31 July 2009
Soli Deo Gloria,
27 July 2009
As mentioned in the previous sermon by Dr. Pipa, worship is corporate and participatory. The two questions answered in this lecture deal these two points of worship. In corporate worship, the leadership must be representative - thus, who's going to do it? Worship is participatory - what are some biblical ways to help us as people with bodies, and not just souls, to worship better?
Corporate worship implies that what we are doing, we are doing together and not individualistically. An example of this is the lifting of hands - we should be doing this corporately.
If worship is corporate, there has to be a leader acting on behalf of all. The question is, who is going to do it? Who is supposed to? As stated in verses 8-12, it men and not women who are to represent the congregation. Not because of chauvinists, but because God has appointed men to lead in corporate worship. If we delve deeper into the text, it is obvious that it is not just all men that are to lead, but approved men. It's quite clear that there's a special class of men that are to lead. First of all, they must be men approved by the church to have godliness and theological discernment. This is important because the congregation is to give their hearty assent to the prayer, yet how can we truthfully do that when what we have just heard isn't biblically sound? The man also has to have had authority placed on him from Christ, through the church, to lead the congregation. Finally, they must have a certain giftedness - "apt to teach", as Paul states it. We must keep in mind that the gift of public speaking do not come naturally for everyone.
Covenant worship is participatory, whether we are serving God as we follow the leader or in exercising further acts in unison, our hearts and minds are to be engaged in faith, love, and understanding in each act we do. We are worshiping God even as we are listening to His word being preached. We are to be exuberantly participating in worship. Too often there is a dullness in what is being done due to a lack of biblical, thoughtful order in worship.
We worship as bodies, and no just souls, thus our bodily postures in worship are important. Sadly, posture is often the most neglected point even in the most well-ordered churches. There is a tight string that connects our physical body and our soul - when we are depressed or excited, does it not affect our appetite? It is because of this connection that fasting is such an effective spiritual discipline. If the soul can affect the body in the such ways, the body can certainly affect the soul. Fasting creates an intensity for the soul to seek God more intently through prayer. So what are some things in the Bible that God has appointed for us to do with our bodies in worship?
One is the corporate amen after prayers and singing. 1 Corinthians 14:16 and Nehemiah 8:5 are scriptures that reference the corporate amen, which is the congregation's way of giving hearty assent. Since you will be called upon to give your hearty assent, you will pay close attention so that you may give it honestly. The corporate amen is like an exclamation point and has been described as a peal of thunder rumbling through the congregation.
The universal practice of the church has been to stand during the reading of God's Word as a sign of reverence. Regarding prayer, there are many references in the scriptures to standing, kneeling, or lying prostrate (though the first two are more commonly for corporate worship). Sitting during prayer is a more modern invention. To clarify, by saying it is in scripture does not mean that it is demanded or that to not do it is a sin, but to recognize that it a biblical, profitable and preferable means. Elders must exercise godly prudence for what is right for their congregation. The point is not for young people to go home and try to change their churches, but to keep in mind for the future. Yes, one can share with your elders and ask them to think about it, but that is the end of it. The purpose is not to become rebels.
Looking up is another posture. In all reality, there is not scripture reference for us to close our eyes. It may help to rid us of distractions, but if we are looking up it also helps to remove distractions. In the presence of the Supreme Ruler of heavens and earth, sometimes a bowed head is an appropriate sign of humility.
On the corporate lifting of hands, the bible is full of instruction for the congregation to do so. It is a good posture for prayer, both corporately and privately. It may be done representively, as the pastor lifts his hands on behalf of all. However, it is not to be done at the expense of sensitive souls.
Young people are the future leaders of the church. We need to learn about these things now, so we will have that knowledge when it is our turn to be the leaders in the church.
25 July 2009
El Elyon - God is The Most High God, there are no others above Him. My God is greater than all other false gods. There is no one greater than my God, El Elyon. It is He who rules the heavens and earth, the sun, the moon and the stars. There is none like Him! No "god" is above Him - He is above all and rules all and in Him I can safely put my trust. Praise El Elyon that He sovereignly rules over all earth, including my own life! It amazes me that El Elyon is interested in my life, that He speaks with me, and that He sent His only, perfect son to die for me, sinner that I am! I thank El Elyon that He chose me, and I seek to glorify Him in all I do.
