Going With the Gospel 4 John 4 Spirit and Truth
Text: John 4:20-24
This is early in the 3 year ministry of Christ and He is trying to keep His fame and the controversies that would follow that fame to a minimum. In John 4:1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, Jesus finds out that the pharisees are beginning to hear about Him because He is baptizing more disciples than John the Baptist.
John 4:2 tells us (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples) This is to note that Jesus never baptized anyone personally. He reserved his own act of baptizing for the day of Pentecost when He baptized His church. But the Disciples that now follow Jesus are baptizing under his authority and there are more people being drawn to Jesus. So, when the Pharisees begin to take notice, Jesus leaves the area and goes back to Galilee where the Pharisees aren’t as likely to pay attention.
Then John 4:3-6 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. 4 And he must needs go through Samaria. 5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
He did not have to go through Samaria, many Jews refused to go through because Samaria was a land of genetically and religiously mixed people. They only believed in the first five books of the Bible, did not accept Mt. Zion as the place for the Temple and were the scions, the descendants of the 10 tribes of Israel who were left in the land after the Assyrian invasion and the colonists that Assyrian took from other lands and placed there.
To a good Jew there was no such thing as a good Samaritan.
Jesus though “must” go through, and as we read chapter 4 we realize why. Jesus did not see the Samaritans as dirty mongrels but as a destined ministry. And it begin with the unnamed woman at the well.
Now we are just going to let the Bible tell the story and I am going to resist the incredible urge I will have to preach these next few verses, but instead let them just bring us to our subject.
John 4:7-18 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat (food).) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus 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. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 -- Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But 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. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
Jesus told the woman of the water of life, he told her of salvation but she misunderstands and so Jesus then begins to reveal himself more to the woman because there can be no salvation unless you know who Jesus is. Jesus tells the woman bring your husband, and then reveals knowledge that no ordinary person could possibly have. She has no husband, but she has had 5 husbands in the past. Go down to vs. 19
Worship That Is Wrong – John 4:19-22
The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
Samaritan Questions, Jesus Answers
The woman perhaps feeling that this conversation is getting a little too personal tries to redirect the conversation away from herself, she says, “I can see you are a prophet” but instead of going back to the meaning of the water of life, she jumps the track to the question of how the right way to worship. Little does she realize that she is the reason Jesus must needs go through Samaria. When a person is confronted by the Gospel, as this woman was, the focus is always going to be on you.
The woman tells Jesus what He already knew. “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain (Mt. Gerizim) and you (the Jews) say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”
Jesus’ answer cut through the diversion and stays on track to share the Gospel, “You (the Samaritans) don’t know what you worship: we (the Jews) know what we worship: because salvation is of the Jews. Salvation comes from and through the Jewish scriptures and Jewish people.”
The Samaritans had good intentions, they were sincere, and had fervor, they had spirit, but they were wrong.
They were worshipping in the wrong place: Our fathers worshipped on this mountain.
Worshipping for the wrong reason: An act of rebellion led by Jeroboam, 1000’s of years ago.
They were even worshipping the wrong God, true worship was to the God of the Bible and the Samaritans rejected all the Bible but the first 5 books and only as they interpreted them.
Modern worship, My Worship
What Jesus tells to the woman at the well, He also tells us. What about our own worship of God. What about what passes for worship in most churches today? Is it dead orthodoxy. Is it empty emotionalism?
Her question was like us asking, Who is right, the Catholic with their formalism and ritual or the Charismatics with their anything goes emotionalism?
Jesus’ answer is that it is not a choice of the two extremes of ritualism or emotionalism, those are both wrong, Instead it is a balance which must have equal measures of both spirit and truth. One without the other means our worship is not acceptable, it is lacking what God desires.
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. Multitudes of professing Christians abstain from external acts of violence, yet hesitate not to rob their neighbors of a good name by spreading evil reports against them. They contribute regularly to the church but shrink not from misrepresenting their goods and cheating their customers persuading themselves that business is business. They have more regard for the laws of man than those of God for his fear is not before their eyes. - 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.
What is true worship then? How can I avoid this dilemma? How can I not fall into dead ritualism or jump into emotional emptiness? Jesus gives this answer to the woman at the well in vs. 23.
Worship That Is True - 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.
World’s Hour Coming, Woman’s Hour Is Now
Jesus tells the Samaritan, But the hour comes and now is. What did He mean by that? He was telling her something that few others up to this time knew.
