Gospel Quest: Jesus At Jacob’s Well
In Spirit and In Truth
Text: John 4:20-24Video Link
How to know you may be in the wrong church.
The scripture lesson is on "Jonah the Shepherd Boy and His Ark of Many Colors."
The choir performs "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" - as a rap or a polka!
It's over 110 degrees outside, and the pastor hasn't approved turning on the air conditioning yet.
The sign out front says "Church-Lite: Home of the original ten minute Sermonette, and the 7.5 Percent Tithe."
The church missions budget came up short, but the church treasurer just bought a new Harley.
There are seatbelts in the pews and before the sermon you are told, “Buckle up its going to be a bumpy ride.”
The new member's kit includes a certificate of membership, a Bible, church-by-laws, and an assault rifle.
When the offering is taken up, the doors are locked and guarded by guys with dark sunglasses, the offering plates are KFC buckets and the preacher says, “Ain’t nobody leaving till we fill ‘em up.
Finally, you may be in the wrong church if the worship services are BYOS: Bring Your Own Snake.
Because the Pharisees were trying to incite competition between Jesus and John the Baptist, Jesus left Judea and started north for Galilee. He could have taken one of three possible routes: along the coast, across the Jordan and up through Perea, or straight through Samaria. Orthodox Jews avoided Samaria because there was a long-standing, deep-seated hatred between them and the Samaritans. The Samaritans were a mixed race, part Jew and part Gentile, that grew out of the Assyrian captivity of the ten northern tribes in 727 BC. Rejected by the Jews because they could not prove their genealogy, the Samaritans established their own temple and religious services on Mount Gerizim. This only fanned the fires of prejudice. So intense was their dislike of the Samaritans that some of the Pharisees prayed that no Samaritan would be raised in the resurrection! When His enemies wanted to call Jesus an insulting name, they called Him a Samaritan. - Be Commentary
Wrong Worship John 4:20-22
Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
Question and Answer
The Woman At The Well Engages Jesus
The book of John is filled with Jesus talking one on one to people, Earlier in chapter three he had been talking to Nicodemus, no in chapter 4 to the woman at the well, a Samaritan from the city of Sychar. There could not be a greater contrast in the two people and yet Jesus treats them both with respect and compassion, giving them the truth they need to find salvation.
You remember the story, Jesus arrives at the well, hungry and tired, so the disciple go into town to buy food. While he is gone this woman comes to draw water and Jesus asks here for a drink. She is startled because the Jews as John explains, “John 4:9 the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.”
The conversation continues and Jesus speaks to the woman of living water and when she asks for living water that means she’ll never have to come to the well again, Jesus tells her to bring her husband. She then says, “Sir, I perceive thou art a prophet.” Then she asks Jesus a theological question about worship. It is that question and answer that we are most interested in today.
John 4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
Here was the issue, here was the contention. Should we worship on Mt. Gerazim, where their forefathers, had built a temple? Or should they worship in Jerusalem where the Jews, said they should worship.
Jesus answer is straightforward and does not try to keep from offending the woman, John 4:21-22 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
Here is the truth, First there is something more important going on right now than arguing over temple locations. Secondly, “You don’t know what you are worshipping.”
Jesus tells the woman flat out, “Your people were and are wrong.” The Samaritans may have had good intentions, they may have long tradition, they may have had great sincerity, but none of that mattered because they did not have the truth.
They worshiped in the wrong place, Mt Gerizim instead of Mt. Zion. They worshipped for the wrong reason and an act of rebellion led by Jeroboam thousands of years ago and they worshipped the wrong God. The Samaritans worshipped idols under Jeroboam and all the following Kings of the rebellious northern kingdom of Israel.
Jesus said, “salvation of of the Jesws.” And by this he meant that the truth came from through the Jewish people and the Jewish scripture. And yet even with truth there could be a problem as there was with the Jewish people in Jesus day.
They had the truth but they held to the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law and had become a religion that was dead in its formalism, filled with rituals and legalisms that ignored the truth. It was true in its form and in its origin but it was not dead in its spirit of worship.
Matthew 23:23-28 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that [which is] within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men’s] bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Questions about My Worship
What about our worship of God, could it be like the dead orthodoxy of the Jews or the empty emotionalism of the Samaritans?
