God’s Initiative

Throughout the Bible it is assumed that the initiative in true worship is God’s.

Christian worship is also human action. The human action is altogether secondary, being made possible by, and responding to, the action of God.

—C. E. B. Cranfield, “Divine and Human Action: The Biblical Concept of Worship,”  Interpretation, vol. xii number 4 (October, 1958)

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Revelation and Response

It should always happen in this house of God that the Lord speaks to us through His holy Word, and that we then speak to Him with our prayers and songs of praise.

—Martin Luther (inscribed on door into the sanctuary of Castle Church in Wittenberg, on opposite side of the building from the famous Wittenberg Door)

Giving Thanks (3): “Saying Grace”

We receive God’s Grace through the Word and we return to God in thanksgiving the Grace that we have received through the Word.  Grace (eucharis) is what we receive.  Thanksgiving (eucharistia) is the Grace that we give back to the Father.

—David W. Torrance, “The Word of God in Worship,” Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology 1 (1983):11-16

Initiated by God

The worship of sinful and fallen people necessitates divine mediation if the sacrifice is to be good, perfect and acceptable to God. The pagan worship that surrounded the patriarchs was often a work of appeasement, a work initiated by people seeking to win divine favor. Biblical worship emerges in the Hebrew and Christian Scripture as that which is initiated by God, mediated by God, and is a response of the people of God to the grace and favor of God they have already experienced.

—Robbie F. Castleman, Story Shaped Worship, Following Patterns from the Bible and History, 38

Worship of the True God

Before there was a command to love God, there was the revelation, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.”  There is no truth, no validity in our worship if the one we worship is not the true and living Creator and Redeemer.

—Garry D. Nation, “The Essentials of Worship: Toward a Biblical Theology of Worship,” Journal of the American Academy of Ministry 5.3 & 4 (Winter-Spring 1997): 6-7