Worship - 2

 

 

The Bible reveals four phases of progressive development in worship and at every phase the central figure is the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

In the First Phase, from the time of Adam to Jacob, the patriarchs erected altars for sacrifices and offerings to God that point to the Ultimate Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

The Second Phase was in the wilderness when God instructed the Israelites, “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.” (Ex. 25:8)  The Tabernacle symbolizes the Lord Jesus Christ who is “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn. 1:14)  The Tabernacle continued to be used until the time of King David.

 

The Third Phase began when King David prepared the plans and the materials for the temple (2 Sam. 7:5-7; 1 Chron. 22:6-11; 28:9-21; 29:1-9).  After the Ark of the Covenant was placed inside the Most Holy Place of the temple, the Shekinah “the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.” (1 Kn. 8:10-11)  Solomon’s temple was built according to the same principles and has the same elements of worship as the Tabernacle, except that it was a much bigger, grander and more permanent building.

 

 

The Fourth Phase of worship began with the death of the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:11-26).

 

“Jesus, when He had cried out again with a loud voice, yielded His spirit.  And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went to the holy city and appeared to many.” (Mt. 27:50-53)

 

The “Veil of the Temple is the divider between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place" (Ex. 26:33).  It formed the barrier between the Shekinah presence of God and all human beings because of our sins.  No one was permitted to pass through the veil into God's presence except the High Priest once a year on the Day of Atonement when He took the blood of an unblemished goat to atone for the sins of the people.

 

The tearing of this veil at the exact moment of Jesus' death is a clear message from God.  The way into God's presence is now open for every person who accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior who shed His precious blood and died for our sins.

 

“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:19-22)   

 

At the beginning of the Lord’s ministry He shocked the Jews with this statement: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’  Then the Jews said, ‘It has taken forty six years to build this temple, and You raise it up in three days?’  But He was speaking of the temple of His body.  Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.” (Jn. 2:19-22)  

 

The Lord Jesus Christ not only gave the temple a spiritual meaning, but He was also preparing His disciples for His Ultimate Sacrifice that has been foreshadowed in the tabernacle and the temple services.  The Pharisees were so concerned about religious rituals that they missed the whole purpose of the temple, which is to bring people to God.  Jesus said to them, “But I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple.” (Mt. 12:6)  God is far more important than the created building of worship.  If we become more concerned with the place of worship than the One we worship, we will miss God even as we think we are worshiping Him.

 

“God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.  Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.” (Acts 17:24-25)

 

“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, brought them up on a high mountain by themselves, and was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.  And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.  Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’  While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, Hear Him!’  And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.  But Jesus came and touched them and said, ‘Arise, and do not be afraid.’  And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” (Mt. 17:1-8)

 

Peter wanted to build three tabernacles, one for Jesus and the other two for Moses and Elijah, but God spoke out His will to the disciples.  He wanted them to hear only the words of the Lord Jesus Christ and to look at Him only.  “And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.”  God is not interested in our buildings.  He wants us to hear only Jesus and see only Jesus.  This is true worship.

 

Spiritual  Worship  in the New Testament

 

The Lord Jesus Christ established a spiritual form of worship that is acceptable to our Father in heaven.  Our Lord’s statement to the Samaritan woman is the hallmark of New Testament worship. 

 

“But the hour is coming, and now is when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (Jn. 4:23-24)

 

Who are the “true worshipers”?  They are not a religious group, organization or denomination, but refers to individuals that “will worship the Father in spirit and truth”

 

What does the Lord Jesus Christ mean by worshiping the Father “in spirit and truth”?  In order to get its correct meaning we have to know the background and study the conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman.  Let us consider some points.

 

1.  After Jesus asked for a drink from the woman she responded, How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’  For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” (Jn. 4:9)  Both Jews and Samaritans worshiped the same One True God, but they had differences in their way of worship.  The first thing we learn from Jesus about worshiping in spirit and truth is not to have hatred and prejudice against people who believe in the same One True God as we do, but they worship Him in a slightly different way. We should have open communication and fellowship with Christians of other denominations.