Her question was like us asking, Who is right, the Catholic with their formalism and ritual or the Pentecostal/ Charismatics with their anything goes emotionalism?
Jesus’ answer is not only about worship but also about the child of God’s life. It is far reaching, and I believe it should be seen as one of the foundational aspects of the life of a child of God. What kind of worship, what kind of living should I strive for in my walk with Jesus Christ? I think the words of Jesus challenge us today as much or more than it challenged the woman of Sychar. Where is my worship on that scale between dead orthodoxy and empty emotionalism? Both are wrong.
Two Observations of modern worship
Ritual without Spirit - Arthur Pink
They bring their bodies to the house of prayer but not their souls. They worship with their mouths but not in spirit and in truth. They are sticklers for early morning communion with God but they take no thought about keeping their hearts with all diligence. They boast of their orthodoxy but disregard the precepts of Christ. - Arthur Pink
Spirit without Truth One writer notes that:
Worship in our time has been captured by the tourist mindset. Worship is understood as a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure. For some it is a weekly jaunt to church. For others, occasional visits to special services. Some, with a bent for Christian entertainment and sacred diversion, plan their lives around special events like retreats, rallies and conferences. We go to see a new personality, to hear a new truth, to get a new experience and so, somehow, expand our otherwise humdrum lives. We'll try anything -- until something else comes along.
Transition: As Jesus answered this woman, we also should be listening?
In verse 23 he tell her what worship should be. He explains in one precept what is right worship.
Right Worship John 4:23
But 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.
Two Elements, One Worship
Jesus said that the elements of true worship were two, spirit and truth. First he tells here, “The hour comes and now is.” In just a few moments Jesus would reveal himself to this Samaritan woman as the Messiah of God, the Savior of the World, and then she would have the opportunity to worship and experience God as she never had before not in Jerusalem or in Mt Gerizim before an idol, but face to face with the Son of God. That statement should be a sermon by itself, “The hour comes and now is!” Any time the Gospel is preached is the hour and every time Jesus is lifted up the time is now for salvation.
Listen to the words and remember this is Jesus speaking them. He tells her, “The Father is seeking. He seeks those who are sincere of heart and know the truth of salvation. These are the ones who can find deliverance and truly worship Him. Earlier, she had asked for that living water and now along with that need, that desire, Jesus has given her the truth, all that remains is for her to accept the truth and then rightly worship God in spirit and in truth.
Two Into One
Our worship, if it is to be right worship, must have the same elements that Jesus shares with the woman at the well. It must have spirit and it must have truth. Just as faith without works is dead so also is truth without spirit. Truth is the body upon which we build our lives, our churches and our doctrine and it is spirit that must animate, move and empower that body. Our worship, our church, our relationship with God and our life, must have both in equal measure.
Spirit, is our attitude, motivation and our emotions given to God and responding in the way He would have us to.
Spirit of Love, 1 John 4:11. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another
Spirit of Unity, Ephesians 4:16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
Spirit of Freedom, Colossians 2:20-22 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
Spirit of excitement, zeal, 2 Corinthians 9:2 For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.
All these verses and many more are directed not at our minds but at our hearts, our emotions, our spirit.
But spirit without truth, emotion without doctrine, feelings without understanding is a dangerous dead end, dangerous to the very soul of the seeker and the believer.
Truth Leading Psalms 25:5 Lead me in thy truth, and teach me
Truth Walking Psalms 25:10 All the paths of the LORD are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.
26:3 …I have walked in thy truth.
119:30 I have chosen the way of truth
Truth Speaking Psalms 119:43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth
Truth in God’s Law Psalms 119:142 …thy law is the truth.
119:151 …all thy commandments are truth.
Truth For Disciples John 8:31 If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
Truth Freedom John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free..
You don’t have the option to worship God, to follow God, call upon God, build a church or send out missionaries without the truth of God. Don’t tell me there is a better way, a less offensive way, or that the importance of one truth nullifies the other truths.
Jesus told this woman, “You don’t know what you worship.” Her sincerity, her love for her idols or for her tradition didn’t matter without truth and neither does ours.
