Worship in truth: Planned 2nd talk at Fellowship of Maceio


The plan was for me originally to give 2nd talk on 10/10/2009 during English service. Turns out that Pastor Lon had forgotten about a visiting team of missionaries and everyone who spoke English was busy elsewhere translating.  The plan now is for a combination of two talks on 10/14/2009. At any rate here is the intended text of the talk for 10/10/2009. The content will likely be edited and reduced for the combination talk in 10/14/2009.  The text to that talk will also be post on the blog.

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I am grateful again for the opportunity to speak. I trust God used the seeds from the last talk to draw you into closer relationship with the Holy Spirit. This week we want to focus in on what it means to worship in the truth.  The starting text again is John 4:20-24   Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But 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.”

 Last time we focused on worship in the spirit, which we examined to be about a relationship of ongoing surrender to the Holy Spirit. We defined worship as being about elevating God and reducing self. I want to expand on that definition a little further. Worship is all about our relationship with God. It is all about knowing God.  In the source passage, Jesus told the Samaritans that they worshiped what they did not know, while the Jews worshipped what they did know.  We know that the Jews knew God and the temple was the place of God’s presence. We know we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit and have God with us. It is an ongoing submissive relationship. Jesus referenced true worshipers worship in both spirit and truth. The relationship with the Holy Spirit is pretty straight forward, it is little more difficult to understand having relationship with truth.  How can we relate to truth? Well tonight we will explore that more fully, how do we relate to truth?  

In order to have a relationship we need to have knowledge about what it is we are supposed to be in a relationship with. So we need to get an idea of what the meaning of truth Jesus is referring to here.  Now some may focus on worship in truth as being about the right way of worship or having the right mindset. Truth defined as doing it the right way.  Yet, the Jews and Samaritans both professed attempts at doing it the right way.  So Jesus was clearly talking about more than a right way of worship.

It is worthwhile to examine a little bit of the meaning of the word used. It is the Greek word Alethia (all-lay-thay-ah).  Now in a lot of cases the word is simply used in relation to veracity or correctness, however the Gospel of John is about relationship with Jesus and the words chosen are ones that convey specific meanings as understood within the culture. The word Alethia has far deeper meaning in Greek culture than correctness.  In examining the word several words came up consistently related to meaning including: unhidden, revealed, unforgotten, reality, real, genuine, and sincere.

For me the words that came to mind that summarize the full meaning of the word came down to this: remembered revealed reality. It is something that far transcends the idea of correctness and it is something of lasting impact on the individual.  Now given this understanding of the word used worship in truth is really about a genuine response to the revelation of God. It has life changing impact. Since it is about the revelation of God we need to examine what the revelation of God is, how it impacts us as individuals and how that revelation impacts the world. By understanding each of those areas will get a better grasp at the genuine response to God known as worship in truth.

 So if the truth is about revealing God we need to be aware of what are the sources.  As stated last time, a benefit of being indwelt with the Holy Spirit is being led to greater understanding of God, being led to truth.   Yet, God did not just leave us with the Holy Spirit but also with His written revelation of self, the Word of God, the Bible.  2 Timothy 3:16 tells us:  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” and in Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. “ and Jesus himself stated in John 17:17  “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” So clearly God has revealed himself in scripture. Scripture is truth, ultimately truth about our relationship with God.

 It is also worth noting that even without the Holy Spirit or God’s word God  reveals himself in creation. In scripture this is seen in two passages: Psalms 19: 1 “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”  and Romans 1:20  “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” God has made it so without any further revelation, God can be known.

 Now recognizing that God reveals Himself and use the Holy Spirit, Creation, and His Word it is important to note that His revelation not only reveals Himself, about also what is right for us.  Psalms 119:105 states: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” In other words, God’s revealed word gives us the light we need so we do not stray from the right path.  It gives us the way to walk.  The second part of 2 Timothy 3:16 also makes this point by outlining the uses of God’s word, it useful for teaching, correcting, confronting, and training; all means of our walking rightly, and as such worshipping in truth. 

