Empty and Wide Open

Death and resurrection aren’t just events, they are a process. Jesus didn’t die so that you could live, he died so that you could die. To your sin, to death, to temptation, to worldly passions and desires. Jesus lives so that you can live.

Jesus went into the grave so that you would stop fearing the grave to live a life of hope. He rose so that you can rise. He died under sin so you could die to sin. He died under the curse to free you from the curse.

This is a process called sanctification. You are embroiled in something. Covetousness, lies, debauchery, drunkenness. You murder in your hearts. Back bite, gossip, slander and lust. You justify your sin and condemn others while your spiritual life is choked with self-reliance, envy and shame. Don’t fear that death. Put it to death. Continue reading

God Vowed to Walk There With Them

Zampieri - Adam et Ève (détail)

Zampieri – Adam et Ève (détail) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adam stood outside the Garden, with God, in the valley of death; ashamed and defeated. God cursed the ground on Adam’s behalf, increased the pain of labor for Eve and spilled the blood of a substitute to make a covering for His wayward and fallen children. In the midst of the first evil, God promised a son to restore the lost and broken relationship that God had  enjoyed with man.

In the pain of that moment, betrayed, accused and hated by His own children whom He had given the world, God knew something profound. That all the sons of Adam and Eve would be unable to bear the burden, were too weak and broken to fight back against the dragon. God knew that the Son that was promised would be ravaged and that the battle would cost that Son his life. And God knew, God promised in that moment, at the very beginning, with the tears of betrayal fresh on His cheeks, that the Son whose blood would be spilled for mankind, would be His own Son; His only Son. Continue reading

The Liturgy of Covenant Renewal worship

Landscape with Noah's Thank Offering (painting...

Landscape with Noah’s Thank Offering (painting circa 1803 by Joseph Anton Koch) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leviticus 1:1-9 ESV “The LORD called Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When any one of you brings an offering to the LORD, you shall bring your offering of livestock from the herd or from the flock.

If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD. He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Then he shall kill the bull before the LORD, and Aaron‘s sons the priests shall bring the blood and throw the blood against the sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. Then he shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into pieces, and the sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. And Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the pieces, the head, and the fat, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar; but its entrails and its legs he shall wash with water. And the priest shall burn all of it on the altar, as a burnt offering, a food offering with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.”

  1. Call to Worship: God calls the worshiper to draw near. In response to God’s call the worshiper comes with the appropriate animal. Lev. (1:1-2).
  2. Consecration: God moves the priests to cut up the animal, making it fit to ascend the altar into God’s fiery presence. The worshiper/animal must not only die, but it is necessary that he be properly prepared for God’s holy presence. (Lev. 1:6-7)
  3. Commissioning: Once the sacrifice is over, Yahweh sends the worshiper out renewed and empowered for service in the kingdom. (Num. 6:22-27).

There are various ways in which this can be expressed. Jesus Christ fulfills and established the genuine meaning and practice of sacrifice and offering. Sacrificial images and rites are part of the central core of the biblical revelation of the personal relations between God and man (from Gen. 3:21 through Rev. 21:22-27). The way of sacrifice, therefore, transcends the Mosaic institution of animal sacrifice. Better yet, the sacrificial rituals of the Old Testament are not merely ad hoc arrangements,  but rather are grounded in the rich relational life of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Sacrifice reveals something of the nature of what it meant for God to be personal (Father, Son and Holy Spirit relate to one another sacrificially).

In the New Testament the old animal sacrificial typology is fulfilled by Christ and in the believer who is united to Christ by faith. In union with Christ – who offered Himself as the sacrifice – we not only have the penalty for sin removed, but we are also being made in acceptable sacrifice by faith. The promise is that if we offer ourselves to the Father through Christ in the Spirit we will become what God has destined us for – men and women remade in the image of God.

Sacrafice in the New Covenant

Like Marriage (which is a human covenant modeled after God’s covenant with his church, Eph. 5:22-33), God’s covenant with us has a definitive form and content. Furthermore, there is a distinctive way of renewing covenantal relations in the Bible, and that is by way of sacrifice (Gen. 8:20-9:17; Exod. 24:4-11; Lev. 24:1-8; Ps. 50:5).The way of sacrifice has not been abrogated: animal sacrifices have. Much of the language used to describe the Church and the Christian life in the New Testament is derived from the tabernacle, temple, and sacrificial system. This means that the reality of life in the new age was pre-figured in the sacrificial rituals of the old age. Hebrews 10:1 identifies the ritual/sacrificial system as the “shadow of the good things to come.” Jesus’ sacrifice not only did away with the old animal offerings, it also illumined for the Church the true meaning of the sacrificial rituals for life and liturgy. Continue reading

How Then Should We Worship?

English: Communion setting at an Evangelical L...

English: Communion setting at an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America worship service: an open Bible, both unleavened bread and gluten-free wafers, a chalice of wine, and another containing grape juice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These Paragraphs are extended quotes lifted from Various books, listed below.

Put simply, the regulative principle of worship means obedience equates to worshiping God the way he requires and not by tradition or man-made invention.  The narrow interpretation of the regulative principle means, that which is not commanded in Scripture, is forbidden. The broader interpretation is that if it is not commanded, it might be prohibited: it depends. What does it depend on?  It depends on a sanctified common sense, constrained by general, biblical categories. This is not meant to be coy. Clearly, all Protestants adhere to the regulative principle and we believe the bible is the standard of life, faith and practice, but the narrow intepretation requires more than the bible could possibly provide. It is founded on an unbiblical hermeneutic that requires express commands and proof text, where proper biblical interpretation and application requires more; wisdom, humility and maturity. [1] Continue reading

The Covenant Structure of Worship

The purpose of the Sunday service is covenant renewal. During corporate “worship” the Lord renews His covenant with His people when He gathers them together and serves them. We do not renew covenant with God because it was going to expire or run out, like a lease. We renew our covenant with God because it is our life: we renew covenant with God in Worship the way food renews physical life or sexual communion renews marriage.

The covenant structure of creation and recreation

Yahweh’s covenant with Adam contains, in seed form, the other covenants in Scripture, as well as, covenant renewal worship. The post fall covenants are not ad hoc, novel arrangements, but renewals of the creation covenant. Following is the structure of covenant making and therefore covenant renewal and how it directly informs the liturgy of the Church.

  1. As covenant Lord, Yahweh takes hold of His creation in order to do something new with it.
  2. The Lord effects a separation. What God grasps is then transformed from one state to another, from the old to the new: a new creation. This new union (dirt and life-giving breath of Yahweh) receives from God a corresponding new name, which implies a new hierarchal relationship. There is a covenant head (Yahweh) and there are those who are dependent on that covenant head (human creatures).
  3. A new verbal communication of stipulation is expressed by the covenant Lord, a way of life fit for the new covenantal situation, a gracious enumeration of how to live fully and joyfully in this new covenant.
  4. The Lord offers His covenant partners a fellowship meal. He gives the gift of signs and seals of the covenant (two trees) together with a setting forth of blessings for grateful faithfulness and curses for ungrateful disobedience.
  5. The Lord arranges for the future succession of the covenant, which in this covenant involves marriage and children. Continue reading