Volume 1, Number 6 – August, 2021
Does God Accept Your Worship?
Carrol R. Sutton
Some people say: “It does not matter how we worship. I can worship God any way I want to and God will accept my worship.” Friends and brethren, is this what the New Testament of Jesus Christ teaches? Is it? Let us examine the scriptures for ourselves and see what is the truth of the matter.
In speaking to the Athenians, the apostle Paul said: “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:22-23). It is obvious from the reading of this passage that God does not accept this kind of worship! Ignorant worship is vain worship!
In Matthew 15:7-9 Jesus said to some religionists of the first century: “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” It can be clearly seen from this passage that worship is vain when people teach for doctrines the commandments of men, although they may draw nigh unto God with their mouths and may honour God with their lips. Their heart is far from God when they teach and are directed by the doctrines of men. God does not accept this kind of worship!
In Colossians 2:18-23 the apostle Paul mentions some things and then says, “Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.” Will-worship is worship directed by and is after one’s own will. It is self chosen and for this reason it is a departure from God’s wisdom and way. However pious and plausible it may seem and regardless of how beautiful it may appear, it is folly and thus it is in vain. God does not accept this kind of worship!
In John 4:23-24 our blessed Lord said: “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. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” It is quite obvious from this passage that it does matter how one worships God. God said that worship “must” be “in spirit and in truth!” We dare not say otherwise. Please examine your worship in the light of these and other Scriptures and see if God accepts it.
TRUE WORSHIP COMES THROUGH STUDY (2 Timothy 2:15).
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of
gold in settings of silver”
Good speech might be defined as the expression of thought in well chosen words. People are judged by the words they speak and what they do. These are the two things we have by which to know the mind or heart of others.
Jesus said, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). The importance of good speech was also emphasized by the apostle Paul: “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). Solomon also let us know the importance of choosing our words carefully: “Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 29:20).
We will give an account for the words we speak in the day of judgment and that is why it is so important that we think before we speak. “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).
Subjective Interpretations of Feelings and Experiences
Did you hear the story of a farmer who decided to quit farming and become a preacher? When asked why he made such a decision, the farmer said: “God called me to preach.” When asked how God called him to preach, he said he saw clouds in the sky one day that looked like the letters G, P and C. He interpreted the clouds to mean “Go Preach Christ.” When asked how he knew those letters didn’t stand for “Go Plow Corn,” the farmer was speechless. This illustrates the problem of basing religious beliefs on subjective interpretations of feelings and experiences. You still have to assume what the feelings mean.
A young Mormon elder once told me to pray and ask if the Book of Mormon was from God. When asked how I should expect God to answer, he said: “I asked God if the Book of Mormon was true and I got a warm feeling.” He had no answer when I asked him how he knew a warm feeling meant “Yes it is,” instead of “No it isn’t?”
Concerning religion and the salvation of our souls, we need something more definite than subjective interpre- tations of vague feelings of clouds in the sky. Thank God, we have that in the Scriptures. When we read the Scriptures we can understand and know precisely what God is telling us to do. So, my friend, don’t look to vague feelings or mysteriously interpreted experiences to know God’s will. Look to the Scriptures! Think on these things.
Wholly Following God
“Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt; but I wholly followed the LORD my God” – Joshua 14:8.
In order to receive salvation, we must keep all the commands that God has given us. This was true in the Old Testament – “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go” (Joshua 1:7) – and it is true in the New Testament as well – “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). While the word “all” is not used in 1 John 5:3, if we read Revelation 22:18-19, we realize that God’s commands are perfect (this can also be seen in Psalm 19:7) and not to be altered: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” In other words, we must wholly follow God.
Paul concluded his first letter to the Thessalonian church by admonishing them with the following words: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23). If we are sanctified, it means we have been set apart or declared holy; consecrated; purified; and made free from sin. In order to receive the sanctification Paul speaks of here, we must serve God and keep His commands with our “whole spirit, soul, and body.”
If we wholly follow God with our entire spirit, soul, and body, prosperity is ours. Consider the example of Hezekiah: “Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the Lord his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart. So he prospered” (2 Chronicles 31:20-21). This sentiment is echoed in Psalm 1:1-3, where the Psalmist states, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.”
Conversely, the record shows in 2 Chronicles 24:20, “Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people and said to them, ‘Thus God has said, ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has also forsaken you.’”
If we do not wholly follow God, prosperity surely will not be ours. No, in fact, quite the opposite will be our reward: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality” (Colossians 3:23-25); “These will go away into eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46).