Summary: What worship is about, and how to worship in spirit and truth.

Jesus’ words: worship in spirit and truth. WBC 4/4/4 am Jn 4:21f

Reading: Jn 4:19-26

Intro/ Illustr: Black man’s prayer

- hands up all of you who love true worship! (tee hee)

- THAT was true worship of God, eh?

o From the heart …and head….. and life


And it’s something we want to be better at, eh?

- we want to worship God in the way He requires

And here’s my first point about worship, this morning

- from Jesus’ words in Jn

Worship is not about US. It’s about GOD.

- it’s so easy to fundamentally misunderstand this!

- “I didn’t get anything out of worship this morning”

- “I didn’t like the songs we sang… or the hymns”

- “that wasn’t true worship”

And the truth is- if we think it’s about US, or how we feel, or whether we liked it

- even if we DID like it… it WASN’T true worship

Jesus says: “true worshippers must worship THE FATHER”

- and so the question we must ask is: “did GOD enjoy it?”

o and if HE did: you have worshipped!

o This is what He seeks: worshippers who will worship HIM (not selves or something else)

Often it’s a ‘sacrifice of praise’

- we don’t WANT to do it. Don’t feel like it. But it is RIGHT to

- as our cov service (and Anglican liturgy says)

- It is right to give Him thanks and praise

Father, all powerful and ever-living God, it is indeed right, it is our joy and duty, always and everywhere to give you thanks and praise through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.

And so with all the company of heaven we join in the unending hymn of praise:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.

It’s for an audience of ONE

And, the truth is- if you can grasp this… everything else will take off. Maybe, even, your experience in worship

- you may feel lost in wonder, love and praise

Tommy Tenney, in his new book tells this story.

He believes that God spoke to him and said, "You know, Tommy, your favourite worship services and My favourite services are not the same. You leave you services full and satisfied, but when you leave, I’m still hungry."

He writes, "God whispered this to me during a life-changing Sunday morning service. It was a divine encounter that forever imprinted itself with indelible ink on the pages of my memory."

He continues, "There were tears in my eyes when I whispered to my wife, I don’t think I’ve ever been this close to Him before. I wish I knew then what I have discerned since- that God will leave our meetings full and satisfied only when we begin to leave

them feeling hungrier for Him than when we first came."

God seeks worshippers. It is what He wants, what He deserves, what you need and what you were made for:

Westminster shorter catechism:

“Q What is the chief end of man?

A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”

So, there- we’ve clarified the object of our worship, and it’s purpose. Now what about this geography and ‘spirit and truth’ bit? What do Jesus’ words mean?


It’s easy to make the mistake of feeling that worship is about whether WE felt we worshipped, or not. It’s also easy to think that worship is about what we sing

- = one of the major issues in our churches, today

Always has been: the organ was the instrument of the devil. “I can’t worship with that sound of hell!”. Then the guitar was. Dunno what it is now: the projector or OHP

But some will think: “if you’re not singing a kind of song in a particular way- then that’s not true worship”

Well- the songs and the hymns and the style has more to do with US than GOD… more to do with our social culture than our or God’s sprit

- God is not impressed by what kind of songs you sing.

o He sees the heart. It’s the HEART that impresses Him

And that’s what Jesus is referring to, here, when He says we must ‘worship in spirit’

- your inner being must be yearning for and connecting with God’s Spirit.


You may be singing your favourite song or hymn.

- you may be singing it LOUD- but if your HEART’S not in it for GOD: it’s not real worship

- you may be feeling GREAT in singing it- but it may just be sentimentality and emotion- if you’re not connecting with HIM in doing it

Now- I’m not saying this to COMPLICATE things. Have you analysing yourself all the time!

- far from it! Rather- this sets you free! I don’t have to worry about whether I like the music/song or not. In fact- THAT really doesn’t matter! It’s about me talking to Jesus and telling him truths. Simple as that.

