Worship God

Christian Worship

Text Sermon

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father; but the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipper shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship. – John 4: 21, 23

We are informed, in the commencement of this chapter, that, when our Lord was passing through Samaria, the disciples went for a supply of provisions into the town of Sychar, while he waited at Jacob’s well in the immediate neighbourhood. As he rested there in the heat of the day, fatigued with his journey, a Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water, from whom he requested that she would “give him to drink.” This request, so little in the manner and spirit of the country to which his dress and accent bespoke him to belong, for the Jews had an implacable enmity towards the Samaritans, filled her with a surprise which she did not attempt to conceal. The surprise was increased on hearing the answer given to the question so much agitated between the two nations, and which, on discovering his prophetic character, she put to him, Whether Gerizim or Jerusalem had the preferable claim as a place of worship. Instead of assigning the superiority to either, an exclusive claim was denied to both. This accords with the representations which the Scriptures every where give of the liberal spirit of the Christian system, in conformity to which the disciples of Christ are, at this moment, assembled in so many different places, under such a diversity of outward circumstances, with the same expectations of acceptance.

The appropriate beauty of the house of God is the beauty of holiness. “The hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. But the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”

I. Let us consider the negative description of the character of Christian worship—what it is not.

1st. It is not sectarian. None present will suppose that I use the epithet sectarian in the sense in which it is often used, as descriptive of those who separate, however conscientiously, from the established forms of the religion of their country. The attribute of Christianity which I have in view, is directly opposed to the narrow feelings which this application of the epithet indicates. Rightly interpreted, it describes a character not confined to any one class of the professors of religion, but extensively prevalent among all. At the period to which my text relates, it was not, as the Jew wished to maintain, exclusively applicable to the Samaritan, nor is it now exclusively applicable to the advocates of dissent. He is the sectary, and he alone, who would introduce into religion the principle of monopoly, who neither sees nor wishes to see anything good or praiseworthy beyond the limits of his own denomination.—Sectarianism is in the mind rather than in the outward act. There may be no separation from others in the one case, where there is, and where, unless all moral distinctions are to be confounded, there ought to be a separation in the other. To assert that we are not justifiable in withdrawing from the communion of those whose religious practices and principles we deem unscriptural, would be to represent protestantism itself as a criminal schism. But our benevolent regards may be cherished towards those from whom we conscientiously separate. Though to us they appear to err, charity will lead us to hope that, in many cases, the errors are not wilful, and not inconsistent with general religious sincerity. In this world we “see darkly as through a glass.” Even inquiring minds, with equal degrees of candour and zeal for the truth, may, in religious matters, arrive at very different conclusions. Party distinctions, as such, and separate from the motives in which they originate, and by which they are sustained, are of no importance in the sight of God; and experience shows that they are but equivocal tests of character. In communions the farthest removed from the purity of scriptural requirement, sincere though misguided worshippers may be found. In communions, on the other hand, whose principles and forms are adjusted with a professedly scrupulous regard to the divine injunctions, there maybe little of that spirit which imparts to them their chief value in the sight of God. An exclusive religion can never be a scriptural one. Christianity reveals the way in which guilty creatures can be reconciled to God, and every one who, in faith and penitence, has received the proffered remedy, and whose faith operates as a purifying principle, stands accepted in the sight of heaven, whatever misapprehension in regard to subordinate points he may still cherish; and to whatever uncharitable judgment he may on this account be exposed among men, themselves equally fallible and imperfect. “Neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, shall men worship the Father. But the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”

2nd. It is not local. An improper estimate of the importance to be attached to particular places was alike the error of the Jew and Samaritan.

In the former this feeling was strengthened by the misapprehension or perversion of the divine direction given to his forefathers, “Unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even to his habitation shall ye seek, and thither shalt thou come, and thither ye shall bring your burnt-offerings; and there ye shall eat before the Lord your God.” To the most scrupulous observance of this injunction, no criminality could attach. It would have been highly presumptuous to have offered sacrifice, or to have observed any of the annual festivals elsewhere. The error lay in ascribing an efficacy to the place independent of the character of the worshipper. An error of the same kind, but with less to justify it, was adopted by the Samaritan. He could not say that there was any divine command directing to the choice of Gerizim, as being particularly suited to the offices of religion. He could say, however, that tradition pointed it out as the spot on which Abraham and Jacob had worshipped. And he attached to it, on this account, a sanctity equal to that which the Jew claimed for the temple at Jerusalem. That the same superstitious spirit should still be seen among the votaries of false religion, is natural. The Hindoo, performing his weary pilgrimage to the temple of his idol divinity, and the Mohammedan offering a similar tribute to the tomb of his prophet, are spectacles which the spirit of their respective systems would have led us to expect. But what shall we say to opinions and usages equally superstitious among the professors of Christianity ? What shall we say to the religious value which was formerly, and is still, attached to a visit to the local scenes of our Saviour’s miracles, and sufferings, and death? What shall we say to those religious pilgrimages which are made to spots far less remarkable 4 In what light, I might add, are we to view the religious veneration which is sometimes paid to consecrated buildings? It is proper, where practicable, that particular edifices should be appropriated to the worship of God; but no peculiar efficacy belongs to these places. Even Zion, with all its sublime associations, and solemn remembrances, has now ceased to be sacred. It is on the spirit, not the local situation, of the worshipper that his acceptance depends. “Neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, shall men worship the Father. But the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”

3rd. It is not eternal. To the mere forms of religion a very undue importance was attached, both by Jews and Samaritans. This was especially the case with the former. There was a conformity to the divine requirements, in the constitution of the Jewish priesthood, and a splendour in their temple services, which could not be claimed for the rival system. The improper spirit which these tended to cherish is too congenial to the depravity of the heart to be confined to a particular period or people. A dependence on mere outward observance, and, when it is possessed, a glorying in ritual splendour, are equally the error of the superstitious part of the professors of Christianity. The same boastful terms in which the Jew was accustomed to speak of the one, are still employed with reference to the other. It may be justly questioned, however, whether these services are entitled to the very lowest species of merit which has been claimed for them—that of being adapted to impress the imagination, and whether it is not at first only, and on the minds of strangers, that this effect is produced. It is not those whose forms of worship are most simple, who have least of what may be called the poetry of religion. It is the truths presented to the mind, rather than the forms exhibited to the eye, by which the imaginative faculty is cultivated. A Protestant peasantry will, perhaps, be found, in this respect, to have the vantage ground over a Catholic. The supplications of penitence, the humility of faith unfeigned, the confidence of Christian hope, and the love of God in the heart, are the sweetest sounds, and the most delightful sight, and the most exquisite feelings which can enliven our devotion. But they are impressions which a pompous ritual cannot impart, and for which, when wanting, it can be no substitute. “Neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, shall men worship the Father. But the true worshipper shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”

II. Let us consider the positive description of the character of this worship.

1st. It is spiritual. The mere homage of the lips, were it known to be so, would not be accepted by one man from another. The language of insincerity, however flattering, is justly considered as disgusting in the common intercourse of life. And it cannot surely be less so when it is presented to an omniscient God. Even at a time when local and external worship was in its fullest operation, there was evidence sufficient that something more was necessary to acceptance. No language could convey a more striking idea of the immensity of the object of worship, and of the spirituality required in the worshipper, than that employed by Solomon at the dedication of the temple. “Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold the heaven, and heaven of heavens, cannot contain thee, how much less this house which I have builded !” Similar to this was the language which, through Isaiah, was employed by God himself. “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house that ye build for me, and where is the place of my rest? To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite heart, and who trembleth at my word.” It is nevertheless true that, in one respect, outward observances had, under the former economy, a value altogether independent of the character of the worshipper. Being intended to prefigure and introduce a higher dispensation, they answered an important end, even when no spiritual qualities were possessed, and no spiritual benefits were received by the offerer. At the time when our Lord held this conversation with the woman of Samaria, the sacrifices, which were still observed with all the nicety of ceremonial precision, had lost none of their original typical significancy, though, in a great majority of instances, it was custom, not intelligent piety, which dictated the observance. But no such secondary adventitious value belongs to the rites of
Christianity. The age of typical institutions is passed. The devout feelings of the worshipper, all outward observances, are worse than useless. It is not merely the rising incense and the bleeding victim, even the bended knee and outstretched hand, if inward principle is wanting, will be only a solemn mockery. “God is a spirit, and they who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth;” in spirit, as opposed to forms; in truth, as opposed to shadows.

2nd. It is filial. Terror in all ages has been the predominating spirit of idolatrous worship. This was the necessary consequence of the circumstances of the worshippers. With no higher illumination than unassisted reason, conscience tells us that we are sinners. Unassisted reason, however, cannot impart to us the certainty of forgiveness. And if the certainty of this is not possessed, there is nothing to exclude the tormenting dread which must be the inseparable accompaniment of the consciousness of guilt. This feeling is, accordingly, strongly depicted in the outward features of idolatry. Its ceremonies have been principally deprecatory, or intended to avert punishment. The sanguinary rites of Moloch, so often referred to in the Old Testament Scriptures, and in which human victims were the offering, have been widely prevalent. Of this revolting character were the druidical rites of our forefathers in this island. Of the same kind are the religious rites of many heathen nations at this day. Nor is this the character of the rites only. The very hideous forms of their idols (those which have been brought from the South Sea Islands are an example) are a striking testimony to the fact that terror is the predominating feeling in the religion of those who are destitute of the light of divine revelation.

The same feeling, though in a much smaller degree, characterized the worship of the Jews. Not that that highly privileged people were left in uncertainty respecting the doctrine of forgiveness. In respect of the mode of it, their conceptions might be indistinct and imperfect. But there was no obscurity in regard to the unaccompanied by fact; that being as clearly promulgated under the Jewish economy as it now is under the Christian. Accompanied, however, as the information was with so many and such striking displays of sovereignty and power, the feeling of awe was in most as prevalent as that of love. It was reserved for Christianity to merge these sterner attributes of the divine character in those that were more attractive, and, by one potent word, to dispel every vestige of terror from the minds of the worshippers. It is not in the relation of a king, sovereign, or master, that you are called on to approach the Divinity, but in the endearing relation of a father—a father who seeks only the happiness of his spiritual offspring, and whose character has been rendered palpable by the engaging attributes of Him who is “the impress of his person.” Fear is in this way supplanted by love, and a filial, not a slavish, spirit pervades our devotions.

3rd. It is universal. Simple and spiritual in their nature, there is no place where the observances of Christianity may not be performed, and performed with acceptance. The proofs of this are coeval with its origin. How unlike to the spacious halls and the lofty arches of the Jewish temple was the upper room in which the members of the first Christian church were accustomed to meet! Yet it was there that the principal prediction respecting New Testament times was fulfilled—that what was spoken by Joel, and reiterated by a greater prophet, was verified. “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like unto fire, and it sat upon each of them.” How inferior even to the accommodations of the upper room were the circumstances of Paul and Silas in the prison of Philippi, and of John in the isle of Patmos! But it was in the former of these cases that the devout exercises of these holy prisoners were heard by God, as well as by their companions in bonds; and it was in the latter case that the privileges of the seraph were conferred on the saint, that the veil was removed from the beloved disciple which concealed things future, and things celestial from his sight. We admit that these things occurred in an age in which the administration of religion was in some respects supernatural, but there was nothing peculiar to that age in the acceptance of the services of these primitive confessors. This was in no degree connected with the religious character of the place. When in later periods the true worshippers of the Father have been similarly situated in regard to outward accommodations, we doubt not but their services have been equally pleasing in the sight of heaven. Far different from the circumstances in which you are now placed was the lot, at a former period, of the godly in our own land. Theirs was not “the religion of cathedrals,” or “the religion of churches,” or even “the religion of barns.” It was on many occasions the den and the cave which responded to the sounds of their devotions. But these devotions, springing from faith, and hallowed by suffering, mingled with the hallelujahs of angels, and the anthems of the spirits of the just. Nor are these remarks to be confined to periods of persecution, or to the religious services of those who were its victims. We doubt not that there are thousands at this moment engaged in the undisturbed observance of the same ordinances with ourselves, in places which have been subjected to no forms of ecclesiastical consecration, and which have not been even exclusively appropriated to religious exercises, whose services will come up as “a memorial before God.” And the period, if we mistake not the meaning of prophecy, is fast approaching when the universal character of Christian worship will be still farther and more strikingly illustrated in the restoration of that people to whose local religious predilections our text specifically refers. It is not necessary to the fulfilment of the predictions, respecting that restoration, that the Jews should literally return to their own
land, any more than it is necessary, according to the literal import of some other predictions, that all nations should be assembled for worship in the ancient capital of the Jews. When these wandering outcasts shall look, with penitence, to Him whom their fathers pierced, their predicted restoration will be effected. In whatever place, or under whatever circumstances they are, they may then be said to be worshippers in Zion, and to be inhabitants of Jerusalem. Spiritual in their nature, their thanksgivings shall be “as incense,” and the lifting up of their hands as the evening and morning sacrifice.

