“We Worship What We Know”
“You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know.”—John 4:22.
1. (a) What are all persons inclined to worship, and how is one who claims to be an exception to this affected? (b) As regards worship, what questions does one wisely put to oneself?
ALL persons are inclined to worship someone or something, even if it is to worship one’s own self. The person who sourly says, “I do not worship anybody or anything!” is really a worshiper of himself. He makes himself a human god, but due to his egotism he is unaware of that fact. He prides himself in the presumptuous idea that he gives worship to nothing whether alive or lifeless. This does not result in any benefit to him; it does not enlarge his freedom; it does not lighten his responsibility. Rather, it does harm to him, possibly to his everlasting destruction. To render any worship with lasting benefit to oneself, it is good to know what one worships, to worship what one knows. We do wisely to ask ourselves, Do I worship what I know? Or, could it be said to me and to my religious or irreligious associates, “You [people] worship what you do not know”? That is to say, You worship you know not what.
2. (a) Many persons, when outside their religious building, are very touchy in what regard? (b) How did the Samaritan woman respond and benefit when told she worshiped what she did not know?
2 This matter of religion is a thing about which most people are very touchy. Not just radicals and communists, but church members of Christendom are ashamed to be thought of as religious, when outside their church building. Many will choke off any discussion with a person of another religion by curtly saying: “I have my own religion!” Others, and they are many, after hearing someone present a religious argument, will say: “Your religion is truth to you, and my religion is truth to me, and so there is no need for me to change my religion.” But each one of that attitude might well ask himself, Would I resent it if someone who knew what he was talking about said to me: “You worship what you do not know”? The woman to whom such a statement was first made by a person of another religion did not resent it. It worked out well for her that she did not do so. She grabbed the opportunity to ask a further question. By this she found out why the one speaking to her was able to say what he said to her.
3. When and where did the Samaritan woman meet the man who made this statement to her?
3 The woman was a Middle Eastern woman, a member of a provincial group known as Samaritans. She came upon this well-informed man seated at a deep well near the city of Sychar one noontime. It was in the year 30 of our Common Era, sometime after the Samaritans had celebrated their Passover feast in nearby Mount Gerizim, where once a Samaritan temple had stood. There is still a small colony of Samaritans at Mount Gerizim today, and at their shrine they have an ancient copy of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Holy Bible as written by the prophet Moses), which they claim to be the oldest copy in existence today. Also, nearby, is a deep well, which is claimed to be the very well at which the Samaritan woman met this man. To the left of this well a grillwork partition has been erected on which occurs the tetragrammaton, the four Hebrew alphabetic letters that stand for the name of the God of Moses, namely, Jehovah or Yahweh. All this now stands inside a protective building, and tourists visit it.
4, 5. (a) Why was it remarkable that a conversation should be struck up at the well? (b) The man’s remarks led the woman to bring up what religious problem?
4 The man proved to be of a race with whom the Samaritans then had no dealings, and yet he struck up a conversation with this Samaritan woman, which caused her to wonder. This lack of racial prejudice impressed her. Appropriately there at a well that was reputedly dug by the patriarch Jacob, the great-great-grandfather of Moses, the man spoke to her of a new thing, “living water,” after the drinking of which a person would not get thirsty again. He revealed to her facts about her most intimate life. This led her to ask him about a religious problem of that day. She said:
5 “Sir, I perceive you are a prophet. Our forefathers worshiped in this mountain; but you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where persons ought to worship.”—John 4:1-20.
6. What did the man tell her about the worship of her people and the worship of his people, and about future worship?
6 The man’s reply to her question was: “Believe me, woman, The hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you people worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation originates with the Jews. Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him. God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.”—John 4:21-24.
7, 8. (a) Who did the man at the well prove to be, and how did the woman find that out? (b) To what conclusion concerning this man Jesus did the men of Sychar come, and why correctly so?
7 Who was this man to speak so authoritatively to this Samaritan woman? The woman showed that she had faith in the Messiah, whom those Jews speaking Greek called Christ, and she looked forward to such Messiah or Christ to settle finally all questions of worship. So she said: “I know that Messiah is coming, who is called Christ. Whenever that one arrives, he will declare all things to us openly.” But the question as to the place and manner of worshiping the divine Father had already been declared openly to this Samaritan woman, for the man said to her: “I who am speaking to you am he.” If that woman lived for three years longer, she learned of further facts, undeniable facts, to prove that this man was indeed the Messiah, the long-promised Anointed One of God. But his personal name on earth was Jesus, which means “Salvation of Jehovah.” So he was called Jesus Christ.—John 4:25, 26.
