But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth. -- John 4: 23-24 (ESV)
One of the least talked about areas of false doctrine resides in the realm of what our modern day worship has become. This "worshiptainment" is a poorly disguised substitute for what worship is supposed to be. This should be a time of reverent awe about the nature of the God we serve. It should be a humbling time. A time also of joy certainly but joy in who God is. Instead it has become a time to reinforce things we feel God has promised us, acting like petulant children who scream at their parents for the toy they were promised if they behaved. It has become "an experience" to market to unbelievers. Like a cool concert or laser light show. It has become entertainment beloved; filled with smoke machines and club lighting. It should be of no surprise that true worship would devolve into this carnal slop once we started applying the purpose driven church growth schemes.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. -- 1Corinthians 2: 14
This verse makes it abundantly clear that the things of God are utter foolishness to those who are perishing. That is why true worship does not resonate with them. They do not yet see themselves as "the wretch." How could they without the indwelt Holy Spirit? So when Rick Warren canvassed the neighborhood when he was opening Saddleback Church he discovered that they did not like to hear the old hymns and wanted more "modern" music. Well of course Rick. The old hymns contain correct doctrine! The things of God are utter foolishness to them! Not to mention that the notion of man as this reprehensible sinner that needs amazing grace is simply not going to sell. How great thou art? Then why is there all this suffering in the world? No beloved. The average goat still believes they are a pretty good person, especially compared to some of the people they see on the six o'clock news. Their pride will not allow them to view themselves as a wretch. Even though it is not well with their soul, they do not realize it yet and singing about it just doesn't make any sense. But Warren and the purpose driven acolytes talk about "crusty old hymns" or the fact that we need to be relevant to this new generation through more relevant music when that is not the problem at all. It is the theology that the unsaved do not like, not the beat. So they raise the decibel level and crank up the smoke machine but what is lost in the haze is that we now sing a different song:
It's your inheritance, Get your inheritance
You are the seed, By faith receive
The blessing of Abraham
The head not the tail, Above not beneath, A lender not a borrower
Get your inheritance!
It is not worship to tell God what He owes us. He owes us nothing. But think about this from the standpoint of the unregenerate heart. This is a song they can sing! Especially if they have been told they are saved but really are not. This nonsense only furthers the myth in their own minds about their salvation. It is the gospel of me. It is further reinforced by pastors who strip mine the Bible to create these cute little sermonettes about how great we are instead of how great thou art. Warren himself once wrote that for Easter, pastors should not preach the Gospel so the visitors had a reason to come back the next week! Instead he said, start a series on improving their marriage. Beloved, God did not give us the Bible to improve our marriage. This story is not about us. We were not standing in the Valley of Elah staring our Goliath down. The Bible is about God and His plan for redeeming us through the sacrifice of the cross. The Bible is about Jesus Christ. From Genesis through Revelation. Thus it should follow that "worship" should be only about Jesus Christ. One of the most popular worship songs in churches today is "How He Loves Us." The refrain, or hook, is the repeating of -- "oh how He loves us." Our worshiptainment has become so carnally based these days that many cannot even see how this is not worshiping God. It is worshiping us. It is not worship to tell God how much He loves us. It only serves one purpose and that is to feed the flesh. This is what we must do since 80% of our congregations are not actually saved. The 20% that are? They are starved by the very men charged with tending to them. If they dare say anything they are labeled selfish. Just this year, mega-church heretic Andy Stanley said that those people who attended small churches are just selfish. Anther mega church heretic, Perry Noble called those seeking a deeper understanding of His Word the "jackasses" in his church. This is simply how the new breed of teachers have been taught beloved. They have fallen for the lie that the church is for the unsaved. Wait a minute preacher! Are you saying the church is not for the unsaved? Yes, that is exactly what the Bible teaches us. The church is for the community of believers to grow from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity. The job of a pastor is to tend to this growth. Now, do we want the unsaved to come to church? Of course because there they are supposed to hear the Gospel and guess what?
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. -- Romans 1: 16 (ESV)
Only the Gospel has the power to save them! Not our little church growth schemes. Not our carnal leadership conferences. Not our faux prayer events. Certainly not carnal worshiptainment followed by a 30 minute motivational discourse about how they too can go from the prison to the palace like Joseph in just one day concluded by a two sentence prayer pretending they are now saved. We want the unsaved to visit church because they are supposed to hear the Gospel there. Not just in the message but in the worship as well. They do not like the crusty old hymns because they feel conviction through them. That is how the Holy Spirit draws them to the foot of the cross. They need to hear that they are a wretch and then if the sermon actually proclaims the Gospel they will understand why they are such. They need to hear how great God is because they are still their own God. Instead they hear man centered worship that lifts up man, followed by a sermon that feeds the flesh of man, concluded by a prayer to receive a false god that somehow is ok with all of this carnality being conducted in His name. This brings us to our key verses for today. Often referred to when discussing worship, but rarely exposited correctly or fully.
Let us break down the pertinent facts starting with the fact that God is spirit. We have often heard this verse but perhaps we do not understand the point Jesus was making and in order to do that we need to understand the context. Jesus is speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well. The Samaritans were reviled by the Jewish people in this day. They were considered half-breeds. The Samaritans however felt the Jews were wrong on many fronts including worship. In the context we see the woman ask Jesus about their differences. The Samaritans worshiped God on Mount Gerizim while the Jewish people insisted that Jerusalem was the only allowable place for worship. Jesus answers that it is not the location that matters when worshiping God. Yet in the middle of His response is this declaration that God is spirit. Let us turn to commentary for some insight:
"Better, God is spirit. His will has been expressed in the seeking. But His very nature and essence is spirit, and it follows from this that all true worship must be spiritual. The appeal is here made to a doctrine of special prominence in the Samaritan theology. They had altered a number of passages in the Pentateuch, which seemed to them to speak of God in language properly applicable to man, and to ascribe to Him human form and feelings. But to believe in the spiritual essence of God contained its own answer both as to place and mode of worship. -- Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers