Co-operating Faith

I’ve been wanting to share with you further about those two entries from F.B. Meyer’s Our Daily Walk that I wrote about last time. They both centred on the raising of Lazarus, and Martha’s faith. To refresh your memory here are extracts:

From the January 12th entry:

THIS CROWNING miracle of our Lord’s life is generally described as the Raising of Lazarus. I am not sure that it might not with equal truth be called the Awakening of Martha, for it is certain that the Lord lifted this soul, whom we have been wont to count prosaic and matter-of-fact, to a most remarkable elevation of faith and hope, as they stood together in the shadow of a great sorrow.

In common with the majority of religious people, Martha believed in a general resurrection at some still future date, but she had not realised that God lives in the present tense, that the Eternal is here and now, and that faith must learn to reckon on God’s I AM. We are always putting the manifestation of the Divine in the far past, or the far future. The heaven is high above the earth on which we stand; only at the horizon, behind us and before us, do heaven and earth touch. We all need to learn the lesson that here, in the prosaic commonplaces of life, Jesus Christ is the present and immediate answer to every need.

Christ always needed faith in some one, as the fulcrum on which to rest the lever of His mighty power, and He found it in Martha. What can He not do, even here and now, in the hearts of those who are slow to believe, and those who are dead in trespasses and sins? Believest thou this?

From the April 19th entry:

This chapter might be more truly known as “The Raising of Martha,” for our Lord enabled her, matter-of-fact and practical as she was, to realize that He was the Resurrection and the Life. He insisted that her faith was an essential condition in the raising of her brother to life. The emphasis is on the word “thou” (Jn11:40). Our Lord always needs the co-operating faith of some true heart to be with Him when He works a miracle, and He chose the least likely of the two sisters to supply the pivot on which He could rest the lever of His Divine help. As she withdrew her objection to the removal of the stone, her faith suddenly became capable of claiming the greatest of Christ’s miracles.

You see that the entries are strikingly similar; what is more striking is the way I discovered the similarity. It was as a matter of course that I read the first one on January 12. I “happened upon” the second one when, having closed the book after reading the first one, and, still thinking on what I had just read, I absent-mindedly ran my thumb across the page ends and opened the book again. Lo and behold: the April 19th entry. I began reading, and… this is more than a coincidence! Suddenly I realized my Lord was speaking to me. And I knew what He was speaking to me about.

This is what He was, and still is, speaking to me about.

F.B. Meyer says rightly that “our Lord always needs the co-operating faith of some true heart to be with Him when He works a miracle…” Of course He is able to do whatever He wants, but it is not His desire to grant or impart anything to anyone arbitrarily; he desires our consent, our cooperation, our fellowship, in all He says and does. And so Meyer says that the story of the awakening of Lazarus from sleep could well be called the awakening of Martha. For Christ awakened Martha from her sleepy faith in the last-day resurrection to the living faith that “the resurrection and the life” was standing right before her eyes. “Believest thou this?” He asked.  “Yea Lord,” she responded, “I believe that Thou art the Christ which should come into the world.” Perhaps she did not fully comprehend what He had just said to her, but she believed in Him.

The raising of Lazarus was truly a manifestation of great power; as Meyer has said, it was perhaps the greatest work of power that Jesus ever did while on earth. Let me tell you of another resurrection which is by far the greater miracle. In his epistle to the Ephesians Paul says that God displayed the exceeding greatness of His power when He raised up Jesus from the dead. How much power was that? I think it was all of it, if that can be said. But I’ve left out some words here. Let’s fill them in. In Ephesians Paul prays that the eyes of our heart may be enlightened by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, to the intent that we may know:

          1) the hope of His calling;

          2) the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints;

          3) the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe

          There. The words I left out. Paul declares that the same power by which God raised Christ from the dead is the power that works in us who believe. And so here we have our Lord seeking to awaken faith in you and me as He did with Martha of old. Do we believe this? The power of God toward us who believe is according to the working of the strength of His might which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies… and we will just stop midstream in the rushing current of this sentence to quote Bible scholar F.F. Bruce on the passage:

