Worshipers Of God: – In the light of revealed truth, let us prayerfully consider what it is to acceptably worship him. His beloved Son says, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.” No carnal or fleshly service is worship, therefore, but that only which is spiritual; neither any form of worship or service which is unreal, untrue or false; for God must be worshiped in truth, or it is mockery and an offense to him. He is the perfection of holiness and truth, and nothing that is false can enter into his worship or endure in his presence. “for our God is a consuming fire,” and everything false and corrupt shall be consumed as chaff and dross. All mere creature, fleshly, selfish worship, is of this nature or kind, for it is lacking in perfection and truth. Therefore, all worship that is in spirit and in truth, must have its source in God himself, who is a Spirit and in Truth. His son said, “There is none good but one, that is God.” And so all goodness and holiness is from God. Jesus was good and holy, because he “came forth from the Father,” and he said, “I am in the Father, and the Father in me.” Jesus, therefore, though a man in the flesh, as born of woman, was a true worshiper, and worshiped the Father in Spirit and in truth. To his disciples his word is, “I am the Vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.” He again says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Therefore, whoever worships the Father truly, and comes unto him, must live in Christ, and Christ in him; and this worship in spirit and in truth must be in the life and Spirit of Christ, or else it is not in truth. Indeed, it is only in the Spirit of God’s dear Son, sent forth into our hearts, that we can truly call God our Father, and cry to him in worship, as shown in Romans viii. and Gal. iv. “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us,” says Paul. He also says, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” It is evident then, that all true worship arises from the Spirit and love of God in the heart, as the source and effectual cause of all spiritual worship and acceptable service to God. This is the more evident, because “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” “Love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that, loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love,” is the record by John. Therefore, it is only through the love of God in our hearts that we can know and worship him. The holy Jesus is the full manifestation of the God of love, and the love of God, and also the express image of the Father’s person or nature, and “We love him, because he first loved us.” Knowing him, we love him, and loving him, we serve him. John therefore says, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” Now, then, it is his abiding in us by the Spirit that we know and love, serve and worship God, but not in any other way, or by any other power. In this truest and highest sense, “In him we live, and move, and have our being,” as said Paul. All true goodness and holiness, spiritual perfection and beauty, are of him and from him; therefore all that spirituality and truth in which we worship the Father, we first receive from him, that we may be sanctified through his truth, even as his dear Son prayed. (John xvii.) Not only in spirit and in truth and in love must we worship God, but in faith also. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Now, a knowledge of God, faith in him and love to him, are the essential qualifications which only will cause and move us to diligently seek him, to seek him with our whole heart. “The christian loves the God he knows, and serves the God he loves.” So this knowledge and love in the soul, are the efficient Cause and pure Motive of our seeking and serving God. No one can or will truly seek and worship God, who does not know him, neither do any love him who do not truly know him. “And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ,” wrote John “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent,” prayed Jesus to the Father. In the same prayer the Son said to the Father, and of his disciples, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” In this union only is all our perfection and acceptance, now or ever; and it is Because we are in the holy Son of God, and he in us, and the Father in him, that we worship God in spirit and in truth, and believe in and love him. Hence, every spiritual emotion in the heart, with every act of true devotion, and all acceptable service, – all these arise and spring directly from the indwelling of the quickening and enabling Spirit, and divine love and faith, without which none can approach unto God in true worship. All REAL OBEDIENCE IS FROM THIS DIVINE SOURCE.” The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, He Doeth The Works,” is the true revelation of this mystery by the holy Son of God. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure,” wrote his faithful servant Paul by inspiration. All other pretended worship and service to God is but a form without the power, and is not in spirit and in truth, but a selfish, fleshly will-worship, pleasing to the creature, but an offense unto the Holy One. The service and worship of Cain was of this sort, as also that of the Pharisee who prayed in the temple: and no mere voluntary creature worship can be any better, because it is of man, and has regard only to the happiness and good of self. Behind and underneath all such religious worship and service is the aim of Reward – I shall receive honor and good by this service. This feature necessarily underlies all phases of contingent or conditional service and worship, because an expected good as a conditional reward is connected with all such service, offered to God as formal worship and obedience, and prompts it as a secret and selfish motive. It is impossible that it should be otherwise according to a conditional basis of religious service and worship, because the conditional promise is always before the conditional worshiper as a motive and selfish influence, and he cannot escape it. But, indeed, he does not want to, for when he does the conditional service, he expects God to bestow upon him the conditional reward, and it is for the reward that he serves. All conditional religious service, therefore, centers upon the conditional server and worshiper; for his religious devotions are rendered in the belief and with the view of receiving conditional blessings as rewards. Satan was just such a conditionalist when he said, “Doth Job fear God for naught?” Wickedly selfish himself, he could not understand that Job feared God in love, and worshiped him in spirit and in truth, as feebly shown in this writing.
