Sermon #1389 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: WHO WORSHIPS GOD?
Text: John 4:24
Subject: True Worship
Date: Sunday Morning - January 23, 2000
Tape # V-66b and V-67a
Readings: Philippians 3:1-21
In the light of that statement, I have a question, a question which must be answered from the Word of God alone. It cannot be answered upon the basis of our feelings, sentiments, or emotions. It cannot be answered by creeds, confessions of faith, or religious customs. Who Worships God? Only the Word of God can tell us who truly worships God.
This much is clear. -- If we would worship God, we must worship him in spirit and in truth. If we would worship God, we must “we must worship him in spirit.” That is to say, we must worship him by his Spirit, in our spirits, in a spiritual manner. And we must worship him “in truth.”
Worshipping God in truth means that we must worship him truthfully, with sincerity, honesty, and uprightness. To worship in truth is to worship without duplicity. We cannot worship God until we open our hearts before him, take off all masks, do away with all pretense. Whether in the public assembly of God’s saints or in the still and darkness of the night watches upon our beds, if we would worship God, we must be deliberately naked before him (Matt. 15:8-9).
But there is more. If we would truly worship God, we must worship him in accordance with revealed truth, as he is revealed in Christ, who is the Truth. And we must worship him according to the Word of Truth (John 17:17).
What does that mean? Without question, it means much, much more than I can tell you now. But it certainly means this. If we worship God, we must worship him…
· Confessing our sins, like the publican (Total Depravity). – 1 John 1:9
· Trusting Christ’s blood and righteousness as our Substitute (Effectual Atonement). – In Christ’s name. – “Caling upon the name of the Lord.”
· Upon an altar of earth, without steps – Free grace alone (Ex. 20:24-26).
The Lord Jesus declares, “The Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23). God Almighty is seeking sinners to worship him in spirit, sincerely, and in truth…
1. Upon the Basis of Blood Atonement.
2. By the Power of His Spirit.
3. With a Heart of Faith.
4. Looking to Christ alone for access to and acceptance with him.
Our text declares, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). But it is ever the nature and tendency of fallen man to pervert the worship of God.
· We have been blessed with ordinances of divine worship. But rather than using the ordinances to worship God in spirit and in truth, we pervert them into carnal ceremonies, services and rituals, without regard to God.
· We content ourselves with the bodily exercise of outward worship and neglect the inward reality of spiritual worship.
· All men by nature prefer gaudiness to godliness!
Paul said, “Bodily exercise” (the mere outward motions of divine worship) “profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” - (1 Tim. 4:8).
You and I are impressed by, pleased with, and dedicated to outward religion. “But the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). And “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” - (Luke 16:15).
Understand what I am saying. - Outward public worship and the outward service of God must never be neglected. But if outward worship is all we have our worship is vain worship! The absence of a true heart, the absence of heart faith in Christ and heart devotion to the glory of God, makes all outward acts of religion vain worship. Read Isaiah 29:13-14.
In Matthew 15:1-9 our Lord applies this text to the Pharisees of his day and to all in our day who pervert the worship of God into nothing but hypocritical, outward religious service. Read Matthew 15:1-9.
· The Pharisees added to the Word of God the traditions of men, and insisted upon obedience to their traditions - (Matt. 15:3).
· And they perverted the commandment of God to suit heir own self-serving, self-righteous, hypocritical religion - (Matt. 15:5-6; Mk. 7:6-13).
· The Lord Jesus declares that all such religion is both vain and hypocritical - an abomination to God!
1. All merely outward religion, that which does not involve heart worship, is vain worship.
“This people draw near to me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me.”
· They prayed and called upon the name of God.
· They professed to be the people of God.
· The believed the doctrine of God.
· They practiced the ordinances of God.
· But their hearts were far removed from God; and God regarded their vain worship as an abomination, a mere form of godliness! (Isa. 1:10-18; 66:1-3).
2. All acts of divine worship, precepts of righteousness, and doctrines imposed upon the church by the traditions and customs of men are but vain worship.
