Seeking His Glory

If it is right for man to have the glory of God as his goal, can it be wrong for God to have the same goal? If man can have no higher purpose than God’s glory, how can God? If it is wrong for man to seek a lesser end than this, it would be wrong for God, too. The reason it cannot be right for man to live for himself, as if he were God, is because he is not God. However, it cannot be wrong for God to seek His own glory, simply because He is God. Those who insist that God should not seek His glory in all things are really asking that He cease to be God. And there is no greater blasphemy than to will God out of existence.

—J.I. Packer, Hot Tub Religion, 38

Life Purpose

Every Christian’s life-purpose must be to glorify God. This is the believer’s official calling. Everything we say and do, all our obedience to God’s commands, all our relationships with others, all the use we make of the gifts, talents, and opportunities that God gives us, all our enduring of adverse situations and human hostility, must be so managed as to give God honor and praise for His goodness to those on whom He sets His love (1 Cor. 10:31; cf. Matt. 5:16; Eph. 3:10; Col. 3:17). Equally important is the truth that every Christian’s full-time employment must be to please God. . . . Pleasing God in everything must be our goal (2 Cor. 5:9; Col. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4; 4:1).

J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs, 185

Oh, wait…

RANT ABOUT WORSHIP SONGS

Here are some of the things I really hate in a worship song.

  1. Too simplistic, banal, lacking in depth, shallow, doctrineless: Consider that one that just talks about unity among brothers that only mentions God in passing at the very end.
  2. It’s so repetitive. I mean, come on, how many times can you repeat “His steadfast love endures forever” before you start thinking the song is going to go on forever? Examples: here and here.
  3. For some songs, the focus is too much on instruments, and the sheer volume leads to its seeming more like a performance than worship and prevents quiet contemplation.
  4. There might be too much emphasis on too intimate a relationship with God, using first-person singular pronouns like “me” and “I” or second-person pronouns like “you” instead of words like “we” and “God”. This fosters a spirit of individualism, and it generates an atmosphere of religious euphoria rather than actual worship of God. Worship should be about God, not about us. Or what about the ones that use physical language to describe God and our relationship with him? Can you really stomach the idea of tasting God?
  5. Some songs have way too many words for anyone to learn.
  6. It patterns its worship on experiences that not everyone in the congregation will be able to identify with. If you’re not in the frame of mind or don’t have the emotional state in question (e.g. a desperate longing for God. Then what are you doing lying and singing it? Worship leaders who encourage that sort of thing are making their congregations sing falsehoods.
  7. Then there’s that song with the line asking God not to take the Holy Spirit away, as if God would ever do that to a genuine believer.
  8. Then there’s that song that basically says nothing except expressing negative emotions.

At this point I’m so outraged that people would pass this sort of thing off as worship that I’m almost inclined to give in to the people who think we shouldn’t sing anything but the psalms. Oh, wait…

—Jeremy Pierce, https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/08/rant-worship

 

Sovereign Creator

The Christian tradition affirms God’s utter freedom in creating.  There is no internal necessity for God to create—God did not need to create the world for his own self-fulfillment or self-realization.  Nor is there some external constraint upon God.  Contrast the myths of neighboring societies or the philosophies of the early Greek cosmologists, where a god or the gods struggle with some pre-existent material.  No such matter predates and restrains Scripture’s God.  Nor is there another god, a rival deity, provoking this God to create.  This God is free from all external compulsions.

—Jeremy S. Begbie, Resounding Truth: Christian Wisdom in the World of Music, 190

The Glory of the Lamb Slain

The centerpiece of worship in heaven for all eternity will be the display of the glory of the grace of God in the slaughtered Lamb. Angels and all the redeemed will sing of the suffering of the Lamb forever and ever. The suffering of the Son of God will never be forgotten. The greatest suffering that ever was will be at the center of our worship and our wonder forever and ever.

