God is Seeking People to Worship Him
God is Seeking People to Worship Him
Last week we looked at the One who is worthy of our worship. Today we are going to see that worship is the activity of our life, not just something we do on Sunday. Next Sunday we will see how this looks when believers get together and then on the 22 we are going to talk about music and worship.
We live in a world that perpetually sucks the spiritual life out of us. There are cares on every side: family cares, financial cares, and political cares come at us from all sides. There is the constant bombardment that pulls us to think only about the here and now. It entices us to place undo importance on things that will one day pass away. There are allurements to sin that were unimaginable just 50 years ago. Temptation to sin is not only everywhere we walk, but can be pumped right into our living rooms, and onto our computer screens. All of these can cause us to stumble into the trap of only thinking about the here and now, and can make us forget that there is a coming day of accountability before God.
The world beats you down by advertising ideals that almost no one can attain. It either tries to create a thirst for things that do not really satisfy or tries to capitalize on the hunger and thirst that all of us have been created with. Since nothing in this world can truly satisfy, people are constantly searching for satisfaction and are beat down because nothing in this world can satisfy the human soul.
This is where we find this Samaritan woman. Jesus’ evangelistic encounter at the well is with a woman who is thirsty and cannot be satisfied. While I find the conversation on thirst informative, what really intrigues me is the fact that Jesus evangelistic challenge centers on worship. Worship is a fruit of salvation. It is not something that we come and do on Sunday. Worship is a life-orientation. One cannot be saved, and not worship. I know that this sounds like a radical idea to you, but listen not to my voice but the voice of scripture. John 4:23 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” The call to salvation is a call to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jesus call of salvation to the rich young ruler was “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” He said the same thing to Matthew and he left all he had and followed Christ. One man held something as more valuable than Christ and went away empty. Another man could fin nothing more valuable than Christ and went away full.
AW Tozer said, “But really, my brother or sister, we are brought to God and to faith and to salvation that we might worship and adore Him. We do not come to God that we might be automatic Christians, cookie-cutter Christians, Christians stamped out with a die. God has provided His salvation that we might be, individually and personally, vibrant children of God, loving God with all our hearts and worshiping Him in the beauty of holiness.”
So if we are going to make worship the central activity of our life, then we need to ask this question,
INTER: “What kind of worship truly pleases God?” There is a lot out there that is called “worship” that is not truly worship.
Verse 21 says, “When you worship the Father.” Jesus said, “I always do what pleases the Father.” Our delight needs to be fixed on God. Psalm 73:25-26 “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” You would think that our worship would be God-focused, but the history of mankind shows that worship becomes full of form and activity. The Samaritan woman brought to light the long-standing debate that the Samaritans had with the Jews on the proper place of worship. So much of the ministry and activity of the church is man-centered. What we call worship today is evidenced by no fear of God, by carnality, materialism, and pride.
AW Tozer said that the “Most important thing about us is our view of God.” He is so right. To have a warped view of God or a shallow view of God brings defective views on salvation, on growth (sanctification), on our role in government. There is no way that you can have the right perspective on anything in life until you have the right view of this awesome eternal God. Psalm 27:4 “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.” Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”
So our worship must be God-centered. But how do we do that? We get to know God by being Christ- focused.
Jesus confronts her about her sin and she said, “I perceive that you are a prophet.” In response she said, “Where do I go to offer a sacrifice for my sin?” They had Mt. Gerizim and the Jews had Jerusalem. Jesus replied, “neither.” She said, “I know that when Messiah is coming and when He comes He will instruct us of these things.” Jesus said, “I am He.” It is amazing how many times we can read the Bible; how many sermons can be preached, and how many lessons can be taught and not come to Christ. You can take the Bible and read it and come up with a bunch of “how to” things and never come to Christ. He is central to the message of the Bible.
What does the first chapter of John say? John 1:1-3 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Verse 11 “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” Verse 14 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” Worship is about God, but listen to this, John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.” How do we come to the Father? The only way that we can come to the Father is through the son. So in preaching, if I don’t preach Christ, I am not preaching the Father.
We are to look to Jesus for our view of the Father. Colossians 1:15-19 (ESV) “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,” If you come to the Bible and do not look for Christ, then you fall into the trap of the unsaved. 2 Cor. 4:4 “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
How can we worship God without first focusing on Christ? Hebrews 1:3 (ESV) “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”
1 John 4:12 says no one has ever seen God. John 1:18 says, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” Another translation says “has made him known.” It is Jesus Christ that makes God known. In Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4 it is not God the Father that they saw, but Jesus Christ.