8 This was news indeed! And, inasmuch as the man was now joined by his twelve companions with food for their lunch, the Samaritan woman left her water jar at the well, returned to Sychar and told its’ inhabitants: “Come here, see a man that told me all the things I did. This is not perhaps the Christ, is it?” The Samaritans came out to see and hear. They had the man stay with them for two days. To what conclusion did they come? That this man was the Messianic Savior of not just the Jews who had no dealings back there with the Samaritans, but they said to the woman: “We do not believe any longer on account of your talk; for we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man is for a certainty the savior of the world.” (John 4:28-30, 39-42) Three years later the historical facts were provided to prove that those Samaritans were right: Jesus Christ is the Savior of all mankind. He knew what he was talking about to the Samaritan woman.
“DO I KNOW?” IS THE QUESTION
9. With whom would Jesus, if on earth today, include us—with knowing worshipers or unknowing worshipers, and why is it important to decide concerning this question?
9 Suppose that Jesus Christ were personally on earth today and were saying to a certain religious group: “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know.” Would he be including us with himself in saying: “We worship what we know”? Or would he be including us with the religious group that did not know what it was worshiping? The answers to these questions are of the highest importance to us today when there is being forced upon us the need to make an intelligent decision regarding whom or what we will worship. A person can fool himself by saying in stubborn pride and reliance upon himself: “I worship no one or nothing! I fear neither God nor man.” But in course of time telltale facts will come to light to show whom or what a person is worshiping.
10. What kind of God do many profess to worship today, whom they claim to be the Bible God?
10 Many claim to worship, not Buddha, nor one of the 330,000,000 gods of the Hindus, nor the Allah of the Mohammedans, nor the God of the modern-day Jews, but another kind of God, a nameless one who has no racial or national connections. He can be worshiped by everyone, with no racial or national ties to stumble him. Many today claim that this nameless God is the God of the Holy Bible.
11, 12. (a) Why would those worshiping as Jesus did be worshiping what they know? (b) Why did the Samaritans not know what they worshiped, and in what way did salvation originate with the Jews?
11 Plainly, then, the question for each one is, Do I worship what I do not know, just as the Samaritans of nineteen centuries ago did? Or, Do I, like the Messiah, worship what I know? If we worship what the Messiah on earth knew, it will mean salvation for us, because the Messiah himself said so. He knew the heavenly Father about whom he spoke to the Samaritan woman. In proof of this he said: “Neither does anyone fully know the Father but the Son and anyone to whom the Son is willing to reveal him.” (Matt. 11:27) “The Father knows me and I know the Father.”—John 10:15.
12 At the time that he said those words, the nation that was worshiping at the temple in Jerusalem was in a solemn contract or covenant with Jehovah God through his mediator, the prophet Moses. God was not in a national covenant with the Samaritans, even though they claimed to hold to the Pentateuch, five Bible books written by Moses. Because they rejected the rest of the inspired Sacred Scriptures, they were not worshiping at the right mountain and they did not properly know Jehovah God who revealed himself through all those inspired writings. Rightly, then, Jesus could say to the Samaritans: “You worship what you do not know.” But speaking for himself and the nation of which he was an earthly part, Jesus could say: “We worship what we know, because salvation originates with the Jews.” (John 4:22) This was true, since Jesus Christ in the days of his flesh was a circumcised Jew, and, even as the Samaritans of Sychar said regarding him, “We know that this man is for a certainty the savior of the world.”—John 4:42.
13. How might racially prejudiced persons react to Jesus’ statement, and what question might they ask?
13 Many racially prejudiced persons of today may stumble at Jesus’ statement: “Salvation originates with the Jews.” They might ask, ‘Does this mean that we must accept Judaism, get circumcised and go to the Jewish synagogue and make pilgrimages to Jerusalem if we desire to worship the true God?’
14. What words of Jesus to the Samaritan woman answer that question?
14 Well, what do we learn from what the Messiah Jesus told the Samaritan woman? Listen: “Believe me, woman, The hour is coming when neither in this mountain [Gerizim] nor in Jerusalem will you people worship the Father. . . . Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him. God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.”—John 4:21-24.
