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God or a System: Which? | Lottie L. Jarvis

God or a System: Which?

Personal love for God is the only safeguard for the soul against idolatry and error. When the tower builders agreed to construct the tower of Babel, they said, “Let us build us a city and a tower… and let us make us a name.”* (Genesis 11:4) “Let us build.” Let us—God was left out of the question. It was a system, an organization, which absorbed all their attention and devotion without a personal God. All through the ages this “let us,” Babylon-building spirit has been at work to hinder souls from seeing the ways of God; and it is still alive. “Let us build us a city.” “Let us form a committee.” “Let us organize.” “Let us slay [this dreamer].”* (Genesis 37:20) It is an anti-Christ system or “ism” pitted against Christ, against the Father, and against the Holy Ghost.

The ancient temple builders defied the Father. Judaism defied the Son, Jesus Christ, and hid Him from the eyes of the people. It was not the law nor the prophets which opposed Him. Individuals who had kept strictly to these recognized the Christ even when a babe. But it was the builders, those who had built up a tower of self-righteousness and human traditions, who rejected Him and set Him at naught.

Those who believed on Him, received the Spirit of truth to teach, guide, and accompany them with power. The builders of Judaism saw the boldness of Peter and John and were made to marvel at the name of Jesus Christ. Seeing also that these apostles were “unlearned and ignorant men… they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.”* (Acts 4:13) But though they acknowledged the power of God upon them, and could not deny the miracle, still their idol must be first; so they “commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.”* (Acts 4:18) That is the spirit of Babylon—idolatry from first to last. Our ism, our machinery must not be hindered, though the sick go unhealed, or the unsaved world go unevangelized. Well, what did the apostles answer this worldly-wise company? “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.”* (Acts 4:19) No, they would not bow the knee to the Babylonian idol. And when they went to their own company, “they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God.”* (Acts 4:24) Read the chapter, and examine yourself to see whether you are up to this high-water mark. When holy boldness and the Spirit of the Lord get a chance, things break up and give way. Ministers of God will not have to go in need while the laity live in comfort and luxury. Spare no idols, they are all of the enemy.

We all know that after the Apostolic day, Rome set herself up as God, or “above all that is called God,”* (2 Thessalonians 2:4) and now her myriad daughters are universally repeating her sin, namely, making visible organizations and human authority to take the place of the Lord Jesus and the Holy Ghost. This is what the apostles call “the mystery of iniquity.”* (2 Thessalonians 2:7) One writer says, “The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men—men of prayer.”1


Power Through Prayer, by Edward M. Bounds, “Men of Prayer Needed”

Another writer of former years so beautifully expressed the sentiments of this article that I will quote at length:

In loving God Himself, our individual souls have ample scope for the beautiful unfolding of our free wills, our consciences, our personal liberties, without being hampered by the tyranny of popes or cast-iron forms. God made every immortal soul to swing around Himself with an orbit, and a service and a destiny entirely unique and forever and particularly belonging to itself.

Within this orbit is also found the only true spiritual unity, for “There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.”* (1 Corinthians 12:6)

To love God personally and perfectly will produce the most perfect obedience and the most perfect heroism, and the most perfect destiny of which the soul is capable. But when people put a system, or party, or organization in their devotion, they sell their individuality of thought and service to a committee, or a company, or a system, and become like machine-made bricks in the tower of Babel, instead of living stones in the New Jerusalem. Just look at it: no Romish priest is allowed to give an explanation of Scripture not sanctioned by the cast-iron rules of Romish theology. A certain Methodist preacher said he was afraid to preach on divine healing for fear it was not sanctioned by Methodism. These both must sacrifice truth and conviction to their sect idol, and so tens of thousands are fettered in their faith, their burning zeal, their service for God, and the exercise of their gifts, by the iron cage of some stupendous “ism” which overshadows their souls and takes the place of God. To love God Himself, to commune with Him, to take His Word to ourselves personally, to obey Him with supreme personal loyalty, is our only true holiness and service. “Keep yourselves from idols.”* (1 John 5:21)

“We should not serve men nor systems,
That is not the Bible way,
But we each should follow Jesus,
Trusting Him to lead our way.”