Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A Reminder

In our current sermon series we have mined a shaft pretty deep into the old covenant laws. When you get that deep in the mountain, there is gold to be found, but it is also easy to forget what the point of all this mining is. So today I'd like to summarize a bit from an early sermon in this series to help us keep it all in perspective.

Jesus' Work and Our Worship

The centerpiece of God’s presence in the world today is found in the church, and our gathered worship is the pinnacle of his presence. The preaching of the Word is more potent than Congress, for God is present and speaking when his word is proclaimed. The songs you sing are more primary than the vote you cast for president. The proper worship of God is much more significant to our health and social well-being than gun control laws or fiscal cliff deals. In short, worship drives culture. Worship directs our work. We need the wisdom to work out our worship into all of life, so that we consistently proclaim Jesus as Lord. We want to make the true God inescapable in our own lives and the lives of those around us. We want men to know that he is the Lord. That is our goal for this series of studies from the Scripture. We want to gather new insights from the Word of God about how to worship God aright, drive that deep into our hearts, and then work it out of our feet and our fingertips. 

Our plan in this series of sermons is to learn from old covenant worship about how we ought to worship in the new covenant. Of course, in order to do this, we need to pay careful attention to the work that Jesus has done. As always, the good news of Jesus is central to our worship and our work. So, we are going to start with the epistle to the Hebrews in the NT, then we are going to go back to the book of Leviticus to give a fully biblical structure to our worship. Once that is done, I believe we will be better prepared to wisely live according to our new covenant relationship with God in our present day. We will study some of this on a very practical level from the book of Proverbs. 

We are like pioneers, clearing ‘new’ ground in order to become productive for the Lord. We want to build a culture of faithfulness, making the church the city of God that it is designed to be, calling the city of man to repent and trust in Jesus as Lord. 

We are going to walk briskly through the central section of Hebrews, and we will see that Jesus’ work transforms our lives into lives of true worship because   
Jesus is a superior priest (4:14-7:28).
Jesus is a superior priest of a superior covenant (8:1-9:28).
Jesus is a superior priest of a superior covenant who offers a superior sacrifice (9:1-10:18).
And so what we see as we round out the book Hebrews is that through Jesus we enjoy living in the presence of God (10:19-25; 12:18-29; 13:7-16). Jesus’ work sets the entire context for our worship, and his work is the reason we work on our worship.Without Jesus’ work, our worship is worthless. We may strive to get the details ever so right, but it cannot bring us to God. But at the same time, precisely because Jesus has worked, we can and must worship God acceptably. We must press into knowing him and making him known, responding to him gloriously as he reveals himself powerfully in our midst. Because he is our great high priest, mediating the new covenant, having offered the perfect sacrifice for sins, we are enabled to participate with him in the life of God.

You might be thinking, “Does it really matter all that much how we worship? Why do we keep working on it?” If we see it only as ‘getting it right,’ then working on how we worship isn’t all that much benefit to us nor is it a blessing to God. That is, if we see it in legalistic terms, then we might as well just forget about it and go with the flow of the culture. But if we see it rightly as pressing into full participation with Christ by his Spirit, then it will be a fountainhead of glory to God. It will lead to cultural and personal renewal, for Jesus will be exalted as the saving Lord as we worship him in spirit and truth. Jesus’ work transforms our lives into lives of true worship. 

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