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Sabbath School Lessons on Worship
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 39 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 11: In Spirit and in Truth *
Introduction: Imagine being able to ask Jesus what He thought was
the most important points of worship. Would that not be grand?
Well, it turns out that we have exactly that already recorded in the
Bible. Let's plunge right into our study of the Bible and find out
- The Hostile Stranger
- Read John 4:1-3. It sounds like Jesus is winning the
baptism contest! Why would He leave, just when He is
winning? (This is not a contest, it is unwelcome
attention. The Pharisees are now changing their focus to
make Jesus the main "enemy." Jesus decided it was best to
- Read John 4:4. The direct route to Galilee is through
Samaria. The Jews and Samaritans did not like each other
because the Jews thought the Samaritans were inferior.
So, Jews would often bypass Samaria. Why do you think the
Bible says Jesus "had" to go through Samaria? (Perhaps
the Holy Spirit directed Him to pass through Samaria.)
- Read John 4:5-8. It is about noon. Why would Jesus stay
at the well instead of going with the disciples to buy
food? (Again, this suggests that the Holy Spirit is
directing Him to be here.)
- Read John 4:9. Have you ever tried to have a conversation
with someone and they want to turn it into a political or
racial issue? What does this tell you about this
Samaritan woman? (She wants to be obnoxious.)
- Let's assume that the Holy Spirit is leading Jesus
to have this discussion. How would you react?
"Thanks, Holy Spirit, I needed a verbal slap in the
- Would you be tempted to respond, "Stop the nonsense.
I'm just thirsty!"
- Evangelizing With Living Water
- Read John 4:10. Do you think that Jesus is really
thirsty, or is He just trying to start a conversation?
- Where is Jesus trying to lead the conversation? (To
His mission on earth.)
- Read John 4:11-12. The answer to her question about
Jesus and Jacob is "Yes." Do you think the woman meant
this as a question? (No. She accuses him of being crazy -
detached from reality.)
- Read John 4:13-15. Has the woman suddenly changed her
attitude towards Jesus? (It seems so.)
- Why do you think this happened? How can we go from
hostile to curious? (The power of God.)
- Do you have friends and acquaintances who are
hostile to God, and therefore hostile to you?
- What lesson can we learn about sharing the
gospel with hostile people?
- Let's go back and consider Jesus' comments. What
water is Jesus speaking about?
- Read John 7:37-39. Jesus offers us what He
offered to this woman. Have you accepted?
- What would a life look like that had "streams
of living water flow from" it?
- Jesus uses the symbolism of water for a
reason. What does water do? (It refreshes.
It makes things alive. It makes things
- Is this your life? Do you energize those
around you? Do you refresh others? Do you
help them to grow spiritually?
- Imagine a whole church filled with people
pouring out streams of living water! How
would that kind of worship look?
- Read John 4:16-18. Last week we learned that God said
that He would listen to us when we sought Him with all
our heart, and He would not listen to those who rejected
Him even though they shouted in His ear. This is an
immoral woman. If the Holy Spirit has directed this
meeting, why? (There is a difference between those who
are actively turning their back on God and promoting
false worship, and those who are simply mired in sin.)
- Why did Jesus point out her sin? (He showed her that
He knew the truth - something no stranger could
possibly know. He was not a crazy person. Plus, God
probes us in our area of spiritual weakness.)
- Read John 4:19-20. The woman acknowledges that Jesus is
someone special, but then changes the subject. Why? (That
woman is like us. We run into someone who is spiritually
discerning, and we want to talk about the grand
theological issues that separate our church from others,
we don't want to talk about the sin in our own lives!)
- Jesus Counsel on True Worship
- Read John 4:21. Jesus goes along with the woman's
attempt to change the subject to grand spiritual issues.
Isn't the correct answer that people should be worshiping
in Jerusalem? (Read 1 Timothy 2:8. Jerusalem would soon
be destroyed. The sanctuary system on earth would be
fulfilled with Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection. Jesus
points to a time where everyone everywhere should lift up
hands in prayer and worship of God!)
- Read John 4:22. Jesus says salvation is from the Jews,
why? Isn't this insulting to her? (The Jews had the
sanctuary system which pointed to Jesus. Jesus was Jewish
in His humanity.)
- Read John 4:23-24. We come to Jesus' timeless counsel on
worship! Let's explore what it means to worship God in
"spirit and truth." Does the phrase "God is spirit, and
His worshipers must worship in spirit" make any sense to
- Let's rephrase this in a similar context: "Your
father is a man, you must speak to him like a man."
"Your mother is a woman, you must speak to her like
a woman." What would that teach us about addressing
- Let's read Matthew 28:18-19. In this text Jesus
tells us that God is more than Spirit, He is also
Father and Son. What is Jesus saying to us in John
4:24 about worshiping God in "Spirit?" (On a very
basic level, God is different from false gods
because He is not an idol and is not limited to one
place. This logically follows Jesus' answer to the
question about the location of worship. You can
worship God anywhere. On a deeper level, Jesus is
telling us that the Holy Spirit is central to
- Read John 16:7-15. Which part of the Godhead, according
to Jesus, is going to be on point in dealing with humans?
(The Holy Spirit.)
- If the Holy Spirit is central to worship, what is
the level of involvement of the Holy Spirit in your
- I have some dear friends in my church who use the
term "Pentecostal" as a negative term. If something
is "Pentecostal," it is obviously wrong, and
therefore just to label something as Pentecostal
settles the argument. The Holy Spirit came in power
at Pentecost (Acts 2). Do my friends, and those who
agree with them, need to adjust their thinking on
this subject? (I think so!)
- Let's look at the second part of John 4:24. The first
component of true worship is Spirit. What does it mean to
worship "in truth?"
- Read 1 Corinthians 14:22-25. What does the Bible say
about Pentecostal gifts? (That they should be used
intelligently. When we read 1 Corinthians chapters
12-14 we learn that the church in Corinth was
overflowing with the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul
says this is to be tempered with "truth." Recall
that in John 16:13 the Holy Spirit is to lead us
into "truth." Paul does not tell the Corinthians
they are involved with demonic powers. Rather, he
says our use of the Spirit should show common sense:
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:1-3. What lesson is Paul
giving us about the Holy Spirit? (No message from
the Holy Spirit is going to contradict the gospel.
The prophets of the Old Testament, Jesus' words, and
the prophets of the New Testament are all going to
be consistent with the Holy Spirit today because
they have the same source.)
- Read 1 Corinthians 14:18-20. Are these "brothers"
influenced by demons? (No. This is an extremely
important point. Believers can misuse the Holy
Spirit. They can speak and write like children. We
don't have to conclude that just because someone
misused the Spirit of God that it was demonic. It
might just be foolishness.)
- Several times I've had Pentecostal friends say that
unless the Holy Spirit speaks to them on a Bible
issue, they will not change their mind. Is this
appropriate? (We learned that the Holy Spirit will
lead us into truth, but the Bible is the Word of
God. If the Bible is clear, the Spirit is speaking
- Friend, is your worship in "Spirit and truth?" Some
churches are so far into "truth" that they quench the
Spirit. Some churches are so far into the "Spirit" that
they quench the truth. Will you pray that you and your
church will worship fully in Spirit and truth?
- Next week: Worship in the Early Church.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.