Category Archives: Worship

“The people of Jesus Christ have great cause to glory in their Savior” by Jonathan Edwards

“The people of Jesus Christ have great cause to glory in their Savior.

What reason have we to praise God, who has given us so much cause to glory in Christ Jesus, that we that deserve so much shame should have so much cause to glory!

We were in a forlorn condition:

  • we were depressed to the lowest depths of misery and wretchedness;
  • we were filthy and abominable,
  • we had made ourselves viler than the earth,
  • we deserved nothing but shame and everlasting contempt;
  • we had nothing to glory in, but all the circumstances of our case were such as administered to us just cause of shame and confusion of face (Daniel 9:8).

But God has been pleased to provide One for us

  • to take away our guilt and disgrace,
  • and to be the glory in the midst of us;
  • to put great honor upon us,
  • to be as a covering to hide our nakedness,
  • and not only so, but to adorn us and make us glorious;
  • to be to us wisdom,
  • to bring us from our shameful ignorance and darkness;
  • to be our righteousness for the removal of our guilt
  • and to procure acceptance with God for us;
  • to be our sanctification,
  • to change us from sinful and loathsome to holy and amiable;
  • to be our redemption,
  • to deliver us from all trouble and danger,
  • and to make us happy and blessed forever;
  • to bestow upon us gold tried in the fire, that of poor we might become rich, and that He might exalt us from the dunghill and set us among princes (1 Samuel 2:8).

That God should take us, who were under bondage to sin and Satan, and give us such a glorious victory over our adversaries, and cause us thus to triumph over those that had us captives and were so much stronger than we, and that God gives us so much greater privileges than others, that we should have such a king, is reason enough to praise God.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Glorying in the Savior,” in Sermons and Discourses, 1723–1729, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 14 (Ed. Harry S. Stout and Kenneth P. Minkema (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1997), 14: 468.

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“Let us worship God on earth as He is worshiped in heaven” by Jonathan Gibson

“The story of human history, from beginning to end, is the story of worship. This is because God has so structured His world that every person will worship through one of two men—Adam or Jesus Christ.

The first man Adam was made homo liturgicus, and everyone bearing his image has inherited his fallen liturgical orientation toward idolatry. We are born worshiping the creature, not the Creator; we live our lives seeking salvation and satisfaction in pseudo-redeemers, not the Redeemer.

We are a restless race, wandering ‘east,’ away from the divine sanctuary. But, through the Second Man Jesus Christ, we have the invitation to return and worship God aright in spirit and truth, in His presence.

Through the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ—the true Homo Liturgicus—God has opened a way back into His presence.

Since the first son of God, Adam, through the national (typical) son of God, Israel, and the royal (typical) son of God, Solomon, to the final (last-days) Son of God, Jesus, and now the (redeemed) sons of God, the Church—God has been seeking a people to worship Him.

We are called to worship, and our hearts are restless until we respond to that call by faith and obedience, and come and feast on Christ: ‘[W]hoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst’ (John 6:35).

The consummate experience of this truth must await the final day when we will feast on, and with, the glorified Son of God Himself, at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.

For now, it is right, fitting, and delightful to worship as God’s redeemed people; then, it will be right, fitting, and delightful to do so as God’s glorified people. It is why worship matters now—because it will matter then, forever.

And so, as we gather each Lord’s Day, between the now and not yet of God’s kingdom, let us worship God for who is He, as one eternal God in three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and for what He has done in creation and redemption, and for what He will do in the coming consummation.

Let us worship God on earth as He is worshiped in heaven.”

–Jonathan Gibson, “Worship On Earth As It Is In Heaven,” Reformation Worship, Eds. Jonathan Gibson and Mark Earngey (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2018), 20-21.

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“If God were not immutable, He would not be God” by Herman Bavinck

“God is and remains the same. Everything changes, but He remains standing.

He remains who He is (Ps. 102:26–28). He is YHWH, He who is and ever remains Himself.

He is the first and with the last He is still the same God (Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4; 48:12). He is who He is (Deut. 32:39; cf. John 8:58; Heb. 13:8), the incorruptible who alone has immortality, and is always the same (Rom. 1:23; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16; Heb. 1:11–12).

Unchangeable in His existence and being, He is so also in His thought and will, in all His plans and decisions. He is not a human that He should lie or repent.

What He says, He will do (Num. 15:28; 1 Sam. 15:29). His gifts (charismata) and calling are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29). He does not reject his people (Rom. 11:1).

He completes what He has begun (Ps. 138:8; Phil. 1:6). In a word, He, YHWH, does not change (Mal. 3:6).

In Him there is ‘no variation or shadow due to change’ (James 1:17).” On this foundation Christian theology constructed its doctrine of divine immutability…

If God were not immutable, He would not be God. His name is ‘being,’ and this name is “an unalterable name.” All that changes ceases to be what it was. But true being belongs to Him who does not change.

