Summary: A consideration of what constitutes true worship.
Title: God Wants Us To Be . . . A Church That Worships
Series: The Church God Wants Us To Be, Sermon # 2
COPYRIGHT © Joe La Rue, 2008
Text: John 4:19–24
Date Preached: January 20, 2008
A. The Apostle John tells us in Revelation in the Bible about a series of visions he was given. He saw into heaven’s throne room, and witnessed the glory of God seated on His throne. He saw Jesus, appearing at times as a Lamb slain for God’s people, and at other times as a great Conqueror, waging war and riding upon a white horse followed by the armies of heaven. He saw strange images of beasts and dragons, bowls and trumpets, all signifying and symbolizing the gargantuan struggle taking place between the forces of God and the forces of Satan. He saw the end of earth’s history, when Satan is defeated and vanquished for all time, and he witnessed the new heavens and earth where God’s people will live in happiness forever. And when John was shown this final scene of God’s ultimate triumph and the joy of God’s people, he was so overcome by emotion that he fell down to worship the angel who had been showing him all these things. But the angel said, “Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you. . . . Worship God!” (Rev 22:9)
B. If we were to summarize the teaching of the Bible in just a few sentences, one of them would be this two-word sentence spoken by the angel to John: Worship God! The Bible presents God as the one who is worthy of worship, and repeatedly calls us to give Him our worship.
C. Today we continue with a series of teaching which attempts to define the type of church God wants us to be.
1. Last week we saw that the Bible identifies five characteristics of the New Testament Church which God wants every church to possess: worship, discipleship, fellowship, ministry, and evangelism.
2. This morning we’re going to discuss what is involved in the first of these, worship, by looking at John 4:19-24 in the Bible. In this passage, Jesus was talking with a woman from Samaria, and the woman asked Jesus to settle an argument about where people should worship. Instead, Jesus talked about the type of worship that pleases God. Look at John 4:19-24 with me:
“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, 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 worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:19–24, NIV).
D. Trans: Let me share two truths about worship with you this morning. First, and foundational, notice that Jesus says that
I. It’s Not Just God That We Are Worshiping; It’s The Father
A. “Father”was the preferred name that Jesus used when talking about God.
1. For instance, in the Sermon on the Mount He said things such as, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt 5:16; NIV) and he told us that “your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt 6:8, NIV), and promised that “your Father in heaven will give good gifts to those who ask him” (Matt 7:11, NIV). He taught us to pray by saying, “Our Father who art in heaven” (Matt 6:9, King James Version) and promised that if we forgive others, “your heavenly Father will also forgive you” (Matt 6:14, NIV).
2. There are many other examples, but these suffice to show that Jesus tended to call God “Father” when he was speaking about Him. And here, when speaking with this Samaritan woman, Jesus used this “father language” to talk about God. “A time is coming when you will worship THE FATHER neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. . . . The true worshipers will worship THE FATHER in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers THE FATHER seeks.”
B. Now, at first glance this may not seem like such a big deal, especially to those of us who have been in the Church for awhile, because we’ve grown so accustomed to hearing it. However, calling God “Father” in Jesus’ time was a huge deal. It was even somewhat scandalous, because it implied a closeness and familiarity with God that the teachers of the law said was beyond our ability to experience.