Archive for July, 2012

The Worship God Will Receive

July 6, 2012

After sitting through another "service" at the local Grange, AKA a church, I was reminded of one of the reasons I don’t care to do that anymore. Excessive decibels. My Tinnitus, you see is terribly aggravated by excessive racket.

Then I read the following from Bullinger’s "Great Cloud of Witnesses in Hebrews Eleven":

The Two Ways of Worship

The Faith of Abel shows that, beside the Two Ways of Access to God, there are Two Ways in the Worship of God.

Both are "by Faith;" In both, we see that faith cometh by hearing, and the hearing cometh from what God hath spoken.

As there are only Two Ways of Access, one the true way, and the other the false way, with many varieties, so there are only Two Ways of Worship; and the False way with as many varieties and differences, each claiming to be the right way.

It is as important for us therefore to learn the true Way of Worship, taught us by this aspect of Abel’s Faith, as it was to learn the lesson of the True Way of Access; especially in the present day when Ritual occupies such a large place in public opinion, and in the conflicts and controversies which rage between the opposing Religions, and clamoring Sects.

In both cases, believing, or not believing what God has spoken lies at the foundation of all.

As to the only way of Access, and the only offering that was to be brought, the command of God must have been the same for Abel and Cain then, as it was for Israel afterward when the law was put into writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and the pen of Moses.

The Book of Leviticus (which is the book of worship) opens with the words, which give it its name in the Hebrew Canon.

"And Jehovah Called

and spake unto Moses out of the Tabernacle of the Congregation saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, IF ANY MAN of you bring an OFFERING UNTO JEHOVAH ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd and of the flock."

Observe, that the command was not that they should bring an offering, but that, if any man brought one, the command was as to what he should bring.

This agrees with, and explains Jer 7:22-24 :

"I spake not unto your fathers nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices;

"But this thing commanded I them, saying

Obey my Voice

and I will be your God, and ye shall be my People; and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. But

"They Hearkened Not

nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward."

This is precisely what took place at the gates of Eden. There the Lord God spoke. Cain and Abel heard. Abel believed what he heard. Cain (like Israel afterward) hearkened not nor inclined his ear, but walked in the counsel and imagination of his own evil heart.

This is the essence of the whole matter.

God spoke. He spoke to Israel "out of the Tabernacle," to all who would approach Him there; and laid down, as He had a right to do, how he would be worshipped.

It is the same principle which prevails today.

Man himself acts on this principle. If any seek him, it is he who appoints the time and place and determines as to when and where he will be seen.

So, God laid it down from the first that, if any man would bring an offering to Him, it must be such and such an one, and it must be offered in such and such a way.

"And he (the offerer) shall put his hand upon the burnt offering: and IT SHALL BE ACCEPTED FOR HIM to make atonement for him" (Lev 1:4).

But Cain hearkened not to the voice of God; and, instead of bringing what God had appointed, he brought an offering out of "the counsel and imagination" of his own evil heart (Jer 7:24).

And, not only so. Not only was it something, other than what God had approved, but it was the product of that which God had laid under a curse: "cursed be the ground for thy sake" (Gen 3:17).

So that there was a double affront in Cain’s offering: and being not "of faith," it was "sin" (Rom 14:23).

Hence, it standeth written:

"Jehovah had respect

Unto Abel and his offering;

But unto Cain and his offering

He had not respect."

And to day, the Question comes to us:—

To what will Jehovah have respect?

What offering will He accept?

Not the blood of bulls and goats; for all these types have been fulfilled in the antitype. Now, Christ’s blood is that which speaketh better things than that of Abel; no one can be accepted but through its merits.

And as to worship: What is it that Jehovah now accepts? What voice do we hear coming from Him who tabernacled among men? What does the voice say which we are to obey? What are the words to which we are to hearken?

They come from the true Tabernacle which the Lord pitched and not man. And God, who in times past spake unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by HIS SON: and the Son hath said:

‘God is spirit

 and they that worship Him

MUST

worship Him in spirit

and in truth.’

These are the words to which we are to hearken, as written down for us from the lips of the Son, in the Scriptures of Truth.

We have no liberty; no choice in this matter. It is useless to follow the counsels and imaginations of our own hearts. That one short word

"MUST"

settles every thing.

It tells us that God will not "have respect" to anything but what is spiritual in our worship of Himself.

