...

In our last installment in this department we called your attention to the fact that the lips and tongue play an important part in the believer’s prophetic calling. It is about this matter that we would call your attention somewhat more fully at this time. For the believer as a prophet of God is by no means one who simply receives revelation from God. He is the seer who has been caused to see things by God, but he is also one who reacts to what he sees. He is one who speaks concerning what he sees and hears.

We wish at this juncture to emphasize what we already stated before in a general passing remark. It is this, that man’s praise of God with tongue and lips, with pen and ink, with confession and song is determined by and dependent upon that which enters his soul through his ears and eyes. What he sees and hears of God will determine what he says of God. Added to this, of course, is the mind and heart which interpret what is seen and heard. And man having a depraved mind and heart by nature has also a seriously distorted vision and a very faulty hearing. The Scriptures declare that he does see God’s eternal power and Godhead. But so distorted is his vision in these things that seeing the power and Godhead he sees in these things a reason for hating God. And what he hears of God—as for example when he hears Him in the thunder and the tempest—only convinces him that he has added reasons for hating Him. We are not overlooking this fact when we state that what a man sees and hears determines whether he will praise God or not. When we speak of his seeing and hearing we mean the whole process including that activity of the mind and heart. For after all the physical eye does not see any more than your camera actually sees. That camera receives the light rays upon its delicate film with its chemical properties which respond to the light rays which fall upon them, but even then you still would not have a picture. You must place this film in various solutions to develop the film into a medium which you can use to print a picture. Similarly when our eye is open the light rays proceeding from the objects in front of us strike that delicate retina which only God can make—let us praise Him for it—and then, because that retina is connected with the brain by the optic nerve, that which falls upon that retina is interpreted by the mind and judged by the heart and mind as to whether it is pleasing or not, whether it is worth looking at or not and such similar things. Gut that optic nerve that connects the retina with the brain and you are blind. Your eye may be open and the image may fall upon the retina but you sail have no sight. Sight is the whole process. And when we speak here then of our praise being determined by what we see of God, we refer to that whole process.

And naturally we are speaking here of the regenerated child of God. What he sees and hears determines his praise unto God. For the unregenerated never praise God and cannot praise Him. They may go through the motions of praising Him. They may appear unto us to praise Him. They may have beautiful voices which God has given them, and they may sing the beautiful strains of such beautiful words and music as in Handel’s Messiah or of many of our beautiful hymns, and we may then call it good and beautiful. But that does not mean that God says the same thing of these works of the unregenerated. In fact the Scriptures teach us that He says quite the opposite. We are reminded of such a passage as Psalm 50 where we read in verse 16, “But unto the wicked God saith, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?” Their true nature is then pictured in verse 19 where God says to them, “Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit.” And though they took God’s covenant upon their lips God says to them, in verse 22, “Now consider ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.” That is what God says of their beautiful singing. And denying that they do praise Him, though it may look that way to man, God says in the last verse, “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God.” Note the Hebrew parallelism here. Only he who orders his conversation—his whole walk of life—aright does offer praise and glorify God. Then too we have the powerful word of God that defies all compromise in Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please him.” That is final! Beautiful renditions of words that praise God! Men are swept off their feet by the vigor and power of the song or moved to tears by the compassionate singing of God’s love and Christ’s awful suffering! Beautiful and inspiring? Perhaps, according to man’s judgment. But the Almighty One, the Holy One of Israel declares, “What hast thou to do . . . that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?” And the whole thing has not pleased Him at all, for without faith it is impossible to please Him. It has pleased Him no more than Cain’s sacrifice pleased Him, and positively stated Proverbs 15:8 declares, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord.” He abhors all these things of the natural man. And thus even the works of man in things natural and civil NEVER please Him, and are never called good by Him. Without faith it is not simply difficult to please Him.

It is IMPOSSIBLE. Let us be humble enough to allow God to have the last word.

But let us now get down to the matter at hand. Our introduction to it is getting far lengthier than we planned, but it is essential to a correct understanding of this matter. We desire to have you consider with us then that in the prophetic office of the Christian there is a constant stream of eternal spiritual life according to which the Almighty Covenant God meets His child, comes into his life by causing him to see and to hear the things concerning Him, thus entering into his life, having fellowship with him, and according to which His child responds by the opening of his lips in praise to His Creator and Redeemer. Through our eye and ear and by means of His Word our Heavenly Father, Who has also come into our hearts through His Spirit, comes consciously into our life. And then through our lips there returns to Him our conscious and willing praise. Psalm 19 is beautiful in this respect. The Psalmist first speaks of the mighty works of God in creation, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth forth His handiwork.” The Psalmist in his prophetic office plainly sees God as his Creator. Then he turns to the spiritual and speaks of the glories of God’s Word and law. And in these he sees the Lord as his Redeemer. And significantly he cries out at the end of the Psalm, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” He had seen the glory of God in the heavens and in the firmament. He had seen the wisdom, the mercy and righteousness of God in His law. Through his eyes and ears the Lord Himself had come in to teach him and to show him His beauty, and forth from the mouth of the Psalmist flows a pure stream of praise. And realizing not only that he is called to His praise, but realizing also how far short he falls in this calling, he prays that the meditation of his heart and thus the words of his mouth may be acceptable to God Whom he sees and knows as his strength (creator and sustainer) and redeemer.

Notice that the Psalmist here states that the heavens declare the glory of God. In verse 3 he states that there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Yet this is of course a figure of speech. The sun, moon, and stars, the sky, the clouds do not speak. The idea is that through them God speaks. Every moment, every fraction of a moment God speaks through these and declares to us His power, wisdom and goodness, or as Paul states in Romans 1 His “eternal power and Godhead”. Yet there is something more. God put these things there to reveal His eternal power and Godhead, His wisdom and His goodness so that man would speak. And through man as God’s prophet these creatures which of themselves cannot speak will return to God in the form of praise. Turn once also to Psalm 148 and notice all the things which the Psalmist mentions and which he commands to praise God. He speaks not only of the angels which like man are rational, moral creatures, but he speaks of the sun, moon, stars, dragons and deeps, fire, hail, snow and vapors, stormy winds, mountains, beasts, cattle, creeping things. And then he ends up with kings of the earth and all people, princes and all judges of the earth. In all these irrational and inanimate things mentioned God reveals through the eye and ear of men and angels His virtues, and then through the lips and mouth of men and angels praise must rise to God on high. In that way all God’s works return to Himself. And it is the calling of man as he is partaker of the anointing of Christ and becomes a prophet of God to live to His praise. That is why he was created at the pinnacle of the earthly creation. That is why he was created in the image of God. He fell and sought his own praise and today by nature lives only to praise men and to ascribe God’s power, wisdom and goodness to men. They praise men for inventing the camera and yet they say nothing of that wonderful eye of man which God made and after which and according to whose principles of construction man fashions his camera. Or else he in his insane folly is ready to say that his wonderful eye came from the monkey. Hopeless folly! But praises be to God, He renewed His people after the image of Christ so that anointed with His Spirit we might see God, we might hear God and we might speak His praises. The heavens declare God’s glory, but you, Christian reader, are called by God to declare with your lips His praises consciously and willingly. You are called to confess His name before men. You are called to sing His praises. More of this next time, the Lord willing.