An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
H. Tawney said, “Those who seek God in isolation from their fellow-men . . . are apt to find, not God, but a devil, whose countenance bears an embarrassing resemblance to their own.” The fact is, God did not create us to be apart from other Christians. We need one another in order to receive God’s power in our lives.
In Acts 2, we see several characteristics of a winning church–a church God uses to transmit the Holy Spirit’s power into the lives of believers. Last week, we looked at one characteristic: worship. Verse 47 says the early Christians were “praising God and having favor with all the people.” That is what worship is: expressing our appreciation to God for all He has done. Even though we can worship God individually, worship is best done with other believers.
Another attribute of a winning church is instruction. Verse 42 says, “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching.” Not only did the early church worship God, but they also received instruction that came from God’s Word.
Now, I have just created a false dichotomy between the worship of God and the instruction that comes from God’s Word. We are tempted to think real worship reaches the heart while instruction reaches the head. But that dichotomy does not exist in the Bible. In John 4:23, Jesus said, “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.” God is looking for people who will pour out their sincere admiration and appreciation to Him, not out of ritualistic duty but out of a wellspring of emotion. That is the kind of worshiper God is looking for–one who worships in spirit. But notice worship is also to be bathed in the truth of God’s Word. Worship involves both emotion and truth.
John Stott wrote about the inseparable connection between the worship of God and the Word of God: “Word and worship belong indissolubly to each other. All worship is an intelligent and loving response to the revelation of God, because it is the adoration of his Name. Therefore acceptable worship is impossible without preaching. . . . Far from being an alien intrusion into worship, the reading and preaching of the Word are actually indispensable to it.” The early church understood that an integral part of worship is receiving instruction from God’s Word.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “A Winning Church” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
R. H. Tawney, “Religion and the Rise of Capitalism” (London: John Murray, 1926), 230; John R. W. Stott, “Between Two Worlds” (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2000), 82.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.