The Church Worships in Spirit and Truth
These are verses from the song we will sing immediately after the message today…and we also sang on Wednesday.
Let our praise be Your welcome
Let our songs be a sign
We are here for You, we are here for You
Let Your breath come from heaven
Fill our hearts with Your life
We are here for You, we are here for You
If you have been around me long enough you know that I believe Words matter...
This is especially true when it comes to God’s Word…the Bible. God does not waste Words...every single Word…every dot…and every iota of the Word of God…is of utmost importance. The God of all creation has spoken to us His people…and we can not ever let that become common or boring…it is one of the most amazing truths in all of life.
God…the all powerful God who created us and the universe with words…also had His Words written to us us and we are able to read them and study them and teach them…and each and every one of God’s words are powerful…like creation powerful…so every one matters.
The words we speak…the ones that come out of our mouths are important too.
Listen to these verses…
For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
And from Jesus in Matthew 15.
it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.”
And why is that…why do the Words we say matter so much?
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
There is a connection between the words we speak and our hearts and from last week we also knows that there is a strong life giving and eternal connection between the words we hear and our hearts...
Because we also know that speaking and hearing of the the Gospel is how God saves...faith comes from hearing…words matter.
Even little words can mean a lot. They sometime can make the difference between good and evil, between heaven and hell. One of the most important Words in understanding the Bible…especially the NT letters…is a small three letter word...
This Word also makes a big difference in these song lyrics I mentioned…
We are here for You, we are here for You
The 3 letter word I am talking about is the word for.
What does it mean for us to sing in Worship to God...that we are here for God.
I assume we can all agree that we are here not primarily for us but we are here for God?
So what does that mean?
It could mean something like this.
Imagine that you are in great need…you are in a desparate situation…and you need help.
And I call you and I say…I am here for you.
What does that mean?
I am telling you that I am here to provide you with whatever you may need and do not have in your situation.
To provide something for you.
You are in need of something…from me and I am here for your benefit.
Therefore after I provide for you…you will likely thank me.
Is that what we mean when we say we are here to worship…we are here for God. To provide God with something He needs from us?
Well no…because God needs nothing from us. We are not here to provide Him with something HE needs from us.
If we are here singing and praying and praising and preaching in order to do something for God because He needs us to…then we are obviously here for the wrong reason.
Listen to Paul in Acts 17.
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
That is the God we are here to worship…that is who we are here for.
Or more bluntly…God does not need you or me or us.
He is not lonely without us...or lacking anything.
He is, in fact, the one who is responsible for our very existence…our salvation...our life…our breath…our everything...
He is the reason you are here right now at this moment…wehter you know what that exact reason is or not.
So I hope we can agree that to arrive on a Sunday morning and declare to God, “We are here for you,” means something much different than we are here to provide for God or to give Him something.
There is one other reason that we may be here that should not be what we mean…and would not be worship....but is an extremely common reason people go to a church building on Sundays.
We could be here primarily for us…and what God or others can do for us.
The singing and listening and fellowship could be not for God or for others…the building up of the body of Christ…but for our selves. We could come here with hearts that say…God I have lived for myself this week…done what I please…worked really hard…given all I have...and I am tired…so I am here for you…to give me something…so I can do it again next week…as though God is a battery charger or a gas station.
This is subtle…but if we are honest…this is an easy trap to fall into. God…make this good for me…I want you God…but primarily for what you can give to me. Not simply to have more of you God…and certainly not to serve others…and do all of the one anthers...
I am always doing that…this is for me…God…so I am “”here for you.””
This happens often now and in the history of God’s people…but we need to hear from God’s Word this morning...listen to how God respond’s to this kind of worship in Amos 5.
They are meeting for the day of the Lord…having an assembly. Bringing God offerings…and singing…but not for the right reason. They are not there truly for God…for true worship and the serving the body…and God tells them.
Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! Why would you have the day of the Lord? It is darkness, and not light,
So God is saying…why are you even here…why are you even doing this?
Woe to you for even showing up...
Then He tells them...
“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Take away your offerings and even your songs…I will not accept them or even listen says the Lord.
So we are not here for God in a way that means we are to provide God with something...
And we ALSO are not here for God in a way that is primarily about us…and our needs…our preferences…our desires...
So then how are we here for God? Or more specifically what is worship?
What is worship?
Let’s go back to our scenario...
