Sunday, April 30, 2006

A People Acceptable to God
by Larry Rouse

Worldly men have always sought to turn their attention away from God to pursue their own lusts. One of the most obvious examples of this is found in the kinds of man-made religion that are centered upon the praise of men with no view of God and His pleasure. Men can be caught up in this kind of thinking to the point where they have a great confidence that God will be with them in anything they may do, just because they want to do it. The scriptures give us several examples of the tragedy that this approach will bring.

Aaron was one of the great men of the Old Testament, being the first High Priest of God and a close partner with Moses in his work. Aaron knew the character of the living God and was well prepared to stand before Him as the High priest. Unfortunately Aaron failed to teach two of his sons, Nadab and Abihu, about the nature of the one true God, and as a consequence, these “2nd generation” children thought they could treat God and His ways lightly. This attitude was reflected in their rejection of “traditional” worship which, in fact, was God’s instructions on how they were to approach Him. They were sure, that because of their position and familiarity in the service of God, that these past rules were flexible to this new generation. God intervened in a way so that their generation and every succeeding generation might learn a valuable lesson.

“Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord (Leviticus 10:1-2).”

What message was God communicating in this event? On the surface we can understand that the “strange fire” which was used by these young men in their version of “contemporary worship” directly violated God’s specific choice of having the fire for their censers come from the altar (Leviticus 16:12).” These young men had not just committed a single transgression; they had approached a living God that they never knew. When Aaron came upon this tragic scene and observed the dead bodies of his two sons, Moses gave a brief, but pointed, explanation of why this had occurred:

"And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’” So Aaron held his peace (Leviticus 10:3).

Do you understand how this truth applies to us today?

If you are a Christian, you are a priest who is to offer spiritual sacrifices to the same living God (1 Peter 2:5). When we approach Him, we must approach Him as a holy God with our sole motive being that of giving Him the glory. Do you really know God and how to approach Him?

When we seek to teach, to worship or to even think about God, we must limit ourselves to what God has revealed. “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11a). Christians have rightly quoted this verse to show how we should handle the Bible and how we should not assume to speak for God when He is silent. We would do well, however, to quote the rest of the verse and learn of the fruits of such an approach. “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen (1 Peter 4:11a)”.

We live in a time where a generation has arisen that does not know God. Those who point to staying within the authority of God by giving “book, chapter, and verse” for all that we do and teach (Colossians 3:17), are being labeled as “legalist,” “divisive,” and “dead” simply because they ask for Bible authority for all practices. The spirit of Nadab and Abihu lives on and abounds in this age.

As we try to serve God in this generation there are several questions we might ask. Should we use mechanical instruments of music in worship? Should worship become a performance for the talented and be centered upon the desires of men? Should local churches use the collection taken in the assembly and spend it for social meals, recreation, secular schools and even business arrangements? Does it really matter if we use speakers from various religious backgrounds to fill our pulpits?

The questions we might ask will vary from generation to generation, and from congregation to congregation, but the approach God wants us to take in finding these answers is the same for all. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2).”

What does God see when He looks into our hearts? There are many who will apply God’s standards to outward matters but refuse to let the thoughts of their hearts be examined. How do you respond to one who has wronged you? ”Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled (Hebrews 12:14-15).

There is a service that is acceptable to God and a service that is not. Are you renewing your mind each day by testing your heart and your practices by proving the will of God? Is the local church of which you are a part glorifying God in this way, or do they close the Bible to examination by calling others names and appealing to outward things such as numbers and the things money can buy?

One day you and I will stand face to face with the God of heaven. It is my prayer that we together will stand in joy because through the grace of God bestowed upon us through the sacrifice of Christ, that we have, in turn, lived a life with the glory of God being our sole purpose. That is the sacrifice that alone will be acceptable to God.
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