Christian Unity: Don’t Major in the Minors

THEGMP_a4img1In Acts chapter 15, the question was raised whether a Gentile Christian had to submit to circumcision in order to be a true Christian. Since salvation was at stake, this was important. At this council, which convened in Jerusalem, Peter championed salvation being by grace, apart from any human work, leading to the apostles and other elders to commend the ministry to the Gentiles without the need for Jewish legal observance. They did however request the Gentile believers be sensitive to Jewish customs in a letter written from the council.

There is something that sticks out to me when I read this portion of Holy Scripture. Verse 5 of Chapter 15 reads, “But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses’”(ESV, emphasis added). This is interesting, because it says some of the Pharisees were in fact believers. I believe this is in contrast to those of the Pharisee party who were unbelievers, because they believed salvation in Christ was by works. Verse 1 tells us, “some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved’”(ESV, emphasis added). This is different than what we saw in verse 5. Here, these men are saying one’s salvation was invalid if they forsook the specific Jewish ordinance of circumcision. Something similar today would be to say, that in order to be saved you must be baptized.  

The Pharisees of verse 5 don’t seem to be saying the person’s salvation was at stake. Their issue was that believers needed to keep the customs of Moses, not for salvation, but as obedience to God. Therefore, we have Pharisees who are unbelievers (verse 1) and Pharisees who are believers (verse 5). Could this happen today? I don’t see why not. A few years ago while I attended the Shepherd’s Conference in California, a very respected theologian warned all of us about this reality. He said something to the effect of this: “Be careful men, because the Pharisees were the ironclad Calvinists of their day.” I believe his point was exposure to the truth could cause an ironic ignorance to how we treat one another. Or to how we practice our faith with regard to the truth.

The apostle Paul says in his letter to the Roman believers: “you yourselves are full of 1-Corinthians-13-4goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another”(Rom 15:14 ESV). And of this same knowledge in 1 Corinthians 8:1 he says, “we know that ‘all of us possess knowledge.’ This ‘knowledge’ puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor 8:1 ESV). He is warning us that our knowledge of truth will in fact cause us to “puff up.” This is because of our sinful nature, which distorts everything that is good.

This is why Paul later in his letter to the Corinthian believers (1 Cor 13:4-13) explains this love that builds up. Verses 4 and 5 capture the essence of what true love is: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.” So when Paul tells us we are to be, “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15), he has in mind the characteristics of love described in 1 Corinthians 13.

The Pharisees during Jesus’ earthly ministry, and even those who came to faith in Christ later, had a tendency to put unrealistic and outright unbiblical expectations on the people. At this gathering of apostles and church leaders in Acts 15, which is known as “The Jerusalem Council,” Peter speaks up and addresses this issue in verses 7 through 11. In conclusion to the understanding that God has included Gentiles in salvation, in verse 10 Peter says, “Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear (verse 10)?” Our exhortation today should be the same as Peter’s. We should be very careful that we don’t elevate preferences, or what we should consider minor, or secondary issues of theology over the things that matter for salvation.

The response of the apostles and other church leaders in Jerusalem to this error was a letter, which would be brought back to the church in Antioch, which was essentially the hub for Gentile gospel ministry at the time, and read to the believers there. This letter mentions specific immoral things and also some traditional things for the Gentile believers to abstain from. The traditional things were asked of the Gentile believers, so they would be sensitive to the Jewish believers, thus building unity amongst diversity. Paul talks about this type of sensitivity to certain convictions in Romans 14 as well.jerusalem-council-acts-15

The best part of this is it’s from God. We know the Scriptures are God’s inerrant, inspired Word, but here we have a specific Holy endorsement of their decision. Luke records for us the portion of this letter with this endorsement:

For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell” (vv. 28-29 ESV, emphasis added).

We know from Act 10:9-15 that it’s not a sin to eat certain animal anymore, since God has made all things clean. The issue is Christian unity. God wants the Gentile believers to be sensitive to the different convictions of the Jewish believers. This doesn’t violate the gospel; it actually accentuates it!

Believers are called to love one another, which means we are toward one another to be patient and kind. Not envious or boastful. Not arrogant or rude. Not insisting on our own way, and not irritable or resentful. This is hard and at times seems impossible not to do. Let’s be honest with ourselves, we have all done this to one degree or another. Now is not a time to be fighting, and bickering with other Christians. Now is the time for us to show love that highly emphasizes unity amongst diversity. For whatever reason the Lord has given us different convictions on secondary theological issues. Things like the end times, baptism, church government, spiritual gifts, or philosophy of ministry. None of these have crystal clear clarity in Scripture or we would not have such diverse beliefs in these matters.

daily-image-020113The amazing thing is that we can have differences in these areas yet have the same belief in the mandatory things of the faith. Things like the deity of Christ, the necessity of the atonement, justification by faith, the resurrection of Christ, and the triune nature of God. We can be unified in the majors and diverse in the minors, which ultimately allows us to be unified as one Body of Christ for the world to see.

When we love each other as God calls us to do we will witness to the world the beautiful diversity that exists in God’s gracious good news of salvation. The Lord Jesus Himself said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 ESV).

May the Lord give us the conviction and power to do this for our good and for His glory!

Grace and Peace!

J.D.N.

 

God Fulfilled Prophecy in Jesus Christ

imagesThe book of Acts in the Bible is called so, for it is a record of the “Acts of the Apostles,” or one could also say it is a record of the “Acts of the Holy Spirit.” These acts are significant, because they occur at a significant point in human history. God has become a man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who we come to know as the fulfillment of many prophecies recorded in a collection of writings we know as the Old Testament. The Old Testament covers the portions in the Bible from Genesis through Malachi (39 books).

Included in this portion of the Bible are many prophecies focused on a specific person of God, who would do specific things. This person is the Messiah, the Savior, who actually is God Himself. We come to learn as revealed in the New Testament, this person is in fact Jesus of Nazareth, or more appropriately, Jesus Christ. Christ means Savior, or Anointed One; and this is exactly who Jesus is.

