Taking a look at how well we discern when it comes to worshiping God.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the 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." The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he." -- John 4: 23-26 (ESV)
As a discernment minister I spend a great deal of time researching and reacting to the latest whims and waves of doctrine that can shipwreck the faith of my brothers and sisters or those who otherwise might encounter the real God. I have several websites I monitor daily who hold great sway over the minds of the sheep and who are leading them down the broad path that can only lead to their destruction. Nothing brings me more joy than the occasional email from someone I do not know, who has come out from the darkness or sometimes cult like experience and into the glorious light of salvation and the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every now and again though, the Lord reminds me of an area I am overlooking. This past week I was visiting a church, where I had promised to meet some old friends. The main worship set consisted of two songs from Elevation Church and one from Jesus Culture. The conviction from the Holy Spirit was thick that night.
We just do not give proper consideration to the theology and topic of worship. There is no reason for this beloved as we spend more time worshipping collectively than listening to doctrinal sermons. The average sermonette in a purpose driven church is probably about 20 minutes. The time spent worshipping God well exceeds that as that is the more entertaining portion for the goats the service is marketed to. While the sermon content is vitally important it is still man speaking to man. Worship is man speaking to God. Consider that for a moment. There was a mega church pastor who was quoted once saying there were two types of worship songs he would refuse to play in his church. One was the Jesus is my boyfriend genre and hallelujah to that decision. The second however was the ones that ask for serious things from God that the worshippers often do not even realize. Don't sing Oceans to God about wanting to go deeper. If you want to go deeper stop listening to Hillsong! Realize what we sing forms our theology. Don't believe it? How many millennial Christians base theology is formed around their belief that they are a friend of God, who loves them so much, and owes them the blessings of Abraham? Quite a lot I would wager. Why is the reverent awe of the Lord lacking in the newer generations of "churched" people? Certainly, you can point to the sermons being watered down and the Gospel being sugared up but it also has to do with worship music focusing on us instead of Him. When you spend a half hour singing How Great Thou Art, you just develop a better sense of awe than if you spent it singing How Much He Loves Me. Why? Because one song is about God and the other is about you!
To get into this subject I went to the section of scripture where Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman and while this story is rich in theology from many different angles, I will focus on worship. You see the Samaritans were considered half-breeds by the Jewish people, who wanted nothing to do with them. This is despite the fact that the Samaritans claimed lineage and descent from a few of the tribes of Israel. When it came to worship, the Samaritans believed the proper place to worship God was Mount Gerizim, which the Samaritans held in reverent awe as the real place God wanted the temple built. The Jewish people obviously disagreed and swore that Jerusalem was the only place to worship God. The Samaritan woman recognizes that Jesus is a prophet and asks Him essentially who is right in this age-old dispute and the answer from Jesus is our key verses today. Within this answer we can learn a lot about the true nature of worship.
The first thing we see is God wants people to worship Him. He is seeking people to worship Him correctly. This is important in light of the false relationship that churchianity sells today. Jesus is not your wing man. Singing Friend of God does not make you a friend of God. Regarding the two men who wrote Friend of God; one is an atheist today and the other an adulterer. Before people think this is a matter of not liking new music, think again. There is a lot of buzz in the purpose driven landscape about being in relationship with Jesus and people use this to undermine religion -- which God established. Let me explain now to the disappointment of many who really worship themselves -- if your relationship with Jesus is not one of servant and Master than you have no relationship with Jesus. Wait a minute preacher! Jesus told His apostles that He now called them friend! Yes He did. I could point out that you are not one of the apostles He was talking to that day but instead will remind you of the verse that precedes His declaration of friendship:
You are my friends if you do what I command. -- John 15:14 (ESV)
Here is the hard lesson for today. If He is not your Lord -- you are not His friend. The second point from the key verses is that we must worship God in spirit and in truth. Well what does that mean? First of all, they go together. You cannot worship God in spirit and not in truth or vice versa. Let's start with truth. When this word is used it means the knowledge of who God is. It is directly referring to the word of God. When Jesus promised the Holy Spirit, He said the spirit would lead us into all truth. This is not our perceived truth based on personal experience, which can be corrupted by our wickedly deceitful hearts but rather from the immutable, unmovable, inerrant and all sufficient scriptures. Beloved, our worship at a bare minimum must be theologically correct. According to the Gospel of John Jesus is His Word. Bill Johnson likes to say we do not worship the bible because he does not know God to understand that He is the very word. So, what are we saying to God, about God, when we sing things that are simply unbiblical? For your consideration:
He is jealous for me. Love like a hurricane I am a tree.
We are His portion and He is our prize.
You didn't want heaven without us. So Jesus, You brought heaven down.
Speak revival, prophesy like it is done
The first two lyrics are both from what has to be the worst worship song in decades, "Oh How He Loves Me." Written originally by John Mark McMillan, all of the hip worship outfits have copied it and play it regularly. The song is a lyrical train wreck with virtually nothing biblically redeemable about it. God is not jealous for you beloved. one can make a biblical case for jealousy for His collective people but personalizing removes the truthfulness and creates a self-worship atmosphere. His love is not like a hurricane, which would depict something violent and out of control. This is the same argument against the equally vapid song "Reckless Love." We are not His portion either as the lyricist has this backwards and neither is God a "prize." These concepts are all part of the self-worship model promulgated by the Friend of God theology.
