“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the House of the Lord.” Psalms 122:1
My soul leaped with joy from its fainted condition the other day when an Elder softly said to me, “Let us go into the house.” I was within the city limits of one of the largest cities in our nation. Everyone on the streets and highways seemed to be in such a hurry. I was meditating upon the fact that things are so swiftly coming to pass that it is very difficult to believe such drastic changes are taking place. I began to realize that I was so heavily involved in this great turmoil of swift and rapid events to such extent that my mind was in a whirl, my heart was troubled, and my soul was fainted; - all because I could not keep up. What great relief of mind to enter upon the grounds of this house of worship and to be warmly invited into the house for the purpose of pausing in our hurryings to worship God. How good it is when you feel so cast down, unworthy, and unfit to be noticed by anyone, to hear them say, “Let us go into the House of the Lord.” Aren’t you glad that they even remember to invite you into such sacred place as the Place of Praises. Aren’t you glad, also, that others have a desire to go into the House of Prayer and Praise.
Get your Bible and turn to the 122nd Psalm and read with us as we meditate upon some of the glorious expressions of the Psalmist. The second verse reads: “Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem.” We recall that in Psalms 100:4 it says, “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise ...” Jesus said, “ENTER ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
When I entered the door of this building and beheld such smiling peaceful expressions on the faces of those who so joyfully greeted me, I felt to be standing within the gates of the City of God with a number of its citizens. No one there needed to say to any other, “I love you.” The love of God was so manifest in each and every face, word, handshake, and embrace that we all had a foretaste of Heaven. When we had settled down to singing hymns of thanksgiving to God even for the tribulations that had been ours to endure, I gazed at the open door through which we had entered. Then, I thought of the gates through which we had come to this place of joy and peace. I thought of the first gate that leadeth unto life, to wit: tribulations. Peace, joy, and happiness cannot be experienced while in confusion, sadness and misery; but after being exercised by these tribulations, we experience the peaceable fruits of righteousness which are patience, faith, hope, love, and joy of life. “Go through, go through the gates ...” is an expression found in Isaiah 62:10. It must be through the gate of tribulations and persecutions that we learn to be submissive and to rely upon God for all things pertaining to God and godliness. This painful gate could be termed the gate of regeneration. You cannot climb over the wall to avoid this gate. If one gets into the position of indulging in special favors peculiar to the afflicted and poor people of God, this one would be classed as a thief and a robber. The walls are too thick to be penetrated; too high to be climbed over; and too strong to be overthrown. You must enter through the gate of tribulations which is the gate of regeneration. This is the evidence that brethren look for in listening to the experience of candidates for church membership. This being “born again” is manifest when their testimony proves that they have suffered to the extent of being brought into the knowledge of being unable to do anything of themselves to merit any blessing from God.
I went back into my experience and was given to re-live for a moment the period in my life when it seemed the mountains of my many sins were crushing me to death. The gates of hell seemed to be opened unto me and that I was being swallowed into its clutches. Every straw to which I so greedily clung could not so much as slow down my descent into the depths of such horrible pit. I re-lived for a moment my cries out of the depth of hell. I remembered the groans, the fastings, and the awful miseries of hell itself with all the doors closed and locked fast. I could not open any door of faith or hope. How I did knock and seek and ask but I had no faith. I wept bitterly with no hope for mercy because my sins demanded that I should forever be in misery. While in this awful condition and after I had exhausted all of my strength and energy it pleased God in His gracious providence toward me to put it into the mind of one of my friends to invite me into a house of worship. He kept insisting against my wishes that I should accompany him to a place of worship to hear a certain minister preach. I had read the Bible: it had condemned. I had listened at preachers: they had condemned me. I talked to my close associates: they all thought I was crazy when I would tell them of my hopeless condition. I learned in the pit that God was sovereign and holy and that no man could come unto Him. I felt that I had blasphemed against God under the cloak of a gospel minister in declaring the power of man unto salvation to such extent that I could never have forgiveness here nor in the world to come. This man who said unto me, “Let us go to meeting,” saw something in me that I could not see. This is why he kept insisting that I go. His care concerning my spiritual welfare astonished me. I shall forever be thankful to God for that man who kept insisting, “Let us go to meeting.” I had thought that I knew how to read and interpret the Holy Scriptures.
