“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) PRINCIPLES OF PRAISE: Examples of Reverence (Matthew Bassford)
2) Sword Tips #1 (Joe R. Price)
PRINCIPLES OF PRAISE:
Examples of Reverence
Synopsis: Reverence is reflected in our obedience (Heb. 11:7), worship (Heb. 12:28), and in sharing the gospel with others (1 Pet. 3:15). Matthew surveys Sacred Scripture for examples of those who exemplified reverence and those who did not.
In creating their pantheons, the ancient pagans imagined gods who were much like themselves. The Greek and Roman gods frequently engaged in family spats, committed adultery, and were given to jealousy and pettiness. The God of the Bible is very different. We are created in His image, not vice versa, and we no more capture the fullness of His nature than a statue captures the fullness of the nature of a man. God has done many extraordinary things, but one of the most mind-boggling of all is that, through Him, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. I accept that in Jesus, the fullness of deity was contained in bodily form, but I cannot comprehend it!
God is very different from us, unimaginably greater, so it is right for the creature to worship and revere the Creator. Presumably, every reader of this article regularly worships God, but our very familiarity with worship can blind us to the depth of the reverence that we ought to be exhibiting. Apart from the blood of Jesus, none of us has any business anywhere near the throne of the Holy One.
If we have any doubt about this, we should consider the behavior of those who were permitted to see a vision of God. No man can see God and live, so even the men who experienced the great theophanies of Scripture did not encounter His reality. In Ezekiel 1:28, the prophet reports that he saw “the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.” Ezekiel and the rest beheld only the shadow of a shadow of a shadow of the majesty and dread of God.
Nonetheless, to a man, the shadow of a shadow of a shadow of the divine overwhelmed them. In the same verse, Ezekiel recalls that he fell on his face and stood up only when God told him to get up. The same thing happens to John when he encounters Jesus in Revelation 1:17. During the dedication of Solomon’s temple in 2 Chronicles 7:1-3, the people bow low and worship when they see the glory of the Lord fill His house.
In Isaiah 6:5, Isaiah describes what it feels like to meet God. He cries out, “Woe to me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.”
Isaiah was a righteous man. From the beginning to the end of his career, he served God faithfully. However, every imperfection in his life was harshly exposed in the light of God’s perfect purity and holiness. The man who proclaimed the word of the Lord exclaimed over the uncleanness of his lips! Once more, only a display of mercy from God allows him to continue.
None of us should believe that we are any more righteous than our fathers. If God were to reveal the merest fragment of Himself to us, we, too, would be reduced to abject terror. The experience of modern warfare is shattering, and veterans commonly have post-traumatic stress disorder. How much more shattering must it be to be exposed to more power than any human ever will unleash!
Of course, it is appointed to man once to die, and after that comes the judgment. All of us will experience God not just in metaphor but in His true fullness, and before Him, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess. We do well to prepare for the day when we will see God by showing Him proper reverence now, even though we cannot see Him.
Indeed, this behavior is evident in the most devoted worshipers among God’s people, even when He has not revealed Himself. Look, for instance, at the worship of the people of Judah after Ezra’s sermon at the Water Gate, in Nehemiah 9:1-3. Here there is no theophany, but all the other parts of the theophany pattern are present. The people acknowledge their unworthiness. They confess their sins. They worship. In fact, in Nehemiah 8:9-12, we even see the Levites having to prompt them to rejoice, much like the angel had to prompt Isaiah (cf. ch. 6).
Consider, too, the behavior of Daniel before the great prayer of Daniel 9. In the second verse of the chapter, he prepares himself with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes. Even a man like this, one of the few major Bible characters about whom nothing negative is said, comes before the Lord with deep reverence and a profound sense of his unworthiness. Great character does not produce great confidence in the flesh. Instead, it produces the opposite.
If we want to find those who approach worship with self-confidence, a casual attitude, and a lack of concern about coming before the Creator, we cannot look to the righteous. Instead, we find such people in places like Leviticus 10:1-3. Nadab and Abihu could not be bothered to treat God as holy by worshiping Him according to the commandment. God’s judgment on their insolence was as final as it was unmistakable.
In Malachi 1:6-14, the worshipers under discussion regard God’s worship as tiresome, a matter for disdain. Rather than bringing their best, they offer the blind and the sick and the lame, as though they were the masters and God was the suppliant, as though He ought to be content with whatever they felt like sacrificing. In answer, God describes their sacrifices as useless, unacceptable, and profane. He places them under a curse and expresses the wish that someone would shut the temple doors rather than allowing the continued defilement of His altar.
Worship is serious business. It is true that, like Ezekiel, we have been invited to stand before God. Like Isaiah’s lips, our lips have been purified. However, we must not confuse boldness through Christ with contempt for the Lord of heaven and earth.
We do not “have to” worship God every week because it is one of the five checklist acts of worship. We are allowed to worship, permitted to worship, and privileged to worship. When we appear in His presence, it is only because the most precious sacrifice ever offered put us there. We must be conscious that we are treading on holy ground.
When we are there, no prostrating of ourselves or exalting of Him ever can be excessive. This, of course, does not refer to outward form. When we worship God in spirit and truth, physical posture is neither here nor there. One is reminded of the hypocritical worshiper of Isaiah 58:4-5, who bowed his head as easily as a reed bending before the wind but with as little lasting impact.
Instead, we are called to true reverence, to the prostration of the heart. We must be awed that such a One as He would deign even to hear our praises. To draw near to Him without this spirit is very dangerous. The profane worshiper of today may not be judged as immediately as Nadab and Abihu were, but in the end, his fate will be no different. In all our days, may each of us heed the wise words of the Hebrews writer, who said, “Let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29).
— Via Truth Magazine, February 2021, No. 2, Volume 65
“And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).
Sword Tips #1
Joe R. Price
And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him (Luke 15:20).
The parable of the prodigal (wasteful) son magnifies God’s mercy toward sinners by contrasting it with the unloving and unforgiving treatment of sinners by the Pharisees and scribes (Lk. 15:1-2). God is moved by compassion to forgive us when we repent and return to him; He is rich in mercy (Eph. 2:4)! When we repent from the wastefulness of sin we can return to God and he forgives us. Therefore, let us remember to forgive others as God has forgiven us (Eph. 4:32). If we refuse to do so, we will not be forgiven by God (Matt. 6:14-15).
Has someone sinned against you? If so, be rich in mercy and compassion. Forgive them as God has forgiven you.
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel — for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins. For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30). For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21). This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27). For from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…
6) Continue in the faith by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday: 9 a.m. Bible Classes and 10 a.m. Worship Service. We also have a Congregational Song Service at 5 p.m. for every first Sunday of the month.
Wednesday: 7 p.m. for Bible Classes
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
https://thomastedwards.com/go/all.htm (This is a link to the older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990.)