Monday, July 26, 2010

The Gift of Worship

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker!
7For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand. Psalm 95:6-7 ESV

And he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." Mark 2:27 ESV

Worship sets us apart from other animals. Some say that it is our thinking that sets us apart from animals; or the way we use tools. But research has shown that animals also think, and also use tools. There is something we do, that no other created thing does. No other created thing worships. Worship is not an afterthought of God, but it is a gift for us.

Worship satisfies our desire to know God. God is present when we sing, during prayer, in Scripture, and when we celebrate the sacraments. We gather together to celebrate the One we have in common. We confess our sin together, we confess our faith together, and we hear the absolution together.

Worship is where God meets us, and we respond. It is a communication with God.

In worship, God renews us. It is like finding North on the compass and reorienting ourselves to God. It is with great joy that He renews our minds in worship. We see our brothers and sisters in the pew across the aisle, worshipping, provoking us to worship alongside them. We hear pastor announcing the absolution for us. We receive Christ's blood and body. We remember our baptism and the promises attached to that baptism: remission of sins, discipleship, salvation, eternal life.

Witness takes place in worship. We show our neighbors that worship is important just by attending. As we leave our driveways to go to church, our neighbors know that we are Christians. Walking into church, the neighbors of the church know we are Christians. It is this witness that may allow us to give these neighbors the good news of Jesus' forgiveness for us sinners.

We respond to God meeting us with joy and thanksgiving. Leaving weekly worship with a song of praise on our lips!

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:31-32 ESV

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Problem With Peter

1 Peter 3:20-22 ESV

because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

There are many promises attached with baptism.When one is baptized, it reminds us our sins are washed away, we are saved, we are in Christ, we have died with Christ, we are Christ's disciple. That list is not exhaustive. Baptism is a sacrament that Jesus instituted, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".

When theologies explain away verses such as this to say the passage doesn't mean baptism saves, they end up not knowing where to look for their assurance. Some, such as reformed theology and their step daughters, the Arminians, will place their faith in their faith. Looking within, they are assured by their faith. On days when doubts pursue us, faith in faith does not help us. Pentecostals and charismatics, tend to substitute speaking in tongues for the sacraments. When those gifts don't flow, the doubts creep in.

Father knows we are weak, so He helps us by giving us the visible sign of baptism to remind us to whom we belong. Peter tells us that baptism saves. Don't cry, "baptismal regeneration!" as if it is a nonbiblical thing. Peter tells us very plainly it saves.

Baptism does save, as scripture declares. We, too, are brought safely through water.