Worship in Revelation

In Revelation 22, John is so overwhelmed by the angel who is showing him the visions that he falls down to worship the angel (22:8).

The angel quickly corrects John’s wrongly directed worship:

but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. (22:9)

And then in two words, in the very last chapter of the Bible, the angel summarizes what I think is the call, the invitation, the command of the entire Bible.

“Worship God.”

All that happens in the drama of redemption, in the scope of biblical and human history, is directed towards this ultimate goal: “Worship God.” Everybody worships something; it is all important, a matter of life and death, the difference between heaven and hell, that you worship God.

—R.M.

Advertisements

Worship in Romans (39)

The opening chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans illustrates how Jews and Gentiles have failed in their own distinctive ways to reverence and serve God acceptably (note especially Rom. 1:21-23). The refusal to glorify God as God has its consequence in every form of wickedness, abuse, hypocrisy and injustice in human relationships.

Yet Paul’s exposition of the work of Christ and its consequences (Rom. 3:21–11:36) shows how God has acted to transform this disastrous situation. Now it is possible for all to engage with God in a new way, on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice, and to offer the worship that is pleasing to him (Rom. 12:1).

—David Peterson, “Worship in the New Testament,” in Worship: Adoration and Action, 58

 

Worship in Romans (38)

After eleven chapters of the most profound theological thinking ever penned, the Apostle Paul ends the didactic part of his epistle to the Romans with a response praising God for the wonder of His Person and His ways, as they have been seen in the incredible truths which Paul has just been presenting. These truths have not remained lodged in his head alone, but have filled his heart as well; and he apparently cannot contain himself as he bursts forth with a song of praise to the God who has made these things possible. Paul has dug deeper into the depths of the divine mystery than anyone ever had, and there is still plenty of cause for standing and wondering at the still unplumbed depths of God’s wisdom and understanding and grace and love:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?
Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again?

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever. Amen!  (Romans 11:33-36)

 Paul was not just a great theologian; he was also a great worshiper. For Him, theology was not an end in itself; it was a means to the infinitely greater end of knowing God better and hence being able to praise Him more fully. He understood that it was for that purpose that He had been made and saved and called into ministry.

J. I. Packer once wrote: “The purpose of theology is doxology. We study in order to praise.”

—Ron Man, “The Principle of Praise: Theology Serves Doxology”

Worship in Romans (37)

“…in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” (Romans 15:9)

How does Paul unpack the word “glorify” from verse 9? He does it with four Old Testament quotations in verses 9–12.

As it is written, “Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.”

And again it is said, “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

And again, “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples extol him.”

And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.”

Praise, sing, rejoice, praise, extol, hope.

Glorifying God for his mercy starts with the emotions of joy (verse 10) and hope (verse 12) in the God of mercy. Joy as you savor the merciful God now, and hope as you happily expect to savor him even more in the future. Then that joy and hope overflow in praise (verse 9, 11) and song (verse 9).

This is the essence of gospel worship: Heartfelt, hope-filled joy in the God of mercy overflowing in fitting outward expressions. The reason I say this is the essence of worship is because I know there are other emotions that are part of worship besides joy. Like the sorrows of confession. But these sorrows are not true worship, unless, at root, they are sorrows for our failures to experience joy in the God of mercy. Therefore, joy in the God of mercy remains the essence of gospel worship. And that is really good news, because in God’s design, we get the mercy, God gets the glory. We get the joy, God gets the praise. We revel in hope, God receives the honor. When we call the nations to worship the true God in Christ, that is what we call them to.

—John Piper, “Gospel Worship: Holy Ambition for All the Peoples to Praise Christ”

Worship in Romans (36)

“For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy.” (Romans 15:8-9)

And what was the aim of God in this overflow of mercy for the nations?

The aim was worship. Romans 15:9: “In order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.” Notice: It’s not just that the Gentiles might receive God’s mercy or simply experience God’s mercy, but that they glorify God for His mercy. The aim of the gospel among the nations is not man-centered. Paul does not say, “Christ became a servant in order that the Gentiles might receive mercy.” He says, “Christ became a servant in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for receiving mercy.”

The ultimate aim of the gospel is God — God glorified for His mercy. Don’t fall short of the ultimate aim when you preach the gospel. Don’t just offer people mercy. Offer them the greatest gift: a merciful God, and that God glorified for His mercy. Human beings were made finally for God, not mercy. Mercy is a means not an end. Savoring mercy is not the end, savoring God for His mercy is the end.

—John Piper, “Gospel Worship: Holy Ambition for All the Peoples to Praise Christ”

 

Worship in Romans (35)

It is important to note from Romans 1–11 that theology (our belief about God) and doxology (our worship of God) should never be separated. On the one hand, there can be no doxology without theology. It is not possible to worship an unknown god. All true worship is a response to the self-revelation of God in Christ and Scripture, and arises from our reflection on who He is and what He has done. It was the tremendous truths of Romans 1–11 which provoked Paul’s outburst of praise in verses 33-36 of chapter 11. The worship of God is evoked, informed and inspired by the vision of God. Worship without theology is bound to degenerate into idolatry. Hence the indispensable place of Scripture in both public and private devotion. It is the Word of God which calls forth the worship of God.

On the other hand, there should be no theology without doxology. There is something fundamentally flawed about a purely academic interest in God. God is not an appropriate object for cool, critical, detached, scientific observation and evaluation. No, the true knowledge of God will always lead us to worship, as it did Paul. Our place is on our faces before him in adoration.

As I believe Bishop Handley Moule said at the end of the last century, we must “beware equally of an undevotional theology and of an untheological devotion.”

-—John Stott, Romans: God’s Good News for the World, 311-12

 

Worship in Romans (34)

“Do not be conformed by this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.” Romans 12:2

His actual grammar here is rather striking, isn’t it? Here is a statement, “be transformed by the renewal of your minds,” in the present tense, in the imperative mood—it’s something to do—and yet it’s in the passive voice. And here he brings us to one of the marvels of grace that enables us rightly to worship God: that we are engaged and involved in the life of sanctification; and yet the life of sanctification is a process by which we are giving ourselves over to be sanctified.

—Sinclair Ferguson, “True Spirituality, True Worship” (audio message 9/17/2004)