by W.B. Screws

The Pilgrim's Messenger

"Have a pattern of sound words which you hear from me, in faith and love
which are in Christ Jesus."--11 Timothy 1:13
Published Monthly By W. B. SCREWS, Glennville, Georgia
Twenty-five Cents a Year

Volume XXII

July, 1943

Number 12

Entered at the postoffice at Glennville, Ga., as second-class matter.

What does this phrase mean?  It is found several times in the scripture.

The meaning of spirit is found in the word, itself.  In Greek it is PNEUMA.  "Pneo" means to blow.  "Ma" means effect.  Spirit is blow-effect, or the effect of blowing.  When God blew the breath of the living into the nostrils of man be began to live.  The effect of blowing was to generate in man the invisible, intangible power of life, action and intelligence.  This produced sensation, which is soul.  "Man became a living soul," is a figure of speech, indicating that he was to be dominated by his sensations.  He had spirit and body, but the soul was the dominant thing.  Man is yet soulish—his sensations dominate him.  The spirit in man is too weak to control him, until it is touched by the spirit of Christ, Rom. 8:9, 10.  

But what I want to stress in this editorial is the fact that spirit is not tangible.  It is very real, nevertheless. the greatest powers in nature are intangible ones—wind, steam, gas, electricity, etc.  So we must not think of spirit as being unimportant, because it is intangible.  

"In spirit" in to be regarded in the same way.  Christ said, John 4:23, "the true worshipers will be worshipers will be worshiping God in spirit and truth."  This is to be taken as in contrast to worship in forms and ceremonies—ritualism.  So far as the ritual of Judaism was concerned, Jerusalem was the place to worship.  But even during the period when this form of worship was in effect, true believers could worship in spirit, anywhere.  Christ promised that the time would come when worship would not be carried on in Jerusalem.  That time has come.  All worship now, must be in spirit, or it is not worship.  

Churches seem to not have learned this lesson.  They yet believe that some formality must be observed.  Some ritual must be carried out!  And, as Henry Van Dyke said in his poem, "The God of the Open Air": "They build their temple walls to shut Him in, and Build their iron creeds to shut Him out."  The church house is considered sacred.  The pulpit is especially so!  And then there are those who believe that only those of  "our faith and order" can worship God.  And there are those who think He looks with disdain on a place of worship that is not costly buildings, with the apparent idea that God may be worshipped more acceptably in them.  

But God may not be worshiped at all in ritual—no matter whether it is the ritual divinely given to Israel, or that evolved by men.  He found no pleasure in the ritualism of Israel, Heb. 10:5, 6.  Neither does ritualistic worship benefit people or make them better, for Israel, after many hundreds of years of such worship, was ready to condemn the Son of God when He appeared among them.  Churches today that have the most venomous spirit of persecution are those that have carried on the most elaborate ritual.  

PROSKUNEO is the Greek word for worship.  The root of the word is KUON, which means dog.  The most perfect form of worship one ever sees, is the devotion of a dog to his master.  He may be ill-treated, or even half starved, yet he will worship his master.  Perhaps everyone is familiar with the story of the dog that starved on his master's grave.  If we worship God in spirit, we have that attitude toward Him.  Worship is the flow of love toward God, form a heart that appreciates Him for what He is.  Such a heart pants after God, seeks Him, is devoted to Him.  It is not expressed by forms and ceremonies.  It is that intangible attitude toward God that leads one to love Him, not only when surrounded with pleasures, but also when everything looks dark.  Such an attitude does not lead one to try to dictate to God in prayer.  Rather, the saint will say, "Lord, if You are willing, you can grant me my desire," and then leave it in His loving hands, and thank Him whether the request is granted or not. 

How glad I am that worship is in spirit!  Who is able to perform ritual in a lifeboat tossed on the waves, or in a fox hole on the battle field, or while crawling through the jungles, or while walking sentry on a dark night?  And we would rejoice very much, if we could know the real heart worship that is carried on in millions of homes made sad by this terrible war.  In times such as these, ritual counts not at all, but the invaluable privilege of communing with God counts much. 

