Born to Die

Christmas_Cross

When Mary was informed that she was going to be with Child, she was told that His name shall be called “Jesus”. This name was not chosen because it had a nice sound to it, nor was it a matter of it being in the top 10 boys’ name for that year. The reason for this is because He “will save his people from their sins” ().   Continue reading Born to Die

21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

The Messiah in the Manger

Manger

The birth of Jesus was an extraordinary birth. It came as the result of the sovereign plan of God. This sovereign plan was determined before the foundation of world and in time was revealed in the Scriptures. It is for this reason the entrance of Jesus Christ into the world was not random or reactionary. He entered into the world in precise fulfillment to prophecy. Over the course of His life, He fulfilled around 100 ancient prophecies. Here are just a few: Continue reading The Messiah in the Manger

The Background to the Baby in the Manger

Background to the Manger

A baby in a manger sounds so peaceful. But what was the background to this story and was it all peaceful?  gives the account of an intense battle. It is the story of a woman who is with child. As she reaches the point of labour pains, an enemy confronts her. This is no ordinary enemy – it is a furious dragon. The dragon rages against the woman because he knows that the child she is carrying is the coming King who will rule the world with a rod of iron. After the child was born the dragon did all he could to devour her child, but he was unsuccessful in this attempt. So he puts all his energy into raging against the woman and eventually against all her offspring. That is the story of . What does this mean? Though this contains symbolic language, it nonetheless gives the account of actual events both of the past and of the future.

I understand the woman () to be a reference to Israel (; Is. 26:17-18). In this story she is carrying a child (the Messiah cf. Is. 9:6) that is going to rule all the nations (). The fiery red dragon is a reference to Satan (cf. ). We are told, “the dragon stood before the woman” () indicating a perpetual stance of opposition against her.

What is happening here? Israel is ready to give birth and bring forth the Messiah. However, the dragon attacks her. Satan on many occasions throughout history has attempted to devour and destroy Israel and the Messianic promise, but on each occasion failed. Consider the following examples: Pharaoh’s elimination of male Hebrew children (). Saul’s many attempts to kill David, from whose line will the Messiah come. In 2 the royal line from which the Messiah would eventually come from was reduced to one individual (Joash) as a result of Athalia’s evil actions. Herod demanded that the male children in Bethlehem and surrounding regions two years and younger be murdered (). These are some of the biblical examples in which the dragon has raged against the woman and the male Child attempting to devour Him.

In all of these events in which Satan was trying to devour the woman and the Messiah, he failed on each occasion. reveals what happened next, “She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne.” That night in which the baby laid in the manger would have been an amazing sight. Satan had done all he could to prevent the coming of this child, but He arrived. Satan continued to rage against Him, but He failed. Despite all the attempts to prevent the Messianic promise, Jesus Christ came into the world (cf. ) and after He fulfilled His mission () He ascended to Heaven (). Despite all that took place behind the scenes in-order to prevent the Messianic promise, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners () and will one day return to rule (, ; ). This is the background to the Christmas story.

12:1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. 15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. 17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.

12:1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne, and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.

Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. 15 The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16 But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. 17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.

12:1 And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth.

Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?”

She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,

And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it.

15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.” 17 But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. 18 So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this, and let the male children live?” 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.” 20 So God dealt well with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.”

21:1 Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David, and Jehoram his son reigned in his place.

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.

She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,

15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.

15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, 10 and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Prayer and Public Worship (1 Timothy 2:1-8)

Prayer is an essential element to the Christian life and to not spend time in prayer is detrimental to our walk. It is for this reason that the people of God are to be devoted to prayer (). Such devotion reveals our dependence upon God, which of course is necessary because we need His help. Continue reading Prayer and Public Worship (1 Timothy 2:1-8)

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

Implications of the Deity of Christ

Jesus is God

When it comes to the identity of Jesus there have been much debate and controversy throughout history. Even at the time of His earthly ministry there were many views and suggestions concerning who He was (). Debates have raged throughout the centuries and even today people continue to hold to various understandings and views. Who is Jesus Christ? The Scriptures make plain that He is the eternal Son of God (; ; ; ). Last Sunday morning at Hills Bible Church, in our exposition of the Gospel according to John, we considered . In that passage we noted the Lord’s unmistakable claim that He is Divine.

