Redeemed to Worship the Lord

“While an examination of the entirety of the work [“The Necessity of Reforming the Church”] would be beneficial, for our purposes we only need to focus on Calvin’s discussion regarding the reforming of worship. While justification by faith alone has a primary role in the Reformation, Calvin actually gives worship the place of preeminence.

If it be inquired, then, by what things chiefly the Christian religion has a standing existence amongst us and maintains its truth, it will be found that the following two not only occupy the principal place, but comprehend under them all the other parts, and consequently the whole substance of Christianity, viz., a knowledge first, of the mode in which God is duly worshiped, and, secondly, of the source from which salvation is to be obtained (Calvin, Necessity, 126).

“It’s not hard to understand Calvin’s thinking here. The worship of God is that which has been commanded, by God. It’s that which his people are to engage in, faithfully, day in and day out. To get worship wrong is to get the Christian faith wrong. We are redeemed to worship the Lord” (“Less Outward Glory: An Examination of Calvin’s Reformation of Worship” by Everett A. Henes in The Confessional Presbyterian, Vol. 13, 122-123).

Our Heavenly Father

“The Father has a unique relation to the incarnate Son within the being of God. God’s revelation as the Father does not refer to his general fatherhood with respect to all his creatures. Moreover, as Toon comments, the name Father is not merely a simile (as if God is simply like a father) or even a metaphor (an unusual use of language drawing attention to aspects of God’s nature in surprising terms), but rather a definite personal name. In contrast, the term mother, when used in reference to God in the OT, is a simile, but never a metaphor, and it is completely absent in the NT. Father is the proper name of God and does not merely describe what he is like” (Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity, 36).

“‘Abba’ [Father] was used by the early Christians in prayer. . . . This custom stems from Jesus’ usual way of addressing God. His followers adopt it because they believe that they share his own natural relation to the Father” (36).

OT Background to the Doctrine of Trinity

“While the OT does not make explicit what is revealed by the coming of Christ and the writing of the NT, it does provide the essential foundation without which the full Christian doctrine of God could not exist. As [Gerald] O’Collins puts it, ‘The OT contains, in anticipation, categories used to express and elaborate the Trinity. To put this point negatively, a theology of the Trinity that ignores or plays down the OT can only be radically deficient,’ while from the positive angle, ‘the NT and post-NT Christian language for the tripersonal God flowed from the Jewish Scriptures,’ for though deeply modified in the light of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, naming God as Father, Son, and Spirit ‘found its roots in the OT.’ This is not to say that by the first century there had emerged in Israel a clear and coherent picture of plurality within the one being of God. This was clearly not the case. These ideas in the OT were scattered and had not formed into anything like a coherent picture. Notwithstanding, the OT provided the means both to distinguish and to hold together the roles of Son/Wisdom/Word and Spirit, since these were vivid personifications, not abstract principles. The ultimate acknowledgement by the church of the triunity of God was ‘providentially prepared’ by these foreshadowings. The OT personifications helped lay the groundwork for the eventual leap to persons, for ‘the post-exilic Jews had an idea of plurality within the Godhead’ and so ‘the idea of plurality within unity was already implicit in Jewish theology'” (Robert Letham, The Holy Trinity, 32).

Considerations for the Omnipresence of God

Believer, since the Lord is always present with you, compassing our pathway and your lying down besetting you behind and before (Psa. 139:3-5), be careful to refrain yourself from doing anything that would be unbecoming of His presence. Set the Lord always before you. Acknowledge Him in all your ways. Fear Him. Humble yourself before Him. Walk in all reverence and humility before His countenance, for to sin in the presence of God greatly aggravates the sin committed. The presence of people serves as a restraint against the commission of many sins, and if the presence of God does not accomplish the same, on reveals himself as having more respect for people than for the majestic and holy God. What a despising and provoking of God this is! Therefore, let your reverence for the presence of God prevent your sinning against Him and let it motivate you to live a life pleasing to the Lord.

