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Thread: John 4:23-24: Worship God in Spirit and Truth--What Does This Mean?

  1. #1

    John 4:23-24: Worship God in Spirit and Truth--What Does This Mean?

    In John 4:23-24, Jesus declares to the Samaritan woman,
    ESV John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
    The phrase "worship in spirit and truth" has been interpreted variously. Here are some examples of the more common readings:

    1st interpretation: The phrase “in spirit and truth” conveys a single idea: It refers to an inward sincerity.

    2nd interpretation: The phrase “in spirit and truth” conveys two closely related yet separate ideas: It refers both to an inward sincerity and also to an objective standard of worship.

    3rd interpretation: The phrase “in spirit and truth” conveys two distinct yet inseparable ideas: It refers both to the Holy Spirit and also to the Lord Jesus Christ, truth incarnate.

    You'll note that the first view treats the phrase "spirit and truth" as referring to one basic idea, whereas interpretations 2 and 3 see two separate though related ideas. Moreover, you'll note that interpretations 1 and 2 seem to refer to a kind of worship that the Father has sought throughout every dispensation. The 3rd interpretation, however, seems to give greater emphasis to an epochal or redemptive-historical shift, i.e., the age of the Spirit and Incarnation of Christ are now to the center pieces of God-pleasing worship.

    Which interpretation do you favor? What are the exegetical arguments for your preference? What weaknesses do you see in the other positions? Or do you have a 4th option to offer? If you don't, I do. But first I'd like to see what you have to say.

    Your servant,
    Bob Gonzales Jr., Dean and Professor of Biblical Theology
    [URL="http://rbseminary.org/"]Reformed Baptist Seminary[/URL]

    "Persons need not and ought not to set any bounds to their spiritual and gracious appetites." Jonathan Edwards

    Check out my new book: [URL="http://www.wtsbooks.com/product-exec/product_id/6852/nm/Where+Sin+Abounds:+The+Spread+of+Sin+and+the+Curse+in+Genesis+with+Special+Focus+on+the+Patriarchal+Narratives+(Paperback)"]Where Sin Abounds[/URL]

  2. #2
    Is it possible that, given the context of the discussion of which mountain to worship on, the Lord is teaching that the time has arrived where the believers will no longer have ceremonial holy places (they will not worship on either of the mountains), and should not attach God, who is spirit, to physical places? Or, am I way off in left field?
    Taylor W. Otwell
    Covenant Presbyterian Church (PCA), Little Rock, AR



  3. #3
    Great question. I used to favor something more along the lines of #2, which I believe Terry Johnson takes. However, after having read Robert Letham's The Holy Trinity, I would definitely lean toward #3. I'd have to read back through his discussion to give you the precise exegetical reasons. In general, however, I think that the Gospels have a much more Trinitarian framework than a lot of contemporary Protestant scholarship acknowledges. We've let ourselves become shaped by the wrong sort of biblical theology (I'm speaking in terms of the discipline) to the extent that we affirm the Trinity but would often scoff at finding Trinitarian implications in such a passage.
    Bryan Peters
    Trinity Presbyterian Reformed Church
    Student of Theology Under Care of the Presbyterian Reformed Church
    Johnston, Iowa
    Contributor to Fire and Hammer Reformation

    The true visible church, where God's ordinances are set up as he hath appointed,
    where his word is purely preached, is the most beautiful thing under heaven,
    and there is God's glory set forth and manifested more clearly than in all the Lord's handiwork beside in heaven or earth.
    ~David Dickson~

  4. #4
    Dr. Gonzales,

    This is a really good question. I often have similar questions which arise from the Johannine books.

    My first inclination is to simply note the parallel between "in truth," and "you worship you know not what;" and between "in spirit," and "neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem."

    I would be hesitant to push the distinction between the two concepts too hard, however, as my tendency in John's writings is to see parallel words and concepts being used to describe the same thing. I think the simplest exegesis is that John shows Jesus seizing upon two concepts from the Samaritan woman's statement, and using these to show the true nature of worship.

