Declared Innocent!

Every worship service should be a courtroom scene where, upon acquittal, the defendant hugs the lawyer who got him off.

—Joe Novenson (sermon on John 14, January 29, 2006)

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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

Giving Thanks (2)

In the case of the God of the universe, such possibility of return [reciprocation for a favor bestowed] dissipates, as no human beings can offer anything in return that can do justice to the gift received. The only proper response, then, is praise and worship. In describing divine-human encounter, therefore, thanksgiving and praise understandably merge and become the one and only proper and response to God who is the source of all power and goodness.

In short, to offer thanks to God is to live a life of worship.

—David W. Pao, Thanksgiving: An Investigation of a Pauline Theme, 28, 164

REFORMATION 500: Gratitude for Grace

O Lord, we are not worthy to have a glimpse of heaven, and unable with works to redeem ourselves from sin, death, the devil, and hell. For this we rejoice, praise and thank you, O God, that without price and out of pure grace You have granted us this boundless blessing in your dear Son through whom You take sin, death, and hell from us, and give to us all that belongs to Him.

—Martin Luther

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