 

2.  “Jesus answered and said to her,, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”  (Jn. 4:10)  The “living water” is the Holy Spirit that is given to believers of the Lord Jesus Christ (Jn. 7:37-39).  The Greek word used for “gift” in this verse is “dorea which is the same word as “gift of the Holy Spirit” in Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2:38; 8:20, 10:45; 11:17).  On the Day of Pentecost the disciples were “all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:4)  One needs the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to worship the Father “in spirit and truth”. 

 

     At first the Samaritan woman did not know who it was that spoke to her, but later she knew it was the Lord Jesus Christ.  To worship God “in spirit and truth” one has to know the Messiah.  Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6).  God does not withhold the Holy Spirit from anyone.  All one has to do is to ask Him (Lk. 11:13).

 

3.  “Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’  The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’  Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, ‘I have no husband, for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”  (Jn. 4:16-18)  This woman was not only an adulteress but also a bad liar.  Jesus is God therefore we cannot hide any secret sins from Him.  We cannot continue to live a lie and still worship God “in spirit and truth”.  It does not work that way.  We have to live a holy life and be truthful.

 

4.  “The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.  Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.’  Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.” (Jn. 4:19-21)  Here we learn it is not the place of worship that God cares about.  We can worship God anywhere as long as it is “in spirit and truth”.  Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”  (Mt. 18:20)

 

Worship  in  the  First  Apostolic  Church

 

“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)

 

Worship in the First Apostolic Church consists of four important and essential activities.

 

1.  Apostles’ Doctrine   The word “apostle” (Greek apostolos) means a messenger, one sent forth, one specially chosen and sent with a special commission as the fully authorized representative of God.  The Lord Jesus Christ chose twelve men to become His apostles (Mt. 10:1-4).  Paul was called by the Lord Jesus Christ to become an apostle (2 Cor. 1:1).  The Apostles’ Doctrine refers to the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ that were given to apostles after they were called, and also after they have received the Holy Spirit.  The Apostles’ doctrine is centered on the Lord Jesus Christ and are all written in the Holy Bible (2 Tim. 3:14-17).  True Christians must be obedient and hold fast to the Apostles’ doctrine (Rom. 6:17; 2 Tim. 1:13; 2 Thes. 2:15).

 

2.  Fellowship   The English word “fellowship” in the New Testament is translated from the Greek word koinoniathat means sharing in common.  It is translated “communion” in 1 Corinthians 10:16.  The first time the word “fellowship” is used in the New Testament is in connection with the activities of the Disciples of Christ after the formation of the Church.  Here is the difference between the Church and the fellowship.  The Church refers to the whole Body of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ who have been baptized and saved (Acts 2:41, 47; 1 Cor. 12:12-13; Mk. 16:16). Fellowship refers to the relationship amongst believers who have companionship and communication with one another (2 Cor. 6:14).

 

3.  Breaking of Bread   This phrase does not always refer to Holy Communion, but it can be when it is accompanied with “the cup” (Mt. 26:26-29; 1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:23-28).  The First Apostolic Church celebrated the Agape or Love Meal every day.  “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.”

 

4.  Prayers   The First Apostolic Church prayed altogether in one accord in two ways.  They prayed with understanding in a known language and they also prayed in the Spirit which is in an unknown language (1 Cor. 14:14-15, 2).  The Church is encouraged to pray constantly and earnestly.

 

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6-7)

 

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May God bless you

 

A sermon based on this article was preached by Paul Wong

to a Congregation in Houston, Texas on September 3, 2005

This article was published on this Website on July 24, 2009

For comments please write first to: arkpw@sbcglobal.net

 

Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International.
His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.
The ARK Forum on the Internet is international and non-denominational.

 

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