True Worship

Significantly, in the call to true worship in Romans 12, Paul calls believers to reverse the false worship described in Romans 1. Instead of worshipping ‘created things rather than the Creator’ (Rom. 1:25), Paul calls us to be involved in ‘spiritual worship’ (12:1). Instead of degrading our ‘bodies’ (1:24), we are called to offer our ‘bodies’ to God (12:1). Instead of ‘sexual impurity’ (1:24), we are called to offer the sacrifice that is ‘holy’ (12:1). Once given over to a ‘depraved mind’ (1:28), the ‘mind’ will now be renewed (12:2). Once being ‘filled with every kind of wickedness’ (1:29), we are called not to ‘conform any longer to the pattern of this world’ (12:2). If Romans 1 describes the ingratitude (cf. 1:21) that characterizes those who refuse to worship Him, Romans 12 calls us to offer all of ourselves ‘as living sacrifices’ (12:1) to Him who deserves all praise and thanksgiving.

—David W. Pao, Thanksgiving: An Investigation of a Pauline Theme, 102

Come, Holy Spirit (5)

The Spirit makes known the personal presence in and with the Christian and the church of the risen, reigning Saviour, the Jesus of history, who is the Christ of faith. Scripture shows . . . that since the Pentecost of Acts 2 this, essentially, is what the Spirit is doing all the time as He empowers, enables, purges, and leads generation after generation of sinners to face the reality of God. And He does it in order that Christ may be known, loved, trusted, honored and praised, which is the Spirit’s aim and purpose throughout as it is the aim and purpose of God the Father, too. This is what, in the last analysis, the Spirit’s new covenant ministry is all about. . . . The distinctive, constant, basic ministry of the Holy Spirit under the new covenant is so to mediate Christ’s presence to believers—that is, to give them the knowledge of His presence with them as their Saviour, Lord, and God—that three things keep happening:

First, personal fellowship with Jesus . . . becomes a reality of experience, even though Jesus is now not here on earth in bodily form, but is enthroned in heaven’s glory.

Second, personal transformation of character into Jesus’ likeness starts to take place as, looking to Jesus, their model, for strength, believers worship and adore Him and learn to lay out and, indeed, lay down their lives for Him and for others.

Third, the Spirit-given certainty of being loved, redeemed, and adopted through Christ into the Father’s family, so as to be “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17), makes gratitude, delight, hope, and confidence—in a word, assurance-blossom in believers’ hearts.

By these phenomena of experience, Spirit-given knowledge of Christ’s presence . . . shows itself.

J. I. Packer, Keep in Step with the Spirit, 47,49

Come, Holy Spirit

If we ask the New Testament authors, “What is the nature of the Spirit’s work?” we receive a plethora of information. It is the Holy Spirit, for example, who is the One who makes God’s love real for us—”God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 5:5). In a sense, it is He who stands at the threshold of the Christian life, for only He can enable us to embrace Christ as Savior and Lord—”no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). Then, it is the Spirit who gives us the boldness to come into the presence of the awesome and almighty Maker of heaven and earth and call Him “Dear Father”—”God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Gal. 4:6). It is the Spirit who enables believers, from various racial, social and religious backgrounds, to find true unity in Christ and together worship God (Eph. 2:18). In fact, without the Spirit, worship and the glorification of Jesus Christ cannot take place (Phil. 3:3). And it is the Spirit who is the true Guarantor of orthodoxy (2 Tim. 1:14).

An excellent summary statement of the range of the Spirit’s work is Galatians 5:25, which speaks so plainly about the Spirit as the Source from which we are to live our lives: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” The Spirit thus undergirds and empowers the entirety of our lives as Christians. To paraphrase John 15:5: apart from the Holy Spirit, we can do nothing of any true eternal value.

—Michael A. G. Haykin, The God Who Draws Near: An Introduction To Biblical Spirituality, xix-xx

Ascended! (2)

TODAY IS ASCENSION DAY!

How does Christ’s ascension into heaven benefit us?

First, He is our Advocate in heaven before His Father. [Rom 8:34; 1 John 2:1]

Second, we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that He, our Head, will also take us, His members, up to Himself. [John 14:2; 17:24; Ephes 2:4-6] [As John Duncan put it, “The dust of the earth is on the throne of the Majesty on High.”]

Third, He sends us His Spirit as a counter-pledge, [John 14:16; Acts 2:33; 2 Cor 1:21, 22; 5:5] by whose power we seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God, and not the things that are on earth. [Col 3:1-4]”

Heidelberg Catechism, Question 49

Make Music (10)

Augustine observes that when sacred words are joined to pleasant music, “our souls [animos] are moved and are more religiously and with a warmer devotion kindled to piety than if they are not so sung.” [Augustine, Confessions, X, xxxiii (49)]

——Stephen R. Guthrie, “Singing, in the Body and in the Spirit,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 46/4 (December 2003), 632