What Did Christ Mean?
Jesus the Christ (Gk. Christos: the Anointed One, the Messiah), the Son of God (i.e., God manifested in the flesh), made a number of exceedingly significant statements during His ministry prior to being crucified on Calvary.
During Christ’s tenure on earthHe endeavored to offer the promised kingdom to the nation of Israel should it repent and recognize Him as the Christ, the promised Messiah. Yet, it should be understood that the ultimate objective of His earthly path involved all mankind. Early in His ministry to the Jews He needed to travel through Samaria, and during this journey He came to a city called Sychar. At Sychar He sat down to rest at Jacob’s well, and at noontime He met a Samarian woman who came to draw water at the well. The following is a highly significant portion of the conversation that took place between Christ and this non-Jewish, Samaritan woman.
(19) The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.
(20) Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
(21) Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.
(22) You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
(23) But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
(24) God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The Samaritans were a mixture by intermarriage of the Jews left in the land (2 Chronicles 30:6,10; 34:9) with colonists from Babylon and other regions sent by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria.After Shalmaneserled the ten tribes into captivity, he introduced the ancestors of the Samaritans into the land of Israel (2 Kings 17:24-41). When the Jews returned from their captivity in Babylon and began to rebuild their temple, the Samaritans asked permission to build with them, and when this was refused, a pronounced enmity arose between the two people that never died out (Ezra 4:1-5; Nehemiah 2:10; 4:1-3).
Because of the antipathy between the Jews and the Samaritans, the woman expressed curiosity as to why Christ, a Jew, would even ask her for a drink of water. After Christ speaks to her of the “gift of God” and its availability to all people, she then brings up a difference between the Jews and the Samaritans as to worshipping God, focusing on the “place of worship.” In reply to the woman, Christ ignores her concept of worship, which centered on a “place,” by clearly stating that “the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”
What did Christ mean by this statement? Consider its elements, as follows:
Christians should understand that worship is not a regurgitation of a prescribed dialog or the execution of an established procedure in an approved setting/location mandated by some denominational hierarchy. Although true worship may indeed take place within such a practice and setting, interdependency does not exist between them.
The word “worship” is from the Greek word “proskuneo” and should be understood as “the genuinely respectful recognition and honoring of the Person and Authority of God, coupled with a realistic understanding of one’s inferior existence.” It is the prostration of the inferior created being to the Almighty Living Creator. And as such, it has no interdependent contact with any outward place or man-oriented practice.
For lack of a better description, worship can be understood as a “state of mind” or “attitude” that should permeate a Christian’s entire life. In other words, it is a continual awareness of and boundless admiration of Almighty God by man. It truly should not be relegated to a set of rules and procedures implemented in some prearranged manner in some sanctioned place. Just as Christians should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17; Ephesians 6:18), they should always be in a “state of worship” regardless of where they are and regardless of their present activity.
The Holy Spirit and the human spirit (vital principle) are both translated from the Greek word “pneuma” (from “pneo” meaning breath or current of air), depending on the context. Another form of the word would be “spiritual” in Scripture.
Regarding the “state of mind”within a Christian, it represents a degree of spiritualmaturity as opposed to the word “sarkikos,” which is translated“carnal,” a degree of spiritualimmaturity. This contrast in spiritual discernment is what Paul addressed in his first letter to the local church at Corinth, specifically noted in its third chapter.
When a person becomes a Christian, i.e., at the very moment he makes the decision to place his trust (an act of faith) in Christ for his personal salvation, he is identified by Scripture as a “babe in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1; Hebrews 5:13). At that precise moment he is passed from a state of spiritual death to a state of spiritual life, a reality that is forever nonreversible.
Yet, as a spiritual babe, one who still embodies the “old man” (the sin nature with which he was born) and who continues to face the deceitful wiles of Satan (1 Peter 5:8), the Christian urgently needs to achieve spiritual maturity in order to overcome evil in this life by accomplishinggood works, i.e., living a life of faithfulness toward God. The achievement of this is to establish that the Christian will be classified as an “overcomer,” one who at the Judgment Seat of Christ will realize the salvation of his soul, i.e., the ultimate goal of being taken from the “body of Christ” to be included in the “bride of Christ” to rule with Him during the coming Messianic Era.
