The past week, I’ve been paging through some of my books on worship and reading portions that I highlighted many years ago. One of the books I really enjoyed, and was challenged by, is Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship by David Peterson. Here’s a few quotes that resonated with me and stirred my heart.
Worship Is Engaging with God and Responding in Faith
“Throughout the Bible, acceptable worship means approaching or engaging with God on the terms that he proposes and in the manner that he makes possible. It involves honouring, serving and respecting him, abandoning any loyalty or devotion that hinders an exclusive relationship with him. Although some of Scripture’s terms for worship may refer to specific gestures of homage, rituals or priestly ministrations, worship is more fundamentally faith expressing itself in obedience and adoration. Consequently, in both Testaments it is often shown to be a personal and moral fellowship with God relevant to every sphere of life.”
“Fundamentally, then, worship in the New Testament means believing the gospel and responding with one’s whole life and being to the person and work of God’s son, in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Worship and Evangelism
“God brings people to himself as they come to know his Son through the proclamation of the gospel and yield themselves to him through the work of his Spirit in their lives. Such exclusive claims inevitably provoke hostility and hostility brings with it the temptation to modify the message. But evangelism that falls short of sharing these truths and urging people to respond to them will be less than biblical in its content and aim. In a world characterized by relativism and religious pluralism, Christians need every encouragement to keep pointing to Jesus as the one in whom alone the nations can be united in worship.”
Christ-centered Preaching Is Worship
“Preaching about Christ must be at the heart of a Christian theology of worship. As in the Old Testament, the word of the Lord is central to a genuine encounter with God. Those who are concerned about God-honouring worship will be concerned about the proclamation of the gospel, in the world and in the church, in public teaching and private dialogue.”
“Teaching and preaching the apostolic word in the Christian congregation today may therefore be regarded as both a human and a divine activity. It is a ministry of encouragement and challenge which we can have to one another but it is also God’s way of confronting us. It is an essential aspect of what may be termed ‘congregational worship’ because it is itself an act of worship or service designed to glorify God. At the same time, its aim should be to provoke acceptable worship in the form of prayer, praise and obedience, in church and in the context of everyday life.”
“Once again, the centrality of gospel proclamation to the meeting of Christ’s people must be affirmed. Ministries of the word of God need to be exercised in the congregation to enable us to engage with God and serve him appropriately. If Christians are to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, a gospel-based ministry of teaching and exhortation is essential.”
Edification of the Body Is Connected to Worship
“Edification and worship are different sides of the same coin.”
“Church meetings should not be regarded simply as a means to an end–a preparation for worship and witness in everyday life–but as ‘the focus-point of that whole wider worship which is the continually repeated self-surrender of the Christian in obedience of life.’ The church is at the centre of God’s redemptive purposes for the universe (cf. Eph. 3:10-11), the earthly and temporal anticipation of the fellowship of the new creation, where God will be served without compromise or hindrance (Rev. 7:15; 22:3). Ministry exercised in love amongst the people of God is a sign of the Spirit’s transforming power already at work in those who believe. Ministry exercised for the building up of the body of Christ is a significant way of worshipping and glorifying God.”
Since there is no higher duty or greater privilege than to worship the one true and living God, let us pursue Him with all our heart.