Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. Jeremiah 6:16
The secret of the LORD is with them that fear Him; and He will show them His covenant. Psalm 25:14
Vol. 10, No. 8 Straight and Narrow August 2001
The Conceptual Basis
By Allen Stump
(The following article is based on a study given Sabbath morning at the 2001 West Virginia camp meeting.)
When I was a young lad and didnt know better about some things, I read Daniel Defoes novel Robinson Crusoe several times. I was amazed by the ingenuity of the shipwrecked English sailor who survived for several years on a small tropical island by himself. A few years ago I read of a Japanese soldier from World War II who was found hiding in a cave on an island in the Pacific Ocean. He had been there for years not knowing that the war was long over! As with the mythical Robinson Crusoe, what an apparently lonely existence it must have been for the forgotten soldier.
As Christians who believe Bible truths that are not accepted by the majority, we sometimes are tempted to feel that we are alone. Many believers have only small home churches to worship in and several have no fellow believers at all close by. Are we no better than Robinson Crusoe or the forgotten Japanese soldier from World War II? Have not the Father and His Son promised us Their presence? When Jesus said, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20), did He really mean it? Has God made provision for our fellowship and worship even if there is not another soul on earth? I believe the answer must be a resounding yes! While it is true that God saw that it was not good for man to be alone, He also knows of the higher needs of mankind and has provided for those needs.
Many have faulty conceptions of worship. To some, worship is singing in a choir,or having a Sabbath School study, or hearing a sermon. But while these functions are good within themselves, they do not convey the conceptual basis of true worship because they are based and centered in humanity instead of God. Worship of the true God is not dependent upon any man or even church. True worship is based upon a fellowship with, and reverence to, God and Christ. No other human or even angel is necessary for that. Too often we confuse our fellowship with one another with worship. When we are isolated, we feel that we have lost our ability to worship God. Not so! True Christian fellowship is based upon our first having fellowship with the Father and Son. John writes:
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1, 3)
Jesus said, And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. (John 17:3) It is not life eternal to know and fellowship with humanity, but to know and worship God and Christ. In Revelation 14:7 we are told to worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. We are not to give our allegiance to any other than the true God and His Son. We must not worship a false god, or even a false concept of God.
No outward shrines may be visible, there may be no image for the eye to rest upon, yet we may be practicing idolatry. It is as easy to make an idol of cherished ideas or objects as to fashion gods of wood or stone. Thousands have a false conception of God and His attributes. They are as verily serving a false god as were the servants of Baal. (Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, pp. 173, 174)
An important principle of true worship is that we must worship the true God in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24) If we are worshiping a false god, or even a false concept of the true God, we are just as truly serving a false god as were the servants of Baal. Even if our conceptual understanding of the nature of worship is correct, our worship will be vain if we do not correctly know whom we worship. Remember, God Himself says that He is a jealous God. (Exodus 20:5)
The Scriptures enjoin us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is. (Hebrews 10:25) However, assembling with other Christians is not the basis of worship. Due to circumstances, some cannot assemble every Sabbath or even every month. However, as we have noted, true worship of God is not dependent upon other people.
To illustrate this, lets look back to the Garden of Eden. In the beginning of the human family there was just Adam and Eve, yet they worshiped God. Later came children, but it must have been several years before meaningful conversation and fellowship could occur between our first parents and Cain and Abel. If humanity was dependent upon large gatherings for worship, then God failed Adam and Eve. But, of course, God didnt fail them. They could still reverence and communicate with their Maker. Their worship was vertical or upward toward God, not horizontal or parallel to and with each other. Worship is to be God-centered, not man-centered. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. (Psalms 95:6)
The first place in the Bible where the term worship is used is in Genesis 22:5. (The Hebrew word translated worship in Genesis 22:5 is also found in Genesis 18:2 and Genesis 19:1 where it is translated bowed himself.) The context is the command of God to offer Isaac as burnt offering upon Mount Moriah. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. (Genesis 22:5) Abrahams worship was not dependent upon even the servants going with him. Further, it didnt even involve his fellowship with Isaac, who as far as Abraham knew, would soon be dead. Abraham had fellowshiped with Isaac all of Isaacs life including the trip to Moriah. Abrahams worship was vertically directed toward God and nothing, not even his only son, would be allowed to interfere with that worship.
When the wise men came to see Jesus, the Bible says they had come to worship him. (Matthew 2:2) The wise men certainly didnt make the trip to worship because they needed human fellowship, they had been in close association during their long travel to see the new born king.