“By foreign streams they’ll cense to roam,
Nor weeping think on Jordan’s flood;
In every clime they’ll find a home,
In every temple see their God.”

“Neither in this mountain, nor yet in Jerusalem, shall men worship the Father; but the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”

1st. In the exercises of God’s house let us guard against a superstitious spirit.

The gross superstition of the Jew and Samaritan, to which the text refers, is not the error into which, at the present time, we are most likely to fall. It may be presumed that there are few or none present who adopt the opinion that any circumstances of local character, or any forms of ecclesiastical consecration, can possess or impart any spiritual efficacy. All of us, however, are in danger of laying too much stress upon the mere externals of religion. A very undue importance is often attached to the mere outward act by which we are initiated into the profession of Christianity. There are many who would be shocked at the idea of a child remaining unbaptized, who would feel no compunction in the habitual neglect of all practical solicitude for the spiritual interests of their offspring. Equally unscriptural and delusive is the confidence which is frequently derived from participating in the ordinance of the supper. To that ordinance it is too common to apply the language, and with the language the ideas, of a popish ritual, and to suppose that there is a higher degree of acceptance in this than in any other divine appointment; and that this is necessarily connected with the mere act of observing it. These are opinions which the mode of its celebration, and the instructions which accompany it, have not always a tendency to counteract. The difference is palpably striking between the language of those who speak of high communion sabbaths, and the phraseology which describes the commemorative rite by the simple designation of “breaking of bread,” and which classes it with to the apostles’ doctrine, and fellowship, and prayer.” We need not say which of the two it is safer to adopt. No greater benefit can be derived from a formal observance of the supper than from a formal observance of any other institution of the gospel. The religion of the soul is the soul of religion. If the heart is not right, no ordinance, however scriptural, can be acceptable. If the heart is right, it will give a value to every ordinance of divine appointment.

2nd. In the exercises of God’s house let us guard against a formal spirit.

To the importance of what are termed the sealing ordinances of our religion nothing disparaging is intended in the remarks which have been now made. Baptism, whether administered by immersion or effusion, whether an adult or an infant is the subject of it, is an impressive rite. By the application to the body of that element which cleanses from natural defilement, it exhibits to the eye the necessity of the spiritual purification of the soul, and points to the religion, of which it is the introductory ordinance, as being the instrument in the hand of the Spirit of effecting this purification. “Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth.” The lessons symbolically inculcated in the ordinance of the supper are not less important. The doctrines which it shadows forth and impresses on the mind are of the life of godliness. It is calculated to affect us deeply with the evil of sin, the love and condescension of the Saviour, and our obligations to serve him. But for this purpose, it must be something more than an outward observance. “Bodily exercise profiteth little.” The mere participation of bread and wine is not communicating. The fact which was intended to be exhibited in this commemorative rite must be remembered. The scene of Calvary must be realized. The death of Jesus, not so much in its tragic and sentimental as in its religious and doctrinal aspect and interest, must be present to our minds. Strangers to these feelings, you are symbolizing with the condemned practices of the church of Corinth. You liken a religious ordinance to an ordinary meal. You do not “discern the Lord’s body.”

3rd. In the exercises of the house of God let us guard against a bigoted spirit.

The devotional language and feelings of the first Christian worshippers were eminently catholic. It was not on those churches only to which the pastors ministered, on which they invoked blessings from on high, but on “all that in every place called upon the name of Jesus Christ, their Lord.” We come short of the catholicism of their language, and still more of the catholicism of their spirit. In none of the services of the house of God is this deficiency more discernible than in that which of all others required the predominance of opposite feelings. If the fence, as it has been sometimes called, which it is customary to draw round a sacramental table, had been intended to exclude none but those who were wanting in the principles, tempers, and conduct essential to the character of the Christian, it had been well. We cannot too frequently, or too earnestly, impress on persons of this description that their commemoration of our Redeemer’s death is unwarranted. The free communion for which we contend is not to be confounded with a promiscuous, indiscriminate communion. But it is not to the irreligious and immoral that the sentence of exclusion has been confined. In some cases it has been extended to all, however excellent their character, who had not the sectarian impress of the administrator of the ordinance. It is time that usages so unsuited to our communion exercises should be abolished and forgotten. The table at which you commemorate your redemption is not yours. It is not the table of a sect or of a party. It is the Lord’s. It was the design, as it is the obvious tendency, of the ordinance of the supper to cherish unity of affection—to make us feel while we outwardly recognise the ties which bind us to the Christian brotherhood. We best fulfil the intentions of the Divine Appointer of this service—we add equally to the pleasure and profit to be derived from it, when these brotherly feelings are indulged; when, dismissing every bigoted and sectarian sentiment from our hearts, we view it as “the communion of saints”—when our Christian affection is as wide as the terms of acceptance— when we can say, with the same sincerity with which the words were originally uttered, “ Grace be with all who love the Lord Jesus Christ.” You are insulting, instead of honouring your Redeemer, if you can approach the ordinance of love without love in your hearts—if you can raise your walls of partition and separation in the very act of commemorating an event which was intended to break them down, and to introduce the faithful of every place, and of every name, “through one Spirit unto the Father.”

4th. In the exercises of God’s house let us guard against a slavish spirit.

In those who have no revelation to assure them of forgiveness, the spirit of terror and bondage is what we are led to expect. In some periods of their history it was not surprising in the Jews themselves. When final exhibited the awful appearances which bespoke a present Deity, when the cloud rested on it, and the thunders rolled, and the lightning played on its hoary summit, we do not wonder that the spectators should have trembled. When a similar manifestation was made to Elijah, in the cave on Horeb, it was natural that he should cover his face with his mantle. Equally natural was it, though it was only in vision, that when the Lord appeared to Isaiah, on a throne high and lifted up, he should have exclaimed, “Woe is me, for I am done; for I am a man of unclean lips.”
But this spirit ill becomes us who are called to “the adoption of sons”—who hear not the thunder of an introductory economy, but “the still, small voice” of a sublimer dispensation. The trembling apprehensions which would be appropriate in approaching a throne of judgment, befit you not in approaching a throne of grace. Least of all do they benefit you in exercises in which more than in any other they prevail—the exercises in which are displayed before you the symbols of your redemption, and the pledges of your forgiveness. It is joy, not terror, which on such an occasion becomes you—joy, that “ the flaming sword” has been removed from the entry to the celestial paradise— that we have not “a high-priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities;” who on earth suggested the apology for his disciples, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” and whom we can approach in the confidence that, at his Father’s right hand, he is still making it for us.

Imagine not, my brethren, that the possession of this filial confidence is the property only of a privileged few of the children of God, and that there must be a long course of religious services before you can be entitled to appropriate the promises on which this confidence is founded. If we wait till we are entitled on the footing of merit to do this, we shall never enjoy the privilege. The exhibition of the divine mercy to sinners, and to backsliders, as well as others, will authorize you to appropriate them immediately, though it is in the spirit of penitence, and in the intention of obedience, that the appropriation is to be made, and though it is only in the practice of obedience that it can be scripturally maintained. Take them to yourselves the comfort which the invitations and promises of the gospel are so well fitted to impart; and when, in the devotional exercises of this house, you draw near to the Great Object of worship, in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, let it be under the elevating and encouraging recollection that it is to “his Father and your Father, to his God and your God.”

Sermon called Christian Worship Delineated by Robert Brodie

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Source: The British Pulpit: Consisting of Discourses by the Most Eminent Living, Sermon 53. pages 483 thru 488

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All bible scripture are taken from King James Bible, unless stated within article. Public Domain



Recommended Reading: A Method of Prayer

Key Scriptures

Psalm 29:2 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

Joshua 7:19 And Joshua said unto Achan, My son, give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him; and tell me now what thou hast done; hide it not from me.

A Method of Prayer: Confession and Contrition – Matthew Henry “Having ascribed glory to God, which is his due, Psalm 29:2 we must next take shame to ourselves, which is our due, and humble ourselves before him in the sense of our own sinfulness and vileness; and herein also we must give glory to him, Joshua 7:19 as our Judge, by whom we deserve to be condemned, a […]

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Hebrews 10

19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

21 And having an high priest over the house of God;

22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

We will speak a little on the way to worship God. When we come before God, some people may come with a depressed feeling. Some may feel that they have not done well during the previous week, that they have disobeyed God’s word, or that they have backslidden. As a result of these feelings, a person can be frustrated from worshipping God and drawing near to Him in a spontaneous and sweet way.

We will consider one matter. This matter is true not only in the Old Testament but in the New Testament as well. How can man come to God? Many people think that they can worship God when they have some merit, when they have performed good works, or when they deserve God’s praise. Others think that because they have not performed well and have done many things that displease God, they cannot come to God to worship Him.

But whether or not our works are good has nothing to do with our coming to God. Hebrews 10:19 says, “Having therefore, brothers, boldness for entering the Holy of Holies in the blood of Jesus.” This verse tells us that our coming to God is in nothing else other than the blood of the Lord Jesus. Good works, zeal, or spiritual experiences cannot qualify us to come before God or make us more worthy to draw near to Him. Only the blood of the Lord Jesus enables us to draw near to God. If you think that the blood of the Lord Jesus is not enough for you to draw near to Him, I will tell you honestly that you will never be able to come to Him or worship Him.

Different persons have different conditions and situations. Some may have some shortcomings; others may have some sins. Some may have fallen seriously; others may be better. If coming to God is based on a person’s spiritual condition, how can we worship God together in oneness? None of our hands are clean; they are all mud-stained and defiled. But by the blood, we can come boldly to God to worship Him. Without the blood, no one can worship, and there is no worship. The Lord’s blood is effective not only on earth but in heaven as well. Not only was it effective on the cross, but it is effective on the throne as well, so that we can now come to the Holy of Holies to worship God.

Some may say that God is too gracious in this way, but we must realize that it is through the blood that we are qualified to worship. It is true that God is full of grace, but it is not all grace. If God were to forgive our sins carelessly and allow us to come before Him to worship Him carelessly, that would indeed be great grace. But those who have considerable Bible knowledge and deep spiritual experience, and who are excellent in life and conduct, are no more qualified than we are in coming to worship God. Everyone who comes before God must have the blood; everyone needs the cleansing of the blood before he can come before God. We are the same as everyone else, and we must come to God by the blood. If there is a meeting where the blood is replaced with good works or spiritual experience and where there is trust in these things to come to God, this worship is not acceptable to God. If anyone bases their worship on the works they have performed during the previous week, they do not know what worship means. Let us learn to worship by the blood and come to God through the blood.

Many people say that there are many similarities between Christians and Israelites. They say that with the Israelites, there were three kinds of worshippers: those who offered the sacrifices outside the tabernacle, those who served in the Holy Place, and those who served the Lord in the Holy of Holies. They say that, in a similar way, there are three kinds of Christian worshippers. Those who say this do not know what worship is. We have to know that the Israelites are different from us. Everyone of us can come to the Holy of Holies to worship, while the Israelites could not. The picture in the Old Testament is a picture of estrangement. The congregation could not do anything. They could not worship directly or even slaughter the goats and bulls themselves; they had to depend on the priests to do this for them. They were estranged from God and could not worship Him directly.

The New Testament is different. Every believer can worship within the Holy of Holies, and no one can worship in place of another. Strictly speaking, even the Lord Jesus cannot replace us in our worshipping. It is true that the Old Testament divides the worshippers into the congregation, the priests, and the high priest. Only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies once a year with the blood. No other person could enter into it. But everyone of us is like the high priest; we can all enter into the Holy of Holies. We say that the Lord Jesus is the High Priest; it is true that He is our High Priest before God in heaven and that we are all individual priests. But at the time of worship, it is a different story.

Some say that we need the Lord Jesus to do everything for us and that He is our Mediator and go-between. But there is no such thing. Hebrews 10:19 and 20 tell us that the Lord died for us in order that we could come directly to God. Both in the Old Testament and New Testament, the blood on the altar is for the remission of sins. But at the same time, the blood shed on the cross is also for us to draw near to God. Some have thought that a person receives forgiveness through the blood but that he worships and draws near to God through his works. This is why some think that when they do well that week, read the Bible, and pray all the time, they can come boldly to worship God, sing, and pray. Others think that they have not done well and therefore are not worthy to worship; they cannot sing and have no faith to pray. By doing this, they have made the blood worthless. We worship God through the blood, just as we are forgiven through the blood.

The book of Romans mentions the blood and the book of Hebrews also mentions the blood. But these two references are different. Romans speaks of the blood on the propitiation cover that is for redemption, whereas Hebrews speaks of the blood before the veil that is for drawing near to God and worshipping Him. The blood not only forgives and cleanses us from our sins but brings us near to God and leads us to worship.

