‘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. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.’ John 4:23–24
Suggested Further Reading: Philippians 3:1–8
Let me give a sketch of this worship as it actually exhibits itself. A man may have been to a place of worship from his youth up, and he may have fallen into a habit of repeating a sacred form every morning and every evening; he may even have been a tolerably diligent reader of the Word of God, and yet though this may have continued for sixty years and more, he may never once have worshipped God after the fashion prescribed in the text. But see him! The Father seeks him, truth comes home to his soul, and in the light of that truth he feels himself a sinner, and feeling himself so, he cries, ‘Father, I have sinned.’ That is his first true worship. See, brethren, his spirit feels it, he means what he says. All that he said before was as nothing, but that first cry ‘I have sinned’ has in it the vitality of worship. He hears the story of the cross, the full atonement made by God’s appointed sacrifice, and he prays, ‘Lord, I believe in Jesus, and I trust him;’ here is another specimen of true worship; here is the spirit resting upon God’s appointed sacrifice, and reverencing God’s way of salvation by accepting it. Being saved by the precious blood of Jesus, he cries, ‘Father, I bless thee that I am saved, I thank thee that my sins are washed away.’ This is true worship. The whole of the Christian’s life, consisting as it must do of dealings with the invisible God through Jesus Christ by his heart, is a life of worship, and when at last he comes to die, you perceive that his worship will not cease with death, because it has always been spiritual, and did not depend upon the body.
For meditation: Worship consists of trusting Christ and living for him (Romans 12:1), not merely of singing hymns and saying prayers. Paul’s first act of true worship was to replace his faith in religious ceremonies and his religious upbringing (Philippians 3:3–6) by faith in Christ (Philippians 3:7–9). Are you a so-called ‘worshipper’ who needs to do the same?
Sermon no. 695
17 June (1866)