Sunday Sermon: ‘The Heart of Worship'(I WILL Series #2)

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Several years ago a church in England was experiencing what many churches sometimes experience. They were experiencing a sense of apathy in their worship. They were going through all the motions and singing all the songs, but they were not worshiping.

The pastor of that church then made a bold move. He had them cut off the sound system and he asked all the musicians not to play. Here’s what the worship leader of that church wrote – “His point was that we’d lost our way in worship, and the way to get back to the heart would be to strip everything away.”

The pastor then asked the members of his congregation this question – “When you come through the doors on a Sunday, what are you bringing as your offering to God?” For a while there was dead silence. Then the people began to sing a capella and to pray.

Eventually they added back the musicians, but only after they had “gained a new perspective that worship is all about Jesus, and that He commands a response in the depths of our souls no matter what the circumstance and setting.”  (story taken from Crosswalk, Matt Redman’s “The Heart of Worship.” September 18, 2016)

Today I want to speak to you on the subject of -‘The Heart of Worship.’ The Apostle Paul wrote – “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36) Everything that is good is ‘OF’ God. It originates with God. Everything that is good is ‘THROUGH’ God. God must be the one who is giving the power and the strength. And therefore, everything that is good is ‘FOR’ God.

I. True Worship is ‘OF’ God 

John 4:1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) 3 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.

7 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.) 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.

A. Jesus and the Samaritan Woman

1. The Division Between the Jews and the Samaritans 

a. Civil Division

Many of you are aware of the fact that there was a great division between the Jews and the Samaritans. This division began centuries before Jesus was born. After Solomon died, his son Rehoboam took the throne. Wise men came to Rehoboam and encouraged him to show begin his reign by showing kindness to the people and thus win their hearts. But rather than listening to the wise counsel, Rehoboam chose instead to listen to the foolish counsel of his young friends and instead of being kinder, he acted cruelly. As a result,ten of the twelve tribes of Israel revolted and formed what is known as the northern kingdom with a man named Jeroboam as their king. (see 1 Kings 12)

b. Social Division

In addition to the civil division there was also a social division between the Jews and the Samaritans. About three hundred years before Jesus was born, the northern kingdom of Israel was defeated by the Assyrians. The Assyrians carried away many of the Jews and they sent some of their people to live in Israel. Thus Samaria eventually became a nation of people that were half-Jew and half-Gentile.

c. Spiritual Division

Along with the civil and social divisions, there was also a great spiritual division between the Jews and the Samaritans. History records that there was a priest in Jerusalem who married a Samaritan woman. Naturally the Jewish leaders opposed his marriage. They told him that he would either have to divorce his wife, or leave. He chose to leave.

The father of the Samaritan woman he married was the governor of Samaria. As a reward to his son-in-law, the governor had a temple built for him on Mt. Gerizim.

2. Jesus Reached Out to the Samaritan Woman

John 4:10 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…

a. God’s Gift is His Salvation

John 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God…

What is the gift of God? It is salvation. We read from the book of Ephesians-

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

b. God’s Gift is His Son

John 4:10 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.

God’s gift to us is His salvation and that salvation comes through God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

B. True Worship is ‘OF’ God

Romans 11:35 …who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.  ESV

Everything that is good is ‘OF’ God. It originates with God. Jesus was the one who intentionally went to Samaria. Jesus was the one whosat down by the well and waited for the woman to come. Jesus was the one who broke the ice and began the conversation. Jesus was the one who asked for a drink of water. Jesus was the one offered to her living water. It was all of God.

Jesus said that ‘the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.’ (Luke 19:10) Jesus is the one who sweeps the house and looks for the lost coin. Jesus is the one who leaves the ninety and nine and goes searching for that one lost sheep.

Jesus did this for her and He did this for us as well. Every time I think about my salvation I am amazed that God was willing and able to find a lost boy raised on a dirt road out in the middle of nowhere.

Recently I heard a scientist who studies the universe say – ‘We are a speck on a speck on a speck.’ David must have felt the same way as he looked up into the starry sky one night and wrote – “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)

Who am I? Casting Crowns sings a song that says –

“Who am I, that the Lord of all the earth
Would care to know my name
Would care to feel my hurt? 

Who am I, that the bright and morning star
Would choose to light the way
For my ever wandering heart?” 

Who am I? I am somebody whom God loves and Christ died for on the cross in order to save me from my sins.

Worship is not something that we are giving to God. Worship is our soul responding back to the God who has been so gracious to us.  Worship is us adoring the God who loves us.

The the question is not – ‘Why should we worship God?’ The question is – ‘How can we not worship God?’

II. True Worship is ‘THROUGH’ God 

What is actually happening when you and I worship God? Consider what Jesus said.

John 4:10 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?

A. The Water

1. Physical Water

What did the woman think Jesus was talking about? She thought that He was talking about physical water. I’m sure that in her mind she was thinking, “Now wait a minute; a moment ago you were asking me for a drink of water and now you’re offering me a drink of water. You don’t even have a bucket. How in the world are you going to draw water from deep in this well?”

2. Spiritual Water

John 4:13 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.

Jesus isn’t talking about physical water. He’s talking about spiritual water. What is living water?

a. Water That is Alive 

The Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest translated this as ‘water which is alive.’ Actually the spiritual water is God. God is offering to us a drink of Himself.

b. Water That Gives Life! 