15. (a) Jesus’ words indicated that what was about to occur, and how has it occurred down to this day? (b) What is it, then, that counts with the true worshipers?
15 Those words indicated that a radical change was about to take place. Forty years later the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman legions under General Titus, and its temple for the worship of Jehovah God has not been reestablished there to this day. The city that was built there in the following century by the pagan Romans eventually became a “Christian” city where people of Christendom made pilgrimages. Still later it became a Mohammedan city, where the Moslems worshiped at the mosque that was built on the site of the former Jewish temple. Today that mosque still stands and all Jerusalem is now completely in the hands of the Jews who make up the Republic of Israel. But all this does not matter with the “true worshipers.” They do not have to worship Jehovah God at earthly Jerusalem or any other earthly city that is held to be sacred by various religionists, Vatican City not excluded. A special place on earth does not count with them. What they must without fail do, according to what Jesus told the Samaritan woman, is, worship the heavenly Father with spirit and truth. He is spirit, he is a Spirit, not confined to an earthly location.
16. With what is it that Jesus said the heavenly Father must be worshiped, and why is this necessary?
16 Worshiping the heavenly Father, who is spiritual, is therefore not by means of physical, bodily contact with him. Rather than depending upon the presence and use of visible or material things and geographical locations, the true worshiper must have the right attitude that exercises faith rather than sight and touch; he must have the inclination and urging of pure worship regardless of place or things about him. He must not only show sincerity and wholeheartedness in his worship, but also have the truth. The heavenly Father is looking for those who seek the truth from Him and who worship him according to the truth, not according to the contradictory teachings and traditions of the hundreds of religious denominations of Christendom and other religious systems. Without the truth what kind of idea could any person have of what he worships as God? Ideas of God can vary millions of ways!
17. (a) To worship God with truth requires what of us as regards the truth? (b) How did Jesus’ own nation show that they were not with him in what he knew?
17 The truth about God is progressive, and the true worshiper must show a love for the truth by keeping up with its progress. What of Jesus’ own nation according to the flesh? Could he keep on saying concerning that nation: “We worship what we know”? How could he do so? After hearing him preach for about three years the message, “The kingdom of God has drawn near!” the religious leaders of the nation, followed by most of the people, showed that they differed from him as to ideas of God. They showed that they preferred their religious traditions and precepts of men to what he pointed out to them from the inspired Holy Scriptures. They accused him of blasphemy and violently tried to kill him. At last their Supreme Court at Jerusalem did condemn him to death as a blasphemer of God. They even told the Roman governor Pontius Pilate that, according to their own law, Jesus ought to die for blasphemy. But in order to induce the Roman governor at Jerusalem to exercise his authority and have Jesus put to death they accused him of political sedition. Jesus’ death on an execution stake followed. So they were not with Jesus in worshiping what he knew!
18. Who was rejected by God, Jesus or the Jewish nation, and how has this been shown?
18 Can we go along with that ancient nation in that course of action? Not if we want to worship the same God that Jesus worshiped, the God that he knew. To this day the descendants of that nation have not repudiated that stand that they took toward the Messiah Jesus. They rejected Jesus’ message and also the proofs that he gave that he was the long-promised Messiah, but they were forced to accept the fulfillment of Jesus’ prediction that the “holy city” of Jerusalem and its gorgeous temple would be destroyed, never to be rebuilt by the Jews. True to Jesus’ words, the horrifying destruction of Jerusalem and its temple came within that “generation,” in the year 70 C.E. (Matt. 24:1-34) Thus, although the Jews fanatically tried to have it otherwise, Jerusalem ceased to be the place to worship the only living and true God. Not even a Jewish temple stands there today to recommend it as the city at which to render united worship to a Known God. But the truthfulness of Jesus as the real Messianic prophet of this Known God stands established by inerasable facts of history. So, not Jesus, but the nation that rejected him, was rejected by this Known God.
19. (a) If not with the Jewish nation, with whom, however, must we become partakers in their course back there? (b) By what kind of channel did salvation come to the Gentiles, and when?