Christ is creator; He is mediator, He is the express image of God, He is preeminent; He is the glory of God.
Holiness of Life
So now he touches the most sensitive, vulnerable spot in her life—"Go call your husband." The quickest way to the heart is through a wound. Why does Jesus strip open this woman's inner life like this? Because he had said in John 3:20 “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” Concealed sin keeps us from seeing the light of Christ. Sin is like spiritual leprosy. It deadens your senses so you rip your soul to shreds and don't even feel it. But Christ has set his sights on this woman's conversion. So he lays bare her spiritual leprosy. "You've had five husbands and the man you're sleeping with now is not your husband."
There is another reason why He confronts this woman about her sin. Very simply, only those who have purity of life can offer pleasing worship. Psalm 24:3-6 “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? 4He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. 5He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob.”
You cannot offer pleasing worship to God when you have an unholy life. If you harbor sin, if there is an area that is not surrendered, if something is an idol – more value to you than God – then your worship is hypocritical. In Amos 5 God is speaking to the Israelites and tells them that because of there sin He will not accept there worship: “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.” Only you and God know your life. Is He pleased with your singing?
Born out of Truth and Spirit-Filled
So in verses 21 and 22 Jesus directs the woman's attention away from the external question "where" to the internal question "how" and the theological question "whom." Worship must be vital and real from within and it must be based on a true perception of God. Now verse 23 sums this up with the key phrase "in spirit and truth": "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth." The two words, spirit and truth, correspond to the how and the whom of worship. Worshiping in spirit is the opposite of worshiping in mere external ways. It's the opposite of formalism and traditionalism. Worshiping in truth is the opposite of worship based on an inadequate view of God. Together the words "spirit and truth" mean that real worship comes from the spirit within and is based on true views of God. Worship must have heart and worship must have head. Worship must engage your emotions and worship must engage your thought. Truth without emotion produces dead orthodoxy and a church full of unspiritual fighters. Emotion without truth produces empty frenzy and cultivates flaky people who reject the discipline of rigorous thought. True worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine.
Therefore, as a pastor I agree with Jonathan Edwards when he said, "I should think myself in the way of my duty, to raise the affections of my hearers as high as I possibly can, provided they are affected with nothing but truth, and with affections that are not disagreeable to the nature of what they are affected with." One man illustrated it like this: The fuel of worship is the truth of a gracious, sovereign God; the furnace of worship is your spirit; and the heat of worship is the vital affections of reverence, fear, adoration, contrition, trust, joy, gratitude, and hope. But something is missing from that analogy, namely, fire. The fuel of truth in the furnace of your spirit does not automatically produce the heat of worship. There has to be fire, which I think is the Holy Spirit.
When Jesus says in v. 23, "True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth," I've taken him to mean that worship must come from your spirit within, instead of being merely formal and external. So when Jesus says that true worshipers worship in spirit, he must mean that true worship only comes from spirits that are made alive and sensitive and vital by the touch of the Holy Spirit.
So now we can complete the analogy: the fuel of worship is the grand truth of a gracious and sovereign God; the fire that makes the fuel burn white hot is the quickening of the Holy Spirit; the furnace made alive and warm by the flame of truth is our renewed spirit; and the resulting heat of our affections is worship, pushing its way out in tears, confessions, prayers, praises, acclamations, lifting of hands, bowing low, and obedient lives.
ILL: I talked to a man named David Friday afternoon. He didn’t belong to an organized religion, just a Bible research group. For 32 years he has been studying the Bible and only accepting what can be provable. He lectured me on how that the OT Laws didn’t save someone, but showed people that it was impossible for them to please God. He told me they the OT scriptures pointed to Christ. The only way to get to heaven was through Christ. But he doesn’t believe in the Trinity. I said what do you believe? What he described sounded an awful lot like the Trinity. He knew the Bible very well. He understood that faith in Jesus was the only way to get to heaven. I would say that he knew more Bible than most people in this room. What I thought about on the way home was that relationship and worship didn’t seem to be important to him.
God is seeking true worshippers to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
Notice verse 34. When his disciples come back with food, Jesus says, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”The work of God is to seek real worshipers. Jesus was sent to accomplish this work. Therefore we should see the whole interchange with the Samaritan woman as the work of God in Jesus seeking a real worshiper. In verse 35 Jesus applies his example to us, “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” There is a white harvest of harlots in Samaria. I have just made one into a real worshiper. That's why the Father sent me; so send I you. God seeks people to worship him in spirit and truth. Here comes the city of Sychar white unto harvest. If you love the glory of God, make ready to reap.