But there is another way this could be translated. Not only is it water that is alive, it is water that can give us life. Actually these are not two opposing views or translations. Obviously it takes water that is alive in order to give us life.

B. The Woman’s Thirst 

John 4:15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

On the surface it seems that she’s asking a drink of this living water so that she will never be thirsty again or have to come to the well and draw water.

Yet Jesus is able to see beyond her words. Jesus knows that she has a thirst that goes beyond what is physical. She has a thirst in her soul that only God can satisfy.

John 4:16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband…

Life has been hard for this woman up until this time. The Bible says that she comes alone at the noon hour to draw water. What’s significant about that? First of all, women normally did not come alone to the well to draw water. They came in a group. Secondly, those who came normally didn’t come at the noon hour which was the hottest part of the day. They came either early morning or late evening. So why is she here alone at noon?

17… 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.

Is Jesus trying to beat her up over her promiscuous life? I don’t think so. I think that Jesus is trying to make her face the fact that she has a thirst for something that up until this point she hasn’t been able to find. For her, she tried to quench this thirst through multiple relationships. Others try alcohol or drugs. Some try fame or fortune.

People go to lots of wells trying to find something that will make them happy when only Jesus can satisfy your soul.

19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

Jesus has touched a very deep part of her life and she responds by calling him a prophet. Some think that the way this was originally written, she was saying something much deeper. First of all, the word ‘sir’ is most often translated as ‘Lord, or Master.’ She doesn’t yet know who Jesus is, yet she knows that He is more than just an ordinary man. There is something different about Him. Secondly, it seems to imply that she was saying – “I perceive that you are THE prophet.” Who is THE prophet? Moses prophesied in the book of Deuteronomy that God would one day raise up a prophet that would be greater than all the other prophets. She’s wondering if Jesus is that prophet.

This is confirmed later by what she says –

John 4:25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, 29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

She still doesn’t yet understand who Jesus is, but she knows that He is someone special.

John 4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

Remember how I told you earlier that was both a civic and a spiritual division between the Jews and the Samaritans? Some say that the woman was trying to divert the attention from off herself to religion. I believe that she was searching for truth.

John 4:21 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. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth…

What’s Jesus saying? True worship is not about buildings or physical locations. True worship is not about rituals or religions. True worship comes from within a man. True worship must be ‘in spirit’ and ‘in truth.’ Or as it might be better translated – true worship must be based upon God’s truth as it works in the inner man.

As I was studying this, the Holy Spirit brought to my mind another occasion concerning living water as found in the seventh chapter of John.

John 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

The feast is the Feast of Tabernacles and the circumstances involved a certain part of the celebration when the priests would take a golden pitcher full of water and pour it out around the brazen altar as a Drink Offering. Some say that at the same time a choir would sing – “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3)

As Jesus watched this, He reached a point of where He could no longer contain Himself and He stood up in the crowd and cried out to all those who would listen – “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” The text seems to indicate that it was a passionate cry born out of anguish. What caused Jesus to be so upset? It was all the empty dead ritual that the people were going through, pretending that it was worship. “If you are really thirsty for God’s salvation, come to Me and drink.” But that’s not all that Jesus said.

John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Not only will Christ give us a drink of His living water, He will place within us a well of living water that will gush forth like a mighty river. If scripture stopped here, we might wonder what this well of water was. Fortunately John tells us –

John 7:39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)

The well of living water that gushes forth from a man’s inner most being is the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that brings to us eternal life. It is the Spirit that produces within us true worship. The Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Philippians that we worship by the Spirit of God. (Philippians 3:3) It’s the Spirit that produces our worship. Paul wrote to the Ephesians –

Ephesians 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Don’t go to the wells of this world, looking for something to drink that will bring you joy. Let the Holy Spirit fill you to overflowing. Notice what is the result of the Spirit’s filling –

Ephesians 5:19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Or in other words – worship!! True worship is OF God. It is God who reaches out to us when we are dead in our sins and gives us new life. It is God that recreates us in Christ Jesus unto good works. It is also God who then produces a spirit of worship within us. It is God through His Spirit that so fills our hearts with joy and gratitude that we must cry back to our Savior words of worship.

In light of what we have learned we should also take a moment and consider the Bible’s warnings about ‘grieving’ the Spirit and ‘quenching’ the Spirit. (see Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19) Grieving the Spirit is sinning against the Spirit and causes Him to be sad. If worship is produced by the Holy Spirit within us then grieving the Spirit is going to quench His ability to produce this worship.

III. True Worship is ‘TO’ God

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. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

True worship is not about religions or rituals. It’s about a relationship that the redeemed has with its Redeemer. AW Pink said that worship is “the action of the new nature seeking, as the sparks fly upward, to return to the Divine and heavenly source from which it came.” [1]

As we bring our study to a close, we need to remind ourselves of two important truths:

A. The Father Desires Us to Worship Him in Spirit and in Truth

Jesus said, “The Father seeketh such to worship Him.” God is looking for men and women who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. He is longing for us to express to Him how grateful we are for His grace and to tell Him how much we love Him. The Bible teaches us that we have been made for the purpose of bring God glory and pleasure.

Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

B. The Father Requires Us to Worship Him in Spirit and in Truth

24 …they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

True worship must be:

1. Produced by the Holy Spirit in the inner man

2. According to God’s truth

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[1] AW Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, Volume I (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1945) 207.

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