Thursday, August 19, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Reforming Worship

The Pastor’s Perspective
“Reforming Worship”
First Published: December 15, 2003

Well, we’ve come to the last First Epistle and the last Pastor’s Perspective column of the year.

Let me mention that Derek and I have a new book that has just come out this week. It is called Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship – Celebrating the Legacy of James Montgomery Boice. We co-authored and co-edited this volume with our friend Phil Ryken. P&R has published the book and it is available through our church bookstore (or RTS or any other good Christian bookstore). It’s topic is timely. All the contributors desire to see biblical worship restored and flourishing in the Bible-believing, Christ-exalting, Gospel-preaching churches of today. This book is no less than an outline for a biblical program for the renewal of Christian worship in our time. It is a corporate worship manifesto, a call for the doxological reformation of the church: according to Scripture alone and to the glory of God alone. R.C. Sproul was kind enough to provide the foreword, and among the authors will you find Al Mohler, Mark Dever, Eric Alexander, Hughes Old, Bob Godfrey, Don Whitney and others.

One of the main convictions of this book is that Christian corporate worship both requires and shapes our understanding of the Bible’s teaching about God. The doctrine of God informs our corporate worship and, in turn, our corporate worship refines our practical comprehension and embrace of the doctrine of God. It is, of course, true that worship in all of life impacts our corporate worship. One who does not “present his body as a living sacrifice” is both unprepared to enter into the fullness of corporate worship as it is envisioned in the word and is not expressing one of its principle intended ethical effects. In fact, the person in whom there is an experiential dissonance between his activity in gathered worship and his worship in the rest of life is in danger of creating a parallel but juxtaposed life, the breeding ground of a fatal spiritual hypocrisy. Nevertheless, it is especially in the local church under the means of grace appointed by God for the edification of the church in corporate worship (the word—reading, preaching, singing the Bible; prayer—pleading the promises of the Bible, adoring and thanking the God of the Bible, confessing sin, interceding for the saints; and the sacraments—the divinely appointed tangible confirmatory signs of Bible promises) that we come to know God. This context provides for both the revelational and relational aspects of Christian discipleship necessary for growth in the knowledge of God. Consequently, the “how” of worship is vital to our growth in grace and in the knowledge of the one true God, because it contributes to our grasp of the one true God. Often we hear, and agree with, the dictum that “we become like what we worship,” but the biblical view of worship teaches us that it is also true that “we become like how we worship.”
Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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