The Father Seeketh Such
“John 4:23 says, “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.”
WHEN IT COMES to worship, the modern church has lost its way.
I say that because of what people write in and tell me about church services they’re attending where sanctuaries are lit low, nearly dark, and the sacred desk on the platform is set aside to make room for entertainment.
Pastors, desperate to increase attendance, especially among young people, are choosing to hook up concert lights, fog machines, and employ aerialists and choreographed dancers to enhance the “worship” part of their services. Creative and innovative, they call it, and pastors claim it works—people are coming to church.
But the Bible defines worship far differently.
In the Old Testament, we first see the word worship in the story of Abraham. After waiting so long for his promised son, God would now ask the patriarch to sacrifice him. On a mountain of God’s choosing, He would test Abraham’s faith, to see if he was willing to give up everything—and Isaac was everything to Abraham—his stars in the sky, his sands of the sea, his joy, and his laughter.
Even so, he told his servants, “Abide ye here … and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you” (Gen. 22:5).
And what was the outcome of this kind of faith and worship?
“And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son” (Gen. 22:11-13).
In the stead of Abraham’s son, God would offer up His only begotten Son.
Reverence And Respect
In the New Testament, we see several examples of people worshipping the Lord:
• The woman whose daughter was vexed with a devil “came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me” (Matt. 15:25).
• The man born blind whom Jesus healed said, “Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him” (Jn. 9:38).
• A leper who came “and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean” (Matt. 8:2)
• A certain ruler who came “and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live” (Matt. 9:18).
• The mother of Zebedee’s children came, “worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him”(Matt. 20:20).
These instances, prior to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, are understood to mean adoration, honor, proper respect, reverence and recognition of Christ’s divinity.
Worship After The Cross
So how did worship change after the Cross?
My husband notes that every single prophecy of the Old Testament, all of the sacrifices, along with the feast days, as well as what the tabernacle and temple stood for, all pointed to one person—the Lord Jesus Christ. He was and is the fulfillment of all these things, and done so for the purpose of opening up the way that the Holy Spirit could come down and dwell in the hearts and lives of believers, and in a manner which could not be done previously. When Jesus died on Calvary, thereby satisfying the claims of heavenly justice, and defeating Satan as well, His resurrection would afford a place and position with the Father for believers heretofore unknown. Consequently, it would be the greatest pivot point in history, with believers becoming “an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Eph. 2:22).
So in John 4, when the Lord tells the Samaritan woman that “true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him,” we should take the time to understand what He meant.
Worship After The Holy Spirit
In his commentary on John, my husband explains worship in the church today:
The phrase, “When the true worshippers...,” tells us that there is much worship, but with most of it false. Even though the word spirit as used here by Jesus, pertains to the spirit of man, the Holy Spirit also is the very person of the Godhead who makes it possible for the believer to truly worship God.
Likewise, the modern believer, without the baptism in the Holy Spirit, has some light regarding worship, but not near enough. If one is to notice, the services conducted by preachers who do not believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit, are far more formal, and stereotyped (in other words, they are all the same). As such, there is very little, if any true worship. Most of the people who attend these churches, think that by merely showing up and listening to the preaching, etc., that they are worshiping. However, that is woefully incorrect.
So, only those who are truly Spirit-filled know how to worship God.
When the believer is baptized in the Holy Spirit, and irrespective as to his former background, certain characteristics will begin to come to the fore. There will be in him, even as Jesus said in verse John 4:14, “a well of water springing up into everlasting life,” actually referring to a gushing forth which never stops. This is the reason for the constant praises on the lips of true Spirit-filled believers. Such has nothing to do with whether they are in church, but is actually a part of their spiritual and mental make-up. Praises to the Lord become common place,
irrespective as to where the person may be. Of course, most is carried on very quietly, even in one’s subconscious much of the time, but it still constitutes praise and worship.
As well, there is a constant uplifting of hands in public services, as Jesus is extolled (I Tim. 2:8), which is a result of the moving of the Holy Spirit, and not the cause. In other words, many Pentecostals and Charismatics attempt to instigate a moving of the Holy Spirit by these physical actions, but to no avail. The manner in which believers express themselves, and which is biblical, is always a result of the moving and operation of the Holy Spirit in one’s heart, and as stated, not the cause.
This is the reason I have some difficulties with much of the modern phenomenon, such as ‘holy laughter,’ or ‘roaring like lions,’ etc. While these manifestations, certainly may have some small scriptural validity, the manner in which it is presently engaged, I think little coincides with the Word of God. In other words, too many seek the manifestation, instead of Jesus.
There is nothing in the Bible which encourages us to seek manifestations, but rather the persons of the Godhead—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. If properly in the believer’s heart and life, God the Holy Spirit will see to it that God the Son is properly glorified, and God the Father properly worshiped. If men seek to worship the Lord only in their spirits, and devoid of ‘truth,’ i.e., the Word of God, excesses will always follow, with priorities becoming confused, and spiritual anemia being the result.
The phrase, ‘for the Father seeketh such to worship Him,’ means that by the word seeketh that such are not easily found. As today, so then, the sinner tried by a proposed religious discussion about churches to put aside the matter of her shameful life, but Jesus gently and courteously explained to her that the true way of salvation had been revealed to the Jews, even though it was little heeded, and that the true place of worship was the heart, not either Gerizim or Jerusalem, for God is Spirit and Truth. Worship, therefore, must be spiritual, and must be in subjection to the Word of God.
Many in the church have concluded that God seeks holy worship. He does not. He seeks holy worshippers. There is a vast difference.
A Lesson In Seeking
The wise men sought Jesus, to worship Him, and both their journey and their arrival in Nazareth offer believers a beautiful picture of what it means to worship the King of kings.
They came from the east and were found asking, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Matt. 2:2).
They saw His star, which is to say they were guided by revelation and not appearances. On your journey to worship Him, what is guiding you? As my husband notes, if a heart is earnest, honest, and sincere before God, that “star,” which is the guiding light of the Holy Spirit, will appear to any and all who truly seek the Lord, and they will be led to Christ, for the Holy Spirit always leads people to Christ, even as Christ always leads believers to the Holy Spirit.
After the wise men sought Him, they saw Him.
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh” (Mat. 2:11).
The Lord’s house was of humble design. No acrobats, fog machines, or concert lights. No dancers or people waving flags. Wise men and women search for and see Him, and when they do, they worship Him.
Like these traveling kings, true worshippers also open their treasures—their hearts—and present to Him gifts: their faith in Christ, which is, like Abraham, their everything; offerings of thanksgiving that propel the work of God, and praise and worship anointed by the Holy Spirit, which is what the Father seeks.
Church, the hour cometh and now is to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.