–John Piper, Providence, 174

The Price and the Prize

In the beauty of the love and wisdom and power of His triumphant suffering (1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:7-9), Christ displayed the glory that His people will exult in forever. He became the price and prize of the new covenant. The ground and the goal. The redemption and the reward. This was God’s plan before the foundation of the world.

—John Piper, Providence, 174

The Glory of His Grace

The ultimate goal of God in initiating the entire plan of salvation before creation was that He would be praised for “the glory of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:6)

  • Predestination for the praise of God’s glory (1:4-6)
  • Existence for the praise of God’s glory (1:12)
  • Inheritance for the praise of God’s glory (1:14)

—John Piper, Providence, 52

Purposeful Sovereignty

God has revealed his purposeful sovereignty over good and evil in order to humble human pride, intensify human worship, shatter human hopelessness, and put ballast in the battered boat of human faith, steel in the spine of human courage, gladness in the groans of affliction, and love in the heart that sees no way forward.

—John Piper, Providence, 13

The Story

The word of God is the Story—the metanarrative that is missing in our Postmodern culture. Without the intentional, abundant, meticulous, prepared, prayerful, and respectful reading of the scriptures in worship, we are living outside of the Story of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ—the magnificent work of God in creation, redemption, and re-creation of all things.

—Constance Cherry, “My House Shall Be Called
 a House of . . . Announcements,” 13 

Fit for the King

The God whom we meet in worship and whom we serve in all of our lives is the risen ascended, exalted, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ who reigns over all, and this ought to produce confident peace, joyful hope, and powerful purpose in all that Christians do as we “set our minds on things that are above: where our life is hidden with Christ in god (Col 3:1).  In the specific context of corporate worship, it implies that public liturgy must maintain elements of grandeur and majesty fitting for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, for the one who calls us and leads us in worship is none other than the resurrected and ascended Lord of glory that John sees in his apocalyptic vision (Rev 1:12-20).

—Michael A. Farley, “Jesus’ Ascension and Christian Worship,” 2

A Community of Song (2)

When we sing together, each voice provides the setting for every other; each is the room in which every other dwells, even as each dwells in the room provided by all the others. The sopranos provide a house in which the basses dwell, and the basses lay a foundation for an aural space within which other voices live, move, and have their being. The sounds of the whole choir penetrate each singer, even as the singers inhabit the sound they produce. Voices resound and circle back, so that the sounds that go out turn back to fill the singers’ souls. Music is a Möbius strip, where inside and outside exist on a continuum, and music making is the form of mutually indwelling society, all sweetly singing together.

—Peter Leithart, Traces of the Trinity, 95-96

Fulfilled in Christ

Jesus is the new end-time Adam.

Jesus is the new end-time Israel.

Jesus is the new end-time Davidic King.

Jesus is the new end-time Priest.

Jesus is the new end-time Prophet.

Jesus is the new end-time Teacher of the Law.

Jesus is the new end-time Temple.

The church is all these things in its union with Christ.

—G. K. Beale, “Finding Christ in the Old Testament,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 63.1 (2020), 49-50


Out of Many, One

Singing is an enactment of the differentiated unity of the body of Christ. It is the Voice of the New Humanity—One Voice composed of many voices; the “one new humanity out of the two” (Eph. 2:15). As Jew and Gentile sing together they sound out the reality of the new person fashioned in Christ. The restored image of God is made sensible, manifest in time.

—Steven R. Guthrie, “The Wisdom of Song,” in Resonant Witness: Conversations Between Music and Theology (ed. Begbie), 397

 

Our Intercessor

Someone who knows what it is like to be limited by time and embodiment and hunger and anxiety and rejection and torture and pain and betrayal and thirst and contingency—who knows being human from the inside out—is present in God when we pray, and this Someone knows our every petition and our every experience as one of us who is with us in everything before we ask.

—– Fr. Kenneth Tanner, https://www.facebook.com/kenneth.tanner