THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TRUE WORSHIP AND VAIN WORSHIP
There is a joke about two seminary students who were walking through a graveyard when they noticed an unusual epitaph on a tombstone. It said, "Here lies a pastor and a theologian." One of the students remarked, "I wonder why two people are buried in one grave?" The sad humor in the story is that too many pastors are much more adept at public relations than doctrinal exposition. Granted social skills are very important for a minister of the gospel, however a pastor who doesn't spend much time discussing or teaching doctrine is like a biology teacher who is not willing to discuss science.
Many people have had a bad experience with biblical teaching that has come to them through men who have been teaching elements of truth but have not been circumspect in their obedience. Some people are disillusioned because they have been taught traditions of men that have been disguised as biblical truth. However some people actually prefer traditions of men over the truth because it's much easier to take the broad road and believe a lie.
Many people express an appreciation for the ten commandments and even post them in public places, but most prefer a watered down version. Most of the Decalogue displays in courthouses throughout the US contain a rendition that excludes the 2nd commandment about graven images. (Dallas Morning News-3/3/2005) The tenth commandment on coveting is divided into two commands otherwise there would only be nine listed. This version was agreed upon by a combination of Catholic, Jewish and Protestant scholars.
But in spite of these roadblocks there is a faithful remnant who will both do and teach the law and the prophets and they are the ones who speak the whole counsel of YHVH. Some people are obedient servants in many respects but neglect to instruct their children and those around them in the paths of righteousness. We are to lift our voice like a trumpet, as if your life and your neighbor's life depended on it. The apostle Paul said Take heed to thyself, and unto the doctrines: continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee. 1 Timothy 4:16 Picture a scenario where your neighbor's house is on fire and your house is only short distance away. How would you behave? There would be no place for timidity.
But what is the truth anyway? I am pleased to say that there are definitive answers to that question. Our Savior Yahshua the Messiah said "I am the truth..." (John 14:6) What does that mean, how can that be? Actually he was the personification of truth; the truth in living form. This statement does not contradict King David's statement that "thy law is the truth...".(Psalm 119:142)
Most people have deep appreciation for King David and his book of songs that we call Psalms. Many times Yahshua is called the son of David but in Revelation He is referred to as both the root and offspring of David. (Chapter 22:16) So Yahshua's new and living way was not a departure from the faith and practice of King David. The Psalmist said "Rivers of water run down mine eyes because they keep not thy law." This sentiment was identical to our Messiah the man of sorrows. See John 7:19 The book of Psalms is used very frequently in church services, at funerals and many other occasions, but people seldom take to heart the things that are revealed there. For instance Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in our bible, and in it David speaks of his love for the laws, statutes and judgments of the Almighty. Can we say with David that every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever? (v. 160) Should we actually feel this way after Yahshua's atoning death? Does the law given to Moses and the children of Israel have any bearing on us today? Are we subject to that law? Can we sing with David about the law of YHVH being perfect, converting the soul, making wise the simple, rejoicing the heart, and enlightening the eyes? Are these laws statutes and judgments more desirable than gold, and sweeter than honey? Should we be saying this now that the new covenant has been instigated? Actually the reason David could say these things is because he had a foretaste of this new covenant. He sang these words; "I delight to do thy will, O my Elohim: yea Thy law is within my heart." His joy was full because his duty had become his delight. Sometimes we meditate on David's writings, but fail to realize what he was meditating on.
Speaking of delight one of the things that surely brought joy to David's life was assembling with believers and going to the house of YHVH. He and Isaiah were in full agreement on the issue of the joy to be found in obedience to the Sabbath command. (Is. 58:14) But today many people are not in full agreement with David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Moses, etc on this subject, but they claim to be in agreement with Yahshua.
Some people seem to believe that Sabbath observance is a tradition of men and the Sunday worship is a biblical directive. However every biblical reference I find tells me the opposite. Often people will say "We should worship every day" and I agree with that but we still must remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy if we want to be His people. I don't want to harp on the Sabbath day but it is one of the strings of the harp that is terribly neglected which results in a very inferior sound of music.
Sin comes in clusters, and the rejection of the Sabbath command usually is accompanied with many other departures from the faith. The apostle Paul predicted a great falling away, and the Sabbath was one of the first stones to be pulled from the building. Today is a day of enlightenment; a day of restoration. For many people the Sabbath has been a gateway of introduction to an appreciation of the ancient pathways. When the Sabbath is restored there are many other building blocks that also become apparent.
To say doctrine doesn't matter would be a slap in the face of people who have laid down their lives for the truth. Take for instance the Ana Baptists who died for their denial of the validity of infant baptism. Or consider the Huguenots and the Waldenses who suffered for their obedience. My personal experience may not compare to that, but 28 years ago I left my home, my family, my friends and my occupation to move 600 miles away to find some people of like faith. I was that desperate to make sure my worship was not in vain. Without fellowship I felt like a pelican in the wilderness: I was like an owl in the desert.
Over the years I have heard a lot of foolish questions, genealogies, contentions and strivings about the law; however I cannot let that stop me from giving the whole counsel of YHVH. Many people speak of returning to the faith of our founding fathers. They may be speaking of John Quincy Adams, George Washington, William Bradford, Cotton Mather, or Roger Williams, etc. Some suggest we should go back to the faith of Constantine, while others cry out for the Apostolic faith longing to go all the way back to the Apostles, but what was their faith like? It was the way which was called heresy by most people, in which they believed all things written in the law and the prophets. (Acts 24:14) Isaiah was one of those prophets and his teaching was for all time. He told the righteous to look unto Abraham your father and unto Sarah your mother. Yahshua reprimanded some people in His day for not doing the works of Abraham. In this age of apostasy it would be strange indeed if the repairers of the breech were accepted by anything more than a remnant of faithful believers, but there will be those who continue in His word and they will know the truth and that truth will make them free.
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