Biblical Worship

Biblical Worship: 'In Spirit and in Truth'

By Archibald G. Brown
What is worship? Who may worship?

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part one of a series

Editor's Note: Archibald Brown (1844-1922) was a Reformed Baptist pastor in Britain. He was baptized by Charles Spurgeon in June 1861, and graduated from Spurgeon's Pastors' College. During the years when Spurgeon was preaching to thousands at Metropolitan Tabernacle in central London, Brown was also preaching to thousands a few miles away at East London Tabernacle. After Spurgeon's death, Brown was pastor of Metropolitan Tabernacle from 1907 to 1910.archibald brown

Brown left behind a significant body of printed work, including The Devil's Mission of Amusement: A Protest, which we have previously published in the Bible Knowledgebase. Brown's words of more than a century ago strikingly describe the tragic condition of much of the church in our own time.

On September 6, 1891 Brown preached a sermon on Biblical worship at Metropolitan Tabernacle, substituting for Spurgeon during the period of his final illness. This article begins a series in which we are reproducing this sermon in full. We acknowledge the kind permission of Rev. Iain Murray of the Banner of Truth Trust for permission to reproduce it from a book of Brown's sermons compiled by Mr. Murray titled This God, Our God.

This is one of the best sermons I have ever encountered on the subject of worship - one of the most misunderstood doctrines in the church today. Archibald Brown's Biblical exposition brings much-needed clarity. I strongly commend it to our readers. - Dr. Paul Elliott


God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)

We shall only dwell on the one word "worship". I can almost imagine that I hear someone saying, "Only one word? Will you be able, preacher, to fill up the allotted time from so small a text?" True, it is only one word, but then it is such a word that we need have no fear of exhausting its teaching, did we preach until midnight. The only dread we have is lest the greatness of the word should altogether overwhelm us, for an ocean depth lies in this single word.

"Worship". Seven letters spell it, but seven millenniums will never exhaust its meaning. "Worship". Oh, it is a sanctuary word. As the tabernacle of old among the tents of Israel, so is this word "worship" in earth's vocabulary. It will be a delightful occupation if, this morning, we can walk round about it; but yet shall we not be satisfied, for, as the tabernacle of old could never be comprehended by an outside view, there being but the badger skin covering to be seen, so merely walking round about the word "worship" will never discover to us all its exquisite loveliness. To understand worship you must worship. To enter into its meaning you must enter into its reality May the Spirit of truth promised of our Lord, the Spirit which guides into all the truth, guide us into the truth concerning worship this morning.

No word is more common or more generally heard in almost innumerably different ways of application. We often hear of "places of worship", and in some cases a more startling misnomer could hardly be found. We read of "books of worship", and yet perhaps it is often the book of family worship which stands most in the way of the true worship of the family. "I am going up to worship this morning" is an ordinary expression, and perhaps hundreds who are present have employed it; and yet going up to worship may be the very last motive that prompts the moving steps in the direction of the sanctuary; or, if it be the object in view, it is perhaps the very last attained. We are told, "The worship at such and such a place is very ornate." "Ornate" worship! One might as well talk of an angel in full evening dress. "Oh", say others, "in such a place the worship is severely simple." "Severely simple" worship! You might as well speak of an angel in morning costume. Worship can be neither ornate nor simple. Those terms belong to externals only, not to spirit.

"Worship" - what is it? This is the question which we ask, and may the Spirit of God lead us into the true answer. "God is Spirit, and they that worship Him" - that is something far more than coming to the Metropolitan Tabernacle on Sunday morning. "They that worship Him" - that is something far more than singing, magnificently as you sang that hymn just now. "They that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." Oh Spirit of worship, discover unto us the meaning of worship!

We shall this morning ask and try to answer two questions. The first is, What is worship? And when we have received the answer to that we shall ask a second question which is suggested by the answer: Who then are worshippers?


Next: What Is Worship?


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