    I'm sure you're aware of Calvin's exegesis of the passage. He does not see it as opposing the commanded Jewish worship (for this was always spiritual); however the spiritual nature and substantial truth of the worship were veiled and obscured. Thus, when the substance and spiritual nature was revealed more plainly and fully, it was as though something new were seen.

    I would add the fact that the statements of the Samaritan woman by which this conversation is framed can add to this understanding. First she says, "I perceive you are a prophet;" then Jesus says these things of worship, wherein the true mode of worship is to be exhibited plainly (note, not plainly for the first time); and then, she immediately says that "We know Messiah will come and will show us all things," as though she is acknowledging that the role of Christ is not to bring something new, but to exhibit that true worship of God which has been in all ages, though sometimes under the cover of fleshly ordinances.

    This may not have gotten directly at the question you posed. Perhaps Calvin, again, said it best when he explained of this passage: "For the truth of the worship of God consists in the Spirit.

    -----Added 3/6/2009 at 10:45:39 EST-----

    After re-reading the initial post, I think that spirit referring to "inward sincerity" may be too weak an expression, though it may simply arise from the limitations of language. It seems it certainly includes the idea of sincerity, but perhaps isn't limited thereunto. Obviously it corresponds in some way to the statement, "God is spirit." Thus, if God is not corporeal, neither can the substance or truth of worship be such; it's essence cannot consist of outward or fleshly forms -- though indeed it may be presented under such. For the Mosaic worship, at heart, was truly spiritual, but it was presented under the form of fleshly ordinance, though indeed this Mosaic, "fleshly" worship could certainly be done in both faith and sincerity of heart. I don't think Jesus is drawing a distinction here between hypocrites and true worshipers; this doesn't seem to be involved in the context: rather, he seems to be declaring the superiority of the New covenant to the Old ("Our father Jacob dug this well; are you greater than he?"); and that on account of which the New is superior is that the truth and substance of the Spiritual worship of God is set forth more plainly and clearly.
    Last edited by Prufrock; 03-06-2009 at 10:23 PM.
    Paul
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  5. #5
    I definitely take option #2.
    Ben
    Chaplain, US Army
    Stuttgart, Germany
    TE Potomac Presbytery, PCA
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    "Whenever I'm about to do something, I think, 'would an idiot do that?' And if they would, I do not do that thing." -- Dwight Schrute

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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by TaylorOtwell View Post
    Is it possible that, given the context of the discussion of which mountain to worship on, the Lord is teaching that the time has arrived where the believers will no longer have ceremonial holy places (they will not worship on either of the mountains), and should not attach God, who is spirit, to physical places? Or, am I way off in left field?
    Taylor,

    I think you're making a good point. You seem to be suggesting that John 4:23-24 is portending a shift in redemptive history. That would be most consistent with view #3.
    Bob Gonzales Jr., Dean and Professor of Biblical Theology
    [URL="http://rbseminary.org/"]Reformed Baptist Seminary[/URL]

    "Persons need not and ought not to set any bounds to their spiritual and gracious appetites." Jonathan Edwards

    Check out my new book: [URL="http://www.wtsbooks.com/product-exec/product_id/6852/nm/Where+Sin+Abounds:+The+Spread+of+Sin+and+the+Curse+in+Genesis+with+Special+Focus+on+the+Patriarchal+Narratives+(Paperback)"]Where Sin Abounds[/URL]

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Prufrock View Post
    Dr. Gonzales,

    This is a really good question. I often have similar questions which arise from the Johannine books.

    My first inclination is to simply note the parallel between "in truth," and "you worship you know not what;" and between "in spirit," and "neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem."

    I would be hesitant to push the distinction between the two concepts too hard, however, as my tendency in John's writings is to see parallel words and concepts being used to describe the same thing. I think the simplest exegesis is that John shows Jesus seizing upon two concepts from the Samaritan woman's statement, and using these to show the true nature of worship.

    I'm sure you're aware of Calvin's exegesis of the passage. He does not see it as opposing the commanded Jewish worship (for this was always spiritual); however the spiritual nature and substantial truth of the worship were veiled and obscured. Thus, when the substance and spiritual nature was revealed more plainly and fully, it was as though something new were seen.

