Make Music (7)

Sensitivity and responsiveness to the created order and to other human beings—this characterizes the Holy Spirit’s work among the children of light. It is also an apt description of what happens and what is required when we sing and make music well. As we sing together we attend to the activity of our own bodies in making sound, and we regard and respond to our own song as we hear it resonate in the space around us. We hear and attune ourselves to the sound of others’ voices. We respond not only to people, but to the physical qualities of he sound we are creating with others and the physical and acoustical properties of the space in which we sing. Moreover, we submit ourselves together to a tempo, a pattern of melody and rhythm, and we respond dynamically to the shape and movement of our musical interaction.

——Stephen R. Guthrie, “Singing, in the Body and in the Spirit,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 46/4 (December 2003), 642

Make Music (2)

There is an analogy of form between the sound of people singing together and the unity to which the church aspires, and for this reason music is a particularly apt vehicle for worship. In Ephesians 5, it is in connection with the command to be filled with the Holy Spirit that Paul urges his readers to sing. Music offers a sounding image of the kind of diversified unity brought about by the Holy Spirit—“simultaneous voices which are nevertheless also one voice.” “There are many parts, but one body,” is how Paul expresses the same ideal in 1 Corinthians (12:20). It is by the Spirit that Christians are baptized into one Body (1 Cor. 12:13); but it is also the Spirit who gives diverse gifts (1 Cor. 12:7‐11)—who gives to each part of the body its special function, to each voice its distinct part in the great chorus.

—Stephen R. Guthrie, “Singing, in the Body and in the Spirit,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 46/4 (December 2003), 644

The Spirit and Our Worship

There is the action of the Holy Spirit, apart from which the true human action of worship, the proper response of man to God’s action, would be impossible.  His is the divine action within our human action of believing and responding, of hearing the Word of God, of understanding the things of God (1Cor. 2:10-16), of confessing Jesus as Lord (1 Cor. 12:3), of knowing God as Father (Rom. 8:15 f.).

—C. E. B. Cranfield, “Divine and Human Action,” Interpretation 12:4 (October, 1958):391

Come to the Table 6

The efficacy of the Lord’s Supper does not, finally, rest on our faith or our sincerity or the depth of our resolve. The energy that sustains this meal and makes it a holy meal is that which is provided through the ministry of the Spirit.

—Gordon T. Smith, A Holy Meal: The Lord’s Supper in the Life of the Church, 118

The Forgotten Participant

Each element in the gospel drama can be viewed through a Trinitarian lens. Take the festival of Christmas as one example. Despite significant references to the Holy Spirit in several appointed readings for the Christmas season, the Holy Spirit is the forgotten participant in the Christmas drama. We see this omission not only in the Christmas card selection at Hallmark but also in music for the season. Yet the juxtaposition of “Christmas” and “Holy Spirit” challenges our understanding of each. First, it anchors our understanding of the Spirit’s work in the person of Jesus Christ: the Holy Spirit is not just any spirit we feel; it is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Second, it makes our understanding of Christmas more dynamic and personal: the Spirit that came upon Mary is the same Spirit that anointed Jesus to preach good news to the poor and raised him from the dead, and that has now been poured into our hearts. The Spirit makes us participants in the Christmas drama.

A fully Trinitarian approach to Christmas will work to highlight and probe these themes.

—John D. Witvliet, “The Trinitarian DNA of Christian Worship: Perennial Themes in Recent Theological Literature”, 13

Defining Worship 34

Any definition of Christian worship must be formulated within the framework of the Trinitarian nature of the faith.

Our worship must be God-centered. This should be obvious, but we often lose sight of it and focus our attention on people. If worship loses its God-centeredness, it ceases to be holy convocation and may become something akin to a common assembly, a rally, a theatrical performance, or an awards ceremony. This is not true worship. People should come away from a worship service with a fresh awareness of the majesty of God, with a desire to glorify God, and with renewed commitment to serve God.

Second, worship must be in Christ, the Son of God, who came into the world and brought salvation to us. Because He is the full revelation of the Godhead and the one way of access to the Father, He must be the focal point of worship. If He is not and we try to worship God without reference to the divine Son of God, then we have failed to follow God’s revelation through to its culmination in the plan of redemption. Believers should come away from a worship service with a renewed assurance of the grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, of forgiveness through his blood, of acceptance into his eternal kingdom. And with a fresh commitment to give him the preeminence (Col. 1:18).

Third, because the Holy Spirit is the one who enables all spiritual service, all genuine worship must be by the Spirit. Without falling into the error of denying the physical part of worship, we must recognize that worship is to be spiritual—inspired by by the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, genuine and life-giving because it flows from the Spirit. And as this happens, the Spirit will not draw attention to Himself but will point to Christ, will not lead into error but into righteousness, and will not produce responses that are foreign or out of harmony with the Word of God but will empower the Word to produce fruit in the lives of the worshippers.  When worshippers come away from a service that is truly spiritual, they will come away with zeal to love and serve the Lord. It will not be contrived or forced, and it will not be momentary enthusiasm; rather, the Spirit will continue to work in them to produce godliness.

—Allen P. Ross, Recalling The Hope Of Glory: Biblical Worship From The Garden To The New Creation, 66-67