Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 24, 1960
NUMBER 45, PAGE 3a,14b

Honors Of Obligation

Vaughn D. Shofner, Tucumcari, N. M.

Multitudes of men think of divine law, divine obligation, as being no more than annoyance to life. They want their own will and way, and rebel at the report of any restraining power. They see no need for shortening their lustful pleasures, crippling their impulses, or hampering their worldly ambitions; and could they completely overthrow all things which tend to keep alive scruples of fear and twinges of conscience, they think life then would be but a path of pleasant experiences.

Influenced by this complete rebellion on the part of so many, religiously and otherwise, countless church members who are accepted as the great spiritual leaders of the Lord's church today are the prime movers of a revolt against the "legalism" which made this organization an invincible bulwark of spiritual strength. Evidently, the most used inroad for this vitiating influence is the "high learning" of many of "our" preachers and educators, received in the schools of modernists and infidels. From this position of "lofty learning", with faith trembling on the verge of capitulation, they returned to anxious and open arms of the "brotherhood colleges" to teach and train young preachers the modernist's stand against "fundamentalist views on 'inspiration'." So fast has the church drifted, thus loosed from its spiritual mooring, that precious few now see the beacon from the lighthouse, or hear the sound which warns of the dangers in this sea of confusion. We have sown the wind, and we are reaping the whirlwind!

Thoughts of being released from the "legalism" of God's law certainly did not dominate the minds of God's great men of the Bible. They moved according to obligation, rejoiced in the honor of it, and by inspiration passed the knowledge on to us. Their obligations were sources of songful expressions, and in this were unlike the eastern heathen who took shelter from the scorching sun of noon, or halted for the night at some hostelry, and soothed his rest with a song of war, romance or love. Such godly men as the poet of Israel found their theme in the statutes of the Lord. This is evident by such an expression: "Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage" (Ps. 119:54). Thus they were not the songs of tradition, ballads of war, wine or love that had been his pastime, but the songs that had refreshed his resting hours and cheered him onward across the scorching deserts of life, were the songs of God's commandments. So revered were they, that they had been the solace in weary hours, the comfort in periods of rest.

Fancy not, gentle reader, that this pilgrimage is produced by the obligations. Every man, even the most reckless and rebellious, is a pilgrim. The atheist with no God to honor is a pilgrim; the infidel with no anointed king is a pilgrim; the tyrant in all his effrontery is a pilgrim; and such become a class reluctantly driven over the deserts of life. God's faithful army cheerfully travels this pilgrimage with chart and compass, and in calm deliberation they find the fountains of refreshing water. No pleasure, fellow sojourner, but false pleasures are denied those who respect the rules of God. Those who would, in the delirium of worldly desire, make sordid the soul, carnalize the spiritual body, and make havoc of the eternal happiness of fellow beings, are the ones whose search for pleasure is unsuccessful. Behold life with all of its interests! and you can see that obligation to your Creator does not infringe upon a single pleasure, but spurs man on to the greatest and highest enjoyments of which he is capable.

Flee the thoughts that leads you to believe the enforcements of penalty added to God's law are a sort of concession that obligation is not a privilege, and has no semblance of honor. This evil thinking will cause you to exclaim with worldlings: "Fundamentalists are but a set of strict ritualists, obeying form instead of following intellectual indications." "Thinking that one is required to be faithful to a "thus saith the Lord" in all things, admits the lack of understanding the deeper things." "The fundamentalist is fettered by the fear of hell, and is not led by love for Christ." Those who utter such blasphemy fail to understand that restrictions are for the lawless and disobedient, never for the righteous. Penalties bring fear only to malefactors and felons. As good people of the world value their laws and cherish them as the safeguard of their liberty, even so the servant of righteousness will have God's statutes for his songs during the entire period of his pilgrimage.

This claim of God's authority, this obligation laid upon us, is virtually the throne of God set up in the soul of man. It is sovereign, to be sure! and when violated it will bring a burn of fiery mental remorse to those who know and love His law. Obligation to God violated by neglect, excess, or self-will, becomes our most persistent persecutor; but respected and obeyed, it becomes our most faithful friend. Loose the laws of nature, if you can, dear friend, and then behold stones soluble and waters combustible; lee oceans break out of their vaults, lift heavenward, and vapors plunge earthward to darken the path of life with utter chaos. Just as we would be lost in a hell of physical anarchy, were there no restraining laws of nature, so, if we could strip from ourselves the constraints of obligation to God, utter frustration of our desired liberty would be the inevitable result!

Thus, no person is too blind to see the honors of obligation to God. Without obligation to God, life would be but a hopeless, undesirable existence. If you rebel at the thought of a "thus saith the Lord" for all religious belief and practice, your submission to the changing seasons is quite the opposite. If you demand more than God revealed for your religious walk, your faith in the revelation of his natural laws is far nobler. If you are chafed by your obligation to God, it is because you are pulling against the throne of order.

See it, friend, every obligation that tightens about the circle of your motion is but a manifestation of the goodness of God drawing more closely about you. Obligation to God is the light of the world! Without it the beauties of the world are but showy trifles, the stars of the upper vaults glittering gewgaws, and all the trials of life but profitless miseries. Ah, the folly! and may those who show such inward rebelliousness quit their mad way, cease to gore themselves by departure from God's restraining laws, and accept the honors of obligation to God. Giving thus their lives to complete righteousness, may they let the glorious harmony of the statutes of the Lord be the psalms of the night in the house of their pilgrimage, the refreshing lilts in the scorching sands of life's deserts, and the praise of victory when eternity dawns!