The book of Acts launches immediately into the promise of the coming Holy Spirit. It then describes Christ’s ascension after being back on earth bodily post crucifixion. It then describes the actual event when the Holy Spirit came, which we refer to as “Pentecost.” This marks the earthly, physical beginning of the Church. We then see the Apostles starting with Peter preaching about what has happened and what is happening. And as he continues preaching, he explains how Old Testament prophecy is being fulfilled before their very eyes in the person and work of Jesus Christ. He explains to the people that Jesus is the Holy One who was promised from long ago. Peter is here preaching and this is what Luke recorded for us through the divine oversight of the Holy Spirit:

“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness” (Acts 3:17-26 ESV).

Peter, unashamedly and without doubt or hesitation, says that God has fulfilled prophecy in Christ. In these few verses we see several things:unknown

  1. He reminds them the Christ will suffer (verse 18). Jesus specifically mentions this when He appears (in disguise) to several disciples who were walking on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13). These disciples were disappointed, because they were hoping Jesus was the promised One. They had forgotten what the prophets spoke of long ago. They forgot that this Messiah would actually suffer tremendously at the hands of His own people. Here what Jesus said: “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory? (Luke 24:25-26)” He reminds them that the Messiah would have to suffer as spoken of. He then later while they were eating revealed to them He was the Messiah. (verses 30-32). “Their [spiritual] eyes were opened, and they recognized him” (verse 31). Once they saw Him for whom he was, it was not hard for them to believe, since they had just seen Him die on the cross and now He was having a meal with them.
  1. Peter then identifies Jesus as the prophet who Moses spoke of, who is greater than him that will come (verse 22). Moses also told the people, they would listen to Him in whatever he tells them (Deuteronomy 18:15). This is actually a command. I like the New Living Translation, which says, “Listen carefully to everything he tells you.”

This also connects to Matthew 17, which records the events of Peter, John and James on the “Mount of Transfiguration.” Basically Jesus reveals some of His heavenly glory to them. Moses and Elijah also show up and speak with Jesus. I think their presence with Jesus represents the Law and the Prophets of God. During this encounter God interrupts Peter, who was rambling about making a campsite for everyone and says, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (verse 4).

  1. He then declared that all the prophets from Samuel on foretold the days in which they were seeing (verse 24). He is basically reiterating what Jesus had done with the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke 24. There, Jesus essentially went through the Old Testament and explained it was speaking of Him (verse 27). All of the events of the Old Testament and New Testament are somehow linked to Jesus Christ.

I like to think of it this way. The Old Testament is Jesus concealed; the New Testament Gospels are Jesus revealed; the New Testament book of Acts is Jesus preached; the New Testament Epistles are Jesus explained; and the New Testament book of Revelation is Jesus expected. It’s all about Him, because, “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).

  1. Finally, Peter connects Jesus as the promised “offspring” of Abraham who will bless all the families of the earth (verse 25), which is cited from Genesis 22:18. The cool thing about this reference from Peter is the “offspring” mentioned to Abraham is not plural, but singular. So when God gave this promise to Abraham, He was revealing a single person will be the one who will fulfill this promise. And Peter says this person promised is Jesus Christ.

As a result of the coming of Christ there will be things happening that will authenticate Jesus as the promised Messiah:

  1. There will be repentance for the forgiveness of sins (verse 19). And this repentance will be a result of the Lord’s blessing on His people. God will actually be the agent working personally in people’s lives causing them to turn from their evil ways (verse 26).
  1. And as a result of this genuine turning to the Lord in faith, there will be refreshing that comes in the form of the actual presence of the Lord, since Jesus will come to those who repent of their sins and believe in Him (verse 20).

Jesus is also called “Immanuel,” which means “God is with us” (Matthew 1:23). Jesus as loving, compassionate, gracious, and merciful God gets into the yoke of burden and despair with us and leads us to Him more and more (Matthew 11:30).unknown-1

We have the awesome privilege of knowing who God is and what He has done. The incarnation, life, work, death and resurrection of Christ are marvelous truths. We now know the way, the truth and the life, because of what God has done and is doing through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 ESV).

Glory to God alone!

J.D.N.

Commitment to the Truth of God

cod01Pastor John MacArthur talking about Paul’s statement in Ephesians 6:14 to “Stand your ground putting on the belt of truth:”

“This whole thing of spiritual war starts with commitment…until you get a grip on eternal things; until you set your affections on the things above and not on the things of the earth; until you offer your body as a living sacrifice; until the purposes of God matter more to you than your own goals and ambitions; until the eternal glory is the compelling issue in your life and not worldly comfort; you’re not going to get the belt on and pull the loose ends of your life in and make a commitment to battle, that can turn out in victory. “ [1]

The truth that’s spoken of here is the commitment to what is right and true as revealed by God. The truth of right doctrine, Paul gets to a little later in verse 17 when he says, “take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” We must daily be committed to spiritual battle by standing firm with commitment to God’s truth.

  • We need to keep our hearts and minds set on eternal things.
  • We need to set our affections on things above and not on earthly things.
  • We need to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God.
  • We need to consider the purposes of God to be greater than our purposes.
  • We need to make the eternal glory of God the compelling issue and not worldly comfort.

Glory to God alone!

J.D.N.

 

[1] Excerpt from Grace to You sermon “Fundamental Christian Attitudes: Strength, Part 4. http://www.gty.org/radio/.

A Paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Lord's_Prayer_(Le_Pater_Noster)_-_James_TissotI came across a paraphrase from the 17th and 18th century Puritan Matthew Henry in A Method for Prayer I decided to paraphrase his paraphrase into a more modern version, since I found his to be very helpful and thorough, capturing the richness of the Lord’s Prayer. Hope it helps bring you closer to the Lord as you go to Him in prayer!

Our Father in heaven, we come to You as children to a Father able and ready to help us.

We ask Your name to be sanctified, so enable us to glorify You according to all you have made known, and make all things to Your own glory.

Let Your kingdom come; let Satan’s kingdom be destroyed, and let the kingdom of Your grace be advanced; let us and others be brought into it, and kept in it, and let the kingdom of Your glory come quickly.

Let Your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven; make us by Your grace able and willing to know, obey, and submit to Your will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.

Give us this day all of our provisions; of Your free gift let us receive an excellent portion of the good things of this life, and let us enjoy Your blessing with them.

