As Karl Barth says, the wrath of God, the “no” of God against our sin in Romans 1, is the “next-to-last word.” And the next-to-last word is for the sake of the last word, the “yes” of the gospel. Realignment comes first with the atoning work of Christ in Romans 3, the resulting new life in the Spirit in Romans 6-8, finding our place in God’s story in Romans 9-11, and the resulting new community in Romans 12-16.
—Don Williams, “A Charismatic Worship Response,” in Exploring the Worship Spectrum, 245
It is very tempting to conceive of a worship leader as the spiritual engine that drives the worship train, or the highly-charged sideline coach who needs to keep her team fired up.
This puts all the focus on our agency, a vision that doesn’t square with the New Testament. In the New Testament, our agency as worshipers and leaders is intimately linked with what Jesus is doing as we worship and with what the Holy Spirit is doing as we worship.
Our congregation’s worship is not ultimately mediated by your level of or capacity for emotional engagement but by the perfect mediating work of Jesus, effected through the Holy Spirit. Praise God! This can free you—and all of us—to engage emotionally, but without a sense of burden that it all depends on us.
—John Witvliet, Reformed Worship 116, 45-46
The Holy Spirit cannot be divided from the Father and Son in worship. If you remain outside the Spirit, you cannot worship, and if you are in Him you cannot separate Him from God. Light cannot be separated from what it makes visible, and it is impossible for you to recognize Christ, the Image of the invisible God, unless the Spirit enlightens you. Once you see the Image, you cannot ignore the light; you see the Light and Image simultaneously. It is fitting that when we see Christ, the Brightness of God’s glory, it is always through the illumination of the Spirit.
—Dennis Ngien, Gifted Response: The Triune God as the Causative Agency of our Responsive Worship, 30
Although worship is our response to love, it is actually better thought of as the Spirit’s gift to us of a response to God or, in Matt Redman’s words, ‘a gifted response’. We can only respond to God in praise because the Holy Spirit causes love for God to arise in our hearts (Rom. 5:5), enabling us to cry ‘Abba, Father!’ (Gal. 4:6). Without the Spirit we could not even sincerely say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ (I Cor. 12:3). And, as we have seen, even that is not the full story, because the response the Spirit enables us to make to the Father is actually simply a sharing in Christ’s own response to the Father. The Spirit, in other words, is the one who baptizes us into Christ (I Cor. 12:13) and enables us to share with Christ in His worship of the Father.
—Robin Parry, Worshiping Trinity, 97
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.” The Spirit, we might say, is the matchmaker, the celestial marriage broker, whose role it is to bring us and Christ together and ensure that we stay together.
—J. I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit, 66
Completely prodigal in His love for us, the Son spent all he had. He faced complete humiliation and the dereliction of being cut off even from the sense of his Father’s presence on the cross. Then, in the ascension, He returned home, ragged from his sojourn with us. The Father embraced Him with joyful relief and acceptance, enfolding the Son’s humanity into the robes of his presence.
—Gerritt Dawson, Jesus Ascended: The Meaning of Christ’s Continuing Incarnation, 62
This is that festival which confirms the grace of all the festivals together, without which the profitableness of every festival would have perished. For unless the Savior had ascended into heaven, His nativity would have come to nothing . . . and His passion would have borne no fruit for us, and His most holy Resurrection would have been useless.