                    The third thing which the apostle desires his readers to know is the power of God. But when he thinks of the power of God, he presses all the terms for power in his vocabulary into service in order to convey something of its all-surpassing character… . He piles synonym on synonym as he describes how God’s ‘power’ (dynamis) operates according to the inworking (energeia) of the strength (kratos) of His might (ischys)… . (F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Ephesians)

That same power—yes, the same power that God wrought when He raised Christ from the dead—is working, is at work, in us who believe. This is why F.B. Meyer’s words laid hold of me. Here they are again:

               Christ always needed faith in some one, as the fulcrum on which to rest the lever of His mighty power, and He found it in Martha. What can He not do, even here and now, in the hearts of those who are slow to believe, and those who are dead in trespasses and sins? Believest thou this?

What is He able to do in the hearts of those dead in trespasses and sins? Let us not be slow to believe. He is able to quicken them together with Christ so that they are no longer dead in trespasses and sins, but alive unto God. This—the miracle of regeneration—is the very resurrection life of Jesus Christ Himself in those who believe in Him and have received His Spirit. Indeed, this is the greatest of all miracles, and comes to the one whose heart is prepared by faith.

And this is just the beginning of a life that has no end. To be born from above by the Spirit of God means the beginning of a new life on resurrection ground, a step-by-step walk in which God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or even think according to this power working in us (Eph. 3:20). We are empowered to walk with Christ “in newness of life,” His own resurrection life, completely free from sin (Rom. 6:4).

Believest thou this? (Believe is the verb; faith is the noun.) I want to emphasize that word because when the regenerating Spirit comes in Christ’s baptism—baptism in Holy Spirit—faith must continually reach out and apprehend the implications of this baptism. It is possible to be baptized in Holy Spirit and still lack knowledge as to what this baptism includes. It is possible even when the knowledge comes by revelation, to still lack faith to receive it. “Know ye not…” Paul asked the Romans. (Is it not likely that the Holy Spirit had you and me in mind when Paul was inspired to write that?)  “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?”

What kind of death is that? Death to sin. “In that He died, He died unto sin once…”

“…But in that He liveth He liveth unto God” (Rom. 6:10).

Wonderful for Him, you say. But the whole purpose of the Christ, to the glory of God, is that this might be wonderful in you and me as well. And He has the provision and power to make it so. Paul continues that we who are in Christ are to account ourselves dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God. “Likewise,” he says, “reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:11).

You say you are in Christ but this is not true of you, your experience is just the opposite, and you are still waiting for God to do this in you? But have you seen this, have you received the revelation? If so, are you sure your problem is not one of unbelief? For this is true of those in Christ.

“Now, if we died with Christ, we believe (there’s that word again) that we shall also live with him…” (Rom. 8:8).

We, like Martha

The point I am making is that we, like Martha before she was awakened to faith, are prone to put this life some distance into the future when a mighty move of the Spirit shall  take place, and then we shall begin to walk in this beautiful resurrection life. God has grace, the provision for those who hear and believe, to begin walking in it now. Jesus continues to say, “I am the resurrection and the life.” I realize that we may not hear this livingly merely by reading it in our Bible. Let us open our hearts then, willing to receive. When Christ by His Spirit speaks the living word to us, “the word of His grace,” let us be ready to embrace, to believe that word, in spite of present experience. When revelation comes our part is to believe on the basis of the word of God—not our experience.

Sometimes you may find yourself in a vein of revelation and it is wonderful. But I find often that revelation comes with the sudden flash of illumination, the “quickening ray” from the eye of the Lord that Wesley described:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

We know the wonder, the ecstasy, the rapture, of revelation, that it opens the mind to truth we did not know existed. And we rejoice in it. Yet revelation can be devastating. Have you had that experience? Revelation, when received, breaks up the long-set concrete of darkness in the mind, it looses the bonds and hindrances of the flesh—self pity, moroseness, defeatedness, doubt, congenital unbelief, “nature’s night,” as Wesley called it. “For ye were once darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord…”

When are we light in the Lord? Now, says the apostle.  

          Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light (Eph. 5:14)

Let us awaken, then, and be loosed from our bonds and our grave clothes!  

          Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city… Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bonds of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion (Isa. 52:1,2).