19 So the fact that Jesus said, “Salvation originates with the Jews,” does not mean that eternal salvation is by means of that nation today and that we have to become a circumcised proselyte or member of it. We must become partners, not with the nation that rejected the Messiah, but with the Jewish “remnant” of some thousands of natural Jews who accepted the Messiah Jesus, in 33 C.E., and who became his faithful followers. (Rom. 11:1-7) After Jesus was resurrected from the dead and before he ascended to heaven, he gathered together the first members of this Jewish “remnant” of believers. On the day of Pentecost (Sivan 6, 33 C.E.) God used Jesus Christ to pour out from heaven the holy spirit upon those first members of the Jewish “remnant.” Thus they were able to worship God, not only with the “spirit” of genuine worship, but also with the help of God’s holy spirit, and also with the “truth” that was revealed by means of that holy spirit. (Acts 2:1-47) Later, in 36 C.E., this Jewish remnant passed on God’s message of salvation to the Gentiles or non-Jews. (Acts 10:1 to 11:18) So they were a channel by which salvation came to the Gentiles.
20. (a) In the critical time before Jerusalem’s destruction, what did Jewish Christians do, and did this deprive them of a place to worship the Known God? (b) With whom must we take our stand, if we desire salvation from God through Christ?
20 Later at the critical time before Jerusalem’s destruction as foretold by Jesus occurred, the members of that Jewish remnant neither returned to Jerusalem to celebrate any feasts nor stayed in it. Rather, they avoided and fled from Jerusalem and Judea just as Jesus, like a true prophet, had warned them to do. In that way they did not get destroyed with Jerusalem and its temple in the year 70 C.E. (Matt. 24:15-22; Luke 21:20-24) But they were not thereby deprived of a true place to worship the God whom they knew. No, but they kept on worshiping him at his true temple, which is not made by human hands, and which can never be destroyed by human hands. (Heb. 8:1, 2) It is of this Jewish “remnant” that Jesus Christ could continue to say after Pentecost of 33 C.E. his words to the Samaritan woman: “We worship what we know, because salvation originates with the Jews.” (John 4:22) Not with the rejected nation, but with this Jewish “remnant,” as if it were still alive, we must take our stand today if we desire salvation from God through his Messiah, Jesus.
HOW TO KNOW WHAT WE WORSHIP
21. (a) As to worshiping what we know, we need to know to what extent, and why so? (b) How were the Samaritans at fault in this respect?
21 To “worship what we know” means to worship the God whom we know. He is not some imaginary God. If we worship an imaginary God, it can be said to us by Jesus: “You worship what you do not know.” If we accept partial facts even about the true God, but we thereafter refuse to accept the fully revealed truth about him, then what? Then we get only an incomplete understanding of God. In fact, we get a distorted idea of God, and what we worship is really not the true God. We worship what we do not know; we worship someone nonexistent. That was the trouble with those Samaritans of the first century C.E. They accepted the inspired Pentateuch as written by the prophet Moses. But they stubbornly refused to accept the further revelation of Jehovah God as contained in the remaining thirty-four books of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures. So they had, not only an incomplete conception of Jehovah God, but also an incorrect conception of him. That is why they refused to go up to Jerusalem’s temple to worship, but worshiped at Mount Gerizim. They did not accept the up-to-date historical record of God’s activities and truth.
22. How did a like thing become true of the nation of which Jesus was a natural member?
22 The like thing became true of the nation of which Jesus Christ was a natural member. They claimed to accept all the inspired Hebrew Scriptures up to that time, namely, the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms, but, as Jesus Christ pointed out to them, they made the commandments of God null and void by their traditions and precepts of uninspired men. (Matt. 15:1-9; Luke 24:44, 45) Further than that, they refused to discern and acknowledge the fulfillment of the inspired Hebrew prophecies as these were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. So they did not accept him as the Scripturally foretold Messiah. Consistent with this, they did not join up with the Jewish “remnant” of believers who received the holy spirit of God on the day of Pentecost. Further, they did not accept the final part of the Holy Scriptures, namely, the inspired Scriptures that were written in Greek by faithful apostles and disciples of the Messiah Jesus. To those unbelieving Jews divine inspiration and revelation of truth ceased with the books of Malachi and Chronicles so that to them the books from Matthew to Revelation are not an inspired addition to the Hebrew Scriptures.
23, 24. As a result of their course, how does the God of their worship fall short of the better Known God?
