No. 3 How Do You Worship?

 •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Many have no more idea of worship than the poor woman had whom Jesus met at the well of Samaria (John 4). And yet it was to this poor sinner that the Lord made known, first of all, the principles of Christian worship. She could boast of the difference between the Samaritan religion and that of the Jews. She could not understand how a Jew could talk or hold fellowship with a woman of Samaria (v. 9). She could boast of her people’s descent from their forefather Jacob (v. 12), and could talk fast enough as to whether it was right to worship in the mountain of Samaria, or at Jerusalem (v. 20). But, alas, with all that religion, she was living with a man that was not her husband (v. 17, 18).
Professing Christian, do you know anything more of Christian worship than that poor woman did? If I were to come and ask you “How do you worship?” would you not answer me, “Well, of course I go to church on Sunday, and I was baptized and confirmed, and I go to the sacrament regularly, and I am not like some people who always are going with Dissenters.” Or, perhaps some one else says, “I glory in being a Wesleyan, and you know Wesley was a good man, and our Church is getting on wonderfully in the world. Others may think it right to go with the Baptists, but, as for myself, my forefathers followed my Church and I mean to stay where I am.” Professing Christian? I mean no offence in thus speaking so plainly; these expressions are by no means uncommon around. I want really by them to arouse your conscience as to whether your religion is not merely a cloak to cover your sins, just as it was with the Samaritan woman.
But if you tell me, “I am a Christian; this time nn years I was born again; I then rested on the blood of Christ, and I know my sins are forgiven,” then thank God you can worship God, and oftentimes your heart has individually praised your God and Father. Still, my fellow-believer, I would ask you how do you worship God in the Assembly? Perhaps you answer, “Oh, it does not matter where I worship; wherever I find most Christians, I like to go, and wherever there is a godly minister I like to hear him. The Lord said, did he not? that the hour was coming when it did not matter where one worshiped, and I like to go where I can get most good.” Yes, dear fellow-believer, He did say
This hour was in contrast to what the system of worship was in the day when the Lord Jesus lived. It was then right to worship at Jerusalem, for Jehovah had set His name there, and salvation was of the Jews (ver. 22). But the hour was coming, after the Lord’s death, resurrection, and ascension, when a world-wide worship should prevail, and then it would not matter in what place in the world the Christian worshiped.
But, though this is quite true, it greatly matters how the Christian worships; for the hour was coming when the true worshippers should worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship him (John 4:2323But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. (John 4:23)).
After the rejection of Messiah by the Jews, and His ascension to the right hand of God, the system of worship was entirely changed. The Father is how seeking worshippers out of the wide, wide world. They are formed by being born again, by faith in the Lord Jesus and by the reception of the Holy Ghost. God has this gift in store for them. It flows down to them through His dead and risen Son; they receive the Holy Ghost and drink, and immediately He becomes a source of living water within them, springing up unto everlasting life (John 4:10, 1410Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. (John 4:10)
14But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14)
). These are the true worshippers, and they are called to worship in spirit and in truth; for God is a Spirit and they must worship according to His mind. Thus we see, dear fellow-believer, that whereas, under Judaism, Jehovah was seeking a nation to worship Him, and godly and ungodly all worshiped together in an earthly sanctuary after a manner that suited the flesh; the Father now is seeking true worshippers out of the world. Thus, first of all, only the saved compose the worshippers; secondly, they that worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Having received the Spirit of God, they were to find in Him their sufficient power of worship; and, as He flowed down freely into them as the gift of God, so now He was to be the source of life within them to send back to the throne of God the streams of a pure worship, thanksgiving, and praise, acceptable to God through Christ. The people of God were to find in Him their sufficiency for worship, both individually and corporately. God the Holy Ghost dwelt in the body of each individual believer (1 Cor. 6:1919What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19)), as also in the assembly (1 Cor. 3:1616Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)), and that was sufficient. But the worship was also to be in truth, that is, according to the Word of God. Judaism and its worship were regulated by the law, Christian worship must be regulated by the New Testament Scriptures. The one has passed away, the other has taken its place (Heb. 7:12, 18, 19; 8:1312For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. (Hebrews 7:12)