“Arise, and sit down…” For God has “raised us up together, and seated us together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus…” (Eph. 2:6). Believest thou this?

Let us cooperate with God, then. When the word of His grace comes to us, however it comes, as devastating as it may be, as impossible as it may be, let the response of our heart be, Amen. I receive this, I believe you. Your word works effectually in the one who believes. And the bonds of darkness, of death, fall off; we rise to walk with Christ in newness of life.  Amen.

I Am The Resurrection

I have a hard copy of a devotional by F.B. Meyer called Our Daily Walk, which I “happened upon” in a Mennonite second-hand store some time ago. I’m sorry to say it continued to lay neglected in a cardboard box in my study for a long while. But this year, casting about for a new devotional to go through, I was reminded of this book after a recommendation of F.B. Meyer’s writings on Ron Bailey’s blog (which you may enjoy at http://biblebase.com/a-the-baptist/). So I retrieved the book from its box and have been greatly appreciating it. It looks like I have discovered F.B. Meyer.

This morning I was quite struck with the January 12th entry. After I closed the book, still thinking, I ran my thumb over it, and opened it again. It was the April 19th entry.  Are you trying to say something to me, Lord?

Here are three excerpts:

“We are always putting the manifestation of the Divine in the far past, or the far future… Jesus Christ is the present and immediate answer to every need.”

“Christ always needed faith in some one, as the fulcrum on which to rest the lever of His mighty power…”

“In many cases those who have received life from Christ are still bound about with grave-clothes…”

Here are the two entries copied from Precept Austin: https://www.preceptaustin.org/our_daily_walk_by_f_b_meyer_-_jan

January 12

CHRIST’S TEACHING ABOUT RESURRECTION

“Jesus said unto her, I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth on Me, though he die, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth on Me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto Him, Yea, Lord!”– Jn 11:25-27.

THIS CROWNING miracle of our Lord’s life is generally described as the Raising of Lazarus. I am not sure that it might not with equal truth be called the Awakening of Martha, for it is certain that the Lord lifted this soul, whom we have been wont to count prosaic and matter-of-fact, to a most remarkable elevation of faith and hope, as they stood together in the shadow of a great sorrow.

In common with the majority of religious people, Martha believed in a general resurrection at some still future date, but she had not realised that God lives in the present tense, that the Eternal is here and now, and that faith must learn to reckon on God’s I AM. We are always putting the manifestation of the Divine in the far past, or the far future. The heaven is high above the earth on which we stand; only at the horizon, behind us and before us, do heaven and earth touch. We all need to learn the lesson that here, in the prosaic commonplaces of life, Jesus Christ is the present and immediate answer to every need.

Christ’s teaching about Resurrection differs widely from immortality. Plato believed in the immortality of the soul, but had no conception of resurrection. Resurrection is the reunion of the soul with the body, when it shall be raised in a form identical with, though different from, the body laid in the grave, as the sheaf of corn is identical with, though different from, the seed-corn cast into the soil amid the tears of autumn.

Martha could hardly understand all these marvellous disclosures, but she answered Yea to them, on the ground of what she knew Christ to be. He at least was the Messiah, and whatsoever He said, it must be so. So it is that we may still accept much, that we cannot understand, on the bare word of Jesus.

Christ always needed faith in some one, as the fulcrum on which to rest the lever of His mighty power, and He found it in Martha. What can He not do, even here and now, in the hearts of those who are slow to believe, and those who are dead in trespasses and sins? Believest thou this?

PRAYER

O God of Life and Love, Thou hast filled our hearts with joy unspeakable. We thank Thee that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, and that those who believe in Him shall never die. He lives, and they live, and we live! We thank Thee, we praise Thee, we bless Thee. AMEN.

April 19

LOVE’S CONFIDENCE!

“His sisters sent unto Him saying, Lord, behold he whom Thou lovest is sick.”– Jn11:3.

THE LAPSE of years made it possible for the Apostle to draw aside the veil which curtained the happy friendship and fellowship of Christ in the home at Bethany. It was the one green oasis in the rugged wilderness through which He passed to the Cross!

