- Our worship to the Father is subjective because He has dispensed His life into us and because we have been reborn to be His children
- We experience the sweetness of the Father’s name when we enjoy His life in our spirit, keeping us in oneness
- When we say, “Abba, Father,” we have a sweet inward sensation in an intimate enjoyment of the Father’s presence
- On the one hand, we worship the Lord by drinking of Him as living water dispensed into our being; on the other hand, our drinking of Him leads us back to the Father in the divine dispensing of the Divine Trinity.
Worshiping the Father in the Dispensing of the Triune God
[John 4:24 says, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.”] In [this verse,] the Lord spoke of the nature of God. The nature of God is Spirit. The Lord did not say that we worship God but that we worship the Father, whose nature, as God, is Spirit. The worship here is absolutely different from the Jewish [way of worshiping God as the Creator]. What the Lord spoke of is the worship of the Father in the Son and also in the Spirit. Thus, this is a worship in God’s dispensing, the worship by the divine dispensing. When the Jews worship God as the Creator, they do not have the thought of God being dispensed into them. But if we would have the true worship, we need God to be dispensed into our being.
In John 4 the worship to the Father, the worship in the dispensing of God, is related to drinking the living water (vv. 10, 14). To contact God the Spirit with our spirit is to drink of the living water, and to drink of the living water is to render real worship to God. To expound John 4:24 we need John 4:14. We need to drink of the living water to worship the Father in spirit and in truthfulness. If we do not drink the living water, we do not drink of the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), we have no experience of God, and God is not dispensed into us. Without drinking the living water, we cannot have a subjective worship in the divine dispensing. We can have only [an] objective worship to an objective God as the Creator. Today our worship is subjective in the dispensing of God. Our worship is our experience of drinking the living water, the Spirit. In order to have the worship in the dispensing of God, we need to drink of the Spirit so that God may dispense Himself into our being. This is the new worship revealed in the New Testament. [Our worship is] to the Father, who has regenerated us and who has put Himself into our being. Now our worship is subjective with God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit—dispensed into us.
This kind of worship can be practiced mostly in the Lord’s table meeting, because in the Lord’s table meeting, after we partake of the bread and the cup, the Lord takes the lead to bring us to the Father. The Lord leads us back to the Father in the Spirit. Here we must remember Ephesians 2:18, which reveals that our worship is through the Son, in the Spirit, and to the Father. This is fully portrayed in Luke 15 with the parables of the shepherd, the woman, and the father. It is through the Son’s seeking as the Shepherd and through the Spirit’s enlightening as the woman that the prodigal son comes back to the Father. Therefore, this coming back to the Father is in the divine dispensing of the Divine Trinity. The Son and the Spirit are wrought into the returning son. This is the true worship in God’s dispensing.
By Becoming the Father’s Children and Knowing His Name
In John 3 there is the need to be born again, and in John 4 there is the worship in spirit. If we are to worship the Father, we first need to be reborn, becoming the Father’s children (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1a). If we are going to worship God in our spirit, we must be born of the Spirit of God in our spirit (3:5, 6b). In John 17:26a the Lord said that He would make the Father’s name known to His disciples, and in Hebrews 2:12a we see that He declares the Father’s name to His brothers. The name denotes the person. When you call on someone’s name, the person comes, so the name of the Father denotes the Father’s person. He is not only our God who created us but also the Father who begets us. Now we are not only His creatures but also His children born of Him, begotten by Him. He is our Father, and we have to know His person. To know His person is to know His name.
The first aspect of oneness [in John chapter 17] is the oneness in the Father’s name by His divine life. In this aspect of oneness the believers born of the Father’s life enjoy the Father’s name, that is, the Father Himself, as the factor of their oneness. We are one because we have one Father. This sweet title, Abba Father, has been made fully known to us in an experiential way because we have His life. Now we are one in Him by His life.
Because God is your Father and mine, we are of the same family, the family of God. This is so dear and intimate. In fact, I do not sense such an intimacy with my own brother in the flesh. The Lord can testify this for me. Why is this true? Because we were all born of the same Father, have the same life, and are brothers in that life. We are not brothers-in-law—we are brothers in life. Praise the Lord that we are brothers in the Father’s life! For this reason, we must be one. There is no reason for us not to be one, for we are one family having the same Father and the same life. Therefore, we have the real brotherhood in life. In this life we all must be and can be one.
