Series: Sword of the Spirit – Unit: Worship in Spirit and in Truth
Lesson: The father’s priority – Topic 2: The Father’s Priority (Part 2)
Teacher: Colin Dye
Announcer: Welcome to Sword of the Spirit; Written and presented by Colin Dye, Senior Minister of Kensington Temple and leader of London City Church. Sword of the Spirit is a dynamic teaching series equipping the believers of today to build the disciples of tomorrow. We pray that you find these programs inspiring and a catalyst in deepening your knowledge of God, your relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and your intimacy with the Holy Spirit.
Colin Dye: Hello and welcome to the Sword of the Spirit, a school of ministry in the Word and the Spirit. Our topic is, “Worship in Spirit and Truth.” And we’ve begun to examine what Jesus said when He said, “the Father is searching for true worshipers.” It’s not just that God is looking for worship but He is looking for relationship; people who will worship Him in spirit and truth. We’ve also begun to examine that phrase, spirit and truth and ask what does it mean. It has to do with sincerity of heart and it has to do with being real in the presence of God. We have a real relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ the Son. And so the first requirement of worship is that our hearts should be washed and cleansed and that we should be purified by the forgiveness of God. And that by the blood of Jesus Christ we can approach God and enjoy the access that He’s given to us.
Now, sincerity and truth are very important in all aspects of life. We want other people to be sincere and truthful in their relationships with us and that’s natural. How much more important is it then to be sincere and truthful in your relationship with God. I believe worship begins when we open our hearts and speak to God and communicate to God in a real way. And this is possible because God in Christ has drawn so close to us that we could as it were reach out by faith and touch Him and lay hold of Him wherever we are.
God is spirit that means that He is everywhere present all the time! We can’t see Him with our natural eyes or touch Him with our hands in a physical sense. Of course not and there’s no idol or idolatrous representation of Him that can do justice to who He is. In fact, He doesn’t like that, commands us not to approach Him in that way. But as we draw near to Him in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit we really do make contact with the Living God. And that’s what is at the heart of worship.
When we speak about truth, also we understand that it’s the truth of Scriptures. God has told us very clearly who He is in the Scriptures and has shown us the revelation concerning Him so that when we draw near to God we actually worship whom we know. We know who He is, we don’t guess at these things but Jesus has revealed them fully to us. And the Scriptures give us that full revelation. Now we’re gonna go deeper into this truth of worship.
When we worship like this, worship in spirit and truth we must worship too with expectation. A true worshiper is one who responds to God’s grace, gracious initiative and can move towards that God with the expectation that we’re going to experience the reality of the God we worship. Now both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament whenever people met with God and where they worshiped God they knew that they were going to experience Him in a deep and a wonderful way. They expected that when they worshiped Him they would feel His loving touch. They expected when they worshiped Him that God would break into them prophetically, that they would hear His Holy Words because they were coming in response to His call. Every time Moses went into the Tabernacle he knew that he had been summoned to meet the All-Powerful, the All-knowing, Miracle Working God, He knew that it was the presence of God that would be so great in the place and that would make his face glow with reflected divine glory. And later when the High Priest entered into the Holy of Holies on the God appointed Day of Atonement they stepped behind the curtain with a genuine sense of holy fear because they knew they were entering into the localized presence of the Most Holy God.
It was the same with the early Church, the first believers when they met to worship were filled with holy expectation because they knew that some of them had dropped dead in the presence of God. Others had been risen from the dead through His presence and that at least two of their buildings that they met had been literally shaken by His presence. So they came with holy expectation.
Let me ask you at this stage, do you have the same expectation when you meet with God and you worship Him? Do you expect Him to break in with earthquake power? Well the first believers, when they gathered together to worship God they knew that the temple curtain had been torn in two at Christ’s death. And that like Moses and the High Priest’s, they would be entering the holiest place they knew they we’re being drawn into the terrible yet tremendously gracious presence of God. And they were so sure that something extra ordinary was bound to happen again.
We need the same expectation every time we enter the presence of God in worship to believe that God is going to meet with us and shake us till our teeth rattle if that’s necessary to touch our lives and to bless us.
