A HARD PILL TO SWALLOW
I went along to a sermon today preached at Trust Housing association flats on Lewis Street in Stornoway. The man preaching was Iver Martin. He happens to be the current minister of the huge Free Church here in Stornoway. During his prayer before sermon he said that God happily accepts our worship. He spoke for all present.
I must challenge that statement.
In psalm 19 we read: "Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression." The important word here is "presumptuous". My understanding of this text is that it is crucial in matters which pertain to God and our salvation that we don't make assumptions. For example, scripture also tells us: "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John 3: 3). We know from this text that we are to "make our calling and election sure", (2 Peter 1: 10) and leave nothing to chance.
Nowhere in scripture are we told that God accepts worship from all and sundry. On the contrary, the Bible makes it very clear (text above) that unless we are born again we are hateful to him - he cannot even look upon us. "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity..." (Habakkuk 1: 13). It is vital we understand this. It is similar to the alcoholic who has to understand he has a problem before he can be cured. Our problem is that we are sinners before God's holiness. We also must know this fact before we can be delivered from our condemnation. Before we can be born again. God alone can do this. Without this miracle of grace we can only take his name in vain - and increase our condemnation.
This doctrine is not popular. Human nature rejects it. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. (Romans 8:7).
There are two kinds of gospel preached: popular and unpopular. The popular tends to fill churches, the unpopular empties them: because the unpopular is the truth and the truth is a hard pill to swallow. "...Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits." (Isaiah 30: 10).
This is the big, big problem in the churches: lies preached as gospel.
In short, unless we are converted, God does not accept our worship at all.
We can spend our whole lives attending church and still end up in hell.
Many have done so.