B. G. Hope
Bowling Green, Kentucky
In Psalms 27:4 David said: "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple."
The author placed a value upon one thing above all others, and that was "to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of his life." Our accomplishments are determined by our desires, and the realization of our desires in proportion to the strength of them. Divided aims have a tendency to weaken and to thwart and, perhaps, completely destroy our accomplishments. The important thing in David's life was "to dwell in the house of the Lord." He had set his affection upon that.
His talents, possessions, and abilities were instruments toward the accomplishment of the desires of his heart. The Psalmist also said that he would "seek after this desire."
Desire without effort is not much more than a wish. Someone has likened desires to seeds that are sown in the soil of activity.
David did not think of the responsibilities of dwelling in the house of the Lord as being wearisome, but he longed to be constantly engaged in them as a pleasure. He really suggests that his desire was to be one of God's children living at home with his Father. These statements have an application in the lives of people who are Christians today.
What is the "house of God?" (1) It was the tabernacle. Later, it was the temple, the place where God had promised to meet His children. (2) To a Christian it is the church of the Lord. I Tim. 3:15 says: "But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth," So the concern of accountable people today should be their relationship to the church.
Could it be possible, would it be possible for us to have the same attitude toward the church that David had toward the tabernacle, which was typical of the church? There are two things involved in being in it:
1. Becoming a member of the church or entering the house of God, and
2. Remaining in the house of God all the days of our lives--faithfulness.
It appears to me that an accountable person would be foolish to have no desire to enter the church of the Lord. The church is made up of the members of the body of Christ. Christ is the head.
The steps into Christ--into the body of Christ -- are taught in the following passages:
1. HEAR--In John 5:44, 45: Jesus said: "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me."
2. BELIEVE-- Mark 16:16: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
3. REPENT--Acts 2:38: "Then Peter said unto them, 'Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."'
4. CONFESS--Acts 8:37: "And Phillip said, If thou believes" with all shine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God."
5. BE BAPTIZED--Acts 2:38 (quoted above) and Gal. 3:26,27: "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ."
Unless the penitent believer is baptized into Christ, he does not come into possession of the remission of sins and all spiritual blessings. Eph. 1:3: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." And Eph. 1:7: "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace . . ."
Remaining in the house of God involves the maintaining of certain principles in one's life: A child of God must bear fruit. If he fails to bear fruit, he is cut off (John 15:2). There are at least two fields in which he may bear fruit. They are, first, by influencing people to be Christians. In Phil. 4 Paul referred to the gift from the Philippian church as a means of bearing fruit to their account. Phil. 4: 17 says: "Not because I desire a gift; but I desire fruit that may abound to your account." When a child of God ceases to influence people or bear fruit, he need not expect anything other than to be cast off and finally burned up. We teach people by word of mouth and by our own lives.
In the second place there are certain qualities that we develop as a Christian that are referred to as "fruit." In Gal. 5:22, 23 Paul said: "But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law."
One cannot remain in Christ, in the house of God,- unless he develops in the two ways mentioned above. Thus the Christian must "seek after" these things. It requires effort to remain in the house of God. He has to work to possess the "fruit of the spirit," and also to teach others the gospel, thus have fruit to his account.
A child of God must keep himself unspotted from the world (Titus 2:11-14; Gal. 5: 19; I Jno. 2:15). A child of God must love his loved ones less than he loves Christ to dwell in the house of the Lord. It requires effort and sacrifice.
The person with the right conception of the church is able to see the beauties of the church. It is not the beauty of the artist or the architecture that we have in mind, but such beauties that come in the Lord through the gospel. The fruits of the spirit are qualities that will beautify and the possession of them beautifies one's soul. "Holiness is beautiful; mercy is beautiful; truth is beautiful." A combination of the several beauties makes up a rare beauty. "Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other" (Ps. 85:10). What is more beautiful than to see patience, kindness, forgiveness, prayerfulness, courage, faith, and love blended together as qualities describing a soul? These are the principles, the beauties we see in the house of God as a result of being guided by the Word of the Lord.
Truth Magazine, VIII: 2, pp. 1-2, 24 November 1963