Helpful Article: Tim Challies on Inerrancy of Scripture

Recently on Facebook had a minor discussion on the inerrancy of Scripture.  While contemplating putting together a more thoughtful musing on the subject I ran across a reprint of a Tim Challies article on the inerrancy of scripture.  Hope you read it and find it helpful. 

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The Inerrancy of Scripture

by Tim Challies

The Inerrancy of Scripture 

http://www.challies.com/articles/the-inerrancy-of-scripture-part-1

http://www.challies.com/articles/the-inerrancy-of-scripture-part-2

http://www.challies.com/articles/the-inerrancy-of-scripture-part-3

Over the past couple of weeks, inerrancy has become a hot topic in the blogosphere. The interest was ignited, in part at least, by comments made by Michael Spencer (aka Internet Monk and proprietor of Boars Head Tavern). It is difficult to know exactly what Michael believes about inerrancy, and I suspect he is as much in the dark as the rest of us. Whether he dislikes only the term “inerrancy” or the underlying doctrine is difficult to discern, but I suspect both are true, at least to some extent. I had first intended to write this article last week and to make it a direct response to Michael. Family illness and work responsibilities have delayed this article, so that much of the storm has passed. I may direct some comments at Michael, but will largely refrain from writing about him in particular. I feel like a guy who shows up at the party just as everyone else is leaving, but I’ve always been more of a designated driver than a partier, so it may be best this way.

The doctrines regarding the Bible have been discussed and debated at length throughout the history of the church. At the time of the Reformation, the main thrust of the debate had to do with the Bible’s authority, and whether the Bible would be the sole ultimate authority over the lives of Christians over against popes, creeds, councils and the Catholic Church. In more recent days, the doctrine of the Bible’s inerrancy came under intense discussion and scrutiny. In response, several evangelical leaders, including Francis Schaeffer, J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, Roger Nicole and James Boice, created an organization called The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. This organization had as its purpose “elucidating, vindicating and applying the doctrine of biblical inerrancy as an essential element for the authority of Scripture and a necessity for the health of the church of God” (James Boice, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace, page 68″). Three gatherings were held which produced three scholarly documents, the first of which was “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.” The second dealt with principles of biblical interpretation (hermeneutics) and the third with the application of Scripture.

In his book Scripture Alone, James White has a chapter entitled “Definitions: More Than Half The Battle.” He is absolutely right that properly defining terms is often more than half the battle. In reading Michael Spencer’s comments, as well as those of the other contributors to his sites, I quickly found that very few terms received any clear definitions. While a term like “inerrancy” has a consistent theological meaning, this does not indicate that every person who uses the word means the same thing by it, and that the person truly understands it. One of my reasons for not responding on Spencer’s sites was this just this: the terms were not defined so we may well have been comparing proverbial apples and oranges. I will suggest an appropriate definition of inerrancy shortly.

I found also that the issues at stake go far deeper than merely the inerrancy of Scripture. They extended to areas such as the canon of Scripture, the authority of Scripture and the inspiration of Scripture. Perhaps this is because, although inerrancy stands on its own biblical merits, it is also a doctrine constructed from other doctrines. While the Bible contains many passages that prove it true, it is also true that it follows logically from other doctrines of Scripture. So before we can approach inerrancy, I believe we need to step back and examine aspects of these other doctrines.

Authority

When we examine the Bible’s authority, we must begin by answering the question of, “What does the Bible say about itself?”. We find throughout Scripture that the Bible claims for itself a position of unique and supreme authority. In doing so it appeals only to its own authority for proof because there is no greater authority to which it can appeal. After all, if something is the ultimate authority, to what else can it appeal? Were the Bible to appeal to our reason to substantiate its authority, it would implicitly show that human reason is a higher authority. In one of Spencer’s articles I found cause for concern when he expressed one of his main disagreements with inerrancy is that it did not “feel right.” “My problems with inerrancy have been going on for a very long time, and I’ve heard it presented and taught by the best. It’s never sat well with me, probably because I have a lot of literary interest in the text of scripture, plus I don’t like to be bullied. I get a rash.” But as I indicated, the Bible does not appeal to our feelings or our reason for its authority.