Knowing then that this is the clear teaching of Scripture, what are the implications of Jesus Christ being God? Whatever Jesus says He came to do is indeed true and is therefore necessary for us to embrace.

He is the Sufficient Saviour
In preparation for the eternal Son of God’s arrival on earth, the angle of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said concerning Mary, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (). Here it is made clear, Jesus is going to be a Saviour. This truth is again repeated soon after Jesus was born when an angel declared to the shepherds, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (). Jesus Himself understood that this is who He was and why he was on earth (). Since He is the Sufficienct Saviour, He alone is able to make the exclusive means of salvation when He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but through Me” ().

He is Worthy of Worship
In the Scriptures, the concept of worship carries the idea of serving God by means of an attitude of fear and adoration. What is worship? Worship for the believer is the act of recognizing God’s worth and responding to that in service to Him. Worship is to be exclusively offered unto the Lord (Exodus 20:3; Deut. 5:7; 6:13; Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:8; Acts 10:26; 14:15; Col. 2:18; Rev. 19:10; 22:8). Because Jesus is God He is worthy of our adoration. It is the duty and delight of God’s people to love Christ () and faithfully follow Him. Concerning Jesus Christ we read,

“God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” ().

The day is coming when all will worship Him. However, for some this will be as a result of God’s saving grace in which it is their delight. However, for others it will be a duty that comes by means of their final submission to the Lord despite the fact that they are under eternal condemnation.

Jesus is God and this has serious implications. By God’s grace, embrace these implications and give the glory to the Lord!

14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 20:28

28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,

13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Worshipping the King

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contains the story of the wise men who travelled a great distance to worship the the Lord Jesus Christ. This grand occasion took place soon after the amazing event of the birth of Christ. In this post I would like to consider the events that transpired and the lessons that can be learned.

The Events
Prior to all this happening, Joseph and Mary had travelled to Bethlehem so as to register for the census (). Soon after their arrival in Bethlehem, Mary goes into labour. There was no room for them in the inn (a small guest room for travellers), so they lodged in a humble shelter and there the Son of God was born. The future King was laid into a manger, which was  a feeding trough for animals (). The Creator and King was born in such humble circumstances.

After these events we read, “in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem” (). Who are these “wise men“? Christmas tradition tells us there were three of them and they were kings (Casper, Melchior, and Balthazar). However, that is only guesswork. Based on the word for “wise men” they were likely educated individuals who studied astronomy, astrology, science and religious matters. They may have been royal advisors. It is believed that the reference to the east refers to Babylon or even Persia. If these wise men had travelled from ancient Babylon that would have been a 1,288 km journey!

After this long and committed journey, they arrive in the city of Jerusalem and with great anticipation they ask the question, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” (). They were expecting to see they King, but the initial sight they saw from the nation where He was going to be born was blank faces. They provide the reason for this question by saying, “For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship Him” (b). God allowed for these men to see this star and thus fulfilled an ancient prophecy of the coming King: “A star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel” ().

When this news had reached king Herod, he became troubled by it (). If this is true, this posed a huge threat to his position. So he assembled the chief priests and scribes so as to find out from the Scriptures what this could be referring to (). With this team of legal experts came the discovery that the Scriptures did indeed predict this to occur. contains two ancient prophecies (; ):

“And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.”

So Herod organized a secret meeting with the wise men so as to obtain further information (). He sent them to Bethlehem and told them that when they find him to let him know so that he may come and worship the newborn king (). This of course was a lie as he had no intention of worshiping Jesus. The wise men left and the star reappeared and guided them to the specific location (). They came to the house where the child was and fell down worshipping Him and offered gifts. By this stage Joseph and Mary moved from the small shelter to house ().

After this, an angel appeared to the wise men in a dream and told them to not return to Herod. So they departed and went all the way back to their homes secretly by going another way ().

