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Jesu, Juva

Posts Tagged ‘worship


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Continuing my previous post’s theme of worship, I want to suggest complementary perspectives on corporate singing.

James Jordan points out that God’s glory cloud is symbolic of the society of men and angels gathered around God’s throne. What we see as a cloud in Exodus 19, 24 and Ezekiel 1 is myriads of angels in Daniel 7 and Revelation 5. He suggests that the cloud might have even consisted of angels, which you could not distinguish from a distance. In any case, there are suggestive parallels between God’s glory-cloud, his tabernacle and temple, and the true “house” of God, his people.

There are strong connections between singing and going to, becoming, the house of God (e.g., Ps. 22:3, 42:4, 84:4). Likewise, the angels that surround God’s throne create a glorious noise of voices and trumpets and waters and winds (e.g., Exodus 19, Ezek. 1).

Thus, in the church’s corporate singing, through Jesus our sacrifice and by the Holy Spirit, we are brought up and incorporated into the glory cloud, where we gather together with angels and with believers of all ages. We become part of God’s glorious covering as his bride, and through our singing we participate in the mighty sound of God’s presence. We announce and display his greatness and glory to all men and even to the “cosmic powers” (Eph. 6).

More than that, as a host of people and angels gathered around God’s throne, we are also an army gathered around our commander. It is no stretch to say that the church’s singing and shouting is one of the ways that we do real battle against everything that is opposed to Jesus and his church (e.g., Joshua 6; Psalm 8:2 with Matt 21:16; Acts 16:25-26).

Written by Scott Moonen

June 29, 2012 at 8:31 pm

Posted in Biblical Theology

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Let us go up

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Earlier this year I wrote an essay on worship as ascension.

The main idea is that our Lord’s-day corporate gathering is, symbolically, going up together to meet with Jesus in a special way. In one sense, he is with us at all times. But we are in his presence in a special way when we draw near to him in corporate worship.

What is the cash value of this? Three things stand out in my mind:

First, it magnifies the importance of the church gathering. We are gathering to meet with, receive from, and give to our king, and it is both a privilege and a refreshing delight to make this the highest priority of our week. We ourselves become the very house of God, he inhabits us as his house, and we meet him there in a special way. The Psalms, in particular, train us to think this way about corporate worship.

Second, it opens our eyes of faith to the greatness of what we experience in the church gathering. Perhaps you find yourself longing for the physical power and glory of Old Testament worship experiences. Why can’t we experience the same physical manifestation of God’s power and presence today? But the fulfillment is always greater than the type, and Levitical worship and temple worship were only a type of what we experience now. Formerly, only one man could approach God’s earthly throne, only once a year; and believers traveled far to eat fellowship meals in the courtyard of God’s house — but only if they were ceremonially clean. Now we are all priests, all cleansed once and for all. We all approach God’s heavenly throne weekly (in one sense), and we eat and drink regularly with Jesus at his own table inside his house. Understanding details of how our experience builds on the Old Testament types and shadows helps us to see and rejoice in how much better our experience is. This is part of the church’s maturing from guardianship to sonship. As Peter Leithart writes, the “move that the New Testament announces is not from ritual to non-ritual. . . . The movement instead is from rituals and signs of distance and exclusion . . . to signs and rituals of inclusion and incorporation.” Hebrews, in particular, trains us to think this way about corporate worship today.

Third, the weekly rhythm of going up to meet with Jesus and being sent back out into the world trains us instinctively in the Christian pattern of life. God’s forgiveness, grace, justification, acceptance, rest, and the work of the Spirit are the wellspring out of which flow our works and obedience. God has fresh mercy for us every day and every week. We receive his assurance, grace, rest and power, and are commissioned to go out into the world in his strength and power. We go out in his authority, not to earn acceptance, grace or rest, but moving out of the acceptance, grace and rest that we have already received, and with great confidence that God will continually refresh and equip us every day and every week. We receive more life, are sent out to die, and come back for more life so we can do it again and again.