We can define the doctrine of Scripture’s authority as follows: “The authority of Scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, page 73). I do not know of any Christians who claim that they have the right to disbelieve or disobey what God has taught in Scripture. They may do this in their lives (and we all do, at times) but I do not know of any who believe Scripture gives us such license. This doctrine forms the basis of apologetics, for we can only appeal to the Scripture when we trust its authority.

Inspiration

Closely related to the authority of Scripture is the inspiration of Scripture. Inspiration tells us how the Bible was transmitted from God to men. We find that the Bible draws its authority and inerrancy from the indisputible fact that it is inspired by God. The Bible teaches that “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). The words the ESV translated as “breathed out by God” are also translated “inspired” and this is the basis of inspiration. This is explained further by the apostle Peter who writes, “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20,21). The Holy Spirit was actively involved in bringing God’s words to humans. The actual form this inspiration took is much disputed. We know from reading the Scripture and observing the different styles of writing and differing levels of expertise in writing, that God did not merely use men as automatons. If He had done this, we would expect to find a consistent writing style throughout. Somehow God used the specific skills, backgrounds and situations of the authors to transmit His words. Zechariah 7:12 sheds light on this. “…lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets.” We see that the ministry of the Holy Spirit extended to the whole and to the individual parts (…the words that the Lord of hosts…).

What Scripture Says

If it was God who inspired men to write the Bible, what does that teach us about Scripture? Is it possible that Scripture, as it was given from God to men, can be anything less than perfect? Would God lie? Would He write in only half-truths? The Bible tells us otherwise:

2 Samuel 7:28 – “And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.”

Numbers 23:9 – “God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

Psalm 12:6 – The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.

Proverbs 30:5 – Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

We find a consistent Scriptural witness that God does not lie, for He is incapable of telling falsehood. The men who wrote God’s words, had supreme confidence in the rest of His words. If God is incapable of telling a lie, it stands that the words He spoke to those who wrote the words of Scripture must also be perfectly true. At this point, I trust we have sufficient Scriptural basis to conclude that Scripture is authoritative and that the words given by God to men were without error. But how can we know that the words we have today accurately represent those words?

Canon

Many people do not understand the concept of canon. There seems to be a misconception that when the Bible was compiled as one book made of many different books and letters, people were engaged in gathering together some writings attributed to God and publishing them in one volume, much as one might do with the writings of a favorite poem or playwrite. But this is not how the canon came together. The Bible is more than a “best of” compilation of God’s writings.

The term “canon” originally referred to a stick which was used for measurement. It later came to describe a standard or rule. By extension, it came to describe an authoritative list of something. In the case of Scripture, it speaks of the authoritative list of God’s writings, yet it is more than a mere table of contents. It refers to all the writings that were breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16). Thus without the act of inspiration, there could be no canon (James White, Scripture Alone, page 101).

As we have seen, canon refers to the entire body of an author’s work. Allow me to provide an example. If we look at the canon of a man like John Piper, we would say that it includes Desiring God, The Passion of Jesus Christ, Don’t Waste Your Life and so on, from the first book he wrote to the last. The canon of John Piper would only be complete when it included every word he had ever written. But who can infallibly know a person’s canon? In truth, only the author really knows what he or she has written. John Piper may have many books available to us, but who is to say that every word of his has been made available to us? Who is to say that he has not released other books under a pseudonym? Only he infallibly knows his canon. Similarly, it is only God who infallibly knows all He has written. The Scriptural evidence compels us to believe, then, that if we have the complete canon, God helped people find out what it includes. When the Bible was compiled into the book we know and love today, it represented every word God had ever written. So there is a sense in which the primary task of the men who compiled the Bible was to find the complete canon of God. The primary measure they used was whether a book was inspired by God.

This is a topic that could (and perhaps should) be covered at length, but I am not writing today to defend the canonicity of Scripture. As far as I can tell, most people who struggle with inerrancy, do not deny that the canon of Scripture represents God’s words to us.