It is true that the Lord speaks of rewards, both to the righteous and the wicked, and Jesus said, “For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then shall he reward every man according to his works.” And since they receive according to their works, only those in whom God has performed the good work of salvation, and by the Spirit hath wrought in them the righteousness of Christ, who is our righteousness, shall receive the reward of righteousness, for the saints are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, that they should offer up unto God spiritual sacrifices. These are the true worshipers, and they receive a sure and blessed reward. What, then, is the reward of the righteous? It Is THEIR SUPREME BLISS IN GLORIFYING God. Having revealed his beloved Son in them in his saving power, and in the beauties of holiness and perfect love, casting out all their fears, they find a holy delight and supreme blessedness in the heart-given love and worship and praise of their blessed God and Father; and in this is the fullness of reward to them. Having freely received of God the fullness of salvation in the finished and perfect work of the Lord Jesus, their loving services and devotions and worship are also freely given to him, as the pure incense of their souls. And in this outflowing service of love from their adoring hearts, as a divine fountain of living water spontaneously springing up to God who has bestowed his love upon them, there is not in them the low and selfish motive or thought that they shall receive his blessing or reward in return for serving him. O no! but the heavenly reward is theirs already in the riches of his mercy and grace and glory in thus raising them up into holy communion with the Father and the Son, so that they now joy in God, and worship him in spirit. Their reward is that they are thus washed, and sanctified, and justified, and exalted in the righteousness of Christ and the salvation of God, as the people whom he hath formed for himself, to show forth his praise, and worship him in the beauty of holiness. Not in order that they may be rewarded with the spiritual and heavenly blessings of God, no no! but because he has so divinely and graciously blessed them in Christ, and filled their hearts with his everlasting love, and their quickened souls with his joyful praise. Does any one vainly say or think that the souls who thus worship God in spirit and in truth, because all this worship springs pure and fresh from the ever-living unction of the quickening and enabling Spirit in them, that they are not active in serving the Lord, but as involuntary and passive as lifeless machines! Why do any, then, so uncharitably charge this absurdity upon others, who attribute all true worship and acceptable obedience and service to the Spirit and love and grace of God in the heart of the true worshiper! Would any dare thus reproach the obedient and righteous Son of God, because he said, “I can of mine own self do nothing;” and, “The Father that dwelleth in me, He Doeth The Works!” If none would have the awful presumption to say that this teaching made the blessed Jesus an involuntary, passive and irresponsible machine, then they should be ashamed, and feel condemned for saying it against his humble servants for confessing and teaching the same truth. Paul, who closely followed his Master, said, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is Of God.” And for all his brethren in Christ he prayed, saying, “Now the God of peace make you perfect in every good work to do his will, Working In you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ.” The inspired psalmist says to the Lord, “I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart. Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes, and I shall keep it unto the end. * * * Quicken me after, thy loving-kindness; so shall I keep the testimony of thy mouth.” How true and excellent! Here we see the efficient Cause, and springing out of it the active and blessed effect, to the glory of God. And herein is the full reward. “This man shall be blessed in his deed.” The thought of serving God to the end that he might bless him with a reward, he would disdain as selfish, and a reflection upon the infinite goodness of God, whom he loves and delights to serve. This one prays, “Order my steps in thy word; and let not any iniquity have dominion over me. Deliver me from the oppression of man; so will I keep thy precepts. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes. * * * I have longed for thy salvation, O Lord; and thy law is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. * * * I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.” How entirely dependent upon the God of his salvation the psalmist was. It was this that led him to thus call upon the Lord in prayer and praise for his salvation and help; and thus quickened, strengthened and helped, his soul ascended to God in loving and active devotion and joyful praise. And this active service was not offered up to God conditionally, that he might receive a reward of blessings in return, but because of God’s free and abundant blessing in bringing him into this sacred communion and heavenly worship, in which was his great reward. For in truth God himself is the full reward and blessing unto all who