Lecture 11: Christ and the Holy Spirit | Free Online Biblical Library

Lecture 11: Christ and the Holy Spirit

Course: Worship

Lecture: Christ and the Holy Spirit


II. John 4

This is one of the key New Testament passages that relates to our point of worship because of Jesus’ very words in 4:23. He says that a time is coming and has now come. This is language in terms of this issue of continuity and discontinuity. This passage is very constructive both about worship in the cooperate sense but also about worship in the lifestyle of the individual. It involves the encounter with the woman of Samaria. Jesus went to Samaria or rather he had to go to Samaria because God had directed him to go. It wasn’t a geographical imperative. There were ways to get around Samaria in the journey to Galilee. Obviously, God had an intention not only for this woman but for her whole village. In fact, Jesus is going to lead his disciples into a surprising time of worship here. This is going to be one of those wonderful episodes in the life of the disciples where they realize that God isn’t only concerned about the Jews but also the Samaritans. So, I think this whole thing was predetermined by God. You could almost say that this was a setup. The disciples were gone when the woman came to the well. His encounter with the woman was one on one. She also gets dis-equal abraded in this experience as well. This is a Jewish rabbi conversing with a Samaritan, a woman. It starts with him asking for a physical drink in verse 7. She is stunned by this, knowing that he is a Jew. Jesus immediately turns the conversation in verse 10 saying, actually, I have come to offer you water. The Lord knows the heart of this woman so well and knows that she is a thirsty woman.

A. Misconception of Worship

Some think that the woman becomes uncomfortable with talking about her marital status. So, when it gets too personal, she wants to talk about theology or about religion. Another question that we may have about this passage. What do we normally think about this woman? What is the norm? The norm is that she has lived a horribly ungodly life. She is a wicked immoral woman. This is based on the fact that she has been through five different husbands; now she is living with a man who isn’t her husband. What is the problem with this interpretation? Who had the power of divorce in the ancient world? It is very unlikely that this woman was casting aside her husband left and right. She had been cast aside and as a woman who has been cast aside so readily, women were basically powerless in that culture. She is now being had by another man, someone who isn’t willing to grant her the privilege of marriage. So, I think it is very unlikely that she was the one who was throwing the men aside. It was as likely to say that this woman had been beat up and bruised in life being a deeply wounded woman. She was also certainly a spiritual and thirsty woman. I don’t think there was a change in subject in verse 19. I think this was exactly where the conversation was headed all along. This was the setup that was underway; it was a divinely directed conversation. He is offered water, he is offering spiritual nourishment for her soul. She has had this question in her heart obviously; she wants to know where she can go to meet God?

B. Misconception of God – God is Spirit

She is familiar with the traditions of her fathers who had worshiped on that mountain, Mt Garrison for the Samaritans. But you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem. Jesus replied, believe me woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain or in Jerusalem. This is a hint about discontinuity; something is about to change. Then in verse 22, you Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know for salvation is from the Jews. We made the point that the Samaritans had limited revelation because they had rejected some of the Scriptures and some of the teachings that were offered to them. Jesus then said, we worship what we know for salvation is from the Jews. This can be very startling if we we let it be that way. Interestingly, since sometimes the Gospel is claimed to be antisemitic, yet here Jesus is plainly identifying himself with the Jews saying we Jews worship what we know. If we are not careful, we can miss the Jewishness of Jesus sometimes in our reading of Scripture. He says that salvation is from the Jews. Yet in that debate between Mt Garrison and Jerusalem with the temple in Jerusalem being the authentic temple. Yet, a time is coming and indeed it has already come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. They are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. There will no longer be an issue in regards to where to worship. This new experience is being inaugurated in his person and because he is already present, the inauguration is underway. But it will not be completely fulfilled until the curtain of the temple is torn into two from top to bottom and even beyond that, there will be his death, his resurrection, and his ascension. It will be Pentecost. When the Spirit of God is poured out, that is when these things will really be fulfilled. You hear this later in John’s Gospel in John 14 when Jesus is talking to the disciples about it, as it will be advantageous to them that he departs. For when he leaves the Father will send the Holy Spirit. You know him for he has been with you but he shall be in you.