There were diversities in that home, Martha, practical, energetic, and thoughtful for all that could affect the comfort of those she loved and served; Mary, gifted with spiritual insight and tender sympathy; Lazarus, probably a man of few words, quiet and unobtrusive, but Jesus loved each one (Jn11:5).

The sisters never doubted that Christ would speed at all hazards to save Lazarus after the breathless messenger had brought the tidings of his sickness. Anything less than infinite Love would have rushed instantly to the relief of those troubled hearts; Divine Love alone could hold back the impetuosity of the Saviour’s tender heart until the Angel of Pain had finished her work. He wanted to teach His disciples never-to-be-forgotten lessons, and also He was eager for the spiritual growth of the faith of the sisters.

This chapter might be more truly known as “The Raising of Martha,” for our Lord enabled her, matter-of-fact and practical as she was, to realize that He was the Resurrection and the Life. He insisted that her faith was an essential condition in the raising of her brother to life. The emphasis is on the word “thou” (Jn11:40). Our Lord always needs the co-operating faith of some true heart to be with Him when He works a miracle, and He chose the least likely of the two sisters to supply the pivot on which He could rest the lever of His Divine help. As she withdrew her objection to the removal of the stone, her faith suddenly became capable of claiming the greatest of Christ’s miracles.

He calls to us also to help our brethren. In many cases those who have received life from Christ are still bound about with grave-clothes, old habits and evil associations cling to them and impede their progress, and He bids us “Loose him and let him go.” He asks for our co-operation in the emancipation of those who have been held fast in the power of the Evil One.

PRAYER

O God, we rejoice that we can turn to Thee in the midst of great anxiety, and commit all our troubles to Thy sure help. As Thou art with us in the sunlight, be Thou with us in the cloud. Sustain us by Thy near presence and let the comforts which are in Jesus Christ fill our hearts with peace. AMEN. m

Generational Spirits?

The title’s question mark gives away my conviction concerning this popular teaching.

It’s too long a message for a blog entry, so I’ve put it on my Other Writings page.

Here’s how it begins:

Let me lead into this subject by sharing my personal experience with a fellowship that used the term “familiar spirit” to refer to evil spirits that (according to this fellowship) entrench themselves in the families of mankind. For example, if Grandpa and Uncle Bill and cousin Jack are alcoholics, this is the work of a “familiar spirit,” and inevitably the new generation will grow up and be victimized by the same. Or, if Great Grandma and Grandma and Dad have heart disease or Alzheimer’s, this is no doubt the work of a “familiar spirit.”

The elders of this fellowship would sometimes visit the fellowship I was part of, bringing this teaching with them—to the point that just about every sin and problem and sickness in our midst was credited to the evil working of familiar spirits. Prayer times were invariably filled with their loud declarations binding the familiar spirit in So and so, and the familiar spirit over Such and such a family, or breaking the curse of a familiar spirit over this one who was sick… and so on….

Those interested can read the full message here:  Generational Spirits?

 

Perseverance

The link below leads to a message titled Perseverance by Bill Sweeney.

Bill has been bed-ridden with ALS for 22 years. He is completely paralyzed, unable to speak, and communicates by means of a computer mouse that he controls with eye movements. Yet there is great grace in his life. I know where that comes from.

His wife Mary is his chief caregiver– a testimony in itself of great grace.

I urge my readers to partake of this message; there is much en-courage-ment here. Bill’s trial of deep affliction is yielding great wealth to the body of Christ, especially for those who themselves are going through deep waters. (Read the comments too; there’s much inspiration there.)

After I read this I was once again humbled by the realization of the many saints who are already gathered in the church in Heaven, and of others like Bill who will one day gather with them. Oh, the  testimonies of the triumph of our Lord Jesus Christ in the lives of countless saints! It leaves me absolutely awed. When it comes my turn to gather with them, I will want to slip in quietly, and take a seat at the back.

Perseverance

A Conversation With An Ant

This morning I was out beside my little garden enjoying another beautiful summer day while reading my favourite Book when I noticed an ant briskly making his way along the wooden border of the raised bed. He was carrying a morsel I couldn’t identify—something twice as large as himself—but even so was making good time as he headed toward an ant hill I’ve seen growing near my house.