You may argue, in spite of this, that you have not done well this week and cannot come boldly to God. What should you do? Let me ask you, when will you ever do well? When will you ever be able to think that you are good and can worship Him with all boldness? When will you ever be able to cry out ‘Hallelujah’? If you have to wait until you are able to do these things, you will wait until you are raptured before you can worship Him. You cannot determine your eligibility for worshipping based on your good or bad conduct. Instead, your worship should be based on the blood.

Suppose the Lord’s beloved disciples, Peter, John, or Paul, could meet with us today. The way they would come and worship before God is the same way we come and worship before God. They have to trust in the blood. Do not think that they are nearer to God, more acceptable to Him, and more capable of worshipping. There is no such thing. If anyone says this, I will be the first one to stand up to refute it. Peter, John, and Paul are the same as we are; everyone has to draw near to God through the blood alone.

I heard that someone said that as long as he can crawl into heaven and stand inside the gate, he will be satisfied. But no, we do not crawl before the Lord and worship Him in such a fearful way. We come to God in boldness and without fear. We have the right to be God’s children; this is God’s promise to us.

When I was young, whenever I went to visit someone, my heart would pound wildly. I was afraid that others would not be happy to see me. When I knocked at someone’s door, I dared not knock twice out of fear that I would make others unhappy, or that the person inside would open the door to rebuke me and immediately shut the door. I did not have the boldness to meet people.

But this is not the way we come to God. We come with authority and a commission. We come to Him as if coming to our own house; we knock at the door boldly and enter naturally. We should all come to the Holy of Holies and meet God with such an attitude.

If we know the worth of the blood, we will surely have boldness. The knowledge of the blood’s worth is the condition for worship. If we want to have power in our worship, we have to abide under the blood. Even the weakest and poorest believer has the same authority as the apostles did to worship God. His weakness can never lower the value and effectiveness of the blood. Every time we worship, we do so according to the blood. Our good works cannot add anything to the worth of the blood.

Our breaking of the bread (the Body) is a sign that the veil (the Lord’s body) has been broken. The barrier has been removed, and we can now enter the Holy of Holies. The cup is a symbol that the Lord has died for us and that His blood has led us to come near to God. I have to emphasize again that our qualification for coming to God has nothing to do with our weakness; we come because of the blood. If we look up to the blood, we can come before God every day, and we will not lose our boldness. Consider how you came to God the first time with your burden of sin, drew near to Him, and called on Him. Similarly, when we come to Him to worship Him, we can come boldly without being hindered by our own work or feeling but with a single heart that looks up to the blood. May we realize this more and more. In this way, we will be able to worship and praise God in oneness and harmony. By the Lord’s blood, we can serve and worship our God boldly and with authority.

Guest Article by Watchman Nee

About Author: Watchman Nee, or Ni Tuosheng, was a church leader and Christian teacher who worked in China during the 20th century. In 1922, he initiated church meetings in Fuzhou that may be considered the beginning of the local churches. During his thirty years of ministry, Nee published many books expounding the Bible. He established churches throughout China and held many conferences to train Bible students and church workers.

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Source: SermonIndex.net


What Makes A Man Truly Spiritual?

What makes a man truly spiritual could be summed up in three statements: An upward look, an inward look and an outward look.

A spiritual man looks in these three directions constantly: 1. Upward – in worship and devotion to God and Christ. 2. Inward – in acknowledging and repenting of his unChristlikeness. 3. Outward – in seeking to help and bless other people.

A Spiritual Man Looks Upward

God has called us first of all to be His worshippers – to hunger and thirst after Him. A spiritual man worships God. His one desire is God. He does not desire anything or anyone other than God in earth or in heaven (Psa.73:25). Money does not mean more to him than God. As the deer pants after the waterbrooks, so the spiritual man longs after God. He longs for God more than a thirsty man longs for water. A spiritual man longs for fellowship with God more than he does for ease or comfort. He longs to hear God speak to him daily.

Those who worship money, ease and their own convenience, will always find something or the other to complain about. But the spiritual man never has any complaints, because he desires only God and he always has Him. He is never disappointed with the circumstances of his life, because he sees the mighty hand of God in all those circumstances and he humbles himself underneath that hand joyfully at all times.

Because a spiritual man is in touch with God he does not need any laws or rules to regulate his life. He has found the tree of life (God Himself) and so he has no interest in the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Because he is taken up with simple and pure devotion to Christ, he is not sidetracked by secondary issues. Looking at Jesus, the spiritual man becomes increasingly like his Lord year by year.

A spiritual man humbles himself constantly. And so God exalts him constantly. He is exalted higher and higher – into a closer and closer relationship with God. Such a man having seen the realities of the heavenly life will always seek to do his good deeds hidden from man’s eyes.

A Spiritual Man Looks Inward

The upward look leads on to an inward look. As soon as Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord, he immediately became aware of his own sinfulness (Isa.6:1-5). It was the same with Job, Peter and John (Job 42:5,6; Lk.5:8; Rev.1:17). When we live in God’s presence, we become aware of many areas of unChristlikeness in our lives. The spiritual man is thus constantly getting light over the hidden sins in his life.

We are commanded to worship the Lord “in holy array (dress)” (Psa.29:2). Without the clothing of holiness, we are naked before the Lord. So the spiritual man “does his best” at all times to keep his conscience clear before God and before men (Acts 24:16). Just as the businessman does his best to make more money, and the research scientist does his best to make new discoveries, even so the spiritual man does his best to keep his conscience clear at all times.

A spiritual man judges himself constantly, because he discovers many things in his life that need to be cleansed away – things that other believers may not be disturbed by, in their own lives.

A spiritual man realises that he has to die inwardly every day, to many things that hinder him from being effective for God. So his lifestyle becomes one of taking up the cross and “always bearing about in his body the dying of Jesus” (2 Cor.4:10).

The spiritual man has no problem in humbling himself before anyone or in asking for forgiveness from anyone – whether that person be older than him or younger than him. He realises that his prayers and his service will never be accepted by God, if he has hurt even one other person – whether wife, brother or neighbour – in any way. And so, as soon as he realises that he has hurt someone, he “leaves his gift at the altar and goes and settles matters with that person first, and then returns to offer his gifts to God” (Matt.5:23,24).

A Spiritual Man Looks Outward

The upward and inward look lead on to the outward look. A spiritual man is one who realises that God has blessed him only in order that he might be a blessing to others. Since God has forgiven him so much, he gladly and readily forgives all who have harmed him. Since God has been so good to him, he is good to others too. He has received freely from God and he gives freely to others.

A spiritual man is genuinely concerned for the welfare of others. He is filled with compassion for lost and suffering humanity and can never ignore a brother whom he sees in any need – like the Levite and the priest did, in the parable of the good Samaritan (Lk.10:30-37).

God is concerned for fallen man – to help him, to bless him, to lift him up and deliver him from Satan’s bondage. The spiritual man’s concern is the same. Like his Master, the spiritual man seeks to serve others and not to be served. Jesus went around doing good and delivering people who were bound by Satan (Acts 10-:38). The spiritual man does the same.

A spiritual man does not seek to gain anything from others through his service for them – neither money nor honour. Like God, he only seeks to bless others through his life and his labours. He will NEVER expect any gifts from anyone – for he trusts in God alone for his every need.

A little booklet that has come down to us from the second century titled “The Teaching of The Twelve Apostles” tells us that the early apostles taught all believers in their time to beware of any preacher who asked them for money, for such a person was always a false prophet. If only we understood this, we would be saved from many false prophets today!!

A spiritual man looks upward, inward and outward. If he looked only upward, he would be unrealistic – “so heavenly-minded as to be of no earthly use”. If he looked only inward, he would be depressed and discouraged most of the time. If he looked only outward, his work would be shallow.

But a spiritual man looks in all three directions constantly. May God help us to be balanced – and spiritual.

Guest Article by Zac Poonen

About the Author: Zac Poonen, born in 1939 in New Delhi , an Indian bible teacher and church leaders in the Christian Fellowship Church, a holiness movement in India with a hundred churches.

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Glorifying God

I Corinthians 10:31: “Whether, therefore, ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”
In this discussion, I design to show,






I. I am to show, what is to be understood, by the glory of God.

Theologians speak of the essential, and declarative glory of God.

His essential glory is the intrinsic excellence of his natural, and moral attributes. His declarative glory is his renown, or reputation, or the estimation in which he is held, by moral beings.

It is in the latter sense, that the term is manifestly used, in the text. In the former sense, our conduct has nothing to do with the glory of God. But in the latter sense, as we shall see, it has everything to do with it.

II. I am to show how we may glorify God.

  1. By exhibiting his spirit, and temper, and character, as Christ did. The man Christ Jesus was a living illustration of the spirit, and temper, and character of the invisible God. As a man, he was constantly engaged in glorifying God. And it is easy to see, that by thus representing God, he highly honored his Heavenly Father, and gave the world occasion to admire, and love, and obey Him.

  2. We are to illustrate, by precept, and example, the excellence of his law, and the glorious tendency of his government. We are to embody in our lives, the very spirit, and meaning of the law, and thus possess the world of the idea, that God is love. It is easy to see to what an extent, this would constrain the world to acknowledge the glorious excellency, of his “glorious majesty.”

  3. We are to glorify him, by holding forth, both in precept and example, the true light, and doctrines of the gospel. The gospel can never be understood, by precept, without a corresponding example. By precept, we are to lay down the principle of the law, and our lives are to be a living illustration of it. The truths of the gospel are, in themselves, exceedingly simple. They are, however, at so great a remove from the common prejudices of men, that no truths in the world need so much to be illustrated, in order to be understood; and no illustration can be effectual, but the souls, and spirit of Christians. And herein is the great source of the ignorance of impenitent men, on the subject of religion. Many of them attend the preaching of the word; but to them, it is a mere abstraction–a dead letter, for want of living illustration, among professors of religion, around them. It is impossible that the gospel should take effect, without being understood; and it is impossible that it should be understood, by selfish minds, without illustration; and it is impossible that it should be illustrated, but by the lives of Christians. Hence, Christ’s life first illustrated it to the Apostles–the lives of the Apostles and primitive Christians, to the impenitent of their day, and precisely as living illustrations are found, the gospel is seen to be the “power of God unto salvation.”

  4. By acting the part of faithful witnesses for God. “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord.” Now the appropriate business of Christians, is to bear testimony continually for God; and the success of his cause on earth, depends upon the fulness, and faithfulness of their testimony. If his witnesses contradict, by their practice what they inculcate in precept, their testimony is destroyed. If at one time, during a revival of religion, they live, and talk, and act, so as practically to represent God; yet, if they suffer a reaction to come over them, they then contradict their former testimony. And like a witness who contradicts himself, on a cross-examination, their testimony goes for nothing.

III. I am to show, to what extent, we are to apply this rule, in practice.

  1. In the arrangement of our business. We are bound to make it manifest to all around us, that our business is calculated, and designed, to promote the happiness of our fellowmen. If this does not appear, we do not represent God; but misrepresent him. It is manifest, that all the works of God, are designed to promote happiness; and if, in our works, the same design is not manifest, we are not glorifying, but dishonoring God. If, therefore, our business be of such a nature, as to show that it is a selfish employment; and especially if the business is, in itself, injurious to the interests of society, scarcely a greater abomination, than this, in a professing Christian, can be named. Is this like God? No; it is like the devil. It is representing hell, and not heaven.

But if the business be in its nature lawful, yet, if it be transacted, in a selfish manner–if it be manifest to those with whom you deal, that your main object is to get, and not to communicate good–to accumulate property, and not to diffuse happiness abroad, this is exactly the reverse of glorifying God. It is a misrepresentation of his character, and religion; and there are no more effectual agents of the devil, than those professors of religion who are selfish in the transaction of their business. God’s temper, and spirit is to give, give, GIVE–their spirit, and temper is to get, get, GET. This is the exact contrast of true religion.

  1. In our houses, equipage, and furniture, we are to glorify God. We are to so arrange our houses, equipage, and furniture, as to show that our hearts are not set upon these things, and especially to demonstrate that it is utility, and not ornament, at which we aim.

By this, I do not mean, that we are not to regard a correct taste, in these things. God has every where, in his works, displayed a most exquisite, and infinitely refined taste; and to pay no regard to this, is to violate a fundamental law of our nature, and to misrepresent God.

But in our houses, and equipage, and furniture, we are to see to it, that we do not appear to have our hearts upon such things, and as if we sought our happiness in them; but, on the contrary, should show to the world, that we seek those things only, that are convenient, and have no fellowship with display, and useless, and worldly ornament.

There are two extremes, upon this subject, both of which are as ridiculous as they are wicked. One is to launch forth into all manner of extravagance; and the other is to discard all taste, decency, and utility, and rush back to barbarism. Now both these extremes are to be avoided by Christians. While they do not neglect the decencies and conveniences of life, they are to avoid useless display, and ornament.

