Sermon: The Worshippers God Seeks (Part 3) John 4:16–26

John Banner website_edited-1 

The Worshippers God Seeks (Part 3)

John 4:16–26

Primary Truth Taught- True worshippers are those who are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and know God correctly through His Word.

Introduction

There is a logical flow to the section today. It begins with Jesus dealing with the woman’s sin. Then continues on to the woman’s acknowledgement that Jesus must be a Prophet. Then moves forward to true worship. Then finally, she is taken past her perception of Jesus as a prophet to her being told that He is the Messiah.

Sin is first dealt with then comes true worship of the true Messiah.

Human Need Met

It is important for us to worship God in the way He prescribes and not the way we think or in the way others might be. We must examine our personal and corporate practices and make sure we are worshipping God on His terms not on ours.

This is God’s Word…

John 4:16–26 (ESV)

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 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. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 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.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

  1. Sin is Addressed

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.

What is sin?

“We conclude that sin constitutes the breaking of the covenant. This perspective implies that sin does not just represent a transgression of formal rules. It goes deeper. It is directed against the sovereign Creator, who not only creates life, but also wants his people to experience a lasting communion with himself. Therefore sin constitutes opposition to the Creator who commits himself to grant life to man.”[1]

 

Sin is anything that is against God and His commands. Whether a person knows it is sin or not it still is sin.

Prior to this conversation the woman of Samaria was an unconverted sinner. She was known by everyone to be immoral. She avoided others by making the trip to Jacob’s well during the hottest time of the day. Have you ever noticed that sin is very deceptive. The momentary happiness that sin brought her was not worth the lifetime of misery. She was the center of everyone’s gossip. She had to come to draw water at the most miserable time of the day. She went from one relationship to another thinking that perhaps this marriage would fulfill her longings for significance and happiness. Sin has a way about it that deceives and twists our thinking.

People tend to deal with their sin in one of two ways, some try to hide their sin.

Hide Sin– They pretend that it’s not there or they some how water it down or even flat out deny it. This method is seen in today’s gay community. They have such warped and twisted minds when it comes to sin that they have denied it, twisted it, and have even been so bold as to try to make those who disagree with them seem evil and hateful.

When people take their sin in this direction God immediately passes judgment and they begin on a downward journey toward more and more sin.

We even have a clear example of how it works when a person tries to hide their sin…

Romans 1:18–32 (ESV)

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

This is the sad picture of one who tries to hide their sin.

It does no good to try to hide sin? God knows all about it. Jesus knows our sin…

Look at how well He knew this woman.

18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.

The point is no one is hidden from God.

Hebrews 4:13 (ESV)

13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Adam and Eve tried to hide from God and cover themselves. Cain tried to hide from God after killing his brother Abel. Sarah laughed when God told Abraham they would have a child, God heard her. Achan tried to hide the wedge of gold from God. Jonah tried to hide from God and God sent the great fish to chase him down. [2]

Not only this but God even knows our thoughts…

Ezekiel 11:5 (ESV)

And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon me, and he said to me, “Say, Thus says the Lord: So you think, O house of Israel. For I know the things that come into your mind.

Confess Sin-

What’s the other way of dealing with sin? Rather than hiding it, the biblical way is to take it to Jesus. We go to Christ confessing our sin to Him. Calling it what it is and not pretending it’s not there. Church, take your sin to Jesus and seek forgiveness and repentance. Plead with the Lord to grant you the gift of repentance.

The important point here in the text is that Jesus points her sin out to her. Now, we must confess that Jesus, being all knowing can do this much better than we can. While we may not know a person’s particular sins, we can help them see what sin is.

Like with about anyone, this woman tried to change the subject. However, Jesus got things right back on track again.

  1. True Worship Begins

20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 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. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

Notice how Jesus was not in any way taking the bait. She wanted to divert the attention from her sin to an age-old argument between the Jews and the Samarians. Our people say this and You Jews say this…It may have been a diversion to sidestep the issue of her sin.

One theologian writes, It is always easier to talk theology than to deal with the truth that is so distressing.[3]

  1. A New Day Coming

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.

A little OT history is crucial at this point.

The Samaritans only recognized the Pentateuch as Holy Scripture…the first five books written by Moses.

Here’s what the Samaritans read and here’s why they worshipped where they did…

Deuteronomy 12:4–7 (ESV)

You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way. But you shall seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go, and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.

They also looked to other OT writings contained in their Bible; they looked to the section where Abraham built an altar to God on Mount Gerizim and to the sections in Exodus and Deut. That seemed to tie the Ten Commandments also to Mount Gerizim. The problem with their conclusions was that because they didn’t accept the rest of the OT as Scripture they missed all the parts where God declared that in Jerusalem He would be worshipped. This is a clear demonstration that unless one has the whole of Scripture, wrong conclusions can be drawn.