    I would add the fact that the statements of the Samaritan woman by which this conversation is framed can add to this understanding. First she says, "I perceive you are a prophet;" then Jesus says these things of worship, wherein the true mode of worship is to be exhibited plainly (note, not plainly for the first time); and then, she immediately says that "We know Messiah will come and will show us all things," as though she is acknowledging that the role of Christ is not to bring something new, but to exhibit that true worship of God which has been in all ages, though sometimes under the cover of fleshly ordinances.

    This may not have gotten directly at the question you posed. Perhaps Calvin, again, said it best when he explained of this passage: "For the truth of the worship of God consists in the Spirit.

    -----Added 3/6/2009 at 10:45:39 EST-----

    After re-reading the initial post, I think that spirit referring to "inward sincerity" may be too weak an expression, though it may simply arise from the limitations of language. It seems it certainly includes the idea of sincerity, but perhaps isn't limited thereunto. Obviously it corresponds in some way to the statement, "God is spirit." Thus, if God is not corporeal, neither can the substance or truth of worship be such; it's essence cannot consist of outward or fleshly forms -- though indeed it may be presented under such. For the Mosaic worship, at heart, was truly spiritual, but it was presented under the form of fleshly ordinance, though indeed this Mosaic, "fleshly" worship could certainly be done in both faith and sincerity of heart. I don't think Jesus is drawing a distinction here between hypocrites and true worshipers; this doesn't seem to be involved in the context: rather, he seems to be declaring the superiority of the New covenant to the Old ("Our father Jacob dug this well; are you greater than he?"); and that on account of which the New is superior is that the truth and substance of the Spiritual worship of God is set forth more plainly and clearly.
    Paul,

    When I read both of your comments above together, you seem to be saying (1) "spirit" and "truth" should not be taken as two distinct ideas but as referring to one inseparable reality, and (2) there is something of a redemptive-historical shift Jesus is alluding to from the Mosaic to the New Covenant. Am I reading you correctly? If so, I agree and think you're definitely on the right track.

    Thanks,
    Bob Gonzales Jr., Dean and Professor of Biblical Theology
    [URL="http://rbseminary.org/"]Reformed Baptist Seminary[/URL]

    "Persons need not and ought not to set any bounds to their spiritual and gracious appetites." Jonathan Edwards

    Check out my new book: [URL="http://www.wtsbooks.com/product-exec/product_id/6852/nm/Where+Sin+Abounds:+The+Spread+of+Sin+and+the+Curse+in+Genesis+with+Special+Focus+on+the+Patriarchal+Narratives+(Paperback)"]Where Sin Abounds[/URL]

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by TaylorOtwell View Post
    Is it possible that, given the context of the discussion of which mountain to worship on, the Lord is teaching that the time has arrived where the believers will no longer have ceremonial holy places (they will not worship on either of the mountains), and should not attach God, who is spirit, to physical places? Or, am I way off in left field?
    I think it really is this simple. We have a way of mucking things up with our modern/western paradigm. I think you nailed it.
    Bruce
    PCUSA
    Ocean City NJ

  9. #9
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    I think it means from a true believer (one who has the Holy Spirit), with a right attitude (made possible only by God's presence in one's life), and according to His revealed will (the Holy Spirit speaking through Scripture).

    Not sure which option that fits best.
    [SIZE="2"]Scott
    PCA
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    [I]Post Tenebras Lux;[/I] [SIZE="2"][I] "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." - Revelation 21:4[/I][/SIZE]

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Bob Gonzales View Post
    Am I reading you correctly?
    I believe you are.

    I think it not insignificant that in the midst of these statements Jesus says that the Jews (as opposed to the Samaritans) know what they worship, for salvation is of the Jews. So the shift involved cannot be one of Judaism proper to Christianity as something opposed, but one in which that worship of the Jews (which is true worship) is pulled out from under its fleshly "cover" and the reality of it is manifested to a greater degree. The Jews had rightly (and spiritually) worshiped in Jerusalem, as Jesus says; now, they will continue to worship rightly, but in such a manner as it is no longer tied to the carnal ordinances of Jerusalem.
    Paul
    On "Temporary Leave"
    Please feel free to contact me by Private Message, but please include your email address.