God says, “Their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men!” (Creeds, Confessions, Liturgies).
· Infant Baptism!
· Religious Activities!
· Religious Ceremonies, Programs, etc.!
· Sabbath Days, Holy Days, Solemn Seasons!
3. All true worship is a work of the heart (John 4:23-24; Phil. 3:3; Rom. 10:9-10).
· Faith is a Heart Work.
· Repentance is a Heart Work.
· Singing is a Heart Work.
· Praying is a Heart Work.
· Preaching is a Heart Work.
· Hearing is a Heart Work.
· Baptism is a Heart Work.
· Communion - (The Lord’s Supper) - is a Heart Work.
It is not the bodily exercise of religious service that God requires, but godliness. God wants our hearts! “My Son, give me thine heart.” If he has our hearts he will accept our services of divine worship for Christ’s sake. But if he does not have our hearts, God will never accept our services!
4. If we attempt to fool God with the hypocrisy of vain worship, God will leave us to the folly of vain religion (v. 14).
“Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid."
In this day of darkness, idolatry, paganism, and superstition, let us return to our God, and return to the worship of our God, in spirit and in truth.
5. The Holy Spirit gives us a striking example of true worship in the apostle Paul (Phil. 3:1-14).
Turn with me to Philippians chapter three, and I will wrap this message up by showing you from the Word of God an example of true worship.
The Apostle Paul is held before us in the Word of God as an example of what we ought to be. His conversion, we are told, is the pattern of true conversion. His preaching is the standard of all true gospel preaching. And his worship is here held before us upon the pages of Inspiration by the Spirit of God as an example of what it is to worship God in spirit and in truth.
I. This chapter begins with A Solemn Exhortation (v. 1).
Paul says, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord.” He used this word, rejoice, ten times in the four chapters of this short Epistle. We ought to always, in the depths of our hearts and souls, rejoice in the Lord. No matter what our providential experiences and circumstances are, we always have reason to rejoice in the Lord. Here is an exhortation to joy. What a blessed command! “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say rejoice!” As we rejoice in him, we worship him. Rejoice in…
· the greatness of his person as our all-sufficient Substitute.
· the power of his blood, which cleanses us from all sin.
· the perfection of his righteousness, which is imputed to us for justification.
· the abundance of his grace, which is always sufficient for us.
· the immutability of his love, which never fails.
· the rule of his providence, which works all things together for our good.
· the fact of his intercession, which is continual and effectual on our behalf.
· the fact that your names are written in heaven.
This is the exhortation with which Paul opens this chapter - “Rejoice in the Lord!” May God give me grace ever to do so for the glory of Christ and the good of his people.
II. In verse 2, the apostle gives us a serious warning.
“Beware of dogs.” - He warns us to beware of false prophets. He calls them dogs because that is what the Word of God calls male prostitutes. False prophets are men who have for their own sakes prostituted the gospel of Christ and the glory of God.
“Beware of evil workers.” - This is a warning against those who teach, preach, and promote any system of man centered, works based, free will religion (Matt. 7:22-23).
Man centered, works based, free will religion is the single greatest cause of evil in this world. The good works of religion without Christ are the most abominably evil works done in this world.
· They rob God of his glory.
· They trample under foot the blood of Christ.
· They do despite to the Spirit of grace.
· They gradually abase man to his lowest, most contemptible state (Rom. 1:25-31).
“Evil workers,” as Paul uses the term in this contexts, are Arminians, freewillers, and legalists, people who teach that God’s salvation depends upon and is determined by man.
“Beware of the concision.” - Those who are of the concision are men and women who cut, mutilate, and torture their bodies in hope of winning God’s favor.
· Doing Penance
· Observing Lent
· Monasticism, Flagellation
· Religious Taboos, Asceticism
In essence, Paul is saying, Beware of Christless religion. Beware of any religious custom, doctrine, or service that is centered in yourself and encourages you to focus attention on yourself.
