True Worship: A Line of Worshippers

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 8
All knowledge of God must flow from revelation, for man by wisdom knows not God (1 Cor. 1:2121For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21)). True worship has the same source. Each of these—knowledge of God and worship—is always to be according to such revelation as He has at the time, or in the dispensation, given of Himself.
Understanding this, I might instance shortly a line of true worshipers from the beginning.
Abel was a true worshiper, for he worshiped in faith, or according to revelation (Heb. 11). The firstling of the flock was according to the promise of the bruised Seed of the woman, and according to the coats of skin, with which the Lord God had covered his parents.
Noah followed Abel, and worshiped in the faith of the woman's bruised Seed. He took the new inheritance only in virtue of blood (Gen. 8:2020And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. (Genesis 8:20)). He was therefore a true worshiper also.
Jacob was a true worshiper. The Lord appears to him in his sorrow and degradation, in the misery to which his own sin had reduced him, revealing Himself as the One in whom "mercy rejoiceth against judgment"; and he at once owns God as thus revealed to him; and this revealed God of Bethel was his God to the end (Gen. 28 and 35). Here was enlarged revelation of God, and worship following such revelation; and that is true worship.
The nation of Israel was a true worshiper; for God had revealed Himself to that nation, and established His memorial in the midst of them. They knew what they worshiped (John 4:2222Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. (John 4:22)). But in
the midst of this worshiping nation there might still be true worshipers who did not conform to the divinely established order, provided their departure from it was also according to new revelation from God. As for example, Gideon, Manoah, David, who were all true worshipers, though they offered sacrifices on rocks or in threshingfloors, and not in the appointed national place just because, by a new and special revelation, the Lord had consecrated those new altars. (See Judg. 6 and 13; 1 Chron. 22.)
The healed leper, in Luke 17, exactly on this principle, was a true worshiper, though like Gideon, Manoah, and David, he departed from the usual order, just because he apprehended God in a new revelation of Himself. The healing which he had felt in his body had a voice in the ear of faith, it being only God who could heal a leper (2 Kings 5:77And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me. (2 Kings 5:7)).
The Church of God is now, in this dispensation, a true worshiper on exactly the same ground, worshiping according to enlarged revelation, having fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And this is still, like the other cases, worship "in truth" because according to revelation. But it is "in spirit" also, because the Holy Ghost has now been given as the power to worship, enabling the saints to call God "Father," and Jesus Christ "Lord" (1 Cor. 8:66But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. (1 Corinthians 8:6)). There is now communicated power, as well as revelation, for the purpose of worship.
This subject of worship is indeed a blessed one for further meditation for us all. The faith of the Samaritan leper, who turned from the priest at Jerusalem to lay his offering at the feet of Jesus, thus using Him as God's anointed altar, has suggested it. He heard the voice of healing—he owned the God of Israel in the mercy that had met him. This was revelation to him, and he believed it, and was led by it into the sanctuary. And this that had happened to him is the only ground of worship from creatures such as we have been, live we in what age or under what economy we may. He had been healed, and he knew that he had been healed. On what ground can we stand to worship but this? We may cry out in the bitterness of a surprised conscience; but that is not worship. It may be the way of the drawing of the Father, and end in the sanctuary; but it is not worship. The blood of Christ purging the conscience from
dead works alone leads to the service or worship of the living God (Heb. 9:1414How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Hebrews 9:14)). As in the very heavens, and so forever, the saints, in their glories, worship while standing on this ground, as the floor of their temple (Rev. 5:99And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; (Revelation 5:9)). "Our calling," as one has beautifully said, "is to consecrate our life as a sacrifice of thanksgiving for the mercy of God's redemption; our whole life is to be a continued priesthood, a spiritual serving of God, proceeding from the affections of a faith working by love; and a continued witness of our Redeemer." It is mercy, as the Spirit Himself teaches, that opens the temple doors and leads us in to exercise our priesthood before God (Rom. 12:11I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)). And that mercy is ours, we know, only by the hands of our wounded, stricken Redeemer.
J. G. B.