  1. In the furnishing of our tables, we are to glorify God. In this, we are continually to demonstrate, that we are not creatures of appetite–that our belly is not our God–and that we do not live, like swine, merely to eat and drink. Scarcely anything is more injurious to the cause of Christ, than for Christians to show, that they are fond of high living. This disposition, in some of the primitive professors of religion, greatly distressed the Apostle, and caused him to say, whose “god is their belly, whose glory is in their shame, whose end is destruction.” The text expressly enjoins upon us to glorify God, in eating, and drinking. This must respect,

(1) The quality of our food. This should be such, and only such, as is healthful, nutritious, and calculated, in the highest degree, to promote the activity of our bodies, and the clearness, and energy of our minds. It is sin in us to eat and drink those things which we know to be injurious to our health; and the eating and drinking of which violates the laws of life.

(2) In respect to the quantity. We are to eat no more, and no less, than our health requires. It is astonishing to see, to what an extent, mankind are under the government of their appetites, and how much time, and thought, and labor are expended, in procuring something that will gratify their taste, regardless of health, and duty to God, or man. And so much are even some professors of religion, under the influence of a depraved, and artificial appetite, that you can hardly produce a greater excitement, on any subject, than will be created, by calling in question their manner of living, in regard to “meats and drinks.” You touch their tea, and coffee–those fashionable narcotics–and you touch the apple of their eye. They are ready to cry out, “the kingdom of God consists not in meats and drinks; but in righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Now the quotation of this passage, comes with a very ill grace, from this class of persons; for their practice would indicate, that their living did consist in meat and drink; and their fierce contentions, in support of the gratification of their tastes, would seem to demonstrate that “meat and drink” is, to them, of much more importance than “righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Now it is manifest, that for Christians to show that they are creatures of appetite, is exceedingly to misrepresent, and dishonor God. And we are bound, as we value the honor, or regard the authority of God, so to eat and drink, as to show, that we have a higher source of enjoyment, than the pleasure of eating and drinking; and to illustrate the truth of that saying, “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” In short, it should be manifest, that we eat and drink, not to gratify our palates, but that we may be able, in the best manner, to do the work of God.

  1. In the choice of our books, we are to glorify God. Our books are our companions–their authors, the spirits with whom we hold communion; and if a “man may be known by the company he keeps,” surely a man’s favorite books will tell the story of what is in his heart. Our books, therefore, are always to be chosen with reference to the glory of God–to prepare our minds, in the best manner, to serve him. They are to be so chosen, as to manifest that we regard the knowledge of God, as infinitely more important than any other knowledge.

Few things are more dishonorable to God, than for a Christian to load down his table, or pollute his closet, with plays and novels, with Shakespeare, Byron and Walter Scott. Are these the spirits with whom Christians are to commune? Do these promote the knowledge of God? Can a Christian make these his favorite companions, and yet make the world believe, that he considers the knowledge of God as of the greatest importance? The Bible represents the knowledge of God as the sum of all that is desirable in knowledge; and declares, that to “know God, is life eternal.”

Take the following Bible declarations of the importance of true wisdom; (i.e.) of a knowledge of God, Job 28:12-28: “But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding? Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth says, It is not in me; and the sea saith, It is not with me. It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. The gold and the chrystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold. Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding? Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears. God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof: for he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; to make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure. When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out. And unto him he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.”

Now can a Christian believe this, and spend his time with novels? He can scarcely give a higher demonstration, that he neither believes, nor loves the Bible, than in choosing such companions for his closet. Certainly it is not paying God a very high compliment, nor attaching much value to a knowledge of him, nor making the impression upon mankind, that divine knowledge is infinitely more important than any other, for Christians to spend their time, in the light, and miscellaneous reading of the day.

  1. In all our employments, and spirit, and temper, and conversation–in every thing, we are to glorify God, by exhibiting that which is the very reverse of the spirit, and temper of the world. In other words, in every thing, as fully as possible, to represent God, (i.e.) to glorify him.

IV. I am to show the importance of glorifying God.

I remark,

  1. That God’s government is moral, (i.e.) a government of moral suasion, and not of force. Consequently, the stability and strength of this government depend upon his reputation, or the estimation in which his subjects hold him. The devil ruined the world, by shaking the confidence of our first parents, in God. While their confidence continued, their obedience was perfect; and thus it always is. Perfect confidence naturally secures perfect obedience in the subjects of any government, while distrust, or unbelief, certainly, and necessarily results in disobedience.

  2. That unconverted men and women, form their opinions of religion, by the lives and temper of professing Christians. Now it is as important, that your lives and temper, should be just what they ought to be, as that their opinions of God, should be just what they ought to be. Their hearts cannot be right, unless their opinions are right, and as their opinions depend upon your lives, if you sin, and exhibit a wrong spirit, you are not only chargeable with all the sin which you thus cause; but their blood will be required at your hands.

  3. The efficacy of Christ’s death, depends on your living in such a manner, as to illustrate its design. Unless your life is full of love–unless you breathe the spirit, and exhibit the temper, that led Christ to die for sinners, you misrepresent him–contradict the gospel–and throw a cloud of impenetrable darkness around the cross of Christ.

If, on the contrary, you exhibit disinterested love, in all your life, you will be a living illustration of the spirit of the glorious gospel, and will thus glorify God.

  1. That Christians under God will save, or ruin the world, and that, in proportion as they live for the glory of God, or not, Christ represents them as “the light of the world,” as “the salt of the earth.” Thus plainly teaching, that if their “light be darkness,” and their “salt have lost its savor,” the world must sink down to hell in darkness.

V. I am to show that whatever is short of this, is enmity against God.

  1. Because it is slandering God. For a professor of religion to misrepresent God, is to do his utmost to dethrone him. It is the highest influence that can be brought against any government, to misrepresent and slander it. It is by slander, and falsehood that Satan has always maintained his influence in this world. Whoever then misrepresents, and slanders God, is in league with the devil, against God.

But none are so efficient agents of the devil, as inconsistent professors of religion. They are enemies, in the camp. They are God’s professed children, and it is taken for granted, that they know God, and that their testimony may be relied on; and as they are God’s own witnesses, if they testify against, and misrepresent him, his cause must fail. It is more injurious than the slander of a legion of devils. It is by no means true, as some have supposed, that [S]satan wishes to have every body openly wicked. The testimony of one worldly professor, is more influential, in favor of [S]satan, than that of a host of infidels. He would, doubtless, be glad to have all men professors of religion, if they would be inconsistent enough to misrepresent, and thus betray God.

Now there is no neutral ground upon this subject. Christ has said, “he that is not with me, is against me, and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” It is impossible, that you should not in all your life, and walk, and spirit, either honor, or dishonor God. Your whole spirit, and temper, and deportment, are watched, and scrutinized, by those around you; and inferences are continually drawn, either in favor of, or against the God you profess to worship.

  1. He who does not live to the glory of God, is the common enemy of the universe. Just as he is the common enemy of any government, who sets himself to slander, betray, and ruin that government.


  1. You see why God is represented, in the Bible, as seeking his own glory, as a thing of the highest importance to the universe. Infidelity has objected to the idea of God’s seeking his glory, as if, in this, he was proud, and jealous, and ambitious, of being esteemed. But when it is understood, that by his glory is meant his reputation, it is easy to see, that in a moral government of such an extent, and duration, as his, the estimation in which the great head of the government is held, by the subjects, is of infinite importance. And should he not pursue his glory, as of the greatest good, he would not estimate things according to their real value.

This text lays down an easy rule, by which to judge of the lawfulness of any employment, in which we propose to engage. If it is business, the question is, is it such an employment as Christ would engage in, under the circumstances? Is it that kind of business, in which you can reasonably expect to represent, and honor God?

If any amusement invites us, the question is easily settled. Should anyone see me engaged in it, would it be honorable to God, and fairly represent the spirit of his religion?

  1. We are not only bound to live to the glory of God, but to choose those employments, and pursue them, in that manner, which will best glorify God. We are to enquire, for what employment we are best suited–in what way we can not only do good, but do the most good! And when we have understood ourselves–our adaptedness, and calling to any employment, we are cheerfully, and with all our hearts, to engage in it, for the glory of God.

  2. Herein may be seen the true point of distinction, between real saints, and hypocrites. The true Christian loves God supremely, God’s honor, and glory, are of course, dearer to him, than any thing, and every thing else. He just as naturally devotes himself to the glory of God, and lives only for that end, as a man naturally pursues that in which he has supreme delight. If a man is not conscious that this is the end for which he lives–that the glory of God, is dearer to him than all things else, he certainly has not the spirit of God, and it is preposterous to call himself a Christian.

Now right over against this is the hypocrite. He professes to live for the glory of God; but yet he certainly knows, or ought to know, by his own consciousness, that if he seeks God’s glory at all, it is with him a subordinate, and not a chief end. He knows full well, if he will be honest with himself, that selfishness lurks in all the religion he has. Instead of having a strong, and permanent consciousness, that he is living for God, the most that he can say is, he hopes he is thus covering up his hypocrisy.

  1. From this subject, it is easy to see, how shocking and abominable, are the pretensions of many professing Christians. How many of them are engaged in employments, in which they cannot hope to glorify God, and can make no such pretension, without rendering themselves ridiculous.

  2. Public sentiment seems to have restricted the obligation of this rule to ministers. They are expected to live for the glory of God. Every body feels, that a minister, in his particular employment, should aim at the glory of God. And should a minister engage in many branches of business in which laymen think it lawful for themselves to engage, it would shock common sense.

It is wonderful to see, that where selfishness does not blind them, how ready men are to form right opinions. Previously to the commencement of the Temperance Reformation, I recollect of having heard of a minister, who, by ill health, or for some other cause was prevented from preaching; and for the maintenance of his family, he established a grocery, in which he sold alcohol. This was, even then, universally reprobated. It seemed to shock the common sense of the whole community. And yet multitudes of laymen, and even Christian laymen, were engaged in the same employment, without supposing themselves to be doing any thing wrong.

Now why should the operation of this rule, be thus, by public sentiment, restricted to ministers? It certainly cannot be, unless salvation is also restricted to them. Every man is as much bound to observe this rule, as a minister; and the same reasons that make it obligatory upon a minister, make it obligatory on every man. Now you would say, and say truly, that a minister was no Christian–that he could not be saved, if, in his employment, he did not aim at the glory of God–if his main object was to support his family, under the pretense of complying with the command, to provide for his own household, you would say, that he could not be saved. Now a minister may have, and is bound to have, just as much respect to the maintenance of his family, as any other man may lawfully have to the maintenance of his. But neither has any right to pursue any worldly object, or any heavenly objects whatever, as an end, other than the glory of God. Every man, who has a family, is bound to make the maintenance of his family one of the ways, and one of the means of glorifying God. But to pursue this as an end, is ruin and death.

  1. Every man is bound to pursue that employment to which he is called of God, as much as a minister is.

He is bound to be as careful, and diligent, in ascertaining his duty, and mark the leadings, and Providences of God, in relation to his employment for life, as a minister is; and he has no right to pursue any business, to which he is not called, by the Providence, and Spirit of God, any more than a minister has, to preach without such a call.

  1. It seems sometimes as if nearly all the laymen in the Church, must go to hell. You find them driving in different directions, and pursuing almost every kind of business, and, in great multitudes of instances, without the least pretence, that they were ever called to that particular employment, by the Spirit, or Providence of God.

I, some time since, asked a lawyer, if he supposed God called him to that particular employment, and if he engaged in it from such motives, as he supposed a minister ought to engage in the work of the ministry. He frankly said, No. How then, I inquired, can you be saved? Are you not bound to live for the glory of God, as much as any minister? Are you not living in the habitual neglect of known duty? Is not the whole tenor of your life selfishness, and a palpable violation of the commandment of God? In the light of this text, he could not deny, that it was so. Now there are hundreds, and thousands of such laymen, in the Church. They know themselves to be pursuing courses of life, from such motives as they would utterly condemn, in a minister. And they would judge, and rightly judge, that he had no religion at all. Know then, assuredly, that in your employment, whatever it is, unless you have such an eye to the glory of God, as you know a minister ought to have, in his employment, you cannot be saved.

  1. From this subject, you can see the great wickedness of dishonoring God, in our methods of obtaining property, under the pretence that we shall devote it to benevolent purposes. Unless we get money, in a manner which is honorable to God, it is in vain to pretend to make any amends, for the manner of getting it, by the use we make of it.

  2. You see how absurd and wicked it is, to engage in any business, that is dishonorable to God, for the purpose of paying debts. Because it is dishonorable to God to be in debt, some persons will engage in employments that violate the law of love; and trample on God’s commandments, for the sake of getting money to pay their debts. Now why not as well steal to pay your debts, or engage in highway robbery, or piracy? It is as absolute a violation of the law of God, to obtain property by any selfish means, as to steal, or engage in piracy.