Worship in spirit and truth, reminds us that worship at heart is a relationship. Later on we’re going to be looking at how God calls us to enjoy Him and to rejoice in His presence to join with the Father and the Son and the Spirit in their eternal enjoyment of each other. It’s almost as if the blessedness that exists within the Godhead, God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit which in many ways had been a theme throughout all of the teaching and the series of The Sword of the Spirit. Every doctrine that I’ve presented to you, I’ve presented from the perspective of the Triune God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit that we might have this full appreciation of who God is. And in terms of worship it’s as if God is saying, “We are having such a great time and Our blessedness, We’re gonna share with you, come into Our fellowship, enjoy the fellowship that We have together between the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Let Our unity be your unity with Us as you join Us and worship Us in spirit and in truth.”
And by worshiping Us I’m not saying there’s three gods I’m talking about the three members of the Trinity it’s very difficult to use human language accurately with we talk about the Trinity. But this means that the goal of our worship is always the presence of the Triune God and that our call to worship is always a call to a deeper relationship with Him. And that worship is the right expression of our redeemed relationship with God. We owe God our worship above everything else.
Now later on we’re also gonna look how the Old Testament shows that the true worship took place in the secret place of the Tabernacle and the Temple in the Holy of Holies behind the veil in the tangible localized presence of God on earth. And so, this is the wonderful Psalm, which says, he that dwells in the secret place of the Most High God shall abide under the shadow of The Almighty.
Here is the Psalmist crying out for that that longing for that localized presence of God dwelling there in the secret place. Making that place their habitation so that they might experience the overshadowing cloud of His glory. And yet that was something that only a few in history ever, ever experienced. One person per generation and yet now we are called as New Testament believers both individually and corporately to be tabernacle’s and temple’s of the Spirit set apart for worship to be tangible manifestations or to experience the tangible manifestation of the localized presence and the glory of God, why it is outrageously glorious! And the Father desires our communion and seeks our worship. That’s why He has redeemed us. This relational worship is fundamental to the whole concept of being God’s children. It recognizes who He is and what He has made us. We worship Him as His children and it’s an essential part of our relationship with Him. And as we recognize who God is and the fullness of His nature and give Him the worship that’s due His name, so we grow in our relationship with God, as you genuinely learn to worship God you mature in your Christian life.
This means that we do not worship God with a sinful or selfish purpose in mind or rather we worship to bless Him. I find that so much of modern worship is human centered, it’s all about us getting some kind of nice experience. It’s a Christian substitute for a rock concert, you know people want to go, and I’m not talking about the style of music now, I’m just talking about people going for an emotional experience. When you sing and praise with a group of people there’s a kind of buzz that goes with it. And as wonderful as that is and God certainly wants you to be blessed by praising Him but our praise and worship is not for our blessing it is for His blessing. It’s to satisfy the desires of His heart to show our love for Him. He desires our fellowship; He seeks us to worship Him. this is why He’s made us and redeemed us and we couldn’t possibly know what joy the Father has when His children worship Him.
When earthy children appreciate earthly parents, earthly parents really get a buzz out of that and God is blessed, God is blessed when we appreciate Him. So it’s God’s main desire for us to enjoy each other in the secret place and to enter fully into each other’s presence and to develop an enduring face to face relationship to worship Him in spirit and truth.
Now we come to look at the leader of worship. And in this section, I emphasize first of all that as genuine worship is essentially a human response to a divine initiative, it should be clear therefore that worship in spirit and truth must always be lead and directed by God Himself. So often today the focus is upon the worship leader, well I’ll tell you who the worship leader is, His name is Mr. Holy Ghost, He is the worship leader. And unless we are not following His lead there’s now worship at all. No matter how skilled the human worship leader might be.
Now when Moses pleaded with Pharaoh to let God’s people go, to go for a few days journey into the wilderness to worship Him, He had to explain to Pharaoh that He didn’t know what form of worship they were gonna offer God. Pharaoh said, “OK, well take the animals that you need and go and do it and come back, so he said, “no, no, we all have to go with everything that we’ve got because we won’t know what we’re gonna have to sacrifice and how we’re gonna have to worship Him until we get there.” And that’s found in Exodus chapter ten, verses twenty-four to twenty-six, let’s read it there. And this establishes the very important principle that if God’s people really want to please the Living God in worship. Then we must allow Him personally to direct their worship. Then Pharaoh called Moses and said, “go serve the Lord, only let your flocks and herds be kept back, let the little ones also go with you.” But Moses said, “you must also give us sacrifices and burnt offerings that we may sacrifice to The Lord our God. Our livestock shall also go with us, not a hoof shall be left behind for we must take some of them to serve The Lord our God and even we do not know with what we must serve the Lord until we arrive there.”