On the other side, believer, let the reality of God’s presence be your continual support and comfort in all the vicissitudes of life. The Lord is at hand; He is a fiery wall roundabout you, and no one will be able to touch you contrary to His will. If something befalls you, seek refuge in Him and encourage yourself with His presence. How this revived David’s soul! ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me’ (Psa. 23:4). The Lord is pleased to comfort His children in this manner. ‘When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee’ (Isa. 43:2) (Wilhelmus Á Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Vol. 1, 95-96).

 

The Task of Appropriate Considerations of God

“All I can say is that the essence of God is His eternal self-existence. . . . Whoever wishes to know more concerning God’s essence should join me in worship as we close our eyes before this unapproachable light. It is in some measure revealed to the soul; however, we can only perceive the uttermost fringes of His Being by reflecting upon the divine attributes” (Wilhelmus Á Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, Vol. 1, 88).

 

Struggling Theologically

“I believe one of the reasons the Reformed church has struggled with matters related to the doctrine of justification is because we have become unfamiliar with key elements in classic covenant theology” (J.V. Fesko, The Trinity and the Covenant of Redemption, xix).

Gospel Joy

“‘The gospel is the true power of God in salvation to everyone believing’ (Rom. 1:16), the consolation of the afflicted, the deliverance of the captives (Luke 4:18-19), the life of the dead and lost, the joy of the heart overcoming every feeling. Who would not rejoice in hearing that his enemy (which he is not able to flee, in the full power of which he exists) has been conquered and destroyed? That death and inevitable damnation be turned from him into life and eternal salvation? Hell to the kingdom of heaven? The horror of the company of devils, in the citizenship of heaven and the adoption of the children of God? That which is announced to us by the death of Jesus, who, by the power of the Father who is in Him has saved us, ridding us of our servile fear of the threats of the law, because ‘there is no damnation to those who are in Jesus’ (Rom. 8:1)” (William Farel’s “Summary” (1529) in 16th & 17th Century Reformed Confessions, Vol. 1, 58).

Christ’s Character and Conduct

“The keeping of commandments and obedience are thus witnessed by our Lord and the inspired writers as defining his character and conduct [cf. John 4:34, 5:30, 6:38, 10:17, 18, 12:49, 50, 15:10; Matt. 26:39, 42; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 2:10, 5:8, 9]. These, of course, go together. They are definitive of each other. if they describe what was most characteristic in the case of our Lord, they constitute what is most relevant to us by way of example. . . . Do we recoil from the notion of obedience, of law observance, of keeping commandments? Is it alien to our way of thinking? If so, then our Lord’s way is not our way”  (Collected Writings of John Murray, Vol. 1, 181).

“Having the knowledge of the Father through the Son”

“And that the Father for His own love, not for love for us, not for our works, merits, and righteousness (which are only abominations), saves us, makes us alive, accepting us as His sons and heirs, joint heirs with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:17), in whom are made members all those who have true faith in Him, and consequently are unified and incorporated into the body of Jesus (1 Cor. 12:27). By the divine virtue, which dwells in the Head, all contrary power is destroyed. By the perfect and immortal life, our death is abolished. By the infinite holiness, justice, purity, and innocence which are in Him, all our evil, iniquity, and filth are annihilated. And by this great power, we are restored to a state more noble than what was ever before the sin of Adam in Paradise; not that which is terrestrial, but celestial: not to a life corporeal, corruptible, and that can be lost, but spiritual, without corruption, and which can never be lost. Whoever knows and understands this by a true and living faith, truly he has eternal life, and no more fixes himself on the creatures, nor other vain things, having the knowledge of the Father through the Son: in whom he knows and understands the great goodness of God, and His infinite mercy” (William Farel’s “Summary” (1529) in 16th & 17th Century Reformed Confessions, Vol. 1, 57).