Psalms for Life

We walk through these one hundred and fifty poems, Christ’s own prayer book, in the hope that we will perceive the shape of faithful prayer, faithful witness, faithful living, faithful friendship, and faithful work. We walk this way, ultimately, with Jesus, for whom these psalms are His heart song.

—W. David O. Taylor, Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life, Kindle Locatiom 2499

 

Receiving and Participating

Through the liturgy of the church, God comes to, speaks to, and joins with the worshiping community in Jesus Christ through the power of the Spirit, and worshipers offer a response which is inspired by the Spirit and is united to the prayers and worship of Jesus Christ.  In this way, a trinitarian theology of worship calls worshipers not to generate their own proclamation about God nor to muster up their own acclamation to God, but rather to receive the gift of the Word of God and to participate in the worship offered by Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit.

—John D. Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition, 297

Worldliness

Worldliness is whatever any culture does to make sin seem normal and righteousness to be strange.  When we imbibe the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the age) of worldliness, then we feel strange trying to think Christianly and to act according to the Bible’s mandates.  That is, when we think the world’s thoughts after it and do not think God’s thoughts after Him, we will not be motivated to do the things that God wants us to do, but we will only feel comfortable acting in a manner that fits into the world’s way of doing things.  This is why Christians who cease going to church begin to feel more and more comfortable in the world and less and less comfortable in the church.  For the same reason, this is why regular attendance at church is so important.  At church we worship by hearing God’s Word, praising God, praying, partaking of the Lord’s Supper and fellowshipping, all of which encourages believers and convinces them that they indeed are the ones who are normal and that the world is strange before God’s eyes.  Believers need to encourage one another that, from the biblical perspective, it is normal for God’s people to reflect Christ and his behavior and not the world’s.

—Gregory K. Beale,We Become What We Worship: A Biblical Theology of Idolatry, 300

A Gift to Be Received

Christian liturgy should tangibly reflect the fact that participation in worship is a gift to be received more than an accomplishment to be sought, that Christians do not make corporate worship a divine encounter but receive it as such.

—John D. Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), 230

The Word Read

Part of what we need is simply to recover the idea that reading of Scripture is itself a powerful act of worship.  Rather than thinking of Scripture reading in worship as a short preface to the sermon, try thinking of the sermon as an extended footnote to the reading of scripture.

—John D. Witvliet, “Isaiah in Christian Liturgy: Recovering Textual Contrasts and Correcting Theological Astigmatism,” Calvin Theological Journal 39 (2004):150

“I Am with You”

Throughout the history of God’s people the phrase “I am with you” conveys the sense that God will defend, protect, strengthen, comfort, and guide His redeemed people to an enduring experience of His presence. God’s presence sustains His people. Jesus, Immanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:23), promises God’s ongoing presence: “I will be with you always” (Matt. 28:20). . . . Christ, our great high priest, has been exalted to God’s right hand, where He intercedes for his people so that they may approach God’s throne of grace to find grace in time of need (Heb. 4:14-16). Jesus promised His ongoing presence, and this role is fulfilled by the Spirit’s indwelling. The Spirit plays the central role in sustaining God’s people during their wilderness journey to the heavenly city.

 

—J. Scott Duvall & J. Daniel Hays, God’s Relational Presence: The Cohesive Center of Biblical Theology, 333-334

Creation’s Praise

The heavens are telling the glory of God.
The very shape of starry space makes news of God’s handiwork.
One day is brimming over with talk for the next day,
and each night passes on intimate knowledge to the next night.
There is no speaking, no words at all, you can’t hear their voice, but—
their glossolalia travels throughout the whole earth!
their uttered noises carry to the end of inhabited land!

—Psalm 19:1-4, translated by Calvin Seerveld, Voicing God’s Psalms, 8

Creation Joy

God ravishes us with His creation and so summons faithful praise from the human heart. Here we see how creation invites us to participate in its joy in God, and in giving ourselves willingly to this joy, we discover our true purpose as creatures made in the image of a joyful God: to faithfully reflect the divine image in all contexts of our created life as royal representatives of our Creator-King.

W. David O. Taylor, Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life

Triunity (3)

It is the Father who desires our holiness (Eph. 1:4; Rom. 8:29), it is Christ who breaks the power of sin and makes holiness a possibility and it is the Spirit who applies the power of the cross of Christ to our lives to make us holy.

—Robin Parry, Worshiping Trinity, 59

Triunity (2)

THREE IN ONE, ONE IN THREE, GOD OF MY SALVATION,
Heavenly Father, blessed Son, eternal Spirit,
I adore Thee as one Being, one Essence,
one God in three distinct Persons,
for bringing sinners to Thy knowledge and to Thy kingdom.