And forgive us our sins as we forgive them that sin against us. We pray that for Christ’s sake You would freely pardon all our sins, and that by Your grace you would enable us from the heart to forgive others.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Either keep us, O Lord, from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Lord, we take our encouragement in prayer from Yourself only, and desire in our prayers to praise you, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to you: And in testimony of our desires and assurance to be heard through Jesus Christ, we say Amen.

 

Grace and Peace!

J.D.N

The Writers of the NT Knew Jesus Was Spoken of in the Psalms

295059_444537545572094_113589515333567_1690108_1424745586_nJesus said and did many things that were direct fulfillments of OT prophesy. Over 300 OT prophesies were fulfilled literally in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. So when Jesus cries out on the cross, He is not only fulfilling prophesy, but He is also showing His humanity. When He cries out to the Father, “Why have you forsaken Me?” (Psalm 22) It’s because the Father separated Himself temporarily from Jesus, because the sins of the redeemed were placed on Him. This doesn’t prove as some would say, Jesus wasn’t God. It does however, prove Jesus was acting as a man, fully obedient to the will of God. This is why in the NT Jesus is referred to as the Second Adam either directly or implied (Rom 5:12-21; 1 Cor 15:22, 45-47). He did what the first Adam failed to do in His obedience. He then became the ultimate, and final sacrificial Lamb of God, to fulfill what was foretold in Scripture that God Himself would be the Savior of His people. 
These Psalms are known as Messianic Psalms and here is a list of many references from the Psalms in the NT. Pretty amazing stuff! Great study to do with yourself or with others. 
Psalm* Specific Application to Jesus in New Testament
2 Acts 4:25–26; 13:33; Heb 1:5; 5:5; Rev 2:26–27
8 Matt 21:15–16; 1 Cor 15:27; Eph 1:22; Heb 2:6–8
16 Acts 2:25–31; 13:35
22 Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34; John 19:34; Heb 2:12
34 John 19:36
35 John 15:22
40 Heb 10:5–7
41 John 13:18
45 Heb 1:8–9
68 Eph 4:8
69 John 2:17; 15:25; Rom 15:3
89 John 12:34
102 Heb 1:10–12
110 Matt 22:44; 26:64; Mark 12:36; 14:62; Luke 20:42–43; Acts 2:34–35; Heb 1:13; 5:6; 7:17, 21
118 Matt 21:9, 42, 23:39; Mark 12:10–11; Luke 13:35; 19:38; 20:17; John 12:13; Acts 4:11; 1 Pet 2:7
132 Acts 2:30
 Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Grace and Peace!
J.D.N.

Why New Covenant Worship is Superior to Old Covenant Worship Conclusion

In conclusion of this study of how and why NC worship is superior to OC worship I will give some points of application that should be considered in light of right worship to our God.

Applications for Today’s Worship

In the person of Christ, God has reconciled His people to Himself. It is because of Him that we are able to rightly worship God. We are now able to worship God, as He desires to be worshiped, which is in “spirit and truth” (John 4:23). Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well who was asking Him about proper worship says, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). This means that our worship in the church is centered on Christ, the Son of God, by the power of the Spirit of God. The service of one to God for the sake of the gospel and our Lord Jesus Christ is not only initiated, but also maintained by the Spirit of God. Peterson rightly says, “worship by the Spirit is essentially trust in Christ crucified and the saving implications of his death.”28

worship-in-spirit-and-truthJesus as the incarnate Word of God (John 1:1, 14) has come to reveal the eternal gospel of God’s grace to us, which leads the elect to salvation (John 3:16; Heb. 1:1; Rom. 10:17, et.al.). So we worship God by knowing Christ, which is eternal life (John 17:3). We are told to grow in this knowledge: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18). As a result of knowing Christ, we turn from the idolatry of the world and our own hearts and turn to Christ in faith and service to God. We worship Him!

Hearing God’s Word proclaimed is crucial to right worship. The reading of Scripture is connected to hearing, studying, memorizing, and meditating on God’s Word; and in the context of corporate worship the reading of Scripture has a profound effect. Paul Lamey observes, “The beginning of theology, exposition, and worship is the sustained public reading of God’s Word in the Church.”29 Bryan Chapell says, “Thus reading the Word of God becomes the very core of worship, affording each hearer an opportunity for ongoing, personal encounter with the divine. In essence, Scripture is God’s voice incarnate for the church in all ages.”30 So it is rather simple to see that consumption of God’s Word enables us to understand Christ better, which consequently enables us to worship God better.

Conclusion

dever1Preaching, teaching, reading, and even singing of God’s Word are merely a means to an end. The end result should be worship to God, which is a matter of the heart of the individual. If our hearts are not changed toward God then genuine worship is not present. When discussing the important task of family worship, Pastor Tedd Tripp touches on this truth when he says,

The practice of family worship is a means, not an end. It is a means to the end of knowing God. The name of the game is not daily family worship per se; it is knowing God. The end is knowing God. A means to employ in reaching that end is family worship.31

Peterson reminds us, “In various ways the Bible makes it plain that worship is acceptable to God only if it is based on true knowledge of God and of his will. Worship outside of this framework is idolatrous.”32

As we draw near to God with confidence, we express our trust in Jesus and His saving work. We rely upon God daily, knowing that our sins have been forgiven, but nonetheless displaying humility in confession of sin, seeking mercy and grace for our past failures and seeking help from God for the ongoing life of glory to Him. 32d3f3bb22d7220a1e092135c6661a3dAs we worship God rightly, we show that we have truly grasped the gospel of God’s grace. The motivation for this worship comes as a result of the cleansing due to the finished work of Christ at Calvary (Heb. 9:14) and the future hope that is certain (Heb. 12:28). Gratitude to the Lord expresses that we not only understand, but also appreciate the grace of God. This is worship!

Grace and Peace!

J.D.N.

Footnotes 28-32 of 32 (for entire article)

28 Peterson, Engaging With God, 187.

29 Paul Lamey, “The Reading of Scripture,” The Expositors Blog, April 12, 2016, accessed April 12, 2016, http://www.expositors.org/blog/the-reading-of-scripture/.

30 Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Worship (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009), 220.

31 Tedd Tripp, Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Second Edition (Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2005), 53.

32 Peterson, New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, 857.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Block, Daniel. For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.

