God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
In considering the subject of worship, the highest exercise of which the spirit of man is capable, it is important to remember that there is a great difference between the way it is presented in the two Testaments. In former dispensations God was hidden in large measure. His wisdom and His providence were displayed in creation. His love was seen in His care of those who confided in Him. His grace was declared by the prophets as something yet to be revealed. Consequently there was no immediate access into the presence of God. The veil was unrent. His word to Israel was, “Do not draw near this place” (Exodus 3:5); “Worship from afar” (24:1). But since the advent of Christ, all is changed. Grace and truth are now revealed. The veil is rent. The way into the holiest is now made clear.
In spirit every believer is invited to “draw near … in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:19–22). The worship of the new creation is based upon the finished work of our blessed Lord. In spirit we enter the immediate presence of the Father in full consciousness of our sonship. Worship is far more than prayer, or the enjoyment of helpful ministry. It is the spirit’s adoring occupation with God Himself, not merely in gratitude for His gifts, but because of what He is. It is this that the Father seeks. Worship is lowered as we become occupied with the externals even of Christianity. It reaches its highest point as our spirits are absorbed in contemplation of the matchless perfections of the eternal God, in the light of the cross and the empty tomb.
Father, we Thy children, bless Thee
For Thy love on us bestowed;
Source of blessing, we confess Thee
Now, our Father and our God.
Wondrous was Thy love in giving
Jesus for our sins to die!
Wondrous was His grace in leaving,
For our sakes, the heavens on high!
—Samuel P. Tregelles
H. A. Ironside, The Continual Burnt Offering: Daily Meditations on the Word of God (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1994), 223.