Rather than getting into a discussion about how wrong she is, Jesus wants her to see that because He has come both places are going to be obsolete very shortly.

  1. Salvation Springs from the Jews[4]

22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.

Notice how Jesus takes the theme of where to worship switches to the point at hand, who you worship. Their knowledge of God was faulty at this stage of redemptive history. If they were to know God rightly they needed the entire OT not just the Books of Moses. That’s why Jesus tells her, You worship what you do not know. I pray we can see from this the importance of reading and developing our theological thought from the entire Bible not just a verse or two or even a book or two but the entire Bible. Our Lord tells her clearly and concisely, you don’t know about worship or even who it is you worship.

Salvation does not come through the Samaritans but it comes through the Jews and their complete Scriptures. He will also begin to explain to her the nature of the God she should be worshipping.

  1. The Nature of True Worship

23 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. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

It’s important here to pause and look at the importance of true worship. To start with, Jesus uses the term true worshippers. We must then conclude there is a type of worship that fails to meet the criteria of true worship. One example is the type of worship that she was engaged. Her worship was faulty. The Samaritans were not worshipping God in the manner He prescribed; therefore their worship was flawed. I think we should go down the path with her and Jesus to discover that because the Samaritans were not worshipping God correctly due to the fact that their source of knowledge about God was incomplete they had given up not only true worship but true salvation. They did not know what salvation was. That’s why Jesus declared that salvation is from the Jews. This is at least in part due to the fact that they had the entire Bible.

Do you see how closely salvation and worship are connected? Jesus states that salvation is from or of the Jews and then immediately begins speaking about true worship. The point being only a saved person can be a true worshipper. It must begin with true salvation which comes from God as we take in truth. Just as Jesus declares that true worship must be done in spirit and in truth, we could also say that salvation is in spirit and in truth as well.

What is true worship?

23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth…

The hour is coming means the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection. When that time comes worshippers will no longer come to a specific place but will join together as God’s people anytime and anywhere. Jesus now becomes the temple.

There were true worshippers in the OT as well as the time after Jesus.

What marks those who worship the Father will no longer be meeting at the temple in Jerusalem but meeting with the Father in spirit and in truth.

What does that mean? Jesus tells us that God is Spirit. This means that He is invisible, divine as opposed to human, life-giving and unknowable to human beings unless he chooses to reveal himself.[5]  

Because God is Spirit we as finite humans have no access to Him on our own. He must make it happen. So, in salvation God gives us the Holy Spirit so that we now have an added dimension that can access Him. That’s why we must be saved in order to be a true worshipper.

John 3:4–5 (ESV)

Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

A true worshipper must be born from above and given the Holy Spirit. A true worshipper must also be given divine revelation…in truth. Unless we have the Holy Spirit and unless we are given God’s completed Word we cannot worship Him correctly.

This is why it’s so important that our worship is done the way God has prescribed in the Bible. We can’t just do whatever we want and call it worship. That’s exactly why Matthew and the elders are constantly examining what we do in our worship service. We only do what God has told us to do in the Bible. When you come here on Sunday mornings, realize the worship service does not create itself. Time and care has been taken to assure that we do nothing unless it is prescribed in the Bible. This is called the Regulative Principle, meaning that the Bible regulates our worship.

  1. The True Messiah Discovered

25 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.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
Remember what John said his purpose was in writing his Gospel?

John 20:30–31 (ESV)

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

This event was proof to the Samaritan woman that Jesus is the Messiah.

Isaiah 12:1 (ESV)

12 You will say in that day:

       “I will give thanks to you, O Lord,

for though you were angry with me,

       your anger turned away,

       that you might comfort me. …
     With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

The day the Messiah enters into the world He will dispense salvation from the well of living water. So when Jesus enters into the dialogue with the Samaritan woman, He is telling her and us that He is the Messiah.

Then He makes it abundantly clear when He tells her I who speak to you am He.

When she hears these words, she gets it. Jesus is the Messiah. For her it was the fact that He made all things plain to her. She understood and when He told her who He is she believed.

Application

Do you believe the words of Jesus?

Are you a true worshipper?

Are you one who worships in Spirit and in truth?

 

Declaration of Grace

In the mercy and grace of Almighty God, Jesus Christ was given to die for us, and for His sake God forgives us all our sins. To those who believe in Jesus Christ He gives the power to become the children of God and gives to them the Holy Spirit. May the Lord, who has begun this good work in us, bring it to completion in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

 

[1] J. van Gendersen & W.H. Velema, Concise Reformed Dogmatics, 396

 

[2] Richard Philips, John: Reformed Expository Commentary, 236

[3] D. A. Carson, John: Pillar Commentary Series, 221

[4] ibid, 222

[5] ibid, 225

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