Old Things

The content of public worship is of immense importance. Writing in a different context, P. T. Forsyth said, “The preacher is not there to astonish people with the unheard of, he is there to revive them in what they have long heard.” What is so for preaching—which is in itself an act of worship which is foundational to any public assembly for worship—is also true for the context in which preaching takes place. Every element of the public worship of the people of God must communicate the true content of the faith, which finds its focus on the person and work of Jesus the Messiah.

—Noel Due, Created for Worship, 235

Mystery and Wonder

Here lies the mystery, the wonder, the glory of the Gospel, that He who is God, the Creator of all things, and worthy of the worship and praises of all creation, should become man and as a man worship God, and as a man lead us in our worship of God, that we might become the sons of God we are meant to be.

—James B. Torrance, “The Place of Jesus Christ in Worship,” in Theological Foundations for Ministry, 351

The Neglected Trinity (16)

Through the liturgy of the church, God comes to, speaks to, and joins with the worshiping community in Jesus Christ through the power 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. This understanding of liturgy commends liturgical actions which acknowledge the mediation of Christ and the Holy Spirit, and reflect the joy, confidence, and gratitude that is a fitting response to gifts of divine grace.

—John D. Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Notre Dame, 1997), 297

The Neglected Trinity (7)

At the center of the Christian understanding of worship is the notion that God is not only the One to whom worship is addressed; God is also an agent in making our worship possible. The Holy Spirit inspires our worship and, when we are unable or do not know how to pray, prays for us and through us. Jesus Christ mediates our worship as the high priest who brings our prayers before God and who indeed “ever lives to pray for us’ (Heb 7:25, my trans.). This means that the triune God is active in our worship, receiving, inspiring and perfecting our words, thoughts, gestures and actions, a beautiful triune dance that makes our activity in worship not an onerous obligation through which we hope to reach God, but rather a joyful active participation in a divine mystery beyond our comprehension. . . . Trinitarian Christians celebrate and savor the mediatorial agency of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in every aspect of worship.

—John D. Witvliet, “What to Do with Our Renewed Trinitarian Enthusiasm: Forming Trinitarian Piety and Imagination through Worship and Catechesis,” in Trinitarian Theology for the Church: Scripture, Community, Worship, 240-1

The Centrality of the Gospel (3)

When people call for “deeds, not creeds,” asking, “What Would Jesus Do?” without much interest in the query, “What has Jesus done?” identifying themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” they are asking for the law without the gospel.

—Michael Horton, Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples, 40