Does God Accept Our Service?
It is an error to think that God will accept just any service man himself is pleased to offer. If such were the case, it would destroy all distinction between right and wrong and there could be no such thing as truth and error. Everyone, regardless of what party he belongs to or what he does as service to God, would be right and no one would ever be wrong. All those passages of Scripture that solemnly warn people of the dangers of believing false doctrines and of the vital necessity of holding "to sound words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to Godliness," would be pointless and meaningless. If just anything will do, just any church and just any doctrine, there would be no need to try to learn what the Bible teaches or to try to be guided by the Bible.
The teaching of the Bible is very plain that man must do the will of God. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in Heaven." (Matt. 7:21.) Jesus said: "For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Mark 8:55.) "As servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart." (Eph. 6:6). "For ye have need of patience, that, having done the will of God, ye may receive the promise." (Heb. 10:36.) "And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever." (1 John 2:17.)
"This is the end of the matter; all hath been heard, Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man." (Eccles. 12:13.) "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the City." (Rev. 22:14.)
All true religion consists only and entirely in man doing the will of God. Before he can take the first step in acceptable service to God he must recognize that God is God, that he is the only Law-Giver and Ruler. "For he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him." (Heb. 11:6.) Man must do God's will, not his own will. He must forget self and seek with his whole heart to do that which is pleasing to God, having no thought of seeking to do that which is pleasing to himself. He cannot do things as service to God to please men or because they are popular. When a man engages in worship and service to please himself, or to please men, he is not so doing to please God. For a man to do his own will is not to do God's will. A man cannot do as worship and service what he himself thinks is right, but must do what God thinks is right, as God reveals his thought in the Bible.
God reveals his will to man fully and perfectly in his word. "All the truth" is completely revealed through those holy men of God who spoke "as the Spirit gave them utterance." (John 16:13; Acts 24.) No doctrine in all the religious world is true that is not found in the Holy Scriptures. When any man preaches anything he cannot read in God's word he is preaching a falsehood. The Bible reveals "all things that pertain unto life and Godliness.' (2 Peter 1:13.) Hence anything not found in the Bible is untrue injurious and harmful. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine for reproof for correction for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, Man can do the will of God only by doing what God commands him to do as God speaks to him in the Bible. "What thing soever I command you, that shall ye observe to do: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." (Deut. 12:32.) God commands people to do everything that he wills for them to do. He does not will for a man to do anything as worship or service that he does not command. No service is pleasing to God, and acceptable to him except the service that he authorizes and commands. God's word which is the Bible, is perfect, full and complete and authorizes and commands all that is pleasing and acceptable to God. "If any man speak, let any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." (1 Peter 4:11.) "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isa. 8:20.) "That in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written." (1 Cor. 4:6.) When people follow the Bible and do the things that the Bible teaches, they thus do the will of God and they have the assurance of God's word that God will accept their service and bless them.
Unless our religious worship and service consists in doing God's will as his will is revealed in his Word, our religious is vain. If people engage in religious activities to please themselves or to please the world, or for any reason other than to please God, their service is not acceptable to God and the Bible gives them no promise that the blessings of God will be upon them.
Jesus taught that all service that originates with men, service that God does not command, and that is not authorized in the word of God, should be rejected and repudiated. "Then there came to Jesus from Jerusalem Pharisees and scribes saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread. And he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God said, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, That wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me is given to God; he shall not honor his father And ye have made void the word of God because of your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you saying, This people honoreth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men." (Matt. 15:1-9.)
Every thoughtful and serious person will pause at the possibility of their worship and service being empty and vain. No amount of zeal or activity can compensate for the fact that if God refuses to accept their services they cannot claim his blessings in this life or in the life to come. "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you! depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matt. 7:22-23.) The trouble will be, though very zealous and active in religious work, they obeyed "the precepts and commandments of men," instead of the word of God. Though a man speak with the tongue of men or angels, give all his goods to feed the poor, and give his body to be burned, if he has not the love that obeys it profits him nothing. May we all forget our personal opinions and preferences and seek only to do what the Bible teaches.