Now it is important to be aware what the centrality of God’s revelation is about.  Yes, it is about God and our relationship with God, which is all wrapped up in Jesus the Messiah.  It is about as stated in Colossians 1:27   Christ in you, the hope of glory.  The whole of scripture is about Jesus. Jesus fills the whole of scripture with meanings.  This is shown in a few places in scripture.  Let’s start with what Jesus himself said: Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”  The word translated for fulfill actually is better translated as fills them up with meaning. Jesus gives the meaning to the whole of scripture.  Everything that was part of Jewish life in following Torah pointed to Jesus.  Paul in Colossians 2:17 puts it: “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Jesus is the substance to the truth of the Gospel. And regarding Prophecy, John wrote in the Revelation of Jesus verse 19:10 the last half of the verse that  “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” So as you can see, the word of God is all about Jesus and our being restored to relationship with God.  It is the essence of God’s revelation.  More simply put Jesus is the truth.  Jesus himself proclaimed in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but through me.” The word Jesus used here is the same one we are talking about related to worship in truth, Aletheia.  Jesus is the remembered revealed reality.       

There is one more verse I want to touch on in discussing God’s revelation through His word, and that is John 1:1-5: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. This verse again really highlights that Jesus is the revelation of God.  The word used here is the Greek word Logos, which is generally translated as reason, and in usage points to a concept of God’s reason.  There are really three dimensions to the Greek concept of Logos: divine nature, source of all life, and a mediator between the divine and the natural.  This is in essence what God’s revelation is all about.  John further points out that God’s divine reason then brings light.  Jesus himself proclaims this in John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  So Jesus is not just the living embodiment of the Word of God, but the source of light that in turn directs our path.  Given that Jesus is the light, it really leads us to the next area of discussion and that is how God’s revelation impacts us.

 The heart of understanding worship in truth also comes in understanding the impact of God’s revelation in our lives, or more importantly how we are changed by Jesus and the response it draws.  The impact of God’s revelation on us really comes down to three areas: our identity in Jesus, our place in God’s kingdom, and our genuine response. 

 Let us first examine God’s revealed truth regarding our identity.  Here is the fact, each of us at one point were not part of the kingdom of God, we were enemies.  This is true for even people like myself who accepted God’s grace at first choice. We were born into darkness, as enemies to God’s kingdom. We were born as sinful, selfish people. As it says in Psalm 51:5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.  Now through Jesus we are no longer enemies. We have peace with God. Romans 5:1-2:  Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And remember it is Christ in us that is the hope of glory as seen in Colossians 1:27.  Because of the revelation of Jesus and His redemption of sins, we are no longer God’s enemies.   

Our identity is more than being no longer enemies who have been brought to peace with God. God has not just indwelt us with the Holy Spirit allowing Christ in us. God has also changed us.  As it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “If anyone who is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.” God moves us away from our own selfish way of doing things into a new way.  We are made new.  We are changed from people of darkness to people of the light. And not only have we been made new and at peace with God, we have been set free from bondage and adopted into God’s family as seen in Romans 8:15-17 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

In fact being made at peace with God, being made new, being set free, being adopted are really all part and parcel to becoming children of God and as such heirs.  So the truth is God has done much for us, he has brought us out of darkness into light and not only have we been brought to peace and made new but made into children with an inheritance. This the identity of those of us who submit to God, something far greater than anything we could do of our own accord in our own worlds.