The SON, who hath spoken from heaven has declared that "the flesh profiteth nothing" (Joh 6:63).

It is useless therefore for us to bring unto the Lord anything that is of the flesh; or anything that the flesh can do.

It must all be ‘spirit’!

The flesh is under the curse. "The mind of the flesh is death" (Rom 8:6).

To bring anything, therefore, of the flesh, or that the flesh can do, is to be exactly like Cain, when he brought the fruit of the ground, of which God had said: "cursed be the ground."

All the senses are of the flesh.

The mind of the flesh is sensual.

"The works of the flesh" are the opposite of "the fruit of the Spirit" (Gal 5:19-25).

"They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh, with its affections and desires."

Acceptable worship therefore, MUST be the "fruit of the Spirit" and not "the fruit of the ground": or in other words, not the works of that flesh, which is under the curse.

We cannot worship God, Who is spirit, with our eyes, by gazing on a sacrament or anything else.

We cannot worship God, Who is spirit, with our ears, by listening to music, however beautiful it may be, or whether "rendered" by ourselves or others.

We cannot worship God, Who is spirit, with our noses, by smelling incense, or anything else.

We cannot worship God, Who is spirit, with our throats by singing Hymns or Anthems, Solos, Quartets, or Choruses.

The only singing that goes beyond the ceiling or roof and enters heaven "MUST" be of the spirit, and from the heart.

The command is "singing and making melody

IN YOUR HEART

to the Lord."

Singing, not to one another, not to an audience, not to a congregation, but

"To the Lord."

What is needed in true worship is not "an ear for music," but a heart for music.

If we are "filled BY the Spirit," our singing will be of the Spirit, from the heart. For "that which is born (or produced) by the Spirit, is spirit." (Joh 3:6).

We shall say with Mary,

"My SOUL doth magnify the Lord

My SPIRIT hath rejoiced in God my Saviour."

Nothing short of this is the worship to which God will have respect.

All else is waste of time, waste of trouble, waste of money, waste of strength, waste of breath; and,

"It Profiteth Nothing."

It is useless for any one to say ‘I like such and such a service.’ ‘I like to hear, or to do, this or that.’ ‘It creates such nice feelings in me.’ Or, ‘I dislike this or that in Divine Service.’

It matters nothing whatever what any one may like or dislike, think, or feel. It is not a question of what I may like or dislike: The question is

WHAT does GOD LIKE?

What does God require?

To what will God "HAVE RESPECT"?

Divine Service is supposed to be, on the face of it, service or worship rendered to God.

It is for Him to say therefore what He desires.

Public Worship is not a Service offered to or for the public, but by the public, for or to God.

It does not matter, therefore, how beautifully a Solo, or an Anthem or a Hymn may be "rendered" (that is the correct expression); but it does matter whether God will "have respect", to it.

It does not matter how beautiful the voice may be to which we hearken, but it does matter whether we hearken to God’s voice, and whether we obey HIS voice.

The SON of God hath spoken (Joh 4:24). We have heard His words.

The one question is: Do we believe Him? Do we remember that "whatsoever is not of faith, is sin" (Rom 14:23).

Will We Obey?

Will we worship "by faith," as Abel did? or will we worship by works as Cain did?

Do we desire to obtain God’s approval with Abel? or, do we desire to hear God’s words to Cain "cursed art thou from the earth" (Gen 4:11).

When Cain saw that God "had not respect" to his offering, he was "very wroth." And there will be many who read these words, who will be also "very wroth"; and wroth with us for writing them.

For this cuts at the root all man’s accepted traditions, his cherished practices, and his boasted capabilities.

It cuts off from him the praise and applause of man. It writes folly on his vain counsels and imaginations. It makes an end of his attainments and ambitions.

He may, and doubtless will, go on in "the way of Cain," just the same. But it all counts for nothing. ‘It profiteth nothing’ It is ‘labour in vain.’

God has no respect to it.

It would be folly for us to dwell on the faith of Abel, without seeking to learn this great lesson which is thus "written for our learning" and stands on the very forefront of God’s revelation, in Gen 4:1-26.

If we learn not the "obedience of faith" in this matter, it is vain for us to go further with our studies of this subject of Faith. For it all turns on this:

Do We Believe God?

He hath "in these last days spoken unto us by His Son."

His Son hath said: "They that worship Him MUST worship Him truly in spirit."

