Chapter 8 The Search For Worship

The Father seeketh such to worship Him (John 4:23).

The Father

It is God the Father of whom the Lord speaks to the Samaritan woman—of Him who is God in nature and Father in office. The name Father seldom occurs in the Old Testament and never there in the New Testament sense. As used in the Old Testament, the word “Father” refers to the Triune God, Jehovah’s relationship to the nation of Israel as their Head, as in Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 63:16; Jeremiah 31:9. In our Lord’s words to the Samaritan woman, He is speaking of God as the Fountainhead of all created things in Heaven and in earth—the Father of all spirits, the God and Father of all men, God of the spirits of all men, the great God our Creator.

When our Lord says that “God is a Spirit,” He does not mean some cold, distant abstraction—a mere assemblage of divine attributes—but a God of life and love with the heart of a Father and with all a Father’s resources and rights. True, men have broken that relationship and strayed like a prodigal into a far country, but that does not change God’s potential nature, though it does alter man’s relation to Him and the treatment man receives from His hands. He put the fatherly heart in all men and did so after the likeness of His own. It is that fatherly heart which yearns over a wayward family.

The Father’s Search

The word “seeketh” means more than appears. God the Father is in search of something—something which to Him is very precious and valuable—something which He cannot afford to lose. Great as God is, there are some things He cannot think of letting go. It is the very greatness of God which makes Him, in a sense, needy: for it makes Him understand the value of man, whom He has created.

So when anything of man is lost to Him, He searches for it. He would not part with it. God is no cruel tyrant who says: “I have lost a certain thing in man, but I can do without it.” Others may overlook something they lose, but not God. “Can a woman forget her sucking child?… Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee” (Isaiah 49:15). God cannot forget man. He seeks the lost.

We must not dilute this expression and say God will have us back if we will come, that He will accept our worship if we care to give it. That is far short of the meaning of Scripture. We might ask, but what can God need? What can He be in want of? But we read that He seeks. He seeks something here on earth and from among men. What He seeks is the worship which has been lost to Him and which has impoverished man who no longer worships.

The Father’s Search for Worshipers

God is in search of many things lost to Him by man’s default—affection, allegiance, reverence, obedience, but primarily worship. This is what He specially seeks and claims. From this earth and from man, whom God has created, there should arise, and that without ceasing, the fragrance of holy worship. As the Lord even answered Satan: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.”

It grieves God that man through sin has been ruined of this best of all exercises. But He seeks to have it restored. Does it seem a small thing to you that God should lose the worship of men when He has the worship of myriads of angels? Then you are wrong! God misses the worship of every person.

This concerns God. It should concern us. Everything we do concerns God, but most of all He is concerned about our worship. And is not His desire for our worship enough to provoke us to come to Him with our adoration, since He has made a way back to Himself through the cross of His dear Son? His search is worldwide. His call is universal. The shepherd loses a sheep, and the shepherd misses the sheep more than the sheep the shepherd. The shepherd does the seeking, not the sheep. The woman loses her coin. It does not miss her, but she cannot afford to be without it, so she seeks it. The father loses a son. He is troubled. The prodigal may not miss his father, but the father mourns and misses his son.

God is in earnest. He seeks worshipers. He is worthy to be worshiped. He desires worship from men here on earth, as well as from angels in Heaven. But the worship He seeks is spiritual worship. The outward man is nothing. He wants the inner man of the heart—the innermost shrine. Worship must arise from the depths of a man’s soul, but it can rise only through redemption. Forms, sounds, dress, gestures, ornaments are not worship, nor do they help worship. They are things which hinder worship. God wants our hearts. It is only the blood of Christ which can purge sin from us, remove our guilt, and free our soul from the dread of God, so that man, through such grace, can give to God true worship. The blood of Christ satisfies God’s righteousness and the sinner’s conscience. The Spirit of God renews the penitent man. It is the Spirit who transforms. We are to use the precious blood. We are to ask for the Holy Spirit. In this way we may come and give to God what He is seeking—the true worship due to His holy Name.

Praise ye the Father! Praise our God most holy,
Who cheers the contrite, girds with strength the weak!
Praise Him who doth with glory crown the lowly,
And with salvation beautify the meek!

Praise the Father—Source of all our blessing,
Before whose gifts earth’s richest boons wax dim!
Resting in Him, His peace and joy possessing,
All things are ours, for we have all in Him!

Praise ye the Father! praise ye Him who gave us,
In full and perfect love, His only Son!
Praise ye the Christ, who died Himself to save us!
Praise Father, Son, and Spirit-Three in One!

Lady Margaret Cockburn-Campbell