We are one in the Father’s name by enjoying the Father Himself. As the children of God, we all have the same Father. But when we are not one with one another, we do not have the sense that we are enjoying the Father. The more we are one by His life, the more we have the sense that the Father is so enjoyable. When we are together calling, “O Father,” it is so sweet. Suppose, however, we fight and are divided into many groups. In such a situation, when we try to call, “O Father,” we lose the sense of the sweetness of the Father’s name. The sweet flavor of the Father’s name relies upon the oneness of His children. When we are one, we enjoy the Father.
In John 17:13 the Lord said to the Father, “But now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world that they may have My joy made full in themselves.” The fullness of joy is in the real oneness. When we are one in the Father’s name by the Father’s life, enjoying the Father together, we shall have the Lord’s joy made full in us. This is the reason that when we are truly one, we are filled with praises to the Father. This praise is simply the overflow of the inner joy. We rejoice in oneness with the overflow of joy.
By Enjoying the Father’s Presence
In John 14:23 the Lord said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him.” The Father and the Son will come to the one who loves the Son and will make Their abode with him. This is the constant presence of the Father. When we say, “Abba, Father” (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6), we have a sweet inward sensation in an intimate enjoyment of the Father’s presence. By becoming the Father’s children, by knowing the Father’s name, and by enjoying the Father’s presence, we worship the Father. If we are not born of the Father, do not know His person, and do not have His presence, we cannot worship Him subjectively; we can worship only an objective God.
By Being in the Unique Place of God’s Habitation
We [also] must worship the Father by being in the unique place of worship where God’s habitation is (Deut. 12:5; Eph. 2:22). After we are born of the Spirit of God in our spirit, baptized into one Body in the one Spirit, and drink of this one Spirit, our spirit becomes the unique place of worship because our spirit is the very place where God’s habitation is. Christians are divided today because they will not come to their spirit to worship. If all the Christians would come to their spirit to worship, there would be no division. As long as all the children of Israel came to Jerusalem to worship, they were kept in oneness. The principle is the same today. Many Christians will not come to their regenerated spirit to worship God, so they are divided. Today we have to worship the Father in our spirit mingled with the Spirit of God.
In the Dispensing of the Triune God
Our worship to the Father in the Lord’s table meeting is in the dispensing of the Triune God. We have been baptized into the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). We also enjoy the Father’s love, the Son’s grace, and the Spirit’s fellowship (2 Cor. 13:14). We must be in the dispensing of the Triune God. Then we can have the proper and true worship in the divine dispensing of the Divine Trinity. The worship in the dispensing of the Triune God is the worship to the Father by His many sons with His firstborn Son as the offerings and in His Spirit who mingles Himself with our spirit as the unique place for our worship.
This fellowship should help us in the worship of the Father in the Lord’s table meeting. This is the worship that the Lord revealed in John 4. John’s Gospel tells us in chapter 1 that we have the right to be God’s children. He gave as many as received Him the right, the authority, to be His children (v. 12). These children are born of God Himself, and chapter 3 tells us how to be born of God. We must be born of water and the Spirit to be reborn of the Spirit (vv. 5-6). Chapter 4 goes on to reveal how to worship God as the Father in our spirit as the unique place of our worship and with the Son as the real offerings (vv. 23-24). We have to experience the dispensing of the Triune God—the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Then we can have the kind of worship that the Father seeks.
- What does it mean for us to know the Father’s name? How is this related to having His life and enjoying His presence? Why do we pray, Abba Father?
- What is the connection between our spirit and worshiping God in oneness?
- What is the difference between worshiping God as the Creator versus having Him dispensed into us in our worship?
- How is the divine dispensing related to the “true worship” that the Father is seeking in John 4:23-24?
- Exercise. Practice singing and fellowshipping over one of the hymns included in the supplement of this reading. Practice worshiping the Father according to the sentiments in these hymns.
Excerpts taken from Basic Lessons on Service, Chapter 6;
Life-Study of John, Message 39. Additional Reading: Guidelines for the Lord’s Table Meeting and the Pursuit in Life, Chapters 6-7
SUPPLEMENT: HYMNS THAT CORRESPOND WITH THE FATHER IN HIS BEGETTING, HIS NAME, AND HIS DISPENSING
- 36, We praise Thee, glorious Father
- 43, Abba, Father, we approach Thee
- 48, We bless Thee, God and Father
- 608, What mystery, the Father, Son, and Spirit
- 1081, Father God, Thou art the source of life