As with any teaching given by Christ and recorded in Scriptures, this teaching of Christ at the well in Samaria is virtually inexhaustible as to the truths referred to or revealed. We certainly will not follow all of those many teaching trails in this study. As a matter of fact, it would probably take more than a lifetime to fully study all the implications of this story and these teachings. Our major purpose for our being at the well with Christ and this woman is to see some of the teachings that apply to our understanding of the Church.

John 4:19-26 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 (only) 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." 25 The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (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."

We have looked at a number of truths in this passage, but let me refresh your memory with just a few that will be needed as we continue. The woman is confused as to where she should worship (the mode of worship). Christ tells her that there is a proper mode of worship, but far more important than the mode is the method of worship. There are modes of worship that are valid for certain periods of time, and this present mode is about to change. However, it matters not what the proper mode might be, the method was, is and always will be, “true worshipers will worship the Father (only) 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." (John 4:23-24)

The mode of worship, since the day of Pentecost, takes place within the new temple. That new temple is the body of each Believer.

1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

Our worship is directly with God through the Holy Spirit, and the truth of God through His Word.

John 14:16-23 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever, 17 even 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. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. 19 A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. 20 At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. 21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him... 23 If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

We may be awed by the architecture of the church building. The music may stir and thrill our hearts. The prayer from the pulpit may lift our spirits. The message may challenge and move us. But none of those actions are worship! If we substitute any of those for real worship, we are idol worshippers. There is nothing wrong with music that stirs, or prayers that lift, or messages that move, but we must not substitute those things for worship. Worship must take place in the sanctuary of your heart as your spirit meets with the Spirit of God, and you feed on His Word of Truth. It is so easy to substitute emotions or good feelings for true fellowship and worship. We should and can be in a continual state of worship all day long, no matter what we are doing, where we are going or how we are feeling.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.
1 Timothy 4:13-15 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.

I hope you are not coming to church to get your worship duty taken care of. You might get in a little worship time while here at church, but it is hard to get that one on one time with the Lord when you are in a group. During the sermon, some of you are better at deep meditation than others. I’m not sure if that type of meditation, and relaxed breathing qualifies as worship or not. If it does, some of you log quite a bit of time in this act of personal worship here at church. Others are not quite as fortunate.

It is possible to worship at church, and there is a need for group worship. However, most of what we call worship is manipulation of our emotions through words, actions and songs. There is nothing wrong with having our emotions stimulated, or having our minds challenged, but unless we personally have fellowship with God through spirit and truth within our own temple, we have only taken a cheap emotional ride by means of someone else’s experience with God. The church service should be a resource center and a filling station. We should gain information, instruction and yes, have our tank filled with go-power. Then we can take those things to our sanctuary within our temple, and praise God, rejoice in Him, pray to Him, be taught by Him, and in general stand in awe of Him.

I hope to some extent those things take place during a church service, also. However, if the church service, or any group meeting is the only time, and the only place you experience these things, you have a very limited worship life!

Notice again, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19:

Then Paul drives the point home. “This type of action is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. So, don’t quench the Spirit by not doing it!" Paul pretty well summarizes the essence of worship in these verses -- rejoicing, praying and giving thanks. Notice the extent and the location of this worship. -- always -- without ceasing -- in everything. Those terms would certainly include the church services, but it involves far more than a few minutes on Sunday. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8 that we are to deliberately set our minds and thoughts on certain classifications or subjects. Subjects with content other than found in this list should not be retained in our thinking for future contemplation. In 1 Timothy 4:15, Paul declares the intensity with which we should meditate -- “Give yourself entirely to them”. We have our temple with us wherever we may be, and that temple of ours is inhabited at all times by the God of all gods. Therefore, we should not waste our time waiting for the right time, or the right place to fellowship with and adore God. We will see later in our study that when Believers who are in this state of worship and fellowship gather together, there will be a sense of God’s presence like no other place this side of heaven.

This continual attitude and action of fellowship and worship is not a new concept that just came along with the church. Certainly the indwelling Holy Spirit in the life of Believers is new with the beginning of the Church, but God’s method and intensity of worship and fellowship has never changed. The Law was a demonstration of this type of life and worship. The Israelites were to meditate on God’s Word day and night. They were to tie portions of the Word of God on their foreheads and elsewhere, even write it on their property. They had high days and feast days, Sabbaths, new moons, etc. They should have been thinking on the things of God all day long. This was not just to be a Saturday or Sabbath thing. It was to be a life, 7 days a week, day and night. True worship of God has always been: all the time, everywhere and with everything.

