The Nature of Biblical Worship

December 17, 2017 in Bible - NT - Hebrews, Bible - OT - Psalms, Christmas, Liturgy, Lord's Day, Meditations, Worship

Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV)
15 Therefore by [Jesus] let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.

In our continuing study of Jesus in the Psalms we examine Psalm 35 today. Three times in our psalm, David will promise to praise God if God will but deliver him from his persecutors. And since Paul urges us to offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name, it seems fitting to study each of David’s promises and to learn what they teach us about biblical worship.

David makes his first promise in verses 9-10:

9 And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; It shall rejoice in His salvation. 10 All my bones shall say, “LORD, who is like You, Delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, Yes, the poor and the needy from him who plunders him?”

Here David teaches us two things about biblical worship. First, biblical worship is to be personal. My soul shall be joyful; all my bones shall say, “Lord, who is like you…” Worship isn’t something “out there” that we participate in, it is something “in here” that emerges from grateful hearts. Second, biblical worship is to be joyful. My soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His salvation. Because God saves us from those too mighty for us – from sin, from Satan, from worldly foes who hate God – worship should be saturated with joy. Biblical worship is to be personal and joyful.

David makes his second promise in v. 18:

18 I will give You thanks in the great assembly; I will praise You among many people.

So let us add two more features of biblical worship. First, biblical worship is to be thankful. I will give you thanks… Every good and perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights, so we ought to thank Him. Second, biblical worship is to be corporate. I will give you thanks in the great assembly [church]; I will praise You among many peoples. Biblical worship does not confine itself to me and God alone because God’s purposes for my life are far greater than my salvation. He saves me in order that I might bless and encourage others, that others might be saved through me. Biblical worship is to be thankful and corporate.

David makes his final promise in verse 28:

28 And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness And of Your praise all the day long.

So let us add two final features of biblical worship. First, biblical worship is to be vocal. And my tongue shall speak of Your righteousness… Worship isn’t just a matter of the heart, it issues forth from our mouths using our lips and tongues. Second, biblical worship is to be continual. And my tongue shall speak…of Your praise all the day long. While our worship is to be corporate, it cannot be limited to times of corporate gathering – these times are few and far between. Consequently, our corporate worship must spill out into all my day, must shape the entirety of my life. My day should be filled with praising and thanking God. Biblical worship is to be vocal and continual.

Putting all this together, therefore, biblical worship is to be personal, joyful, thankful, corporate, vocal, and continual. Often, however, our worship lacks these traits. So as we enter into the presence of the Lord, let us confess our sin to the Lord, seeking His forgiveness. We will have a time of silent confession, followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

The Psalms as the Word of Christ

December 10, 2017 in Bible - OT - Psalms, Christmas, Church Calendar, King Jesus, Liturgy, Meditations, Worship

Colossians 3:16 (NKJV)
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

For Advent and Christmastide we are continuing a tradition that we started several years ago of preaching through the psalms. It is important that we remember why this is a fitting tradition, why we should devote considerable time and attention to the psalms. In our day, various ideologies divorce Christians from the OT; consequently, Psalm singing has fallen on hard times, especially among Protestants. So as we recover this practice, let us consider the foundation for it that Paul lays in our text today.

First, Paul identifies the content of our worship. We are to let the word of Christ, Christ’s own word, dwell in us richly. Jesus speaks to us today; He is calling today. But where? Paul tells us: He speaks in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. In the Greek translation of the OT, these labels correspond to the varied songs in the psalter. Paul’s categories of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs are, in other words, different ways of directing us to one book, the Psalter. The book of Psalms contains psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs which we are to sing. Why? Because they are the Word of Christ – Christ’s own words to us. When we sing the Psalms to one another, we hear Christ speaking to us in the voices of our brethren.

Second, Paul identifies the function of our worship. We are to teach one another and admonish one another. First, we teach one another. When we sing the psalms to one another, we expand our knowledge of God and our awareness of His work in the world. We teach one another of His righteousness, His mercy, His wrath, His love, His patience, His judgments, etc. The psalms force us to reckon with ways in which our own thinking differs from God’s thinking. When we sing a psalm and find ourselves disagreeing with its words, the problem is not with the psalm but with us. Consequently, we not only teach one another as we sing, we also admonish one another. We correct erroneous thoughts, summon one another to trust the Lord more fully, rebuke one another’s complacency, immorality, greed, idolatry, and deceitfulness. The psalms teach and admonish us.

