All of Life

The root of Christian living and the root of congregational praise are the same, which is why for Paul worship simply cannot be merely or even mainly thought of in terms of Sunday services but of all of life. His is an absolutely God-saturated vision of Christian existence. When our whole life is consumed with pursuing satisfaction in God, everything we do highlights the value and worth of God, which simply means that everything becomes worship.

—John Piper, Let The Nations Be Glad, 3rd edition; Chapter 7 “The Inner Simplicity and Outer Freedom of Worldwide Worship,” 254

Before His Face

Sacred times and places are superseded by the eschatological public activity of those who at all times and in all places stand ‘before the face of Christ’ and from this position before God make the everyday round of so-called secular life into the arena of the unlimited and unceasing glorification of the divine will. At this point the doctrines of worship and Christian ‘ethics’ converge.

—Ernst Käsemann, “Worship and Everyday Life: A Note on Romans 12,” 191New Testament Questions of Today

Page 191

All of Life

The entire worship life of the Old Testament has been radically refocused onto Jesus Himself and has become a radically spiritual thing, as opposed to an external thing. The external is still important, but now the spiritual is so radically pervasive that virtually all of external life, not just church life, is the expression of worship. “Present your bodies as living sacrifices which is your reasonable service of worship” (Romans 12:1). That’s all the time and everywhere. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31): all the time, everywhere.

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

Every Time and Place Holy to the Lord

The transition from worship under the old covenant to worship under the new is not characterized by a move from the formal to the spiritual, or from the cultus to the spiritual, or from the cultus to all of life. For it has always been necessary to love God wholly; it has always been necessary to recognize the sheer holiness and transcendent power and glory and goodness of God and to adore him for what He is.  So we insist that “all true worship is God centered.” The transition from worship under the old covenant to worship under the new is characterized by the covenantal stipulations and provisions of two respective covenants.

The way wholly loving God works out under the old covenant is in heartfelt obedience to the terms of that covenant and that includes the primary place given to the cultus with all its import and purpose in the stream of redemptive history; and the implications of this outworking include distinctions between the holy and the common, between holy space and common space, between holy time and common time, between holy food and common food.

The way wholly loving God works out under the new covenant is in heartfelt obedience to the terms of that covenant, and here the language of the cultus has been transmuted to all of life, with the implication, not so much of a desacralization of space and time and food, as with a sacralization of all space and all time and all food. [1 Corinthians 10:31]

—D. A. Carson, Worship by the Book, 40

Whole-Life Worship

Sacred times and places are superseded by the eschatological public activity of those who at all times and in all places stand “before the face of Christ” and from this position before God make the everyday round of so-called secular life into the arena of the unlimited and unceasing glorification of the divine will. At this point the doctrines of worship and Christian “ethics” converge. This shows conclusively that the total Christian community with all its members is the bearer of this worship and that not only sacred functions but also cultically privileged persons lose their right to exist. The universal priesthood of all believers, called forth and manifested in the whole range of its activity, now appears as the eschatological worship of God which puts an end to every other cultus. The harshness of this finding certainly seems to contradict the fact that in this passage [Romans 12:1] Paul deliberately and in no way fortuitously employs cultic terminology and, in particular, the language of sacrifice. But in reality it is precisely this which demonstrates the  radical nature of the shift which has taken place here; so far from there being any room left for cultic thinking, the use of cultic terminology becomes itself the means of making clear, through a paradox, the extent of the upheaval. In the eschatological age there is no longer anything “profane,” except what man himself renders profane or demonic: but similarly there is nothing holy in the cultic sense except the community of the holy people and their self-abandonment in the service of the Lord to whom the world and all its dominions belong.

—Ernst Käsemann, “Worship and Everyday Life: A Note on Romans 12” in New Testament Questions of Today, 191-2

Worship in Romans (33)

[Romans 12:1]

Take me, body and soul, and make me the instrument of Your glory in the world. Let the renewal You are working from within show on the outside. This is my spiritual worship. To show the world that You are my all-satisfying treasure. . . .

“Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16) All of life is the outshining of what you truly value and cherish and treasure. Therefore all of life is worship. Either of God, or of something else.

—John Piper, “All of Life as Worship” (Romans 12:1-2), sermon 11/30/97

Worship in Romans (30)

I cannot think of a better place to conclude this chapter on worship than at the beginning of Romans 12. For here Paul describes the Christian life to which he summons us as our “spiritual act of worship.”

For eleven chapters the apostle has been unfolding “the mercies of God.” And now, in view of God’s great mercy which we have received, he appeals to all the members of God’s international family to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God. He calls this physical offering our “spiritual” act of worship. Logikos is the word he uses, which could be translated either “reasonable” (logical in response to God’s mercy) or “rational” (intelligent, the offering of heart and mind, spiritual as opposed to ceremonial).

It is clear that Paul is thinking of a worship which is expressed not only in a church building but in the home and in the workplace. One kind of worship is unbalanced without the other.

—John Stott, The Living Church: Convictions of a Lifelong Pastor, 45-46

How We Use the English Word “Worship”

We may distinguish three uses of the word “worship”; (i) to denote a particular element of what is generally referred to as worship, namely, adoration; (ii) to denote generally the public worship of the religious community gathered together and also the private religious exercises of the family and the individual; and (iii), in a still wider sense, to denote the whole life of the community or of the individual viewed as service of God.

—C.E.B. Cranfield, “Divine and Human Action: The Biblical Concept of Worship,” Interpretation 12:4 (October, 1958), 387

REFORMATION 500: Adoration and Action

One of the most significant accomplishments of the Protestant Reformation was overcoming the monastic understanding of the relations between the life of contemplation (vita contemplativa) and life of action (vita activa). Almost five centuries later, some important segments of Protestant Christianity (especially of the evangelical brand) are still caught in the false dichotomy between the sacred and the secular and are operating with a pre-reformation understanding of the relation between (what they term) spiritual worship and secular work. In the context of the reflection on the Christian understanding of worship, it is important therefore to recall Luther’s rediscovery of the Christian calling to active service of God in the world and to reflect on its biblical roots . . .

Christian worship consists both in obedient service to God and in the joyful praise of God. Both of these elements are brought together in Hebrews 13:15-16, a passage that comes close to giving a definition of Christian worship: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise˜the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is please.” The sacrifice of praise and the sacrifice of good works are two fundamental aspects of the Christian way of being-in-the-world. They are at the same time the two constitutive elements of Christian worship: authentic Christian worship takes place in a rhythm of adoration and action.

—Miroslav Volf, “Reflections on a Christian Way of Being-in-the-World” in Worship: Adoration and Action, 203, 207

The Only Priest

The exalted Lord Jesus Christ is the only priest we need for constant access to God (Heb. 8:1-6; 10:19-23). Our ‘altar’ is the cross, where Jesus shed his blood to make us his holy people (Heb. 13:10-12). Since He was ‘sacrificed once to take away the sins of many’ (Heb. 9:28; 10:10, 14), there are no prescribed rituals for us to follow. Worship is to be expressed in every sphere of life, as a grateful response to the saving work of Christ.

—David G. Peterson, Encountering God Together, 20

Defining Worship 5

Worship is an act of the understanding, applying itself to the knowledge of the excellency of God, and actual thoughts of His majesty. . . . It is also an act of the will, whereby the soul adores and reverenceth His majesty, is ravished with His amiableness, embraceth His goodness, enters itself into an intimate communion with this most lovely object, and pitcheth all his affections upon Him.

—Stephen Charnock (1628-1680), Works 1.298 (cited in J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, 251)

Freedom of Form 10: Focus

[We are] free to find place and time and dress and size and music and elements and objects that help us orient radically toward the supremacy of God in Christ. . . .

The command is a radical connection of love and trust and obedience to Jesus Christ in all of life.

—John Piper, sermon: “Our High Priest is The Son of God Perfect Forever”