In order to worship God in Spirit and Truth Christians need to have a true knowledge, comprehension and appreciation of God’s character. True reverence for God is inspired by a sense of His infinite greatness and a realization of His presence. The true ground of divine worship is found in the distinction between the Creator and His creatures. Holy beings who worship God in Heaven state, as the reason why their homage is due to Him:
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for thou hast created all things. Revelation 4:11.
Thus Christ declared the mission He had in coming to the earth. He presented to mankind that which was exactly contrary to the representations of the enemy in regard to the character of God. Jesus impressed upon all the love of the Father, who so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16. He revealed the fact that the strictest adherence to ceremony and form would not save anyone, for the kingdom of God was spiritual in its nature.
True comprehension of Father’s character – an essential to worship God in spirit and truth
In everything that Christ taught and urged the people He was revealing the character of the Father, who is long-suffering, merciful, and gracious, slow to anger, and full of goodness and truth. Those who accepted His teaching were strengthen and enlighten by divine grace, that the truth might renew and sanctify the soul. Christ said in His prayer: O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. John 17:25, 26.
Moreover, when Moses asked the Lord to show him His glory, the Lord said – I will make all my goodness pass before thee. Exodus 33:19. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty. . . . And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. Exodus 34:6-8.
Thus when we are able to comprehend the character of God as Moses did, we too shall make haste to bow in adoration and praise. Jesus contemplated nothing less than that the love wherewith Thou hast love me, John 17:26 should be in the hearts of His children, that they might impart the knowledge of God to others.
The divine love which enter the soul inspires it with gratitude
Those who are enduring for Christ name’s sake will have the love of God bestowed upon them as it was upon the Son. He said – The Father himself loveth you. John 16:27. Jesus is the one who had an experimental knowledge of the length, and breadth, and height, and depth of that love. This love is ours through faith in the Son of God. We are to be one with Him as he is one with the Father. Christ is our glorified Head. The divine love flowing from the heart of God rests in Christ. It is communicated to those who have been united to him. This divine love entering the soul inspires it with gratitude. It frees the soul from its spiritual feebleness, pride, vanity, and selfishness, and from all that would deform the Christian character.
Seeking a holy mountain or a sacred temple
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.
In John 4:23, 24 Jesus declared the same truth that He had revealed to Nicodemus when He said, Except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3. In order to serve God aright we must be born of the divine Spirit. This will purify the heart and renew the mind, giving us a new capacity for knowing and loving God. It will give us a willing obedience to all His requirements. This is true worship. It is the fruit of the working of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus had come to teach the meaning of the worship of God. He could not approve the mingling of human requirements with the divine precepts. The worship of God in Spirit and in truth had been replaced by the glorification of men in an endless round of man-made ceremonies. Christ came to restore the true knowledge of God. He came to set aside the false teaching by which those who claimed to know God had misrepresented Him. He came to manifest the nature of His law, to reveal in His own character the beauty of holiness.
Warning to the Corinthian church is applicable to all time
The apostle’s words are adapted to the wants of our day. Paul rebukes the Corinthians for making the house of God a place of feasting and revelry, like a company of idolaters: What! have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? 1 Corinthians 11:22. By idolatry he did not alone mean the worship of idols, but also selfishness, love of ease, the gratification of appetite and passion.
Paul proceeded to give the order and object of the Lord’s supper. Then he warned his brethren against perverting this sacred ordinance. As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come. Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. . . . He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 1 Corinthians 11:26-29.
The Scriptures teach believers how they should approach their Maker
The psalmist has declared:
The Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. . . .
O come, let us worship and bow down: Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. Psalm 95:3, 6.
Both in public and in private worship it is our privilege to bow on our knees before God when we offer our petitions to Him. Jesus, our example, kneeled down, and prayed. Luke 22:41. Of his disciples it is recorded that they, too, kneeled down, and prayed. Acts 9:40. Paul declared – I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 3:14. In confessing before God the sins of Israel, Ezra knelt. See Ezra 9:5. Daniel kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God. Daniel 6:10.
The hour and place of prayer are sacred, because God is there. And as reverence is manifested in attitude and demeanor, the feeling that inspires it will be deepened. Holy and reverend is His name, the psalmist declares. Psalm 111:9. Angels, when they speak that name, veil their faces. With what reverence, then, should we, who are fallen and sinful, take it upon our lips!
The God of heaven is not confined to temples made with hands
God would meet with His people by His Spirit when they should assemble at the house dedicated to worship God. Paul taught the same truth in the words: God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that He is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; . . . that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being. Acts 17:24-28.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
13 The Lord looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.
14 From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth.
The place of worship may be very humble, but it is no less acknowledged by God. To those who worship God in spirit and in truth and in the beauty of holiness it will be as the gate of heaven. The company of believers may be few in number, but in God’s sight they are very precious. By the cleaver of truth they have been taken as rough stones from the quarry of the world and have been brought into the workshop of God to be hewed and shaped. But even in the rough they are precious in the sight of God. As precious stones, polished after the similitude of a palace, God designs us to find a place in the heavenly temple.