That which truly is remains. That which changes was something and will be something but is not anything because it is mutable.

But God who is cannot change, for every change would diminish His being. Furthermore, God is as immutable in His knowing, willing, and decreeing as He is in His being.

The essence of God by which He is what He is, possesses nothing changeable, neither in eternity, nor in truthfulness, nor in will. As He is, so He knows and wills—immutably.

Augustine wrote, ‘For even as You totally are, so do You alone totally know, for You immutably are, and You know immutably, and You will immutably. Your essence knows and wills immutably, and Your knowledge is and wills immutably, and Your will is and knows immutably.’ (Confessions, XIII, 16)

Neither creation, nor revelation, nor incarnation (affects, etc.) brought about any change in God. No new plan ever arose in God. In God there was always one single immutable will.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (vol. 2; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 2: 153-154.

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“This is my joy and crown of rejoicing: to be able to say that God is mine” by Thomas Brooks

“There is in God an immense fulness, an ocean of goodness, and an overplus of all that graciousness, sweetness, and kindness that is to be found in all other things or creatures.

As Noah had a copy of every kind of creature in that famous library of the ark, out of which all were reprinted to the world, so he that hath God for his portion hath the original copy of all blessings, out of which all may easily be renewed.

All the good-linesses and all the glories of all the creatures are eminently and perfectly to be enjoyed in God. God is an universal excellency.

All the particular excellencies that are scattered up and down among angels, men, and all other creatures, are virtually and transcendently in Him. He hath them all in His own being (Eph. 1:3).

All creatures in heaven and earth have but their particular excellencies, but God hath in Himself the very quintessence of all excellencies.

The creatures have but drops of that sea, that ocean, that is in God. They have but their parts of that power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness, holiness, faithfulness, loveliness, desirableness, sweetness, graciousness, beauty, and glory that is in God.

One hath this part, and another hath that. One hath this particular excellency, and another hath that. But the whole of all these parts and excellencies are to be found only in God.

There is none but that God that is an universal good, that can truly say, ‘All power, all wisdom, all strength, all knowledge, all goodness, all sweetness, all beauty, all glory, all excellency, dwells in Me.’

He that can truly say this, is a god, and he that cannot is no god. There is no angel in heaven, nor saint on earth, that hath the whole of any one of those excellencies that are in God.

Nay, all the angels in heaven, and all the saints on earth, have not among them the whole of any one of those glorious excellencies and perfections that be in God. All the excellencies that are scattered up and down in the creatures, are united into one excellency in God.

But there is not one excellency in God that is fully scattered up and down among all the creatures. There is a glorious union of all excellencies in God, and only in God.

Now this God, that is such an universal good, and that hath all excellencies dwelling in Himself, He says to the believer, ‘I am thine, and all that I have.’ Our propriety reacheth to all that God is, and to all that God hath (Jer. 32:38-42).

God is not parted, nor divided, nor distributed among His people, as earthly portions are divided among children in the family, so as one believer hath one part of God, and another believer hath another part of God, and a third another part of God.

Oh no! But every believer hath the whole God wholly, he hath all of God for His portion. God is not a believer’s portion in a limited sense, nor in a comparative sense, but in an absolute sense.

God Himself is theirs, and He is wholly theirs, and He is only theirs, and He is always theirs.

As Christ looks upon the Father, and saith, ‘All thine is mine, and mine is thine,’ (1 Cor. 3:23, Joh. 17:10), that may a saint say, looking upon God as His portion.

He may truly say, ‘O Lord, Thou art mine, and all that Thou hast. And I am Thine, and all that I have.’

A saint may look upon God and say, ‘O Lord, not only Thy gifts but Thy graces are mine, to adorn me and enrich me. And not only Thy mercies and Thy good things are mine to comfort me, and encourage me, but also Thou Thyself art mine. And this is my joy and crown of rejoicing.’

To be able to say that God is mine is more than if I were able to say that ten thousand worlds, yea, and as many heavens, are mine. For it is God alone that is the sparkling diamond in the ring of glory.

Heaven would be but a low thing without God, saith Augustine.

And Bernard had rather enjoy Christ in a chimney-corner, than to be in heaven without Him.

And Luther had rather be in hell with Christ, than in heaven without Him.

It is God alone that makes heaven to be heaven.”

–Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 2, Ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1666/2001), 24–25.

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“Technology in its proper place” by Andy Crouch

“Figuring out the proper place for technology in our particular family and stage of life requires discernment rather than a simple formula. Even the ten commitments in this book are meant to be starting points for discussion– and as you will read, they are ones my own family has kept fitfully at best.