Transmission

The final topic I will write about today is transmission which describes how the words of God were transmitted from the original documents to what we have today. This is a topic that can only be done justice in a much longer treatment, so allow me to merely point to some of the facts. We posess a wealth of biblical manuscripts in the original languages of Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. John MacArthur writes, “With this wealth of biblical manuscripts in the original languages and with the disciplined activity of textual critics to establish with almost perfect accuracy the content of the autographs, any errors which have been introduced and/or perpetuated by the thousands of translations over the centuries can be identified and corrected by comparing the translation or copy with the reassembled original. By this providential means, God has made good His promise to preserve the Scriptures. We can rest assured that there are translations available today which indeed are worthy of the title, The Word of God” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Handbook, page xxii).

And Now…

Having begun to define terms and provide background to the study of inerrancy, I will turn at last to the doctrine tomorrow.

The Inerrancy of Scripture (Part 2)

Yesterday I began a short series on the inerrancy of Scripture. This series is an indirect response to the questions, concerns and doubts about inerrancy raised by Michael Spencer and affirmed by many others at his personal site and at Boars Head Tavern. One of my primary concerns was that there was so much discussion based on so few concrete definitions. When I began to tackle this doctrine, I found that the doctrines of Scripture cannot be neatly seperated, one from the other, for they are intertwined and interrelated. So in the first article I wrote about inspiration, canon, transmission and authority. Today I will turn to inerrancy, first explaining what it is not and then providing a working definition.

What Inerrancy Is Not

I find it is often useful to define what a term does not mean before I learn what it does mean, and I will do that with inerrancy. So let’s look at a few examples of what inerrancy does not entail. I should note that there is no authoritative body to which we can appeal to define what inerrancy means, for it is not a term that is defined in Scripture. Thus I am presenting information consistent with the way it has been defined by scholars who have pursued the study of this doctrine over the past century.

First, inerrancy does not preclude the use of ordinary language. A clear example of this in the Bible is where it speaks of the sun rising. We know that the sun does not rise at all but that the earth rotates to bring the sun into view. However, we can be consistent in our belief in the inerrancy of Scripture despite this type of ordinary, human, geo-centric language.

Another way this happens in the Bible is with the use of numbers. Allow me to provide an example. A few weeks ago a friend was given some tickets to see the Toronto Rock, our local professional lacrosse team. Never having attended such a game before, I had no idea what to expect. I thoroughly enjoyed the sport and was amazed at how many people were there to cheer on the team. At some point there was an official announcement of that evening’s attendance and I made a rough mental note of it. Later, after I got home, my wife asked how many people were at the game and I told her “10,000.” Now the actual number may have been closer to 10,243 or 9,678, but yet I had not told her a lie. My wife was clearly not interested in an exact number, but rather a useful guage to know how many people attend such games.

In the same vein, consider measurements. As many of you know, I live in Toronto, Ontario and my family lives in Atlanta, Georgia. When I make the long drive to visit them, people sometimes ask me how long the journey takes and I tell them it takes me 15 hours. Or they may ask me what the distance is, and I’ll tell them 900 miles. In reality the drive time varies every time we do it based on traffic, weather, the behavior of children and so on, and the distance, according to Mapquest, is 931.96 miles. And while we are clarifying, both my parents and I live in suburbs of our respective cities and I have offered Toronto and Atlanta simply because people generally know the locations of big cities but not smaller towns and suburbs. But have I lied in any of this? Is any of this truly contrary to fact or have I been inerrant in what I have said? Here is the crux of the matter and this is particularly important to our discussion: Inerrancy speaks of truthfulness, not the degree of precision with which events are reported. When I say that I drive 15 hours and 900 miles to get from Toronto to Atlanta, I have not lied. I have been truthful, but not perfectly precise. This is consistent with inerrancy.

Second, inerrancy does not preclude the use of loose and free quotations. Wayne Grudem makes a critical distinction between our culture and the New Testament Greek culture when it came to reporting the words of another person. In our culture we consider it a terrible sin to misquote another person so that precision in quoting a person’s exact words is of tantamount importance. The Greek language, at the time the New Testament was written, had no quotation marks or similar construct. What was considered of utmost importance was to accurately represent the content of what a person said. There was no expectation that a writer needed to transcribe the speaker’s exact words when quoting him. Thus the Bible is inerrant if it accurately and truthfully describes the content of what a speaker said. Whether the actual words Jesus spoke are “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” or “I am The Truth, the Way and the Life,” the Bible is still inerrant in how it transcribed these words, for the content remains intact.

