Thursday, June 14, 2018

In Support of Simplicity in Worship

In preaching through the book of Hebrews, I've been struck again with how the Lord intentionally planned to glorify His Son by the transition that would take place in worship from something attached to a particular place and nation on earth to something that can happen among any place and nation because it now takes place primarily in Heaven.

Take especially chapters 2 and 12 together. We come to Mount Zion, God's heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, the congregation of the Firstborn, the souls of the just made perfect, God the Judge of all, Christ Jesus the (better) Mediator of the New (everlasting) Covenant. And it is there that He presents us (Behold I and the children whom You have given me) upon the basis of His own faith ("I will put my trust in Him") and proceeds to declare His Father's Name to us and sing His Father's praise in the midst of our assembly.

This transition from worship that was tied to a specific place/nation to worship that instead exults in the Person of the Christ is exactly the substance of one the most important conversations ever had in worship: Jesus, with the woman at the well. She wants to know, "where is the right place to worship?" He answers, "Well, it used to be the temple, but you actually can't walk to the right place anymore. God is Spirit, and the only transportation to the right 'place' of worship is the activity of the Holy Spirit by the instrumentality of the Scriptures." Amazingly, that woman rightly understood that this amazing transition was bound up with the coming of the Christ and the identity of the Christ! When we try to "culturally contextualize" worship, we are chafing precisely against the point that Christ was making there in John 4.

It is simply impossible to emphasize or add any earthly activity without diverting attention from the glory of the heavenly reality of Christian congregational worship.

When God has determined to glorify something by its simplicity, then whatever man adds must necessarily subtract from that glory.

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