  3. Every pretended conversion, that does not result in shaping the man’s business, and life, and spirit, in conformity with this precept, is a spurious conversion. Have you seen a man engaged in the selfish transaction of any business, and does he profess conversion? Now mark me, if one of the first fruits be not the reformation of his business, that man is deceived. If his business was unlawful in kind, he will renounce it altogether. If the fault was in the manner of transacting a business, lawful in its kind, he will instantly reform the manner. And it is an outrage to common sense, to call that man a Christian, the secret of whose life, and thoughts, and especially whose business transactions are not turned manifestly into the channel of glorifying God.

  4. The same is true of those seasons of religious awakening, in which great multitudes profess conversion to God. If the fruits of these excitements fall short of the principle laid down in this text–if it does not break up, and reform the business transactions of selfish men, no matter how great their excitement of mind may have been–they have, after all, fallen short of true conversion–they have not yet taken the first step in religion, and do not yet understand in what it consists.

  5. Since my last lecture was written, a question has been proposed to me, by a brother, an answer to which may well be given here. It is, Does the law of love, when applied to business transactions, require that a man should merely support his family, by his business, and have nothing more, or less, reserved to himself? I answer,

(1) That the support of a man’s family is not to be the end at which he aims; but, as I have already said, the support of ourselves, or families, is to be regarded by us, as one of the means of glorifying God.

(2) That the support of ones-self, or family, is by no means to be the criterion, by which we are to be governed in the transaction of business, (i.e.) whatever it may cost to support ourselves, or families, is not to regulate the prices, at which we are to buy or sell. If a man should keep one cow, and under the pretence of her being the support of his family, should attempt to sell milk at two shillings per quart–this certainly would not be lawful, any more than keeping one hen, and attempting, under the pretence of supporting his family, to sell eggs for one dollar each, would be lawful. The truth is, that no man has a right to attempt to support himself, or family, in such a way as this.

So, on the other hand, if a man be engaged in an extensive business, the amount of his necessary expenditures, in the maintenance of his family, is not to be the criterion by which he is to be governed, in his established prices. But in buying, and selling, he is to have the same regard to the interest of every individual, with whom he trades, as to his own. He is to sell as low as he can, without injuring himself, more than he benefits others. And the amount of what he makes must depend upon the amount, and nature of his business.

Suppose a wholesale merchant to employ an immense capital, and perform a vast amount of business, and suppose him to supply one hundred country merchants with goods, and in this suppose him to consult the good of each, equally with his own. In this case, the aggregate of his income would be equal to the aggregate of all their income together. So that, in fact, he might become very rich, and have it in his power, to exercise great hospitality, and greatly promote benevolent objects, and still consult every man’s interest, with whom he trades, equally with his own.

  1. Here another question may be, and has been recently asked. It is said, if every man is bound to sell so low, as to consult every customer’s interest, equally with his own, then those who have a small capital cannot live, by their business. To this I answer,

That no man has a right to live, by business, by which he cannot support himself, and transact it, upon the principle of the law of God.

I was asked, the other day, this question. Suppose a certain man, in the employment of an immense capital, should conduct his business upon the principle of the law of God; and, in consulting his customers’ interests as much as his own, should undersell those of smaller capital, or sell at prices so low that they would become bankrupt, in attempting to support their families, at these prices? Now, in this case, it is said the man of great capital, would ruin the business of all the rest. To this I reply,

It is every man’s duty to benefit the public as much as possible. And if one man can supply the market, at a lower rate, than others, he ought to supply it, and no others have a right to complain. Individuals, and their families, are not to be supported at the expense of public, and higher interests. If other individuals cannot afford to act upon the law of love, their business ought to cease. And they are bound to engage in some employment, in which they can conform themselves to the law of God. The very question I have been answering, is founded upon the supposition, that every man has a right to engage in any particular calling, and support his family by it, whether consistent, or inconsistent with the public good. But this is the direct reverse of the truth.

If one man, therefore, is so circumstanced, that he can supply the whole demand, in any market, more advantageously to the public, than another, he not only has a right, but is bound to do so; and the other is under obligation to retire.

Another question has been proposed, (viz.) If persons are to sell, as cheap as they can, without injuring themselves, more than they benefit those with whom they deal, would not their profits be so small as to prevent their accumulating property with which to do good? Now this is indeed a strange question. If a man is living, and conducting business, upon the principles of the law of God, or of love, he is all the time, doing good upon the largest scale possible. And can it be imagined, that he would really do more good, by over-reaching his customers, for the sake of giving his property to others? Shall a man do injustice to one man, and violate the law of God, for the sake of giving to another man? As well might a man steal, to give to the poor, or support the gospel, under the pretence of doing good, as in any other respect, to violate the law of love, for the sake of acquiring property, to do good with. It should be understood, that the man who lives, and feels, and acts, and transacts business upon the principles of the law of God, is continually doing all the good in his power. He is diffusing more happiness, by far, than if he were grinding the faces of his customers, one day, to give to some benevolent object the next.

It is as ridiculous, as it is wicked, for a man to violate the law of benevolence, under the pretence of having something to give away. Suppose that every man were conformed to the law of love; then every man would be continually doing all that he possibly could do, for benevolent objects. And in such a case, where would be the necessity of one man laying up money, to give to these objects? He is giving, as fast as he receives, to benevolent objects. The fact is, that, in such a case, the coffers of all benevolent institutions would immediately overflow. The ice that has so long locked up the channels of love, would be universally dissolved, and the streams of light, and life, and love, would flow on, until what are now commonly called objects of charity, and benevolence, could not be found.

  1. I have often been led to inquire, in what do Christians of the present day, suppose religion to consist? It seems as though they thought it consisted in praying in their closets–reading their Bibles–attending Church on the Sabbath–and occasionally giving something for the support of the institutions of religion. Now religion consists, in no one, nor in all these things together. And millions of such things would not make a particle of true religion. Religion consists in the true benevolence of the heart. Not a mere desire to do good, but a willing good–a benevolence that controls the conduct–that is, active, blessed, god-like.

  2. To glorify God, is the only object for which you have any right to live, for one hour. And you can live for no other purpose, with the least reasonable hope of being saved. If this be not the end, and object of your life, I forewarn you, that your hope will perish “in the giving up of the ghost.”

  3. And now, beloved, let me ask you, have you ever laid your all upon the altar, and rendered yourselves, a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God?

Is it your daily prayer, and constant endeavor, to be used all up with the most divine economy for God?

Do you husband your time, your strength, your all, in such a way as to make the most of your influence for the promotion of the glory of God?

Is it really in your heart to live, and die for him?

Are you willing–nay, are you supremely desirous, and are you conscious of this desire, to live, or die–to be sick, or well–rich, or poor, or in any other circumstances, that will make the most of you, and use you up with the greatest economy for God?

Do those with whom you sit at table, see that you eat and drink for the glory of God–that you have made yourself acquainted with dietetics, so far, at least, as to exclude whatever is injurious?

Do you prove to them, by the quantity, and quality, of your food, that you are not a creature of appetite–that you live, not to eat, but eat to live, and live to glorify God? “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

Guest Article by Charles G. Finney 

About Author: Charles Grandison Finney (August 29, 1792 – August 16, 1875) was an American Presbyterian minister and leader in the Second Great Awakening in the United States. He has been called The Father of Modern Revivalism.

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Praise, One Of The Chief Employments Of Heaven

Revelation 14:2
And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps.
We may observe in these words (1.) What it was that John heard, viz. the voice and melody of a company praising God. It is said in the next verse that they sung a new song before the throne. (2.) Whence he heard this voice, “I heard,” says he, “a voice from heaven.” This company that he heard praising God was in heaven. It is said in the following verse, “They sung this song before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the elders.” But the throne of God, and the four living creatures, and the four and twenty elders, are all represented in these visions of John, as being in heaven. So that this voice was the voice of the heavenly inhabitants, the voice of the blessed and glorious company that is in heaven, before the throne of God there. (3.) The kind of voice, which is here set forth in a very lively and elegant manner. It is said to be as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunders, and as the voice of harpers harping with their harps. Hereby several things are represented in a very striking manner. 1. The distance of the voice. 2. That it was the voice of a vast and innumerable multitude, so that it was as the voice of many waters. How naturally does this represent the joint, continual, and loud voice of a vast multitude at a distance, that it resembled the voice of many waters. 3. The loudness of the voice. It was as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; which describes the extraordinary fervency of their praises, and how lively and vigorous they were therein, and how that everyone praised God with all his might. They all, joining together, sung with such fervency, that heaven did as it were ring with their praises. The noise of thunder, and the roaring of many waters, are the most great and majestic sounds ever heard upon earth, and are often spoken of in the Scriptures as the mightiest sounds. John could not distinctly hear what they sang, but they being in heaven, at a great distance, he knew not what better to compare it to, than to the roaring of the sea, or a great thunder. Yet, 4. It was a melodious sound, signified by this expression, I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps. The harp was a stringed instrument that David made much use of in praising God. John represents the matter thus to us, That the voice which he heard, being at a great distance, it was in distinct; and being of such a vast multitude, and such a mighty fervent voice, that it seemed in some measure like distant thunder, or the roaring of water, and yet he could perceive the music of the voice at the same time. Though it was in some respects as thunder and the noise of water, yet there was a sweet and excellent melody in it. In short, though these comparisons of which John makes use, to signify to us what kind of a voice and sound it was that he heard, are exceedingly lively and elegant. Yet this seems to be evident from them, that what he heard was inexpressible, and that he could find nothing that could perfectly represent it. That a voice should be as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder, and yet like the voice of harpers, is to us not easily to be conceived of. But the case was, that John could find no earthly sound that was sufficient to represent it; and therefore such various and different similitudes are aggregated and cast together to represent it. But thus much seems to be signified by it, that it seemed to be the voice of an innumerable multitude, and that they were exceedingly fervent and mighty in their praises. That the voice of this multitude was very great, and exceedingly full of majesty, and yet a most sweet and melodious voice at the same time.
Doctrine. The work of the saints in heaven doth very much consist in praising God.

I. Proposition. The saints in heaven are employed. They are not idle. They have there much to do. They have a work before them that will fill up eternity.

We are not to suppose, when the saints have finished their course and done the works appointed them here in this world, and are got to their journey’s end, to their Father’s house, that they will have nothing to do. It is true, the saints when they get to heaven, rest from their labors and their works follow them. Heaven is not a place of labor and travail, but a place of rest. Heb. 4:9. There remaineth a rest for the people of God. And it is a place of the reward of labor. But yet the rest of heaven does not consist in idleness, and a cessation of all action, but only a cessation from all the trouble and toil and tediousness of action. The most perfect rest is consistent with being continually employed. So it is in heaven. Though the saints are exceedingly full of action, yet their activity is perfectly free from all labor, or weariness, or unpleasantness. They shall rest from their work, that is, from all work of labor and self-denial, and grief, care, and watchfulness, but they will not cease from action. The saints in glory are represented as employed in serving God, as well as the saints on earth, though it be without any difficulty or opposition. Rev. 22:3, “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him.” Yea, we are told, that they shall serve God day and night, that is, continually or without ceasing. Rev. 7:15, “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple.”And yet this shall be without any manner of trouble, as it follows in the next verse. “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them nor any heat.”  In this world saints labor, as it were, in the wearisome heat of the sun. But there, though they shall still serve God, yet shall the sun not light on them nor any heat. In one sense, the saints and angels in heaven rest not day nor night, Rev. 4:8, that is, they never cease from their blessed employment. Perfection of happiness does not consist in idleness, but on the contrary, it very much consists in action. The angels are blessed spirits, and yet they are exceedingly active in serving God. They are as a flame of fire, which is the most active thing that we see in this world. God himself enjoys infinite happiness and prefect bliss, and yet he is not inactive, but is himself in his own nature a perfect act, and is continually at work in bringing to pass his own purposes and ends. That principle of holiness that is in its perfection in the saints in heaven, is a most active principle. So that though they enjoy perfect rest, yet they are a great deal more active than they were when in this world. In this world they were exceedingly dull, and heavy, and inactive, but now they are a flame of fire. The saints in heaven are not merely passive in their happiness. They do not merely enjoy God passively, but in an active manner. They are not only acted upon by God, but they mutually act towards him, and in this action and re-action consists the heavenly happiness.

II. Proposition. Their employment consists very much in praising God.

John the beloved disciple had often visions of heaven, and in almost every instance had a vision of the inhabitants as praising God. So in the fourth chapter he tells us, that he looked, and behold, a door was opened in heaven, and he was called up thither, and that he saw the throne of God and him that sat on the throne. And there he gives us an account how those that were round about the throne were praising God. The four living creatures rest not day nor night, saying, Holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him, the four and twenty elders fall down before him and worship him, etc., etc. Again in the fifth chapter, we have an account how they sing praises to Christ, Rev. 5:8, 9, etc. And so in Rev. 7:9, 10, 11, 12. And in Rev. 11:16, 17. And in the twelfth chapter, 10th verse. And in Rev. 15:2, 3, 4. And in the beginning of the nineteenth chapter we have an account how the hosts of heaven sing hallelujahs to God. By all which it most evidently appears, that their work very much consists in praising God and Christ. We have but a very imperfect knowledge of the future state of blessedness, and of their employment. Without doubt they have various employments there. We cannot reasonably question but they are employed in contributing to each other’s delight. They shall dwell together in society. They shall also probably be employed in contemplating on God, his glorious perfections, and glorious works, and so gaining knowledge in these things. And doubtless they will be employed many ways, that we know nothing of: but this we may determine, that much of their employment consists in praising God, and that for the following reasons.