Begbie, Jeremy. “Worship.” In Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Chapell, Bryan. Christ-Centered Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

Church, Chris. “High Priest” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Edited by C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003.

Due, Noel. Created For Worship From Genesis to Revelation to You. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005.

Elwell, Walter, and Barry Beitzel “Lord of Hosts” in Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Volume Two. Edited by Walter Elwell. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.

Frame, John M. Worship in Spirit and Truth A Refreshing Study of the Principles and Practice of Biblical Worship. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1996.

Hauser, Alan J. and Kellet, Earl. “History of the Temple” in The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Edited by J.D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, and W. Widder. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015.

Lamey, Paul. “The Reading of Scripture” The Expositors Blog, April 12, 2016. Accessed April 12, 2016, http://www.expositors.org/blog/the-reading- of-scripture/.

Lawrence, Michael. Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010.

Patzia, Arthur G, and Petrotta, Anthony J. Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Peterson, David G. “Worship.” In New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by T. Desmond Alexander, and Brian S. Rosner. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

_____ Engaging With God A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

Rooker, Mark F., Merrill, Eugene H., and Grisanti, Michael A. The World and the Word An Introduction to the Old Testament. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2011.

Schnackenburg, Rudolph. The Epistle To The Ephesians. Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark LTD, 1991.

Sproul, R.C. Everyone’s A Theologian An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2014.

Tripp, Tedd. Shepherding A Child’s Heart: Second Edition. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2005.

Why New Covenant Worship is Superior to Old Covenant Worship Part 4

In Part 3 we looked briefly into the elements of the OC temple and the OC high priest and how a worshipper of God would relate to God through these ordained things. We also said that these were but types and pictures of something greater to come, which finds final fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. So now we will move into talking more specifically about how and why NC worship is superior to OC worship.

4595051197_1585x702New Covenant Worship Superior

As mentioned previously one of the main factors in the NC is that there is a change in how God deals with His people and how they represent Him. We know from examining prophetic passages such as Jeremiah 31:31 that God will take the initiative as He always does in His plans, and enter into a new and better covenant than before. Characteristic to this covenant is the fact that God gives His people a new heart that knows His law and responds in directional obedience.

The prophesies of the NC are not exclusive to the ministry of Jeremiah, for we also see it proclaimed through the prophet Ezekiel whose ministry lasted during the Israelites exile to Babylon. Therefore, God uses Ezekiel to remind them of His promise given to Jeremiah prior to their deportation. Ezekiel speaking for Yahweh says, “I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (37:26-27). Mark Rooker commenting on this says that Ezekiel “affirmed that God will give His people a new heart and a new spirit to enable them to be faithful and thus avoid a future judgment (11:17-20; 36:26-28). The Lord will establish a new temple and a new worship for the people (chaps. 40-48) once they are restored.”20

It is important to make clear that this NC is significantly different in several ways. It cannot be broken; all of its members will be made new; and it will not operate in conjunction with natural birth, but spiritual birth instead. Michael Lawrence, referring to the NC as revealed by Jeremiah, says,

in Jeremiah’s prophecy of the new covenant, Jeremiah explicitly says, “It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers, when I led them by the hand out of Egypt” (Jer. 31:32). How will it be different? For one thing, it will be unbreakable (v. 32). For another, all the members of that covenant will be regenerate, the law written on their hearts (v. 33). Yet another difference will be that the covenant will not operate according to natural lines of birth and descent, but through spiritual birth (vv. 29-30). Here the discontinuity between the new covenant and the Mosaic covenant is enormous: a covenant of grace, not works; a covenant that regenerates rather than kills; a covenant entered into through spiritual rather than natural birth. And yet for all this discontinuity, Jeremiah is clear that this new covenant is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, made to their forefather Abraham.21

It is crystal clear that there is a definitive change in how God is dealing with His people as both individuals and corporately. Now it must be clarified here that the Mosaic Covenant was not a covenant of works in regards to salvation. The stipulations of the covenant pertained to the nation of Israel retaining God’s temporal blessings and the Land of Canaan. It pointed to the greater covenant found through the Messiah. Hence, the NC is far more superior then the OC.

The reason the NC is more superior is ultimately found in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the true Temple of God; for He embodies all the righteousness of God; therefore the people of God enjoy the presence of God by being in Him, that’s in Christ. Simply put, the Head of the church (Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18), which is Christ, cannot be severed from the Body of Christ, which is the church-the new covenant people of God.

Worship Through God’s Temple / Church

Due tells us, “Through faith in Christ, Jews and Gentiles become members of a ‘new man,’ which may also be described as ‘one body’ i.e. the church.”22 Rudolph Schnackenburg makes this point well referencing this truth found in the book to the Ephesians,

The new ‘man’ is Christ insofar as he represents and realizes the church in himself. Christ and the church are not thereby identical; the church is grounded ‘in him’ and should grow into him (2:21; 4:13, 15) and Christ, the Head of the Body (1:22; 4:15; 5:23) remains her basis (2:30), the source of her growth (4:16) and her inner life thorough the Spirit (2:18, 22; 4:4a). In that he leads the two formerly separated groups of Jews and Gentiles in his own person to a new, indissoluble unity, he establishes ultimate peace between them.23

God’s Temple in The Christ

templeIn John 2:13-21 Jesus takes a trip with His disciples to Jerusalem and visits the temple. After a fit of righteous anger that He displays towards the mockery and irreverence that was on display with the Jews making His Father’s house a house of trade (v. 16). Jesus tells the religious leaders who had asked Him to show a “sign” excusing His actions says this: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (v. 19). John tells us in v. 21 “he was speaking about the temple of his body.”

