Season 2, Episode 13
For Friday, November 6, 2015
Worshipping God In Truth
HOST: Wade Webster
What does it mean to worship God in truth (John 4:23-24)? It simply means to worship God according to the authority of His word. In the inspired letter of Colossians, Paul taught men how to move from will worship (Col.2:23) to true worship. He taught them how to move from worshipping without authority to worshipping with God’s authority. In this study we will focus our attention on Paul’s discussion of the authority of Christ (Col. 3:16-25). As we examine this text to get ready to worship this weekend, we will see the source, the scope, and the seriousness of authority.
Jesus declared, “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. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-24). As has been noted many times, worshipping in spirit has to do with the proper attitude. Worshipping in truth has to do with the proper authority. In this lesson, our focus will be on worshipping in truth.
Sadly, many worship according to their own will, instead of according to God’s will. Paul addressed this in his epistle to the Colossians. In the second chapter, he dealt with those who were involved in will worship (Col. 2:23). In the third chapter, Paul encouraged men to worship according to Christ’s will (Col. 3:16-25). We will focus our study on these verses. We read,
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons” (Col. 3:16-25).
Notice that Paul begins with the word of Christ (truth) and then moves into the subject of authority. From this text, I want us to establish the source, the scope, and the seriousness of going to the word of God for our authority.
I suppose that the first thing that we ought to do is to establish the source of authority. Where should man go for authority? Is it acceptable for man to determine his own truth or must he go to God? Can he go to the creeds of man or must he go to the word of God? I think for most of us these questions are easy to answer. Man must go to God and to His word for authority. Man cannot direct his own steps by his own intellect (Jer. 10:23; Jud. 21:25; Prov. 14:12) or by the intellect (doctrines) of other men (Mt. 15:9; Rom. 10:1-3). Notice that Paul in the text under consideration (Col. 3:16-25) appeals to Christ and His word for authority. In the sixteenth verse, Paul spoke of “the word of Christ” (Col. 3:16). The word is truth. In John 17:17, we read, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” To worship in truth is to worship according to the word of God. After speaking of the “word of Christ” (Col. 3:16), Paul spoke of “the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17). What does “the name of the Lord Jesus” mean? This expression speaks of authority. Notice the word “Lord.“ The word “Lord” means “supreme in authority, master” (Strong’s #2962). As you know, Jesus is described by inspiration as “the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords” (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14; 19:16). All authority in heaven and in earth has been given to Him (Mt. 28:18). Mary’s words to the servants at the wedding feast of Cana ring down through the ages to us – “Whatsoever he saith unto thee, do it” (John 2:5). Jesus is our Master and we are His servants (John 13:14; Eph. 6:9; Col. 4:1). We must not be like those who called Him Master but didn’t do what He commanded (Luke 6:46).
The second thing that we need to establish from the text is the scope of authority. How far does the authority of Christ extend? What is included in it? In various areas today, people like to limit the authority of Christ. Therefore it is essential for us to establish the scope of it. Several words in the text under consideration help to establish the scope of authority:
- Whatsoever – Notice that Paul begins establishing the scope with the word “whatsoever.“ He said, “And whatsoever ye do…“ (Col. 3:17). What is left out of the word “whatsoever?“ Nothing “whatsoever!“ Following Peter’s confession of His deity, Jesus said, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16:17-19). God had revealed to Peter the deity of Jesus and He would in the future reveal (bind and loose) other things to him. The “keys of the kingdom” were the inspired words that the Spirit would put into the mouth of Peter and the other apostles on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). The apostles were to bind (lock) “whatsoever” and to loose (unlock) “whatsoever” heaven wanted. Shortly before ascending to the right hand of the Father, Jesus again connected His authority with whatsoever the apostles taught. He said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Mt. 28:18-20). By the complete authority of the King, the apostles were to teach men to observe all things “whatsoever” Christ had commanded them (cf. John 15:14; Rom. 14:23).
In addition to “whatsoever,“ the scope of Christ’s authority also extends to whosoever (Mt. 5:28; 19:9). Especially, when it comes to the matter of marriage and divorce, folks like to limit the word “whosoever.” However, God’s marriage law applies to Christian and non-Christian alike (Mt. 19:9; 28:18-20).
The scope of Christ’s authority extends beyond “whatsoever” and “whosoever” to whenever. The authority of Christ not only governs our worship on Sunday, it governs our living on Monday (Gal. 4:18; Phil. 2:12). We must take up our cross daily and follow him (Lk. 9:23).