First, because they there see God. This is a blessedness promised to the saints, that they shall see God, Mat. 5:8. That they see God, sufficiently shows the reason why they praise him. They that see God cannot but praise him. He is a Being of such glory and excellency that the sight of this excellency of his will necessarily influence them that behold it to praise him. Such a glorious sight will awaken and rouse all the powers of the soul, and will irresistibly impel them, and draw them into acts of praise. Such a sight enlarges their souls, and fills them with admiration, and with an unspeakable exultation of spirit.

‘Tis from the little that the saints have seen of God, and know of him in this world that they are excited to praise him in the degree they do here. But here they see but as in a glass darkly; they have only now and then a little glimpse of God’s excellency. But then they shall have the transcendent gory and divine excellency of God set in their immediate and full view. They shall dwell in his immediate glorious presence and shall see face to face, 1 Cor. 13:12. Now the saints see the glory of God but by a reflected light, as we in the night see the light of the sun reflected from the moon. But in heaven they shall directly behold the Sun of righteousness, and shall look full upon him when shining in all his glory. This being the case, it can be no otherwise, but that they should very much employ themselves in praising God. When they behold the glorious power of God, they cannot but praise that power. When they see God’s wisdom that is so wonderful, and infinitely beyond all created wisdom, they cannot but continually praise that wisdom. When they view the infinitely pure and lovely holiness of God, whereby the heavens themselves are not pure in comparison with him, how can they avoid with an exalted heart to praise that beauty of the divine nature! When they see the infinite grace of God, and see what a boundless ocean of mercy and love he is, how can they but celebrate that grace with the highest praise!

Second, they will have another sense of the greatness of the fruits of God’s mercy than we have here in this world. They will not only have a sight of the glorious attributes of God’s goodness and mercy in their beatific vision of God, but they will be sensible of the exceeding greatness of the fruits of it; the greatness of the benefits that he has bestowed. They will have another sense of the greatness and manifoldness of the communications of his goodness to his creation in general. They will be more sensible how that God is the fountain of all good, the Father of lights, from whom proceeds every good and perfect gift. We do now but little consider, in comparison with what we should do, how full the world is of God’s goodness, and how it appears in the sun, moon, and stars, and in the earth and seas, with all their fullness, and wheresoever we turn our eyes, and how all ranks and orders of being, from the highest angel to the lowest insect, are dependent upon, and maintained by, the goodness of God. These the saints in heaven clearly see. They see how the universe is replenished with his goodness, and how the communications of his goodness are incessantly issuing from God as from an ever flowing fountain, and are poured forth all around in vast profusion into every part of heaven and earth, as light is every moment diffused from the sun. We have but faint imperfect notions of these things, but the saints in heaven see them with perfect clearness. They have another sense of the greatness of God’s goodness to mankind, and to the church, and to them in particular, than any of us have. They have another sense of the greatness of God’s goodness in the temporal mercies which God bestowed upon them while they were here in this world, though they know that spiritual mercies are infinitely greater. But especially they have an immensely greater sense of the exceeding greatness of the fruits of God’s grace and mercy bestowed in redemption. They have another sense how great a gift the gift of God’s only-begotten Son is. They have another sense of the greatness and dignity of the person of Christ, and how great a thing it was for him to become man, and how great a thing it was for him to lay down his life, and to endure the shameful and accursed death of the cross. They have another sense how great the benefits are that Christ has purchased for men, how great a mercy it is to have sin pardoned, and to be delivered from the misery of hell. They have another sense how dreadful that misery is, for the damned are tormented in the presence of the holy angels and saints, and they see the smoke of their torment; and have another sense what eternity is, and so are proportionally more sensible how great a mercy it is to be delivered from that torment. They have another sense how great a fruit of God’s grace it is to be the children of God, and to have a right and title to eternal glory. They are sensible of the greatness of the benefits that Christ has purchased, by their experience. For they are in possession of the blessedness and glory that he has purchased. They taste the sweetness of it. And therefore they are more sensible what cause they have to praise God for these things. The grace and goodness of God in the work of redemption appears so wonderful to them that their thoughts of it do excite them to the most ardent praise. When they take a view of the grace of God and of the love of Christ in redemption, they see that there is cause that they should exert the utmost of their capacities, and spend an eternity in praising God and the Lamb. It is but a very little that we at best can conceive of the greatness of the benefits of redemption, and therefore we are but little affected by it, and our praises for it are low and dull things.

Third, another reason is [that] they will be perfect in humility. In order to a person’s being rightly disposed to the work of praise, he must be an humble person. A proud person is for assuming all praise to himself and is not disposed to ascribe it to God. It is humility only that will enable us to say from the heart, “Not unto us, not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name be the glory.” The humble person admires the goodness and grace of God to him. He sees more how wonderful it is that God should take such notice of him, and show such kindness to him, that is so much below his notice. Now the saints in heaven have this grace of humility perfected in them. They do as much excel the saints on earth in humility as in other graces. Though they are so much above the saints on earth in holiness and in their exalted state, yet they are vastly more humble than the saints on earth be. They are as much lower in humility as they are higher in honor and happiness. And the reason of it is that they know more of God. They see more of his greatness and infinite highness, and therefore are more sensible how wonderful it is that God should take so much notice of them, to have such communion with them, and give them such a full enjoyment of him. They are far more sensible what unworthy creatures they have been, that God should bestow such mercies upon them, than the saints on earth. They have a greater sight of the evil of sin. They see more what filthy vile creatures they were by nature, and how dreadfully they provoked God by actual sin, and how they have deserved God’s hatred and wrath. The saints in heaven have as much greater a sense of their unworthiness in their natural state than the saints on earth as they have a greater sense of God’s glorious excellency. For it is the sight of God’s excellency which gives them a sight of their own unworthiness. And therefore they do proportionally admire the love of God to them in giving Christ to die for them, and the love of Christ in being willing to offer himself for their sins, and of the wonderful mercy of God in their conversion, and bestowing eternal life upon them. The humble sense the saints have of their own unworthiness, doth greatly engage and enlarge their hearts in praise to him for his infinite mercy and grace.

Fourth, their love to God and Christ will be perfect. Love is a principal ingredient in the grace of thankfulness. There is a counterfeit thankfulness in which there is no love. But there is love in exercise in all sincere thankfulness. And the greater any person’s love is, the more will he be disposed to praise. Love will cause him to delight in the work. He that loves God, proportionally seeks the glory of God, and loves to give him glory. Now the hearts of the saints in heaven are all, as it were, a pure flame of love. Love is the grace that never faileth. Whether there be prophecies, they shall fail, whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. Faith shall cease in vision, and hope in fruition, but love never faileth. The grace of love will be exalted to its greatest height and highest perfection in heaven. And love will vent itself in praise. Heaven will ring with praise because it is full of love to God. This is the reason that great assembly, that innumerable host, [praises] God with such ardency, that their praise is as the voice of many waters, and as the mighty thunderings, because they are animated by so ardent, vigorous, and powerful a principle of divine love.

I. This subject may be applied in the way of INSTRUCTION.

First, hence we may learn the excellency of this work of praising God. That it is a most excellent employment, appears because it is a heavenly employment. It is that work wherein the saints and angels are continually employed.

If we sincerely and frequently praise God, we shall therein be like the heavenly inhabitants, and join with them.

That it is the work of heaven shows it to be the most honorable work. No employment can be a greater honor to a man than to praise God. It is the peculiar dignity of the nature of man, and the very thing wherein his nature is exalted above things without reason, and things without life, that he is made capable of actively glorifying his Creator. Other creatures do glorify God. The sun, moon, and stars, and the earth and waters, and all the trees of the field, and grass and herbs, and fishes and insects do glorify God. Psa. 19:1-6; Job 12:7, 8. But herein is the peculiar dignity of the nature of man, that he is capable of glorifying him as a cause, by counsel, understandingly and voluntarily, which is a heavenly work.

Second, this doctrine may give us an idea of the glorious and happy state of the saints in heaven. It shows how joyfully and gloriously they spend their time. Joy is a great ingredient in praise. There is an exultation of spirit in fervent praise. Praise is the most joyful work in the world. And how joyful a society are they that join together, so many thousands and millions of them, with one heart and one soul, to sing a new song before the throne, that fill heaven with their glorious melody! How joyful they are in their work, appears in the text, by their fervency in it, so that their voices resounded as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder. What ineffable joy was there in those harpers whom John heard harping with their harps!

This shows how different a state the saints are in in heaven, from what they are in this world. Here much of the work to which the saints are called, consists in laboring, in fighting, in toilsome traveling in a waste howling wilderness, in mourning and suffering, and in offering up strong crying and tears. But there in heaven, their work continually is to lift up their joyful songs of praise.

This world is a valley of tears, a world filled with sighs and groans. One is groaning under some bodily pain. Another is mourning and lamenting over a dear departed friend. Another is crying out by reason of the arm of the oppressor. But in heaven there is no mixture of such sounds as these. There is nothing to be heard amongst them but the sweet and glorious melody of God’s praises. There is a holy cheerfulness to be seen throughout that blessed society. Rev. 21:4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying.” They shall never have anything more to do with sighing and crying; but their eternal work henceforward shall be praise.

This should make us long for heaven, where they spend their time so joyfully and gloriously. The saints especially have reason to be earnestly breathing after that happy state, where they may in so joyful a manner praise God.

Third, this may put natural persons upon reflecting on their own state, that they have no part nor lot in this matter. You are an alien from the commonwealth of Israel. You are not one of the people of God. You do not belong to their society that are to spend their eternity after that joyful manner, which you have now heard. You have no right nor portion in heaven. If you hereafter come and offer yourself to be admitted into this blessed society, in your present state; if you come and try to be admitted, you will be thrust out. You will be driven away. If you come and knock, and cry to be admitted to the wedding, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us, all will be to no purpose! You will hear no other word except Depart! You shall be shut out into outer darkness. You shall not be permitted to sing among the children, but shall be driven out, to howl among dogs. Rev. 22:14, 15, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city; for without are dogs,” etc. You are in danger of spending eternity, not in joyfully singing praises, but in a quite contrary manner; in weeping, in wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and blaspheming God because of your pains and because of your plagues. You shall see others coming from the east and the west, and sitting down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God, taking their places among that blessed, happy society, and joining their voices in their heavenly music. But you see your lot. You shall have other work to do. Isa. 65:14, “Behold, my servants shall sing for joy of heart; but ye shall cry for sorrow of heart, and howl for vexation of spirit.”
II. In the way of EXHORTATION.  If it be so that praising God is very much the employment of heaven, hence let all be exhorted to the work and duty of praising God. The following considerations will show why we should be stirred up by this doctrine to this work.

First, let it be considered that the church on earth is the same society with those saints who are praising God in heaven. There is not one church of Christ in heaven, and another here upon earth. Though the one be sometimes called the church triumphant, and the other the church militant, yet they are not indeed two churches. By the church triumphant is meant the triumphant part of the church. And by the church militant, the militant part of it, for there is but one universal or catholic church. Song 6:9, “My dove, my undefiled, is but one.” Christ has and hath many members.” The glorious assembly and the saints on earth make but one family. Eph. 3:15, “Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” Though some are in heaven, and some on earth, in very different circumstances, yet they are all united. For there is but one body, and one spirit, and one Lord Jesus Christ. One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all. God hath in Christ united the inhabitants of heaven, and the holy inhabitants of this earth, and hath made them one. Eph. 1:10, “That in the dispensation of the fulness of time, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.” Heaven is at a great distance from the earth. It is called a far country. Mat. 25:14. Yet the distance of place does not separate them so as to make two societies. For though the saints on earth, at present, are at a distance from heaven, yet they belong there. That is their proper home. The saints that are in this world are strangers here. And therefore the apostle reproved the Christians in his day, for acting as though they belonged to this world. Col. 2:20, “Why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances?”