The following is copied from the site linked in the previous post:
Meaning and Derivation: El is another name that is translated as "God" and can be used in conjunction with other words to designate various aspects of God's character. Elyon literally means "Most High" and is used both adjectivally and substantivally throughout the Old Testament. It expresses the extreme sovereignty and majesty of God and His highest preeminence. When the two words are combined — El Elyon — it can be translated as "the most exalted God."(Psa 57:2)
Further references of the name El Elyon in the Old Testament: Gen 14:18; Gen 14:19; Gen 14:20; Gen 14:22; Psa 57:2; Psa 78:35
By His Grace,
19 July 2009
As we learn about His names, we begin to learn about the character of God. I am beginning this week with "El Shaddai" - All-Sufficient One, Lord God Almighty. All-sufficient to me means that He is all I need, He will take care of me. Though some may trust in man, I can and will put my trust in El Shaddai. Unlike man, He will never let me down, never leave me nor forsake me. He is all I need and I know He will take care of me. He is Lord God Almighty, ruler of all. I don't need to worry about anything, He has it all under control.
(The following info on the meaning of the name El Shaddai is from the above link)
Use in the Bible: In the Old Testament El Shaddai occurs 7 times. El Shaddai is first used in Gen 17:1.
Variant spellings: None
TWOT Reference: 2333
Strong's Reference: 7706
El Shaddai in the Septuagint: theou saddai — God Shaddai; pantokratôr (for Shaddai) — the Almighty
Meaning and Derivation: El is another name that is translated as "God" and can be used in conjunction with other words to designate various aspects of God's character. Another word much like Shaddai, and from which many believe it derived, is shad meaning "breast" in Hebrew (some other scholars believe that the name is derived from an Akkadian word Šadu, meaning "mountain," suggesting strength and power). This refers to God completely nourishing, satisfying, and supplying His people with all their needs as a mother would her child. Connected with the word for God, El, this denotes a God who freely gives nourishment and blessing, He is our sustainer.
Further references of the name El Shaddai in the Old Testament: Gen 17:1; Gen 28:3; Gen 35:11; Gen 43:14; Gen 48:3
Soli Deo Gloria,
07 July 2009
As Creationists, we shouldn't be seeking to "prove" that God's Word is true - we know that it is! What we need to be doing is seeking to interpret it.
What is the first reason why Christians shouldn't believe in evolution? Because it didn't happen! It has never happened, and never will. What we see instead is variety, not one species mutating into another. In fact, there are no helpful mutations! Mutations always result in missing information, not adding - and I'm sure everyone know that mutations are what evolution is built upon.
The ultimate authority for Christians - God's Word - declares that it happened a different way. Genesis 1 declares that God created "after its kind". . .ten times! No question about whether or not God used mutation there. Neither was it that each day stood for, say, a thousand years. The Hebrew word used for day is "yom". It is always used to describe a literal day in other passages in scripture.
This is no light matter. The very character of God is at stake when a Christian thinks it is okay to believe in evolution. Christianity's very cornerstone rests on the death of the most "fit" of all, Christ Jesus. And without Christ, all is naught.
03 July 2009
A major problem in the church today is that not enough people understand the nature and purpose of worship. What happens when we use something that is inconsistent with its purpose? We break it. If we use our computer's CD tray as a cup holder - well, I think you know what would happen. If we don't use worship in a way that is consistent with its nature and purpose, then it, too, will be broken.
Why do we worship - is it just to give us an emotional high? We don't worship for our own reasons, we worship because it is our duty. We are even commanded to worship - particularly corporate worship (note the particular emphasis on the temple in this Psalm). All the earth is to praise God. For us as Christians, the responsibility is even more so, for God redeemed us for this purpose.
What then does this duty look like? Often worship is too passive. However, part of our duty of worship is the careful diligence of listening. We aren't to just tune out when others are offering up prayers on our behalf - we are to be listening, making their prayer our prayer, that we will be able to respond with a hearty amen. We are also to pay attention to how we dress. We are in the special presence of God when we are meeting together for corporate worship, but too often we don't show this in our dress. If we are expected to dress nicely if we meet the president of the United States, how much more so when meet with the King of Kings?
Our acts during worship are to be acts of praise and adoration. Love words spoken to God in our prayers are often missing. When we forget who we worship, our worship becomes dull. We are to worship God exuberantly. As we gaze on God's beauty and holiness, we become more like Him. Our corporate worship will truly define the rest of our week.
What then is to be our motivation for worship? God has designed these things for our edification. Corporate worship is a means of grace by which God has designed to grow, deepen, strengthen and edify us. We are to know Him, think on Him, worship Him. When we come into Jehovah's presence knowing who He is, we will come as worshipers. When we don't prepare to worship Yahweh, worship becomes dull and meaningless. We need to reflect on His names, attributes, and works. If we prepare better, we will worship better.
Worship is about God, not man. It is a covenantal affair, a family affair - not geared toward the visitor or unconverted. We may interpret the worship service for those who do not understand, but we may not change or cater the way we worship for their comfort. Once we do, our worship becomes man-centered instead of God-centered. We need to be certain that our worship continues to be focused only on Jehovah at all times.