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Worship in Truth


John 4:21–26

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

Yesterday we talked about the “in spirit” aspect of Jesus’ statement to worship God in “spirit and in truth”. Today we will talk about what he means by “in truth”. The key contextual cue for this interpretation is verse 22. There Jesus informs her that “you worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” This statement doesn’t mean that all the Jews will find salvation. Instead it means that the salvation narrative, especially the Messiah narrative in the Old Testament, is the true arc of history. It is the Jewish scriptures, the Torah, the prophets and the wisdom literature which give us the truth of God and his promises for creation. So it is there where we must turn for truth. It is there where we see God accurately revealed to us and the promises of the Messiah, which Jesus will ultimately fulfill.

So when Jesus declares that we must worship God in truth, he means that we must worship him as he truly is, with accurate concepts of who he is, with good theology. This is what leads us to a dependence on the Scriptures as God’s self-revelation to humanity. Ultimately this leads us to Jesus as “the Word” of God, his fullest disclosure of himself to humanity. It is within the truth of Scripture and the teachings of Jesus that we know God. We must worship in the truth of what we know, not a mystical, mysterious, unknowable force. God has told us who he is so we must worship him as he taught us and in light of who he is.

False concepts of God do not bring him glory. Worshiping him with untrue perceptions of his identity are not how he wants to be worshiped. So we should strive to know him as he is, as he has revealed himself to us in Scripture and through Jesus.

Now to be clear, none of us have perfect theology. None of us perfectly know God as he is. Our picture of God is constantly incomplete, constantly growing, constantly maturing. I don’t think Jesus here is condemning us for having an incomplete picture. I think he is calling us to the source of our knowledge of him. He is challenging this woman to find the truth of God in the Jewish Scriptures and in the Messiah. So we are not free to formulate our own picture of God, our own theology of what we think God is like. God is not to be made in our image, but we in his. It is our responsibility to seek the truth of him from the proper source, not simply our own imagination or thoughts about what we think God should be like.


God wants to be worshiped in truth. We need to know him as he has revealed himself to be in Scripture. This is what we are doing here in this devotional. Commit today to pursuing the knowledge of God in Scripture.

Addition Content

True Worship by John Piper

*ff to 4:04 in the audio for additional content.

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