God opened the second gate unto me when He opened the “door of faith” thru the preaching of the gospel of this minister that night. “And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” (Acts 14 :27) “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching” to set before me an open door. God opened this minister’s mouth to preach this precious faith. God opened my heart to understand it. As soon as it was opened unto me I gladly went through it to such extent as to receive and embrace it with all my heart. I did not have to go to Heaven after it. I did not have to go across the seas and oceans to get it. You cannot open the door of faith yourself. It must be opened to you. Paul says, “A great door and effectual is opened unto me.” (1 Cor. 16:9) When the door of faith is opened how devotedly we cling to the Lord Jesus Christ. The gate of faith being opened I saw the maneuverings of my Saviour. I saw Him come through the gate of Heaven. I saw Him descend toward the pit. I saw Him descend low enough to reach me who was the vilest of the vile. I saw Him wash me whiter than snow with His blood. I saw Him pay my penalty by His dying in my stead. I saw Him merit a home in Heaven for me with His life. I heard Him plead in my behalf before the Father. All of this led me me to the door of Hope. In Hosea 2:15 we read of “A door of hope.” On that memorable night for a fleeting time this gate of Hope was swung wide open and I was blessed to experience the entrance to that within the veil: “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” (Heb. 6:17-20)
The opening of the gate of hope gave me to see that within the veil. The opening of the gate of faith gave me to believe in Jesus, the perfect and powerful Saviour of His people. The opening of the gate of hope gave me to trust that I was one of His people and that all of the benefits He merited would be mine to experience in the future. These gates lead into the inner palace of the King. The most inner-gate, or door, must be the gate of Love. In the Song of Songs we read, “My Beloved put in His hand by the hole of the door.” (Solomon 5:4) We read in Revelations. “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven . . .” (Rev. 4:1) When this gate of love is opened in Heaven to us our hearts overflow with this Love of God. Perfect love casteth out fear. O what joy, peace, and happiness we do experience as result of the foretaste of Heaven itself. It is too wonderful to tell. It is too much for poor earthly creatures to experience but for short seasons. I am made to believe that God has ordained these wonderful banquets of the King to be participated in most gloriously here in His banqueting houses of worship. God’s children will travel thousands of miles to one of these banquets. God meets His people with the gifts of His love within these Houses of praises. Sometimes we hear the voices of angels coming from the mouths of men as we worship God together.
While meditating in this meeting-house on the gates of tribulations, (or regeneration), faith, hope, and love, my question was, Are there any other gates? John gave me the answer in 1st John 4:16: “God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in him.” There is no gate beyond the gate of love.
When I came to the reality of my surroundings I felt that God had cemented everyone present in that congregation together so firmly with a heavenly mixture of grace and love that nothing could break fellowship. I felt that everyone there including the many young people were lively stones, made to be lively by the love of God and washed clean in the blood of the Lamb. I saw the manifestation of their labor of love as I gazed upon the newly finished walls, furniture, and fixtures of this House of Worship. I knew that it had taken many hours and dollars to bring this into reality. I said in my heart, “Thank God for such evidences of a God-loving people who will gladly sacrifice their bodies and earthly treasures in providing a meeting place for the members and friends to worship God together.” Recall that the 3rd and 4th verses of the 122nd Psalms says: “Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the Lord.” A company of believers blessed to worship God in unison in prayer, praise, and preaching is a wonderful experience of being compacted together both in body and Spirit.
I saw the Heavens open unto me a book of remembrances of the testimony of God’s love and mercy. I remembered the 1st Heaven which was a paradise when the Lord first remembered me as related in this treatise. I called to remembrance the 2nd Heaven when a door was opened to me to be baptized and to be married to the particular church in covenant-relationship which holds to the Gospel Faith and Practice. I had been given the wonderful relationship to trust that God would providentially care for me and finally save me in that eternal abode because of His love and through the merits of Jesus Christ. Yet, I thought that I had so blasphemed His power to such degree that none would receive me into their fellowship here on earth. How glad I was when they received me and welcomed me into their fellowship. My joys in participating in the special privileges and ordinances allowed only to members of the church are considered as precious and sacred. Being caught up in the third Heaven for moments is enough foretaste to make me yearn to live there eternally with the redeemed of the Lord.
It is wonderful in this church relationship to be compacted together to mourn with those who mourn; to rejoice with those who rejoice: to be so united in affections one for the other that each one will be willing to make great sacrifices for the other ones’ good. It is wonderful to be united in agreement upon religious beliefs. Being “Compact together” in love, belief, experience, and hope: all this causes a yearning to meet often together in worship of God for His benefits to us. All this causes the lovers of the truth to be glad when someone suggests, “Let us go into the House of the Lord.”
We go to the House of God in unison to give thanks for His wonderful works. We listen prayerfully as the minister of the Gospel gives testimony of the will of God, the word of God, and the simple commandments of our Lord Jesus Christ. The minister comforts us as he is blessed to speak of the sovereign God who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will. We experience a feeling of security as the minister brings testimony after testimony from the Holy Scriptures to prove that God’s will of purpose is solely, wholely, perfectly, and completely worked by Him, to the praise of His own glory and to the completion of salvation of each and every one of His children, without a hint of any jot or tittle of His will of purpose being disobeyed because He works it Himself; and, it embraces all times, events, words, thoughts, actions, and all creatures and things both visible and invisible. We are edified as the minister preaches the Word of God bringing a multiplicity of testimonies from the Book of books, proving that the will of God relative to the salvation of God’s elect is because of God’s great love for us through the merits of Jesus Christ, Who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We eagerly listen as the minister preaches to us God’s will of precept as he rightly divides the word of truth in warning the Lord’s people of dangers and exhorting them to keep the commandments of Jesus, and to be fervent in charity.
