“Gabriel is not stealing praise from God by singling out Mary for a commendation uttered to only one woman in all of human history, by saying, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). He affirms her by (1) greeting her (a simple practice overlooked in many homes to the detriment of many relationships); (2) describing her as favored—she has earned nothing, can boast in nothing, and has passively received this bestowal, yet it is an honor to be savored, to be sure; and (3) declaring that the Lord is with her, for her, proactive on her behalf. Again, Mary is distinguished from all other women as being “favored,” and yet ultimately God gets the honor, for he is the one doing the favoring, the gracing, the bestowing.”
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.
- As covenant Lord, Yahweh takes hold of His creation in order to do something new with it.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- The Lord arranges for the future succession of the covenant, which in this covenant involves marriage and children. Continue reading “The Covenant Structure of Worship”
Westminster Larger catechism Q. 77.
Q. Wherein do justification and sanctification differ?
A. Although sanctification be inseparably joined with justification, yet they differ, in that God in justification imputes the righteousness of Christ; in sanctification of his Spirit infuses grace, and enables to the exercise thereof; in the former, sin is pardoned; in the other, it is subdued: the one doth equally free all believers from the revenging wrath of God, and that perfectly in this life, that they never fall into condemnation the other is neither equal in all, nor in this life perfect in any, but growing up to perfection.
Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 13, Section I.
They, who are once effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart, and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them: the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
We see here the continuity and organic nature of these doctrines. Here are mentioned all the proceeding aspects of the Ordo Salutis; Effectual calling, regeneration, reception of a new heart and new spirit. They are not rigid. They are not spokes on a wheel. They are the roots, sinews, leaves, buds and branches of a glorious tree. They together make one thing. Continue reading “Sanctification versus Justification”
The Christian life is full of paradox; apparent contradictions. The doctrine of the Trinity is chief among these paradoxes, but there are many others. How do many members become one body and not lose their identity as individuals? How do husband and wife make one flesh and also not lose their identity as individuals? How does God ordain everything that comes to pass without doing violence to the will of His creatures? These mysteries are means of exhibiting the necessity of faith and demonstrating the transcending Holiness of our God who is Three in One. We believe so we can understand, as Augustine wrote. We live standing on the promises of God.
Another paradox that stems from God’s very nature is the principle of gaining by losing; growth through death; increase through decrease. God increases His glory by giving it away. Every person of the Trinity demonstrates this principle. It is at the heart of the Community of Love. Jesus said that anyone who loses his life gains it (Matthew 10:39). This is not some trick or stumbling contradiction meant to frustrate us. It is God’s reality and He demonstrates this principle over and over again.
The Father gave His Son to gain a people (John 3:16). The Son gave His life to gain a crown (Hebrews 12:2). The Father and Son gave their Spirit to gain a church, a world; a kingdom (Acts1:8; Romans 8:14; Ephesians 2:22). The Spirit gives free and abundant access to throne of God to everyone ordained by the Father and saved by the Son. The Spirit does not withhold, doesn’t horde and does not restrain union and communion with the Father or the Son (Romans 8:15, 15:13; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:12). The Sprit is generous in His ministry. Continue reading “How to Increase Through Decrease”
I am not mistaken, you are young Master Watts!
Indeed, how blessed am I to meet with you.
Two souls, who love to make melody; meet upon
the road; providence, providence.
You with angelic voice and I, the lord of piping.
All praise to the maker and keeper of faith!
How often have I heard your fame sung!
Let us leave this dusty road and turn into that tavern, back a bend in the road,
and praise the founder of our faith and fortunes. Continue reading “Eclogue II”