In Philippians 3:3 Paul tells the Philippians (and us) what characterises the true people of God. These people are said to be the circumcision (Phil. 3:3a). This is pictorial language which describes us as those who have given up living for the flesh. Three different facets which define the people of God are then presented. We who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh. (Phil. 3:3b). Our purpose in this study is to concentrate on what it is to serve God by the Spirit?
The word “serve” in this verse refers to service which is directed towards God. Hence, in many versions of the scripture the word is rendered as “worship”. This service/worship can be viewed in a general way and also in a specific way. Generally it refers to our whole lives being full of worship. So in our day-to-day lives we are seen as living lives which please God. When thought of specifically it refers to those times when the church comes together to worship. It is this latter aspect I want to concentrate upon, but there are significant cross-overs to the issue of “whole-life worship”.
So what is it, that we will find in a church worshipping God by the Spirit? How will we know, when a church is gathered together, whether or not they are worshipping by the Spirit of God? For that matter how will we know if we, at Feltham Evangelical Church, are worshipping God in an acceptable way? Let us go to scripture and see what we discover:-
Not physical. This issue is specifically derived from the context in which our statement is found. At the beginning of Philippians 3 we find the true Christian lifestyle contrasted to that of those who concentrated on outward forms. When we find a concentration on the things of the senses then we should conclude that this is not of the Holy Spirit. When seeing, touching and smelling are emphasised then the emphasis is not spiritual, but physical.
The Word. When the Holy Spirit is leading the worship then there is an emphasis on the Word of God. Everything, whether done or spoken, will harmonise with the requirements of the Word. Moreover, there will be the reading and proclaiming of the Word of God, with the Word element having prominence in the service. It is inappropriate to prescribe exactly how this takes place, but it will surely be there if the Spirit of God is there. In asserting the prominence of the Word in the ways of God we remember that faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ (Rom. 10:17).
The Christ. When the Spirit comes there is the glorifying of Jesus Christ. This is the Holy Spirit’s most delightful work; the Spirit loves to magnify Christ. As the Saviour has gone to heaven so the Spirit has come into this world; being sent by the risen Lord. Accordingly, we read the words of the Saviour ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me (John 15:26). When there is much speaking about the glory of Jesus in a service we can inclined to conclude that the Spirit of the Lord is there.
Sin. The Spirit convicts of sin. So we read in John 16:7b-8 the Lord Jesus saying Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgement. When the Spirit is working there is an awareness of our wrongness before God.
Praise. We read in Hebrews 13:15 about the fruit of the lips being a sacrifice of praise. This thankfulness is connected lives which confess His name and is through Jesus. It reflects a positive attitude towards God in all His goodness towards us. When the Spirit is present in the service there is a much thankfulness to and appreciation of God.
Understanding. On the Day of Pentecost when the Spirit came to manifestly demonstrate God’s new regime amongst mankind there was the special gifting of the disciples speaking in different languages so that all could understand (see Acts 2:1-12). When the people come together to worship God by the Spirit then there will be that awareness that everything is being done in an understandable way.
Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of January of 2015