I paused from my reading and, Bible in hand, knelt down and greeted my busy neighbour with a cheery, “Good morning.”

That stopped him; he turned toward me, antennae working back and forth to determine, I suppose, whether I were friend or foe. “Good morning to you as well,” he said politely if rather warily.

(I ask my readers to keep to yourselves, please, that I was conversing with an ant; if this gets in the wrongs ears… unless you want to share it with some little child; they have no problem with these things.)

I tilted my head back for a closer look at the ant through the lower lens of my bifocals. “That’s quite the load you’re carrying,” I ventured.

It was obvious he wasn’t inclined to idle long, for he said hurriedly, “Yes, but do you feel that touch in the air this morning? The summer’s going fast. We’ve got to bring in much more yet.”

“Ah, yes,” I said. “I’ve read about you in the Bible.”

“The Bible?” he queried.

“It’s a book that tells us humans about God’s eternal purposes in man—more specifically in a Man named Jesus Christ. Actually it’s the second Bible God gave us. You—and the rest of the natural creation—are the first.”

“Really?” the ant said, laying his burden aside now. “I am a Bible?”

“Yes,” I said. “The whole creation is. In our Bible in Proverbs—those are sayings a very wise man wrote long ago—it talks of four things in the creation that are little but are exceedingly wise. It lists you first. It says—here, let me read it.” I leafed through the pages of my Bible till I found the passage in Proverbs Chapter 30.

“‘The ants are a people…’”

“I like your Bible,” he broke in cheerily. “A people. Yes. Everything we do, we do not for ourselves but for the good of all of us.”

I looked up awestruck. So little a creature with so large a thought. Let me ever be small enough to be the student of an ant.

After a moment I continued reading, “‘The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their food in summer.’”

His cheerful face turned suddenly solemn. “Indeed we do,” he said. “We know what’s coming.”

“Tell me,” I said, now leaning down on my elbows to get right close to him.

“You don’t know?” he asked, leaning toward me too. “There’s coming a time of great cold. And great, great desolation. We ants, we know we can’t survive that kind of thing; we’re not very strong. So we take advantage of the warm summer days to prepare for it. Look at all the food around us… now.”

I nodded. “I see that you are wise indeed. And now that I think of it, the wise man who wrote those proverbs mentioned something else about you in another place. Let me see if I can find it.” I leafed through the pages till I found the place. “Ah, here it is. Proverbs Chapter 6 verse 6. ‘Go to the ant, thou sluggard: consider her ways, and be wise: which have no guide, nor overseer, nor ruler, provideth her meat in summer, and gathereth her food in harvest.’ So you are not only wise, but industrious—and that without some boss or leader telling you what to do, which in itself is more than amazing.”

“To God be the glory,” he responded, “it seems my leader is built right into me.” And with that he gripped his load and was off again. “Good-bye,” I called with a little wave, and at that he called back, “Good-bye. Have a nice summer… what’s left of it.”

A little distance away he looked back over his shoulder. “And a nice winter too.”

I watched him hasten away till I could see him no longer. Was there a note of foreboding in his last words? Is the abundant spiritual summer we’ve enjoyed in our land for so long about run out? Am I in my weakness—and wisdom—and diligence—securing a Source of spiritual provision and strength for the desolate days ahead?

Or am I the proverbial grasshopper in the ancient fable who fiddled away the glorious summer days while the ant prepared for what was coming?

The Realm Of The True

Here is another excerpt from my book The True Worshippers, which is available on Other Writings (see menu bar above). This excerpt is from Chapter Two entitled The Realm Of The True.

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Neither in this mountain…

…Jesus, in saying to the woman at the well that the hour was at hand when people would no longer worship in “this mountain,” that is, Samaria—what he had in mind was the way the Samaritans attempted to worship God. The Samaritan religion was a mongrel mix of the idolatrous rites of foreign gods along with certain traditions rooted in the Law of Moses.

“Ye [Samaritans] worship ye know not what,” Jesus told her. “We know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.”

Now, any Jew listening in on this conversation would have given his resounding Amen to this Man (also a Jew) for that statement. Yes, salvation is of the Jews—more specifically of the house of David of the tribe of Judah. It’s what the Man had said just prior to this that caused all the trouble.

