“I Am with You”

Throughout the history of God’s people the phrase “I am with you” conveys the sense that God will defend, protect, strengthen, comfort, and guide His redeemed people to an enduring experience of His presence. God’s presence sustains His people. Jesus, Immanuel, God with us (Matt. 1:23), promises God’s ongoing presence: “I will be with you always” (Matt. 28:20). . . . Christ, our great high priest, has been exalted to God’s right hand, where He intercedes for his people so that they may approach God’s throne of grace to find grace in time of need (Heb. 4:14-16). Jesus promised His ongoing presence, and this role is fulfilled by the Spirit’s indwelling. The Spirit plays the central role in sustaining God’s people during their wilderness journey to the heavenly city.

 

—J. Scott Duvall & J. Daniel Hays, God’s Relational Presence: The Cohesive Center of Biblical Theology, 333-334

Creation’s Praise

The heavens are telling the glory of God.
The very shape of starry space makes news of God’s handiwork.
One day is brimming over with talk for the next day,
and each night passes on intimate knowledge to the next night.
There is no speaking, no words at all, you can’t hear their voice, but—
their glossolalia travels throughout the whole earth!
their uttered noises carry to the end of inhabited land!

—Psalm 19:1-4, translated by Calvin Seerveld, Voicing God’s Psalms, 8

Shofar

Jewish tradition[:] …in the story of the binding of Isaac (Gen. 22), Abraham finds that the horns of the ram God provided for the sacrifice were left behind. Tradition has it that Abraham rescued these horns and made them into the shofar, which became the Jewish people’s central ritual instrument.

—Roberta R. King, Global Arts and Christian Witness: Exegeting Culture, Translating the Message, and Communicating Christ, 82

Lavish Giving

And while He was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as He was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over His head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to Me.  (Mark 14:3-6)

There are many mausoleums that crumble to decay. But this monument to Jesus fills the whole world still with its fragrance.

—S. Lewis Johnson

The Lord raises for all time a memorial to her who had done her best to honor Him.

—author unknown

A great deal has been made through the years over the question of apostolic succession by certain churches, but I would rather be in Mary’s succession than in the succession of the whole crowd of the apostles on this occasion.

—author unknown

Undoubtedly Mary’s act of total commitment and love meant so much to Jesus because it was itself so Christlike—it was suggestive of what He what about to do: give Himself completely for the sins of the world, to allow himself (as the song puts it) to be “broken and spilled out” in an act of total selflessness.

Mary’s act also is a faint reflection of what the Father Himself was about to do: to give the very best He had—His only Son—for the salvation of the world (John 3:16). The Father is the author of lavish giving: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which He lavished upon us” (Ephesians 1:7-8).

—RM

 

The Center of History

This is a great word (ephapax): “once for all.”  [Romans 6:10; Hebrews 7:27; 9:12,26; 10:10] The effect it has is to make Jesus the center of history. Every work of God’s grace in history before the sacrifice of Christ looked forward to the death of Christ for its foundation. And every work of God’s grace since the sacrifice of Christ looks back to the death of Christ for its foundation. Christ is the center of the history of grace.

—John Piper, “Our High Priest is The Son of God Perfect Forever” (sermon: December 8, 1996, Bethlehem Baptist Church)

Hosanna!

So “Hosanna!” means, “Hooray for salvation! It’s coming! It’s here! Salvation! Salvation!”

And “Hosanna to the Son of David!” means, “The Son of David is our salvation! Hooray for the king! Salvation belongs to the king!”

And “Hosanna in the highest!” means, “Let all the angels in heaven join the song of praise. Salvation! Salvation! Let the highest heaven sing the song!”

—John Piper, “Hosanna!” (Sunday evening, March 27, 1983, Bethlehem Baptist Church)

Your Big Story

Dear Jesus, . . show me where my story fits inside your big Story. Help me to feel your care as the Good Shepherd, your nourishment as the Bread, your comfort as the Light, your welcome as the Door, your guidance as the Way, your sweet sustenance as the Vine, and your hope as the Resurrection and the Life.

—W. David O. Taylor, Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life, chapter 5

Jesus and the Church

1. Jesus is the new end-time Adam.
2. Jesus is the new end-time Israel.
3. Jesus is the new end-time Davidic King.
4. Jesus is the new end-time Priest.
5. Jesus is the new end-time Prophet.
6. Jesus is the new end-time Teacher of the Law.
7. Jesus is the new end-time Temple.
8. The church is all these things in its union with Christ.

—Gregory K. Beale, “Finding Christ in the Old Testament,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 63: (2020): 49-50

God Alone

In the restoration of communion between God and sinning humanity, the initiative lies with God’s forgiveness: Jesus ‘blasphemously’ pronounced the divine forgiveness, and the scribes’ question ‘Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ is a piece of ironic Christology (Mark 2:1-12).

