Fulton County Gospel News

a work of the mammoth spring church of christ


Worshiping with Heart

By Farrell Nicholson

When the Lord Jesus went through Samaria, “being wearied with his journey” (Jn. 4:6), He stopped and rested on the structure of a 75-foot deep well and spoke to a woman from that region about the generations-old dispute between the Samaritans and the Jews over, basically, who had been right and where was the proper place to worship God--Jerusalem as the Jews taught, or Samaria as her people taught.  The Master settled the matter for His and her contemporary time: “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews” (Jn. 4:22).  He immediately followed that declaration with, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (v. 23).  The Father--His, hers, yours, and mine--seeks the true worshipers to worship Him.  And these “true worshipers” are whom?  Those who worship the Father in spirit and in truth.  “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (v. 24).   While the author loves the pattern of worship set forth in the New Testament--and strives to practice it and contend earnestly for it (Jude 3)--the worship of God the Father in truth is not the thrust of the article here.  Our purpose here is to proclaim that the true worshippers of God must worship Him with heart, in spirit as well as in truth.

From his reading of the Holy Scriptures, this author believes that the spring of true worship is joy.  The town of Mammoth Spring, Arkansas’ namesake is a spring equally deep as the one beside which the Messiah revealed Himself to the earnest Samaritan (Jn. 4:6).  This large, “mammoth” spring, pumping out 9 million gallons of water hourly, is the head source for the popular Spring River.   Just as this spring is the prolific source of water benefitting thousands of people and millions of fish/wildlife, joy is the basis for a heart that is ready to worship God in spirit.

When Jesus began His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the people “spread their clothes in the way. And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen” (Lk. 19:36-37).  When the jealous Pharisees told Him to rebuke them, He answered, “if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (v. 40).  The people began to “rejoice”.  They could not help but express their immense joy at the ascent of the Messiah to the city of David (2 Sam. 6:12).  He deserved praise, and to silence the disciples would cause the stones to cry out to fill the void.  Joy was the catalyst for their worship.

Later, Queen Candace of Ethiopia’s officer, after having learned of Jesus, having believed, having confessed Him, and having been baptized into Him (Acts 8:35-38; Gal. 3:27), “went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39).  His life having been changed forever, having gained an Advocate before God and a propitiation for sins (1 Jn. 2:1-2), joy flooded into his heart as he went home a redeemed individual.  

Later still, the apostle Peter would encourage soon-suffering Christians by reminding them of that which animated their worship and service to Christ: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:8).  Christians then and now, absent from the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6), love Him, and rejoice with joy unspeakable in anticipation of seeing Him one day!  

This anticipation of being present with the King furnishes our spirits with joy in taking of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 10:16), in singing (Jas. 5:13), in praying (Rom. 12:12), in giving (2 Cor. 9:7), and in hearing the proclamation of God’s Word (Acts 2:41; Acts 13:48): joy in worship.

One of the founding editors of this journal, the late Clovis Ragsdale, told the author that after he greeted brethren in the foyer, he would quickly find his seat, ready to do what he came to do--worship.  Brother Ragsdale could preach with spirit.  How beautiful were the feet that with vigor carried this man to worship.

Isaac Watts, “The Father of English Hymnody,” was, like his father, a Nonconformist.  His “We’re Marching to Zion” is a salvo against the cold formalism of the Established Church.  In a verse absent from most songbooks, Watts’ pen screams, “The sorrows of the mind/Be banished from the place; Religion never was designed/Religion never was designed; To make our pleasures less/To make our pleasures less.”

It is in worship according to truth and in a fervent spirit that men, women, and children become that which the Father above is seeking to worship Him.  It is by Jesus that we “offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks unto His name” (Heb. 13:15).  Attitude is equally as important as truth (Jn. 4:23-24); let us love and worship the God of heaven with all of our heart (Matt. 22:37), with joy.

Farrell preaches for the Agnos church of Christ in Agnos, AR





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