Today, however, a common thought in Christianity is that worship is for man and his fellowship, keeping worship on a horizontal plane. Jack Hayford in his book, Worship His Majesty, states, Worship is a dignifying, empowering act for man.(p. 22) Bill Gaither in the hymnal Worship His Majesty, writes, Worship is, perhaps, most of all, a warm and strengthening family reunion. We worship because we really do need each other. This theology is referred to as Kingdom Now theology.
Beloved, Abraham and Isaac didnt go to Mount Moriah because they needed fellowship with each other. The wise men didnt travel from the east to see the new born king because they needed fellowship with each other! They traveled to worship God! Their experience was upward, vertical, not horizontal.
Any time our worship is based on men, or toward men, we commit idolatry and trouble is the result. Jesus said, But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:9) When John fell down to worship before the feet of the angel, the angel said, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. (Revelation 22:8, 9)
It is not men whom we are to exalt and worship; it is God, the only true and living God, to whom our worship and reverence are due. (Youths Instructor, July 7, 1898)
By now you might be thinking that this idea of vertical, God centered worship sounds Biblical, good in theory, but does God really provide the fellowship I need even if there is not another soul around? Lets look at a story from John chapter nine that should encourage any soul who feels lonely or forsaken.
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. (John 9:1-3)
Sometimes those who are sick and afflicted are made to feel that all their sickness is caused by sin. While it is true that most sickness can be traced to some violation of the laws of health, here Jesus plainly stated that it was not the blind mans sin, nor any sin of his parents that caused his problem. Rather, Jesus said that it was for the glory of God.
The story goes on to tell of the healing of the blind man and the controversy that resulted. The religious leaders, who did not wish to acknowledge that Jesus was the Christ, tried to deny that the healing was from God. After the Pharisees questioned the former blind man about his condition, they called his parents in to question them.
And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. (John 9:19-23)
The fear of the Jews constrained the parents from giving a testimony that they knew to be true. They thought that church membership was more important than proclaiming the truth. How sad that today many still feel the same way. The concept is taught and imbedded into peoples minds that salvation is found only in the church. To lose church membership is equated in the mind to losing ones eternal salvation. This satanic idea was present at the time of Jesus first coming, and still lives on in the Roman Church and all churches that follow her principles. No wonder so many are afraid to step out and worship God in home churches or independent gatherings.
After talking with his parents to no avail, the Pharisees called for the healed man to question him more.
Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. (John 9:24-34)
After refusing to give the Pharisees the answer they required, the Bible says, they cast him out. The margin reads, excommunicated him. Today we would simply say that he was disfellowshiped. Try to imagine the plight of this man. He had just been benefitted by one of the greatest miracles ever. (verse 32) Yet within a very short time he is abandoned by his friends, his church, and even his family does not acknowledge his miracle as being from God. Yet the narrative does not end with verse 34. The story continues:
Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshiped him. (John 9:35-38)
The gospel tells us that the very first thing that happened after the mans excommunication was that Jesus heard and found him. Jesus listens for the needy cry of His people and comes to seek them. After the healed man realized that Jesus was the Son of God, the Bible says he worshiped him. Catch the scene, its as if there is not another soul in the world besides the healed man and Jesus. Jesus has sought out the lonely, discouraged man and invites his fellowship and worship. The man acknowledges the Saviour and finds the fellowship that neither friends, family, nor the church can provide!
In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd has 100 sheep, but one goes astray and becomes lost. The shepherd goes out to find it and when he does, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. (Luke 15:5)
By creation and by redemption they are His, and they are of value in His sight. As the shepherd loves his sheep, and cannot rest if even one be missing, so, in an infinitely higher degree, does God love every outcast soul.
In the parable the shepherd goes out to search for one sheep--the very least that can be numbered. So if there had been but one lost soul, Christ would have died for that one.
The sheep that has strayed from the fold is the most helpless of all creatures. It must be sought for by the shepherd, for it cannot find its way back. So with the soul that has wandered away from God; he is as helpless as the lost sheep, and unless divine love had come to his rescue he could never find his way to God. (Christs Object Lessons, p. 187)
Inspiration pictures an all-sufficient Saviour Who looks for the lonely and provides all their needs.
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
God had in the Old Testament set the temple in Jerusalem as the place of worship. There and there only were the sacrifices to be made. Even in captivity, the children of Israel prayed toward Jerusalem. (See Daniel 6:10.) However, Jesus came to establish a new order of worship. Notice the following portion of Christs conversation with the woman at Jacobs well as recorded in John chapter four.
Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 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. (John 4:20-24)
Jesus said that the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will neither feel the necessity of worshiping in Jerusalem, or a mountain, or any place. Today we understand that the Andes Mountains of Peru, the prairies of the United States, or the bush country of Australia are as sacred as the temple site of Jerusalem.
