God is Seeking True Worshippers

2014 Doxology and Theology Conference

In this 60-minute session from the 2014 Doxology and Theology Conference, Dr. D. A. Carson explains true worship in the context of the Samaritan woman's conversion. Carson is research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and co-founder of The Gospel Coalition. He has served as a pastor and is an active guest lecturer in church and academic settings around the world.

D. A. Carson finished the reading of John 4:1–42 with the phrase, "This is the Word of the Lord" and explained the traditional answer of, "Thanks be to God." What did you think of that? Why could a response to the reading of Scripture be an important tradition? Why do you think it's been lost by so many over the centuries? How does that fit into our conversation or your context about leading worship?
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Carson gave 5 specifics about true worship in the context of the Samaritan woman's conversion found in John 4:1–42. 
  1. We learn that many people pursue the wrong thing, even in worship. (vv. 7–15)
  2. We see a lost soul who pursues self-distancing theological debate, not personal self-exposure. (vv. 16–20)
  3. We find a God who pursues true worshippers, not worship. (vv. 21–16)
  4. We find a convert who pursues Christ-centeredness, not self-centeredness. (vv. 27–30)
  5. We see a Savior who pursues His Father's will, not his own. (vv. 31–38)

Considering vv. 7–15, what are you leading people to pursue as you lead them to worship?
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As he explained vv. 16–20, Carson added "you can't talk about worship until you talk about sin." How do you approach sin in leading worship?
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When referring to vv. 21–16, Carson also noted that "you can be totally professional and still be empty." Are there times when your liturgy/songs/hymns/words/traditions are appealing but empty? How do people in your context view worship? Is it dictated by certain activities or in certain places? Did anything Carson explain change your view or how you will lead?
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Carson talked about how Jesus is looking for true worshippers who worship God according to the structure of the new covenant. We are bound up with God, not the temple, not through a priest, not through a sacrifice. We offer ourselves constantly up to God and when we don't, we confess and repent. What does that look like in your life? How does that affect the way you lead others to worship?
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Consider the challenge in vv. 27–30. The Samaritan woman's life was re-oriented around Jesus and many believed because of her testimony. Carson noted that "the best Christian witness is out of the overflow of unabashed delight in our Lord." Evangelism at its best is true worship. How are you seeing the true worship of evangelism in the people you lead?
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As you reflect on vv. 31–38, how are you equipping and unleashing people to pursue God's will and not their own? How are they living out their faith outside the walls of the church? How are they worshipping—reflecting and glorifying God where God has placed them?
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Worship is an enormous privilege—to follow a Savior who pursues His Father's will, not for His own comforts, but to go to the cross so that we might have life and worship Him in spirit and in truth. And now we worship Him as we take up our cross and follow Him and sow and reap to His glory. 

For more information about the Doxology and Theology Conference and how you can attend an upcoming event, visit: DoxologyandTheology.com