(more) Thoughts on Worship

Several years ago I was asked to lead a lay-pastor training course on Worship in the Reformed Tradition. In the preparation for the class, I took copious amounts of notes from books that I was reading and recommending to the class. I find that I still turn to those quotes quite often, so I thought I’d share some of them here. Enjoy.

From: Hughes Oliphant Old, “Guides to the Reformed Tradition” (Worship.  Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1984):

“We worship God because God created us to worship him.  Worship is at the center of our existence; at the heart for our reason for being.  God created us to be his image – an image that would reflect his glory.”

“When those who worship the holy God become through that worship holy themselves, they show forth the praises of him who has called us out of the darkness into his marvelous light… Holiness is the fruit of worship.  By purifying the worshipers the worship is made pure.  When we worship, having our minds enlightened by the Spirit, our lives cleansed by the Spirit, our wills moved by the Spirit, and our hearts warmed by the Spirit, then our worship is transformed from being a mere human work into being a divine work.”

From John MacArthur, “Pastoral Ministry: How to Shepherd Biblically.” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005):

“Worship is ascribing to God His worth, or stating and affirming His supreme value.So to talk about worship is to talk about something we give to God.  Modern Christianity seems committed, instead, to the idea that God should be giving to us.  God does give to us abudnatly, but we need to understand the balance of that truth.  We are to render ceaseless honor and adoration to God.  That consuming, selfless desire to give to God is the essence and the heart of worship.  It begins with giving first of ourselves, and then of our attitudes, and then of our possessions, until worship is a way of life.”

From D.A. Carson, “Worship by the Book,” (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005):

“We  cannot imagine that the church gathers for worship on Sunday morning if by this we mean that we then engage in something that we have not been engaging in the rest of the week.”

“Worship is the proper response of the creature to the Creator.”

“You cannot find excellent corporate worship until you stop trying to find excellent corporate worship and pursue God himself.”

“If you wish to deepen the worship of the people of God, above all deepen their grasp of his ineffable majesty in his person and in all his works.”

“Worship, properly understood, shapes who we are.  We become like whatever is our god.”

“To say that we come together “to worship” implies that we are not worshiping God the rest of the time.  And that is so out of touch with the New Testament emphases that we ought to abandon such a notion absolutely…  The people of God should worship him in their individual lives and in their family lives and then, when they come together, worship him corporately.”

From David Wells, “God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World,”(Crossway. Kindle Edition):

“We come to the Lord, not because it is our idea to do so, or because we need to do so, or even because we like to do so, but because he first came to us. Worship is our response to what he has done. Worship undoubtedly can have its benefits. However, it is not primarily about our finding comfort, inspiration, or social connections, or being entertained. It is primarily about adoration and praise being directed to God simply for who he is and what he has done. Worship loses its authenticity when it becomes more about the worshiper than about the God who is worshiped.”

“A congregation is a fellowship of sinners, those who know their own waywardness, their own willfulness, and how much they need to be redeemed. It is precisely those who know such things who are in churches or, at least, ought to be. For it is here, in the company of others, that we learn of God’s goodness and of his grace. It is here that we think together about life and its meaning. We are enriched through the gifts that God has given in the church.”

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