23 How has this resulted for this nation whose city of Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed in 70 C.E. and whose priesthood was thus put out of business? It has resulted for them in a misconception of God. They worship a God who has not lived up to his promises and prophecies till now. They worship a God who did not send his promised Messiah in the person of Jesus Christ, “son of David, son of Abraham.” (Matt. 1:1) They worship a God who did not raise up his Messiah from the dead and seat him at his own right hand in heaven as “both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:22-36) They worship a God who did not make a “new covenant” with a new “holy nation,” an “Israel of God” that is spiritual, by means of a mediator greater than Moses, namely, by the Messiah Jesus.—Jer. 31:31-34; Deut. 18:15-18; Acts 3:20-24; Heb. 8:7-13; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6.
24 So they worship a God whose Messiah must not come now a second time to establish over all the earth the Messianic kingdom for the blessing of all mankind with a government of endless peace and righteousness. (2 Sam. 7:4-17; Isa. 9:6, 7; Dan. 2:44; 7:13, 14) As a result, the Jewish nation does not worship the true God, although their faithful forefathers did worship him.
25. What did the apostle Paul say regarding the zeal of his nation toward God, and so what do they also today worship?
25 Concerning them, the Christian apostle, who was once himself a persecutor of the Jewish Christian remnant, wrote: “Brothers, the goodwill of my heart and my supplication to God for them are, indeed, for their salvation. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge; for, because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ [Messiah] is the end of the Law, so that everyone exercising faith may have righteousness.” (Rom. 10:1-4; 1 Tim. 1:12-16; Gal. 1:13, 14) What, then, shall it be said of the once favored nation that rejects the God of the Messiah? Their religious zeal is “not according to accurate knowledge,” but they too are worshiping what they do not know. They do not worship the God of the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures, who is the same as the God of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures.
26, 27. Does “Trinitarian” Christendom worship what she knows, and how do we determine the right answer?
26 Well then, is Christendom as a worshiper of her so-called Triune God worshiping what she knows? Or is she worshiping what she does not know? How can we know? By searching the inspired Hebrew Scriptures and the inspired Christian Greek Scriptures, for both sets of Scriptures belong together as one inspired Book.
27 In neither section of that Book will the searcher find the expression “Triune God” or “Trinity,” nor is there any Scriptural argument therein in favor of such a so-called “God in three Persons,” namely, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. To the very contrary, in answer to the question, “Which commandment is first of all?” Jesus Christ answered: “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah, and you must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength.’” In that answer Jesus quoted from the Pentateuch at Deuteronomy 6:4, 5. (Mark 12:28-30) But Christendom does not obey this “first” commandment to worship the one God whose name is Jehovah.
28. How varied is Christendom’s idea of God, and is salvation by means of her?
28 How, then, can Christendom worship aright? Though she refuses to admit it, she worships the pagan idea of God, a triad. Her idea of God is as varied as are the hundreds of religious sects into which she is split up. Who can deny that Christendom worships what she does not know? There is no salvation by her!
29. To what knowledge is it God’s will for all sorts of men to come, and so by whom are we led to worship what we know?
29 Salvation to everlasting life in happiness is by worshiping what Jesus and his true followers know to be the true God. One of such followers, the apostle Paul, wrote under inspiration from God and said: “This is fine and acceptable in the sight of our Savior, God, whose will is that all sorts of men should be saved and come to an accurate knowledge of truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.” (1 Tim. 2:3-6) “Now there is no mediator where only one person is concerned, but God is only one.” (Gal. 3:20) So God is one party to his “new covenant,” and men who are brought into that new covenant make up the other party or other side of the arrangement; and such men can come to an “accurate knowledge of truth” through the “one mediator between God and men.” That mediator was once here on earth as a man, a perfect man, who because of his human perfection and sinlessness was able to give himself as a “corresponding ransom for all.” That Mediator is the Messiah Jesus or Christ Jesus. Since he mediates for the God whom he knows, he leads us to “worship what we know,” God.
[Picture on page 679]
Jesus told a woman at a well in Samaria that she worshiped what she did not know. Do you worship what you do not know? Or do you really worship what you know?
[Picture on page 684]
When people worship as their God a Trinity, which they admit is a “mystery,” can it be said that they ‘worship what they know’?