Summary: God is not to be worshipped by turning the church into a carnival. Neither is He to be worshipped by allowing the church to become a crematorium. The only way to avoid that is to worship the way that Jesus tells us to in this passage. He tells us how to w
What comes to your mind when you think about heaven? Do you think about clouds and angels and harps? Do you think about a place of perfect peace and contentment? Maybe when you think about heaven, you think about a lost loved one. Maybe you think about a street of gold and gates made of great pearl. Can you picture it? Of course you can’t picture it. You can’t picture it, because you’re trying to imagine something that our brains can’t comprehend. We don’t have words to describe what we’ll see there. When Jesus gave John a glimpse into heaven and told him to write down what he saw, John had to use figurative words. He had to paint a picture of a place that words can’t describe. That’s why, when we see his words in Revelation, sometimes they can be unclear. But even though John’s description of what we will see in heaven is unclear, his description of what we’ll be doing there isn’t. From the time in Revelation 4:1 when John was told to “come up here,” the activity of heaven was clear to him. From beginning to end, the activity of heaven is constant, continual worship. No matter how much you like to fish here, you won’t be fishing in heaven. No matter how much you like to throw a baseball here, you won’t be throwing a baseball in heaven. We will be all-consumed in our worship and adoration of Jesus. When we see Him face to face, we won’t be able to take our eyes off Him. Our eternity will be spent fulfilling our joy by lifting up our voice with all of heaven and saying, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing. Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto him that sits on the throne and unto the Lamb forever and ever.” That’s what we know about heaven. Heaven will be a place of ultimate joy because we will be in continual worship. So you know what that tells me? It tells me that if you don’t like praise and worship and singing now, you’d better start getting used to it. Because if you’re saved, that’s what you’re going to be doing for a long, long time. For the past couple of weeks we’ve been talking about worship. Two weeks ago, we talked about worshipping in spirit. Last week we talked about worshipping in truth. This morning we’re putting the two together. Jesus didn’t just say that we are to worship God in spirit. He didn’t just say that we are to worship God in truth. We are to worship the Father in spirit and truth. We can look all around us at different churches this morning and see how this is missed. I don’t say that as a source of pride, I say it as a source of warning. The tendency of the church throughout history is to emphasize one and neglect the other. If worship is a narrow road, there are ditches on both sides. One side there is the ditch of worshipping only in spirit. On the other side of the road is the ditch of worshipping only in truth. Jesus calls us to worship God on the road between those two ditches. I’m not going to say that we’re supposed to balance the two. Balance means that two things are on opposite sides and are always in tension against one another. Worshipping in spirit and truth are not in tension with each other. Worshipping Jesus who is truth… worshipping a Jesus whose content is defined by the Bible… that is worshipping in truth. And when that happens, you can’t help but have deep feelings. Worship includes both thinking clearly and feeling deeply. It is when we focus on one without the other that we run into problems. If we move off of the road Jesus calls us to be on, we will fall into a ditch. Either the ditch of truthless spirit. Or the ditch of spiritless truth. To put it in other words, when we fail to worship in spirit AND truth, we leave the church and enter either the carnival or the crematorium. The danger in preaching this text the way I have is that if you only came two weeks ago, you might want to focus only on worshipping in spirit. And if that is all you focus on, you will be headed to the carnival. If you only came last week, you might want to focus only on worshipping in truth. And if that is all you focus on, you will be headed to the crematorium. The two must be put together. You cannot be the kind of worshipper God is seeking without both spirit and truth. The evidence of one without the other is all around us. Spirit without truth is liberalism. All the emphasis is on feelings and emotions. It quickly becomes froth with no substance. Throughout the years, this kind of worship has been mistakenly called revival. It’s not anything new. It was the one of the problems with the church at Corinth. They were caught up in the sign gifts. They were captivated by the show. So much so that they allowed brazen immorality in their midst. When Paul brought unvarnished truth to them, they didn’t want to tolerate it. In that kind of environment, the first thing to go is a commitment to the Bible as the inerrant, infallible Word of God. It is the essence of liberalism and it comes from trying to worship God in spirit alone. It is the carnival—all screams, no substance. But that is not the only extreme that is evident around us. It’s just that the other extreme is much more subtle. It is much more subtle, but it is every bit as destructive. Even as spirit without truth is liberalism, truth without spirit is legalism. All the emphasis is on truth and teaching and doctrine and theology. Everything is directed at the head and things of the heart are frowned upon. This kind of worship quickly becomes cold. It quickly becomes dead. The emphasis is on outward reform—don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t chew, don’t go with the girls that do. The focus is on thou shalts and thou shalt nots. The people in this kind of church are solid. They’re solid just like cement—cold and dead. That came to be the problem with the church at Ephesus. It had started out to be a wonderful church. Paul preached there for three years. Then Timothy did. Then John did. They had some of the best teaching you can imagine. Anytime false teaching came on the scene, they put a stop to it. But by the time John was exiled to the island of Patmos, the church took their emphasis on truth to the extreme. They fell in the ditch. They forgot about worshipping in spirit altogether. So much so, that when Jesus told John to write them in Revelation 2, He accused them of losing their first love. They had lost their passion. To quote those great theologians the Righteous Brothers, “They lost that loving feeling, now it’s gone, gone, gone.” God is not to be worshipped by turning the church into a carnival. Neither is He to be worshipped by allowing the church to become a crematorium. The church is not Carowinds. Neither is it Craven-Shires. The only way to avoid that is to worship the way that Jesus tells us to in this passage. Jesus gives us instruction as to how to combine what we’ve looked at for the past two weeks. He tells us how to worship in spirit AND truth. And when we begin to do that, it will be the closest we can come to experiencing a little bit of heaven on earth. So, do you want to experience a little bit of heaven here this morning? Then we need to practice real worship. The first way we need to practice real worship is to understand that real worship is sought by God.