  11. #11
    I asked this question awhile back. See this thread: HERE
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    Sterling Harmon
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  12. #12
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    I didn't read anyone's answer so if I repeat someone's hopefully is was the correct person's . I believe in spirit and in truth mean this: we worship God by knowing what His Word says so we worship in the RP of worship, we (the pastor) preach the truth, we receive truth and acknowledge God concerning that truth. We can only do that in Spirit.... the Spirit that abides in us. Without the Spirit we wouldn't desire to worship God we would worship the god of our imaginations in the way we want to worship just like every other pagan person.
    sarah
    providence (Only Perfect Church)
    wi coldest snowiest state in the union

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Bob Gonzales View Post
    In John 4:23-24, Jesus declares to the Samaritan woman,
    ESV John 4:23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
    The phrase "worship in spirit and truth" has been interpreted variously. Here are some examples of the more common readings:

    1st interpretation: The phrase “in spirit and truth” conveys a single idea: It refers to an inward sincerity.

    2nd interpretation: The phrase “in spirit and truth” conveys two closely related yet separate ideas: It refers both to an inward sincerity and also to an objective standard of worship.

    3rd interpretation: The phrase “in spirit and truth” conveys two distinct yet inseparable ideas: It refers both to the Holy Spirit and also to the Lord Jesus Christ, truth incarnate.

    You'll note that the first view treats the phrase "spirit and truth" as referring to one basic idea, whereas interpretations 2 and 3 see two separate though related ideas. Moreover, you'll note that interpretations 1 and 2 seem to refer to a kind of worship that the Father has sought throughout every dispensation. The 3rd interpretation, however, seems to give greater emphasis to an epochal or redemptive-historical shift, i.e., the age of the Spirit and Incarnation of Christ are now to the center pieces of God-pleasing worship.

    Which interpretation do you favor? What are the exegetical arguments for your preference? What weaknesses do you see in the other positions? Or do you have a 4th option to offer? If you don't, I do. But first I'd like to see what you have to say.

    Your servant,
    God is Spirit. Man was created to be an Image bearer,but as fallen and dead in Adam can no longer properly reflect that Image.
    Jesus is the True Manna, Jn6 who although he came in flesh to die as substitute and sin bearer for the seed of Abraham Heb2:9-16, he was raised and now restores the true image in the elect . Romans 6
    3Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

    4Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

    5For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

    6Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

    7For he that is dead is freed from sin.

    8Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

    9Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

    10For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

    11Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.

    13Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
    1cor15
    45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

    46Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

    47The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven.

    48As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

    49And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
    New Birth is essential as God is Spirit we must have that Spiritual life to partake of this worship in Spirit and we must have the Spirit to receive or welcome the truth 1cor 2
    10But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

    11For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

    12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

    13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

    14But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    15But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
    The first interpretation seems weak in that a mormon can say he sincerely felt a burning in his bosom when he read the cultic book of mormon, so he can claim inward sincerity,but it will not be in the realm of Spirit, or Truth.

    The second interpretation comes closer to it,allowing for truth. But again unless the "sincerity" is a Spirit wrought work it can be misguided as Biblical truth cannot be seperated from God making himself known to us.

    The third speaking of the Spirit, and the Son seems to be closer if it is speaking of the the Son, and his commandments to us JN.17:17
    Anthony D'Arienzo
    Hope Reformed Baptist Church:
    Medford, N.Y.
    All that die have not the plague, and all that perish eternally are not guilty of the same profligate sins.The covetous are excluded from the kingdom of God no less severely than fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, and thieves, 1 Corinthians 6:9,10.

  14. #14
    the opposit of in flesh and lie.

    I am a simpleton I know.
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    Soli Deo Gloria

  15. #15
    Linguistically, I think we ought to take note of the fact that both are anarthrous, suggesting that quality is in view, much as it is in Heb 1:2 ("in son").

