The Expository Files


Worship in Jno. 4:24

John 4:24


I recently read about a congregation that decided to have four different worship services each Sunday to appeal to distinct groups of worshipers. 

There was one service for those new to the faith. Another for those who liked traditional worship. The third service was for those who’d lost their faith and would like to get it back. And last service for those who had bad experiences with churches and were complaining about it. 

They even identified each service with its own name. Guess what they called them? FINDERS. KEEPERS. LOSERS. WEEPERS! 

Yes, it’s a joke! But it does remind me that many people have a different idea of what worship should be like. However, it is important for us to learn what is God’s idea of worship. Worship is foundational to our Faith. To our spirituality. To our walk with Christ.

In one of the great verses of the Bible, Jesus identifies the true nature of worship. “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24) 

The word “worship” literally means “to kiss the hand towards.” Worship is an act of reverence, homage, or veneration toward one of superior rank or position. 

This verse speaks to three important things we need to know about worship. 

(1) The object of worship is absolute. In the Old Testament God demanded Israel’s undivided affection in worship. One of the 10 commandments was “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex 20:3). Idol worship was forbidden. Those who worshiped Baal and Ashtoreth were punished. 

This is equally true in New Testament worship. Jesus says, “The Father seeks worshipers.” Our worship to Him is not be shared with anyone or anything else. When Cornelius bowed down to worship the apostle Peter, he refused to accept it and said, “Stand up. I’m just a man!” (Acts 10:26) 

When John received the Revelation, he was enraptured at the sights revealed by the angelic messenger. At one point, John fell down to honor the Host, but the angel rebuked him and simply said, “Worship God!” (Rev. 19:10) 

God desires and requires our absolute and faithful worship. 

(2) The actions in worship must be accurate. Jesus said it must be “in truth.” God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17). And the Truth has been divinely revealed to inspired writers of the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16-17). 

While people may have many opinions about what constitutes accurate worship, the Bible tells how the first Christians worshiped in their assemblies. 

They met on the first day of the week and ate the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7). It was a communion of remembrance honoring Jesus (1 Cor 11:23-26). They praised God in song (Eph 5:19; Col. 3:16). They contributed financially to support the spiritual work of the church (1 Cor 16:1-2; 2 Cor 9:6-7; 2 Cor 11:8). They fervently lifted their hearts in prayer (Ac. 2:42). And, the Word was preached (Acts 20:7). 

Beyond those activities I’m unable to find anything else that constituted collective worship. To please God, our worship must be accurate, according to Truth. 

(3) The heart of the worshiper must be authentic. Jesus said we must worship “in spirit.” That means with our heart and soul. With the whole of our being. 

God is not interested in ritualistic, formalized worship that is staid and stale. Nor is he interested in hype and showmanship. He simply desires us to be honest, earnest and sincere (Matt 15:8-9). 

It is possible to be accurate in worship, but not be authentic. Worship that is listless and spiritless is worthless! God wants not only the person to worship, but our passion. 

If your worship is not absolute, open your eyes and refocus on God. If it’s not accurate, open your Bible and follow the Truth. If it’s not authentic, open your heart and worship with passion. 

Worship that is absolute, accurate and authentic has the power to transform the worshiper into the image of Him who is worshiped.


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  By Ken Weliever
From Expository Files 22.4; April 2015