The Privilege of the Believer
R. T. Prechous, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
The christian is the most privileged person in the world, for he has been granted something which has been, and still is, denied followers of other beliefs, that is, the joy to be found in the worship of God, fellowship with God and His people, and a share in the service of God in bringing to fruition His purposes in this age of grace. We will consider each of these points separately.
1. The Worship of God
As we read the wonderful words, spoken by our Lord Himself as recorded in John 4. 24, we discover one of the few Biblical definitions of God. Actually, God cannot be fully defined, because He is infinite. It was not until God became incarnate in the person of the Son, that any final idea of God could be communicated to the sons of men. The problem was, how could Jesus find words to reveal God, and show what He was really like? He could only say the things He knew to be fact because of His eternal association with the Father in an eternity past. This He did in a majestic declaration which offered no explanation, but only demanded acceptance.
I. GOD IS REVEALED AS THE OBJECT OF WORSHIP
God is a Spirit. He is not created substance, but the great creative Spirit. A cause and not the effect of things which are. All eternal attributes arc wrapped up in this statement, as 1 Tim.1. 17 states, 'now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen'.
2. WE ARE UNDER AN OBLIGATION TO WORSHIP GOD
They that worship Him - this is an instinctive attitude of man. He must worship something, or someone. Never in the whole world has there been a man, family, tribe or nation that has not worshipped someone, something, somehow. It has been proved by missionaries and travellers, that men everywhere, are characterized by whom or what they worship. This should also be true of the Christian. He worships One whom he has come to know as Deliverer, Saviour, Friend, and his life becomes more perfectly like Him the more he gives himself over to the obligation laid upon him to worship, by lip and life, the only true God, who is 'Spirit' and must be approached by truth, that is, by the One who said of Himself, 'I AM . . . truth'.
3. the conditions of true worship
These are fully laid down here: in spirit and in the truth. Man was created spirit, soul and body, and each part of him has a direct counterpart with the God who created him. Yet in this question of worship, neither the physical - the body, nor the intellectual - the soul, can contact God. Only the spirit by being revitalized by God's Holy Spirit, may enter into communion with God, and so worship Him.
So here is our first thought. To be able to worship God, the individual must know God, as He is revealed in His Son, and contact God as enabled by the Holy Spirit.
The next part of the privilege of the believer is to enjoy what is known as fellowship, a sharing of blessing received. Therefore, in order to have a correct valuation of tins theme, we must first consider fellowship with god, and then fellowship with other Christians.
I. FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD
This activity is within the reach of all Christians, but is only enjoyed by those who are willing to meet God's conditions. Note first,
1. The Possibility of Fellowship with God, 1 John 1. 1-4. God had to make special provision for mankind to have fellow-ship with Himself, and this is found only in Christ. John describes Christ as the Word of Life, that which our hands have handled, the expression of the mind of God, and the pre-existent One who came to declare Him. It is possible for any man to have fellowship with God, through first accepting by faith, God's Son, and His redemptive work at Calvary. To know Christ is to know God. 2. Fellowship with God can be Interrupted, v. 5-7. Our relationship with God in Christ can never be broken; that is as eternal as God Himself. But our fellowship can be marred, and that so easily, by any deviation on our part, from obedience to the will of God. The believer is one who, forsaking his sin, has returned to God. His will is binding upon him. Therefore, if mat believer for any reason and in any way, continues in sin, fellowship is instantly impaired, although relationship still remains. The believer must live in this world, nature demands it, but God also demands that the believer is not to be of the world, not to practise the things he once renounced. If however, such a thing happens as to bring the Christian under the spell of Satan and his works, mighty provision has been made. The blood that cleansed from sin and made the sinner a saint, is the same blood that is ever effectual in cleansing the believer from sins, so that the defilement is remedied, and once again fellowship is restored, and this is our third thought here. 3. Fellowship Broken can be Restored, v. 8-10. To understand this passage, we must realize it is addressed to Christians. This is not a description of salvation, but a means of restoration. We have no permission to commit sin, but should we do so, God makes it possible for us to confess our sin. This is not easy. Humility is required and the human spirit often rebels at having to acknowledge its weaknesses, but it is God's only way to restoration of fellowship, just as faith in Christ is God's only way of salvation.
2. FELLOWSHIP WITH OTHER BELIEVERS
One of the sweetest experiences on earth is that of being able to have fellowship with likeminded men and women who, like ourselves, own Christ as Lord. This does not only include our intimate Christian friends, whom we know and meet with regularly. It includes all who are trusting in Christ. How often we have found this to be so, when in various places and at different times, we have met those we did not know, yet were able to share with them the blessings of Christ, in worship and fellowship, just because they were His.
The last thought about our privilege as believers, is that of service. The idea of doing something for God which will give expression to our devotion to Him. The apostle Paul has a very superb word in Col. 3. 23, concerning this activity, and here he insists that when believers are living in the will of God, there will of necessity be,
1. continuous activity for god, 'whatsoever ye do'.
The true Christian should never be lazy. He should be willing to spend himself in service for his Lord. Paul did. Remember his words, 'I kept nothing back; I ceased not'. Paul's life was full of activity for God, and we should seek to follow in his steps.
2. ENTHUSIASM SHOULD MARK OUR ACTIVITY, 'heartily'.
If only we had the enthusiasm for God's work that the worldling and political leaders show, how much more effective our witness would be. 3. OUR HEARTS SHOULD BE CAPTIVATED BY CHRIST
'as to the Lord'.
When the love of Christ motivates our service, how sweet
it is to Him. The servant of Christ will be the happier, if he
remembers WHY he does things for Christ. It is the constraining
love of Christ that demands willing service.
4. WE MUST BEWARE OF ANY UNWORTHINESS OF MOTIVE
'Not unto men'.
If only we would take our eyes off men and concentrate on Christ, His will would then be ours.
May God direct us in our worship, keep us in fellowship, and inspire us in service, that all may be to His eternal glory.