“Nor Will You Worship On Any Other” (John 4:21)
By Richard Allen – February 12, 2024
In this Blog series entitled “Fighting for Real Estate,” I have one preeminent goal: “To help the people of God think Biblically, and ground them in the New Covenant Teachings of Jesus Christ! To anyone who has read any of my Blogs these past three plus years, it should be clear that the truths of the Gospel of Jesus’ Kingdom are paramount to me. I am not wedded to any system nor quaint theories. The Bible is the only source for all truth and practice. So, in my first Blog on “Fighting for Real Estate,” I hope I made it clear that Jesus’ Better and Everlasting Covenant (Hebrews 13:20), was not a reiteration of the Old Covenant with its physical and natural purposes. And contrary to what some may think, the actual focus of the Old Covenant was to reveal the long-promised Messiah to a natural people (Israel in the flesh), and help usher the Elect Children of God into the Age of the Spirit! God’s plan for the ages was and always has been, the “so great Salvation through Jesus Christ!”
I’d like to start with a passage that I’ve quoted often before – primarily because it is determinative of all that Jesus came to teach and do. I’m talking about John 4:19-26. This passage cannot be any clearer:
“The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ 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.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he.’ ”
Like the passage in the last Blog from Hebrews 11:16, this portion of Scripture lays down a critical New Covenant Truth that cannot, nor should it be overturned by any manmade system of theology. The Land was never the true desire of Abraham or his faithful followers – they were longing for “a heavenly country” (Hebrews 11:16). And to the Samaritan Woman at the well, who was concerned about “which mountain God should be worshiped on,” Jesus tells her: “The hour is coming when neither on this mountain (Gerizim), nor in Jerusalem will we worship God the Father” (John 4:21). How sad that the Church believed these “core truths of New Covenant doctrine” for 1,800 plus years, then in one generation, completely forgot sound doctrine for “fables created by men.” But I should add, this has always been the way of fallen men. It was the “drift away from the truth” under the old covenant that led the Children of Israel to set up idols in the very Temple where God alone was to be worshiped.
What’s ironic is, while correcting this Samaritan woman for the false belief system that her ancestors had adopted, Jesus tells her plainly that “Salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). But He also lets her know that “the hour is coming, and Now Here, when true worshipers will worship in Spirit and Truth”, Not by Location! This is a watershed moment, not only for this woman, but for us as well, as she confesses ‘I know that Messiah is coming, when he comes, he will tell us all things,’ to which Jesus responds: ‘I who speak to you am He!’ (John 4:26). In fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:18, Jesus came as ‘that prophet’ who would speak fully and finally to the people! He was the Word through whom God gave His ultimate revelation. Jesus told her: Worship in the Flesh, by Location, at certain Times and using a Special Priesthood was over! The Age of the Spirit has dawned, and only Worship in Spirit and Truth is acceptable! This truth sets the New Covenant Gospel of Jesus Christ apart from all “pre-Christian” and “manmade” religions!
We do not agree with many believers who have adopted a system that “once again returns to Judaism” and all the trappings of the Old Testament for their impetus. As mentioned in “Fighting for Real Estate – Part #1: The Introduction,” all manmade religions fall into this same error: They believe that True Worship is in the “Flesh and by Human Wisdom.” This was true throughout human history. Just look at the Shrines, Temples, Holy Days, Sacrifices, Special Priesthood – all founded upon Sacred Locations! Worship on Sacred mountains was true of the Babylonians, Phoenicians, Hittites, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Mayans, Egyptians and all Pagan Religions. Sadly, it was less than three centuries before “Worship by Location in the Flesh” crept back into the Church of Jesus Christ! For those of you who read my 16-Blog series on the Book of Hebrews, you should remember that I stressed that “Worship by Location” is basic to man’s fallen condition. Whereas Worship in Spirit and Truth is quite foreign to the “Natural Man,” until God “Regenerates” us by His Spirit! Here’s what the writer to the Hebrews tells his readers, comparing worship on two Mountains:
“For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, ‘If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.’ Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear.’ But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens. ” This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:18-29).
This passage actually reveals the “two mountains” of which we speak. The first was Sinai, whose physical presence made even Moses fear and quake. That mountain burned with God’s wrath for sin, and prevented the worshipers from ever coming near. That’s what Jesus was telling the Samaritan Woman. Even the Mountain, that is God’s Holy Hill in Jerusalem, was not adequate for a People Redeemed by Grace! So, Jesus pointed her toward Mount Zion, the City of the Living God above -- where all men have access to God by the Spirit! That’s what Spirit and Truth Worship is all about! And just so we don’t misunderstand, there is No Time When We’ll Go Back to Worship on That Smoldering Mountain of God’s Law and Justice! While the physical trappings of that Mountain attract many, God’s people cannot go back to Worship in the Flesh! God’s Redemptive History has moved on to a Better way of Worship!
We’ll discuss systems of interpretation that lead people astray in my next Blog, but for now let me say that while some stress that they honor the Scripture by taking everything in a “literal sense,” nothing could be further from the truth. All of us want to understand the “Spiritual Sense” of what Scripture is saying, and all sides take some passages as literal and others in a spiritual sense. The reason for this is plain: That’s what Jesus and His Apostles did when interpreting the Old Testament Scriptures. So, when it comes to who is right and who is wrong regarding Biblical Interpretation, I will always side with the interpretations given by Jesus through His Apostles! He is the Ultimate Standard of Truth, not some mere mortal who has decided that he “has new light on the Bible.” Let me make you aware, the conflict is not between a “Literal vs. a Figurative” understanding of Scripture. No, it’s between a “Natural, Physical understanding and a Spiritual understanding.” Those of us who believe and love the New Covenant of Jesus Christ, are not wedded to any system of interpretation beyond Jesus’ own dictum explaining the focus of all those Old Testament Scriptures:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).
God’s eternal purpose in Jesus Christ is the key to understanding all of the Bible! The Story of the Bible is not the wonderful story of Israel and her quest to finally get the land. No, it’s about our real pilgrimage to a Heavenly Country, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
Soli Deo Gloria!