Often we hear reflections concerning particular worship services declaring “the Holy Spirit was in here, or high today”. We mistakenly make the assumption that the Holy Spirit made a special response to the “exceptional” way in which we led or participated in worship. However, we must be cautious in the way we think, so as not to defraud the activity of the Holy Spirit. It is important to realize that the Holy Spirit is essential for all true worship.
Simply because we experience an emotional reaction to some word or song, or feel lifted by the fervor of the moment, does not mean we are engaged in the offering of worship. First and foremost, worship can begin only in the context of community; both personal and corporate worship must locate its genesis in the community of the New Covenant of faith in Christ Jesus.
This community of faith is defined by the Holy Spirit. Those who come to worship must be qualified by the redeeming and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. This means that no matter how many hallelujah songs we sing, or fervent prayers we pray, unless we have conformed to obedience to God through the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit, we cannot offer worship.
The Holy Spirit is essential for worship, bringing us together in the unity which God desires for His people. The essentiality of this work is evident in worshippers who submit to the sovereignty of God, admitting that that God is in control of every aspect of their lives. Only under God’s control and in obedience to His will can we demonstrate that unity and love for God and one another which is perquisite for worship. The Holy Spirit is moving to bring about God’s purpose to get Him a people who will give Him glory.
Worship is itself an essential function of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says that we “worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Those who are spiritual are those who are indwelt by the Spirit which testifies to us that we belong to God (Romans 8:16). The Holy Spirit’s presence in our hearts enables us to return worship to God in the Spirit. We are in Spirit as the Spirit is in us, just as Christ is in the Father and the Father is in us through the Spirit (John 14:20; 17:21).
L. Jerome Jones