Nor yet at Jerusalem…

Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Blasphemy! Nor yet at Jerusalem? God Himself established the religion of the Jews, and Jerusalem was the exclusive city that He Himself ordained His temple to be built in! This was His habitation, and He Himself had called and inspired Moses the man of God to set forth in the Law all the ritual and sacrifice that was to be centred in this great city and temple! Blasphemy! Who is this heretic to say, “nor yet at Jerusalem”?

But this Heretic was speaking of the great transformation that this same God had sent Him to inaugurate, by which all the types and shadows of the Law would be fulfilled in Himself and His new covenant community the Church in the Kingdom of God. It was a transformation from type and shadow to the true.

For, in Scripture, the word true is contrasted not only with false, but also with type and shadow. Many of our fathers in church history saw this and embraced it, but in our day (to our great humiliation), Christian teachers in great numbers have carelessly relinquished this understanding. “Woman, believe Me,” Jesus had said: what He was about to reveal to her was going to take some faith.

Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

Do we ourselves hear the same promise? The same call to faith? Do we believe Him?

It seems we do not. These days many Christian teachers and their followers are glorying in rituals and types and shadows that were once observed in old Jerusalem, but which Scripture clearly teaches are done away in Christ and His new covenant. They insist that God will one day soon suddenly rapture the Church out of the picture and return to His original plans with natural Israel. Apparently, we are told, He will have the temple in Jerusalem rebuilt so Messiah can come to His temple and be worshipped with all the types and shadows of the Law again, in the process necessitating that Isaiah Chapter 66, verses one and two, be struck from the scriptural record, and repudiating Jesus’ own words here in John 4:21. Earlier generations of the church had greater light than that. Even in my old King James Bible there’s a superscription above Psalm 72 that reads, “David, praying for Solomon, sheweth the goodness and glory of his kingdom in type, and of Christ’s in truth.”

That sets forth very well the nature of truth. Jesus, in talking of the true worshippers, is not saying that those who worshipped under the Mosaic system were false worshippers. They certainly were not; the Samaritans were the ones involved in the false worship. The Jews’ religion was the divinely-ordained one. But—oh for eyes to see—it was just in type and shadow. Jesus, in using the word true here, is contrasting the true with type and shadow.

Neither in this mountain…

The true worshippers, He was telling the woman, shall not worship in Samaria. That is false religion; that is comparing true and false. But the Jews were not false worshippers; they worshipped the one true God—even though they themselves were not true worshippers. Not yet, that is. The worship their God had ordained in Jerusalem was only the type and shadow of the true. And this is why Jesus adds these words, which were difficult back then and are still difficult to this day:

Nor yet at Jerusalem…

That is comparing true and type. And the time had come when the true worshippers need not go to the earthly Jerusalem centre anymore; to worship the Father they need not get involved in what were but representations of reality. How would they worship Him, then?

In spirit and in truth…

Truth? Perhaps reality is a better word, and for a start we want to look at a few of the many facets of this that are revealed to us in our New Testament.

The True Worshippers

The following is an excerpt from Chapter One of my writing The True Worshippers, which is now available on Other Writings (see menu bar above). I hope to publish this book eventually, and made some beginnings via Createspace (hence the ISBN numbers on Page 4) but at the encouragement of friends recently (in the mouth of two or three witnesses…) decided to put it here for a start. It’s a 224-page pdf document with bookmarks.

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And so, God—we take note that Jesus calls Him the Father—He is a seeker. There is great emphasis in Scripture on seeking God; this is very important. We are to be seekers. But, God Himself a seeker? Surely this must lay hold of us. Our own seeking is not going to get us very far if it is not in line with what He Himself is seeking.

What is He seeking, then? Jesus says the Father is seeking true worshippers. You mean He wants to teach us how to really get into it on Sunday morning when the “worship team” leads us in worship? Or maybe He wants to counsel us where to worship? Christians sometimes ask one another, “Where do you worship?” They want to know what church you attend. Does that define worship, then, and set its boundaries—where people go to church and what they do in church on a Sunday morning?

