Musings, Scripture, Sermon Notes

(Post) Sermon Notes: Worship

As we continue on in our “Family Values” series, we talked through our value of worship.

Much like the value of Scripture, the value of worship can mean so much and so many different things. Seriously. Just Google it.

Using Romans 11-13 as a framework, we talked about how worship is at least 3 things: Remembrance, Action, and Anticipation.

To worship is to remember
(Rom 11:33 -12:1a)
This is related to Scripture as one of the main purposes of the Scriptures seems to be to remind us. The Bible is replete with phrases like “do not forget” and “remember”. Even Deuteronomy is sermon given over again; reminding people of the law.

And Paul is doing this all-throughout Romans. For the first 11 chapters, he is laying groundwork, reminding the Jewish people of their story and showing how the Gentiles fit in. Being so moved by it, he burst into song at the end of chapter 11

He then says, therefore, in view of God’s mercies

To remember is to put God’s mercies, his loving acts, back into our main view.
Simply put, to worship is to remember all that God has done.

To worship is to act.
(Rom 12:1ff)
Once we view God’s mercies, it prompts us into action. We must respond by offering our bodies as a living sacrifice to him. This is a very loaded term.

This word for body is “soma”. A couple things about this word:

  • It is word that means more than just our physical selves. It is a shorthand word for “all that makes us, us” (offer your self: body, mind, soul—everything)
  • It is used in the plural here while “sacrifice” is singular as well as all of the other adjectives that follow. It is a collective sacrifice made up multiple “bodies” all doing the same thing

So, my humble translation of this verse would be something like this:
“I appeal (encourage/admonish/plead) to all of you therefore, brothers and sisters, because of the mercies of God, that you all present your bodies together as one living sacrifice; a single sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to God. This will be your collective spiritual or reasonable act of worship/service to God.”

So there is an inherent togetherness of worship. It is not “my worship” it is always my part in “our worship”. When we come together to worship God, whether on Sunday mornings, or on Saturday mornings handing out food and clothes to the homeless, or painting a wall, or whatever it is: we are together offering one big sacrifice to God. We are a living sacrifice; a body of believers that is a living body. Paul “fleshes” this out later on the chapter by saying that each of us is a member of the body or a part of the whole. We all have our role to play. We all have our own gifts and talents. But we all belong to each other (more on this another time)

John Stott best summarized what this looks like when describing a living sacrifice:

“It is not to be offered in the temple courts or in the church building, but rather in the home life and in the marketplace. It is the presentation of our bodies to God. Then our feet will walk in His paths, our lips will speak the truth…our hands will lift up those who have fallen, and perform many mundane tasks as well…; our arms will embrace the lonely and unloved, our ears will listen to the cries of the distressed, and our eyes will look humbly and patiently towards God.”

Worship is to remember all God has done and to join Him in what he is doing.

To worship is to anticipate
(Rom 13:11-12)
When we remember and act, we are anticipating God’s future. This is actually the wonderful combination of remembering what God has said about the future and doing what he has asked of us.

There is a sense of preparedness and a future hope which can guide our current activity. This plays itself out in our singing and conversation, as we talk about what God has said he will do or about the future of creation. The fancy word for this is “eschatological”. For our worship to be most full, we must worship eschatologically; thinking of where this whole thing is going and what that demands of us. It’s remembering forward.

To complete our definition: worship is remembering all that God has done, joining him in what he is doing, and anticipating what he will do.

This week, may we realize that the work of worship continues as we leave this place. May we remember the mercies of our God, may we glory in his goodness, and may this push us into action. May we together be a good and right sacrifice to our God, and may our good works anticipate Jesus’ future kingdom by pulling it mightily into the present.
Grace and Peace be with you.

Would love your thoughts and comments below. 🙂

Musings, Scripture, Sermon Notes

(Post) Sermon Notes: Scripture

After some urging by a few people, I will be doing my best to post some notes and perhaps some additional thoughts from my teachings from the weekends. (not to mention make use of this incredibly underused blog o’ mine)

I would always welcome further engagement and discussion here, being that my desire in teaching is hardly to end a conversation but, rather to spur it onward. So feel free to read this, and perhaps listen to our podcast as well to get the most content.

