to Jesus at night after observing Jesus doing miracles at the Passover feast held at the Temple for a few days. Nicodemus acknowledges that Jesus is from God by what he said, “No one could be doing the miracles he’s 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 is the passage that answers our questions.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that no one can even see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again. Being born again is being born of God as we learned earlier. It is by God’s will. 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.
When Nicodemus asked his next question, “How can someone be born when they are old? Surely they cannot enter their mother’s womb a second time to be born?” He wasn’t aware of what we’ve already learned in 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 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.’
A prerequisite to entering the Kingdom of God is being a child of God and to become a child of God we have to be born again. Born of water and the Spirit.
Now many will try to say that being born of water is concerned with our natural birth. It is when the water breaks at our birth. But how can this be? We previously discovered that our natural birth has nothing to do with being born of God.
That is why Jesus followed up with, “Flesh gives birth to flesh,” It has nothing to do with the Spirit. He also said, “Spirit gives birth to Spirit.” Here Jesus is making a clear distinction between the two. Everything about spiritual birth is from God. It has nothing to do with the flesh.
Therefore being born of water can only mean one thing and it comes from scripture.
On the day of Pentecost, the very first day of the New Testament times, or the New Covenant, Peter preached the most important sermon to humanity which became the foundation of Christianity.
Read Acts chapter two.
Peter preached about Christ and his atoning blood sacrifice, but he also preached that his audience with the help of the Romans were guilty of killing the very Messiah for whom they were waiting and looking.
Discovering this wuilt Peter’s hearers were cut to the heart. Meaning they believed his message and asked, “What can we do?”
Peter 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, our sins are forgiven, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and we’re added to their number. That number is equivalent being those in 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. Worshiping God in any other way or fashion is an act of complete futility because whatever any other way is, it is 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 even our good deeds are like filthy rags.–Isaiah 64:6
I know this is a difficult lesson. I know it leaves some of you angry. I know some are embittered by this article. I was too at one time. I too had to resolve my heart with my head. There is only one solution that leads to end the anger and frustration. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength! When and if you do that God will open your eyes.
If you refuse to believe then you are refusing to believe God. Then you can’t see the truth. Have it your way. That’s fine. Please remember that you are fighting against God, and not me. Satan has already lost.
Flee from sin and choose God’s way. God wants you to win and you can only win if you choose God’s side.
God loves you and I love you.