Or, serving God. A little further on in this writing we will see how closely worshipping and serving God are linked. This becomes a powerful pursuit for many who turn to Christ. They don’t want to waste their precious moment of mortal life serving themselves anymore; now they want to serve God. I knew such a young man myself long ago. He had wasted his youth seeking after all the things the Gentiles seek. Now he wanted to serve God, and there was no time to lose. He was thinking in terms of what has been called the “five-fold” ministry of the church—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. This, of course, might be God’s will for certain ones, those He calls to this.

But it is not His ultimate calling—even for them. In a message I listened to recently the speaker said something like this: “If God is grooming you for a very high calling, then know that He will first take you into the depths.” That is true, yet it saddened me that the man was speaking in terms of the apostolic calling. I wondered how many in his audience might have felt left out, that they had not been “marked out for a very high calling.” Yet Paul, himself a called apostle, wrote that he was giving his all in order to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). This ought to cause those who have been called to the ministry to search their hearts, and it ought to encourage also those who are not called to this. For, God’s ultimate call for one and all is, simply, to become true worshippers. The Son of God says that this is what the Father is seeking. True worshippers.

You mean this is all He wants? All He is seeking? Yes. All. If that seems kind of a letdown to us, it’s only because we have not yet discovered how utterly breathtaking this is—being one of the Father’s true worshippers. It is something they are more than something they do. Oh, for vision, then: open our eyes, Father. For, once we discover what becoming a true worshipper is all about, we will lose interest in our own ideas of something fulfilling for our lives.

But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.

This is what, or should I say, who, the Father is seeking. True worshippers. We must ask the searching question, then, and it will take some courage. In all the activity that falls under what we know as church—all the ministry, all the preaching and teaching, all the outreaches, all the Bible studies, all the programs… all the activity we have come to consider church… is Father finding what He is seeking? If He is seeking true worshippers, is He finding them? Let’s bring that closer to home. Am I one of them? Am I at least becoming one of them? Hopefully this question causes me to pause, and then stop, and check my bearings… lest somewhere down the road I discover to my great sorrow that what I was seeking and what God was seeking were two different things, and I have arrived at a destination far from where God, if He had been given His way, would have led me.

The encouraging thing is that in asking this searching question—and asking God Himself to search our hearts about it so we may know for sure if He is or is not finding what He is seeking in our lives—we are right there becoming engaged in the Father’s own seeking. He is seeking true worshippers, and as we respond with an open and honest heart, a heart that is willing to give Him the desire of His heart, we are right there beginning to enter into the true worship He has in mind. We are totally helpless to come to this on our own. We would have no idea what steps to walk in to get to this destination, much less know what the destination actually looks like. But since God Himself is seeking this in our lives, we have much assurance. If we are truly desirous of becoming one of these true worshippers of His, He will see to it that we are not disappointed. He will not disappoint the desire of His own heart.

Jesus defines the true worshippers as those who worship the Father in spirit and in truth. What is this all about, then? We want to look at this, and hopefully discover in some measure, with His help, what He means by this. For, it is a beautiful discovery in our walk with God—the day we begin to see that, whatever our lot in this earthly life, the greatest of all fulfillments is ours in simply becoming one who worships the Father in spirit and in truth. This is all God is really after in our lives. There is nothing greater, nothing higher, nothing more fulfilling that we could possibly hope for, or attain to, than becoming a true worshipper. Coming to this, we have arrived at the destination of the walk of the disciple of Christ—only to discover that this destination is actually an eternal Way—and the deepest desire of God’s own heart. In fact there is a realm of worship that, as far as finding fulfillment is concerned, is exceedingly abundantly above anything we could ever ask for… or even think.

We think of worship as something we do on Sundays for an hour or so—the worship service. Our concept of worship must be enlarged. We think of ministry, of serving God, as something the man behind the pulpit is involved in. Our concept of ministry must be enlarged. There is a ministry beyond ministry: I mean beyond ministry as we are accustomed to think of it. In fact, when the ministries God has set in the church become an end in themselves and not a means by which the people of God are equipped to give Him the desire of His heart, those ministries have failed God’s purpose for them.

And so, let us examine this. What does it mean to be one who worships the Father in spirit and in truth? What is a true worshipper?

But let us ask first:

Just what is worship?