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All worship is not acceptable to God

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Les Walthers

College Street Bookstore

John 4:24 (NASB) "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

Christ spoke these words to a woman who had great confidence in the worship which was practiced by her ancestors. These words were not only words of instruction, they were also words of rebuke.

Christ set forth two basic requirements for worshiping God. The first requirement is that true worship must be "in spirit." True worship is a matter of the heart. It is not a matter of being at the right place at the right time, saying and doing all the right things. It is possible to participate in every activity of a worship service and yet never really worship God. It is possible to "pray" without any conscious communion with God. Is possible to "sing hymns" without thinking of the meaning of the words or having any awareness that the hymns are being sung as praise to God. It is possible to hear the words of the sermon without hearing or acting upon the truths conveyed by those words. The word spirit as used in our text is a reference to the rational soul. It is an all inclusive term and has reference to the sum total of a man’s faculties. True worship involves the mind, emotion and will.

The second requirement which Christ sets forth for true worship is that it must be "in truth" or "according to truth." There is a direct relationship between truth and worship. If worship is to be according to truth, then it must be governed by truth. God has revealed in His word His will concerning how He is to be worshiped. God has not left us to our own imagination must less our own whims and fancies as to how He should be worshiped. In the words of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, "The acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will,...he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men......"

The activities for which there is Biblical warrant are very basic. They are as follow; 1) singing of hymns and spiritual songs, 2) prayer, 3) public reading of the scri ptures, 4) preaching and teaching of God’s word, 5) giving of tithes and offerings, 6) administration of the ordinances.

If our worship is to be regulated by scri pture, then our worship must be limited to these activities. Should other activities be added? If so, on what basis should they be added? Perhaps some one might say, "I think it would be nice to show a film or have a drama or pantomime for our worship service." Then why not a ballet, a modern dance team, or a comedian? There is as much Biblical warrant for one as for the other.

Many people in our day prefer to be entertained rather than to worship God "in spirit and truth." They enjoy "spectator worship." That is they like to go and watch others "do their thing," and then critique the performance. The Bible knows nothing of "spectator worship." Those who are catering to the practice of "spectator worship" are often caught in the "bigger and better" trap. They must constantly out do the last performance or they might lose their crowd. The church is not to be an "entertainment center." It is to be a place where God is worshiped in spirit and truth. Christ also told the woman at the well of Samaria, "But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. No doubt God is still seeking true worshipers."

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