Let’s assume (because it is true) that we are the ones in great need again…and we see someone to give us thing we desperately need…and we run up to them and they say what?
And this time we...as the ones in need...say…we are here for you!
We are desperate…we need you…like a stream of living water…we need your life giving…soul sustaining love and power…we are here for you.
That is how we are here for God in worship.
We are not simply here for Him to give us what we think we need in order to live the rest of the week on our own…in our own way…
He is what we need for life and breath and everything.
We are not here for entertainment or to have our preferences fulfilled…if we are truly here to worship…we are here for God.
He is infinite and immeasurably abundant and needs nothing from us.
Rather, we are here for God in the sense that we need him…desperately...
As a severely dehydrated man desperately crawls towards a flowing stream after a week lost in the desert…or a starving orphan in Ethopia needs food and a family....or a bankrupt homeless woman needs money...
Or more accurately....as a guilty soul needs who forgiveness, as a broken heart that needs healing, as a lost sinner that needs salvation. Or as a victorious saint needs to praise…or a born again believer that needs to give thanks…or as a Spirit filled follower that needs to sing for God.
That is worship…that is why we are here for God.
This is why we worship…because we know and need and love and desire more of...the one who we worship...
And we are here for Him.
So with that let’s ask the question...How?
How are we to worship?
Let’s go to our text.
Let’s look at maybe the most significant single biblical text for guiding the essence of what we’re pursuing together when we gather to worship…let’s reads Jesus’s words in John 4:23–24…with ears to hear from our Lord what it means when we say we are here to worship…we are here for God.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers 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.”
He says it twice…and tells us that God the Father is seeking this type of worship from His people. Jesus is telling us that there are true worshippers and therefore there are false worshippers...
And the time is now here that, Jesus says, those who truly worship...must worship in Spirit and truth…
True worship, says Jesus, is in spirit and truth.
Many fall more heavily on one side of this or the other…and call it worship. So how do we get this right?
How can we be what Jesus calls true worshipers...
We must worship in Truth...
3 times in the book of John the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of truth…and the one we worship…Jesus...is the truth.
In much of worship…and even what is called worship music…the truth is missed or lessened. The experience of worship is often prioritized over the truth.
But since we worship Jesus and He is the truth…we must if we’re worshipping Him...worship in truth…the truth about God…the truth of the Word...the truth of the Gospel.
The whole counsel of God’s Word…with out that Jesus is telling us we are not truly worshiping…or we may be worshipping the wrong Jesus…
It may be a very emotional experience…but is it truly worship of the Lord of Lords?
Anyone who has been to a secular concert…or a packer game has seen and experienced emotional experiences that could even be called worship…but not true worship...
We we must anchor and saturate our worship with the truth
We at Revival hold up the truth of God’s Word as highly as we can and desire to saturate our worship and our very lives with the truth.
And true worshipers also must worship in Spirit...
So what about worshiping in “Spirit”?
How do we worship in Spirit? Well if you are born again…then you have the Holy Spirit of God in you…so if yhat is true the right question to ask…is how do we not quench the Spirit in our worship?
How do we experince the power and fullness ofthe Spirit as we worship?
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
So in order to fully experniece this type of Worship…in Spirit…we need to put to death whatever it is in our flesh…that hold us back from truly worshiping out Lord.
That may be distraction…embarassment…selfishness…or even a misunderstanding of what we are doind as we sing to the Lord in worship.
At a concert we are likely most “emotional” when it is an artist we like…and a song we like…and a volume we like…and we are with people we like…and as a church we could recreate that experience to make your singing more emotional…but is that Spirtual Worship?
Is it simply stirring up the omotions ofthe flesh? Or is it something more…much more?
How do we in our flesh get over simply the emotions of the flesh…and our own personal desires…and enter into true worship of God and not simply a concert exprience...
By coming to the realization that worhip is all about God and not about us.
We standingbefore and singingto the one whos holds up the universe by the power of His words…the one who gives us our life and breath and everything…and if you are saved…the one who saved you while you were yet a sinner.
We are not singing for us…we are here for God.
The Holy God of creation…the one who said…let there be light...
The creator God who is so Holy and perfect that sin can not even be in His presence…has chosen us and looked upon us and done something for us that we desprately needed him to do.
You stand in worship with nothing to offer this Holy God. For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…no one is righteous not one. You were created to live for this Holy God and have not…but God.