But almost anything is better than letting technology overwhelm us with its default settings, taking over our lives and stunting our growth in the ways that really matter. And I think there are some things that are true at every stage of life:

Technology is in its proper place when it helps us bond with the real people we have been given to love. It’s out of its proper place when we end up bonding with people at a distance, like celebrities, whom we will never meet.

Technology is in its proper place when it starts great conversations. It’s out of its proper place when it prevents us from talking with and listening to one another.

Technology is in its proper place when it helps us take care of the fragile bodies we inhabit. It’s out of its proper place when it promises to help us escape the limits and vulnerabilities of those bodies altogether.

Technology is in its proper place when it helps us acquire skill and mastery of domains that are the glory of human culture (sports, music, the arts, cooking, writing, accounting; the list could go on and on). When we let technology replace the development of skill with passive consumption, something has gone wrong.

Technology is in its proper place when it helps us cultivate awe for the created world we are part of and responsible for stewarding (our family spent some joyful and awefilled hours when our children were ill middle school watching the beautifully produced BBC series Planet Earth). It’s out of its proper place when it keeps us from engaging the wild and wonderful natural world with all our senses.

Technology is in its proper place only when we use it with intention and care. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about technology, it’s that it doesn’t stay in its proper place on its own; much like my children’s toys and stuffed creatures and minor treasures, it finds its way underfoot all over the house and all over our lives. If we aren’t intentional and careful, we’ll end up with a quite extraordinary mess.”

–Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2017), 19-21.

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“We need to carve out space for ourselves in which we can daily attend to God’s Word” by David Wells

“The age in which believers live is already ‘the age to come.’ It is totally different from the culture in which they also live.

All believers live in both of these worlds. They cannot escape the one to live in the other. That is the miscalculation that both mystics and monks have made.

Nor yet can believers simply curse the darkness in this world, for they can still see all the marks of its divine creation. They must live in this world and light a fire for it because it is cold and dark.

They live in the midst of their culture but, to change the image, they live by the beat of a different Drummer. They must hear the sounds of a different time, an eternal time, listening for the music from a different place.

For that world is theirs. It is Christ’s world. It is the ‘age to come.’ They have been received into this world.

It penetrates their existence even now. They live in their own culture in order to be the outposts of this other world.

In the one world, they are but sojourners and pilgrims. In the other, they are permanent residents.

But how are we to do this? How are we going to hear this music? How are we going to hear the divine Drummer whose beat gets lost in all of the noise of our modern world?

We are constantly distracted, always under pressure, constantly bombarded by e-mails. We have unwanted telephone calls.

We are alerted to the arrival of text messages. Families have music lessons and football games, and there are hikes to be organized.

Parents have demanding jobs; some have endless traveling to do. And we are all besieged by the world into which we are wired.

It has become a great temptation even as it is a great fascination to us. Indeed, in 2013, almost half of the American adults surveyed acknowledged this.

Like everything in the modernized world, our information technology has two sides to it. It blesses with one hand and then takes away with the other. And, most importantly here, what it takes away is our capacity to have a functioning worldview.

Without that, our doctrine of God becomes emasculated. An emasculated view of God will never be able to sustain the life of sanctification to which we have been called.

Information and entertainment technologies have annihilated distance, enlarging the circle of our knowledge and, indeed, of our presence. Or, would it be truer to say that the entire world with all of its events, movies, and music has entered our homes?

Once we had to be where the events were happening, where the music was being made, to know about it. Now, all that is needed is a camera and it is splashed across the whole world.

This instant access to information worldwide, to all of its sights, sounds, and happenings is an extraordinary benefit. It has made us citizens of the entire world with an ability to communicate with any other citizen in this world instantaneously.

It has the capacity to lift us beyond our naturally parochial boundaries. At the same time, though, as our knowledge of the world grows— indeed, at an exponential rate— our capacity to have a worldview becomes much diminished and our ability to pay attention to God and His truth is often undermined.

God, we need to remind ourselves, is not just an experience or an idea. The saving knowledge of God comes within a framework which God Himself has disclosed. It is a framework of ideas that corresponds to what is there in the world, in reality, in God Himself.

If this worldview breaks down under the bombardment of news, e-mails, videos, blogs, and music, then what is lost is also what is at its center. It is God Himself, or I should say, it is our understanding, our ability to make sense of who God is that breaks down. And that is where our sanctification breaks down, too.

Technology greatly expands and enlarges our abilities and it mightily expands what we can know. But this is a two-way street.

If it enables us to be everywhere, it is also the case that the whole world– at least its sounds and sights— can enter our minds, too and, once in, it can then enter our souls.

This potentially imperils any functioning worldview. Why is this so?

It is partly because of the sheer volume of what is coming in. It overwhelms us. Since 1960, the amount of data and information individuals are absorbing, because of all of our new technology, has tripled.

If this technology expands our capacity to know things, it also multiples the things that are thrown at us to know. When all of this was just taking shape, Neil Postman warned about ‘information glut,’ and a little later David Shenk spoke of ‘data smog.’