О Father, Thou hast loved me and sent Jesus to redeem me;
О Jesus, Thou hast loved me and assumed my nature,
shed Thine own blood to wash away my sins,
wrought righteousness to cover my unworthiness;
О Holy Spirit, Thou hast loved me and entered my heart,
implanted there eternal life,
revealed to me the glories of Jesus.

Three Persons and one God, I bless and praise Thee,
for love so unmerited, so unspeakable, so wondrous,
so mighty to save the lost and raise them to glory.
О Father, I thank Thee that in fullness of grace
Thou hast given me to Jesus,
to be His sheep, jewel, portion;
О Jesus, I thank Thee that in fullness of grace
Thou hast accepted, espoused, bound me;
О Holy Spirit, I thank Thee that in fullness of grace
Thou hast exhibited Jesus as my salvation,
implanted faith within me,
subdued my stubborn heart,
made me one with Him forever.

О Father, Thou art enthroned to hear my prayers,
О Jesus, Thy hand is outstretched to take my petitions,
О Holy Spirit, Thou art willing to help my infirmities,
to show me my need, to supply words, to pray within me,
to strengthen me that I faint not in supplication.

О Triune God, who commandeth the universe,
Thou hast commanded me to ask for those things
that concern thy kingdom and my soul.
Let me live and pray as one baptized into the threefold Name.

The Valley of Vision

Triunity

Because the Spirit’s coming includes the coming of the Father and the Son in so far as He mediates and manifests their presence in and among believers (14:23), the Spirit’s presence establishes the trinitarian dwelling of God with His people both now and forever (14:1-3, 16). As such, the Spirit’s coming is in perfect continuity with Jesus’ earthly mission, and complements it in the divine economy of salvation (14:17-18). Through the indwelling of the Spirit, the ancient covenant promise (again) is fulfilled in a distinctly trinitarian way: ‘I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people’ (Lev. 26:12; cf. Rev. 21:3).  God’s personal presence is mediated to believers by the Spirit of the Father and the Son.

—Andreas J. Köstenberger and Scott R. Swain, Father, Son and Spirit: The Trinity and John’s Gospel, 188

“He will glorify Me” (John 16:14) (4)

[Acts 2] Notice how Peter’s sermon effectively moves from the signs that the crowd has witnessed, back to Jesus, who is Himself the center of it all. The marvels of that Pentecost gathering are seen merely as pointers to the One who is the center.

—Edith Humphrey, Grand Entrance: Worship on Earth as in Heaven, 52

 

“He will glorify Me” (John 16:14) (3)

Babel is inverted Pentecost and Pentecost is Babel turned right side up. It is so because God takes the initiative and does His building from His throne, at whose right hand the risen and ascended Christ is seated. I think it safe to say that at Pentecost stylistic singularity went out the window and a thousand tongues turned out not to suffice.

—Harold Best, Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts, 170

“He will glorify Me” (John 16:14)

Think of it this way. It is as if the Spirit stands behind us, throwing light over our shoulder, on Jesus, who stands facing us. The Spirit’s message is never, “Look at Me; listen to Me; come to Me; get to know Me,” but always, “Look at Him, and see His glory; listen to Him, and hear His word; go to Him, and have life; get to know Him, and taste His gift of joy and peace.”

—J. I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit, 66

Our Ascended Mediator (5)

The Ascension is the essential link between the Jesus who walked this earth and the Lord of heaven; the Christ who entered our world of time and space and now reigns in glory in the eternal world; the Savior who died on Calvary’s Cross and the High Priest who ever lives to make intercession in heaven for His people on earth.

Peter Atkins, Ascension Now, 67

Our Ascended Mediator (4)

The Ascension event allowed the disciples and the current worshiper to access the presence of Christ wherever they were located in time and space.

Even the resurrection appearances allowed Christ to be accessed only by those in certain locations. If Thomas was not with the rest of the disciples when the resurrected Christ appeared, the Thomas had no access to Jesus (John 20:24-29). Thomas had to be in the right location to confront the Christ with His challenge and to respond in faith. After the Ascension, access to Christ was open to any worshiper who drew near in heart and soul. In Christ there was full assurance of access to the Godhead wherever the worshiper might be located.

The expansion of the Church has been built on the principle that Christ and the Godhead can be accessed from any point on the globe and at any time in history. The worshiper is no nearer to Christ in the places of the historical setting of the Jesus of Nazareth. Pilgrimage can enliven faith by making real the geography of the Gospels and assuring the disciple that the gospel is not a fable. We know that the life of Jesus is rooted in geography and in history. Yet the access to the exalted Lord is readily available at whatever time and place suit the worshiper. Christians live by this assumption, but it is important to realize that the assumption rests on the doctrine of the Ascension.

Peter Atkins, Ascension Now, 93-94