[The following is from Chapter 39 of the new book The Apostles’ Doctrine: The Seven Teachings of Christ. It is due out in March 2019. Copies of this 325 page trade paperback are limited. Reserve your free copy with free shipping by sending your mailing address to my email: email@example.com Be sure to mention the title]
When God baptizes us in the Holy Spirit, He immerses us in His very own active spiritual nature, a nature that is truth. The truth about Him is the very hallmark of the reality of Him being our new life. For the Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost is the Spirit of truth and is the Spirit of Christ. Christ’s Spirit is the Comforter, the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit [same word in the Greek]. A careful study of John 14 through 16 shows that the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit are one. Christ said as much in John 17: 22: “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.”
This sets the tone of true worship. As Christians, we sincerely desire to come together to worship God, to get closer to Him, to touch Eternity and be touched, in turn, by His eternal Hand. We feel a need to worship God, but “worship” is one of those scriptural words that means different things to different people. In fact, both true worship and “vain worship” exist. Our worship will fall into one of these categories (Mark 7: 5-7).
To really comprehend just what “worship” means to God (which is all that matters), we should go and see what the Master Teacher says about it. Christ, as always, teaches in short, concise statements. His words are like gold that must be mined out from the rock hard concepts that mankind has imagined about God. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth” (John 4: 24). To understand what Christ is teaching us, we need to dig deeper into these three words: “worship, spirit, and truth.”
Let’s face it; everyone has their own private interpretation as to what “worship” means. Every church organization has their own take on proper worship. But even their members can’t agree. So what did Christ mean by “worship”? The Greek word means “to kneel, to do homage, to kiss the hand… profound reverence” (G4352, Strong’s). Here we see a picture of reverential submission, as unto a king. The Hebrew word for “worship” means much the same: “to bow down…to honor God…to do homage, to submit oneself” (H7812, Strong’s).
This definition implies not just an acknowledgement of the Father, but a humbling of oneself before Him. “Worship” entails doing homage, submission, and bowing down and kneeling before the Father. Because God does not look on the outward appearance of things, worship of Him must be a matter of the heart. This kind of worship of the Father, however, must have two qualities; it must be “in spirit” and “in truth.”
Because the Father is an invisible Spirit, we need to honor and bow down and submit ourselves to Him in a spiritual way—not a physical way. But how do we do that exactly?
“Spirit” is from the Greek word pneuma [# 4151 in Strong’s]. It means “a movement of air…of the wind…” Since God is an invisible Spirit, worship of Him must come out of a spirit nature. It takes a spirit to worship the Spirit. After all, if we have been truly “born again,” we are spirit. “That which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3: 6-8). If you are born of the Spirit, then you are a spirit and not the earthly body you see in the mirror. Since we are spirit, we merely reside now in an earthen body of flesh. Christ calls those that are born of the Spirit—a spirit. This knowledge helps us worship “in spirit.”
Moreover, He likens us to an invisible wind that blows across the earth. We are free like the wind is free, for we are a spirit born out of the loins of our Father, who is the Spirit of truth. We are like the wind, free to love others, not bound by the physical restraints imposed by worldly tradition peddlers. We are free to love with the soft breezes of compassion and mercy, free as the wind to soothe those who sweat in turmoil, who now writhe in the darkness of this cruel world’s overseer. And there is no law against this wind of love that now inhabits our frail bodies, that now is exhaled through us, His lungs and mouth.
“So is every one that is born of the Spirit.” And because each seed bears its own kind, we as new spiritual creatures in Christ have an “earnest” of His Spirit within, and He now breathes out of our mouths the word of God. That is part of true “worship.” It is submitting our bodies to be used by the Spirit of God within us to utter His words of life to others. It is allowing the Spirit to minister through us. And His word through His children’s mouth “will not return unto [Him] void, but it shall accomplish that which [He leases]” (Isa. 55: 11).
Some are saying, Wayneman, now you have lost it. No! Al contrario. I believe that I have found it and that I am sharing it now. At our new birth, He has transformed us into spiritual entities that no longer need anything material or physical to worship our God. The Spirit that now resides in us was before buildings, before wood and metal, before the earth was ever formed. And now we as a quickening spirit are uniquely qualified to worship Him in spirit—because we are a spirit. Why do we then insist on trying to worship God in an earthly manner?