Psalms 19:1-14 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, 5 Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. 6 Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat. 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward. 12 Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. 13 Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

David didn’t have the indwelling Holy Spirit, or the completed Word of God as we do. Yet, he knew the meaning of true personal worship. He wasn’t surrounded by religious ornaments of gold and silver, or carved and embroidered cherubims, altars, incense, etc, but he learned and entered into true personal worship with God. From that personal fellowship came some of the greatest tools of worship we have, the Psalms.

Anytime sinful mankind enters into a personal relationship, and intimate fellowship with God there is the danger of self exaltation, and from that can come false worship and religion.

2 Corinthians 12:1-7 It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago--whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows--such a one was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know such a man--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- 4 how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. 6 For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I forbear, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure.

When any person has experienced personal fellowship with the God of gods, it is so easy for that person (that includes you and me) to think more highly of themselves than they should, and look down on those who are not quite as spiritual as they are. My friend, if it weren’t for the grace of God, you wouldn’t be where you think your are, anyway.

Luke 18:10-14 Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men--extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 "I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess." 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

True worship and fellowship have rewards beyond description and measure. True worship alos has a great danger, not because of the worship, but because you, the worshipper, still has an old sin nature. Some of the greatest sins of all time were committed by good people just after they had been in the very presence of God.

Genesis 3:7-9 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" 10 So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself."

Oh yes, the mother-of-all-sins was committed by one who did not have an old sin nature, lived in a perfect world and fellowshipped personally with God each day. The consequences of that sin of pride is seen everywhere in the world, and in my life every day. No, just because you have fellowship with God, or even live in a better environment that others does not mean that you are free from this idol of self worship. As a matter of fact, being able to come into the presence of God and stand on that high and holy ground gives Satan, and your old sin nature the perfect opportunity to test you on the basis of your exulted position.

Moses also found that just having fellowship with God, personally, doesn’t exempt a person from the greatest of sins.

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech-- 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were hardened. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

The effect of meeting with God, the glowing face, was still evident after Moses left the presence of God, and Moses committed an act of sin that has affected the Jews, and many Gentiles even to this day. Because of that act committed right after personal fellowship with God, the Scriptures were not understood by many throughout history, and even today the results are still evident.

Of course, the classic sin of pride was committed while still in the very presence of God. Satan tried to dethrone God while still being as intimate with God as any creature could be. Paul uses that fact to warn Timothy not to fall after the same pattern. I’m sure we still need this caution brought before us every day. Yes, several times a day.

1 Timothy 3:6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.

We need to be very careful that after knowing personal fellowship with and worship of God, we don’t step away from that glorious presence and become exulted beyond measure, and look with contempt on other poor Believers who aren’t quite as good as we are. That, my friend, is false pride and the “condemnation of the devil”, not the blessing of the fellowship with God. So, if you are participating in the same “condemnation as the devil”, I don’t think you have any grounds upon which to stand, and say that your sins are more refined than the sins of others. Our churches are full of just such departures from God-conscienceness, and the replacement of it with the self-elevation of human personality. Oh yes, we have our share of this type of self-adoration and idol worship even here at MBF.

John 4:19-22 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.

Jesus answers her question of where should she worship and goes beyond the question to teach some great lessons. Jesus tells her that the day of having a place of worship was coming to an end. The time was coming when people could worship everywhere. Christ told her that she did not need a special place to worship, because true worshippers could find God in every place.

Then Christ moves to a different aspect of worship. True worship is based on true knowledge. The Samaritans were ignorant of a great deal of the truth of God. Not because the information was not available to them, but because they had rejected the information. The whole revelation of God interfered with their style of worship. A fact that is also very prevalent in churches of today. As a result, much of the teaching in churches today is a matter of picking and choosing what is convenient, but less and less is the whole counsel of God being taught from the pulpits. The Samaritans accepted only the first five books of the Old Testament or the Pentateuch. They rejected all the rest of the Old Testament. The void left because of this rejection of the Psalms, Proverbs, the prophetic books, etc, they filled with superstition. Plus, the foreign people who were brought in by the Assyrians to repopulate Samaria brought their own gods with them. These foreign gods were blended with the God of Israel to make a religion that was based on superstition, fear and ignorance.

2 Kings 17:26-33 So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, "The nations whom you have removed and placed in the cities of Samaria do not know the rituals of the God of the land; therefore He has sent lions among them, and indeed, they are killing them because they do not know the rituals of the God of the land." 27 Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, "Send there one of the priests whom you brought from there; let him go and dwell there, and let him teach them the rituals of the God of the land." 28 Then one of the priests whom they had carried away from Samaria came and dwelt in Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the Lord. 29 However every nation continued to make gods of its own, and put them in the houses of the high places which the Samaritans had made, every nation in the cities where they dwelt. 30 The men of Babylon made Succoth Benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima, 31 and the Avites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the Sepharvites burned their children in fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim. 32 So they feared the Lord, and from every class they appointed for themselves priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the shrines of the high places. 33 They feared the Lord, yet served their own gods--according to the rituals of the nations from among whom they were carried away.

