Two 'Musts' For Worship

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   God has created us as unique individuals with differing personalities and talents. Knowing this fact, we should not be surprised when people approach worship in a variety of ways.  Church services display diversity in style, while individuals show an array of ways to praise our God and Savior.  God has certainly allowed for some leeway in how we worship Him; yet, we mustn’t conclude that God is pleased with every way that someone may decide to worship Him.  Despite leaving some allowance for individual personality and gifts, the Bible records two necessities for worship.

   While ministering on earth, Jesus met with a woman of Samaria at a well one day. The history of the Samaritans can be traced back to the split of the Kingdom of Israel after Solomon’s death (1 Kings 12). Jeroboam became the first king of the Northern Kingdom, consisting of ten of the twelve tribes of Israel, and led the people in false worship. Many years later, due to the kingdom’s persistent rebellion against God’s Law, the Northern Kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians, who resettled some of the Israelites back into the land. In the following years, the Israelites intermarried with members of other nations, set up a system of worship in Samaria and still expected the promises that were made to Israel. 

   During Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well as recorded in John 4, Jesus addresses the Samaritans’ false worship in Samaria -- the kingdom would be in Jerusalem not Samaria -- and tells her what true worship would be.

   Jesus, in John 4:23-24, declares, “But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

   Jesus was referring to the promises made to Israel in this chapter, but there are truths concerning worship that are still as true for us today as members of the Body of Christ; the necessities of God-honoring worship are still Spirit and Truth.

   This entails two facets: justification and consecration. First, justification takes place the moment we turn to God in faith alone to trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ. This means that we believe that the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is enough to save us from our sins and an eternal death in the Lake of Fire.  The moment we believe, the Holy Spirit identifies us with the completed redemption in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), guarantees eternal life with Jesus Christ in Heaven (Ephesians 1:13-14), and indwells the believer (1 Corinthians 6:19). 

   Unfortunately, some of the church worship services that take place today are geared to bring the unbeliever in the doors of the church and make them feel comfortable.  This type of worship fails the first “must of worship.”  God is only pleased by worship that comes from Spirit-indwelt people.  Only a believer in the work of Jesus Christ is Spirit-indwelt, so we cannot structure our worship to please those who do not yet have the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9). Our responsibility toward the unsaved is to share the Gospel of Christ so that they have the opportunity to trust in Jesus Christ and join in God-honoring worship. 

   The second aspect of Spirit worship is consecration. This aspect of worship has to do with having our entire lives yielded to the Holy Spirit’s use (Romans 12:1-2).  After we are justified and secure in Christ, we are implored to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) and not seek to please the flesh. Is our worship concerned with pleasing ourselves? Do we choose church services that make US feel good?  Do we expect worship leaders to play moving songs that cater to OUR preferences?  Do we go to church expecting the pastor to help US?  True worship goes beyond Sunday morning services and our acts of benevolence; it affects our entire lives. Every moment of everyday lived to praise our Savior is true worship. God-honoring worship occurs when a believer in Christ yields every part of His life over to the Holy Spirit to produce fruit.

   The Samaritan woman had a belief that she was sincerely following. Jesus told this woman that her particular belief was wrong. If she expected to make it into the Kingdom, she was going to have to line-up with God’s way, which is always right.

   Many of you reading this article are aware that we live in a culture where truth is considered fluid, adaptable to each individual. This popular belief is absurd, illogical, and, well, not true. If we want to truly honor God in worship, we MUST do it truthfully according to the Word of God rightly divided. (For further information on this statement, contact Berean Bible Institute with the information at the end of this article.)

   I know of many “Christian” songs that are beautiful songs, but they are wrong in their theology.  If these songs are played for worship, they are lacking the truth needed to truly worship the Lord. We can’t be so focused on setting a mood of worship that we throw truth to the side; otherwise, it is not true worship.

   God’s truth is revealed to us in His Word, the Bible.  We need to study it and allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten us to its truths. The Spirit and Truth should affect the songs we sing, the messages we preach, the prayers we speak, and the lives we live.  God-honoring worship occurs when a believer in Christ allows the Holy Spirit to control every part of his life in accordance with the truth of God’s Word. 

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