C. Spiritual Worship According to his Revelation of Truth

The Day of Pentecost will change everything. So, it is already being inaugurated and it is already true. God has always been Spirit and he has desired worship outside of established places. Remember, Solomon already knew the reality that God filled heaven and earth. So, there are some things that are unchanging and yet through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ and the experience of Pentecost, it will be radical true now that we have access to the Father continually in the right place for every place will be the right place for worship and every time will be the right time. Amazingly, more plainly that anywhere else in the Gospels, he confirms that it was him; he said this to the woman of Samaria. She has a misconception about worship; to her it is for a time and place. Her misconception is rooted in a misconception about God. To correct this, Jesus correct her misconception about God. He does this by saying that God is Spirit. If God were physically bound in an image, then it would be a right place for worship. If he were an idol built by hands of men then wherever that idol lives would be the place for worship. But since God is Spirit, the right place for worship is every place and the day is coming through the person of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to enter into that completely and fully. Ultimately, the Living Waters that he offers relates back to the idea of worship itself. Worship is that access to the presence of the Lord. Some will interpret worship in Spirit and in Truth as Spirit with a capital S and perhaps of the Bible versions have this. This isn’t indicative in the Greek or it is simply an interpretative thing to do this. I don’t doubt in any sense that we worship through the Holy Spirit. There is no question about that. I think the context here isn’t worship in Spirit as capital S but small s. So, this doesn’t mean that I worship in the Holy Spirit, although that is a truth. That isn’t true for this text; a case for the right doctrine with the wrong text perhaps. Our worship must be spiritual, not physical. It must correspond to the reality of who God is. Since God is Spirit, not a physical being, our worship must be in Spirit and truth. It must be according to the Revelation that God has given of himself.

III. Invitation into the Life of God

Now we are invited to access the Father at all times and all places because of what God has done and is doing in Jesus Christ and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. So, worship is an invitation into the very life of God. This is related not only to John 4 but all references to Living Water and to life in the Gospel of John especially.

IV. Christocentric Focus

There is a Christocentric focus on appropriate worship in the New Testament. Christ is our great sacrifice, our high priest; he is the true worship leader as Hebrews points out to us. When we speak about worship in terms of revelation and response, Torrance’s point, I think it is primarily on the response level. Jesus has made this response for us. The response of sacrifice and of the high priest. I think we can also say that Jesus needs to be the center of our worship because of revelation. If it is the deepest and clearest most faithful revelation of the unseen God and the New Testament makes that clear everywhere, then our worship experience needs to be Christocentric. We need to have Christ at the very center of our preaching, our teaching and also when the sacraments are involved in the worship. Hebrews 1:2-3, if Christ is the ultimate revelation of the Father, then in designing the worship experiences rich with revelation, he has to be central in our thinking. In him, the fullness of the Godhead dwells in bodily form. So, we need to have him as central. We see in Romans 12:1, in view of God’s mercy, we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice. That mercy is primarily revealed in the person and work of Jesus. So, we do well to celebrate his death and his resurrection.

V. Role of the Holy Spirit

We have a great emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament in terms of our worship. There is always a Christocentric worship to our worship which is trinitarian but not brinitarian. Worship involves the person, presence, prompting and the power of the Spirit. He is very much a leader of worship and very much involved in the worship in the New Testament. We can think in a number of ways. We saw the passage in 2nd Corinthians 3:17-18; the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. This is the passage that talks about changing from glory to glory as we reflect the Lord’s glory by the Spirit. So, the Spirit’s presence in our worship is transformative. It also means that there may be transforming power through the Spirit’s present. There is also the whole gifting that is useful in our worship experience. 1 Corinthians 14:26, when you come together, each of you bring something to the experience. Here, a hymn is mentioned, a tongue and an interpretation and/or a prophecy. Where do all these things come from? They come from the indwelling Spirit of God who is in us. Some of these gifts are used for worship itself. The Spirit comes and according to the Corinthians passage, he may surprise us in our worship experiences. The Spirit moves where he wants to move (John 3) and the Spirit does as he will. But it will always be to the glory of God, the Father and the Son. Even if the Spirit does move in fresh and spontaneous ways, it will never be in a way that is ultimately Spirit glorifying. It will be God-glorifying in the trinitarian sense and will uniquely bring glory to Jesus, even as Jesus says that he will bring glory to the Father. Even these surprising works of the Spirit, will always be done in a way that could be described as decently and in order.

So, you have this interesting mix in the Corinthian passage, especially chapters 12 and 14 where you get the idea that the Spirit could prompt someone to get up and speak and it could be instant and spontaneous. But what is done would never be done recklessly. And the Spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet. So, if you are in an experience where someone is having an ecstatic experience and claim that they can’t control themselves, something is amiss with what Paul plainly says in the Scripture. It can be spontaneous and surprising but directed by the Holy Spirit. A variety of gifts would be present. One of the other key features here that is coming from this is the priesthood of all believers. Everybody has something to contribute and we all have drunk of the same Spirit. Therefore, it isn’t a case where one person is acting on our behalf and we are passively receiving that; we all enter into the priesthood of Christ.