The Lessons
Consider two important lessons from this well known story. Firstly, the wise men searched for the King. What we don’t read about is how these men came to the knowledge of the truth. God clearly had been working in their lives and first sought out these individuals (cf. ). When God truly seeks out a sinner, the sinner can’t help but seek after God. This is what happened here. In response to God’s work in their life, they searched for the King and nothing was going to get in their way. Secondly, they worshipped the King. After they found the King, they worshipped Him. This is a fitting response to knowing who Jesus Christ is. He of course is the Son of God and worthy of all our attention and adoration.

The events in this passage of Scripture reveal so much more than the cover of a Christmas card. These men proved to live up to their name (“wise men”). Not because of their education or prestige – simply by their actions. You too can be classed as a wise man or woman if you come and worship the King.

2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.” After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

2:1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem,

saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

17 I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab
and break down all the sons of Sheth.

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;

and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

“‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.

In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the Lord said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.’”

Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared.

And he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child, and when you have found him, bring me word, that I too may come and worship him.”

After listening to the king, they went on their way. And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was.

11 And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way.

11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.

The Manner of Prayer

Prayer2

How should we pray? In we have what is most famously known as the Lord’s Prayer. Though it was not a prayer that He prayed, it is His prayer in the sense that He created it. This prayer provides us with a model of how to pray.

Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come,
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil'” ()

The Lord Jesus begins this prayer by saying, “Our Father in heaven“. In all of His prayers, Jesus used the term Father with the exception of (). This manner of address reminds us that we are His children (; ), He provides for us (; ), and that He loves us (). Furthermore, the recognition of Him being in Heaven is also significant. Firstly, it reveals His omnipotence (; ; ). Second, it reveals His omniscience ( ff.). And finally, it reveals His ability to help ().

After the opening words, this model prayer contains six petitions. The first three are concerning God whereas the final three are concerning us. This pattern is rather instructive and useful to remember. A tendency in many prayers is to offer up a wish list. Many prayers can be very self-centered. This prayer, however, teaches the believer to place their attention on God making it a God-centered prayer. Recognizing that the purpose of this prayer is to simply be repeated word for word (though that is not necessarily wrong), it provides God’s people with a pattern and model on how to pray.

Continue reading The Manner of Prayer

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.

Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.

Psalm 102:19

19 that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,

123:1 To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

Why does style and instrumentation in corporate singing matter?

Church music style and instrumentation

Answer: Because it’s not about style and instrumentation. Interestingly, two different blogs commented on the centrality of the singing in corporate worship, and how important it is that the congregation singing is the main game.

Firstly, T. David Gordon at Second Nature (HT: Carl Trueman):

‘Congregational praise is a commanded duty that can be audibly discerned; we should hear congregational praise when it is sung, and nothing else (choir, organ, marching band, bagpipe) should be permitted to obscure the thing that is commanded.’

Secondly, Justin Taylor quotes Piper and Smith at Between Two Worlds. Here’s Piper:

Continue reading Why does style and instrumentation in corporate singing matter?

Wrong Worship

Wrong Worship

There is a kind of worship that is sensual, ungodly and corrupt. This kind of worship is wrong. What makes it wrong is that it is not done in accordance to God’s way. Wrong worship is coming to God on the basis and by means of man’s ways and not God’s. Scripture is filled with examples of wrong worship. I have only selected a few examples that illustrate the corrupt practice of wrong worship.

Cain
Both Cain and Abel worshiped the Lord by means of sacrifice (). Despite the fact that they both offered a sacrifice to God, only Abel’s was deemed acceptable (cf. ). In the eyes of man, Cain’s offering would have appeared visually acceptable and sacrificial. However, that is not what makes sacrifice or worship acceptable to God. Abel’s was received and Cain’s was rejected () because one worshiped God according to His ordained way and the other didn’t (cf. ). Because it is not revealed in Scripture the reason why Abel’s offering was acceptable, we can only assume that the Lord had revealed the method to them prior (cf. ) and by faith Abel acted on that (cf. ).

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In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering,

and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering,

but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.

Hebrews 12:24

24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.