Third, Paul identifies the motive of our worship. We are to sing with grace in our hearts. True worship emerges from a grateful heart; it is an expression of thankfulness for God’s work in our lives. The hypocrite says one thing with his lips and another with his heart; the loyal worshiper joins heart and lips together in song. We are to sing with thankfulness in our hearts.

Finally, Paul identifies the object of our worship. We are to sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord. The Lord is the object of our worship. He alone is worthy of praise, thanksgiving, and honor. He has created us and not we ourselves; He has redeemed us through the precious blood of His Son Jesus. He has sent His Spirit to empower us to walk in newness of life. So we are to give Him thanks and praise, to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to Him.

So as we enter into the presence of the Lord this day, as we sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, let us teach and admonish one another as we worship the Lord. Unfortunately, much of the church has abandoned the psalms in favor of songs that do not teach and admonish. We speak to one another our own words rather than the words of Christ. But even when we speak the words of Christ to one another, we often fail to learn from our brethren, we often fail to correct ourselves. So reminded of our failures in this regard, let us kneel and confess our sins to the Lord, seeking His forgiveness. We will have a time of silent confession, followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Why pursue wisdom?

October 29, 2017 in Bible - OT - Proverbs, Bible - OT - Psalms, Confession, Discipline, Image of God, Meditations, Parents, Wisdom

Proverbs 10:1 (NKJV)
1 The proverbs of Solomon: A wise son makes a glad father, But a foolish son is the grief of his mother.

The proverbs of Solomon guide and teach us in order that we might be full of wisdom; in order that we might govern our daily affairs in a way that glorifies and honors our Creator and Redeemer, the Lord of hosts. In chapter 10 of Proverbs, Solomon begins to identify practical ways that the law of God teaches us wisdom. And where does he begin? He begins with your motivation. Why should you pursue wisdom? Because it is the wise son who brings joy to his parents.

Every child is born with an innate desire to please his parents. This desire is a gift from God, part of what it means to be made in the image of God. God the Son has eternally delighted to do the will of His heavenly Father, a delight on display in His Incarnation. “I delight to do Your will, O God,” Psalm 40:8 declares, “Your law is within my heart.” This delight of the Eternal Son in the Eternal Father has been hard-wired into the world such that children long for the approval of their parents, oftentimes even when those parents have been cruel or unkind.

So how can a son, young men, how can you, please your parents? Solomon gives you the answer: strive for wisdom and avoid folly. Cultivate the fear of God; meditate on the commandments of God; imbibe the promises of God; flee greed; flee lust; flee covetousness. Why should you do these things? Because it is the wise son who makes his father glad; because it is the foolish son that brings grief to his mother. And which would you rather do, bring your father joy or bring your mother grief? I pray to God that you would rather do the former.

But perhaps you don’t care about pleasing your parents. Perhaps you could care less what they think; perhaps you just want to cause them pain because you are frustrated with their restrictions or upset by their rules or hurt by their inattention. What should you do then? The first thing you should do is stop making excuses for your sinful attitude, confess it to God, and pray that He would change it. The fifth commandment is clear: Honor your father and your mother, that it may go well with you and you may live long on the earth. God’s desire for you is that you honor your parents. So if you are failing to do so, if you have no desire to do so, then you are in sin and you need to repent.

But what if you are the parent? What if your child doesn’t care about pleasing you, what should you do? First, ask yourself whether you care about pleasing your parents. Much more is caught than taught. If you do not long to please your parents it may very well be that your kids are simply taking a page from your book. If so, repent and confess your sins to the Lord and to your kids. Second, are you embittering your children, treating them tyrannically? A child’s innate desire to please his parents, though strong and resilient, can be destroyed by such behavior.

Reminded this morning that the innate desire that God has placed within us to receive the praise of our parents is often twisted, distorted, or even annihilated by our sin, let us confess our sin to the Lord and seek His forgiveness. And as we confess our sin, let us kneel as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Put Your Trust in the Lord

October 15, 2017 in Bible - OT - Psalms, Meditations, Worship

Psalm 4:4–5 (NKJV)
4 Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah 5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the LORD.