Some of a people may be in their own land, and some in a strange land. And yet be but one people. Some of a family may be at home, and some sojourning abroad. And yet be but one family. The saints on earth, though they be not actually in heaven, yet have their inheritance in heaven, and are traveling towards heaven, and will arrive there in a little time. They are nearly related to the saints in heaven. They are their brethren, being children of the same Father, and fellow heirs with Jesus Christ. In Eph. 2:19, the saints on earth are said to be fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. And the apostle tells the Christian Hebrews, Heb. 12:22-24, that they were “come to mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” But how were they come to this heavenly city, and this glorious assembly, when they were yet here on earth? They were come to them, ere they were brought and united to them in the same family. But this is what I would inculcate by all this, that the church of God on earth ought to be employed in the same work with the saints in heaven, because they are the same society. As they are but one family, have but one Father, one inheritance, so they should have but one work. The church on earth ought to join with the saints in heaven in their employment, as God hath joined them in one society by his grace.

We profess to be of the visible people of Christ, to be Christians and not heathens, and so belong to the universal church. We profess therefore to be of the same society, and shall not walk answerably to our profession, unless we employ ourselves in the same work.

Second, let it be considered, that we all of us hope to spend an eternity with the saints in heaven, and in the same work of praising God. There is, it may be, not one of us but who hopes to be a saint in heaven, and there continually to sing praises to God and the Lamb. But how disagreeable will it be with such a hope, to live in the neglect of praising God now! We ought now to begin that work which we intend shall be the work of another world. For this life is given us on purpose that therein we might prepare for a future life. The present state is a state of probation and preparation, a state of preparation for the enjoyments and employment of another, future, and eternal state. And no one is ever admitted to those enjoyments and employments, but those who are prepared for them here. If ever we would go to heaven, we must be fitted for heaven in this world. We must here have our souls molded and fashioned for that work and that happiness. They must be formed for praise, and they must begin their work here. The beginnings of future things are in this world. The seed must be sown here. The foundation must be laid in this world. Here is laid the foundation of future misery, and of future happiness. If it be not begun here, it never will be begun. If our hearts be not in some measure tuned to praise in this world, we shall never do anything at the work hereafter. The light must dawn in this world, or the sun will never rise in the next. As we therefore all of us would be, and hope to be, of that blessed company which praise God in heaven, we should now inure ourselves to the work.

Third, those works of God’s mercy for which the saints in heaven will chiefly praise him, have been wrought amongst us in this world.

The mercy and grace of God for which the saints in heaven will chiefly praise him is his mercy exercised in he work of redemption, which work has been wrought out in this world. This love of God is the chief object of their admiration, and what they chiefly contemplate, and that employs their most ardent praises.

The grace of Christ, about which their praises will be principally employed is that he should so love sinful man as to undertake for him, to take upon him man’s nature, and lay down his life for him. We find that is the subject of their praises in Rev. 5:8, 9, “And when he had taken the book, the four living creatures, and the four and twenty elders, fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints; and they sang a new song, Thou art worthy, for thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.”

They will chiefly praise God for these fruits of his mercy, because these are the greatest fruits of it that ever have been, far greater than the glorifying of saints. The saints in heaven will praise God for bestowing glory upon them. But the actual bestowment of glory upon them, after it has been purchased by the blood of Christ, is in no measure so great a thing as the purchasing of it by his blood. For Christ, the eternal Son of God, to become man, and to lay down his life, was a far greater thing than the glorifying of all the saints that ever have been, or ever will be glorified, from the beginning of the world to the end of it. The giving Christ to die, comprehends all other mercies. For all other mercies are through this. The giving of Christ is a greater thing than the giving of all things else for the sake of Christ. This evidently appears, from Rom. 8:32, “He who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” So that the work of redemption is that for which the saints in heaven do chiefly praise God. But this work has been wrought here, among us in this world. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The incarnation of Christ was a thing that was brought to pass in this world, and the sufferings and death of Christ were also accomplished on earth. Shall heaven be filled with praises for what was done on earth, and shall there be no praises on earth where it was done?

Fourth, if you praise God sincerely in this world, it will be a sign that you are really to be one of those that shall praise him in heaven. If any man be found sincerely glorifying God, he will in due time be brought to them, as one who is fit to be of their company. Heaven is the appointed place of all sincere praisers of God. They are all to be gathered together there. And no man can sincerely praise God unless he be one of those who are redeemed from among men, one that God has separated from the rest of the world, and set apart for himself.

Fifth, if we begin now to exercise ourselves in the work of heaven, it will be the way to have foretastes of the enjoyments of heaven. The business and the happiness go together. This will be the way to have your heart filled with spiritual joy and comfort. If you heartily praise God, you shall rejoice in him, and he will show you more of himself, of his glory and love, that you may still have greater cause of praise.
I proceed to give some DIRECTIONS for the performance of this work.

First, be directed, in order to your acceptably performing this duty, to repent of your sins, and turn to God. If you have not a work of conversion wrought in you, you will do nothing to any purpose in this work of praise. An unconverted person never once sincerely or acceptably praises God. If you would do the work of the saints in heaven, you must be, not only in profession, but really, one of their society. For there are none else can do their work. As in the verse following the text: “And they sung as it were a new song, before the throne, and before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no man could learn that song, but the hundred and forty-four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” A hundred and forty-four thousand is a mystical number for the church of God, or the assembly of the saints, or those that are redeemed from the earth.. There is no man can learn the song that they sing in heaven, but those of that number. It is beyond the reach of all natural men, let them be persons of ever so great abilities and sagacity. They never can learn that heavenly song, if they be not of that number. For it is only the sanctifying, saving instruction of the Spirit of God, that can teach us that song.

Second, labor after more and more of those principles from whence the praise of the saints in heaven doth arise. You have already heard that the saints in heaven do praise the Lord so fervently because they see him. Labor therefore that you, though you have not an immediate vision of God, as they have, may yet have a clear spiritual sight of him, and that you may know more of God, and have frequent discoveries of him made to you.

You have heard that the saints in heaven make praise so much their work, because of the great sense they have of the greatness and wonderfulness of the fruits of the Lord’s goodness. Labor therefore to get your minds more deeply impressed with such a sense.

The saints in glory are so much employed in praise, because they are perfect in humility, and have so great a sense of the infinite distance between God and them. They have a great sense of their own unworthiness, that they are by nature unworthy of any of the mercy of God. Labor therefore that you may obtain more of a sense of your own littleness, and vileness; that you may see more what you are, how ill you have deserved at the hands of God, and how you are less than the least of all his mercies.

The hearts of the saints in heaven are all inflamed with divine love, which continually influences them to praise God. Seek that this principle may abound in you, and then you likewise will delight in praising God. It will be a most sweet and pleasant employment to you.

Third, labor, in your praises, to praise God, so far as may be, in the same manner that the saints do in heaven. They praise him fervently, with their whole heart, and with all their strength, as was represented in vision to John by the exceeding loudness of their praise. Labor therefore that you may not be cold and dull in your praises, but that you also may praise God fervently.

The saints in heaven praise God humbly. Let it also be your delight to abase yourselves, to exalt God, and set him upon the throne, and to lie at his footstool.

The saints in heaven praise God unitedly. They praise him with one heart and one soul, in a most firm union. Endeavor that you may thus praise God in union with his people, having your hearts knit to them in fervent love and charity, which will be a great help to your praising and glorifying God unitedly with them.
III. In the way of REPROOF to those who neglect the singing of God’s praises. Certainly, such a neglect is not consonant to the hope and expectation of spending an eternity in that work. It is an appointment of God, that we should not only praise in our prayers, but that we should sing his praises. It was a part of divine worship, not only under the Old Testament, but the New. Thus we read that Christ and his disciples sung praises together, Mat. 26:30. So it is commanded, Eph. 5:18, 19, ‘Be ye filled with the Spirit, speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord.” And Col. 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” 1 Cor. 14:15, “I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.” So also the saints in heaven are represented as singing God’s praises. And is that their happy and glorious employment; and yet shall it be so neglected by us, who hope for heaven? If there be any of the godly that do neglect this duty, I would desire them to consider how discordant such a neglect is with their profession, with their state, and with the mercies which God has bestowed. How much cause has God given you to sing his praise! You have received more to prompt you to praise God than all the natural men in the world. And can you content yourself to live in the world without singing the praises of your heavenly Father, and your glorious Redeemer?

Parents ought to be careful that their children are instructed in singing, that they may be capable of performing that part of divine worship. This we should do, as we would have our children trained up for heaven, for we all of us would have our children go to heaven.
IV. In the way of CONSOLATION to the godly. It may be matter of great comfort to you that you are to spend your eternity with the saints in heaven, where it is so much their work to praise God. The saints are sensible what cause they have to praise God, and oftentimes are ready to say they long to praise him more and that they never can praise him enough. This may be a consolation to you, that you shall have a whole eternity in which to praise him. They earnestly desire to praise God better. This, therefore, may be your consolation, that in heaven your heart shall be enlarged, you shall be enabled to praise him in an immensely more perfect and exalted manner than you can do in this world. You shall not be troubled with such a dead, dull heart, with so much coldness, so many clogs and burdens from corruption, and from a earthly mind; with a wandering, unsteady heart; with so much darkness and so much hypocrisy. You shall be one of that vast assembly that praise God so fervently, that their voice is “as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings.”

You long to have others praise God, to have every one praise him. There there will be enough to help you, and join you in praising him, and those that are capable of doing it ten thousand times better than saints on earth. Thousands and thousands of angels and glorified saints will be around you, all united to you in the dearest love, all disposed to praise God, not only for themselves, but for his mercy to you.

Guest Article by Jonathan Edwards from THANKSGIVING SERMON, Nov. 7, 1734

About Author: Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758) was a revivalist preacher, philosopher, and Congregationalist Protestant theologian. Like most of the Puritans, he held to the Reformed theology.

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Worthy Is The Lamb Of God!

The Lamb upon the cross is now the Lamb upon the Throne. The most noble and beautiful words of language are not too great as all Heaven attributes praise to Him: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing” (Revelation 5:12). And all creatures of the universe join to echo Heaven’s praise: “Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:13).

Gladly do our voices join the chorus as we think of what Christ did for us as He died on the cross of Calvary and was raised again. What a full and eternal salvation was provided for us there! But do we not think more soberly when we learn we must take our place on the cross, dying there with Christ, before we are raised to walk in the fullness of the blessing? Are we ready to yield up what is perhaps the greatest of all idols of our hearts — ourselves, that the fullness of the blessing might be ours? This could well be the blighting of cherished hopes and plans, again and again, as we choose God’s will and pleasure above our own. Are we willing for this?

Calvary was looming very near and Christ was well down the road to the cross, when He opened His heart to His disciples perhaps more than ever before, and urged them to abide in Him and to let His Word abide in them — “That My joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full,” He said (John 15:11). Could He actually have possessed and proclaimed joy in an hour like that? Yes, the Bible tells us that He “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).

When I first came to Herald of His Coming in 1960, some of us workers were finding spiritual help and blessing in some of the writings of Watchman Nee. We were lifted into spiritual heights. Then one of the workers pointed out that at that very time, Watchman Nee was suffering in prison in China. “Death” was working in him, but “life” in us. The Apostle Paul tells us it was the same with him (2 Corinthians 4:12).

Jesus clearly tells us, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). We need our Lord so greatly in order to live the crucified life victoriously. And it is when we need Him greatly and seek Him intensely that we “find” him, and oh, what a “find!” To know Jesus more intimately, to experience closer fellowship with Him — it is that which satisfies the heart most fully and which spurs us onward in the way of the cross.

God help us not to evade the cross but to embrace it, not to stagger beneath it but to accept it in faith, to thank God for it, to praise Him for it, even to rejoice in it. The Apostle Paul said he gloried in the cross (Galatians 6:14). Do we mean it when we sing the words, “In the cross of Christ I glory” or “my glory all the cross”? That includes rejoicing in it.

At times we cannot but bow in silent wonder and sorrow as we read in that marvelous Messianic Scripture about Christ: “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him,” or “crush Him” says one translation. We go on to read that because he “poured out His life unto death,” He was given a portion with the great (Isaiah 53:10-12). There is heavenly reward for bearing the cross.

And there are gains in this life, one being the power to live a life impossible for us to live in the natural. For example, how can we love one another as Christ loved us? He said, “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34) — always patient and kind, preferring others before ourselves, etc.

In his article on pages 6 and 7, J. Gregory Mantle tells us how the Christian’s appropriation of the victory of the cross makes possible the Christ-like life that many a Christian aspires to and finds it difficult to come into and impossible to achieve in himself. How blessed it is when one sees in oneself, the actions and reactions that are from the new life in Christ and not from the old life of the flesh. How aware one is that this is through the crucifixion of the old and the appropriation of the new. It is God at work within us. Oh, what a salvation this — “Not I, but Christ who liveth in me.”

Robert Coleman in the opening article, brings to our attention that it is the cross operating in our lives which sets us free from selfishness to serve God. Our commission is to go into all the world with the Gospel of Christ. It was a cross that provides the Good News of salvation and it takes, as someone has written, a crucified man to preach a crucified Saviour. It takes a heart set free from its own plans and desires, to be available to God for wherever He has need of him or her.

