Jesus’ Words Concerning Worship


Part 4 of 6 –

Jesus of Nazareth spoke of Israel ’s vain worship with their lips while not honoring the Lord with their hearts.

Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

Jesus then emphasized what came out of the inner being of a man as being the measure of the man. Matthew 15:11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Today the Lord does cares for the inward man; He does not care for the outward demonstration of rituals, ceremonies, rites, observances, ordinances, or regulations. He cares only for inward reality of the “heart.” As to the outward, the Lord Jesus here told the Pharisees it was an insignificant matter whether His disciples ate with hands that had not been ritually cleaned as was prescribed and required in His day by law (Matt. 15:2); it is that which comes out of the mouth from the inward parts that is important…a regenerated spirit and a yielded, trusting, soul.

Because the Lord cares for inward reality, we should not be concerned about the outward way of having our believer’s gatherings. It means very little whether our meeting is loud or quiet, small or large, in a home, meeting hall or cathedral building. Of course, all should be done decently and in order; Let all things be done unto edifying.” We as believers should be careful to mainly care only for the inward experience of Christ, for the inward reality and relationship we enjoy by our spirit-union (1Cor 6:17) with Christ “in spirit.”

The outflow and sharing we offer must flow from within, from the reality we enjoy by His indwelling life. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he makes his “hath a” list of expressions that should flow out from the believer’s who bring Christ’s “Spirit of life” into the meeting. 1 Corinthians 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm (a sacred ode), hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. Though the time of the charismatic gifts that were in effect during the time of the early Acts period has past, as Paul said they would (1Cor 13:8), I believe this verse does give us some semblance of what should be expected in a meeting of the members of “the body of Christ” today. When believers gather, those who have maintained their inner union with Him in their daily living will “hath a” or possess an overflow of His Spirit to come forth reflexively, in a way that will be edifying to the other members of “the body of Christ,” and any visitors. Being genuine, this is a great witness and permits the Holy Spirit to minister to the individuals in order to build up, stir up, and encourage, as the Lord leads.

In Deuteronomy 14:22-29 of the Old Testament we have a figure of worship to be seen spiritually. We see that Israel gathered at the times of certain feasts to worship the Lord; they brought the tithe of their grain, herds, wine and oil as offerings to the Lord. They brought the fruits of the life of the land. Not only were these offered to the Lord but they also were eaten and enjoyed by the people (v26). Only the “Sin offering” was not consumed by the people. There also was provision from these offerings for the guests who brought nothing to the feast; so all could eat of the offerings. Our gatherings today should ideally have plenty of spiritual food for feeding all who come.

Today the Spirit of the Lord is that food…He is the land and the riches of that land we dwell in as we abide in the Spirit. Jesus said His words, the words of His Spirit, are life. John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth (gives life); the flesh profiteth nothing: the WORDS that I (Jesus) speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Thus, all believers have a part in the meetings, to share the fruit of their experience of living in the Land of Spiritual Canaan , the land of “the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” Each believer can share an ode, song, psalm, word of truth, doctrine, or other means of speaking forth truth. It is no wonder that today the speaking ministries, guided by the indwelling “Spirit of life,” are to be the focus of the meetings of the members of the body of Christ…speaking “the word of truth” (2Cor 6:7, Eph 1:13, 2Tim 2:15). That word of truth was given to us through our Apostle, Paul. We have been given that “word of truth” for edifying (building up) the members of “the body of Christ.”

Those who follow the outward traditions, liturgies, rites, rituals, and congregational worship, which are common to organized religion, may honor the Lord outwardly with the lips, but at the same time their heart may be far away from God. These outward things are seemingly for God but actually however, the inward being of so many who follow these ways is not for God – their “heart is far from Him.” E.g., do you believe the majority of Christians observe Christmas for God or their own selves? In the practice of observing Christmas, the heart of most is not for the Lord. The common traditional practices may be a matter of utterance from “the lips” without any reality in the heart.

Jesus goes on in Matt 15:9 to say, in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” This confirms that some people’s worship of God is in vain; as being useless, worthless, and meaningless. This verse goes on further to reveal the main cause of this failure and delusion is the false teachings of “the commandments of men.” Paul later condemns the “tradition of men” in Colossians 2:8 and 22.

Contrary to what we see practiced in so many church meetings; worship is not the result of the goading of a “song leader.” True worship is the result of an appreciative and thankful heart that has been arrested by the bands of God’s love, moving the believer reflexively to walk with and serve Him “in spirit.”

In John chapter 4 we read about Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well. “God is Spirit: and they that worship him must WORSHIP HIM IN SPIRIT and in TRUTH (verity, reality, genuineness).” (John 4:24) From this encounter with the Samaritan woman, we see that if we worship God according to His word, which is the “truth,” it springs from the spirit, which is the only near at hand source of truth or reality. We must pay attention to the riches for us under “the dispensation of the grace of God” – where we learn of the inward reality of His life that indwells every believer…by “Christ in you” ( Col 1:27).

Throughout John’s Gospel Jesus was moving Israel toward an “inner relationship” with the Lord. In John’s Gospel Jesus uses the term “in you” nine times and “in me” seventeen times, always pointing to a time when He would return as “the Spirit of truth (reality)” to indwell the believers. John 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be IN YOU. Jesus here is speaking of His own return as “that Spirit (2Cor 3:15), and “the truth,” (14:6), after He was to be crucified, resurrected and “glorified” (John 7:37-38).

God’s “mystery” plan (Gk., musterion, secret plan) of Colossians 1:27 was that Christ’s Spirit would indwell each believer's human spirit (Rom 8:11); having then an intimate union with them as “one Spirit” (1Cor 6:17), sharing His resurrected eternal life (Gal 2:20, Col 3:4a). The real “Lord’s Prayer” appears in John Chapter 17, as Jesus is praying for the believer’s to come to union with Him and with the Father; as seen in verses 11, 21, and 22.

Coming to and maintaining our inner union with Him should be the focus of every Christian’s life. Thus, Paul says we as individually saved souls should “walk in the spirit” (Gal 5:25), that is…live under the influence of the spirit guiding us from within. Paul writes, “Set your mind (soul) upon (subject to) the spirit” and thereby enjoy “life (zoe) and peace” (Rom 8:5-6). Our true worship of the Lord grows out of this life union.