“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the Lord.”
I wanted to praise Him publicly for His divine providence, amazing grace, gifts of the Spirit, His great love, and gospel of Jesus Christ. I wanted to participate in the ordinances of Jesus Christ and His Church. There are two kinds of extremists relative to public praise. One is the child of God who is fearful of man to the extent that he will not participate in public praise. The hypocrite will engage in public praise to be commended by men. The proper Christian is not fearful of the frowns of the world, nor is he a public worshiper in order to be commended by those who profess to be Christians.
David said, “Give unto the Lord glory due unto his name: bring an offering and come into his courts.” You may ask, What shall we bring? Our strength will not help Him for He is all-powerful. Our wisdom will not direct Him for He is all-wise. Our God is so great that He does not require our wisdom to direct Him nor our power to assist Him. He owns all things; therefore, He does not require our wealth to enrich Him. He is so effectual in His works and so convincing relative to His greatness that He does not need our reputation to advance Him. What does He require of us? He requires us to fear Him because of His greatness, He requires us to love Him because of His goodness. “What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits towards me?” (Psalms 116 :12) What offering shall I bring? The sacrifice that the Lord loves is a broken heart and contrite spirit. The word contrite means, bruised. Paul says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1) God does not need our help in any way but we certainly need His strength and guidance in all of our affairs. It pleases Him that we are to help one another in word, deed, and prayer. Bring an offering of your material possessions for the support of the ministry, maintenance of house of worship, and the poor of the flock. The Scriptural rule for this is called an order to the churches which is plainly and simply stated in 1st Corinthians 16:1-3. (Read, if interested in giving according to rule.)
“I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving.” (Psalms 116:17) I will thank Him for His deliverance from death; for His deliverance of me from the clutches of law and death; for His setting before me the open doors of faith and hope; and, for His love that flooded my soul through the open door of Heaven. I will thank Him for Jesus Christ, my King, Saviour, Friend, Priest, Way, Truth, and Life.
When I come to the courts of the Lord and in the midst of His people, I pray that I will be given to remember my vows. May I be given to say as David when I am inside the place of worship: “I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all His people.” David said, “God is the Lord which hath shewed us light: Bind the sacrifice with cords even unto the horns of the altar.” (Psalm 118:27) Unless these instructions can be experienced, none of our sacrifices will be acceptable to God. All acceptable sacrifice is fervent constant confident devotion. That which binds is faith. Streams of God’s love are the cords. The altar is Christ. Christ’s merit and power are the horns of the altar. I find it to be more blessed to try and fail than not to try. I find that my conscience is more at ease when I go to the House of God and fail in my attempts at worship than when I fail to present my body. O that our people would more often say to their children, relatives, and friends, “Let us go into the House of the Lord.”
It is very encouraging to see parents bring their children to church meetings. A greater percent of our church meeting congregations are young people now than when I first united with the Primitive Baptist Church. Let us bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Let us teach them to obey their parents, speak, the truth, read good literature, to behave themselves conformable to high morals, and to respect the elderly. We know that it is God’s work to regenerate and save eternally each and every one of His people; yet, it is our obligation as Christian parents to discourage our children from becoming involved in religious organizations whose object is to work zealously to influence young minds to embrace their doctrines and practices: which you know to be false and erroneous. It is your duty to encourage them to consider the Bible as the Book of books worthy of their reading. It is your duty to encourage their attendance at the place where you go to worship. You consider your particular church of your membership as being more right in its doctrine and practices than any of the organizations whose main purposes are to convince the young and to convert them to their ideas and doings.
The minds of children are very easily impressed and they are prone to follow anyone who takes a great interest in them. Take care that your children be not as those referred to by David in his prayer: “Rid me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood.” May we do our duty and pray God: “That our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as cornerstones, polished after the similitude of a palace: that our garners may be full, affording all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets: that our oxen may be strong to labour: that there be no breaking in, nor going out: that there be no complaining in our streets. HAPPY IS THAT PEOPLE THAT IS IN SUCH A CASE; yea, HAPPY IS THAT PEOPLE, WHOSE GOD IS THE LORD.” (Psalm 144:11-15) May we assemble ourselves together more often, and often say, “LET US GO INTO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD.” MAY GOD BLESS YOU. AMEN. - E.J.L.
Elder E.J. Lambert
Signs of the Times - Editorial
Vol. 133, No. 7 – July, 1965