The James Begg Society

The James Begg Society

Publishers of Protestant, Reformed Christian Literature

In Spirit and in Truth:
An Anthology of Christian Worship

Compiled by Michael Marzan-Esher

Published by The James Begg Society © 2003


Dear Reader,

I hope you will agree with me that as we approach the word of God we must come with an attitude of reverence and godly fear and trembling, for our God is thrice holy and a consuming fire. The Psalmist says"For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name" (Psa. 138:2), and that "the law of the LORD is perfect," indeed "more to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold" (Psa. 19:7,10).

Sadly, many of the items appearing in this anthology may well seem controversial, but let us pray that we may imitate the Bereans who "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). The foundational introductory questions to the Westminster Shorter Catechism are of such a help, namely "What is the chief end of man?" Answer: "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." Secondly, God has given us the word of God as "the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him."

Many today have an obvious zeal for God, but, if the thrust of this book is correct, it is a zeal without knowledge. Our hearts are deceitful above all things, says Jeremiah (Jer. 17:9), and we have a devil who has six thousand years of experience twisting scripture (Gen. 3:1), and he is oh! so very subtil. His desire is that we should worship him, but Jesus said, "Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Matt. 4:9,10).

The apostle tells us (1 Cor. 2:14), that "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Few Christians would doubt the absolute necessity of being born again (margin: "from above"), for the word of God says, "Ye must be born again" (John 3:3,7). If the Lord in the miraculous sovereign decree of election chooses to save a hell-deserving sinner, then we shall be a trophy of his grace alone, translated out of darkness into the wonderful light of Christ. If we are not born again, we can never be a Christian. If we turn to the next chapter of John's gospel, we see the saviour speaking to a woman of Samaria and telling her that "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). We meet again with the word "must." Now our Lord Jesus explains what truth is in his high priestly prayer to his father, namely, "Sanctify them through thy truth. Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). So our worship of God must come from hearts regenerated by himself (i.e., must be "born again"), but also "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa. 8:20), i.e. in truth.

If our worship lacks either or both of these elements, then it is not biblical worship. It is not worship according to the pattern (Exod. 25:40), but is every man doing what seems right in his own eyes (Jud. 17:6), with his own inventions (Psa. 106:39), in will-worship (Col. 2:23).

May we, both reader and compiler, "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind" (Matt. 22:37); and that Christ would be to us the "rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys" (Song 2:1), the "altogether lovely," the "chief amongst ten thousand," my beloved and my friend (Song 5:10,16).

Sadly, I am very much aware that what should unite the Lord's people does not, but I have included Anglican, Baptist and Presbyterian authors to show that true worship transcends denominations. There is, of course, repetition of arguments, but I have let the authors speak as I have found the texts.

It is the prayer and wish of the compiler that the Lord would be pleased to use these writers to speak to our generation, and that a reformation in biblical worship may result in the church of Jesus Christ, as she searches the scriptures.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Michael Marzan-Esher.