The purpose of all creation is to worship the true and living God in a way that he has commanded. The New Testament makes it clear that God is seeking worshippers who will worship him “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24) – but what does that mean? Worshipping God “in spirit and truth” is a spiritual engagement with God by means of Christ. In other words, “our meeting place with God – the “place” we now worship – is the exalted Lord Jesus Christ, who is truth incarnate.” Therefore, New Covenant worship is not tied to location, rather it is God-centred, Christ-focused, and gospel-inspired worship. In this article, we will look at the implications of New Testament worship.
To begin, we must ask the question: what are the implications of New Testament worship? Well, it must be said that God-honouring worship is not merely a formal ascription of praise to God, rather “it emerges from my whole being to this whole God, and therefore it reflects not only my understanding of God but my love for him.” Worship is no longer defined by location, but it is defined by the object of one’s affection. True worship is done “in spirit and truth” as one contemplates the glory of God.
First, true worship is God-centred worship. This worship can be further defined as Trinitarian worship, where the entire Godhead is in mind. The Trinitarian view of worship is that it is “the gift of participating through the Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father. That means participating in union with Christ, in what he has done for us once and for all, in his self-offering to the Father, in his life and death on the cross.” Therefore, all true worship is God-centred, and that means appreciating the beautiful interworking of the facets of the Trinity in reconciling us to God. The Lord Jesus is at the heart of the transition from worship under the Old Covenant to worship under the new. “The way wholly loving God works out under the new covenant is in heartfelt obedience to the terms of that covenant – which has been transmuted to all of life.”
Additionally, not only is true worship God-centered, but it can also be seen as Christ-centered. “In effect, the exalted Christ is now the “place” where God is to be acknowledged and honored.” The Lord Jesus is known as the truth, who reveals the character and purposes of God (8:45; 14;6; 18:37). In Christ, the presence of God tabernacle in the midst of his people (John 1:14, Matthew 18:20; 28:19-20). Those who are true worshippers will be those who come to God through his beloved Son Jesus Christ (17:3). Therefore, those whom the Father seeks are those who come to him through his Son. However, it is important to note that Jesus is “not the ultimate focus or object of worship in John 4:23-24 but the means by which the Father obtains true worshippers from every nation (12:32).”
Finally, true worship is worship that is inspired and shaped by the gospel. New Covenant worship “finds its first impulse in this transforming gospel, which restores our relationship with our Redeemer-God and therefore with our fellow image-bearers, our co-worshipers.” It is important to recognize that worship is both at the individual and corporate level, encompassing all the redeemed in Christ. Therefore, “worship must manifest itself both in the individual believer and in corporate worship, which is offered up in the context of the body of believers.”
In most cases, worship is thought of as Sunday mornings, where we come together to offer God the worship we have been withholding all week.” However, the New Testament has a different view of worship, which highlights the individual as well as the corporate level. We have already seen how genuine worship is not tied to a specific meeting place (John 4:21), and therefore it is no longer tied to a specific time – true “spirit and truth” worship (John 4:23-24) encompasses everything in our lives. Whatever we do, even if we are simply eating or drinking, whatever we say, in business or in the home or church assemblies, we are to do all to the glory of God. The text, John 4:20-24, shows that Christians are to worship the true living God, through our mediator Christ, by the Spirit of God, wherever we are, twenty-four-seven. Therefore, God-centered, Christ-focused, and gospel-inspired worship is a necessary outflow of worshipping God “in spirit and in truth.”
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