The Pastor's Pen

The Pastor's Pen is a periodic column devoted to articulating biblical, theological, and practical teaching for God-honoring, Christ-exalting Christian living.

Pastor's Pen-Worship Feature Image

There are competing idols in our world clamoring for our worship. The sad history of the human race is that it has capitulated to the false worship of false deities. The Old Testament records the pitiful and reprehensible fact that the pagan world indulged in this supreme wickedness, and God’s chosen people were also guilty of this sin. Scripture speaks with one voice prohibiting the worship of anyone or anything other than the Triune God.

The First Commandment is without ambiguity in announcing, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). It is the innate, depraved nature of sinful man to substitute for the true God a deity of his own making, whether physical or mental, even creatures made by the Creator (Romans 1:25).

Satan audaciously sought worship from the Creator Himself. During His wilderness temptation, Jesus, God incarnate, faced the onslaught of satanic temptations, including a solicitation to “fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9). This ridiculous offer from the evil one was met with the clarion declaration from Jesus’s lips, “Go, Satan! For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only” (Matthew 5:10). Fallen creatures either worship something other than the true God or seek worship of themselves—the two are often the same.

In John’s gospel, our Lord Jesus enunciated that God the Father is seeking true worshippers. These are the ones He will deliver from their sins upon receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord. It is they, and they alone, as Jesus told the woman at the well who worship in spirit and truth (John 4:24).

The words spirit and truth are definitional regarding true worship. First, the word spirit refers to the inner man, the heart, the center of man’s being, will, and thinking. It is in the heart that a man or a woman believes that God raised Jesus from the dead and is saved (Romans 10:9).

In the context of Jesus’s teaching in John 4, the heart’s attitude is the focus. To worship in the spirit is to have the proper heart attitude. The wrong heart attitude is disobedient to the Lord and his revealed truth (Amos 5:21-24; Matthew 15:1-9).

Truth in the Johannine passage refers to conformity to Scripture. It is in Scripture that God has revealed the truth about Himself, Christ, righteousness, sin, eternal life, and a host of other eternal realities. As stated, true worship comes from inside, from a spirit or heart that is obedient to God’s truth. And this truth will be lived out in the believer’s life. It is not merely the rituals or ceremonies of public worship.

Philippians 3:3 is clear in defining who true worshippers are. They worship by the Spirit of God. That is, He generates our inner worship. So, it is supernatural in origin. The Holy Spirit indwells all genuine Christians (Romans 8:9) and enables them to offer acceptable worship to God. The word worship means “to render respectful service.”

We may also state that worship includes ascriptions of glory to God. We ascribe glory to Him when we recognize His uniqueness in our praise to Him. This praise will laud the triune God’s perfections: such as sovereignty, omniscience, omnipresence, aseity (independence), eternality, omnisapience (all-wise), love, grace, mercy, faithfulness, holiness, and other attributes by which He reveals Himself in Scripture.

Scripture discloses the profound importance of the worship of God. For He is God, and the proper response to Him is worship, but worship that is consistent with His self-revelation. Otherwise, it is illegitimate and will be repudiated, as the Hebrews discovered from the prophet Amos (Amos 5:21-24).

The subject of the worship of God covers the entirety of the Bible. Therefore, the study of this theme cannot be exhausted by any means in a few sentences.

May your own pursuit of the topic yield innumerable spiritual riches to your souls and enhance your understanding of His glory.

Sole Deo Gloria (To God alone be the glory).