If Scripture stands against our natural and cultural bent towards innovative worship, it also provides a biblical pattern for the kind of worship God requires. Last week I considered the first problem—namely, the problem(s) with man-made worship. This week, I want to show how a pattern of worship repeats throughout the Bible.
Actually, Jonathan Gibson has provided this biblical-theological survey already. In his chapter “Worship On Earth as It Is in Heaven,” in Reformation Worship, he traces a basic pattern of worship from Genesis to Revelation. In what follows, I’ll employ some of his findings to help us see what “biblical” worship looks like.
Worship in Eden: The Basic Pattern
The basic pattern of worship begins even before the Fall. In Genesis 2:15–17 Adam is commanded to “serve” and “guard” in the garden-temple of Eden. These verbs are used later to speak of the priestly service of Levites. From the light of later revelation, we can see worship is not something that emerged after redemption. It was the reason why God made humanity in the first place.
And thus, Jonathan Gibson lists the basic elements of worship like this:
- Call to Worship (through God’s Word)
- Response (by faith and obedience, love and devotion)
- Fellowship meal (union and communion with God)
Reflecting on this prelapsarian (i.e., before the Fall) worship, he states,
Adam was commanded to fast from one tree in order that he might feast at another three, and thus enjoy consummate union and communion with God—everlasting life. And so, for Adam and all his descendants, a liturgy was fixed, stitched into the very order and fabric of human life on earth: call–response–meal. (4) Continue reading
And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed,
the brother for whom Christ died.
— 1 Corinthians 8:11 —
When Paul confronted the Corinthians for eating meat sacrificed to idols, he warns that their carelessness threatens to “destroy” their brothers. In the context of 1 Corinthians 8, Paul uses this warning to motivate followers of Christ with greater “knowledge” (i.e., stronger consciences) to think twice before eating meat sacrificed to idols in the presence of younger believers whose consciences have not been so trained. This is the literary context. In the context of theological debates, however, this verse serves another purpose—namely that this verse proves general atonement, the belief that Christ died for all humanity without exception.
Convinced that Christ’s death effectively accomplished the salvation of his elect, a vast number beyond comprehension (see Revelation 7), I believe that it is errant to conclude 1 Corinthians 8:11 is a proof text for general or unlimited atonement. Rather, it is one of many verses that articulate a view of Christ’s death that is personally connected to a people the father gave him before the foundation of the world (cf. John 17). But instead of making a theological case, let’s consider the context of 1 Corinthians 8 to see what Paul says and how his language informs this theological debate. Continue reading
In keeping with the turn towards biblical theology, this weekend’s website is Beginning with Moses. Taking its name from Luke 24, this website is dedicated to offering “briefings on biblical theology.” It is filled with insightful articles from some of the world’s premier biblical theologians, living and dead (i.e. Graeme Goldsworthy, D.A. Carson, Richard Gaffin, Edmund Clowney, even Carl Henry). The website also has articles from younger biblical-theologians like Simon Gathercole, Carl Trueman, and SBTS’s most recent faculty addition, Jim Hamilton.
Additionally, the website offers an extensive list of book recommendations, book reviews, and web links to other biblical-theological resources. The four contributors are David and Jonathan Gibson, Andrew Grundy, and Dave Bish. Since 2002 these four have committed themselves to promoting high-quality biblical theology–Goldsworthy, Gathercole, and David Jackman serve as the sites overseers. They are from from the UK (one is now studying at Moore Theological College in Sydney), and from their brief bio’s it seems that most, if not all, are/have been divinity students and ministers of the gospel. One just finished his PhD at Aberdeen. In short, their website is a gem with a rich array of biblical content.
So check out Beginning with Moses this weekend. If you are at all interested in the subject of biblical theology you will visit often.
Sola Deo Gloria, dss