Worship - Lesson 2
Background Information for the Teacher
- The student can define “worship” using terms from John 4:24.
- The student can explain Jesus’ answer to the Samaritan woman’s question.
- The student can explain the meaning of “in spirit and in truth.”
- The student will commit to making further improvements in worship.
- All students should have a Bible from which to read.
- Have a chalk or marker board ready to use.
- List each reading on a card to hand out before class.
- Have the quiz sheets ready.
- Have copies of “Be With Me Lord” in a songbook or on song sheets.
We must worship God “in spirit and in truth.”
Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class
Introduction: (About 10 minutes)
- Welcome visitors by name. Check the roll and make the announcements.
- In the last class meeting, each of us made a resolution to make certain improvements in our worship. Q: Who will share with us a commitment you made and tell about how that affected your worship? (Take 3 or 4 of these—about 5 minutes.)
Learning Experiences: (about 35 minutes)
- One of Jesus’ most specific statements about worship is in John 4. Let’s start our study of this passage by reading John 4:7-18.
- Q: How did Jesus start this conversation? Q: What barriers did He cross to talk to this woman? (Gender, cultural, spiritual.) Q: How does Jesus turn the conversation to something spiritual? Q: What can we learn from this conversation about our conversations? (Often we should gently move conversations about physical things to a topic of spiritual so the person will benefit from the spiritual message.) Q: Give an example of how we might use this technique in a conversation today.
- Now let’s read John 4:19-22. Q: Why does the woman believe Jesus is a prophet? Q: What question does she now ask Him? Q: How does Jesus answer her question? (The Jews have been right about this.) Q: What does Jesus mean by “Yet a time is coming and has now come” when neither of these places will be special for worship? (Under Jesus’ new covenant, worship will be different. The place will not matter and people can worship anywhere they are.)
- Now read John 4:23-24. Q: What do we learn about worship from these two verses? (Teacher: write the answers on the board. Such things as the following should be mentioned: God is to be the object of our worship; we can do it anywhere; God seeks people to be worshippers; we should worship in spirit and in truth.) Q: What is the literal meaning of the original word translated here as “worship?” (Proskuneo—means to give honor by falling on the ground before some object. It could be before an idol, the statue of an emperor, or before the Lord.) Q: Does this mean we must literally “fall on our faces” in order to worship? (No. It means we must have the same spirit within as if we were in such a posture, a strong attitude of submission and respect toward the one being worshipped.) Q: Do you remember any one in the Bible who worshipped in some other posture than “on the ground before God?” (Daniel knelt—Daniel 6:10; the publican prayed standing with his head bowed—Luke 18:13; Jesus directed the people to sit before He prayed over the five loaves and two fish—Matthew 14:19. While a posture of kneeling or of bowing the head can help us get in the right frame of mind to worship, one may worship in any posture if his/her heart is “prostrate” before the Lord.) Q: Beyond its literal meaning, what does the meaning of the word “worship” imply about how we should worship? (One comes before the object of worship in submission to send a message to the object of worship. One would never throw himself/herself prostrate before something without intending that act to send a message to the object of worship.) Q: On the basis of this discussion, how would you define worship? (From the comments, write a definition like the following on the board—To humble oneself before an object of worship in order to express a message of deepest respect, devotion, and request.)
- Q: How does God feel about our worshipping Him? (He “seeks” for those who will come to Him in the right way?) Q: Does the place matter? (Now we can worship God from anywhere.) Q: In what ways does Jesus suggest that the worship which “now is” or “soon will be” is different from what worship was under the old covenant? (There were some types of worship under the Old Covenant that could only be done in a particular place and with priests as leaders. This will no longer be the case.) Q: While we can worship anywhere, what about the place might affect how well we worship? (Quiet, in the company of others who are worshipping, free from distractions such as too hot or too cold or discomfort, a place that establishes a proper mood.)
- Q: What does Jesus say about the nature of God that will affect our worship of Him? (God is spirit. He is not physical by nature but is a spirit and thus can be everywhere.)
