When IN Spirit and IN Truth becomes a Ritual

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Abraham Inetianbor
This is one of those topics you don't want to read halfway because our soul depends on it. I once said that the only perfect Church is one that knows it doesn't have all the answers and willing to depend on the scriptures for continuous growth. The same should apply to us as individuals because perfection is only through the blood of Christ. I celebrate when someone corrects me spiritually because I know that they care about my salvation, which is the most important thing we have. So it's sad when you show people the bible truth and pride get in the way. Speaking of worship, God said NO to any form of ceremoniously choreographed worship but sometimes I feel like we are trying to tell God that He doesn't know what He wants. It reminds me of Samuel telling king Saul that obedience is better than sacrifice (I Samuel 15:22). We can either approach worship the right or wrong way because there is no middle way.

God did not set us up to fail. We fail ourselves by creating human rules to satisfy our haughty eyes and in turn approach worship the wrong way. The right way is basic and simple. All it requires is knowing why we are gathered together - simple. When you know we are gathered for worship and not for a "party" or a "funeral" etc. then you will be able to worship IN truth.

IN THE OLD TESTAMENT - Israelite, along with priests and high priest all met IN the temple where God was present. God chose the temple (Numbers 7:89; Hebrews 9:3-5) so people worshiped Him IN the temple and IN ceremonious ways, which is through animal blood sacrifice. Only the high priest can go in the most Holy place to intercede on everyone's behalf.

IN THE NEW TESTAMENT - Christians (a.k.a priests) along with Jesus the High Priest, meet IN the spirit where God is present. God chose our spirit (John 4:23-24) so we worship Him IN the spirit and IN truth, which is through Jesus' blood. Jesus the High Priest is in the most Holy place called Heaven interceding on our behalf.

Abraham Inetianbor
I'm going to clarify what the bible said about worship and you can decide if your congregation is performing rituals instead of worshiping God. It's one thing not to know and it's something else when we refuse to know because we choose to follow a way that feels or sounds right to us. It is impossible to worship God in truth if we have not been sanctified by His truth - only Christians are able to worship in truth.

The worship "in spirit" is easily taken care of because God's Spirit is already dwelling in us the day we became a child of God. THIS IS WHERE "IN THE SPIRIT" ORIGINATES FROM. We do not need to manufacture some kind of spiritual "formality" to invoke some magical atmosphere. We just need to make sure that the two or more people that are gathered together are doing so in His name. More importantly, that they have His Spirit dwelling in their spirit (sanctified/baptized/Christians) because these people together become the spiritual bricks and mortal for the invisible spiritual temple. Then together they worship IN truth, in that temple, which is not made with human hands (Hebrews 9:11 ). We have the freedom from "cookie-cuter" rigidity. This is why mandatory tithe was replaced with cheerful giving that is done not out of necessity; man-made instruments were replaced with instrument of the heart; - etc.
- The keyword here is IN. "IN Spirit" or "IN the spirit" means exactly what it says both in content and in context. This is where God is present.
- Jesus was making it clear that worshiping IN the physical temple was coming to an end a new location is needed for worship, called the spirit. Christians are now able to worship IN spirit where ever they choose to meet and build a spiritual temple (1 Peter 2:5).
- "In Truth" simply means IN Jesus. This truth is the Word of God (John 17:17), which is the Bible. So our worship must be in line with what the scripture says.
- This "Word" is also Jesus (John 1:14) so our worship pattern must be in line with His truth (Hebrews 9:16-18), not just any truth. His truth for worship is the New Testament truth. This means no tithe, no incense burning, animal sacrifice, etc. like it was in the old testament.
- Final part of this "truth" is the part we often take for granted and can be found in verses 18-19 of John 17 that I just cited above. Jesus made clear those who are sanctified by this truth. These are the people that can worship IN truth.

Abraham InetianborWe can not claim to worship in the spirit and in truth, yet we refuse to abstain from rituals. Ritual is simply a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order. The key phrase here is "prescribed order." We don't even need a dictionary to define this for us because the old testament was filed with prescribed orders that did not please God. This is why Jesus came to abolish it. God did not prescribe any order in the New Testament because He wanted us to worship freely without focusing on the sideshows. He only wants to be worshiped in a location of His choice. Pay attention to the word "IN" because I'll probably use it a few more times especially IN the spirit. How we do what we do is a true indication if our worship is in vain or not. Worshiping in spirit is knowing WHO we are gathering with. Worshiping in truth is knowing WHAT we do in our gathering, knowing WHY we do it, knowing HOW we do it and knowing WHEN we do it. The physical Jerusalem temple was built and specifically designed for a theatrical ceremonious show. When we focus on the outside, we are doing exactly the same thing they did.