What is this telling us? This telling us is that true worship has only one real leader and that’s God. We don’t go to God predetermining what He requires of us, “I’ll take this, for this will come in handy, I’ll take that, but I’ll do this when I worship God.” No! we say, “Lord, what do You want me to do? How do You want me to worship You?” And that’s very important today as there is still more emphasis on style than substance, still more emphasis on forms and traditions rather than on the essence of worship. and I have seen it as I have traveled across the world that God blessed all forms of worship. I know when I go to Kenya and I worship amongst the Kikuyu tribe, all they do is they bang a drum and they dance in the Kikuyu way, that’s it, that’s their worship and its fantastic, just one drum. Sometimes they don’t even have a drum and they beat their hands in marvelous rhythms. Or you go to these great gatherings where they’ve great festivals where they’ve got every musical instrument that’s been invented since 1970 playing away, wonderful stuff. Or you go into some of the Scottish Church’s where they sing only from the Scottish Psalter, only sing Psalms and if The Spirit of God’s there my friend, if The Spirit of God’s leading it, it’s glorious. If The Spirit of God’s not there, you can have the most magnificent singing, the most magnificent music halite but it’s not pleasing to God. so we must say, “Lord what do you want me to do? How do you want me to worship You? What are you calling forth from my life?” And then God will lead us through the Spirit and I’m not saying we don’t need human leaders of worship but these are merely under leaders who are called to pass on God’s personal direction for worship and not their own musical ideas or their musical tastes.
So when God draws His own people to worship Him, He is present among them as they worship Him. He’s not a passive inspector, who inspects and assesses their worship to check to see if it comes up to His requirements. Instead, by the Spirit He is an active participant in the worship. This means, He speaks by His Spirit into the hearts of worshiping men and women and makes His holy presence known. He teaches, guides, rebukes and comforts them whenever they respond to His call to worship Him in spirit and truth.
I wonder if you are just taking this as doctrine today or if you really are allowing it to touch your heart? You know what this means? This means that every day you should say, “Lord, how do You want me to love You today?” And sometimes it might be kneeling down in the traditional position and crying out to God or it might mean just taking a walk in the field, if you can find one in your city. Or in one of the parks, it might just mean gazing up into the sky and looking at the clouds float by and say, “hallelujah, God You made all of these holy vapors.” Let the Holy Spirit lead you; let your worship be full of variety. Don’t get stuck in the rut, that’s not worship in spirit and truth. In worship we do not only read about God theoretically in the Scriptures we know Him experientially as He reveals Himself in our spirit’s in a whole variety of ways. And He still wants to continue to reveal His glory to us.
And this means too that we don’t only celebrate Jesus, our Savior and Redeemer when worship, we also experience Him as Prophet, Priest and King. By the spirit, Jesus comes amongst us in our worship to teach us about His righteousness to feed us and sanctify us by His Word or Life and to give us the power to do what is right. So when He comes to us in worship He is present in fullness and every aspect of His character. Therefore when we worship God we should expect to experience His love and His grace His truth and His mercy His comfort and His power His liberty and His self-discipline His healing and His humility and so on and on and on. Whenever we respond to His call to worship, He is present in every aspect of His being.
And so, when God therefore is leading us in worship we would expect that that worship will reflect every aspect of His nature and it will be revealed in worship. That’s why I think sometimes we need to take a check and see how we’re worshiping God and to see if we really are responding to the Spirit or if we’re going according to our favorite forms and traditions. I mean, we should have warfare, praise and worship as we should repentance and penitent praise and worship we should have celebration, high praises we should have times of quiet we should have every possible characteristic of God reflected in our worship. This suggests that miracles of grace and power and intervention and manifestation of God in all His aspects should be the rule and not the exception when we worship in spirit and in truth.
Now, this principle that God must direct our worship, if we’re to please Him in our worship, this means that God alone must decide when men and women, which men and women and which natural gifts and spiritual gifts and how worship should function in the body of Christ. So in public Church worship, people preach they prophesy they sing they pray they give they arrange flowers perhaps if they’re decorating the hall, read the Scriptures play an instrument polish pews, chairs, collect hymnbooks greet visitors and so on. It isn’t all done solely done by the Church caretaker and so on. And they do it as they are personally called and directed by the real leader of worship.