I probably had the most fun reading/preparing for this past weekend’s sermon than I have had in awhile, simply because the Christian Scriptures fascinate me to no end.

Here are some of my notes from this weekend:

-Right belief about the Bible (as bound up in words like inerrancy, authority, inspired, etc.) is important but insufficient when it comes to how we use/understand/apply it. In the same way as claiming a map is the authorized map is insufficient in meaning you will get to your destination or that it is the most efficient or safe route (I borrow this analogy from Christian Smith [see recommended reading])
-If we want to model our church life after the early church, we must devote ourselves to the Apostle’s Teaching (as they did) amongst other things.
-To devote ourselves to something is a continual, intense, and ever-increasing “holding onto” and “wrapping around”.

This raises two questions:
-What is the Apostle’s Teaching?
-How do we devote ourselves to it?

The Apostle’s Teaching
This is not a shorthand for “the Scriptures” but rather a way of understanding and interpreting the Scriptures.
Teaching here is not a verb, it is a noun. They did not devote themselves to going to see the Apostles every day or weekend. They devoted themselves to their teaching; the substance of their message. So what was the substance of their teaching?
The previous part of the chapter to tells us in Acts 2:15-41

The Apostle’s Teaching is (at least)…
Jesus’ Life and Ministry (v. 22)
Jesus was a real man with a real life and a real ministry! And this is important! It is not just about his death and resurrection, it is about his life! This means all that is in the Gospels.
Jesus’ Deliberate and Undeserved Death (v. 23)
Jesus’ Triumphal Resurrection (v. 24, 32)
Jesus’ Receiving and Pouring out of the Spirit on All people (17-18, 33)
-Young and old, men and women
-Peter is explaining to the people their place in salvation history and is interpreting to them the events of what is taking place.
Respond to it in repentance! (v. 38-39)

Devoting Ourselves to the Apostle’s Teaching

So when we talk about valuing the Scriptures, the way in which we value them is by devoting ourselves to the Apostle’s teaching, which was Christ’s life, death, and resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit for the continued work of Christ in the world. So this is more than just believing that the Scriptures are true and having tons of Bible studies. This is about HOW we read, study, meditate, listen, and digest. We do it by continually pursuing the story of Jesus, seeking to find him where we look, and then asking “What do I do with this?”

Jesus is the interpretive key. We devote ourselves to the apostle’s teaching by trying to see Jesus as they did: the fulfillment of the long awaited hope of Israel and the future hope for the world.

A few supporting quotes:

“For a Christian, every part of the Bible must in some way point to Christ, to the living person of Jesus who is the Christ, and to the unlimited, liberating love of God which is revealed in Christ. To put it bluntly, it is not the words of the Bible that are ‘the way, the truth, and the life.’ It is the person of Christ, to whom the Bible witnesses.” (Keith Ward, What the Bible Really Teaches: A Challenge for Fundamentalists (London: SPCK, 2004), 27.)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says it this way: “In its entirety and in all its parts it is nothing but this witness of Christ, his life, his death, and his resurrection.” (No Rusty Swords, ed. Edwin H Robertson, trans, Edwin H. Robertson and John Bowden (1965; repr., London: Fontana, 1970), 312.)

John, an apostle, explains why he even wrote his Gospel and included what he did in John 20:31, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

So we devote ourselves to a teaching; a way of understanding the Scriptures, which is ultimately about Jesus. So we devote ourselves to the story, as fulfilled in Jesus.
Not to merely a book (or rather a collection of books).
Not to a theological system or “ism”.
Not to a certain pastor, leader, or author.
Not to a social cause.
Not to a philosophy.
To the ancient, apostolic teaching that Jesus is the full revelation of God himself, he has redeemed the world, and he invites us to join him.

What does this stir in you? Questions? Thoughts?

Recommended Reading:
The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith
The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight
Surprised by Scripture by N.T. Wright
How to Read the Bible for All It’s Worth by Gordon Fee
Coffee House Theology by Ed Cyzewski (his chapters on Scripture and Tradition are very thoughtful)
For those of you who struggle with the OT (like me), particularly the violence,this is an excellent article by Brian Zahnd.