Third, the Bible can be inerrant even if it contains unusual grammatical constructions. It is commonly known that there are various writing skills represented in the Scripture. Some authors were stylistically excellent while others were much more rough and common in their style. Sometimes this means the writers did not follow the accepted rules of grammar or used stylistic irregularities. My Greek is not what it once was, but I believe these irregularities show up especially in Revelation. But once more, the issue of inerrancy is not precision but truthfulness.

A Working Definition

Now that we know what we should not expect in inerrancy, let’s attempt to define it. I was surprised to find, as I consulted many books on this issue, that very few clearly and concisely defined inerrancy. Most use the term, as Michael Spencer and others have, without defining it. For example, James Boice, in Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace writes several pages on the topic, but provides no definition. In Scripture Alone, James White refers to the Council on Biblical Inerrancy and the desire of the participants to create a “concise statement on the meaning and importance of inerrancy” (page 68). He turns to and provides commentary on the council’s definition, which may be precise by theological standards, but still extends to 24 articles. Nowhere does he provide a concise definition. Of the few definitions or attempts at definition that I found, Wayne Grudem’s seemed most clear. Here is a solid working definition of inerrancy: “The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, page 90). So what we affirm in this definition, is that a perfect God moved human authors, by His Spirit, to perfectly transcribe what He wanted to communicate. It is important to note that this definition does not apply to the transmission of Scripture through the ages and the translation into other languages. We affirm that only the original autographs are inerrant. This definition is based on the clear teaching of Scripture, several passages of which I presented yesterday, as well as the character of God. If God is unable to lie and if he inspired Scripture, it must have been completely consistent with fact at the moment of transcription.

Conclusion

At this point we have defined our terms and indicated what we mean and what we do not mean by inerrancy. Tomorrow, in what I anticipate will be the final installment in this series, we will turn to common objections and to the problems that may arise if this doctrine is denied.

The Inerrancy of Scripture (Part 3)

This is the third and final article in the series on Biblical Inerrancy. Yesterday we defined what inerrancy is not and then attempted to define the term. I suggested the following definition: The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. Today we will look at some common objections to this doctrine as well as some problems that may arise if we deny it.

Objections

There are many objections that are commonly raised against inerrancy. For the sake of brevity I will address only the most common objections, and the ones I have encountered in recent discussions on this topic.

We Do Not Have The Original Manuscripts

The first objection has to do with the transmission of Scripture. Many people argue that since we no longer possess any of the original manuscripts, it is irresponsible to speak of inerrancy. What is the purpose in affirming an important doctrine based on documents we no longer have? I answered this, in part, in the first article of this series, when I quoted John MacArthur. “We posess a wealth of biblical manuscripts in the original languages of Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. John MacArthur writes, “With this wealth of biblical manuscripts in the original languages and with the disciplined activity of textual critics to establish with almost perfect accuracy the content of the autographs, any errors which have been introduced and/or perpetuated by the thousands of translations over the centuries can be identified and corrected by comparing the translation or copy with the reassembled original. By this providential means, God has made good His promise to preserve the Scriptures. We can rest assured that there are translations available today which indeed are worthy of the title, The Word of God” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Handbook, page xxii). We can be certain that we have accurate copies of over 99% of the inerrant words as they were first transcribed. When we focus on the less than 1% of the text that contains errors, we must realize that these are human errors and that God is in no way responsible for them. The fact that there are some errors in Scripture as we have it today, does not negate inerrancy which speaks only of the original documents.

The Bible is Full of Errors and Contradictions

This is a common objection that has been levelled at the Bible too many times to count. It has been answered just as often. As often as not, this objection is made by people who really have no clear idea of where these errors can be found, as they are merely passing along what they have heard from others. For those who are honestly seeking information on the alleged contradictions, there is a wealth of resources available to prove that there are no errors or contradictions within the text of the Bible.

Many of the alleged errors within the Bible have to do with historical facts. Allow me to provide one example. Only a couple of generations ago, scholars pointed to the Bible’s claim that there was a king of Assyria named Tiglath-Pileser as an obvious error, for archaelogical evidence had not proven that any such king existed. But a few years later, archaeologists excavated Tiglath-Pileser’s capital city and found his name carved into bricks which read, “I, Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria…” It is a fact that “the results of sound scholarship have not tended to uncover more and more problems…Rather they have tended to resolve problems and to show that what were once thought to be errors are not errors at all” (James Boice, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace, page 70). R.C. Sproul writes, “The Christian has nothing to fear from rigorous historical research. Rather, we have everything to gain” (Reason to Believe, page 27).