- Q: What two qualifications does Jesus give for our worship? (Spirit and truth). Q: If God is spirit, what does it mean for us to worship in spirit? (We have a spirit, and this spirit is to make contact in worship with the great spirit who created us in His image. To say that the word “spirit” here just means “right attitude” is to miss the full meaning. Of course we must worship with the right attitude. But since God is spirit and thus can be everywhere, He may be worshipped from anywhere. One should approach Him “spirit to Spirit. Worshipping “in spirit,” then, means to worship with our deepest thoughts and innermost being, with our own spirits or souls. We communicate with God on an intense, spiritual level.) Q: Describe what someone would be doing today who is “worshipping in spirit.” (A person, for example, who is taking the Lord’s supper would be deeply concentrating on the death of Christ and what that death means in his/her life. This person might also be making a re-commitment to live more in harmony with what Christ asks of us as His followers.) Q: How does this differ from Old Testament worship? (Then, the worship was more in externals and was coming through another person, a priest, and so one was worshipping somewhat indirectly. Then people watched others doing things, saw the ceremony; but now, the individual offers his own sacrifice to God. Read Hebrews 13:15. Under the Old Covenant, then, worship involved some recognition of God’s presence where sacrifices were offered, but now we have a sense of entering the very presence of God and communicating with Him more directly.) To worship in spirit, then, means that we engage our souls and sense a direct communication between ourselves and God. It may help us to realize this directness if we think of ourselves as being on one end of the phone line with God on the other.
- Q: What is meant by “worshipping in truth?” (According to what has been revealed about Christian worship—thus according to truth. Also this would seem to refer to a difference between Old Testament worship, which was in types and shadows, and the New Testament worship, which is true “realities.” Thus the old sacrifice was of animals while the new sacrifice is Christ. One was the shadow of things to come and the other is the real thing, and thus “in reality” or “in truth.” That we must worship as we are told is, of course, taught both here and throughout the Bible.
- Q: Describe what it would mean to worship in a song when it is sung “in spirit and in truth.” (We would understand the words and make the words truly our own message. We would sense our nearness to God as our spirits reach out to Him. Our focus on the meaning of the words would be very strong and we would sense that we are directly in the presence of God.)
- Let’s sing “Be With Me Lord” and seek to sing it “in spirit and in truth.” First, a little background on the writing of this hymn will help us focus on the meaning of the words. L.O. Sanderson, a well-known minister and song-leader among churches of Christ, described it like this. “In the fall of 1934, on a Monday night past midnight, I was working in my church office, editing and re-arranging materials for Christian Hymns-I. It was so late that the police, seeing a light in my office and my car still out, stopped and came in to check on me. A melody kept running through my mind. I finally stopped what I was doing, and wrote out the melody and then returned to my work, but the harmony kept place in my mind. Again, I stopped and wrote the harmony to complete the music.” “Some eight days later, a letter came from Thomas O. Chisholm. I had never met him personally, but have purchased many of his poems, and we have corresponded. In his letter was a poem. Mr. Chisholm said he had retired one evening but couldn’t sleep ‘because a theme kept coming to my mind. After midnight, I finally got up, went to my desk, and completed the poem.’ This turned out to be on the very same night I had trouble working until I wrote the music. Well, to my surprise, it was a perfect fit for my music.” (Taylor, A Song is Born, 72-73.) So, two people a thousand miles apart, at the same time; one wrote the words and the other wrote the music. As we sing this song, let’s notice the many different situations in which we will ask the Lord to be with us and sing it in spirit and in truth. Q: What situations do you see mentioned?” (Bearing the loads of life, dangers, trials, loneliness, weeping, and pain). In all such situations, we need to Lord to be with us. Sing this song slowly and quietly in the mood of deep prayer. Make this your prayer to God.
- Q: What, in specific terms, could we do to make a church service to be as much as possible “in spirit and in truth?” What would be different?
- In a moment of silent prayer, let’s all commit ourselves to this kind of worship.
- Read Revelation 4.
Prepare for the quiz over lesson 3.
A multiple-choice quiz next time over today’s lesson.
Back to Worship
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