Now, that’s how I began my ministry, by picking up hymnbooks in the days when we had hymnbooks. Now we don’t have to it because we’ve thrown the hymnbooks away and we use monitors with all the words on there. So our hands are free to do other things. Well I believe that was worship to God. This means that there is no room for self-promotion through worship and no place for establishing a human reputation. Everything we do for God must bring Him glory and attract attention to Him. The moment we’re attracting attention to ourselves in whatever form of worship and service it is whether its leading worship or whether its preaching, if we are standing in the way and people are looking at us and not at God then it’s not worship. only the Holy God is glorified in worship if it’s true worship in spirit and truth.
So every aspect of Church life is meant to demonstrate that God is the only initiator and ultimate leader of worship. This tells us that every spiritual gift used in worship should reveal that Christ is in complete control. That He gives what He chooses when He chooses it, how He chooses it and through whom He chooses it. Every spoken word should breathe God’s life into the worship and build the worshipers because the speaker has been inspired to speak only by the life-giving Spirit. Every discrete act of service should ignite the worship with God’s love and humility because the servant has been moved to act only by God’s self-effacing Spirit. Every mighty miracle should thrill and awe the worshipers because it points only to God’s compassion and mercy and not to a human technique or self-seeking messenger.
So everything that we do as we worship God, if it’s done in the right spirit and in the right motivation it will bring God’s presence. If the people who have been sweeping the floor before the worship service begins, have been doing it unto the Lord that will bring the presence of God as equally and as powerfully as the singer that stands up to sing and leads the congregation in worship.
And so, our response to this surely must be that we know we come into His presence having been cleansed and transformed by Him, standing in His holy presence knowing that we can never, ever, ever be the same again. Our response to worship is a changed life. Worship is not a means of escape from the rigors of the world; rather it’s a confrontation with God’s call to serve Him in the world. Like Isaiah in chapter six, he is commissioned from that place of revelation and worship to go and preach the Word of God to his generation. And so we are called to respond with Gospel obedience, authentic worship draws us into the spiritual dimension and exposes us to the realities of the invisible world but then sends us out with that sense of God’s presence to apply His victory against the demonic powers in every area of life practically.
And so, here is a pattern and a progression in worship. God calls us by the Spirit to worship Him. We respond to God’s summons. We come face to face with God in the worship. We follow His leading and direction as to how we should worship and we are changed in His presence during worship receiving His orders for service and equipping to serve while we worship then we go out to love God and to serve others.
And so this can only happen of course, when we learn to focus on God and our worship to be directed towards Him. So often it’s difficult when our minds are preoccupied with so many other things but God says, when we worship in spirit and truth we are to focus on Him and this can happen if we practice this all the time, not just in those self-conscience moments when we worship Him. We’re called to develop a continuous submissive listening lifestyle so that all our words and deeds will have their source in Him. We carry out the ordinary business of our life in our own strength and wisdom, we will tend to do the same when we gather together to worship God. But if we are always fairly alert to God’s prompting at home and at work while traveling and resting with our family and friends and so on, then we will be bound to have the same divine sensitivity when we come together with other believers to worship Him. When God calls us to come together to worship Him we do so with this tremendous sense that God is seeking us to be encouraged in His presence. Time and time again we see that this happens through triumphant praise. It involves the whole of our personality. Worship includes our mind our emotions our body and our will. It embraces our words our attitudes and our lifestyle. Everything we have and everything that we are. God calls us with His whole being, with every aspect of His divine nature. He calls us therefore to respond to Him with our whole beings, with every aspect of our redeemed nature. We are called to present our whole human personality to God and offer Him everything on the altar of worship. Nothing less is true worship and nothing less is God’s plan. And so, for His sake and for our sake He summons us to worship Him in spirit and truth.
And so here in this introductory session, we are drawn by the Holy Spirit into the very presence of God to think about what some of those principles of worship are. To make sure that whenever we worship Him we worship Him in spirit and truth. And we’re gonna come back into the next section to take us on from right where we are but in the mean time remember, stay a worshiper.
And that brings to an end today’s teaching on “Worship in Spirit and Truth.” And I pray that as you’ve been watching and listening, God has been drawing you closer and closer to Himself. There’s no greater thing on earth than being a worshipper of the Father in the name of Jesus. And so until next time, goodbye and God bless you.
Dye, Colin. Worship in Spirit and Truth
Kensington Temple, 2009