God is . . .

. . . the eternal, independent, and self-existent Being; the Being whose purposes and actions spring from himself, without foreign motive or influence; he who is absolute in dominion; the most pure, the most simple, the most spiritual of all essences; infinitely perfect; and eternally self-sufficient, needing nothing that he has made; illimitable in his immensity, inconceivable in his mode of existence, and indescribable in his essence; known fully only by himself, because an infinite mind can only be fully comprehended by itself.  In a word, a Being who, from his infinite wisdom, cannot err or be deceived, and from his infinite goodness, can do nothing but what is eternally just, and right, and kind.

—Adam Clarke (1762–1832)

At Home

Bible translation is the irreplaceable ingredient that preserves the essence of Christianity as a religion without a fixed language or cultural center, at home in any and every socio-cultural context.

—Michel Kenmogne, “Bible Translation Is the Key to a Christian Faith ‘at Home’ in Any Culture,” Evangelical Missions Quarterly July–September 2022, 14.

Thrice Holy

The only context in Scripture where a word is repeated three times: . . . in Isaiah 6 and in Revelation 4:8, where the heavenly beings cry aloud to God:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord . . .”

The emphasis teaches us that if there is one thing about God that is supremely important, it is His holiness: His moral glory, His distinctiveness from everything in his creation, and the perfection and beauty of His character.  

—Eric Alexander, Our Great God and Saviour, 23

Paradigm Shift!

We are so used to Psalms and prophets inviting Gentiles to worship Yahweh that we forget how innovative it was in the time of David. In the songs and hymns recorded earlier in Scripture, Gentiles are included only as enemies to be crushed, killed, dashed, drowned, and hammered in the head.

—Peter J. Leithart, From Silence To Song: The Davidic Liturgical Revolution, 50

Most Moved Mover

So far from fitting the classical pattern of God as “the Unmoved Mover,” the God shown in the historical record is “the Most Moved Mover.” This is the One who lives with us and whom we approach from within the community of prayerful love.

—Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 253

Praise in the Psalms

The title of the book of psalms in Hebrew is Tehillim, “praises.” This is so even though the largest single category of psalms are the psalms of lament. Praise in the Old Testament was not just about being happy and thankful but about acknowledging the reality of the one living God in the whole of life–including the tough times. So even in those psalms which are mostly in a troubled mode, there is a movement toward praise. Even the whole book of psalms moves from the predominant supplement and petitionary psalms in the early sections to the almost complete dominance of praise in the final section.

—Christopher Wright, The Mission of God, 132

The Way

The Way we speak of is Jesus, the “luminous Nazarene,” as Albert Einstein once called him. Along with two thieves, he was executed by the authorities about two thousand years ago. Yet today, from countless paintings, statues, and buildings, from literature and history, from personality and institution, from profanity, popular song, and entertainment media, from confession and controversy, from legend and ritual—Jesus stands quietly at the center of the contemporary world, as he himself predicted. He so graced the ugly instrument on which he died that the cross has become the most widely exhibited and recognized symbol on earth.

—Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, 11-12

Mission Is God’s

In…trying to come to a biblical definition of what we mean by mission, we are in effect asking the question, Whose mission is it anyway? The answer, it seems to me, could be expressed as a paraphrase of the song of the redeemed in the new creation. “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:10). Since the whole Bible is the story of how this God, “our God,” has brought about his salvation for the whole cosmos…we can affirm with equal validity, “mission belongs to our God.” Mission is not ours; mission is God’s.

—Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative, 62

Glory Be

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost,
As it was in the beginning, is now, and never shall be,
World without end, Amen.

This is not just a liturgically conventional way to end prayers and canticles. It is a missional perspective on history past, present and future, and one day it will be the song of the whole creation.

—Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative, 64

Spiritual Sacrifices

If the church is the temple, it stands to reason that her worship is a new covenant development of temple worship. Other New Testament writers, assuming the temple ecclesiology that Paul develops explicitly, describe Christian worship in terms of sacrifice. Peter, having reminded his readers that they are a “spiritual house for a holy priesthood,” goes on to explain that their purpose is to offer up πνευματικας θυσίας (1 Pet 2:5). Similarly, the writer of Hebrews urges his readers to θυσίαν αίνέσεως (Heb 13:15). In both passages, the verb used is άναθέρω, which is used frequently in the LXX to describe sacrificial procedures (see Gen 8:20; 22:2; Exod 24:5; 29:18; Lev 2:16; 3:5; etc.).

—Peter J. Leithart, “Synagogue or Temple? Models for the Christian Worship,” Westminster Theological Journal 63 (2002): 131

Old and New

When Hebrews 13 said that we are to offer a “sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips,” those words were not uttered in a liturgical and theological vacuum; the mind of the first-century Jew would no doubt go immediately to his experience as a worshiper in the temple and synagogue. When Peter said that Christians form a royal priesthood for offering spiritual sacrifice, that too was inevitably understood in the context of Jewish worship. When Jesus called the Lord’s Supper “My memorial,” He was using a term that the Jews would have associated with their sacrificial system. In purely historical terms, if we want to understand the New Testament’s descriptions of worship, we are forced to examine the Old Testament worship.

—Peter J. Leithart, From Silence To Song: The Davidic Liturgical Revolution, 106-107