Our calling as Christians is to honor the Lamb of God, who resigned His own will to do the will of the Father, the meek and lowly Lamb who did always those things that pleased the Father. And we are to give honor to this Lamb and follow Him in a society that honors self-assertiveness and independence and self-indulgence.

Oh, young people, watch yourself against self-indulgence, when Christ calls us to a life of self-denial. I was driving through a Christian college campus when the students were arriving to begin another year of study. It was surprising to see how many davenports and easy chairs and such were being unloaded and carried into the dormitories from pickup trucks and vehicles of various sorts. In years past, dorm rooms had a desk, straight chair, bed and dresser. It seemed to me these young people were bringing with them quite a temptation to divert themselves from the purpose of their being there, to study and apply themselves to learning in preparation for serving the Lord.

And certainly young people are not the only ones who must guard against self-indulgence, when it is self-denial that will enable us to serve God fully. It is not only a day-by-day, but an hour-by-hour, even a moment-by-moment watchfulness that we need.

According to the Washington Times, many military trainers of this country, surveyed by a government commission, were pessimistic about the caliber of young people currently in boot camps training for service in the military. Trainers find them “selfish, out of shape, undisciplined, lacking in morals, challenging every order or decision or rule, having no respect for authority.” What a distressing report!

It makes one wonder, though, what our divine Captain sees in those who volunteer for His ranks. Have we counted the cost, and are we willing, by His grace, to meet the demands our Lord Jesus Christ sets before us?

It is heartening and challenging to read reports in Frontline Fellowship News (P.O. Box 74, Newlands 7725, Cape Town, South Africa), of courageous soldiers of Christ, who brave almost impossible conditions and dangers to minister in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. There the Islamic government is endeavoring to subjugate the people, including Christians, and Islamize or eliminate them. Destructive warfare has long been carried out against the people. Frontline Fellowship takes in direly needed food and supplies and holds gatherings to preach to the lost and to nourish the Church.

A recent issue of Frontline Fellowship News, tells of a young lady, age 20, converted to Christ only a little over a year, who felt a great burden to minister to God’s people in Sudan when she learned of the terrible suffering there. She flew to the area, but every effort to enter Sudan proved unsuccessful. When advised to join Frontline Fellowship, which ministers against great odds in Sudan regularly, she did so. Though very eager to go to Sudan, she submitted to the apprenticeship training they require — described as “intensive Biblical instruction and practical outreach.”

Their requirements to be a field worker are of necessity high, and require self-sacrifice and self-discipline. At the same time, workers must be a “team player.” Hardships on the Sudan field are many. Ministry there involves trekking rugged, mountainous terrain in unbelievably high temperatures, carrying kits of food and water and other personal supplies, needing to be constantly watchful for land mines or ambushes or aerial attack from enemy forces, withstanding the stress, discouragement and depression that threaten the worker in this decimated and barren area, etc.

The young missionary lady, Delia, after training was counted ready to go with the team. She delighted the women and children in the mountains when she offered to hold services especially for them. Women are ordinarily in the homes or fields working while the men gather for ministry. One elderly African woman recalled that it had been 40 years since a lady missionary had ministered to them. How God has need of selfless laborers as Delia!

God gives to each of us tests to prove our devotion to Him and our willingness to deny ourselves in order to serve Him in that particular niche where He has need of us. How few of us could meet the strenuous tests as do the gallants-for-Christ mentioned above! But in the measure in which we are tested, for the sake of the self-sacrificing Lamb of God, might we prove to be those willing and obedient, counting even cherished things but loss for His sake, and loving not even our lives more than we love our dear Saviour.

Guest Article by Lois J. Stucky 

About Author: Lois J. Stucky (1928-2014), was best known for her editorship of Herald of His Coming. She taught elementary school for 6 1/2 years. In 1960 she joined a Christian Literature Ministry, serving in the editorial department for 25 years, First in Los Angeles then Newton Kansas and then Brazil, IN. Mrs. Stucky had been a missionary for one year in the Dominican Republic and 3 years in Sierra Leone, Africa.

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Jesus And Idols?

It’s not likely that we modern-day Christians in the western world would be tempted to worship an idol of wood or stone the way they did back in Old Testament days, or still do in certain societies. We like to assure ourselves we are not that primitive. Even so, idolatry is a serious problem among many Christians.

Here from the New Testament are two verses revealing areas of idolatry that are very common.

“Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them, as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play” (1 Cor. 10.7).

In other words, when we view life as something that is our own to enjoy unto ourselves, this is idolatry – the idolatry of self. It is perhaps the greatest form of idolatry in the world. People who would not be caught dead worshipping a wooden idol bow down with ready abandon to the worship of themselves. It is they themselves who sit on the throne of their lives ordering all things. They believe their lives are their own to do with as they see fit. If they are sitting down they are eating and drinking. When they rise up it is to play. The idol temples of eating and drinking and play are filled day and night; particularly in our secular western world.

Here is another one.

“Covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3.5).

“No covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5.5).

How is covetousness idolatry? Covetousness is idolatry because the heart is filled with a lust for something other than God. It is a heart issue, the idols of the heart. Do we not trust God to give us whatever is necessary to glorify Him in our lives – whether material or spiritual? (Yes, it’s also idolatry to covet our brother’s spiritual blessing for ourselves.)

These two areas of idolatry are rampant out there in ‘the world.’ But because we Christians live in the world we are vulnerable. Perhaps we are not abandoning Christ wholesale and turning to the idols of the world, although that does happen, I know. The more serious problem is that we want Christ and our idols. We want Christ and what the world has to offer, as well its pursuits and joys and toys. So we have this phenomenon so common in our day. I am fixated on prosperity, so I make a Christian doctrine out of it. If I was a biker, now I become a Christian biker. If I was into the rock scene, now I become a Christian rocker. If I am into football in a serious way, now I become a Christian football player. I love the glory of entertaining. Now I will give Christian concerts. I will be a Christian movie star. We want to pursue the best the world has to offer, and be a Christian too, so we don’t miss out on God. Of course we want God, but just to bless us in the pursuit of our own endeavours.

Jesus’ words still stand. On one occasion when He saw the multitudes following Him He turned and said to them,  “And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14.25-27). (How’s that for an evangelistic technique, by the way, telling the multitudes to go home unless they are prepared to take up their cross?)

We Christians are to walk a holy walk, in the world yet not of the world. Nevertheless, it is not a stiff legalistic holiness that will draw the idolaters of the world into the worship of the true God. It’s seeing the holiness of love, the love of the holy Jesus burning in the heart that turns the idolaters to Him. Jesus, who though He was ‘separate from sinners,’ loved them deeply. And they knew it.

Here’s a poem I’ve loved for a long time. I’ve seen it quoted in part, but I found it in full one day. It’s based on a passage in Hosea who back in his day decried with broken heart this chronic problem of God’s people wanting their idols along with their God. It’s such a beautiful book: Hosea. You touch over and over God’s love for His people, it’s He who is broken hearted, even as He pronounces judgments upon them for their waywardness. And in the final analysis what is it that turns them back to Him? (I confess I am far short of this myself, but am pursuing.)

“Ephraim shall say, what have I to do any more with idols? I have heard Him, and (beheld) Him” (Hosea 14.8). That’s what does it! Hearing Him! Seeing the unmatchable Jesus!

Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him?
Is not thine a captured heart?
Chief among ten thousand, own Him?
Joyful choose the better part?

Idols, once they won thee, charmed thee,
Lovely things of time and sense;
Gilded, thus does sin disarm thee,
Honeyed, lest thou turn thee thence.

What has stripped the seeming beauty
From the idols of the earth?
Not a sense of right or duty
But the sight of peerless worth.

Not the crushing of those idols
With its bitter pain and smart,
But the beaming of His beauty,
The unveiling of His heart.

Who extinguishes their taper
Till they hail the rising sun?
Who discards the garb of winter
Till the summer has begun?

‘Tis the look that melted Peter,
‘Tis the face that Stephen saw,
‘Tis the heart that wept with Mary
Can alone from idols draw:

Draw and win and fill completely
Till the cup o’erflow the brim;
What have we to do with idols
Who have companied with Him?

Miss Ora Rowan

Guest Article by Allan Halton From SermonIndex.net

About Allan Halton: Allan Halton of A Mending Fest is retired and living in a small town near Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. He loves the Lord Jesus Christ, and is desirous to see others come into vital relationship and deep communion with our Heavenly Father through His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Recommended Reading: We Are All Worshipers

Continue Reading This Guest Article by Crossway Staff

“Worship is unavoidable,” explains Darrin Patrick. “Whenever we stop worshiping God, we worship some kind of substitute instead of God.”

In his chapter “Idol-Shattering” in Church Planter, Patrick helps explain and expose idolatry…

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Most Who Attend Church Are Not Worshipping God

Most who attend church are not worshiping God, they are simply going through the motions. But what is genuine worship? Worship is a combination of attitude and acts focused on reverence to God. The Hebrew meaning denotes a “bowing down, or prostrating oneself;” it is a posture reflecting homage and reverence toward the one true and living God. If there is a problem with worship, the problem isn’t with God, the problem is with us. Thousands will hear the Word this weekend, but not experience God. People will arrive to church hungry, but leave starving. The very thing they need is the very thing they’re avoiding: The power and the presence of the Spirit.

Worship serves as the thermometer of the heart by measuring our spiritual condition…are we hot, cold, or lukewarm? Granted, worship isn’t necessarily measured by actions such as jumping up and down; it’s measured by the condition (temperature) of our heart—is it rejoicing for joy and submitting to God? Sadly, many confuse false worship with genuine worship. According to numerous theological resources, false worship is when an entity, person, or object is worshiped instead of God—our passion for “something” outweighs our passion for Him; it draws us away. This is one of my concerns with many worship leaders and groups today (and Christian leaders)…it’s all about us. We say, “I must increase, and He must decrease.”

Why is there a lack of genuine worship? The reason may not only be in the pew, but on the stage as well. Much depends on the prayer life of the worship leader and the pastor. Prayer is the first sign of a spiritually healthy church and a spiritually healthy leader. We don’t need more marketing plans, demographic studies, or giving campaigns; we need men and women filled with the Spirit of God. Worship shouldn’t come from pop-psychology and the latest fads; it must come from the prayer closet where God prepares the messenger before he or she prepares the people to worship.

Most don’t have idols on the shelf because they are parked in the garage. We don’t pay homage to a statue in the living room because we are memorized by a 50” box affectionately known as “the entertainment center.” We don’t sacrifice things on the altar, but we do sacrifice our time (and time with of our children) on the altar of misguided priorities. Of course cars, televisions, and the Internet are not evil, they are neutral; but it is our love for them that tilts the scale away from God. We find hours a day for entertainment, but have little time to worship. Do we honestly believe that this misapplication of priorities doesn’t affect our spirituality? Think again.

False worship also includes inappropriate and improper acts supposedly directed toward God. Many simply go through the motions at church. They attend as if they are doing God a favor. The heart is not engaged and the soul is not lifted up…they are bored, or they are focused on entertainment.

Here is a test to measure the spiritual condition of the heart: Do we want the worship time to hurry and finish? Are we dreading another song as our eyes glance at the clock? Do we come late to miss the boring worship? Are we failing to draw closer to Christ as the result of worship? If so, I would seriously encourage heart examination. I am not suggesting that if the worship seems dead it’s our fault…not all of the worship taking place is heartfelt and Spirit-led. There is dry formalism and dead ritualism taking place, and there is a lot of noise but not changed hearts. Many sing “about” God but they have never truly experienced Him—head knowledge without heart knowledge. He is the Creator of heaven and earth. He is not a cosmic force, universal love, or a doting grandfather, He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. We must worship Him. He created, redeemed, and saved us. One of the countless hymns states it well, “O’ The Blood: washes me; shed for me…what a sacrifice that saved my life, yes the blood, it is my victory!”

Luke 19:10 records, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” John 1:29 passionately declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” And 1 Peter 2:24 reminds us that “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross.” These facts demand worship. Many go ballistic when a favorite team wins, but appear handcuffed and bored in church. How sad.

Worship must be a priority. This is not optional, it’s vital. “I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands…” (1 Timothy 2:8). We cannot live like hell all week and expect heaven to fall during worship. We cannot fill our mind with dark entertainment all week and expect the light of Christ to shine during worship. We cannot worship ourselves and things all week and expect to turn our affections toward God on one designated day. Worship is a lifestyle! Worship and holiness are interwoven. Holiness begins in the heart: “The Holy Spirit is first of all a moral flame. It is not an accident of language that He is called the Holy Spirit, for whatever else the word holy may mean it does undoubtedly carry with it the idea of moral purity” (A.W. Tozer).

Guest Article by Shane Idleman

About Author: Shane Idleman is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship, in Lancaster, Ca. His sermons, books, articles, and radio program have sparked change in the lives of many. For more, visit WCFAV.org, or ShaneIdleman.com.

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