Now being we are heirs and children of God, this brings us to examining an understanding of our place in God’s kingdom.  As children of God and heirs, God has in mind specific tasks and has gifted us accordingly.  Even before we entered into the kingdom of God, God took His time in creating each one of us.  Psalms 139:13-15  For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  We see evidence throughout scripture of God using varied people for His plans and purposes.  Being Children of God he has a plan for each of us.  He has given us talents to use and invest and gives us spiritual gifts through the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7  Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.   So God has given each of use gifts to use and invest in the kingdom.  He created us with purpose to build up one another and work toward the common good of the kingdom of God.  So, it is important for use to use the gifts God has given and not only that, be thankful for what God has given.  1 Corinthians 12-14 really is worth spending time examining regarding the gifts God gives to His children.  It is important to note that in that passage the point is made is we are all different parts of the body. This point is also emphasized in Rom 12:4-8 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

We need to accept what God has given us and move in the areas God leads. Not to think highly of ourselves and become prideful. Not to be envious of how God has gifted others, but praise God and accept what the King has given to His child to serve Him. And guess, what, in going about the path as God leads and walking in his path with you and according to your gifts, if you lack anything, just ask and God will not withhold!   1 John 5:14  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.  He will always give us what we need, if it corresponds to His will and His call in our life.  We are His children and heirs called to the tasks He set us on. So being aware that as His children God give us gifts and has plans for our serving His kingdom, this leads us to the examining our response.

 Understanding our genuine response to God’s truth, the remembered revealed reality, is really at the core of understanding worship in truth.  It is all about what we do in response to what God has revealed and done in our lives.  It is our response to His grace. Now before I go any further I want to give you an illustration that highlights the nature of genuineness.  This past week we decided to buy some watches. Now these watches are not ordinary watches, they are replicas of famous expensive watches such as Cartier, Rolex, and Armani.  They look and function like the genuine article. You look at them and cannot really tell the difference from the real thing.  However, that appearance is external.  The internal workings of the watch are not genuine, but something functional.  These watches only appear to be genuine.   The genuine article is true on both the inside and outside.   So when we consider worship in truth as being a genuine response to God, it gets beyond appearance and to what flows from the core.  What is on the outside reflects the inner workings. 

 A key passage in understanding genuine response is found in   James 1:22-25  But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

Now upon hearing this portion of the word of God, did you hear James discussion the very essences of the word for truth John used.  Each element of remembered revealed reality is evident. The first element is being remembered.  James clearly points out the differences between remembering and forgetting and using the picture of looking in a mirror and forgetting what you look like upon leaving. Yet, for many of us, we spend a lot of time , sforgetting. We go to church, read the bible, pray, and such yet as soon as finish, we forget.  When we forget we are not walking in truth, spending time focusing on God’s revelation serves as a reminder. The second element is the revelation, this is what we are to remember.  Everything mentioned tonight are things we need to continually remember.  The greatness of God’s gift in Jesus and our being made children of God who serve His purposes is vital to us. All this is revelation to be remembered. And the third element is that of reality.  Remember revelation only become reality in one way, by action.  As James points out, faith without works is dead. So than what are we to do, what are the works God requires of us.  Well the apostle John put it this way in 1 John 5:3    For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.

Is it simply doing things the right way, following a code or instructions the right way or has God got something more in mind? Remember both the Jews and Samaritans tried to do things the right way, so clearly there is something more involved.  Well John did define God’s commandments earlier in 1 John 3:23  And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. So the key here clearly is to walk in love, love of God and love one another.  Jesus himself stated Mark 12:30-31  And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And adds in Matthew 22:40  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