Consider the following quote from Dr. William Foxwell Albright. “For much too long a time the course of New Testament scholarship has been dictated by theological, quasitheological, and philosophical presupposition. In far too many cases commentaries on New Testament books have neglected such basic requirements as up-to-date historical and philological analysis of the text itself…The result has often been steadfast refusal to take seriously the findings of archeological and linguistic research. We believe that there is less and less excuse for the resulting confusion in this latter half of the twentieth century. Closely allied with these presuppositions is the ever-present fog of existentialism, casting ghostly shadows over an already confused landscape. Existentialism as a method of interpreting the New Testament is based upon a whole series of undemonstrable postulates of Platonic, Neo-Platonic, leftwing scholastic, and relativistic origins. So anti-historical is this approach that it fascinates speculative minds which prefer cliches to factual data, and shifting ideology to empirical research and logical demonstrations” (emphasis mine). The Christian has nothing to fear from scholarship, science or archaeology.

Inerrancy is a Poor Term

Generally people who make this objection believe that inerrancy is too strong a term. They believe that such a word demands a type of scientific precision. And furthermore, they may claim that this term is not used in the Bible and was unknown through much of the history of the church.

To the first objection, I point again to the definition of inerrancy, and that it refers to truthfulness and not precision. The Bible claims to be perfect Truth, but nowhere does it claim to contain perfect precision. As we saw yesterday, the Bible may round numbers, speak in human terms and contain odd grammatical constructions and still be inerrant. In response to the second objection I would point to any number of terms we use that are foreign to Scripture. The word “Trinity” does not appear within the pages of Scripture, yet the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly affirmed in the Bible and the term is very useful in summarizing the doctrines of the persons of the Godhead. The doctrine of inerrancy is taught within the pages of the Bible as clearly as if the word “inerrancy” was used.

Proving Inerrancy is a Circular Argument

The fourth objection is that we can only prove Scripture’s inerrancy by circular argumentation. After all, we say that the Bible is inerrant because the Bible tells us it is inerrant. In Reason to Believe R.C. Sproul addresses circular argumentation in proving the Bible’s infallibility and we can extend this line of reasoning to inerrancy. Consider the following premises and the subsequent conclusion:

  • Premise A–The Bible is a basically reliable and trustworthy document.
  • Premise B–On the basis of this reliable document we have sufficient evidence to believe confidently that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
  • Premise C–Jesus Christ being the Son of God is an inerrant authority.
  • Premise D–Jesus Christ teaches that the Bible is more than generally trustworthy; it is the very Word of God.
  • Premise E–The word, in that it comes from God, is utterly trustworthy because God is utterly trustworthy.
  • Conclusion–On the basis of the inerrant authority of Jesus Christ, the church believes the Bible to be utterly trustworthy; i.e., inerrant.

Where this model of linear reasoning may break down, is that some of what we accept about the Bible we accept by faith. Faith does not render reason invalid, but the Holy Spirit helps us believe in what our sinful, human minds will not accept. Therefore, I do not believe that an unbeliever – one who does not have the Spirit’s help – can accept the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy. But this line of reasoning ought to be sufficient for the believer. I trust that all Christians believe in the first premise, as even most non-Christians, who have made the effort, can see that the Bible is basically reliable and trustworthy. But what the unbeliever cannot do is accept that Jesus is the Son of God and that He is thus an inerrant authority.

Problems With Denying Inerrancy

Having answered some common objections, let’s move on to our final section, which is problems that may arise as a result of denying inerrancy.

First, if we deny inerrancy, we make God a liar. If there are errors in the original manuscripts, that were breathed out by God, one of two things must be true: either God purposely lied or he mistakenly lied. This indicates that God is capable of making errors or of producing errors. We might conclude from this that we are likewise able to intentionally lie, even if only in small matters.