They were right. That is what we now have. Our minds are choked with too much to know. And things are only intensifying.

What allowed all of this to happen only keeps expanding. The iPad and iPhone now massively increase our capacity to access media while we are on the run. The iPod and MP3 massively increase the amount of music we can consume.

With the ability to multitask, American teenagers are now packing in an additional two hours of media consumption per day, bringing their total to more than ten hours.

In addition to the sheer volume is the rapidity with which the whole of the media-filtered, technology-delivered world is changing.

It never stands still long enough for us to take our bearings on it. What is important and what is not, what is weighty and what is ephemeral, what is tragic and what is trivial, meet us with about the same intensity.

It becomes hard, sometimes, to tell which is which. Our world blurs amid the rapid flow of facts, factoids, images, voices, laughter, entertainment, and vapid commentary.

We slowly lose the capacity see the connections between things. Life seems to have no shape.

It looks like a sequence of fast-moving but random experiences with no center and little meaning. Not only does a Christian worldview disappear; the very capacity for such a thing becomes tenuous.

How, then, will we hear this other music from another place? How will we hear that Drummer’s beat above the sounds of this world?

I will say only this. There are no easy answers and there are no painless ones. But, at the same time, it is not impossible.

It is not impossible for us, if it is important to us, to choose what we are going to do and then to focus on doing it. The real question is how deep—or how shallow— is our desire to know God?

We need to begin by asking what is at stake. What might we be in danger of losing amid the noise and frenzy of our modernized societies here in the West?

We are in danger of being squeezed into the mold of the modernized world with its low horizons of knowing, its relativism, and its superficiality.

This threatens our identities as knowers of God, those for whom he is the center, for whom his holy-love defines what moral reality is, and before whom we stand.

It threatens how we see life and how we live in the world. It threatens all of that.

Recognizing this danger, we need to carve out space for ourselves in which we can daily attend to God’s Word, to study it, mark it, learn it, and inwardly digest its truth.

This truth must shape our whole understanding of life as we recognize from whom this truth comes and why God has thus given it to us. This must take precedence.

It must take precedence even at the cost of phones, e-mails, the Internet, texts, TV, Facebook, music, and all of the other ways that our technology wires us into a major competitor for our time and attention.

Innocent though these things may be, they stand in the way of our knowing God if they steal from us the time that we need for that pursuit. And we do need time.

This kind of daily discipline used to be an undisputed part of Christian practice. But it appears to have fallen on hard times. And the result will be, once again, that we will be in danger of ‘forgetting’ God.

In the Old Testament, as we have seen, this had to do with the disobedience of not paying attention to God and His truth. And today, we are in danger of reaching the same end, though by a different route.

Now, we are simply too preoccupied, too frenzied, living simultaneously on too many fronts, so that we just do not have time. We are not able to find this central space in our lives.

When David spoke of the ‘Meditation of my heart’ (Ps. 19:14; 49:3 cf. Ps. 119:15, 23, 99), he was speaking of being in God’s presence, reflecting on His truth, learning how to walk with God, being before the face of God.

This Word he stored up in his heart ‘that I might not sin against you’ (Ps. 119:11). That is what we need to do and where we need to be every day.

This will happen only if we are deliberate about it and are willing to give up whatever stands in our way to this end.

Let us make no mistake about this. If we do not do this aright, if we are not daily seeking God’s face, if we are not pondering the truth he has given us in his Word, if we are not daily being nourished in our souls by it, and if we are not daily repenting of our sin where we need to, our faith will wither and our walk with God will disappear.

If, however, we carve out this center for our lives, we will be in the place where Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians can be realized in us despite our very modern lives:

‘May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God,’ he wrote, ‘and to the steadfastness of Christ’ (2 Thess 3:5). That is what God, the Holy Spirit, will do.”

–David F. Wells, God in the Whirlwind (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014), 182-186.

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“To know God is to live” by Herman Bavinck

“Mystery is the lifeblood of theological reflection. From the start of its labors, dogmatic theology is shrouded in mystery. It stands before God the incomprehensible One.

This knowledge leads to adoration and worship: to know God is to live.

Knowing God is possible for us because God is personal, exalted above the earth and yet in fellowship with human beings on earth. Good theology puts this knowledge of God on public display.

It resists allowing theology to degenerate into rhetoric, a theology merely of words. It seeks the heart of the matter, knowing God in order to worship Him, to love Him, and to serve Him.

Such theology is never a dry and academic exercise. It is eminently practical and superlatively fruitful for life.

The knowledge of God in Christ, after all, is life itself (Psalm 89:16; Isaiah 11:9; Jeremiah 31:34; John 17:3).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Abridged in One Volume, Ed. John Bolt (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2011), 147-148.

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