truly worship him, and they are satisfied with this blessedness. Paul prayed for his brethren in Christ, that God would grant them, according to the riches of his glory, “To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” And the precious Christ says, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” “Blessed Are They.” They do not thus hunger conditionally, in order that they may be blessed, but out of the divine life that God has given them, the spiritual hunger arises freely and without any creature effort, and the Father freely satisfies them with the perfect righteousness and fullness of salvation in Christ, “Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” Thus they are blessed. What more could they desire, or God give! “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward,” is the word of the Lord to Abraham; and therefore he said to him, “Fear not.” God is this also to all who have the faith of Abraham, and who worship in spirit and in truth, faith and love, as he did. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also Freely Give Us All Things?” Will any presume to answer in the negative! If not, then our salvation and divine blessings in time cannot come to us as conditional rewards, depending upon ourselves, in consideration of our works of obedience. “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.” Hear Paul again: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed US WITH ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS in heavenly places in Christ.” None of these, therefore, are conditional rewards, depending upon our works, for then it could not be said that God had already thus blessed us, according to his choice before the world was, because they would not then be ours at all, until we had performed the conditions upon which the blessings depend. But as none will say the blessings of salvation which we receive in time are not spiritual blessings, knowing that they are, and it would be absurd to deny it, and since it is true that our covenant God “hath blessed us with All spiritual blessings in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love;” and since God the Father hath given us his Son, and “with him also will freely give us all things;” and since God does not change nor repent, as man, and his choice and blessings cannot be revoked, but are positive and sure, therefore no spiritual blessing is bestowed upon any of the chosen in Christ as a conditional reward, dependent upon their good works as the consideration. Such a thing is simply impossible, according to the gift and choice and blessing of God, as proven above; therefore he who urges this principle of conditional spiritual blessings, as an incentive and motive to induce any one to engage in religions worship, as the price or consideration of divine rewards that they shall thereby receive from God, is grossly deceived, and deceiving others, for he thus degrades the spiritual and divine blessings to the mercenary plane of bargain and sale, as goods in the market, to be obtained by rendering to the Lord certain services, but not until the price is paid. If this principle of conditional salvation, claimed as the reward of worship and service to the Lord, and depending upon ourselves, is not putting heaven in the market of men, as the Pope of Rome does, it does put the blessings of heaven in the religions market, as the stipulated rewards in consideration of professed good works and service done for the Lord. It is a reproach upon the God of love and mercy and grace, the God of salvation, who freely gave us his beloved Son, chose us and blessed us with all spiritual blessings in him, and with him freely gives us all things. “His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” While obedience becomes the children of our Father in heaven, and all gospel instruction and exhortation in the sacred oracles are unto this end, and in all this way of holiness they are willing and active, yet their service is not servile or slavish or selfish, rendered in order to receive reward or payment, nor does the Father thus bribe or hire his children to worship and serve him, but he says, “Son give me thine heart;” and, “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” This, then, is the heart-given obedience and service of loving children, whose delight is to do the will of their holy Father, who has loved them infinitely, and hath done great things for them, whereof they are glad and grateful, and desire to freely make some returns in love and praise to him who has so richly and freely blessed them. And so the motive that prompts their obedience and service is, not self-happiness, but the love of God in their hearts, which causes them to delight in his word and truth, and their purpose and aim in all their service is his praise and glory. In these sacrifices God is well pleased, and in glorifying him the true worshipers are blessed. Saints on earth and angels in heaven are supremely blessed in the love and worship and glory of God. In this happy service of praise, self is lost sight of, conditional rewards are banished, and God in Christ, is All In All. O, that one and all could thus know and see and feel.
CRAWFORDSVILLE, Ind., Jan. 13, 1899.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 67, No. 3.
FEBRUARY 1, 1899.