Worship God in the beauty of holiness
29 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
Although God dwells not in temples made with hands, yet He honors with His presence the assemblies of His people. He has promised that when they come together to seek Him, to acknowledge their sins, and to pray for one another, He will meet with them by His Spirit. But those who assemble to worship God should put away every evil thing. Unless they worship Him in spirit and truth and in the beauty of holiness, their coming together will be of no avail. Of such the Lord declares – This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. Matthew 15:8.
The psalmist said: If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. How can prayers of people now be heard while iniquity is regarded by them?
The true reason why worship is due to God
And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. Revelation 14:6, 7
The duty to worship God is based upon the fact that He is the Creator. To Him all other beings owe their existence. For His claim to reverence and worship, above the gods of the heathen, the Bible presents the evidence of his creative power.
For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens. Psalms 96:5
Thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; . . . I am Jehovah; and there is none else. Isaiah 40:25, 26; 45:18
The psalmist said – Know ye that Jehovah, he is God; it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves. Psalm 100:3.
Furthermore the great Creator is said to be the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king. He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion. Jeremiah 10:10, 12
What is the Creator’s memorial?
He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. Psalms 111:4
In Revelation 14 men are called upon to worship the Creator. The prophecy brings to view a class that, as the result of the threefold message, are keeping the commandments of God. One of these commandments points directly to God as the Creator. The fourth precept declares: The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. . . . For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it. Exodus 20:10, 11. Further the Lord says that it is a sign, . . . that ye may know that I am the Lord your God. Ezekiel 20:20. And the reason given is that – For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed. Exodus 31:17.
The importance of the Sabbath as the memorial of creation is that it keeps ever present the true reason why worship is due to God. It is because He is the Creator and we are His creatures. The keeping of the Sabbath is a sign of loyalty to the true God. Him that made heaven and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. It follows that the message which commands men to worship God and keep his commandments, will especially call upon them to keep the fourth commandment. Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them. Ezekiel 20:12
What is the evidence of true worship?
The wise man said – Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13. Without obedience to His commandments, no worship can be pleasing to God. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. 1 John 5:3. He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination. Proverbs 28:9.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Luke 4:8
Could we worship God in truth, and truly be His servants and yet disregard His commandments?
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Luke 6:46
The truths in the third message of Revelation 14
The earthly sanctuary was a figure or pattern of the heavenly. The law deposited in the ark on earth was an exact transcript of the law in the ark in Heaven. How hard men tried to close the door which God had opened, and to open the door which he had closed!
Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it. Revelation 3:7, 8.
Christ had opened the door, or ministration of the most holy place. Thus light was shining from that open door of the sanctuary in Heaven. The fourth commandment was shown to be included in the law within the ark. So, what God had established, no man could overthrow.
Some had accepted the light concerning the mediation of Christ and the perpetuity of the law of God. They found that these were the truths brought to view in the third message. The angel declares – Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. This statement is preceded by a solemn and fearful warning: If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation. Revelation 14:9, 10.
An interpretation of the symbols employed was necessary to an understanding of this message. What was represented by the beast, the image, and the mark? Again those who were seeking for the truth returned to the study of the prophecies. This happened in 1844 and will be repeated at the time of the end.
Those who worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. John 4:23.
Let us take heed to the warning of the past, remembering that God requires truth in the hearts of His followers. For only that worship is acceptable that is rendered in spirit and in truth. One that has clean hands and a pure heart will realize the aid of heavenly power, and will see the salvation of God. No one should think that God will favor those who go contrary to His word. For he says – Thou canst not stand before thine enemies, until ye take away the accursed thing from among you. Joshua 7:13
The end of the Great Controversy
Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest. Revelation 15:4
Every question of truth and error in the long-standing controversy has now been made plain. The results of rebellion, the fruits of setting aside the divine statutes, have been laid open to the view of all created beings. The working out of Satan’s rule in contrast with the government of God has been presented to the whole universe. Satan’s own works have condemned him. God’s wisdom, justice, and goodness stand fully vindicated. It is seen that all his dealings in the great controversy have been conducted with respect to the eternal good of His people, and the good of all the worlds that He has created.
All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee. Psalm 145:10
The history of sin will stand to all eternity as a witness that with the existence of God’s law is bound up the happiness of all the beings He has created. With all the facts of the great controversy in view, the whole universe, both loyal and rebellious, with one accord declare –Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Revelation 15:3
- CE 75; Ed 76; LP 171; PK 47-50; 5T 591; 6T 363; GC88 436, 671; SW, Oct, 1905; 4SP 275; RH, Mar, 1888; – The Ellen G. White Estate
- King James Version (KJV) Bible – BibleGateway
- Image courtesy – Pixabay
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