Relationships of the Believer
LESSON SEVEN – TRUE WORSHIP
Lesson Goal: Our goal in this lesson is to better understand from Scripture what true God-pleasing worship is.
1. Read Amos 5:21-24–“I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. 22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. 23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
NOTE: At the time this book was written, many of the Israelites were keeping the external rules and regulations of the Law of Musa, but were living very immoral lives and oppressing the poor.
a. What was Allah’s attitude towards those who kept the different external religious laws but oppressed the poor?
b. According to verse 24, what did Allah desire most from His people?
c. Can a person please and satisfy Allah by keeping external religious rules and regulations while at the same time committing injustice and oppression? Why or why not?
2. Read 1 Samuel 16:6,7–When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely Allah’s anointed stands here before Allah.” 7 But Allah said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. Allah does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but Allah looks at the heart.”
NOTE: In this passage the Prophet Samuel has come to Prophet Dawud’s home at Allah’s command to anoint the next king of Israel. On seeing the impressive figure of Dawud’s older brother, Eliab, Samuel immediately assumes that this must be the person Allah wants anointed as king.
a. Was Eliab actually the person Allah had chosen to be king?
b. According to verse 7, what does man notice and judge by?
c. By contrast, what does Allah judge by?
d. Is man’s external judgment or Allah’s internal judgment more accurate?
3. Read Hosea 6:4-10– “What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. 5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you. 6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of Allah rather than burnt offerings. 7 Like Adam, they have broken the covenant–they were unfaithful to me there. 8 Gilead is a city of wicked men, stained with footprints of blood. 9 As marauders lie in ambush for a man, so do bands of priests; they murder on the road to Shechem, committing shameful crimes. 10 I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel. There Ephraim is given to prostitution and Israel is defiled.”
a. How is the people’s behavior described in verse 7?
b. According to verse 6, is Allah more concerned that people have a real and living relationship with him and be merciful and kind to others, or that they practice external obedience to laws such as the sacrificial law?
c. The Book of Proverbs was written by Prophet Sulayman, Prophet Dawud’s son. Read Proverbs 21:3–To do what is right and just is more acceptable to Allah than sacrifice. How much agreement would you say there is between this verse and Hosea 6:6?
4. Read Matthew 23:23,24–“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
a. What was the attitude of the Pharisees and teachers of the law towards tithing? NOTE: In the law of Musa, the tithe was 1/10th of a person’s income.
b. What was their mistake?
c. According to Isa’s evaluation, what were the more important and crucial matters of the law?
d. Does Isa tell us here to disregard Allah’s law?
5. Read Matthew 6:1-6,16-18– “Be careful not to do your `acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
a. What three religious actions are described in these passages?
b. What are we told to avoid in these three areas?
c. What is the term used to describe those who do their religious deeds in order to be seen and praised by other men?
d. During the time of Isa, what group was especially guilty of this error? (See Matthew 23:1-5–Then Isa said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Musa’s seat. 3 So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long.)
e. In your own situation where you live today, describe briefly how common this error is and among which group it is most prevalent.
6. Read Luke 18:9-14– To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Isa told this parable: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: `Allah, I thank you that I am not like other men–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ 13 But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, `Allah, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14 I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before Allah. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
a. In this story was the worship of the Pharisee accepted by Allah? Why or why not?
b. Was the worship of the tax collector accepted? Why?
c. Think about those who might have been in the temple together with the Pharisee and the tax collector. Whose worship would they most likely have concluded was more acceptable to Allah, the Pharisee’s or the tax collector’s? Why?
d. What relation do you see between your answer to question ‘c’ above and what we looked at in 1 Samuel 16:6,7?
7. Read Luke 21:1-4– As he looked up, Isa saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. 3 “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
a. How much did the poor widow place into the temple treasury?
b. In man’s eyes, who seemed more worthy of praise – the rich men who gave large amounts of money or the poor widow who gave just a tiny sum?
c. In Allah’s eyes, who was worthy of more honor – the rich donors or the poor widow? Why?
8. Read John 4:19-24– “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Isa declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 Allah is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
a. The true worshiper must worship the Father how?
b. In the Luke 18:9-14 passage, which person was worshipping in the Spirit? . Which person was worshipping in the flesh? . Thus, what do you think the phrase “worship in the Spirit” really means?
c. The Pharisees described in Matthew 23:1-5 were seeking after whose honor and glory – Allah’s or their own? .
Would you say the Pharisees were worshipping in truth or in hypocrisy? .
What do you think it means to worship Allah in truth?
d. How would you describe the opposite of worshipping Allah in Spirit and truth? In other words, what would worshipping in falsehood and in the flesh mean?
9. According to your own observations, how much similarity is there between the worship of the Pharisees of Isa’s day and much of the religious acts done today? Explain your answer.
10. In your own opinion, what are the characteristics of God-pleasing worship?
11. How would you answer the person who asks you, How do you worship Allah (prayers, fasting, etc.)?
12. Reflect on your own worship practice. Are there any elements of hypocrisy and the flesh in your worship? What should you do to remove them?
TO MEMORIZE – JOHN 4:23,24
23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”