Jesus goes to cleanse the temple, for the name of God had been blasphemed, since the temple was the dwelling place of God, which is synonymous with His name. Jesus has zero tolerance for the name of God to be blasphemed in this way or any other way. Due tells us, “Jesus’ action in the cleansing of the temple is the necessary and inevitable consequence of his own obedient worship of the Father…he acted to maintain the glory of his name in the place where God had caused his name to dwell.”24 Then a little later, “Jesus himself was nothing less than the tabernacle/temple of God bearing the glory and name of God, in the midst of the nations.”25

With the advent of the Messiah, the center of worship transitions from a “place” as seen in the OC to a “person” in the NC. NC worship has nothing to do with buildings, but has everything to do with the person of Christ. The Jewish temple was seen as a “meeting point” between heaven and earth. We see this idea connected with Jesus in John’s gospel account early on in chapter 1. When Nathanael first meets Jesus, Jesus gives Nathanael a glimpse of His supernatural abilities by telling Nathanael that He had seen him sitting under a fig tree. Nathanael in an explosion of faith in Jesus calls Him “the Son of God” (v. 49). In response, Jesus connects the “Jacob’s Ladder” incident in the OT (Gen. 28:12) to Himself. Jesus tells Nathanael, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (v. 51). So Jesus replaces the temple as the “meeting point” between heaven and earth. As Peterson reminds us,

The gospels of Matthew and John are particularly concerned to stress that God’s presence and God’s glory, so intimately connected with the tabernacle and temple under the Mosaic covenant, and consistently at the center of Jewish expectations for the messianic era, are fully and finally experienced in Jesus Christ.26

This is why Christian preaching and teaching must center on the person and work of Jesus Christ. God’s presence with His people is in the person of Jesus Christ; for He is the one in whom we see the glory of God (John 1:14). He is the embodiment of the “shekinah” presence of God as experienced in the OC tabernacle and temple.

God’s Temple in The Church

As the Body of Christ-the church, believers also become the temple of God. Just as Jesus cleansed the earthly copy of the heavenly temple, He will also cleanse, protect, and preserve believers as the temple of God, since we are the dwelling place of His name now. In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (emphasis mine). The apostle Paul understands the connection of Christ’s church with her Savior by saying, “I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things so that, if I delay you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Tim 3:14-15, emphasis mine). The Head cannot be separated from the Body and the Body cannot be separated from the Head. 1-cor-12_27-graphic

Paul additionally tells us, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God” (1 Cor 6:19)? This “is the sign of his dwelling with men and women on earth. In fact, in the terms of the new covenant, the church is the temple because of God’s indwelling of men and women by virtue of their union with Christ.”27 Ephesians 2:11-22 is another important passage that helps us to see how God is making His people into His temple where He will dwell with them forever. In that passage it’s clear that God is making a new spiritual temple. The new temple of Christ’s Body is replacing the physical temple that was in Jerusalem. This Body consists not only of Jews, but also Gentiles. We experience deliverance and salvation individually through the finished work of Christ’s atoning work, but additionally we are now part of a new corporate group called the church, which consists of people from every nation, language, and tribe.

Worship Through God’s Great High Priest 

In the OC the high priest was the mediator between God and man. He was the one who would sprinkle the blood of the lamb on the Ark of the Covenant on the Day of Atonement. He was the one who was expected to be consecrated and holy to God. As the King represented the people to God, the high priest represented God to the people. With the incarnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, a definitive change has happened in how God is represented to us. Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest. We now know Jesus as the Priest King who is worthy of our total devotion and worship.jesus-our-great-high-priest

The book of Hebrews is crucial in helping us to understand how Jesus is greater than all things. He is greater than angels (chapter 1); greater than Moses (chapter 3); and greater than all of the earthly high priests (4:14-5:10; 7:1-8:13.) These passages that describe the differences of how Jesus is not only better, but also perfect, and eternal in His priestly intercession between Him and us.

For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priest, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once and for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever (Heb. 7:26-28).

Our worship to God is now through the perfect High Priest, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Since, “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God though him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).

Next time we’ll take some time to discuss applications for worship today.  

 Grace and Peace!

J.D.N.

Footnotes 20-27 of 32 (for entire article)

20 Mark F. Rooker, “The Book of Ezekiel” in The World and the Word An Introduction to the Old Testament (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2011), 398

21 Michael Lawrence, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 81.

22 Due, 203.

23 Rudolph Schnackenburg, The Epistle To The Ephesians (Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark LTD, 1991), 115.

24 Due, 129.

25 Ibid., 131.

26 David G. Peterson, Engaging With God A Biblical Theology of Worship (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press), 101.

27 Due, 199-200.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Block, Daniel. For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.

Begbie, Jeremy. “Worship.” In Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Chapell, Bryan. Christ-Centered Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

Church, Chris. “High Priest” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Edited by C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003.

Due, Noel. Created For Worship From Genesis to Revelation to You. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005.

Elwell, Walter, and Barry Beitzel “Lord of Hosts” in Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Volume Two. Edited by Walter Elwell. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.

Frame, John M. Worship in Spirit and Truth A Refreshing Study of the Principles and Practice of Biblical Worship. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1996.

Hauser, Alan J. and Kellet, Earl. “History of the Temple” in The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Edited by J.D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, and W. Widder. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015.

Lamey, Paul. “The Reading of Scripture” The Expositors Blog, April 12, 2016. Accessed April 12, 2016, http://www.expositors.org/blog/the-reading- of-scripture/.

Lawrence, Michael. Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010.

Patzia, Arthur G, and Petrotta, Anthony J. Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Peterson, David G. “Worship.” In New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by T. Desmond Alexander, and Brian S. Rosner. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

_____ Engaging With God A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

Rooker, Mark F., Merrill, Eugene H., and Grisanti, Michael A. The World and the Word An Introduction to the Old Testament. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2011.

Schnackenburg, Rudolph. The Epistle To The Ephesians. Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark LTD, 1991.

Sproul, R.C. Everyone’s A Theologian An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2014.

Tripp, Tedd. Shepherding A Child’s Heart: Second Edition. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2005.

Why New Covenant Worship is Superior to Old Covenant Worship Part 3

Now in Part 3 it’s time to look at some important facets of the Old Covenant. We need to understand that it of course was ordained by God, but it was never meant to be the final order of how we worship God in a practical sense. Let’s examine two extremely important aspects of the OC that are pointing us towards something greater in the NC. 