If we are not currently standing alone with only God by our side now, we must be ready to do so soon for that day is sure to come. The Bible says, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12) Those faithful to God will at some point endure persecution and be separated from their brethren.
God is our strength. We must look to Him for wisdom and guidance, and keeping in view His glory, the good of the church, and the salvation of our own souls, we must overcome our besetting sins. We should individually seek to obtain new victory every day. We must learn to stand alone and depend wholly upon God. The sooner we learn this the better. (Early Writings, p. 105 - emphasis supplied.)
Remember that when we think we stand alone, we are not really standing alone, but rather with God, Christ, and the hosts of heaven by our side. Jesus has promised that he will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) When we are tempted to think that we must go to where the crowds are to worship God, let us remember the words of the Saviour, strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:14) As one Christian patriarch said, You can be almost sure that Christ is not where the large crowds are. The Lord Jesus seeks the cast out ones and those who are alone and offers them the best fellowship possible, personal fellowship with Himself. O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth. (Psalm 96:9)
The next digital video tape project featuring the series, The Good News About God, is now finished. The Father and the Son by Lynnford Beachy is ready for distribution. This message details the truth about the nature of the Father and Son relationship. This is a must see production! We are producing both an Adventist, and a non-Adventist version. Please specify which version you need when requesting tapes.
You may request these videos by phone, postal mail, e-mail, or fax. Sorry for the long delay in getting these out. The process is quite time consuming.
This message, in The Good News About God series is available in NTSC or PAL formats. The messages contained on the videos are available in audio cassette format as well. Editor
God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. This is the true Shepherd, who gave his life for the sheep he loved. This love that God has manifested to fallen man has called forth and aroused in human hearts intense opposition; for it is not an acceptable truth that all is lost unless the heart be changed. Imagined goodness, self-esteem, or self-righteousness are of no avail with God. The Scribes and Pharisees sought for flattery; they cultivated pride, and carefully cherished everything that would increase their importance; and they became the bitterest enemies of Christ because he did not fall in with their ideas. If he had, he would have left the lost sheep to perish, excluding himself in self-righteousness from those who needed light and knowledge, sympathy and help,who needed it as much as the lost sheep needed the good shepherd to lift him tenderly out of the peril which would have been his sure death.
The very same interest shown for the lost sheep must be shown for deceived, sin-bound souls. You must not be satisfied with enjoying the society of those who think as you think, and who believe as you believe. In the souls of the impenitent you may see those for whom the Chief Shepherd has given his life. Your life, which you have given to Jesus, you are to employ in his work. You are to live humbly, not becoming self-important, but remembering that you are wholly dependent upon the mercy and pardon of Jesus for the salvation of your souls.
Jesus so loved man that at the cost of his own life he gave him another trial. There are many ways in which you can work to come close to hearts. If you ask the Saviour to give you the meekness and lowliness of his character, and teach you to work with wisdom, he will hear your prayers, and will answer them. Souls may be reclaimed, blinded and stubborn though they may now be. There is too little persevering, self-denying effort made to awaken their interest in their eternal welfare. Will the Instructor family examine themselves to see if they feel the necessity of increased knowledge of the Scriptures and of increased wisdom and spiritual discernment that they may be able to bring souls to Jesus?
Life is serious. You have a large field in which to work; and persevering search for the lost sheep will be the most successful way in which you can employ your time. The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost. Doth not the shepherd leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which was lost until he find it? If you can exert a saving influence over one soul, remember there is joy in heaven over the one that repented. You must guard against any indifference on your part. There may be things which you would prefer to do to please yourself; but remember that you may, by judicious effort, be the means of bringing back the lost sheep to Jesus fold. Although you may be young, you must work with Christ; with his spirit in your heart, you can do much more than it now seems possible for you to do.
The lives of some are without peace or gladness because they never get out of the range of self. They are ever reaching out for sympathy from others. If they would go to work to see how helpful they could be, and would speak words of love and courage, their souls, now dry and sorrowful, would become like a watered garden.
You must learn in the school of Christ precious lessons of patience. Do
not become discouraged, but keep at the work in all humility. It will drive
you to Jesus; it will lead you to study the Pattern. You want to work as
Jesus worked. Do not neglect to lay the whole matter before him; in humble,
earnest prayer, plead for his grace to co-operate with your efforts. Jesus
will surely hear you; and when that soul yields to the influence of the
Spirit of God, you may rejoice, for you have gained that which is of more
value to you than silver or gold,an experience in bringing souls to Christ.