In just a few moments she would have the opportunity to worship as she never had worshipped before, because she is going to realize who Jesus truly is. The hour for her is right now, the savior, the Messiah is there asking for a drink of water. The hour of revealing for the world will not come until Jesus is crucified, buried and rises again proving He is the promised savior of the world.
Jesus tells her that the Father is seeking those who are sincere of heart and also know the truth. In the worship, of both truth and spirit, lies the worship that God desires of man. Those are the ones the Father is seeking.
Earlier, she had sincerely sought for what she thought was living water, but it wasn’t until she knew the truth of who Jesus was that she could receive the true living water. Sincerity wasn’t enough, there must be the desire but it must be based up the truth.
Our Hour Is Now
Our Hour, our time is now. And like the woman at the well, our worship of God must be based on those same two elements, Spirit and truth, emotion and revelation, joy and the Word.
Spirit is our attitude, our motivation and our emotions given to God and responding in the way He would have us to.
We should have a Spirit of Love, 1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
A Spirit of Unity, Humility and Care, Philippians 2:1-4 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
In our worship we should a spirit of love, of unity, of freedom, of excitement, of zeal. I don’t have to jump up and down, but my spirit should respond to the spirit of God when I come to worship Him. There must be an emotional response because God touches our hearts.
And I must also have in equal measure, Truth. Truth that is solely based upon God’s revelation, God’s Word, God’s promises. The Bible.
Spirit without Truth is mere emotionalism and empty. It is not just empty it is dangerous.
Without the truth of the Word we cannot know…
Salvation (eternal life)- Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Sanctification (daily life) - John 17:17 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
But when I know the truth of God’s Word: I will know joy.
Jeremiah 15:16 16 Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts.
John 15:11 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
The Lord’s desire for us is to hold to the truth and in that truth to find joy. Our mind and our heart both worshipping Him.
David, when he had fallen in sin, spoke of this in Psalms 51:16-17 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
David was still going to the Temple, still giving sacrifice, still going through the rituals but because of sin he had lost the spirit of worshipping God.
A pure, a holy, a spiritual worship, therefore, is such as He seeks—the offering of the soul rather than the formal offering of the body—the homage of the heart rather than that of the lips. – Albert Barnes
Jesus is giving much more than just a lesson on worship. It is a lesson on a Christian life principle that is often lacking in our lives.
Worship That Is Life - John 4:24
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Worship In Spirit and Truth
Jesus' answer to the woman is not what she or we expected. He begins by looking at who God is.
Jesus says, “God is spirit.” There is no indefinite article in the Greek here Jesus says, God is spirit. This is His form. He is the invisible, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God. Then from that truth He tells the woman that they who worship God must worship Him in spirit (the emotions) and truth (revelation and doctrine).
“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. They shall worship God with a sincere mind; with the simple offering of gratitude and prayer; with a desire to glorify him, and without external pomp and splendour. Spiritual worship is that where the heart is offered to God…” - Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament: Luke & John
If worship is to be accepted by God, then that worship must be as He desires and defines it. True worship then must be both, emotional and doctrinal, the heart and the mind.
Truth and Spirit worship is not the ruts, rituals, and traditions of formalistic worship without the meeting of our hearts and souls with God. It is also not feelings that are not based upon the word of God. The most popular churches and religions today are far removed from truth and only run on emotions, feelings, leadings, and they are wrong, just as wrong as the Samaritans worshipping on Mt. Gerizim.
It also, just as wrong to worship without the right spirit as it is to worship without the right truth.
Living Our Life in Spirit and Truth
Worship then we can see is this two-pillared foundation of spirit and truth. Not only is it true of worship but it is also true of the lives we live for the Lord. Throughout scripture we see the same two aspects of living the Christian life as we do worshipping God.
Matthew 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:
Paul often states this principle as being sound minded.
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. Emotion and knowledge of the truth.
Richard Baxter (12 November 1615 – 8 December 1691) was an English Nonconformist church leader and theologian from Rowton, Shropshire, who has been described as "the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen". Following the Act of Uniformity 1662, Baxter refused an appointment as Bishop of Hereford and was expelled from the Church of England. He became one of the most influential leaders of the Nonconformist movement, even spending time in prison. Listen to his confession about his spirit, his heart when preaching.
“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.”
What will it take to awaken our drowsy soul and truly worship and truly live for God?
Will we worship and live in spirit and in truth or will we settle for either ritualism and tradition or empty emotionalism that doesn’t care what is true? We need to cry out for God to break our hard hearts and bring us to true worship of Him.