The call of God upon all people is very simple and straightforward – He wants us to serve Him, not man; to trust in Him, not in created things; to love and cling to Him, not to the idols which we create with our own hands. As our Lord Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.”

Each of us faces the choice in our lives of whom we shall serve: will we serve God or will we serve some idol? And note that this is not a choice that admits of middle paths – there is no third option; no neutrality. We must choose whom we shall serve. Who will be our God? Who is your God?

Have you given yourself to the gods of this age? To glamour, wealth, power, academic prestige, simplicity, body image, sexual expression? Do you sit and worship at their feet? Or have you given yourself to the Triune God, the Creator of heaven and earth, the fountain of true glamour, of lasting wealth, of real power, of profound wisdom, of unpretentious simplicity, of blessed health, of virtuous sexuality? Do you sit and worship at His feet?

It was at God’s feet that David sat and he summarizes well what it means to do so –
· Tremble, and do not sin – Fear God, do anything except offend him; remember that our God is a consuming fire and that sin separates us from Him; so, if we would sit at His feet, we must put away sin.

· Meditate within your heart upon your bed, and be still – in private, when you are laying down to rest and are tempted to let your thoughts run wild, to become anxious and afraid as your hopes and fears run laps about your skull, meditate instead upon God’s presence and His Word. Remember His promises, His assurances, and His threats, and so be still. Remind yourself – God is my Creator; in Christ He is also my Redeemer; He will care for me; He will bless me; He will remember me. And in that knowledge…

· Offer the sacrifices of righteousness – remember that the point of your life is to worship your Creator and Redeemer publicly and privately; so join God’s people every Lord’s Day and serve the Lord with gladness every day; rejoice in His precepts; delight in His law; confess your sins; pray for God to transform your character; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

· And put your trust in the Lord – Don’t succumb to the temptation to worship the idols of the world – many of them are carved quite cunningly, beautiful with their gold and silver accents – but remember that despite all their cunning beauty they cannot do anything for you: beauty will fade; wealth will take flight; power will vanish; but the Lord shall remain ever faithful to those who trust Him.

So what is God’s call upon us? David tells us:
Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the LORD.

As we come into the presence of our Lord to worship, reminded that our calling is to trust wholly in Him and no doubt convicted that we have failed to do so, let us kneel and confess our sins in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will have a time of private confession followed by the public confession found in your bulletin.

Preach the Word: Rebuke!

August 27, 2017 in Bible - NT - 2 Timothy, Bible - NT - Luke, Bible - NT - Mark, Bible - OT - Psalms, Meditations, Preaching

2 Timothy 4:1–2 (NKJV)
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

For the last few weeks, our congregation in Coeur d’Alene has been meditating on Paul’s charge to Timothy to “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season.” Last week we began looking at the series of imperatives that Paul gives to explain his charge. Paul writes, “Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” This morning I would like us to consider what it means to “rebuke.”

The Greek word behind “rebuke” is epitimao and, in the Greek OT, is typically reserved for God’s word of power standing against any and every obstacle. Stauffer notes in the Theological Dictionary of the NT:
God’s rebuke shakes heaven (Job 26:11) and moves the earth and the sea (2 Βασ‌. 22:16; ψ 17:15; 103:7). He [rebukes] the Red Sea and it dries up to let the people of God pass over (ψ 105:9; cf. Is. 50:2 Σ). His Word of command whips up the storm so that men cry to heaven in their distress; His Word of rebuke stills it again so that the waves subside and the cries of distress cease (ψ 106:29)… But for the most part God’s reproof is directed against men, against the high and mighty until horse and rider are bemused (ψ 75:6; 118:21), against the enemies of God and His people whose raging is like that of the sea (Is. 17:13 Ἀ; ψ 9:5; 79:16), but also against the apostate people itself, so that it wastes and perishes.

To rebuke, therefore, is to deliver a sharp warning that the attitude or action being taken is in clear opposition to God’s word. So when Peter declares that Jesus shall by no means suffer on the cross, Jesus rebukes Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan!” (Mk 8:33) When James and John, the sons of thunder, want fire to fall on a Samaritan village for its rejection of Jesus, Jesus rebukes them, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of” (Lk 9:55). A rebuke is a short, verbal thrashing. It is a divine wake-up call.

