Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jesus, in saying we must worship in spirit and truth, is attacking the conventional thinking of His day. The Samaritan woman was concerned with location and ritual when she spoke of worship. The Jews were concerned with much the same. Worship was an activity, a ritual to be followed. The focus was on external details. Jesus said worship was really internal, that is spiritual.

The word translated worship in John 4: 24 means to prostrate or bow down. We could translate it as to humble one self before God. Jesus is saying we must humble ourselves in spirit and truth. Ritual and location at best become secondary and are meaningless if we have not bowed down spiritually. One of the reasons Jesus spoke so harshly to the priests and Pharisees is they were driven by self interest rather than reverent submission of the mind and will. The ritual was flawless, but the heart was elsewhere.

Truth is held as equal to spirit in this passage. Jesus clearly states that both are a requirement if true worship is to take place. What Jesus means by truth is just as important as knowing what it means to worship in spirit. Hmmmm, what is truth?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Determining what Jesus meant by "in spirit and truth" forces us to consider the context. The conversation with this Samaritan lady has just covered one of the differences she saw between Jews and her own people. Where and by extension how they worship God. Jesus points out the two errors common to Samaritans. They did not know the God they claimed to worship and therefore were worshipping in the wrong place. We need to remember they are still during the reign of the old covenant and true worship is restricted to Jerusalem.

Jesus' instruction in v. 24 addresses both. First the location, as the time is coming (v. 23) when things are going to change. As a matter of fact, Jesus already announced there is a new temple in place during the transitional period of His ministry. That temple is Jesus Himself (John 2:19); He is the place where men meet with God and will remain so until the Ascension. The new location is where ever there is spiritual life. I do not believe Christ is referring to the Holy Spirit due to the lack of a definite article.

John's Gospel uses the word "spirit" in several ways. He sometimes is speaking of the Holy Spirit as in 1:32-33; 3:5 & 7:39. He generally places the definite article with Spirit in those cases. The second way John uses spirit is referring to Jesus' spirit; possibly His human nature. Examples are John 11:33 & 19:30. The last way John uses spirit is a bit more difficult to define. John 3:6 is a good example: "that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." The first usage is clearly the Holy Spirit, but the second is something else. We see a similar contrast in John 6:63. The Holy Spirit gives life and the word Jesus speaks are "spirit and are life."

It is this last meaning that I believe Jesus has in mind when He says we must worship in "Spirit and Truth."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Paul gives us an over arching purpose for the church corporately in 1 Tim. 3:15, as stated: being the pillar and support of the truth. I believe it is also clear from the text what Paul has in mind when he mentions truth. He is narrowing the range down to truth about God which would include the specifics about Jesus Christ and the Gospel. Thankfully, we are not responsible for reconciling Newtonian physics with general relativity.

Another passage I believe we need to connect with is John 4:23-24 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Speaking to the Samaritan woman Jesus issues a command (v. 24) that applies to all of us. The worship of God requires two elements: a spiritual connection and truth. The connective word "and" sets a condition that must be met in order for worship to take place. If either spirit or truth are absent then worship of the Father is not taking place.

So, now we have two concerns. Our purpose and our relationship with God revolve around this thing called truth moving it to a high priority for us both corporately and individually. I believe this is one reason we are instructed in 1 Timothy 2:15 to become craftsmen at handling God's Word.

So, each of us have a question to deal with. What does our Lord mean by "spirit" and what is meant by "truth?"

Friday, November 21, 2008

Paul's instruction to Timothy is followed by the warning that some will fall away from the faith to follow other interests. He characterizes these as deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, word images that conjure up all sorts of bizarre ideas about what Paul might have in mind. I don't believe Paul is worried about mid-night rituals involving animal sacirifices or cauldrons of mysterious brews. He is more likely thinking of the types of distractions from the truth he has dealt with already.

Colossians 2:8 is a good example: See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.

There are a lot of things out here that sound good and appeal to us. Those are what require we stay on our guard. That is also why we are commanded to be craftsmen in handling the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

When Paul tells Timothy the church is the "pillar and support of the truth" he does not leave open the possibility of debate on the nature of truth. The next verse makes it clear he is referring to the truth about Jesus Christ. So, there are times when we need to ask ourselves about the value of so many ancilary activities the comtemporary church has taken on.

What is our focus? Is it expanding the Kingdom? Are we too internally directed in our thinking?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Having been away from my blog for a while I have rather low expectations of anyone reading this first post, but it is time to start this up again. My son put a link to this blog on his with the notation of it having been a year since I had posted anything. So, twitch boy - I have the urge to write again.

There is a need to revisit some very fundamental truths from God's Word. 1 Timothy 3:15 contains an instruction from Paul concerning the nature of the Church. He states his purpose in writing to Timothy as stating how he (Timothy), and by extension all of us who are leaders in a church, "ought to conduct himself in the household of God which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth." Today I hear people define the church church in many differing ways, but Paul's strikes at the heart of God's expectations for us.

Pillar and support of the truth suggests a singular defining purpose that I want to explore.

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