    I don't like the characterization of 1 or 2. In both, spirit is characterized as "mood" or something like it. I think Spirit in both readings (one idea or two closely related) can still be the Holy Spirit, especially since Jesus is talking about a near future time (Pentecost). The question is whether the kai refers to a second thing, or not.

    I think I'm a #1 guy, if you wipe out the "inner sincerity" thing and understand it as a reference to the Holy Spirit.
    I wouldn't quibble with #2 either, so long as you do the same.
    I'm not #3 so much, since I don't think the "truth" is used here as a reference to the Son in distinction from the Spirit.
    Clark Brooking
    Pastor
    Living Hope Presbyterian Church (OPC)
    Clarksville, MD

    εἰδέναι χριστόν χάριν εἰδέναι

  16. #16
    May I recommend Eric Alexander?
    Independent Baptist Church (NE England, nr. Durham)

  17. #17
    Recently I came into a situation where I was confronted with the question of what it means to worship in spirit and in truth. At that time I just bought the seven volumes of Calvin's "Tracts and Letters". In "The necessity of reforming the church" there are several paragraphs that deals with this matter. Here are some of these:

    But the first inquiry which presents itself here is, Why, and in what sense, is the worship of God called spiritual? To understand this, we must attend to the contrast between the spirit and outward emblems, as between the shadows and the truth. The worship of God is said to consist in the spirit, because it is nothing else than that inward faith of the heart which produces prayer, and, next, purity of conscience and self-denial, that we may be dedicated to obedience to God as holy sacrifices. Hence arises another question, Did not the fathers worship Him spiritually under the Law? I reply, as God is always like himself, he did not from the beginning of the world approve of any other worship than that which is spiritual, and which agrees with his own nature. This is abundantly attested by Moses himself, who declares in many passages that the Law has no other object than that the people may cleave to God with faith and a pure conscience. But it is still more plainly declared by the Prophets when they attack with severity the hypocrisy of the people, because they thought that they had satisfied God, when they had performed the sacrifices and made an outward display.

    Let us now see what is meant by the due worship of God. Its chief foundation is to acknowledge him to be, as he is, the only source of all virtue, justice, holiness, wisdom, truth, power, goodness, mercy, life, and salvation; in accordance with this, to ascribe and render to him the glory of all that is good, to seek all things in him alone, and in every want have recourse to him alone. Hence arises prayer, hence praise and thanksgiving these being attestations to the glory which we attribute to him. This is that genuine sanctification of his name which he requires of us above all things. To this is united adoration, by which we manifest for him the reverence due to his greatness and excellency; and to this ceremonies are subservient, as helps or instruments, in order that, in the performance of divine worship, the body may be exercised at the same time with the soul. Next after these comes self-abasement, when, renouncing the world and the flesh, we are transformed in the renewing of our mind and living no longer to ourselves, submit to be ruled and actuated by him. By this self-abasement we are trained to obedience and devotedness to his will, so that his fear reigns in our hearts, and regulates all the actions of our lives.

    That in these things consists the true and sincere worship which alone God approves, and in which alone he delights, is both taught by the Holy Spirit throughout the scriptures, and is also, antecedent to discussion, the obvious dictate of piety. Nor from the beginning was there any other method of worshipping God, the only difference being, that this spiritual truth, which with us is naked and simple, was under the former dispensation wrapped up in figures. And this is the meaning of our Saviour's words, "The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23). For by these words he meant not to declare that God was not worshipped by the fathers in this spiritual manner, but only to point out a distinction in the external form: that is, that while they had the Spirit shadowed forth by many figures, we have it in simplicity. But it has always been an acknowledged point, that God, who is a Spirit, must be worshipped in spirit and in truth.