Last year our camp meeting began with a house fire. This year, the week before camp meeting was scheduled to begin, southern West Virginia was ravaged with severe flash flooding. For days many roads were blocked and access to basic services were restricted. Yet, the Lord in His goodness and mercy saw that the camp meeting was able to begin on time!
From only a few people who had already arrived by Tuesday morning, we had about 100 people set up and ready for the first meeting Tuesday evening. By the end of the week the crowd had swelled to over 200. Brothers and sisters had come from several states. The extremes of the United States were represented (Maine, Florida, California, and Washington), as well as several points in between. Brethren from Jamaica and Poland were also present to receive the blessing of God.
Many shared the testimony that this was the best camp meeting they had ever attended. While this might sound like boasting, do not the Scripture admonish us to testify of Gods goodness?
The theme of the camp meeting was: To Inspire and Equip. Our goal was to provide inspirational messages for Gods people as well as to have seminars to help equip the saints to be able to witness and share Christ with those they come in contact with.
The first meeting Tuesday evening was Knowing the Love of God with Lynnford Beachy leading out. This inspiring talk set the atmosphere for the rest of the week.
The early morning meetings were inspirational and left all who came not fully awakeAWAKE!
The midmorning meetings began with Pastor Bob Habenicht sharing more of his Berean Experience. (Please see the April 2001 Old Paths for Pastor Bobs Confession.) Then Brother Gary Richmond shared the gospel with his unique insight and approach.
Elder S. T. Lewis from Columbus Ohio had the 11:00 meetings dynamically speaking on the righteousness of Christ with an emphasis on the simplicity of the gospel and Why we do what we do! The tapes from this series are a must.
The evening meetings were conducted by Pastor David Clayton of Jamaica. Brother Claytons four subjects were: Just What We Need, Relative Perfection, Reasons to Doubt, Reasons to Believe (a defense of the spirit of prophecy), and The Holy Spirit.
The afternoons of Wednesday through Friday were devoted to instructive seminars to help equip the saints in the ministry of sharing the three angels messages.
The first seminar was on homiletics, the science and art of preaching the gospel. Elder Lewis and Pastor Stump teamed up to give these presentations. Any layman who has the opportunity to preach the truth will be greatly blessed and benefitted by the instruction provided in these messages.
The second seminar given by Pastor Ben Vela of Miami, was on medical missionary work. These sessions were especially well attended and very practical in their content. Years of training and service, combined with the blessing of God, have helped Ben to be not only an excellent medical missionary, but an excellent teacher as well.
Pastors Willis Smith and Richard Stratton teamed up for the the last seminar on home Bible studies. With many years of combined service, these men gave theoretical as well as practical counsel. Both Richard and Willis have a home spun personality and they conveyed that atmosphere to the students. Shortly after camp meeting one believer shared with me a renewed sense of duty after being at the meetings.
In addition to his preaching duties, Brother Gary Richmond provided the youth with some of his naturalist expertise. Bringing along some of his critters, Gary presented object lessons based on Gods creation in a manner that was simply unforgettable!
Special music and song was shared before most meetings. Pastor Clayton and his wife, Jennifer, along with brother Howard Williams and his wife Karleen led out in the singing of the theme song, He is Here. A quartet composed of Howard Williams, Melvin Stewart, David Clayton, and Dr. Stephen Burks provided some really inspiring old fashioned singing.
The messages of the camp meeting were all recorded on video tape and will also be transferred to audio tape for those who prefer just audio. Also there is a compilation tape of just musical presentations.
A list of the tapes available from the camp meeting are on page seven of this issue. Please indicate whether you wish to receive video cassettes (suggested donation of $7.00 plus postage per tape) or audio cassettes (suggested donation of $2.00 plus postage per tape).
We would like to thank all who came and helped make this camp meeting such a success.
Lord willing, next month: camp meeting photos will be published. Editor
This month Brother Lynnford Beachy of Smyrna and Brother Howard Williams of Restoration Ministries will be traveling to Africa to share the three angels messages. They plan to visit the countries of Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Tanzania from mid-August to mid-September. Because of the vast size of Africa, and the limited amount of time available, plans are also being made for some brethren from Uganda, Rwanda, and possibly Nigeria, to visit with Lynnford and Howard while they are in Africa. We earnestly covet your prayers for them and the spreading of the message.
In October we are planning to travel to Australia to encourage and share with the brethren down under. The tentative schedule is calling for visits along the east coast and the southeast coast. However, plans are not final yet and if you would like to know more you may contact Michael Lawrence in Ballarat, Australia. His phone number is 03-5341-7576. His e-mail is Lawrence@giant.net.au. Editor
Please also visit our Present Truth Website!
This page was last updated: Thursday, November 01, 2012