Old Covenant Worship Ordained

Now that worship has been briefly defined both individually and corporately, it’s important to now comment on the overarching difference between the two covenants. That being that the NC is superior to the OC. The beginning of true worship to God does not begin with the OC dispensation of the nation of Israel, or even its beginning with the calling of Abraham. The limits of this study doesn’t allow much detail, but it is crucial to mention, as Noel Due points out, “Worship Predates the Creation of Human Beings.”11 He additionally tells us, “God’s decision to create the universe is the effective cause of worship. He creates, and that which springs into being through his Word and Spirit as a result of his creative will, worships.”12 So ultimately the creation account itself was given to us to magnify the greatness of God and prompt us to worship our Creator as King, for He is our maker and Lord. Creation is also intended to be God’s Temple Palace. Unfortunately this became distorted with the fall of the first man and woman into sin and consequently the proper worship of the Creator by His creation became polluted as well.

God in His mercy and grace gives a significant promise right after humanity was plunged into sin and cursed, resulting in wrong worship of God. This promise came in the form of “the seed” (singular)13 of the woman who would have victory over evil and the chief demon Satan himself. So from this point on the OT moves forward in time as God works through human history to bring this promise to fruition.

As the biblical narrative progresses, we make our way to the chosen nation of Israel who would be the people that would represent Yahweh14 corporately. God chooses Abraham who fathers Isaac, who fathers Jacob, who in turn fathers twelve sons, who then become the twelve tribes of this nation, which is named after their father, whose name was changed by God from Jacob to Israel. As this nation moves forward in time, God establishes physical places that will serve as the official places of worship to Him. He establishes a tabernacle, and then later a temple to be the places that would contain the presence of God with His covenant people. These places will come to be known as “copies” (cf. Heb. 9:24) of the greater thing to come, which is Christ! This is where we will discuss some key elements of temple worship in the OC.

Worship and the OC Temple Solomons-Temple

In the OC, temple worship played a key role in God’s economy for worship to Him. So to better understand what took place in this period of time is to better understand our current situation or dispensation. The temple in Jerusalem first built by King Solomon15 had great significance as the tabernacle did to the nation of Israel from its beginnings in the wilderness after the Egyptian exodus. As with the tabernacle, the temple housed the very presence of God amongst His people16. Hauser and Kellet remind us,

The divine presence manifested in the Jerusalem temple played a central role in Israel’s life and worship. The temple was built on the site of a threshing floor that King David purchased from Araunah the Jebusite (2 Sam 24:18-25). The threshing floor was located on Mount Moriah, where Abraham almost sacrificed Isaac (Gen 22:1-14; 2 Chr 3:1)…. Unlike later synagogues and churches, which were considered gathering places for God’s people, the temple primarily was considered a dwelling place for God.17

The reality that the temple was the very dwelling place for God amongst His people will be developed more in the NC. The temple and all of its particulars are shadows, and pictures of types of what is to come. The tabernacle and the temple served the same purposes for worship of Yahweh. As Frame relays, “The tabernacle and the temple were largely devoted to sacrificial worship. But they were also places of prayer (1 Kings 8:22-53; Isa. 56:7; Matt. 21:13; Acts 3:1), swearing of oaths (1 Kings 8:22-53), singing of praise (1 Chron. 15:16-22; 25:1-31), and teaching (Matt. 26:55; Luke 2:41-52; Acts 5:21).18 The next major aspect of OC worship that was directly affiliated with the temple that I want to explore briefly is that of the Levitical Priesthood, particularly the office of the high priest.

b18592b80d33b743dd579338807e8842Worship and the OC High Priest

The high priest in the OC played a crucial role in tabernacle/temple worship to Yahweh. He was specially ordained out of the priestly tribe of Levi as initiated by the Lord. The Lord through Moses instituted the office to Moses’ brother Aaron. So from Aaron on it became a hereditary office based on Aaronic descent. Chris Church defines the high priest as, “One in charge of the temple (or tabernacle) worship. A number of terms are used to refer to the high priest: the priest (Exod. 31:10); the anointed priest (Lev. 4:3); the priest who is chief among his brethren (Lev. 21:10); chief priest (2 Chron. 26:20); and high priest (2 Kings 12:10).” Additionally, “A special degree of holiness was required of the high priest (Lev. 10:6, 9: 21:10-15)…one totally dedicated to the Lord, always ritually pure and ready to serve the Lord.”19 This will become extremely significant as the NC develops this office. As we move now into the significance of NC worship, we will see something truly remarkable take place as both the temple and the office of high priest find final eschatological fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ.

Next time, we’ll move into how these things point us towards the better and permanent Temple and High Priest of God. 

Grace and Peace!

J.D.N.

Footnotes 11-19 of 32 (for entire article)

11 Noel Due, Created for Worship From Genesis to Revelation to You (Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005), 35.

12 Ibid.

13 Paul writing to the churches in Galatia explains this to them, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ” (Gal 3:16).

14  Elwell and Beitzel define Yahweh (YHWH) this way: “Most holy name for God in the OT, usually translated Lord or Jehovah. The name is also applied to Christ.” Yahweh (YHWH) (2173).

15 During the reign of King David, God had made it clear that He wanted a fixed dwelling place, but not David, instead his son Solomon would be the one who would embark on this project. John Frame contrasting the mobility of the tabernacle appropriately says, “By the time of King David, however, God expressed his desire for a more permanent dwelling place. David himself was not permitted to build the new structure, for he, a man of war, had shed much human blood. David’s son Solomon carried out the task according to plans that the Spirit of God had given to David (1 Chron. 28).” John M. Frame, Worship in Spirit and Truth A Refreshing Study of the Principles and Practice of Biblical Worship (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1996), 21.

16 This is also known as the “Shekinah.” The PDBS informs us that the “Shekinah” as “The glory or presence of God, especially in his holy dwelling in Jerusalem. The word sekina is a Hebrew but not a biblical term. It was used by the rabbis to emphasize the relationship between God and Israel” (106).

17 Alan J. Hauser and Earl Kellet “History of the Temple” in LBD, Logos Bible Software, no page number indicated.

18 Frame, 21.

19 Chris Church, “High Priest” in HIBD, 762.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Block, Daniel. For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.

Begbie, Jeremy. “Worship.” In Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Chapell, Bryan. Christ-Centered Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

Church, Chris. “High Priest” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Edited by C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003.

Due, Noel. Created For Worship From Genesis to Revelation to You. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005.

Elwell, Walter, and Barry Beitzel “Lord of Hosts” in Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Volume Two. Edited by Walter Elwell. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.

Frame, John M. Worship in Spirit and Truth A Refreshing Study of the Principles and Practice of Biblical Worship. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1996.

