John 4:1–45

"The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (vv. 23–24).

When we consider worship, we are looking at a means of grace that is incredibly comprehensive. Corporate worship includes all of the basic elements of the Christian life. Every Lord's Day we study the Bible as we sit under the preaching of the Word and sing it in our liturgies. We exercise stewardship over our resources and time as we give of our tithes and offerings and serve as ushers, choir members, instrumentalists, lay readers, and greeters. Prayer is offered both individually and corporately as we participate in the service. We also serve one another, as our worship together encourages us to remain focused on the Lord and His praise.

We must never forget that worship is a sacred duty and awesome privilege. One danger of the "seeker-sensitive" model of worship is that in attempting to attract unchurched people, it can forget how seriously our Creator takes His worship and can introduce irreverence into corporate praise. We may not worship the Lord however we please but must prize His instructions for our corporate gatherings. He determines proper worship, and we ignore this truth at our peril (Lev. 10:1–3).

As fallen creatures, we are perpetually prone to idolatry (Ex. 20:3–6; Rom. 1:18–32). For the most part, the idolatry to which evangelicals are most attracted is not the crass fabrication of gods of wood or stone but things such as the size of our congregations or the world's approval. When such things become ends in themselves we can achieve these goals only through ignoring or denying the attributes of God that make impenitent people uneasy. Thus, we introduce unconverted people to the wrong deity.

Above all, our Father wants His people to worship Him "in spirit and truth" (John 4:24). To worship God in truth is to worship Him according to His Word. Guided by the entire counsel of Scripture, we are to design our liturgies in a manner that draws attention to all that He says about Himself. We must go away from worship with a new sense of His holiness as well as His mercy and love.

To worship the Lord in spirit involves heartfelt praise from the depths of our beings and delight in the chance we have to adore Him corporately. It means entering "his gates with thanksgiving" in our hearts and "his courts with praise" because we are truly thankful for all that He has done (Ps. 100:4).

Coram Deo

The best way to ensure that we are worshiping God in spirit and truth is to make sure that we are consciously working to have the right attitude toward worship. We must always think carefully about what goes into a worship service, asking whether a practice is both sanctioned by God and wise. Moreover, to worship God rightly, we must be in a sound church and pray regularly for Him to enflame our hearts with a longing to meet Him in His heavenly temple.

For Further Study