Incarnate and clothed with human nature, Martin Luther

“So, when your conscience is in conflict, wrestling against the law, sin, and death, in the presence of God, there is nothing more dangerous than to wander amidst curious heavenly speculations, searching out God’s incomprehensible power, wisdom, and majesty - how he created the world and how he governs it. If this is how you attempt to pacify him without Christ the mediator, making your works a means between him and yourself, you will fall as Lucifer did and in horrible despair lose God and everything else. God is in his own nature immeasurable, incomprehensible, and infinite, and so human nature finds him intolerable. 

If you want safety, then, to flee from perils of conscience and salvation, bridle your presumptuous spirit, and seek God in the way that Paul teaches: ‘We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God' (1 Corinthians 1:23-24). So begin where Christ began - namely, in the womb of the virgin, in the manger, at his mother’s breast. The reason he came down, was born, lived among men and women, suffered, was crucified, and died was so that he might present himself plainly to our eyes and fasten our spiritual sight upon himself, so that he might keep us from climbing into heaven and from the curious searching of the divine majesty. 

Whenever you are dealing with the matter of justification, therefore, and are wondering where and how to find God who justifies and accepts sinners, remember that there is no other God besides this man, Christ Jesus. Embrace him, an hang on to him with your whole heart, setting aside all curious speculations about the divine majesty. Those vain people who exclude the Mediator do not believe this. Christ himself says, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). Therefore, apart from Christ you will find no other way to the Father, but only wandering: no verity, but hypocrisy and lying; no life, but eternal death. Take careful note, then, that when any of us has to wrestle with the law, sin, death, and all other evils, we must look to no other god, but only this God, incarnate and clothed with human nature.” 

-Martin Luther, Galatians, p. 34-35.

The way we read the Bible, John Piper

"So when we pray that God would lead us in the paths of righteousness (Ps. 23:3), and that he would cause us to bear fruit in every good deed (Col. 1:10), and that he would fill us with the fruit of righteousness (Phil. 1:11), we are praying that Scripture would have this effect on us. We are praying about the way we read the Bible

But we are not praying that we would become legalists-doing good just because the Bible says to do good, whether we are changed on the inside or not. That's the way the Pharisees handled the word of God. And Jesus told them they acted as if they never read it...No. We are praying that the word reveal the worth and beauty of all that God is for us in Christ, so that we would see it as all-satisfying, and savor it above all other desires, and be changed by it from selfish to self-giving, so that people might see our good deeds and give glory to God (Matt. 5:16)."

-John Piper, Reading the Bible Supernaturally, p. 274. 

The world is but a great inn... (Watson)

"Consider what a poor contemptible thing the world is; it is not worth setting the affections on, it cannot fill the heart...The world is but a great inn, where we are to stay a night or two, and be gone; what madness is it so to set our heart upon our inn, as to forget our home." 

-Thomas Watson, The Godly Man's Picture, p. 50-51. 

Christian Growth, J.C. Ryle

 "The Christian who is always at a standstill, to all appearances the same man, with the same little faults, and weaknesses, and besetting sins, and petty infirmities, is seldom the Christian who does much good. The man who shakes and stirs minds, and sets the world thinking, is the believer who is continually improving and going forward. Men think there is life and reality when they see growth."

J.C. Ryle, Holiness

Public Worship Affects Private Worship

In my last post, I argued that we reap in public what we sow in private. In other words, our private practices and pursuits have implications on our public life. This is especially true in our relationship with Jesus. If we never spend time cultivating the relationship in private, there will be no speaking of him in public because there will be no well to draw from. If we do not engage in private prayer, we will certainly not enjoy public prayer. If the Word of God is not enjoyed in private, it is doubtful that we will exult in the Word as it is preached.

To that end, private worship affects public worship. What we do in private fuels what we do in public. But the reverse is also true. Public worship affects private worship.

In the last post, we considered how private worship affects public worship from Psalm 40 (You can refresh here).  This time, let’s look at a few implications that Psalm 40 has on how public worship affects private worship.

  • The Psalm is written down for us. We are reading of David’s experience with the Lord and are supposed to be encouraged by it. David wrote that we might find hope in the God who inclined his ear to him, heard his cry, drew him out of a pit, put his feet on a rock, and gave him a new song (Ps 40:1-2). David’s public worship is supposed to encourage your private worship even as you quietly read the Psalm.

  • The “new song” of praise to God leads others to put their trust in the Lord (Ps 40:3). The new song, sung for all to hear, leads others to faith. What greater earthly benefit can there be to our worship than the salvation of souls!

  • The wondrous deeds and thoughts of the Lord have been multiplied towards us in Christ. This leads to public proclamation (Ps 40:5) that others may benefit from knowing the work of God. The reason you tell someone about a glory you have seen is for their delight to increase. Telling the wondrous deeds of the Lord fuels worship when we are no longer gathered together.

Our souls need fuel for worship. The reason is that we don't naturally wake up with hearts oriented toward the glory of God. Instead, we wake up with hearts oriented toward ourselves. We know what we want. We think we know what we need. We spend most of our days toiling after both. But, when we come to the Bible, we cannot read much of the New Testament without bumping into the “one another” phrases. We’re called to love, exhort, forgive, sing over, bear with, serve, and encourage one another.

Public worship is one of the ways that we live out the “one another’s” of the Christian life. To be sure, God is worthy of all of our worship and our worship is for him. But, if I purchase flowers for my wife, who benefits? Well, she does, for sure, but so does everyone who enters the house. We all smell the aroma and we all get to enjoy the beauty. Worship is for God, but we all benefit from the aroma.

Our faith is personal, but it was never meant to be private. O, how we need to remember this when we gather together. Why? Because your engagement in corporate worship was never meant to only be an expression of your personal delight in God; your worship is also designed to help the church (and non-christians) believe the gospel. Your worship has horizontal implications. By way of encouragement, engage in worship when we gather together. Sing with all your might. Lift your hands. Bow your knees. Worship - because God is worthy, and because your public worship fuels and affects not only your private worship, but the private worship of all who gather with you.