III. Now look at verse 3. Here we are given a description of true religion. Here the Holy Spirit tells us who truly worships God. This is what it is to worship God in Spirit and in truth.
True religion is not man centered, but Christ centered. True religion is not ceremonial, but spiritual. True religion is not a matter of creed, but of conviction. True religion is not outward, but inward. “For we are the circumcision” - We are God’s true, covenant people, the Israel of God, Abraham’s true children, which…
“Worship God in the Spirit” - We worship God as he is revealed in the Scriptures, by the power of his Holy Spirit, in our spirits, and in a spiritual manner. True worship is spiritual worship, not carnal, ceremonial ritualism (John 4:23-24).
“And rejoice in Christ Jesus” - We trust the Lord Jesus Christ alone, placing all our confidence in him as our Savior. We are complete in him.
“And have no confidence in the flesh” - We place absolutely no confidence in our flesh, the experiences, emotions, or (imaginary) excellencies of our flesh. The privileges of the flesh, the feelings of the flesh, and the works of the flesh are no basis of confidence before God.
IV. In verses 4-8, Paul is set before us as an example of self-denial. True worship is a deliberate denial of self before God.
Self-denial is an essential aspect of saving faith. Though it increasingly comprehends all aspects of life as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, self-denial begins with a denial of all personal worth and merit as a grounds of hope before God.
Here is a legalist of highest order laying aside the filthy rags of his self-righteousness for the blessed, pure, perfect righteousness of Christ. Paul counted all his fleshly, carnal, natural privileges, religious distinctiveness, and educational advantages as nothing but dung before God. He placed no confidence in his flesh. He found that one Pearl of Great Price, and sold everything he had to get it (Matt. 13:45-46).
NOTE: This was done on the Damascus Road when the Lord saved him (v. 7). And this was a decision he made everyday, with increasing, growing commitment and consecration to Christ. He counted all things but dung for Christ.
Why? What was the cause of this man’s self-denial, consecration, and commitment? What made this man willing to forsake everything and follow Christ? Paul was inspired, motivated, and driven to the point of utter obsession by four great ambitions of faith.
He gives us those four great ambitions in verses 8-11. Look at the last line of verse 8.
A. “THAT I MAY WIN CHRIST!” – To worship God in the Spirit is to seek Christ.
What an ambition! The life of faith is the lifelong pursuit of Christ. Faith looks upon Christ as the most precious, most desirable, most lovely, most valuable Person and Object in the world. The more he is known, the more he is wanted. Therefore true faith willingly forsakes all to follow him.
Christ is the Treasure hidden in the field, for which we would gladly spend all. He is the Pearl of Great Price, for which we must sell all. Jesus Christ is the “one thing needful” who must be chosen. Christ is the one thing we must have.
· I am thankful for the many comforts of life with which I am blessed; but I must have Christ.
· I am thankful for my friends; but I must have Christ.
· I am thankful for health; but I must have Christ.
· I am thankful for my family; but I must have Christ.
“I count all things loss that I may win Christ.”
B. “AND BE FOUND IN HIM!” - (v. 9) – To worship God in the Spirit is to seek to be found in Christ.
This is the believer’s standing. We are in Christ. This is Christianity. This is salvation - to be in Christ, nothing less, nothing lower, nothing different. It is not partly in Christ and partly in the law, or partly in the ordinances, or partly in the church. To be saved is to be in Christ.
· Religion is knowing doctrines and facts. Salvation is knowing God (John 17:3; 1 John 5:20).
· Religion is knowing what I believe. Christianity is knowing whom I believe (2 Tim. 2:12).
· Religion is being reformed. Salvation is being regenerated (John 3:3).
· Religion makes men new converts. Christianity makes us new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17).
· Religion is being in the church. Salvation is being in Christ (John 15:1; Eph. 5:30).
1. Believers are people who are in Christ,
· By God’s Eternal Decree.
· By The Holy Spirit’s Operations Of Grace.
· By Personal Faith.