18For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. 19For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. (Hebrews 7:18‑19)
13In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:13)
).
But in 1 Cor. 14 we have an account of the manner in which the worship meetings of the early Christians were conducted.
First of all we see, in 1 Cor. 11:17-2617Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. 18For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. 20When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. 21For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. 22What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. 23For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 24And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. (1 Corinthians 11:17‑26), that when the Christians came together in the assembly (as it is called, ver. 18), when they came together in one place, it was to eat the Lord’s Supper, (ver. 20). The apostle, however, would not allow it was the Lord’s Supper, owing to the manner in which they were meeting. He corrects them accordingly (ver. 23). The assembly, when met thus, gathered on the basis of the one body of Christ (1 Cor. 12); of which breaking together the one bread was the expression, as well as of the communion of the Saints with the death of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16, 1716The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:16‑17)). The Lord’s table being thus the expression of the one body of Christ gathered together, it was the place where the action of that body was seen. And as the Holy Ghost had formed the church, and filled it, so He manifested His action in the members when the assembly was gathered together. This is what we see in 1 Cor. 12. The character of that Spirit was love, and this was what was to bind the Christians together, 1 Cor. 13. Now these Corinthians were taking advantage of these gifts of the Holy Ghost, who had endued many with the miraculous gift of tongues, by childishly displaying these gifts of unknown tongues in the assembly when gathered together (1 Cor. 14:2323If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? (1 Corinthians 14:23)). The apostle shows the great advantage of the gift of prophecy over the gift of tongues (1-13). The one was for edification, the other could not be understood. He mentions four things which might be manifested in such a worship meeting (ver. 14), prayer; (ver. 15) singing; (ver. 16) blessing or worship; (ver. 19) speaking. But the great point was that their prayers and singing and worship and speaking should be with the spirit, and with the understanding also. But where was the use of Paul’s thus addressing them, if their usual way of meeting was by having one man to do the whole service? Ver. 23 plainly shows the perfect liberty that reigned; which was turned into license. Everybody was speaking with tongues, so that an unbeliever coming in would think they were all mad. After exhorting them not all to speak at once, for the spirits of the prophets were subject to the prophets (vv. 26 and 32); how does he correct them? Does he appoint one man to do the whole service? No! but he says
God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (ver. 33).
That was the corrective power for them to remember that God the Holy Ghost was in the midst of the assembly (1 Cor. 3:16, 12:4-13). Now, here we find the way how to worship God in the assembly, viz., To own the presence of God was there. This was truly united worship in spirit (John 4:23, 2423But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23‑24)).
Dear brother in the Lord, are you in an assembly which worships God after this manner? This is the manner for an assembly to worship God in spirit and in truth.
1st. We have seen that every believer, composing such assembly, should be a true worshipper.
2nd. The Father’s name is known and adored by these worshippers.
3rd. The presence of the Holy Ghost in the body of each believer is his power of worship.
4th. The presence of the Holy Ghost is as sufficient for the assembly as for the individual believer. He rules and guides in an assembly, rightly gathered. For further rules as to Christian worship, see Heb. 9, 10:1, 30.
O Lord, we know it matters not,
How sweet the song may be;
No heart but of the Spirit taught
Makes melody to Thee.
Then teach Thy gather’d saints,
O Lord, To worship in Thy fear;
And let Thy grace mould every word
That meets Thy holy ear.

Thou hast by blood made sinners meet,
As saints in light, to come
And worship at the mercy-seat,
Before th’ Eternal throne.

Thy precious name is all we show,
Our only passport, Lord;
And full assurance now we know,
Confiding in Thy word.

O largely give, ’tis all Thine own,
The Spirit’s goodly fruit:
Praise, issuing forth in life, alone
Our living Lord can suit.

Henceforth let each beloved child
With quicken’d step proceed,
To walk with garments undefiled
Where’er Thine eye may lead.