“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24)
God seeks those who will worship Him since He created people that they may worship and glorify Him. He is to be worshiped as God – who is the Almighty. He is not to be worshipped as if He is like man because He is different from men in terms of His Person, His Character, wisdom and time. He has prescribed the manner in which People ought to worship Him in His Word.
Firstly, those who worship Him, must worship in Spirit
Because God is spirit, then those who worship Him must worship Him in the manner that will reveal this. Spiritual worship means that the faculties involved are inward like the heart, the conscience and the mind involving both the desires, affection, intellect and all the essence of man.
How do we worship in Spirit? This question is very well answered in Romans 12:1, where a very strong appeal is made to the Christian brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Spiritual worship is presenting oneself to God for service. It is the inward reality manifested in the body so that the Lord is pleased to make it an acceptable sacrifice. The offering up means giving oneself completely without any reservation. Obviously, this is only possible for one who has experienced the mercies of God. In worship we throw away anything that may hinder us from being in the presence of God – this is sin.
Secondly, we are to worship in truth.
To worship in truth is to use the instruction of the Bible to be our manual for delivering the worship that is acceptable to the Lord. How fitting it is when the Lord is worship as He has prescribed in the Bible! Why should anyone feel to be at liberty to worship the Lord in accordance to his own imagination? We are to be concerned that so many congregations seem to be more interested in pleasing men rather than God by offering worship according to their own inventions. Jesus is the ‘truth’ (John 14:6) and He came full of grace and truth (John 1:14) and so we ought to worship Him in accordance to His revealed character. Moreover, He has given us His Spirit to guide us into all truth so that we are able to worship in the truth the He leads, otherwise it would be blasphemous.
Some of the ingredients of worship include:
This is where one of the worshipers leads the prayers by speaking audibly in a known language so that the rest join in heart in the devotions and supplications. An example would be the way Solomon lead the prayers in the dedication of the temple in 2Chronicles 6. In the early church, we find that it was devoted “to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). The work of the Apostles was primarily the ministry of the Word and prayer (Acts 6:4). This means that they prayed privately (just as the deacons and all the people would pray privately) but particularly led the congregation in public prayers as well as the ministry of the Word. It is the will of God for us all to pray, and men to lead in the public worship in prayer (1Tim. 3:8). According to this verse women are not expected to lead in public worship prayers.
· Songs of praise
Christians are always known to sing when they are gathered as a way of responding to the Word of God. So every time the church is gathered they are to offer songs of praise – “addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, (Eph 5:19). This clearly indicates that singing forms part of the public worship. We read the same in Col. 3:16 and we are expected to sing to express the joy of the salvation we have received from the Lord and so worship Him (James 5:13).
· Public reading of Scripture
We are instructed in the Bible not to neglect the public reading of Scripture (1Tim. 4:13). Therefore, we are to have the reading of the Bible verse by verse, chapter by chapter through the Bible read publically to the congregation because it is the Word of God written to the church so that the church may be built up to be the ground and pillar of truth (1Tim 3:15). Moreover, there are those who may be illiterate in the congregation who might not be able to know how to read, who would be so much profited by this exercise. Through the public reading of the Bible, there is a unity of purpose in as far as listening from God corporately is concerned.
· Exposition of Scripture
The preaching the Word is the climax of worship because the Word is brought with the authority of those who have received from God. The preacher ought to be faithful in bringing forth the Word of God so that the people would be instructed, taught, rebuked, corrected and trained in godliness (2Tim. 3:16,17) and for the instruction of others. This is because we are God’s family and He is our Father who we delight to hear.
We are therefore, charged with this command to preach with all authority (2Tim. 2:15) in and out of season (2Tim. 4:2). We should never be tired of preaching because it is commanded by the Lord and so it honors Him, but also because it is God’s power to the salvation of those who believe (Rom. 1:16).
· The Sacraments such as Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Baptism is an instruction from the Lord where one identifies with Christ publically and God attest to this inward reality. Furthermore, during the baptism the one baptized receives it as a sign of his fellowship with Christ, in His death and resurrection; of his being engrafted into Him [Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:27]; of remission of sins;[Mark 1:4; Acts 22:16] and of giving up into God, through Jesus Christ, to live and walk in newness of life.[Rom. 6:4] (London Baptist Confession of Faith, chapter 29.1)