In light of so many empty chapels across the globe today and the problem of having a “place” to worship isn’t new. The ancient Samaritans once had a similar problem.
According to the Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible (McGraw Hill) by Louis F. Hartman, C.SS.R., feelings of ill will probably went back before the separation of the northern and southern Jewish kingdoms. Even then there was a lack of unity between the tribes of Jacob. After the separation of Judah and Israel in the ninth century, King Omri of the Northern Kingdom bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer (1 Kings 16:24). He built there the city of Samaria which became his capital.
It was strong defensively and controlled the valley through which the main road ran between Jerusalem and Galilee. In 722 B.C. the city fell to the Assyrians and became the headquarters of the Assyrian province of Samarina. While many of the inhabitants of the city and the surrounding area of Samaria were led off into captivity, some farmers and others were left behind. They intermarried with new settlers from Mesopotamia and Syria. Though the Samaritans were condemned by the Jews, Hartman says they probably had as much pure Jewish blood as the Jews who later returned from the Babylonian exile. When the Jews destroyed the temple where the Samaritans worshiped on Mount Gerizim about 111 B.C., it left their “apostate” Samaritan brothers and sisters with no place to worship the Lord. This sets the stage for the discussion between Jesus Christ and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.
John 4:7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the .
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee .
11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never ; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water into .
15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a .
20 Our fathers worshipped in mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 Ye worship ye what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall the Father in spirit and in : for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 is a : and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in .
25 The woman saith unto him, I know that cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will us all things.
26 Jesus saith unto her, that speak unto thee am he.
27 ¶ And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?
28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
I take issue with verse 24 where it says that God is a Spirit. While I agree that God is Spirit, I do not subscribe to the translation saying He is a Spirit without flesh and bone. There is a difference between being Spirit and being a Spirit. But that is a discussion for another day. The point of the discussion between the mortal Messiah and the woman at the well was to teach her that a physical location to offer up oblations would become obsolete and that worshiping the Lord involved offering up a broken heart and a contrite spirit instead of burnt sacrifices and that it could be done anywhere, especially in secret. Considering the temple at Jerusalem would soon be destroyed by the Romans, this revelation would prove to be paramount.
In the Book of Mormon (Alma chapters 31-34), there were impoverished Zoramites who were not allowed to worship in the very synagogues that they labored to build with their own hands. Because they did not dress like their wealthier fellow Zoramites, they were looked down upon and were not fellowshipped by their wealthier brothers and sisters who enjoyed worshiping in their synagogue by going up to a “holy stand” to declare loudly that all present might hear just how special and chosen and elect they were compared to everyone else. When many of these social outcasts approached Alma and Amulek, while they were preaching, they asked what they could do. They were then taught beautifully about faith and exhorted to worship anywhere and everywhere, that they did not need a physical building to worship the Lord.
Alma 34:37 And now, my beloved brethren, I desire that ye should remember these things, and that ye should out your salvation with fear before God, and that ye should no more deny the coming of Christ;
38 That ye no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in daily, for the many and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.
We may go to a building with others to be instructed or listen to someone give witness, whether on a holy stand or in a classroom or some other location, but to worship, or in other words, to honor and to praise the Lord can be done anywhere. It can be at home in your closet or on a mountain top. So what does it mean to honor and praise the Lord in Spirit and Truth? How do we show Him that we love Him? Jesus Christ taught us precisely how in His sermons, especially His famous sermon on the mount. He taught us how to be perfect (Greek: complete). Very simply, if we love Him, we keep His commandments. His commandments teach us what it is like to be like Him and like His Father in heaven and all who dwell in such a celestial society. Jesus declared:
John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be of my Father, and I will love him, and will myself to him.
22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will him, and we will come unto him, and make our with him.
To love God is to worship Him in Spirit. It is to deny the flesh or as Paul said:
Philippians 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
We must die as to the flesh. We must crucify the carnal appetites that we might die unto Christ who lives in us.
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
But returning to John 14 above and Jesus manifesting Himself to those who love Him and keep His commandments, Joseph Smith had this to say about it:
D&C 130:3 John 14:23—The of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal ; and the idea that the Father and the Son in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.
There have been many people today who have shared their story of being personally visited by Jesus Christ. He is no respector of persons and will manifest Himself according to His own will to them. In summary, I offer the following revelation given to Joseph Smith:
D&C 93:1 Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who his and cometh unto me, and on my name, and my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall my and that I am;
2 And that I am the true that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;
3 And that I am the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one—
4 The Father he me of his fulness, and the Son because I was in the world and made my , and dwelt among the sons of men.
5 I was in the world and received of my Father, and the of him were plainly manifest.
6 And saw and bore record of the fulness of my , and the fulness of record is hereafter to be revealed.
7 And he bore record, saying: I saw his glory, that he was in the , before the world was;
8 Therefore, in the beginning the was, for he was the Word, even the messenger of salvation—
9 The and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men.
10 The worlds were by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and of him.
11 And I, John, that I beheld his , as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us.
12 And I, John, saw that he received not of the at the first, but received for grace;
13 And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from to grace, until he received a fulness;
14 And thus he was called the , because he received not of the fulness at the first.
15 And I, , bear record, and lo, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove, and sat upon him, and there came a voice out of heaven saying: This is my .
16 And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father;
17 And he received , both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him.
18 And it shall come to pass, that if you are faithful you shall receive the of the record of John.
19 I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.
20 For if you keep my you shall receive of his , and be in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive for grace.
21 And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the with the Father, and am the ;
22 And all those who are begotten through me are of the of the same, and are the of the Firstborn.
23 Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is , even the Spirit of truth;
24 And is of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;
25 And whatsoever is or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a from the beginning.
26 The Spirit of is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth;
27 And no man receiveth a unless he keepeth his commandments.
28 He that his commandments receiveth and , until he is glorified in truth and all things.
29 Man was also in the with God. , or the of , was not or made, neither indeed can be.
30 All truth is independent in that in which God has placed it, to for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.
31 Behold, here is the of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is unto them, and they receive not the light.
32 And every man whose spirit receiveth not the is under condemnation.
33 For man is . The elements are , and and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;
34 And when , man cannot receive a fulness of joy.
35 The are the of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even ; and whatsoever temple is , God shall destroy that temple.