Second, if we deny inerrancy we lose trust in God. If there are errors in Scripture, even if in the smallest detail, and these were placed there intentionally by God, how are we to maintain trust that He did not lie in other matters? When we lose trust in the Scriptures, we lose trust in God Himself and we may consequently lose our desire to be obedient to Him.

Third, if we deny the clear testimony of Scripture that it is inerrant, we make our minds a higher standard of Truth than the Bible. At the outset of this series I indicated a concern I felt towards those who deny inerrancy is when they indicate that the doctrine does not “feel right.” But nowhere does the Bible appeal to our feelings or our reason for its authority or inerrancy. We must submit to the Word, for it will not submit to us.

Fourth, if we deny inerrancy, and indicate that small details are incorrect, we cannot consistently argue that all the doctrine the Bible contains is correct. Admitting error in even the smallest historical detail is the thin edge of the wedge, for we then allow the possibility that there may be error in doctrine as well.

Conclusion

My intent for this series was to do two things. First, I wanted to define inerrancy and seperate it from the other doctrines of Scripture such as authority, inspiration and transmission. While the basic sense of the word “inerrancy” is clear, the theological meaning is not always as lucid. Second, I wanted to answer some objections to inerrancy and show why this is a critical doctrine and why it is important that the church continues to affirm it.

Ultimately, inerrancy is true because perfection is consistent with God’s character and because He has told us it is true. We must be careful with any objections to this doctrine, for if we indicate that we believe there are errors with the original manuscripts, we strike at the very character of God. The Bible is inerrant because it was breathed out by an inerrant God. Because of this we can have full confidence, today and always, that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.

Addendum

Before I close this series, I would like to add one brief exhortation: We need to be certain that we do not confuse our issues. In reading ongoing discussions of inerrancy I often found objections to inerrancy based on deeper objections to other issues, and most notably, to young earth creationism. I had to ask myself the question, “Does a belief in inerrancy necessariliy mean that we are forced to believe in a young earth?” I believe that it does not, for I know that many old earth creationists hold a high, inerrant view of Scripture. While I have not researched this issue extensively, and while I affirm my belief in a literal six-day creation, I believe that a case for old earth creation can be built from an inerrant view of Scripture. These differences may owe to hermeneutics or exegesis, but not necessarily from a lowered view of Scripture. Thus we must not confuse the doctrine of inerrancy with other doctrines, allowing ourselves to unfairly do away with one doctrine on the basis of another.


The above is from Tim Challies’ blog. I highly recommend it as he has other good reading and subjects to discuss.

Worship in spirit and truth: How do we?

Well I never did give the second talk as posted on the blog. Originally was going to give a combined talk during a Wednesday prayer service but that also was set aside. Instead we video recorded this combined talk. I believe this combined talk does a more concise job of making both points. I hope to be able to have the video available on the blog at some point but in the meantime is his the combined text about worship in spirit and truth. May God bless all who read this.

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Good evening, it is a joy and privilege to be speaking here and I thank Pastor Lon for the privilege of sharing what God has put on my heart. When Pastor Lon asked me to speak what was put on my heart by God was to talk about what it means to worship in spirit and truth. So we will take a look at what it means to worship in both spirit and truth.

 

The main text for this topic 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.”

 

First we need to have a general definition and understanding of worship before we can examine what it means to worship in spirit and worship in truth. There are two key passages that highlight a general definition of worship: Romans 12:1  Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. And John 3:30 “He must increase, I must decrease.”

 

Those verses really define worship as God being placed at the forefront; it involves elevating God and surrendering self. Worship is all about our relationship with God. It is all about knowing God. This is even made clear in the source passage. Samaritans and Jews had significant issues of who held the proper place of temple and followed God truly. Samaritans believed that the temple belonged at Mount Gerizim, Jews in Jerusalem. Samaritans claimed they simply followed the commands as written whereas the Jews had the interpretations of the law. They really were at strong conflict; they did not like each other at all. They disagreed over both the place and form of following God. Jesus response was contrary to both views. Jesus told the Samaritans that they worshiped what they did not know, while the Jews worshipped what they did know. So Jesus was response pointed to something different than either party engaged in. He stated true worshipers will worship in both spirit and truth. Tonight, we are going to examine those relationships. What are the relationships described as worship in spirit and worship in truth? First we will examine the dynamics of worship in spirit than we will examine worship in truth, and will conclude on how such worship can impact the world.