Hauser, Alan J. and Kellet, Earl. “History of the Temple” in The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Edited by J.D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, and W. Widder. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015.

Lamey, Paul. “The Reading of Scripture” The Expositors Blog, April 12, 2016. Accessed April 12, 2016, http://www.expositors.org/blog/the-reading- of-scripture/.

Lawrence, Michael. Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010.

Patzia, Arthur G, and Petrotta, Anthony J. Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Peterson, David G. “Worship.” In New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by T. Desmond Alexander, and Brian S. Rosner. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

_____ Engaging With God A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

Rooker, Mark F., Merrill, Eugene H., and Grisanti, Michael A. The World and the Word An Introduction to the Old Testament. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2011.

Schnackenburg, Rudolph. The Epistle To The Ephesians. Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark LTD, 1991.

Sproul, R.C. Everyone’s A Theologian An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2014.

Tripp, Tedd. Shepherding A Child’s Heart: Second Edition. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2005.

Why New Covenant Worship is Superior to Old Covenant Worship Part 2

Previously in Part 1 we got introduced to worship and how God has ordained that all of creation would worship Him. Especially humans who have been made uniquely in the image of God. Now let’s spend some time defining our terms. How was OC worship defined and how is NC worship defined.

Defining Worship

tabernacle17enlargementOld Covenant Worship Defined

A biblical definition is crucial for this study. Such a definition must take into account the revelation of both testaments. According to David Peterson in the NDBT, “Nowhere in Scripture is worship actually defined. But when key biblical terms for worship are examined in a variety of contexts it is clear that the central concepts are homage, service and reverence.”3 The OT focuses worship around a specific location designated by God. We see this in the Garden of Eden, the tabernacle and the temple. These are all places that were the special dwelling place of God in the midst of His people. However, none of the activity in these places was honoring to the Lord unless the end result was obedience and praise in every aspect of life.4 One of the key things to understand about defining OC worship is that it revolved around worship in a “place.” As we will see, this element of worship to God will change with the advent of the NC. The focus will shift from a “place” to a manner grounded in a “person.”

Ultimately faith, gratitude, and obedience are the essential requirements for acceptable worship. Solomons-TempleAnd the OT makes that clear. Worship activities of the nations outside of Israel in the OT are seen as offensive to God because they are man-made due to active ignorance about God’s true character and what pleases Him.5 To summarize, worship in the OT is an attitude of homage and adoration towards God as great King, expressed in silence, a simple gesture, and praise in offering and sacrifices. Ultimately, it has everything to do with the attitude of the heart.

New Covenant Worship Defined

As we saw previously, a proper response of worship towards God results in obedience and praise in all areas of life towards God. We also see this response of worship in the NT whereby the worshipper rightly responds to God, which demonstrates the working of Christ in them.6 In the modern sense of the word in the context of the church, “worship” typically refers to a “public gathering of people to perform religious activities. For Christians, this will mean the regular assembly of the church, day by day or week by week, meeting to engage directly with the triune God of Jesus Christ, and with each other in God’s name.”7 But it means more than that. Christian worship is defined by additional revelation that clarifies what was less clear in the OT. For example, there are places in the NT that give us greater revelation into themes and circumstances that occurred in the OT (cf. Gal 3, 4; Heb 1, 3, 4, 5; et al.), which helps us now to better interpret and apply these truths as we worship the Lord.

Referring to what Christian worship is chiefly concerned with Block says, “[Worship] in its orthodox forms is committedly monotheistic but also mysteriously trinitarian, acknowledging the one Triune God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”8 This helps us to see doctrinally what defines NC worship. _VoFd6Fdb70But what about how it is manifested in corporate and individual lives? Two main considerations regarding NC worship are how God works in His people individually, but also the corporate entity of the church, which we come to know as the “Body of Christ” (cf. Rom 7:4; 12:5; 1 Cor 6:15; 10:16; 12:12, 27; et al.).

Individually Defined

Individually there are significant things that occur with the coming of Christ and the ushering in of the NC, which was prophesied in the OT. The prophet of God, Jeremiah gives us a spectacular look into what God will do at a future point from when this prophesy was originally given approximately late 7th century B.C. to early 6th century B.C. So roughly 600 years had to pass before God would bring this to fulfillment; with the coming of Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost following Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.9

Jeremiah tells us, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people”(Jer 31:31, 33). In chapter 32, referring to this new covenant described as being “everlasting” (v. 40), the LORD reiterates,

they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul (v. 38- 41).

These are amazing promises that some think mostly find fulfillment with national, ethnic Israel in an end of time (eschatological) scenario. I respectfully disagree with this assertion. The author of the book of Hebrews cites this passage in explaining the new and better covenant that has come in Christ (8:8-13). It is important additionally to recognize that this promise of God applies not only to the individual, but also to the corporate people of God in the NC – the church.

Corporately Defined

You can recall that we are all made in the image of God for the purposes of worshiping God. However, since the fall in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3) our now imputed sinful nature lures us away from pure worship and into idolatry. Living in this age, which many theologians will refer to as the “church age” allows us to experience something truly remarkable in how God is working with His people. As we discussed previously with the advent of the NC, the Holy Spirit works in an extraordinary way compared to before. Since He comes to indwell all people whom He has regenerated or quickened, worship now comes in-line with what God has planned. There is a definitive change in the disposition of the person whom the Holy Spirit is working in. R.C. Sproul observes, once the Spirit of God quickens people, imparting to them spiritual life, they have a new capacity for worship. UnknownDeep within all Christians have a hunger to find a way to express worship of God…It is not accident, therefore, that worship is one of the central purposes of the church. When the people of God gather in a common assembly, the purpose is to worship. People often go to church primarily for fellowship, Christian education, or edification, but the primary reason we should be there is to join with other believers in worshiping the Lord.10

This reformed way to worship in the NC as an individual not only connects the believer to a local body of believers, but also into the Body of Christ in a universal sense.

In part 3 we’ll look at the worship of God through the temple and high priest as ordained in the Old Covenant. This will point us towards greater worship of God through the perfect Temple and the perfect High Priest.

Grace and Peace!

J.D.N.

Footnotes 3-10 of 32 (for entire article)

3 David G. Peterson, “Worship” in T. Desmond Alexander, ed. New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 855-856.