We are all in desparate need of a Savior to rescue us and a Lord to guide us and for us to follow. We are all in desorate need.
And if you are saved…this Holy God that we sing to has done that for you…by sending Hid perfect, Holy, righteous son to live the life you could not live and die the death you rightly desreved...
If you havebeen born again and repented of your sin and put you faith in Jesus…when you stand to worship…the Holy and righteous judge…who holds you eternity in His hands…looks upon you in your singing and call you his Child…His firend...
IF you are saved you will one day stand free of sin before this God not because of what you have done…but because of what He has done for you in Christ.
You stand here today as one becing made into the image of Christ…you stand here today as a redeemed member of the very body of Christ…His bride…the Church.
You stand here today with a new heart…and a new Spirit…following a perfect Lord…because of What he has doen and is doing in you.
And so what we see here is that true Christian worship engages both our hearts and heads. It is the response of our very bodies and entire souls to the understanding of truth about our Savior and Lord…and our emotional, heart response to this truth…in our Spirit.
Jesus is telling us that true worship is when the truth that has changed our minds and deepened our understanding of what God did for us in Christ…makes it way to our hearts…and therefore changes the emotions of our very Spirit.
Therefore true worship is an emotional response of our Spirits…not to the quality or type of the music…or the volume…or anything other than the reaction of our Spirits to the truth of who this Holy and risghteous and all powerful sovereiegn God is…and what He has done for us…the truth of what the good news of the gospel means for our very lives...
The truth about Jesus…and what that truth means for us…individually and as the gathered church for which Jesus died.
True worship must be real in the heart (or Spirit), and true worship must also be a response to the truth about Jesus.
There must be spirit and there must be truth. . . .
Truth without emotion produces dead boring lifeless “worship”…only those who agree with God but have not been gripped by the emotional reality of what He has done for us and who He is to us.
On the other hand, emotion (or “spirit) without truth produces shallow or roller coaster…concert like passion....that doesn’t stand when the winds come…because it is built on sand and not on the rock solid truth of God’s Word.
True worship comes from people who are deeply rooted in the truth of who God is and what Jesus has done AND deeply Spirtually affected or emotional because He has done it for them.
Strong affections for God rooted in truth about God are the components of true worship.
And those affections when not hindered by the flesh…will drive your heart to stnad and sing praises to the Lrod…or dance…or raise you hands…or maybe drive you to silence and prayer…or to your knees in tears...
What Jesus is telling us here is that true worship is not simply external, but internal — heart and head, emotion and thought, spirit and truth.
And that is true whether we are taking about all of life being worship…
OR our worship gatherings and singing together on Sundays or Wednesdays…or you times of personal worship.
We have been deceived into defining worship as the external components of worship and that is seen when persaonal desires or prefreneces or flesh...the external components of worship determine our experiecne of wirship..…the place or building, how many are in attendance, how good the music is, what type the music is, how talented the worship leader is, how cool the preacher is, how everyone else around us is responding...
These are not biblical concepts...
They should not define our worship…as we stand around the throne in heaven as in Revelation singing Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty I very much doubt we will afterwards say…I didn’t like that version…I would rather listen to the Christ Tomlin version…or the person next to me was too loud…or why did we keep repeating that line…or that was way to Spiritual...
And I also very much doubt we will care what anyone else thonks about our reation to the God that we are wotshiping.
True worship is what is flowing from us…from our hearts because of the truth in our minds...
True worship is us saying…God I do not care what the type of music is…or who is singing…or playing…or what anyone else around me is doing or who is looking…or what is for lunch or how long the song is...I do not care…I love you God…the truth of who you are and what you have done for me in Christ has gripped my very Spirit...
God I am here for you.
Worship is not first not what we do (or don’t do) with our hands or our voices (or what someone else is doing or not doing), but what we do with our hearts and minds — because of the one who has captured our hearts and minds.
Worship is in spirit and in truth…which when that kind of worship truly takes hold of us…will likely change what we do with out hands and voices and bodies…and what kinds of songs we sing…because of who we are singing them to…God.
God’s heart for singing and His people singing His praises is evident, especially in the Psalms.
Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
In just three verses we’re commanded to sing seven times.
The Bible contains over four hundred references to singing and fifty direct commands to sing. The longest book of the Bible, the Psalms, is a book of songs.
Why does God so often tell us not simply to praise him with words but to sing his praises when we meet? Why not just pray and preach? Why sing? Why are God’s people throughout history always singing?