It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD
shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills;
and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say:
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob,
that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.”
For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
— (Isaiah 2:2-4 ESV)

Written by Scott Moonen

June 28, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Biblical Theology

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Wiggly Disciples

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Douglas Wilson writes of parents shepherding wiggly disciples on Sunday morning:

Many of you are here as parents of little ones and, in some cases, many little ones. For you, the worship of the Lord is a far more arduous task that it is for the rest of us. All of us are engaged in the work of worshipping the Lord, but you are carrying young ones in your arms as you perform the same labor that we do. . . .

Read on for encouragement that is really applicable to all of parenting: our parenting is unto God, and he intends for it to be a real part of our worship.

Written by Scott Moonen

November 10, 2009 at 4:27 pm

Douglas Wilson takes on the new atheism

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In recent months, Doug Wilson has wielded his pen against the new atheism in several ways:

Wilson makes two apologetic moves that you should watch closely. First, he consistently and very deftly pieces apart the atheist’s small little world and shows it to have no foundation, and therefore no meaning, and therefore no force or life or joy. This is well-played presuppositional apologetics. Second, and more importantly, in his personal interaction with Hitchens it is clear that Wilson does not see apologetics as an end in itself. Rather, he repeatedly uses apologetics as a means of disarming his opponent so that he can preach the gospel. It is vital that our practice of apologetics always points to Christ.

Fear the LORD

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Fear the Lord, for:

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
  who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
  you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
  within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
  around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
  who fears the Lord.

The Lord bless you from Zion!
  May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
  all the days of your life!
May you see your children's children!
  Peace be upon Israel!

  -- Psalm 128

Murray on Vocation

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We know how intriguing, even to godless men, is the scientific quest (and the artistic quest!), and how untiring are their labours to discover the secrets of what they call nature (and what they call art!). How incomparably more intriguing and defeatlessly rewarding would have been the quest of sinless man when, at every step of his path and in every detail of progressive understanding, the marvels of the Creator’s wisdom, power, goodness, righteousness, and lovingkindness would have broken in upon his heart and mind, and every new discovery, every additional conquest, would have given cause afresh for the adoration, ‘O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches’ (Psa 104:24). We get a glimpse of the stupendous undertaking and the unspeakable glory of it all. We begin, perhaps, to understand a little of what culture should be. This is the culture that would have engaged and inspired man if he had been confirmed in his integrity. It would have been culture untiringly inspired by the apprehension of the Creator’s glory and by the passion to apprehend and exalt that glory more. That our culture is so little inspired by that ideal is but proof that man has fallen. That any of this culture is found in the earth is proof of redemptive grace.

The earth is full of God’s riches, and one of the callings of the Christian — one of the ways we are to carry out our daily work — is to discover those riches and thereby magnify God.

HT: Daniel Baker

Written by Scott Moonen

January 24, 2007 at 8:27 am

A Family Worship Catechism

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Why do we read God’s word?

We love to read God’s word because it is life and truth.

What does God’s word teach us?

God’s word teaches us about himself, how good and merciful he is; it teaches us that we are sinners who need a savior; and it teaches us how we are to live, trusting in God.

How do we read God’s word?

The Holy Spirit helps us to understand God’s word and to trust and obey it. Holy Spirit, please help me!

Written by Scott Moonen

June 4, 2006 at 11:56 am

Posted in Catechism

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A Lord’s Day Catechism

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What is today?

Today is the Lord’s day.

Why is this day special?

God gives us a day of rest as a gift; to remind us that Jesus is victorious risen Lord of all creation; and to give us hope that some day we will enjoy rest with him forever.

What do we do on the Lord’s day?

On the Lord’s day we love to worship God together as his people.

Why is it so good to worship God together?

Long ago, people feared to draw near to God. But because of Jesus’s death, we now enjoy God’s nearness at all times, and especially when his people gather together.

Written by Scott Moonen

June 3, 2006 at 11:41 am

Posted in Catechism

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