So essentially it comes down to this. Love God with your whole self.  The designations of heart, soul, mind, and strength for some can be confusing so let me give some clarity. These four areas are the elements of self.  Self is made up of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. God wants us to love Him with our complete self.  The second command is to love others. This is evident throughout the New Testament in with discussions of interactions with one another. Some examples of our directions are: submit to authorities, submit to one another, bless those who curse you, and love your enemies. Words easily said, sometimes easily agreed to, but difficult to live by.  Yet, the genuine response to God’s revelation results in our living in love. It is reflected in our deeds.  It is not about style, or substance, or place, or any “thing.” Worship in truth is about walking in love. It is how Jesus walked, with genuine love.   Our genuine response is to be imitators of Jesus. Ephesians 5:1-2  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Now it is worthwhile to point out here, that we all fall short of this standard continually.  We all fail to walk in full love, our self gets in the way, way too often.  Yet, God is aware of that.  Anyone who imitates another does not do so purely.  We key in on some part of the greater whole and reflect part of the character.  The key is that we reflect God’s love. God does not expect us to do it perfectly, but to seek to do it with all that we are.  As we do so, we imitate and reflect God.  This reflection is a key concept.  Jesus called us the light of the world in Matthew 5:14 and directs us in Matthew 5:16 to Let our light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your father who is in heaven.  Yet, Jesus also referred to Himself as the light of the world in John 8:12.  So how does that work? Jesus is the light. He gives us His light, which we in turn reflect to the world.  Our walking in love of God and others reflects Jesus.  Our genuine response is not something that happens in a void.  What we do is seen by others.

And ultimately all of this understanding of worshiping in spirit and truth leads us to how such behavior impacts the world.  Our having an ongoing submitted relationship to God through submission to the Holy Spirit and reflected in a genuine response to God through living in love has impact on the world.  Given God’s remember revealed reality and being a temple of the Holy Spirit, we have a responsibility.  We are as Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 5:20  Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  What this means, is we are God’ representatives on earth.  Does he need us to draw those in darkness to the truth?  Not really.  But He chooses to use us, so that His love can be seen through us.  It all comes down to that passage in Colossians 1:27, Christ in us, the hope of glory.

Now here is a fact, just as Jesus was despised and rejected of men, it means as we reflect him, we will be despised and rejected by those lost in darkness.  In fact Jesus stated in Matthew 5:11    “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Jesus also prayed to the father before the events of crucifixion John 17:14-18  I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.   So we are hated by the world and still sent into the world.  Now being in the world there is a very real danger.  The danger comes in forgetting God’s revelation and being tempted to conform to the things of the world or love them.  Romans 12:2 states: Do not be conformed to the world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  Clearly the ways of the world run contrary to what God desires of us, the world seeks to derail us from a life of submitted relationship that results in a genuine response to God’s revealed reality. This is also emphasized in 1 John 2:15-17: Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

So then the question is how do we keep from being captivated by the world.  Well Colossians  3:2 put it this way  “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”  Of course this is easy to say but hard to do.  It is real easy to get caught in the things of the world, rather than displaying God.  What we value is often of self and not God’s kingdom.   If you look at our lives, at times they do not reflect God.  The biggest barrier to God’s kingdom is our getting caught in darkness, even though it is temporary.  The temporariness of the world is evidenced in Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So God clearly puts and emphasis on how life is temporary. So we need to continually focus our thoughts that this life is momentary, God has more for us.

 The fact is when we walk in submission and exhibit genuine response to God’s remembered revealed reality, we let our lights shine.  Recently I have come to understand the moon as a symbol of the church.  The moon reflects the suns light, in the same way we reflect the light of Jesus to the world.  In addition the amount of light we reflect does vary. We have moments where we reflect very little light, just a sliver.  There are times we shine brightly giving the full reflection we can give.  It all varies as to whether we are walking in submission and responding genuinely or following our own ways.  When we walk in loving God fully and loving others, the light shines brightly, when we look after self, we reflect less light.

 

So we need to walk in submission with a genuine response to God’s remembered revealed reality.  So where to we go from here?

Ask Holy Spirit to show you what you need to change and to give you strength.

Submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading and let the Holy Spirit give you strength

Turn from the things that inhibit walking in love of God and others.

Focus your mind on things above, not on things of this earth.

Remember who God is and what He has done.

Respond with genuine giving of your self.

This is an ongoing process, it is not just a one time action, we need to follow these steps continually.  When we do that, we truly are worshiping in spirit and truth.

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