    Moreover, the rule which distinguishes between pure and vitiated worship is of universal application, in order that we may not adopt any device which seems fit to ourselves, but look to the injunctions of him who alone is entitled to prescribe. Therefore, if we would have him to approve our worship, this rule, which he everywhere enforces with the utmost strictness, must be carefully observed. For there is a twofold reason why the Lord, in condemning and prohibiting all fictitious worship, requires us to give obedience only to his own voice. First, it tends greatly to establish his authority that we do not follow our own pleasure, but depend entirely on his sovereignty; and, secondly, such is our folly, that when we are left at liberty, all we are able to do is to go astray. And then when once we have turned aside from the right path, there is no end to our wanderings, until we get buried under a multitude of superstitions. Justly, therefore, does the Lord, in order to assert his full right of dominion, strictly enjoin what he wishes us to do, and at once reject all human devices which are at variance with his command. Justly, too, does he, in express terms, define our limits, that we may not, by fabricating perverse modes of worship, provoke his anger against us.

    I know how difficult it is to persuade the world that God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by his word. The opposite persuasion which cleaves to them, being seated, as it were, in their very bones and marrow, is, that whatever they do has in itself a sufficient sanction, provided it exhibits some kind of zeal for the honor of God. But since God not only regards as fruitless, but also plainly abominates, whatever we undertake from zeal to his worship, if at variance with his command, what do we gain by a contrary course? The words of God are clear and distinct, "Obedience is better than sacrifice." "In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men," (1 Sam. 15:22; Matt. 15:9). Every addition to his word, especially in this matter, is a lie. Mere "will worship" (ethelothreeskeia) is vanity. This is the decision, and when once the judge has decided, it is no longer time to debate.

    I am not unaware how difficult it is to persuade the world that God rejects and even abominates everything relating to his worship that is devised by human reason. The delusion on this head is owing to several causes: "Every one thinks highly of his own," as the old proverb expresses it. Hence the offspring of our own brain delights us, and besides, as Paul admits, this fictitious worship often presents some show of wisdom [Col. 2:23]. Then, as it has for the most part an external splendor which pleases the eye, it is more agreeable to our carnal nature, than that which alone God requires and approves, but which is less ostentatious. But there is nothing which so blinds the understandings of men, and misleads them in their judgments in this matter, as hypocrisy. For while it is incumbent on true worshippers to give the heart and mind, men are always desirous to invent a mode of serving God of a totally different description, their object being to perform to him certain bodily observances, and keep the mind to themselves. Moreover, they imagine that when they obtrude upon him external pomp, they have, by this artifice, evaded the necessity of giving themselves. And this is the reason why they submit to innumerable observances which miserably fatigue them without measure and without end, and why they choose to wander in a perpetual labyrinth, rather than worship God simply in spirit and in truth.
    In "The true method of giving peace and of reforming the church", Calvin also writes:
    We may add that the knowledge of this matter demands its own proper explanation. There are two principal branches. First, we must hold that the spiritual Worship of God does not consist either in external ceremonies, or any other kind of works whatsoever;. and, secondly, that no Worship is legitimate unless it be so framed as to have for its only rule the will of him to whom it is performed. Both of these are absolutely necessary. For as we savor of nothing but earth and flesh, so we measure God by ourselves. Hence it is that we always take more pleasure in external show, which is of no value in the sight of God, than in that inward worship of the heart, which alone he approves and requires. On the other hand, the wantonness of our minds is notorious, which breaks forth, especially in this quarter, where nothing at all ought to have been dared. Men allow themselves to devise all modes of worship, and change and rechange them at pleasure. Nor is this the fault of our age. Even from the beginning of the world, the world sported thus licentiously with God. He himself proclaims that there is nothing he values more than obedience. ( 1 Samuel 15:22.) Wherefore, all modes of worship devised contrary to his command, he not only repudiates as void, but distinctly condemns. Why need I adduce proofs in so clear a matter? Passages to this effect should be proverbial among Christians.

    Johan
    Reformed Churches in SA (GKSA)
    South Africa

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The PuritanBoard exists to promote robust discussion of theology in a Confessionally Reformed context. The modern trend of short statements of faith belies the many places where the Scriptures teach with great clarity. Though our respective Reformed confessions sometimes disagree, we believe that Churches have been given the gifts of teachers and elders to lead to the unity of the faith and the result of that unity is a Confessional Church confessing together: "This is what the Scriptures teach." The Confessions are secondary to the authority of Scripture itself but they arise out of Scripture as a standard exposition of the Word of God.