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Jesus’ Two Tests of Worship



Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21-24, NLT).

The first test of worship is that it must be inspired from the spirit. The word “spirit” is a reference to the human spirit and not the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ emphasis here is that true worship is an inside out experience. My understanding of the New Testament is that we are composed of three parts: body, soul, and spirit. The body is easy enough to understand. The soul is composed of our mind, will and emotions. The spirit is the place where God takes up residence when we are converted.

The conventional wisdom of Jesus’ day was that external conformity to traditions and rituals produced internal righteousness. This is evident in the practice of the Pharisees and further revealed through Jesus’ dialogue with them. But lives aren’t transformed outside in. Sitting in a church building no more makes one a worshipper than standing in a garage makes one a car. We may worship imperfectly, but we cannot worship insincerely.

So how do we learn to worship inside out? First, worship from the spirit takes private preparation. No one should reasonably expect to have a life changing worship experience on Sunday morning when no thought is given to God for six days and 23 hours. Private worship prepares us for public worship.

Second, we must eliminate the obstacles that slow or detour our connection with God. Broken relationships, sins, attitudes, and a host of other things can impede our worship. As John the baptizer said, “He must increase and I must decrease” (John 3:30).

Jesus second test of worship is that it be informed by the truth. The Bible is a reliable and authoritative guide for our faith and practice. The written word reveals the Living Word, Jesus Christ. If we divorce the Bible from our practice of worship we will become like the Samaritan woman who worshipped a God she did not know (John 4:22).

Are you worshipping from the inside out? Is your worship informed by truth? Those are the tests Jesus offers regarding true worship.

Categories : Worship

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