Illustration: Grafted into Christ
2. To be in Christ is to have perfect righteousness before God.
Our righteousness is not something we establish by performing good works, but something Christ established for us as our Representative before God. We do not make ourselves righteous by our obedience to God’s law. Christ made us righteous by his obedience to the law for us.
Our righteousness before God is the righteousness of God in Christ imputed to us by God himself.
3. As I stand before the holy Lord God, I want to be found in Christ.
· As I live in this world.
· When I offer any service, prayer, or sacrifice to him.
· When I leave this world.
· When I stand before his great bar of judgment!
Now, look at verse 10.
C. “THAT I MAY KNOW HIM!” – To worship God in the Spirit is to seek to know Christ.
I know that Christ is mine and I am his. Yet, I count all things but loss and dung, that I might win Christ, that I might be found in Christ, that I might know Christ. I know him; but, oh, how I want to know him! I want constantly renewed, ever increasing knowledge of and communion with the Son of God. This is the ambition of my heart - I want to know him, my God and my Savior, my Redeemer and my Lord!
1. I want to know him who is the great Benefactor of my soul.
· The Mysteries And Glories Of His Person
· The Riches Of His Grace
· The Greatness Of His Salvation
· The Benefits Of His Mercies
· The Depth Of His Love
May God give us grace never to take our eyes off of Christ! My soul, let Christ be the all-consuming Object of your being! “That I may know him!”
2. I want to “know him in the power of his resurrection.”
· The power of his resurrection declares that I am justified (Rom. 4:25).
· The power of his resurrection gave me spiritual life (Eph. 1:19).
· The power of his resurrection guarantees my resurrection (1 Cor. 15:47-49).
· But I want to live everyday, experimentally, walking in the knowledge of the power of his resurrection.
Walking with Christ in the newness of life, I want the power of his resurrection to dominate, control, and direct my life in all things. I want to be continually made new by him.
3. I want “to know him in the fellowship of his sufferings.”
· To Know My Personal Interest In His Sufferings
· To Know What He Accomplished In His Sufferings
As his sufferings are his glory, I want his sufferings to be my glory (Gal. 6:14).
4. I want to know Christ and the fellowship of his sufferings to such an extent that I am ever “being made conformable unto his death.”
This is what that means - I want to be conformed to Christ in his death.
· Entirely Consecrated To The Glory Of God.
· Perfectly Submissive To The Will Of God.
· Motivated By Nothing But Love For My God And His People.
D. “IF BY ANY MEANS I MIGHT ATTAIN UNTO THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.” (vv. 11-14) – To worship God in the Spirit is to seek life in, by, and with Christ.
Certainly, this includes a great desire for the resurrection of my body at the last day. But primarily, the yearning spoken of here is a yearning for that moral, spiritual resurrection of grace that lifts us out of the death and darkness of sin. The world, the flesh, and all human life is death. In Christ there is life, real life, eternal life, a life of righteousness, peace and joy in communion with God! This is what I want. I have not yet attained it; but I am reaching for it.
I want what God purposed for me in eternity and Christ purchased for me at Calvary (Eph. 1:3-6). I want to be like Christ!
These are the ambitions of my heart, the goals I seek, the things for which I live. I pray that God will make them more and more real to me. And I pray that he will make them your hearts’ ambitions as well.
1. “That I may win him.”
2. “And be found in him.”
3. “That I may know him.”
4. “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”
Children of God, set your hearts upon these things, and by the grace of God you shall have them (vv. 20-21).
Worship, true worship is not an act, or event, or ceremony. To worship God in spirit and in truth is to worship God in the totality of our lives. It is to live by faith in Christ, for the glory of God.
 San Jose, CA – Tuesday, January 25, 2000
 Note: “Corban” - means a gift dedicated to God that cannot be used for any other purpose - Yet, they did! They used traditions, their pretentious religious taboos as an excuse for their hardness, but never fulfilled their claims. They would never give “Corban” (their vowed gift) to their needy parents. But they never gave it to God either!