Well one reason is that God himself sings. In Zephaniah 3:17 God exalts over his people “with loud singing.”
On the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus sang hymns with his disciples (e.g., Matthew 26:30). '
And Ephesians 5 tells us that one fruits of being “filled with the Spirit” is “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart” (verses 18–19).
We worship a triune God who sings, and wants us to sing.
Music is very powerful…and therefore it is no surprise that the enemy uses it mighty.
Large Youth study…persistent faith…secular verses Christian music.
When we truly understand and have been changed by the truth it will drive us to praise and singing.
Music is a powerful gift from God that complements, supports, and deepens the impact of the words we sing…and the words we read…and the words we hear from the sermon. And a powerful way to build our faith…and praise the Lord.
And therefore…it not only matters that we sing; it matters what we sing.
And the words we sing have a far greater impact on us than most of us are aware.
Since true worship is in Spirit and truth...
The words of a song need to be the first thing we consider when we think about what songs to sing…especially when we gather as the body of Christ.
In Colossians 3:16 Paul tells us that we are to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
It is the Word of Christ, the Word about Christ, the truth of the gospel that is to dwell in us richly as we sing.
We should make it our aim not only to preach the whole counsel of God but to sing it, as well.
Because singing connects the words we sing with our hearts and minds.
Music can heighten the emotional impact and rootedness of the Word.
Singing can help us take more time to reflect on the meaning of words.
It can allow us to repeat them and engage emotionally with the words.
Therefore...Singing Should Be an Emotional Event. In Spirit and truth!
If music is meant to stir our emotions, then it singing should be an emotional event. For some of us, that’s no problem. For others, it’s a real struggle.
If that’s you, listen to Jonathan Edwards’s thoughts from his writing on the on Religious Affections:
The duty of singing praises to God seems to be appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned, why we should express ourselves to God in verse, rather than in prose, and do it with music, but only that such is our nature and frame, that these things have a tendency to move our affections. (Edwards, Religious Affections, cited in Sam Storms, Signs of the Spirit: An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’s Religious Affections [Crossway, 2007], 53)
In other words, music is meant to affect us at the level of our hearts and souls and spirits...because our entire being is engaged with God and his truth in a way that determines our words, thoughts, choices, and actions.
God is worthy of our highest, purest, strongest emotions. Singing helps express and ignite them.
Some of us are afraid of getting too emotional when we sing. But remember the emotions that singing is meant to evoke are not simply for the act of being emotional…they are rightful responses to the truths we’re singing about God…who is with us and hearing us sing to Him.
Of his glory, his greatness, and his goodness.
Of course, we won’t always be moved in the same way or to the same degree when we sing.
So what should we do? Ask God for faith and mercy and freedom to feel and act and sing in a way that is appropriate in light of who God is and what he’s done for us in Christ.
The good news is that God wants to use music, and has even designed music, to break through our apathy and hardness of heart…to help us overcome distraction and the fear of man...and to help us engage emotionally with his Word.
In the book of Revelation, the hosts of heaven aren’t emotional or crying out in song because of the style of music they are singing...but because of who they are singing to.
We read about it in Revelation 5:9.
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,
Worthy is the Jesus....the Lamb who was slain.
We are singing to and about and for the one who took the wrath of God…the punishment that we desreved…and nailed it to the cross when He shed His blood for us...
We are singing to the Jesus who not only was resurected from the dead but right now is alive and ruling the universe....we are singing to the King of Kings...
We worship in Spirit and truth because Jesus is the One who has made it possible for us to be true worshipers in spirit and truth.
He is the truth…His Word is Spirit.
God’s acceptance of our offerings of musical worship is not because of our skill, efforts, practice, or even how loud we sing.
But our faith is not in what we do. It’s in what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf and in our place at the cross.
We worship in Sprit and truth…true worship…when we are truly here for God.
Our Savior has rescued us and set us free to live for Him…
To follow and obey Him...
To love Him...
To treasure Him...
To be part of His body....the church that the gates of hell will not stand against...
Jesus has freed us from fear of man and anything else that would hold us back from truly and freely worshiping Him…in your mind and heart…in Spirit and trutgh…with your body and with your voice.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
May we sing passionately. May we sing for his glory and the advancing of his gospel until the time comes when our songs will never end.
May we sing as those who have been brought into the kingdom of God…may we worship our King.