In addition to “whatsoever” “whosoever” and whenever, the authority of Christ also extends to where so ever. Whether you are in America, Africa, or Antarctica, you must submit to the authority of Christ in worship as well as in daily living (Mk. 16:15; Mt. 28:19). Within the context Paul discusses worship, home, and work situations.
- In word and in deed – Notice that Paul continued “And whatsoever ye do, in word and in deed…“ (Col. 3:17). If “whatsoever” left any confusion about the scope of authority, the expression “in word and in deed” should clear it up. Let’s deal with the “in word” part of the expression first. Peter wrote, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Pet. 4:11). No doubt, you are familiar with the restoration slogan, “We are to speak where the Bible speaks and to be silent where it is silent. We are to call Bible things by Bible names and to do Bible things in Bible ways.“ What this slogan is saying is that we are going to the word of Christ and not the creeds of men for our authority. Sadly, there are those among our brothers and sisters today who have adopted the language of Ashdod (Neh. 14:23). They talk about “joining the church” instead of being added to it (Acts 2:47); and, they talk about “church of Christ doctrine” instead of the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9-11). Further, they call the church a “denomination” instead of speaking of it as the blood-bought body of Christ (Acts 20:28; cf. 10:14; Isa. 2:2-3). Such expressions and ideas are foreign to the word of God and therefore unauthorized by Christ. Not only must what we say be in accordance with the authority of Christ, but so must what we do.
Let’s now focus our attention on the expression “in deed.” In previous lessons, we have dealt with the worship of Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:1-2). As you recall, in their worship they offered “strange fire” which the Lord commanded them not. Although they were priests and authorized to lead in worship, they were not authorized to do what they did. They were not authorized to use the fire that they used. The closest parallel to this Old Testament account is the introduction of mechanical instruments of music into worship. Mechanical instruments of music are strange fire. They are not authorized in the New Testament (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Man must go to the doctrines and creeds of men to find support for them. Although it is not specifically stated in the text under consideration, it is also the case that our thoughts are under the authority of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). As you know, our words and deeds ultimately spring from the thoughts and intents of the heart (Prov. 23:7; Mt. 12:34). We are to have the “mind of Christ” in us (Phil. 2:5). To harbor hatred or lust in our hearts is to do that for which there is no authority for in the word of God (Mt. 5:22, 28).
- All – Paul continued by saying, “And whatsoever ye do in word or in deed, do all…” Surely, you will admit, that the word “all” encompasses a great deal of territory. Moses had prophesied that God was going to raise up a prophet unto His people like unto him and that they were to hear him “in all things“ whatsoever he said unto them (Acts 3:22). Of course, Christ was that prophet. The apostles were to teach men to observe “all things” that He had commanded them (Mt. 28:20). They were not to pick and choose what they deemed to be important. Like the prophets of old, it was not left up to their interpretation (2 Pet. 1:20-21). We must understand that being obedient in some things is not enough. We must be obedient in all things (2 Cor. 2:9). As you know, very few religions violate every aspect of the authority of Christ. Many of them will do some things as the word authorizes. Like Saul of old, they will profess with a loud voice that they have done all that God commanded (1 Sam. 15:8-28). However, the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen, or in modern situations the playing of the piano and the picking of the guitar, will reveal otherwise.
The expressions “whatsoever,” “in word and in deed,” and “all” clearly establish the scope of Christ’s authority. They leave no room for doubt or disagreement.
The final thing that we ought to establish is the seriousness of authority. Does it really matter what we do in worship? Are mechanical instruments of music or how often we observe the Lord’s Supper matters of real concern? Yes, these are matters of great concern. Within the context, Paul spoke of reward for those who submitted to Christ’s authority in all things and of punishment for those who did not (Col. 3:24-25). At the close of the New Testament, John wrote, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19). As you can see, there are serious consequences associated with tampering with the word of Christ. Truth is perfect. It does not need any additions, subtractions, or changes. In fact, any change would be a step away from perfection. God takes tampering with His word and His authority very seriously. Just ask Cain (Gen. 4:1-10), Nadab & Abihu (Lev. 10:1-2), and Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (Num. 16:23-25). Let’s not make the same mistake that they did.
As we get ready to worship this week, let’s make sure that we are worshipping God in truth. Let’s make sure that everything that we do is according to His will, and not according to our own.
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