Circumcision in flesh has become maimcism.  We are the circumcision who are offering divine service to God in spirit, and we are glorying in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in flesh, Phil. 3:3.  Service is rendering to another that which he needs.  God needs no ritual.  He has no use for forms and ceremonies. But His loving heart craves a response to His grace.  Our hearts give such a response.  It is in spirit, not in forms and ceremonies.  It is intangible.  Man may not se it.  But God knows it, and it refreshes Him.  When we serve each other, because we love Him, we are offering divine service to Him in spirit.  And we should serve each other.  We should show kindness and grace to others as an expression of our appreciation of His kindness and grace to us.  It is still service to HIM in spirit.  No ritualism can ever serve either man or God. 

Ephesians was written before the secret administration began.  The things mentioned in it were to be in force when it began.  It is here now.  In spirit we are enjoyers of the allotment, a body, and partakers of the promise in christ Jesus through the evangel of which Paul became the dispenser; and we have all this jointly with those saints from among the Circumcision who are in the ecclesia which is the body of Christ, Eph. 1:23; 3:6, 7.  Paul does not say we have the revelation of these things BY the spirit, as the King James Version has it, (although that is true.)  He says we have the blessings IN spirit—that is, there is nothing tangible about it.  As to a joint body, we are scattered in many countries, and have no opportunity to act jointly in anything.  As to the allotment, that is in the heavens, and we are yet on this war-torn and sin-stained earth.  On earth we have not actually come into possession of the things promised through the evangel of which Paul became the dispenser.  Our blessings are among the celestials, 1:3.  But in spirit we already have these things.  With us it is a matter of faith.  Our enjoyment of them is in expectation.  Actually, as to our present condition, we are as far from the blessings promised, and the joint participation and activity and the joint allotment, as it is possible to be.  But we have it all, in spirit.  It is very real, even thought there is nothing tangible about it.  

In Rom.2:29 is an expression that often misunderstood.  It says, "For not what is apparent is the Jew, nor yet what is apparent in flesh in flesh circumcision; but that which is hidden is the Few, and circumcision is of the heart, in spirit, not in letter, whose applause is not of men, but of God."  This has been taken to mean that we became Jews when we receive the "circumcision of heart."  The passage that refers to us in connection with circumcision is in Col. 2:11, where we are told that we "were circumcised also with a circumcision not made with hands, in the stripping off of the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ."  This evidently has reference to the death of Christ, and the benefits we receive from it.  Circumcision under the law was the cutting off of a small part of flesh. This was taken by Israel as a badge of honor, instead of meaning that flesh has no standing with God.  So, in Col. Paul shows how circumcision, in its reality, was the stripping off of the entire body of flesh.  Only it was done to Christ, for us, and not to us directly.  This is our circumcision.  

But the passage in Rom. 2:29 does not refer to us.  "Jew" is used of the religious Israelite.  But Paul is showing that even though one is of the race of Israel, and extremely religious, he is not really a Jew unless he has the circumcision of heart.  And what is that?  Is it the cutting off of a portion of the heart? NO; no cutting is done at all.  The real Jew has this circumcision in spirit.  There is nothing tangible about it.  But it is far more real than circumcision in letter, (or law).  

Now, back to the idea of worshiping in spirit and truth.  Ritualistic worship was not in spirit, and it was not in truth.  Israel got an erroneous idea of the function of the law.  It was not to make them better.  It was to make them worse.  "Law crept in that the offense should be increasing."  And it did increase.  After more than a thousand years of worship in ritual.  Israel was worse than at the beginning, as I have already shown.  But worship i spirit is also in truth.  And they who thus worship are not dangerous.  They are not bloodthirsty.  They do not persecute.  This kind of worship does make people better, for they who engage in it loathe themselves, have no confidence in flesh and, are glorying in Christ Jesus.  

It is feared that we are in danger of "losing the war of faith."  Not so, as long as conditions remain as they are.  In times of distress faith is nurtured.  It is amazing and gratifying to find so many people reading the word of God, instead of taking their information second-hand.  Sermons often obscure the word of God, instead of illuminating it.  Preachers have done incalculable harm.  But the time has come when they do not "cut as big a figure" as they once did.  Millions of people are learning that the word of God is a message of cheer, instead of one of doom for a large part of the human family.  Soldiers at the front are no longer trusting in the wisdom and power of man.  These have already failed.  Many thousands of then realize for the first time that they are in the hands of God.  And on every battle front, as well as in saddened homes in al the warring countries, there is worship in spirit and truth.  Unable to perform ritual while firing a machine gun, soldiers, nevertheless, worship as they face the hail of bullets.  And they are convinced that the Master Hand is protecting them.  Never, before, in the history of mankind, have conditions been so propitious for worship in spirit and truth. 

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