The third lyric is from Hillsong. The notion that God did not want heaven without us is beyond narcissistic and has nothing to do with worshiping the almighty. It once again exalts man instead of God. Here is today's deep theology. God is perfectly fine without you or me. The purpose driven worship complex insists that God is chasing after us like He needs a prom date. I read a defense of this song from a worship leader who just did not get the point. Her central argument was the "context" surrounding this poor lyric. You cannot defend an unbiblical lyric by saying, "Look! The lyric after that is completely biblical!" While we are on this subject the same argument applies across entire song spectrums. Hillsong has some completely palatable and biblically sound songs. That does not change the fact that others are completely unbiblical, nor does it change that as a church they are one of the most egregious heresy spreaders in the entire world. Why in the world would I want to point anyone back to Hillsong? This is the same argument for false teachers. The majority of what a false teacher teaches is probably acceptable. Someone like Joseph Prince might even be 80% correct. The other 20% however will send you straight to hell. No one walks into a church with a sign around their neck saying wolf. The worship leader of Jesus Culture will swear she loves Jesus but if you ask her for a testimony she might tell you about the time that Jesus whisked her away to the thrown room of God where she met the Father face to face. This allegedly was a waking visitation where God the Father ripped out a piece of His own heart to show Kim Walker Smith how much He loved her. Now we know that Walker-Smith did not meet the Father face to face. How do we know this? Because the bible says no man can see the Father lest they die. Now, I will assume Walker-Smith is not lying which means she had a very detailed demonic experience that she could not tell was from the devil. I say this to ask the simple question -- why would you want to direct anyone to Jesus Culture?
The last lyric is from Elevation Worship, who is pastored by the heretical Steven Furtick. The king of narcissistic bible interpretation is it any wonder that the musical outfit Furtick heads up would also not be biblical. There is so much wrong with this one short lyric. First of all, it promotes the false chasing of revival, which is part of the NAR dominionist teachings. Second it promotes word faith heresy that says we can speak things into existence. Lastly, it promotes the false signs and lying wonders network and their unbiblical belief that anyone can prophesy. That is a lot of heresy packed into seven little words! Truth matters beloved. What we say to God matters. It is not worship to tell Him how much He loves you. It is not worship to tell God you are going to prophesy something He has not told you -- in fact it is arrogant. It is not worship to tell God that He could not bear to be in heaven without you. Worship is what we say to God and what we tell Him is what we believe. God deserves better than Steven Furtick, Brian Houston and Jesus Culture. We ought to care to bring Him better. Worshipping God starts with the truth.
God also deserves to be worshipped in spirit. The key verses actually tell us why! God is a spirit and therefore those who worship Him must do so in spirit as well! We are connected to God through His indwelt Holy Spirit. This is no small point beloved. The fact is that most in churchianity are unsaved. The things we speak of require the indwelt Holy Spirit. This is why lyrics that elevate man are preferred. This is why worship has become narcissistic entertainment. This is why the church needs smoke machines, disco lights and countdown clocks. It is false worship driven by the spirit of this world. That is why spirit is tied to truth. This is why as believers we should feel convicted of the bells and whistles that are only used to attract goats. We know what worship is!
The conclusion of the key verses shows the woman acknowledging she has some head smarts about the Messiah but no spiritual wisdom to discern that He sits right in front of her. Wow, if that is not prescient or prophetic I do not know what is. Millions sit in pews every Sunday convinced they are saved by some charlatan. They sing songs about themselves, designed to elevate themselves and feel better about themselves. There is no conviction and no sense that what they are doing is even offensive to God because they do not have the indwelt Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth.
The problem is that real believers sit right next to them with hands extended to the skies, worshiping man right along with them. I understand the difficulty. These songs are what is played on "Christian" radio. So much of the lyrical content sounds right. What's the big deal about a line here or there that does not pass biblical standards? That is a real dangerous road to travel beloved. What we say to God ought to be the one area where we are the most cautious. Where we lead our friends ought to matter to us. Blasting Hillsong in our car is the same as posting the Joyce Meyer meme on our Facebook page. It might be permissible but how many people have we now led to slaughter? Singing along to that Jesus Culture song at church may seem innocuous but how many people are being tacitly told they are ok by doing so? We need to realize also that the huge organizations behind these music movements use the music to infiltrate the church in order to draw people away to their false doctrines. Most do not know about the heresies of Hillsong but they can rattle off their top ten favorite songs! Then when they hear a Brian Houston or Carl Lentz sermon they are more inclined to listen and not have their guard up. Jesus Culture promotes the wild heresies of Bill Johnson and Bethel Church. Elevation worship promotes Steven Furtick and IHOP music promotes Mike Bickle. Take Johnson for example. He promotes gold dust, gemstones, angel feathers, glory clouds, mandatory healing, dead raising teams, grave sucking, prosperity gospel, false signs and lying wonders, the NAR, dominionism and experiential Christianity just off the top of my head. Bethel Church is a cesspool of false teaching that operates their own supernatural school where they pretend they can teach you the gifts of the Holy Spirit! Now you may say that you don't follow Bethel or Johnson but who do you think taught Jesus Culture! Who do you think is their pastor?
Jesus Christ sits in the churches and says, I am He, and the church goes on worshiping idols, and false doctrines, and anything but the risen Savior. Discernment is crucial when it comes to sorting through what teaching is from the spirit of God and what is from the spirit of this world. We are wise to learn how to discern such but how much more important is what we actually say to the God we profess to love and serve. Let us never get casual about worship beloved. God deserves so much more.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- July 30, 2 019
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.