Worship: “Trust Not in Deceptive Words”: The Prophets and Worship


I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Sunday’s section of this week’s SS lesson, asks the question, “What do you think is more important: correct theology or correct actions? Can you have your theology right and yet treat others in a poor manner? What hope can you cling to if, perhaps, you see yourself revealed in the above texts? 

In Luke 10 Jesus tells the story of the good Samaritan. In this story a priest and a Levite, walk by and leave a wounded man to die. They knew the law. I am sure their peers would say they had sound theology. But did they? In Exodus 23:4-5 it says we are to help even an animal in distress. How much more a man! Surely the priest and Levite knew this. After the Priest and Levite leave the man to die, for whatever reason, a Samaritan comes along. Samaritans had their own place of worship, which according to the Jews, was the incorrect place to be. The Samaritan probably did not know the law or the Scriptures like the priest and Levite did. However, he was more like Jesus than either of the other men because, according to Luke 10:33 he had compassion. In this story, that one word, “compassion”, seems to separate right actions from wrong actions and bad theology from good theology. I have heard it said, that many will miss heaven by about 18 inches. The difference between the brain and the heart. I have also heard it said, and I believe, that heaven will be filled with people who had muddled theology, but none with bitter hearts.

As we continue reading the story, we find the Samaritan to be even more like Jesus. First he had compassion. Second he binds up the wounds of the hurt man even as Jesus binds our wounds. Finally he tells the innkeeper that he will pay for this man’s complete recovery. On the cross Jesus paid for our complete recovery from sin, and today gives us the free gift of sanctification as well as justification.

So, to answer the original question, I would say you can’t really have one without the other. If your theology is good, it will have good actions. Good actions are good theology. I think Ellen White says it best, in the book Desire of Ages, in the chapter “The Good Samaritan.”

  In the story of the good Samaritan, Christ illustrates the nature of true religion. He shows that it consists not in systems, creeds, or rites, but in the performance of loving deeds, in bringing the greatest good to others, in genuine goodness.  {DA 497.1}  

3 thoughts on “Worship: “Trust Not in Deceptive Words”: The Prophets and Worship”

  1. Genuine goodness — without selfishness — seems to be lacking in this world. I’d rather be around someone with the right actions and no theology than one with the “right” theology and the wrong actions. Then again, maybe they need compassion too.

  2. Those who put their focus first on works can never attain them because is only complete dependance on Christ that can give power for obedience.

    We must have a “vision” of the cross first

    If you could see what Christ is, one that can save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him, then you would have that faith that works.

    But must works come first? No, it is faith first. And how? The cross of Christ is lifted up between heaven and earth. Here comes the Father and the whole train of holy angels; and as they approach that cross, the Father bows to the cross and the sacrifice is accepted. Then comes sinful man, with his burden of sin, to the cross, and he there looks up to Christ on the cross of Calvary, and he rolls his sins at the foot of the cross. Here mercy and truth have met together and righteousness and peace have kissed each other. And Christ says, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me.”

    “Then,” says one, “you cannot be accepted unless you repent.” Well, who leads us to repentance? Who is drawing us? Here the law of God condemns the sinner. It points out the defects of his character. But you can stand before that law all your lifetime and say, “Cleanse me. Fit me for heaven,” but can it do it? No; there is no power in law to save the transgressor of law in sin. Then what? Christ must appear in that law as our righteousness, and then Christ is lifted up. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” John 12:32.

    Here we look at the cross of Calvary. What has made us look at it? Christ is drawing us. Angels of God are in this world, at work upon human minds, and the man is drawn to the One who uplifts him, and the One who uplifts him draws him to repentance. It is no work of his own; there is nothing that he can do that is of any value at all except to believe.

    As he sees Christ hanging upon the cross of Calvary he sees that He loves sinners, those who were at enmity with God. He begins to marvel, and is abased. What is the reason for this? Why, he sees that there is a transgressed law, and that man cannot keep it, but he sees Christ, and with hope and faith he grasps the arm of infinite power and repents at every step. Of what? That he has violated every principle of the law of Jehovah.

    Paul says he taught from house to house repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. What did Christ come to our world for? To attract the mind and bring it to repentance. Here we have the love of the Father in giving His son to die for fallen man, that he might keep the law of Jehovah.

    Now Jesus stands in our world, His divinity clothed with humanity, and man must be clothed with Christ’s righteousness. Then he can, through the righteousness of Christ, stand acquitted before God.

    O, I am glad I have a saviour! We must have the Holy Spirit to combine with man’s human effort. We can do nothing without Christ. “Without me, ye can do nothing.” “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” Revelation 3:20. I am so glad that we can be partakers of the divine nature, and that through Jesus Christ we can be conquerors. This is the victory–even your faith, feelings, and good works? Is that it? No; “This is the victory. . . , even your faith” 1 John 5:4.

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