Truth Matters Newsletters – October 2010 – Vol. 15 Issue 10 – The Eternality of the Liturgy (Part One) – By Rev. Robert Liichow
Discernment Ministries International
The Eternality of the Liturgy (Part One)
Rev. Bob Liichow
From the inception of the Church one of the directives God’s people have striven to implement (with varying degrees of success) is the following statement by our Lord Jesus:
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 4:23-24
We know the context of His words, they were made to the Samaritan woman he encountered at the well. Jesus bluntly told this woman that she and her people worshipped what they did not know and what is more, their worship was meaningless because they are not even God’s redeemed people.
No doubt this woman was somewhat taken aback at our Master’s words. After all, the Samaritans had been worshipping God on Mount Gerizim since the Nation was taken into Babylonian captivity for a long time, and no doubt with all the sincerity they could muster in doing so. However, their worship was unacceptable to God. God considered them as false worshipers. Jesus was also referring to the Jewish religion as practiced in His day. We know this is true because He says “the time is coming and has now come” meaning that now, with His advent people will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Temple Judaism had the format down pat, but had become alienated from the One they worshipped. The Jews had the form of godly worship, but they were just going through the motions when they worshipped, it was not from their heart.
These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. “Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Isa. 29:13
With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Ezekiel 33:31
You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain: their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ Matthew 15:7-9
…having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2 Timothy 3:5
Obviously it is very possible to have the divinely revealed format of worship, but not have a genuine spiritual connection to the One being worshipped. This occurs both on a corporate/congregational level as well as in our own individual lives at time.
According to our Lord worship that is acceptable to God must follow two guidelines. One is that worship must be “in spirit” what does that mean? Is Jesus referring to worship following a charismatic expression? After all, our charismatic brethren are always going on about being in the spirit, etc. No, Jesus was not saying that at all. Spirit here is simply the word pneu/ma (pneu/ma) which is defined in the USB Greek dictionary as referring to:
Spirit (of God); spirit, inner life, self, disposition, state of mind, spirit, spirit being or power, power (often of evil spirits); life (Mt. 27:50); wind (He. 1:7; perhaps Jn 3:8); breath (2 Th 2.8); ghost, apparition (Lk 24:37,39).
Jesus in this case is referring to the human spirit, the heart of humanity, our state of mind and indeed our disposition when we come to worship. Are we just going through the motions on Sunday? Are we thinking of the upcoming football game, Sunday supper, the job or are we focused on the Ancient of Days and His goodness?
Secondly, worship must be “in truth.” Friberg’s Greek Lexicon says the following about the Greek word for truth:
(1) of what has certainty and validity, opp. truth (EP 4:21); (2) of the real state of affairs, esp. as divinely disclosed truth (RO 1:18); (3) of the concept of the Gospel message as being absolute truth (2TH 2:12); (4) of true to fact statements, opp. truth, fact (LU 4:25); (5) of what is characterized by love of truth, opp. truthfulness, uprightness, fidelity (1C. 5:8, 13:6); (6) of reality as opp. To pretense or mere appearance, opp. truth, sincerity (PH 1:18); idiomatically lit. in truth, i.e. really true, indeed (MT 22:16); lit. according to truth, i.e. rightly (RO 2:2); lit. on truth, i.e. really, actually (AC 4:27).
In simple words Jesus is saying that valid worship must first come from the heart and secondly it must be done according to divinely disclosed truth. In other words, God must be worshipped in the manner in which He has revealed to His people.
The question to be asked is this; has God given His people a format of worship that is to be followed? If so, what does it consist of? Has it changed from the Old Testament format to an inauguration of something new with the Advent of Christ? Are we “free” as God’s people to be creative and come up with our own worship formats, as is very common today? These are some of the issues we will be considering in future articles on this topic, so stay tuned! ¨ ♦
Copyright © 2010 Robert S. Liichow