Another Comforter 2

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.

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

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Ascension 6

TODAY IS ASCENSION DAY!

He has raised our human nature in the clouds to God’s right hand;
There we sit in heavenly places, there with Him in glory stand:
Jesus reigns, adored by angels; man with God is on the throne;
Mighty Lord, in Thine ascension we by faith behold our own.

—Hymn: “See the Conqueror Mounts in Triumph” (Christopher Wordsworth; can be sung to the tune Austrian Hymn)

Ascension 5

In their worship the followers of Jesus experience two contrasting features of Christian faith and worship. First we see the Christ and the faith represented within our culture, as one of us, belonging to our time and culture. From within our life situation we see the gospel meeting our deepest desires and longings as well as challenging some of our assumptions. On the other hand, we see the Christ as calling us beyond our culture into a new universal truth that joins us to all humanity of whatever generation and culture.

Through worship we become very aware of this twofold implication of the doctrine of the Ascension. Christ takes our human experience within the Godhead, and we are taken by the ascended Christ into a new solidarity of being human.

Peter Atkin, Ascension Now, 90

The Ministry of Song 10

What is too rarely seen by commentators is that the discussion of singing and the glorification of God, in [Romans] 15:5-13, most likely comes about because Paul still has in mind the same gatherings of the Roman believers [cf. the discussion about common meals in chapter 14], which combine, at a minimum, eating together, and singing together. In Romans  15:5-7 we read, “May the God of endurance and encouragement  grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” The unity which Paul has been calling for is to be expressed in united praise, here described literally as glorifying God “with one mouth” (en eni stomati). The outworking of Jews and Gentiles welcoming one another “for the glory of God,” is to glory God with one another. And this is expressed in particular through spoken or sung praise.

—John W. Taylor, “The Lord’s Supper in Romans: The Common Meal and United Worship in Romans 14–15 as Demonstration of the Gospel”

The Ministry of Song 9 (Jesus, the Psalms and Me) 5

When Paul urges us in Colossians 3 to “let the Word of Christ dwell richly in our hearts,” he goes on to say that we’re to do that as we “make melody to the Lord in [y]our hearts” and as we sing and instruct each other in our praises. Now maybe it’s right that our noses should be in our hymnbooks when we’re singing; but it’s spiritually right that we should also have an eye to our brothers and sisters and be praying, “O Lord, sanctify these words I’m singing, in order that my brothers and sisters may be so instructed in their truth, as their lives to be comforted and transformed and centered again on Your glory, and blessed again in genuine fellowship that we enjoy with one another.”

And all of this because the Lord Jesus gathers us as God’s family, and then leads us in the singing of God’s praises.

——Sinclair Ferguson, “True Spirituality, True Worship” (audio message)

The Ministry of Song 8 (Jesus, the Psalms and Me 4)

Now most of us are at one end of the spectrum or the other. And I suppose our native desire would be for a Christian life in which our emotions were on an absolutely even keel; and one day they will be. But that will be an even keel of prolonged ecstasy, that we will be able to cope with in resurrection bodies that were made for prolonged ecstasy! And until that happens, one of the things that God does to us in worship—and it seems to me so marvelously gracious that He has given us songs to sing that do this in worship—is to take those of us who have layers of emotion that need to be unpacked and unstarched, and He begins to set them free; and those of whose emotions at the other end of the spectrum are out of control, and He takes them and brings them into a certain kind of order and discipline by the very things we sing.

——Sinclair Ferguson, “True Spirituality, True Worship” (audio message)

The Ministry of Song 7 (Jesus, the Psalms and Me 3)

The pattern for song in the pages of Scripture [especially in the Psalms] is perfectly suited and balanced to the reality for our humanity. And so we’re encouraged in this different way to sing that which varies in theme, that which differs in mood, that which is different in style, that which is singular, that which is repetitive, that which is long, that which is short. Because in all of these areas, our Lord Jesus Christ is, as it were—and this is to me a very important thing—the Lord Jesus Christ is not squeezing our emotions into some small bottle of grace; but stretching and pulling our emotions in order to fulfill and transform our fallen and broken humanity.

—Sinclair Ferguson, “True Spirituality, True Worship” (audio message)