- Do you believe that worship starts when 2 or more Christians come together in God's name? YES
- Do you believe that worship takes place when song, communion, prayer, scriptures and offering are done in no special order? YES
- Do you believe that this worship takes place on the first day of the week at any appointed time? YES
- Do you believe that someone who sneezes involuntarily during worship is a distraction? NO
- Do you believe that Jesus was being a distraction when he gave instructions during the institution of the Lord's Supper? NO
- Do you believe that reading the bible, which is also Jesus' instruction during the Lord's Super is a distraction? NO
- Do you believe that the Christians, not sitting still but respectfully moving around in the foyer, passing the communion tray and those teaching the kid's class are all part of worship? YES

Abraham InetianborOur body is the temple of God both physically and spiritually. In content, it all looks and sound ALL physical but in context we know there is also a spiritual part to it. Our physical body is the shell that houses our actual spiritual body, which makes both equally important. However, we are spiritually united with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:17) of which He is the head (Colossians 1:18). You can tell Paul was referring to two separate things in 1 Corinthians 6 and yet he referred to them both as "body" - one physical with morality and the other spiritual or immortal body that unites with Christ. Jesus cannot be the head of a physical body when referring to the Church. Our physical body is NOT where God lives. It's the physical body that we see when we come together but the church is inside our physical bodies where God wants to be worshiped.

I'm not going to get into the topic of indwelling spirit right now but it's like a spirit inside a spirit. Our spirit is what keeps our physical body moving and alive. Some call it the soul of man. God is in there because God is Spirit and those who worship God must worship Him in the spirit and in truth (John 4:24). That location where He must be worshiped is the same spirit that was "born again" or "made new" at baptism not the physical body (John 3:1-21; 1 Peter 3:21). This is why both the living and the physically dead Christians are included in the Church that Jesus calls His bride and will return to take to His father.

The "decently and in order" in 1 Corinthians 14:40 was addressed to those who were literally out of control during worship, which I usually refer to as "word fight" or preaching over each other with no one being heard. So if we want to be overly strict with it during communion, it should apply throughout the entire worship service. No one is advocating indecent or disorderliness but anyone who is being truthful to themselves should understand my point. The respect and decency should be from the heart and then translate outwardly. This should be a natural flow not a timid forced process that makes people uneasy to the point where we need to start writing "rule book" with specific expectations. If a Christian doesn't understand what worship is, we should teach them because writing a human "rule book" is not going to help anyone worship God the way He wants to be worshiped.
"...not discerning the Lord's body" that the Corinthians were guilty of was NOT because they were reading the bible during communion, which is a part of worship by the way. They were using bad judgement and approach (1 Corinthians 11:23-29). The Corinthian Church took advantage of the freedom of no specific measurements to the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine and they abused it. They ate too much and got drunk. They ended up paying the price physically because nothing good really comes out of always being drunk. Paul told them to eat at home if they are hungry because the communion is not meal or party time to fill our tummy with food and drink wine till we get drunk. This is what I call abuse of freedom (verse 34). As long as you are a Christian and know why you are taking the communion, then you are doing this part of worship in truth and not causing harm, damnation, condemnation or judgement to yourself (verse 28-34).

Abraham InetianborA roof caving in during worship is a disruption not a distraction and that worship can still be completed IN truth. Stephen is a great example in Act 7:54-60. He was still able to pray and communicate with God while being stoned to death. Yes, there are things that can unintentionally disrupt worship but scripture reading is definitely not one of them. It doesn't make it any less of a worship by those who came together for the purpose of worship. We worry about things like how well people march in unison down the aisle as if we are literally carrying the ark of the covenant. We should prioritize God during worship. When we teach people this simple truth, we won't have to spend so much time creating "mandatory" never ending rules to the point where the rules are mistaken as a part of worship. Ever wonder why some Christians think it is "sinful" to have a sermon before communion or the other way around? The answer is simply because people have been "ritualized" and can't tell the difference between bible and human rules. I thought we've been freed from the law of sin and death that required a ceremonial worship? Isn't this the same reason the law was abolished so we can focus more on worshiping God from the inside (Hebrews 9:14) and not the outside?

Finally, I'm not saying the outside appearance is not important but when did it become more important to the point that our rigidity to it is getting out of control and even sometimes worse than the old covenant? Why are we acting as if God is waiting to strike us down as soon as one chair, one button, one crying baby, one tray or any physical thing is out of place to the human eyes? Yet, when our spiritual life is out of place, not much thought is given to it? The early church didn't have "kid's room" and I'm glad we do in most congregations today. But this should not be a reason to take offense to a crying two month old baby. This also doesn't mean that parents should not be proactive in controlling the unpredictable actions of their kids. A gathering of two or more people is just a gathering until God becomes the center of attention and the purpose of worship. How can God be the center of attention when we are more occupied with how well orchestrated the people are with prescribed outfit in unison? Think about it and let's start worshiping God again.

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