This is what Christ was referring to when He told the woman that "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. (John 4: 22) Ignorance in worship makes true worship impossible. We will be back to that subject in just a moment. I can’t leave this portion without pointing out that Christ did not try to clean up the society around this woman in an effort to bring her to salvation. There was a lot of cleaning up that needed to be done, both personally and in the society around her. Notice, He cleansed the Temple, but He made no attempt to cleanse this society. Here were all these other gods that had been placed on equal standing with the God of gods. That would certainly have been a good place to start with a march around town or a boycott of the local food service, or something. He could have at least done something to demonstrate that He cared! That is the big motivational cry of the leaders who want your help moralizing the world. “We may not make much progress (so they say), but at least it shows we care.” God showed He cared by giving His Son to die for sin and for sinners, not by bringing moral reform. The way you change society or a world is by converting the individuals within it. I don’t know when, if ever the church will learn to not spend God’s money trying to make every thing politically correct, and start spending God’s money declaring the good news of God’s saving grace to a lost and depraved world.

2 Corinthians 5:18-20 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.

The gospel is not about issues. The gospel is about a person. The person of the Son of God, Jesus Christ the Savior of the world. Issues are important. Issues are not the ministry of the Church. Issues are the obligation of the individual, and I hope you have opinions on the issues. I hope you do something about the issues. I hope those opinions and those actions are founded and directed by Biblical truths you’ve received from the church. If the Body of Christ spent more time presenting, to the world, the Person of Christ instead of pointing out the ills of the world, we would see more people coming to Christ, and have their lives changed, thereby changing the world around them. There are very few issues addressed in the Bible. That includes the sins of society. However, the sins of those in the church are addressed often. Do you suppose that if the church took care of its holy living, we would see a change in the world around the church? I don’t just think so. I know so! Well, so much for that subject for now.

In our passage, Christ is addressing the worship of ignorance, and He says to the woman, "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. (John 4:22) The Samaritans had added Jehovah God to their list of gods, not so much because they believed in Him, but were afraid to leave Him out. So to cover all their bases, they included Jehovah just in case He was for real. I have had good people ask in effect, “What if the charismatics are right in some areas? The Buddhists have some real good points. Would it hurt to just include some of those things in our services? Of course, we could change them a little bit, so they wouldn’t look like.......” That is a demonstration of this same attitude as the Samaritan’s worship of ignorance. If the Lord were to make a statement about your worship, I wonder if He would say about you, “you worship what you do not know”? We need to “know what and why we worship”! False worship has many faces. We only have time to look at a few of those faces. I will try to bring out those aspects that are particularly relevant to our present situation and study.

False religion is based on a dubious fear of what would happen if they didn’t at least acknowledge God as some sort of a god. After all, there might be something in this God bit for them. Plus, they want to play it safe and leave their options open, just in case. False religion is not founded on love and gratitude of Who God is. Instead, it is based on fear in the same manner that some fear walking under a ladder. False religion is based on how it makes me feel, not on whether it’s a fact presented by God. Boy! That one hits home doesn’t it? How much of your worship is based on how it makes you feel? As you study worship in the Bible, you will find most worship does not leave you with a good feeling. Instead, true worship leaves you with a fear of God, and an honest realization of the low estate of humanity.

False religion is selective. It chooses what it likes about God and what it feels God would like about them. We must be careful to see all that God teaches, not just choosing what suits us and ignoring the rest. False religion is often one-sided. Either doing all to appease a god, or as we fundamentalists often do, come to God only to get what God has to hand out. No, we must not do as the Samaritans did, and choose only that which pleases us, and does not disrupt our lifestyle. True worship will change how you live, and your attitude to life itself.

As Christ pointed out to this woman, false religion is a worship of ignorance. Religion nor worship should be founded on emotions only. An emotional experience may be the beginning of our religious experience. However, sooner or later our emotional actions and responses must be thought through, and reconciled with our intelligence. Otherwise our religion becomes only a worship of superstitions and ignorance. Many regular church goers whose worship is based on emotions, find themselves afraid that their emotions will not be the same in the next service, and therefore they will have lost their religion. As a result, many Believers are professional church shoppers. Going from one church to another looking for right feeling.

A person cannot find safety or security in their religion or worship until they know what they believe, and why they believe it. True religion and worship is of hope, Biblical hope, and that hope must be solidly established upon the facts and reasons for that hope, or it is no hope at all. It is only a pipe-dream. A nonchalant attitude about what you believe is in itself a denial of God, and not faith in Him.

2 Timothy 2:14-16 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness.
1 Peter 3:15-16 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.
© Clyde White, Austin TX, 1998