In our day and age there are many examples of the willingness to compromise truth for the sake of sincerity, spirit without truth.
Many so called spiritual leaders now tell us that Jesus is not the only way, truth or light. From Billy Graham to Joel Osteen, to Rob Bell the belief in salvation by grace through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus has become just one way out of many. That is a dangerous desire to include all in heaven that can only result in those who accept it missing heaven entirely.
On Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power “Graham: "Yes it is because I believe that. I've met people in various parts of the world in tribal situations that they have never seen a Bible or heard about a Bible, have never heard of Jesus but they've believed in their hearts that there is a God and they tried to live a life that was quite apart from the surrounding community in which they lived."
Osteen on Oprah, “I don’t claim to understand who’s all going to Heaven,” Osteen replied. “I just believe and I teach in all my messages that when you have a relationship with Christ–that’s the reason why He came, to have a relationship with him that is the guarantee from Heaven.” “People don’t all believe like me; they see it bigger,” he added. “I believe God’s mercy is very big. I thank God I’m not the judge of who gets to come. Only He can, but that’s the way I see it.”
The Publican and the Pharisee Pray - Luke 18:10-14
Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Why was one man justified and the other not? Because the publican prayed to God with the truth of his sin and with the spirit of repentance. His worship was accepted, the publican’s was not.
I believe that Jesus is giving much more than just a lesson on worship. It is a lesson on a vital principle of the Christian life.
Real Worship John 4:24
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
In Spirit and in Truth
Jesus' answer to the woman was not what she expected. And I believe that many times it is not what we expect either.
Albert Barnes - The word spirit, here, stands opposed to rites and ceremonies, and to the pomp of external worship. It refers to the mind, the soul, the heart. It is opposed to the ruts, rituals, and traditions of formalistic worship without the meeting of our hearts and souls with God. It is just as wrong to worship without the right spirit as it is to worship without the right truth.
Jesus unequivocally tells her, God is spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth. He is telling this outcast, sinful woman, “it is God we are to worship, not tradition, legalisms, formalism or emotionalism. God is seeking and those who will be found must worship Him as He is, in spirit and in truth. One without the other means we cannot properly worship God as He seeks to be worshipped.
The Balance of Spirit and Truth
I believe that the scope of what Jesus is teaching here goes beyond just a statement about worship and even beyond a teaching about salvation. Yes it is both those things but I also believe that it is a foundational element of the Christian life, as we worship God, in spirit and in truth, we must also and always walk with God, in spirit and in truth.
Jos 24:14 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD.
Mat 10:16. Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Ephesians 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
1 Corinthians 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
I believe Paul had this foundational aspect of the Christian life in mind when he tells Timothy in 2
Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
Sound Minded Grk. Sophone, meaning complete mastery of ones self, curbing of desires and impulses, a balance judgment, a balanced mind.
Illustration: The Need for Personal Revival- Richard Baxter 1616-1691
Richard Baxter was a nonconformist preacher during the time of John Bunyun. He also spent time in prison, though he was not a Baptist.
I seldom come out of the pulpit, but my conscience smiteth me that I have been no more serious and fervent in such a case. It accuseth me not so much for want of ornaments or elegancy, nor for letting fall an unhandsome word; but it asketh me, ‘How couldst thou speak of life and death with such a heart? How couldst thou preach of heaven and hell in such a careless, sleepy manner Dost thou believe what thou sayest? Art thou in earnest or in jest? How canst thou tell people that sin is such a thing, and that so much misery is upon them and before them, and be no more affected with it? Shouldst thou not weep over such a people, and should not thy tears interrupt thy words? Shouldst not thou cry aloud, and show them their transgressions, and entreat and beseech them as for life and death?
Truly, this is the peal that conscience doth ring in my ears, and yet my drowsy soul will not be awakened. Oh, what a thing is an insensible hardened heart! O Lord, save us from the plague of infidelity and hard-heartedness ourselves, or else how shall we be fit instruments of saving others from it? Oh, do that in our souls which thou wouldst use us to do on the souls of others.
What will it take to awaken our drowsy soul? Will we worship and walk with God in Spirit and in Truth or will we settle or ritualism, tradition, excitement and emotions? When will we begin to cry out for God to break our hard hearts and return us to real worship?