Since we are an invisible spirit in His eyes, dwelling in an earthen vessel, let us not try to worship Him with visible, tangible, physical things. Worship of the Father must be done, first, in spirit. True worship comes from believing in this invisible Hebrew God, who is a Spirit. He is not material, physical, nor temporal, but rather an Eternal Spirit. Therefore, He is not impressed with physical things that man uses to worship Him. We are part and parcel of Him. Therefore, we are not under all of man’s vain and perhaps sincere attempts to worship Him, traditions that fall like cardboard dwellings in a summer rain.
Approaching Him with any material object, idol, icon, or picture is not worshiping Him in spirit; the Spirit is beyond the realm of our five senses. Consequently, we must believe that He will not be found in temples and church houses and buildings with religious names. Nor will God be impressed with physical things used in those buildings. Why? Because they are all of the material and physical realm, and He is of the invisible, spiritual realm. And He has translated us into His spiritual realm, calling us a spirit with the ability to give life to others. “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (I Cor. 15: 45). Christ in us is the last Adam. And we now can give life to others through His Spirit and word within–when we share.
Knowing this frees us from believing that “going to church” is necessarily the way to worship Him. For His body of true believers is the church. We are the church, the habitation of God. Our corporate bodies are the temple of God. God does not dwell in buildings made with man’s hands (Acts 7: 48-50). If we say, “I am going to church,” our words betray us, for we are saying that the building is the church. It is a simple statement, but it is revealing, for it shows that the thinking is in error. If we are serious about becoming like the apostles and prophets of old, then we must purge out the old leaven of false concepts of worship.
The woman of Samaria believed that the site of Jacob’s well was a special place of worship. She thought that the well was a holy place because the patriarch Jacob once drew water there. But Christ explained that true worship does not hinge on a physical place like a temple or church house or a geographical location. He told her, “The hour comes, when you shall neither in this mountain, nor yet in Jerusalem, worship the Father…the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4: 20-24). Even today, people still make pilgrimages to Jerusalem thinking that being in Jerusalem is a more special and holier worship.
True Worship Comes from Broken Spirit and Contrite Heart
But, true worship of the Father is not founded on the physical; it is rooted in the spiritual. It must be in the invisible, spiritual place of the heart.
Christ’s words are spirit. The Spirit of Christ was in Isaiah, and He expounded on worshiping in spirit. “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build unto me?…For all those things has my hand made…but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word” (Isa. 66: 1-2).
It is as if Christ is asking all of us, “How can you take satisfaction in building an edifice to worship Me in, when I created the world and everything in it? You take my trees and cut it into lumber. You take My clay and bake it into bricks. And then you put them together and believe that I am pleased to dwell there. No amount of physical works of your hands will move me. Your sacrifices and offerings and incense and prayers and songs—that is not what touches My heart. You want to worship Me in spirit? Then come before Me now with a broken spirit and a contrite heart. Come to Me humbled and with reverential awe, so much so that you would tremble at My power and glory. Come to Me now with gratitude for delivering you from sin and sinning. Worship Me, trembling at my word. For My word is truth.”
Finally, worshiping “in spirit” must be tempered with “in truth.” And “thy word is truth.” But some will say, We are very spiritual at our church. We worship the Father “in spirit.” But there are many spirits. We are told to “believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4: 1).
There are many “winds” out there, many spirits. But most are not from God. How are we to know the good from the bad spirits? There is only one way—through knowing and studying the written word of God. To worship Him “in truth,” we must have the right concept of who the Father is. Our spiritual worship of the Father must be based in truth.
Many followers approach Him spiritually. They know that He is invisible. But Christ said that we must worship the Father in truth. We cannot just believe that He is a Spirit and go about our prayers and praises in a spiritual way without knowing the truth about what He says about Himself and how we should worship Him.
Connecting the Dots of “Worship”
Worship must be done in spirit and in truth. What is the truth? “Thy word is truth.” Christ said, “The words I speak, they are spirit and they are life.” Consequently, spiritual worship cannot be void of the truth, which is God’s word. In fact, because “a little leaven leavens the whole lump,” error in God’s teachings about Himself and His program spreads until the whole worship service is found very wanting in God’s eyes. He expects us to get it right. He expects us to “purge out the old leaven that the lump may be holy.”