—Geoffrey Wainwright, Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine, and Life: A Systematic Theology, 75

***Geoffrey Wainwright in memoriam (died March 17, 2020)***

Wise Words

WHAT NO VIRSU CAN TAKE

Romans 8 — “the great eight” — is a text I think everybody in this isolation period should be memorizing. I’m making that as a suggestion: it’s the best thing you could do with your time. Romans 8 gives greater foundations for this fearlessness than anything in the world — than anything the world has to offer. I’ll mention four:

1. For the called who love God in Jesus Christ, all of God’s righteous condemnation toward you was put on Jesus, and there is now no condemnation — no punishment — for those who are in Christ: “By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). Condemnation for those who are in Christ is over. It happened at Calvary. That is wonderful.

2. God’s willingness to sacrifice his only Son for the called ones who love him means he not only died in their place, but will not withhold anything from them for their eternal good: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). So, everything we need to glorify God and to have everlasting joy, he guarantees in the cross for us during coronavirus time.

3. Nobody who is called by God will fail to attain eternal glory. There is a golden, unbreakable chain of covenant commitment that God will keep his called ones forever: “Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). None of the called is lost — ever.

4. Finally, here is what all of this means: neither tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution, nor famine, nor nakedness, nor danger, nor sword, nor coronavirus, nor economic collapse, nor total anarchy, nor the end of the world can separate us from the love of Christ. And that includes death — especially death — because Romans 8:36 says, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long.”

It doesn’t matter whether we’re being killed by coronavirus or anti-Christian mobs. Nothing can “separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:39). “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Therefore, Christian — therefore, Christian — lover of God, called out of darkness into his marvelous light, lift up your head, put a song in your mouth, love your neighbor, and do not be afraid.

—John Piper, https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/how-do-i-fight-my-coronavirus-fears

Mutuality

What is exemplary about divine life is not three-in-oneness in the mathematical sense, not some abstract notion of a pristine community, but personal relationships that are marked by transparency, common purpose, and mutuality.  In the economy of the kingdom of God, these virtues replace both alienation and domination as the customary marks of personal relationships.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), 258-59

Call for Papers

Call for Papers: ETS Biblical Worship Section

The steering committee for the Biblical Worship Section of the Evangelical Theological Society announces a call for papers for the 2020 Annual Meeting in November.

The paper proposal period is now open on the ETS website through March 31. Please choose “Click here to submit a proposal for an open section session or discipline specific session” when submitting your proposal and then “Biblical Worship (Open Session)” under “Paper Category.”

The Biblical Worship Section welcomes paper submissions from full members and PhD student members that focus especially (although not exclusively) on corporate worship and the biblical-theological foundations for the theology and practice of worship.

For more information about the Biblical Worship Section and to read papers from past annual meetings, visit our website: etsworship.wordpress.com.

Worship as the Hub

It is by its worship that the Church lives, it is there that its heart beats. . . . The only parochial activities which have any real justification are those which spring from worship and in their turn nourish it.

—Jean-Jacques von Allmen, Worship: Its Theology and Practice, 55-56

Worship is the only Christian Activity that is an end in itself.

—John Piper

Music as Mediator

This emphasis on the use of musical sets to facilitate an experience of God erodes a classic understanding of Jesus Christ as the mediator between humans and God the Father. Typical use of CWM places expectations on music to mediate worshipers’ approach to God. . . . The need for Christ as mediator is itself lessened. Mediation is shifted to the music. Thus prayer in CWM is not to the Father through the Son but to the Son through music.

—Lester Ruth, “Lex Amandi, Lex Orandi: The Trinity in the Most-Used Contemporary Christian Worship Songs” in The Place of Christ in Liturgical Prayer, ed. Bryan D. Spinks, 354

Graced Encounter

Christian liturgy is a graced series of personal, relational acts of encounter between God and the gathered community, acts that are made possible through the mediation of Jesus Christ and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), 298

A Divine Irony

Who cannot but marvel at the redemptive genius at work here? Our contribution to our justification, and reconciliation, and to our inclusion in the life of the blessed Trinity was to reject and kill the Father’s eternal Son incarnate. And the Father transformed our treachery into our own death, resurrection and ascension in Christ, using our sin as the way of His forgiving embrace.

—C. Baxter Kruger, “God in the Hands of Angry Sinners,” in Trinity and Transformation, 104

The Maker Become Man

Man as ‘image of God’ might be called to grow into the moral and spiritual likeness of his Maker: but that the ikonic relationship should, as it were, operate in reverse, and that the Maker should become man and should even go to death for the love of man—that astonishing thing evoked rapturous praise from believers.

—Geoffrey Wainwright, Doxology: The Praise of God in Worship, Doctrine, and Life, 206