Message bought 16 October 2016 by John MacDiarmid for Poole Christian Fellowship at Poole High School
Listen to this talk (or download – right-click here and ‘Save as’):
Today we start a new series on the subject of worship. Over six weeks we will be asking ourselves the question: how can I be the kind of worshipper that God seeks?
The main thought of today’s talk is that personal fulfilment, here and in eternity, can only be found by those who worship God in the Spirit and in truth. As Jesus says in John 4: “true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks”
It is extraordinary to think that God is looking for worshippers – and we can be the ones who satisfy his heart.
A few quotes to get us going:
“Worship is an end in itself” (John Piper)
“True worship is a valuing and a treasuring of God above all things” (John Piper)
“Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.”. (Augustine)
…and, not that I would rank myself with the individuals above…
“Personal fulfilment, here and in eternity, can only be found by those who worship God in the Spirit and in truth” (John MacDiarmid)
The context of the definition of worship that Jesus makes above is found in his meeting with the Samaritan woman in John 4, and we shall build our thoughts around that passage:
Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptising more disciples than John – although in fact it was not Jesus who baptised, but his disciples. So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
Now he had to go through Samaria.5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’
‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock? Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’
The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’
He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’
‘I have no husband,’ she replied.
Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.’
‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’
‘Woman,’ Jesus replied, ‘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 worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’
The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’
Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you – I am he.’
So we have:
1. A Chance Encounter
In fact, there is no such thing as a chance encounter for the believer. Jesus is going into enemy territory for the Jew and he finds himself face to face with the lowest of the low ( for a Jew).
A Samaritan, a woman…and the lowest of women at that who seems to be an outcast even amongst her own kind.
Jesus send us into enemy territory and tells us to deal with people who despise us and ridicule us, and he points the way with opening a conversation, turning it to spiritual things, using a word of knowledge to expose someone’s heart , bringing them to salvation and turning them instantly into an evangelist.
Notice in passing how the Lord of the universe is tired, hungry and thirsty. He laid down his glory for us, and we will have to leave our comfort zone in order to meet the needs of the lost.
2. A Prickly Conversation
Jesus encounter is with a woman who is at the same time defensive, aggressive and sarcastic. Obviously with a major chip on her shoulder about the historic hostility between the Jews and Samaritans, Jesus uses a word of knowledge about her situation to open her heart.
She keeps returning to the subject of Samaritans, apparently trying to provoke Jesus into claiming superiority:
. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’
…and this is the context for Jesus’ famous comments about worship which we turn to now.
3. A Divine Definition
Here Jesus answers our big question about what worship and worshippers look like:
So we note:
- The Old reality has gone
- The dividing line of hostility between Jew and Gentile goes forever
- The segregation of men and women goes
- The need for Holy places, dates, seasons, sacrifices all goes
- The New Reality has come:
- Its not about place, gender race or sacrifice
- It’s about Spirit. Jesus has been talking about the living water that would be poured out on all who believe. He was speaking of the gift of the Holy Spirit that would be given to not just a select few, but the whole of the church from Pentecost onwards. So our worship is about internal relationship not external forms, about passionate relationship, not cold formalism,
- It’s about truth – it is truth that drives our worship. We worship a trine God because Scripture tells us about it. We rejoice in the salvation that God describes in scripture, and the Son we read about in the gospels.
The true worshipper will have the Spirit of God in their heart and the word of God in their hands. If you take out the Spirit, we have dry and legalistic Christianity (what Lloyd Jones used to call “perfectly orthodox, perfectly useless”). If you take out the word, you go over to emotionalism and then to error. Both are equally dangerous.
That is why Jesus told us that the worshippers the Father seeks will worship Him in Spirit and in truth.
May we be those worshippers.