Do we believe what He has said?

This is the one final question, the true answer to which does away with all that passes as "current money with the Ishmaelite merchantmen," who make a gain out of so-called, "public worship," today, just as the Ephesian silversmiths made theirs out of the shrines of their goddess Diana.

It puts an end to all the tricks and contrivances of the Christian "Religion," all the new fashions, and modern methods, bands and songs and solos, and orchestral services, cantatas, which are all to do with the "Flesh," and are all for the praise and glory of the choir; and no longer, as the simple worship of our fathers was—"to the praise and glory of God."

This is the lesson of Abel’s faith, as it touches on the one and only true way in the worship of God.

From: Great Cloud of Witnesses in Hebrews Eleven, E.W. Bullinger, pp 42-49.

Every time I read that section, I think Bullinger is writing about a contemporary issue. That tells me that it’s a serious problem, to have lasted so long, and it won’t be solved by ignoring it.

I make no secret that I loath Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). Superficial, repetitive lyrics (close to an Hindu mantra in many cases), loaded with ambiguous adjectives, absent of biblical doctrine, tunes pirated from the world, performed by hacks with little to no talent. Besides, anybody can discover with just a minimal amount of study that worship is much more than croaking out a bad song (or a good song, rendered perfectly, for that matter). Yeah, I’m mean. So what. Get over it.

Here’s the rub. What they do is carnal and worldly and so is my own reaction to it. Hey, I call them as I see them, even if I end-up condemning myself from time to time. That’s okay because TRUTH is the issue at hand. That’s what matters.

So, I have to ask myself some of the above questions, too.

Do I believe God?

Will I obey God?

Of course do and I will, but I can only do it to the best of my ability and understanding, and as God himself gives me the desire and the empowerment (Phil.2:13). So, when the Lord Jesus said "God is spirit  and they that worship Him MUST worship Him in spirit and in truth", I have to seriously consider the differences between the world, the flesh, and spirit and truth. How can I isolate and dispense with my worldly reaction to bad music? How can I eliminate my fondness for good music, skillfully performed, and still have anything left to give? Pragmatic as it sounds, there is a way that seems to work, for me at least.

My solution, which developed out of this conflict, was to adopt the practice of avoiding any sort of public worship activity, like corporate singing or playing any of the vast array of instruments I have skill with.

That means that I spend much of my time alone. My Christian walk, like Enoch’s and Caleb’s and Joshua’s, is a lonely walk, so far as man is concerned; but it is "with Him" here, and soon "with Him" there; and, meanwhile, my spirit’s abounding in joy, even now, in the midst of all the confusion and corruption this world has to throw at me. I know of many who frequent the Grange, who are most miserable, in spite of their abundance of fellowship and activity.

So, when I am alone, when there is no one to hear, save for the Lord and me, then I engage in musical worship. There is no one else to hear and no one for me to be critical of. That way, I am able to satisfy my desire to offer musical worship to the Lord that is motivated by my spirit, not by a desire to perform well for others. I select the piece, based upon the situation the original author was in, what was happening during that period in history, and how that represents what my spirit desires to offer to the Lord. I also control how it will be played, what instrument will be used and how it will be sung. Trusting that it is God who motivates me, I believe this removes as much of the "strange fire" as possible, from my musical worship.

Now, remember I said earlier there’s more to worship than meets the eye. Look at our English word: worship.

Wor – worth, worthy, etc.

ship – send, transport, etc.

Worship then is sending something of worth to the Lord, remembering that he has established the criteria for what is worthy and how it is to be sent. Spirit and truth. Is that what motivates? Studying to show yourself [to God, not men] approved [by God, not men], rightly dividing the word of truth. Is that worship? Facing down and judging my favorite traditions with the Word. Is that worship? Using the Word to demolish the strongholds of imagination and ferreting out the lies in my mind that make believing pagan ideas appealing. Is that worship? I think so. Joining Martin Luther in his response to the Inquisition at the Diet of Worms: "Unless I am convinced by proofs from Scriptures or by plain and clear reasons and arguments, I can and will not retract, for it is neither safe nor wise to do anything against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen." Is that worship? Yes, I do think it is.

Worship then is everything we do for the Lord [Faith – Rom.14:23], which comes as the result of being motivated and empowered by God [spirit – Phil.2:13] to accomplish his will [Truth].

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