(The reader is encouraged to read the book, Salvation of the Soul, by Arlen L. Chitwood, which may be fully accessed at the following website link: http://bibleone.net/SOS.htm.)
As a Christian matures “in Christ” – advances in spiritual strength and practice – he becomes increasing empowered by the Spirit of God. Scripture speaks of this as being “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18), which, when comparing “scripture with scripture” (1 Corinthians 2:13), specifically Ephesians 5:19, 20 with Colossians 3:16, one realizes that the achievement of spiritual maturity is to “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” And this –truth – is the second part stated by Christregarding, and which affects, proper worship.
Jesus Christ, who is the “Word of God” (John 1:1, 14), declared that He was “the truth” (John 14:6). He further declared that Christians are sanctified (set apart, become spiritually mature) by the “Word” – God’s truth (John 17:17). The apostle James clearly stated to Christians as he encouraged them to become “perfect [spiritually mature] and complete [spiritually sound], lacking nothing” (James 1:4)to “receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21b). The reality is that true (mature) spirituality cannot be achieved apart from the Word of God. They are interrelated. Only by absorbing the Word in faith may a Christian prove the following verse of Scripture: “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so [in the same manner] walk in Him” (Colossians 2:6), the essence of true Christian worship.
Christian worship is not to be bound to a place, to a prescribed practice or to a certain time. It is unfortunate that so many Christians believe that their duty and worship must be performed in a physical, local church or other establishment and only during a certain day or days of the week. True Christianity, serving God, is never to be compartmentalized. For such only reflects a degree of spiritual immaturity.
The concept of biblical worship encompasses the “spirit” (a person’s “state of mind” apart from any physical, outward connection) and the “truth” (a person’s active relationship with “The Word of God”), both of which go hand-in-hand in order for God to be properly recognized and honored.
Christ meant that to worship God is “now” – always “now” (John 4:23), the present. It is a continuous awareness of the Living God, the Creator, in one’s life and one’s total dependence upon Him – this should always be the Christian’s “state of mind” no matter where he might be, no matter what he may be doing. And when this is the case, the following will prove true: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5, 6).
This was the case with Enoch who “. . . walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:24)
The following is a list of applicable passages of Scripture that the reader may wish to consider regarding this issue.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. (John 14:6)
Romans 2:28, 29
For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; (29) but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. (Galatians 3:10)
Romans 8:1, 2
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.
For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, (4) that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (5) For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. (6) For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
1 Corinthians 3:1
And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:5, 6
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, (6) who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. (17) For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (19) Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, (20) idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfishambitions, dissensions, heresies, (21) envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (24) And those who are Christ’shave crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (25) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (cf. Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 5:9)
Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.
And the LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.” (cf. Deuteronomy 32:4)
Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day. (cf. Psalm 25:10)
Into Your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth. (cf. Isaiah 65:16)
For the Word of the LORD is right, and all His work is done in truth. (cf. Psalm 86:11; 119:142; Ephesians 1:13)
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.
For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. (cf. Psalm 108:4)
For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD!
The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.
Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever.
He who speaks truth declares righteousness, but a false witness, deceit. (cf. Proverbs 12:19)
Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:16, 17
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever – (17) the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. (cf. John 15:26; 16:13; 1 John 5:6b)
But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. (cf. John 14:17; 16:13; 1 John 5:6b)
However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. (cf. John 14:17; 15:26; 1 John 5:6b)
John 17:17, 19
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your Word is truth. . . . (19) And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. (cf. John 14:6)
For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness.
2 Timothy 2:15
Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth.
Of His own will He brought us forth by the Word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. (cf. John 14:6)
1 John 3:18
My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
1 John 5:6b
. . . And it is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. (cf. John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13)