4 Ibid., 856.

5 Ibid., 73-74.

6 Ibid., 856.

7 Jeremy Begbie, “Worship” in Kevin J. Vanhoozer, ed. Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005), 856.

8 Block, 2.

9 This is also when a fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32 takes place as relayed by the apostle Peter in Acts 2 (see also Gal. 3:13). This is the time that the Holy Spirit comes to indwell the people of God and put the law of God within them, writing it on their hearts. The people of God in this covenant are known as the “church” and are the physical manifestation of “the body of Christ.” They will not turn away in unfaithfulness, because God resides within them. This is the New Covenant.

10 R.C. Sproul, Everyone’s A Theologian An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2014), 274.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Block, Daniel. For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.

Begbie, Jeremy. “Worship.” In Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Chapell, Bryan. Christ-Centered Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

Church, Chris. “High Priest” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Edited by C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003.

Due, Noel. Created For Worship From Genesis to Revelation to You. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005.

Elwell, Walter, and Barry Beitzel “Lord of Hosts” in Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Volume Two. Edited by Walter Elwell. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.

Frame, John M. Worship in Spirit and Truth A Refreshing Study of the Principles and Practice of Biblical Worship. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1996.

Hauser, Alan J. and Kellet, Earl. “History of the Temple” in The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Edited by J.D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, and W. Widder. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015.

Lamey, Paul. “The Reading of Scripture” The Expositors Blog, April 12, 2016. Accessed April 12, 2016, http://www.expositors.org/blog/the-reading- of-scripture/.

Lawrence, Michael. Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010.

Patzia, Arthur G, and Petrotta, Anthony J. Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Peterson, David G. “Worship.” In New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by T. Desmond Alexander, and Brian S. Rosner. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

_____ Engaging With God A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

Rooker, Mark F., Merrill, Eugene H., and Grisanti, Michael A. The World and the Word An Introduction to the Old Testament. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2011.

Schnackenburg, Rudolph. The Epistle To The Ephesians. Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark LTD, 1991.

Sproul, R.C. Everyone’s A Theologian An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2014.

Tripp, Tedd. Shepherding A Child’s Heart: Second Edition. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2005.

Why New Covenant Worship is Superior to Old Covenant Worship Part 1

Hebrews-8-7-Old-and-New-Covenants-beige-copy

There is much to be said about the two covenants or promises of God to man with regard to God’s own revelation of Himself and His works in the Old and New Testaments of Holy Scripture. Of crucial importance is worship to God. In this brief study we will look into how the New Covenant (NC) is superior or better to the Old Covenant (OC). We will define worship and look at some details of both covenants that will give us greater incite. Finally and most importantly we will look at some applications for us today that will inevitably affect how we worship the Lord in our New Covenant context.

INTRODUCTION

Worship of our Creator is infused in our DNA. It is placed in every fiber of our being. As beings made in the image of God, we have this innate sense that we are to worship. Daniel Block tells us, “To be human is to worship. This statement is supported in the Scriptures, declared in our creeds, and evident from history.” He then adds support to this claim in footnote form, pointing out that Psalm 150:6 declares: ‘Let all who have breath praise YHWH’ (his translation). Also in creed form with the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647) answered the proposed: ‘What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.’”1 Therefore, we have come to understand that our purpose is to bring glory to God through worship of Him.

Worshipping-God

The apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the church in Rome,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Rom 1:18-21).2

God has programed us to worship; we just worship the wrong things many times. Our tendency because of our depravity is to ascribe worth to things other than God. Now the passage just mentioned is referring to unregenerate people, so lack of true worship to God replaced with idolatry is always the case with them, but is it not also true that regenerate people can at times replace true worship with idolatry? Getting an understanding of what true worship to God is, particularly in the New Covenant context will help the people of God remain committed and focused on what matters to God and how its expression is different now in the church age than what it was before.

The subject of worship carries with it a wealth of information from the entirety of divine Holy Scripture. So as the title indicates, this study will but scratch the surface of the depth of such a doctrine. This brief exploration on the topic will briefly define Old and New Covenant worship and especially how the NC is superior to the OC. I also want to make some applications for the church today that can be useful in gaining a better understanding of NC worship. This will inform our hearts and minds and by the grace of the Holy Spirit we will worship God rightly.

In Part 2 we’ll define worship in both contexts.

Grace and Peace!

J.D.N.

Footnotes 1-2 of 32 (for entire article)

1 Daniel I. Block, For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014), 1.

2 All Scripture citations in this work are taken from The Holy Bible English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Standard Bible Society, 2001) unless otherwise noted.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Block, Daniel. For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004.

Begbie, Jeremy. “Worship.” In Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2005.

Chapell, Bryan. Christ-Centered Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2009.

Church, Chris. “High Priest” in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Edited by C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003.

Due, Noel. Created For Worship From Genesis to Revelation to You. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2005.

Elwell, Walter, and Barry Beitzel “Lord of Hosts” in Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible. Volume Two. Edited by Walter Elwell. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988.

Frame, John M. Worship in Spirit and Truth A Refreshing Study of the Principles and Practice of Biblical Worship. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1996.

Hauser, Alan J. and Kellet, Earl. “History of the Temple” in The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Edited by J.D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, and W. Widder. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015.

Lamey, Paul. “The Reading of Scripture” The Expositors Blog, April 12, 2016. Accessed April 12, 2016, http://www.expositors.org/blog/the-reading- of-scripture/.

Lawrence, Michael. Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010.

Patzia, Arthur G, and Petrotta, Anthony J. Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Studies. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Peterson, David G. “Worship.” In New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by T. Desmond Alexander, and Brian S. Rosner. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

_____ Engaging With God A Biblical Theology of Worship. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

Rooker, Mark F., Merrill, Eugene H., and Grisanti, Michael A. The World and the Word An Introduction to the Old Testament. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2011.

Schnackenburg, Rudolph. The Epistle To The Ephesians. Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark LTD, 1991.

Sproul, R.C. Everyone’s A Theologian An Introduction to Systematic Theology. Sanford, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2014.

Tripp, Tedd. Shepherding A Child’s Heart: Second Edition. Wapwallopen, PA: Shepherd Press, 2005.