Old leaven is false doctrines that have entered into the worship of the churches of Christianity. And if there are any false teachings in the worship, then it ruins everything, for it is not holy. It can’t be holy if it is untrue.
So how do we get worship right? What will make it holy in God’s eyes? Praying for you and me, Christ said, “Sanctify them [make them holy] through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17: 17). It is the truth that makes the worship service acceptable to God. The truth found in His word is what makes our worship holy. Stilted formalism and a hushed affectation in the “house of God” is not worshipping in spirit and in truth. Neither is the loose musical freedom seen in the yearning drumbeats that stir desires of religious ecstasy. No, the worship that God wants won’t be found in the thunderous beat of modern music. Neither will shouting from the pulpits awaken our God. He will come in a “still, small voice,” free from emotionalism. He will come in words of truth (I Kings 19: 12). The worship of the Father will be “in spirit and in truth.”
Everybody Believes They Already Have the Absolute Truth About the Baptism of the Holy Spirit
The bottom line is this. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an immersion into the action of truth. We see this unfold in John 14-17.
The time for Christ’s ascension was close at hand. He was giving last minute instructions to His disciples. They were concerned about Him leaving them. They felt like orphans, soon to be abandoned by the One who had fathered them in this new way. They needed comforting. Consequently, He then promised them that He would send a Comforter after He ascended. This Comforter is the Spirit of truth, who “dwells with you and shall be in you” (John 14: 16-17).
Christ continues: “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (v. 18). This promised Comforter is, of course, the Spirit of Christ, who we know now is the Spirit of truth. Then He speaks even more plainly: “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost…He shall teach you all things” (v. 26). ]“Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit” are translated from the same Greek word. ]
Later in the discourse, Christ says, “…When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth…and He will show you things to come” (16: 13).
It is all about truth. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an immersion into the Spirit of truth, for the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth—He will guide you into all truth. We are told to worship the Father in spirit and in truth (John 4: 23-24). Truth, truth, truth. Baptized into the Spirit of truth. Completely immersed, engulfed, and submerged in truth. This is being baptized in the Holy Spirit.
We see that “truth” is at the very heart of this stage of spiritual growth. IF THERE ARE FALSE DOCTRINES BEING BELIEVED, FOLLOWED, AND/OR ESPOUSED, THEN IT IS VERY UNLIKELY THAT THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, WHICH IS THE HOLY SPIRIT, IS LEADING THAT PERSON.
Truth and falseness don’t mix. Bitter water and sweet water do not issue from the same spring (James 3: 11). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. When the Spirit of truth comes into our lives, He will “guide us into all truth” (John 16: 13). The sons and daughters of God are led by the Spirit of God (Rom. 8: 14). By definition, being led by God is being led by truth, for God is truth. He is ultimately leading us into glorious sonship (Heb. 2: 10). There is absolutely no room in these passages for error in doctrine. No room for false teachings and concepts.
“But I Have Had an Experience with God”
Many have had supernatural experiences and some may say, “Well, I know that I have had the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and now you are trying to take that wonderful experience away from me.” No, I never argue with nor challenge someone’s testimony of God’s visitation in their life. He visits in dreams and visions and revelations. He does this to call people, to wake them up and snap them out of the spiritual slumber of their worldly walk. And changes in their behavior from their experiences can be truly breathtaking.
Many, however, sincerely believe that these experiences constitute being filled with the Holy Spirit, for lack of a more accurate word. But the Holy Spirit is an immersion into His Holy Truth. How can their experiences be holy and full of truth when they are still breaking the law of God—still sinning, in other words? How can it be the Spirit of Truth when that person is walking in error?
God is dealing with many people today, calling them into a deeper walk. And because of false teachings about God and His plan, they mistake ex-periences with Him as the baptism in the Holy Spirit. We are admonished to examine ourselves to see if there be any false teachings in our lives. Those going on will put an end to those habits that they know do not please God. They are the ones chosen to go all in. They are the few that will answer the “high calling of God in Christ.” They will be the ones to “continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine.”
Kenneth Wayne Hancock