Lamb of God

The day after Jesus’ baptism, The Baptist recognizes that Jesus is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). . . . The whole of the theology of the Fourth Gospel is here in a nutshell a day after Jesus’ baptism.

—Jack Levison, An Unconventional God: The Spirit according to Jesus, 50

Depth and Mystery

Any lasting cease-fire in these worship wars is not likely to emerge from a resolution of the so-called culture wars which feed them, or from large-scale conversions of taste, or from carefully buttressed historical arguments about ancient liturgical precedents. Finally, such a cease-fire can only issue from the depth and mystery of the gospel which Christians proclaim. Christian worship is strongest when it is integrally and self-consciously related to the person and work of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. The study of Christian worship is most helpful to Christian communities when it demonstrated how this has happened in the past and how it might happen in the future in more profound ways.

—John Witvliet, The Doctrine of the Trinity and the Theology and Practice of Christian Worship in the Reformed Tradition (dissertation), Page 304-305

Objective and Subjective

For the true hearing of the Word of God, two things are necessary: the inward working and the outward facts.  Apart from the outward facts there is no Word of God.  The Holy Spirit will not speak unless He bears testimony to Jesus Christ.  But apart from the inward working there is no understanding of the facts.  It is the Holy Spirit who must bear testimony to Jesus Christ.

—G. W. Bromiley, “The Spirit of Christ” in Essays in Christology for Karl Barth, ed. T.H.L. Parker, 142

Objective and Subjective

The subjective operation of the Holy Spirit is complemented always by the objective facts of the Gospel. The subjective operation is necessary. Without it the Gospel is to us mere history.  Jesus is, shall we say, a great religious teacher. The death and reported resurrection are incidents which call for discussion and explanation as best we can.  But the objective facts are also necessary.  Without them faith is subject always to the arbitrary pressure of individual preference and speculation.  Apart from the subjective work, we cannot say that Jesus is the Lord, or His death a death for sin, or His resurrection the first-fruits of the new creation of God.  But if the subjective work is really of the Holy Spirit, it will always be Jesus of Nazareth who is the Lord, and the divine forgiveness and re-creation will be inseparably connected with the historical life and death and resurrection of that man Jesus.

—G. W. Bromiley, “The Spirit of Christ” in Essays in Christology for Karl Barth, ed. T.H.L. Parker, 141

The All-Embracing Gospel

This story is the good news (evangelion).  In worship we signify it (leiturgia); in evangelism we proclaim it (kerygma); in fellowship we experience it (koinonia); in our ministry to each other and in our service to others we live it (diaconia).  It is the very heartbeat of who we are.

—Robin Parry, Worshiping Trinity: Coming Back to the Heart of Worship, 20

The Centrality of the Gospel (3)

When people call for “deeds, not creeds,” asking, “What Would Jesus Do?” without much interest in the query, “What has Jesus done?” identifying themselves as “spiritual but not religious,” they are asking for the law without the gospel.

—Michael Horton, Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples, 40

The Centrality of the Gospel

The gospel is not something you can just tack on to another worldview. On the contrary, it makes you rethink everything from the ground up, from the center out. Only when we start with the gospel—the most controversial point of the Christian faith—are we ready to talk about who God is and how we know Him.

—Michael Horton, Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples, 20

The Glory of the Gospel

Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom, folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinners justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free. The gospel is the Word of life and truth. It is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe.

—John Calvin, “Preface to Olivétan’s New Testament”

Worship in Revelation (15)

The first angel summons people from every nation and tribe and tongue to “fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come’ and to ‘worship Him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water (14:6-7). This ‘eternal gospel’ recalls the vision of chapter 4 and summons the whole creation to acknowledge God as Creator and Lord of history. . . . This passage suggests that evangelism can be viewed from one perspective as a call to worship God.

—David Peterson, “Worship in the Revelation to John” The Reformed Theological Review 47:3 (Sept-Dec’88), 71.

Worship in Romans (17)

The Gospel of the Glory of God is always very near to mankind, and yet always very far from them: near, because the divine image is in mankind and the Gospel is the true meaning of man; far, because it is heard only by a faith and a repentance which overthrow all man’s glorying in himself and his works. [Romans 1:21]

—Arthur Michael Ramsey, The Glory of God and the Transfiguration of Christ, 100

Worship in Romans (13)

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