 

In order to understand what it means to worship in spirit first we need to understand what is spirit? The bible has multiple references to spirit. 348 references in the Old testament, 350 references in the new testament. Now not all those references are referring to the human spirit, some reference the Holy Spirit, some reference evil spirits. But the bible does speak specifically about the human spirit. Here are some verses to give an example:

Psalm 51:11 “Create in me a clean heart, renew a right spirit within me”

Matthew 5:3 “blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”

Mark 14:38 “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”

Rom 8:16 “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”

The spirit is the inner most part of man. The bible tells us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. If you think about it, the Holy of Holies is symbolic of the human spirit. The spirit is the deepest part of humanity. The spirit is the place that Holy Spirit indwells:1Co 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.

 

Worship in spirit is all about God with us. It is about being indwelt with the Holy God in our spirit. It takes things away from rightness of place and into being indwelt and surrendering to the Holy Spirit.

It is all about a covenant relationship with the almighty God, where God is within us, leading us daily.

It is a change from the past. If you read Exodus 19 and 20 you will find that Israel initially was simply to hear God’s voice and obey. However, they got frightened of God’s voice and wanted a different covenant. The result was the need for a mediator and a set of mediated instruction known as Torah/the law. But now because of Jesus Christ we no longer need a mediator. We have a relationship with access to God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is not just hearing God’s voice. It is not just following God’s mediated instructions. It is being indwelt by the Holy and living God through the Holy Spirit.

 

We will look at three passages to understand how this works. The first passage is Colossians 1:27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. The key part of the passage is the second part of the verse. Christ in us the hope of glory. This indicates that it is Christ in us that everything points to, it is the essential point. Yet, we know Jesus is in heaven as indicated in the next verse; Hebrews 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. So here the verse says Jesus is in heaven appearing before the father on our behalf. So is Christ in us or in heaven, how does that work. It is explained in Ephesians 3:16, 17a that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–

So this indicates that Jesus is in us, through the Holy Spirit residing in our spirit. . God is truly with us. His presence abides in us. So here is how it works. Jesus is in heaven with the father, interceding on our behalf. Our faith enables us to be redeemed through His sacrifice for our sins. This enables us to be filled with God’s presence through the Holy Spirit in our spirit. This is the dynamic of worship in the spirit. We have the Holy Spirit who communicates to Jesus who goes before the father. So since the Holy Spirit resides in us we can begin to understand worship in spirit. It really is about an ongoing relationship with the Holy Spirit and as such with God. It involves ultimately Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

Let’s look at understanding relating with the Holy Spirit a little bit more, how do relate with the Holy Spirit? Four passages help explain this better. The first passage is Ephesians 5:19 Do not be drunk with wine which leads to debauchery, but be being filled with the Holy Spirit. We all know what it is like to be drunk with wine. It is a loss of self control. The imagery stands in contrast to being filled with the Holy Spirit. Being filled with the Holy Spirit involves a release of self, and letting the Holy Spirit fill. It is an ongoing process. Actually most English translations describe the passage as be filled with the Holy Spirit but if you look at what the literal translation is, it is be being filled. It is an ongoing process.

Another verse that helps understand relating to the Holy Spirit is Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Now you may be thinking what that verse has to do with the Holy Spirit. Well, if you examine the meaning of yoke it is clear it points to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit leads us to the right way of living. There are actually two ways the word yoke was used that help us to understand this. A Rabbi’s instruction for students is called a yoke. It is how a Rabbi expects his disciples to live. Now we have a more common understanding of a yoke in relation to animals. A yoke guides them in the right path or direction and keeps them from heading their own way or direction. In the same way the Holy Spirit is our guide and leads in the right path.

The next passage is really two separate verses but they really emphasize the same point. Galatians
5:16 & 25
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” & “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” We always have a choice, walk in self or live by Spirit. Go our own way, or follow the Holy Spirit. It is up to us, choose to submit to the Holy Spirit, God within, or we follow the way of self. Let’s look at this in another verse: John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
How do we abide in Christ, what was Jesus talking about here? Well, it is worship in the Spirit and surrender to the Holy Spirit. Worship in spirit is daily following the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is daily surrendering self to His presence. It is abiding in Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

 

When we engage in such daily surrender God gives us many benefits. It is not about some external manifestation. It is not about some internal mystical experience. It is about God with us and daily abiding in Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Let’s take a quick look at some of what we gain when we surrender to the Holy Spirit. The best way I can summarize this is that the Holy Spirit changes, teaches, empowers, and intercedes for us.