- true worship is a whole lot more simple than WE make it

Karl Barth once described a scene in a certain monastery in Alsace. While the monks were chanting the Magnificat, a French shell suddenly tore through the roof and exploded in the nave of the church. When the smoke and dust had cleared, the monks were still there, chanting the Magnificat.

Am I saying that what we sing doesn’t matter?

No- music is a great tool to open up our SOULS so that our SPIRIT is free to soar and connect with God

- we must recognise it as such and USE it as such

o (as they did in temple, Elijah did etc)

- USE IT! But remember: it’s a means, not the end

o It’s the tree by which Zaccaeus climbed to see Jesus

o It was not the object of his seeking

So- it helps us worship in spirit. Other things do as well

- prayer, silence, meditation. (corporate worship is > songs!)

It also helps us worship in TRUTH

- true to ourselves (many of these songs are true about our experiences)

- true about God. With truths about God

We are told to Eph 5:19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And all that I’ve been describing is in there:

- the psalms: their traditional, old hymnbook (1000 years)

o older hymns with poetry, meter, doctrine (truth)

- Hymns: their newer hymns with poetry, meter & doctrine

- Spiritual songs: pithier songs that are more from the heart (and TRUE in THAT sense). Probably newer ones

- And Twice revelation, and 7 times the OT, tells us to ‘sing a new song to God’

o So we don’t become ‘religious’ and over-familiar

o because God’s always ‘moving on’

o to ‘move with the times’

So- do you see the balance of old & new, head and heart, spirit and truth, here?

- and we want to keep that balance in our worship and use it as a tool to bring glory to God, and open people’s hearts to Him


The error this woman makes is thinking that worship depends on where you GO. Here or ‘there’.

- in today’s terms it’s ‘Oh, that’s a hot place to worship. You gotta go THERE!”

Now- I’m not denying anyone a ‘bless up’. We need them, occasionally!

But it’s not about WHERE you worship. But HOW you worship and WHETHER you worship

And let us apply this to ourselves: it IS possible to come here and miss the point!

- you can be here in ‘body’. .. but not ‘in spirit’

- done your duty in turning up, or being on the rota- but not connected with God or worshipped God!

o What’s the point of that, then!

Oh, friends- if you’re not doing it FOR God and to CONNECT with God

- I’d far rather you didn’t do it at all!- be it give, help, teach, rota or anything!

- because God seeks worshippers in spirit and truth

And if you think you can hide your heart and its coolness from God- then you don’t understand what God requires of you

- worship & truth in the innermost parts


Now- here’s the shocking thing. I’ve been misleading you completely, up to this point.

- catching you by ‘trickery’

- ‘cultic’ worship, ritual worship IS in Jesus’ words, here

But true worship doesn’t happen HERE at all. On a Sunday

- it starts here. Might end here

- = a celebration of a week of worship.. a lifestyle of worship

- = ‘overflow’

If it’s not ‘overflow’ worship- then it can be just like Palm Sunday:

- A great fun time- but incongruous, really, as it’s so out of kilter with the days before it and after it

Somebody has well said there are only two kinds of people in the world. There are those who wake up in the morning and say, "Good Lord, it’s morning." and there are those who wake up in the morning and say, " Good morning, Lord,"

- that’s lifestyle worship

And… a whole lot more

Jas 1:27 Religion… worship… that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Now- this is not an alternative to worshipping together

- some say ‘i have my faith so I don’t need to go to church’

o phenomenon called ‘church-less faith’

- a church-less faith is not ‘not faith at all’- but it IS a child-ish faith: about ME, individuality, rather than God & His people

o comes a time when you have to grow beyond that childishness

- church is an essential part of a lifestyle of worship. Of:

o putting Jesus first. Thinking of Him. Practicing His presence. LIVING IT

… or TRYING TO. By God’s strength, grace and forgiveness

- this again, to me, is worshipping in ‘truth’

- I’m truthful and relaxed that I’m not there, yet. But I’m getting there!

Sundays are explosive when folks are already worshipping in this way. Palm Sunday is real