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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 more!

  1. The Hostile Stranger

    1. 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 retreat.)

    2. 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.)

    3. 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.)

    4. 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.)

      1. 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 face!"

      2. Would you be tempted to respond, "Stop the nonsense. I'm just thirsty!"

  2. Evangelizing With Living Water

    1. Read John 4:10. Do you think that Jesus is really thirsty, or is He just trying to start a conversation?

      1. Where is Jesus trying to lead the conversation? (To His mission on earth.)

    2. 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.)

    3. Read John 4:13-15. Has the woman suddenly changed her attitude towards Jesus? (It seems so.)

      1. Why do you think this happened? How can we go from hostile to curious? (The power of God.)

      2. Do you have friends and acquaintances who are hostile to God, and therefore hostile to you?

        1. What lesson can we learn about sharing the gospel with hostile people?

      3. Let's go back and consider Jesus' comments. What water is Jesus speaking about?

        1. Read John 7:37-39. Jesus offers us what He offered to this woman. Have you accepted?

        2. What would a life look like that had "streams of living water flow from" it?

          1. Jesus uses the symbolism of water for a reason. What does water do? (It refreshes. It makes things alive. It makes things grow.)

          2. Is this your life? Do you energize those around you? Do you refresh others? Do you help them to grow spiritually?

          3. Imagine a whole church filled with people pouring out streams of living water! How would that kind of worship look?

    4. 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.)

      1. 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.)

    5. 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!)

  3. Jesus Counsel on True Worship

    1. 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!)

    2. 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.)

    3. 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 you?

      1. 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 our parents?

      2. 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 worship.)

    4. 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.)

      1. If the Holy Spirit is central to worship, what is the level of involvement of the Holy Spirit in your worship?

      2. 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!)

    5. 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?"

      1. 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: truth.)

      2. 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.)

      3. 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.)

      4. 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 to us.)

    6. 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?

  4. 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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