In terms of changing us it starts with conviction of sin: John 16:8-11 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

The Holy Spirit also enables us to overcome our sinful desires and attractions of the flesh as seen in Galatians 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

The Holy Spirit also teaches us as seen in John 14:26: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. It is also seen in John 16:13:When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. So the Holy Spirit is our teacher. His teaching leads to the Holy Spirit empowering us.

 

The Holy Spirit empowers us, enabling us to bear witness to the truth
Act 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
His empowerment includes giving us the gifts of the Spirit Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
When we worship in spirit and surrender we receive these things in the midst of our circumstances. They come from surrender to the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit also empowers us by given gifts or manifestations. 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

Not only does the Holy Spirit empower us in many ways, but will also intercede for us: Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

So there are lots of ways the Holy Spirit helps us. Worship in spirit is surrender to the Holy Spirit and not relying on own strength. Worship in spirit is surrendering to God on a daily basis and following the leading of the Holy Spirit. It is ongoing relating with God. It is God dwelling in us and leading us on His path. Now it can involve righteous behavior. It can involve internal, mystical experience. It can involve outpouring and external manifestations. It can involve supernatural activity. There are places where we sense the Holy Spirit active, such as in this church. But none of these are worship in spirit. Worship in spirit is daily, ongoing surrender of self to the Holy Spirit.

 

So now we understand the relationship that is worship in the spirit. Let us now look at the relationship known as worship in 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?

 

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.

In order to better understand what Jesus meant, let us look at the meaning of the word used in this passage for truth. It is the Greek word Alethia (all-lay-thay-ah). Now in a lot of cases the word is simply used to refer 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 regarding the meaning of the word including: unhidden, revealed, unforgotten, reality, real, genuine, and sincere.

For me the words that came to mind that summarize the full meaning of Alethia came down to this: remembered revealed reality.

    

Therefore, worship in truth far transcends the idea of correctness and is something of lasting impact on the individual. It is about a genuine response to the revelation of God which has life changing impact. Since worship in truth starts with the revelation of God we need to examine what the revelation of God is and how it impacts us as individuals. By understanding each of those areas will get a better grasp at the genuine response to God known as worship in truth.

 

God does reveal himself in many ways including creation and other people. The primary sources of revelation are twofold. In talking about worship in the spirit, we discussed the Holy Spirit teaching us, so therefore the Holy Spirit is one clear source God’s revelation. 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.

 

Now God’s revelation is not just about revealing God but it also reveals 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.

 

So the God’s word reveals about God and what is right for us, but neither of those to areas are really the central theme of God’s revelation. Yes, the central theme is still about God and our relationship with God but the central theme is really 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 Revelation 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 examining related to worship in truth, alithea. 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.

 

So now that we have examined what God’s revelation is about, which is Jesus, who is the remembered revealed reality it is time to look at 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 can be looked at in 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 if we accepted the gift of Jesus through faith.

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 as we examined talking about worship in spirit. 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 Romans 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. We need to not withhold our talents and gifts but use them. We also are 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.

 

So we have looked at God’s revelation and impact on us, it is time to turn our attention to understanding our response to all that God has done and revealed. 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 I want to give you an illustration that highlights the nature of genuineness. This past week me and my wife 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 inside. 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 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 forgetting. 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.

 

This leads us to the final portion of today’s message. All of this understanding of worshiping in spirit and truth leads us to how this 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 there is a very really danger for each us as we are in the world. 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.”
It is a matter of what you value. The temporary things of the world, or the eternal things of God. This is pointed out 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 we need to continually focus our thoughts that this life is momentary, God has more for us.

 

So here is a central point of understanding worship in spirit and truth. 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 how do we move in reflecting more light? How do we walk more clearly in worshipping in spirit and truth? There are some basic steps we can do.

 

Ask Holy Spirit to show you what you need to change and wisdom on how to chance

Submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading and let the Holy Spirit empower you

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 yourself.