Christians are commanded to worship.
But what does that mean? People are, in a general way, worshippers, but not all worship is pleasing to God. God is not pleased by any and all worship for much worship is an expression of idolatry. Is the worship that flows from the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City pleasing to God? Is the song that rolls off the lips of an unrepentant, unregenerate man acceptable to the Holy God? Does God delight in our songs when they are filled with lies?
In all of these, we answer “No!” The Mormon’s worship isn’t proper, for it worships a god who is not. The unregenerate man’s worship isn’t acceptable, for his mind is set on the flesh, and the mind that is set on the flesh cannot please God. Songs that contain within them lies about God will never be acceptable to Him, for He demands truth in worship. God has prescribed the way in which we are to worship. We are to worship the one true God in spirit and in truth.
- We Worship the one true God
Perhaps you think this point is redundant. Sadly, it is anything but redundant because throughout history there have been men and women who claimed to worship the God of the Bible all the while denying what God has revealed about Himself. For instance, Orthodox Judaism says it worships the God of Israel all the while denying the incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is the image of the invisible God and the exact imprint of His nature. It is clear in their denial of the Lord Jesus that their worship is at best idolatry. To worship the God of the Bible we must worship Him as Trinitarian. This is the great distinction between Christendom and all other monotheistic religions. Christians are monotheists, but we are trinitarian monotheists. Any lesser profession indicates idolatry, and idol worship is offensive to the God of the Bible. When Christians worship we worship God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit: One in essence, three in persons.
- We Worship in Spirit
When Jesus addresses the Samaritan woman at the well He highlights two necessities in the worship of the one true God. The first is that we must worship in Spirit. There are two applications to this call that I wish to highlight. First, we must remember what Jesus said in His conversation with Nicodemus. Jesus tells Nicodemus that one must be born of the Spirit to even see the Kingdom of God. This statement makes clear that the worship of those who have not been born again by the Spirit of God cannot rightly worship the King of that Kingdom, for they have not seen Him. Thus, we need to remember that the work of the Spirit of God, regenerating and revealing Christ and His kingdom to us, is a necessary prerequisite to appropriate worship.
Secondly, we see that worship is in essence a spiritual act. It is right and good that we sing and make melodies in our worship of the Lord, for He has commanded it, but should our spirits not exult in the Lord of Glory our worship is hollow. Perhaps your voice is beautiful; perhaps the sound of it inspires awe every time you give it utterance; it matters not to God if it is not a voice that exults in Him. Should your worship not flow from a spirit that exults in His glory and goodness it is a noisy gong or clanging cymbal.
- We Worship in Truth
The second necessity Jesus points out is that we worship in truth. First, we see that our worship must be aligned with what is true factually about God. We live in a postmodern world that regularly assaults truth as something that cannot be truly known, only felt. Brothers and sisters, this is not the case. We can know God truly for He has revealed Himself to us. He has revealed himself to us through His Word and He has revealed Himself to us through His Son, Jesus Christ. What a heinous thing to worship outside the bounds of His divine revelation. What an assault on the sufficiency of Scripture. What an exaltation of our feelings to offer to the Lord any worship that is not in accordance with what He has revealed about Himself! May we hold fast to God’s revelation of Himself and be content, no, overjoyed, that He has stooped down to make himself known at all. We must worship Him in truth.
Secondly, we must worship Him through Jesus Christ. Jesus claims that He is Truth. Brothers and sisters there is no means of worshiping God apart from Jesus Christ. It is by His blood that you are invited to worship. It is by His righteousness that you have access to the Father. It is through Him that our worship is acceptable to God the Father.
How do we know when we are obedient to God’s command? How do we know that our worship is acceptable to God? How do we know that our worship is to His delight? When we worship our Trinitarian God in a Trinitarian way. We worship God the Father entering into His presence through God the Son animated by God the Spirit.