What this means, therefore, is that the minister of the Gospel must be prepared to speak bluntly about attitudes and actions that are diametrically opposed to the Word of God and the Gospel of Christ. As I emphasized for my flock last week, it is not the minister’s calling to tell smarmy stories that make people feel good about themselves, it is his duty to speak the Word of God to the people of God – and this often means confronting sinful attitudes and actions.
· If you have no interest in understanding and obeying the Word of God, then the Spirit of God is not in you.
· If you think you can thrive spiritually while marginalizing the
importance of your local church, you are likely going to hell.
· If you think God is pleased with your bitterness and resentment just because you have justified it to yourself, you are deceived.
· If you prize happiness more than holiness, then you are serving your own lusts not the Lord of glory.
· If you sit in judgment over your homosexual cousin while routinely indulging your lust for pornography, you may not know Jesus Christ.
· If you are more interested in stockpiling cash than helping the poor, you are an idolater.
· If you refuse to heed correction and to receive rebuke, God will break you and bring your plans to naught.

Do any of these things strike close to home? Then give heed, listen to the prompting of the Spirit, and repent. Turn from your sin, seek the Lord’s forgiveness through the shed blood of His Son Jesus, and cry out for the enabling power of the Spirit to free you from these attitudes and actions and to restore you to fellowship with God and with His people.

So reminded of our sin and that there is only one sacrifice, Jesus the Christ, whose shed blood can cover the guilt of our sin, let us confess our sin, beseeching God’s forgiveness. And as we confess, let us kneel together as we are able. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

Old Covenant vs. New Covenant Worship

June 11, 2017 in Bible - NT - Hebrews, Bible - NT - John, Bible - OT - Psalms, Israel, Liturgy, Meditations, Trinity, Worship
John 4:21-24 (NKJV)
21
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and Truth.”
On this Trinity Sunday, I would like us to consider the words that Jesus speaks in this text and the way that they help us understand new covenant worship. Jesus is anticipating two changes in the worship of God’s people. Unfortunately, these changes are frequently misinterpreted. Many imagine that Jesus is contrasting the external, formal worship of the OT period with the heartfelt, internal worship of the New. At one time people worshiped externally, now all worship is “in spirit and truth” – that is, heartfelt and genuine.
The difficulty faced by this interpretation is not the insistence that worship must be heartfelt and genuine. That is most certainly true. The difficulty is that this was no less true in the OT than it is in the New. David declares in the psalter, “Sacrifice and burnt offering you did not desire, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”Heartfelt, genuine worship was to characterize the OT no less than the New.
So what are the changes Jesus anticipated in His words to the Samaritan woman? There are two. First, Jesus insists that the corporate worship of the people of God would be decentralized. Remember that in the OT God’s people had a central sanctuary located at Jerusalem. As we will review today in the sermon, three times a year every male had to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to Mount Zion, and worship at the central sanctuary, offering sacrifices, feasting with God’s people, honoring the Lord. The Samaritans, for their part, refused to acknowledge the centrality of Jerusalem but likewise had a central sanctuary at Mount Gerizim. Here the Samaritans had their collective feasts. The woman asks Jesus – “You’re a prophet; so which is it? Mount Zion or Mount Gerizim?”Jesus responds, “Neither! In the Christian era, during My reign, God’s people are not required to gather for corporate worship at a central sanctuary – whether in Gerizim or Jerusalem or Rome. Rather, wherever the people of God gather together in My Name and lift My Name on high, there is Mount Zion, there is the City of God, there is the central sanctuary.” In other words, Jerusalem in Israel is no longer the center of God’s dealings with man; the heavenly Jerusalem, Mount Zion, the Church is the center.
Second, Jesus informs us that not only would corporate worship be decentralized, it would be explicitly Trinitarian. When Jesus rose from the dead and sent forth His Spirit, the worship of God’s people was forever transformed. It became explicitly Trinitarian – worshiping the Father in Spirit – the very Spirit whom Jesus promised would come and lead His people into all righteousness – and in Truth – the very Truth who took on human flesh and declared to His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Today is Trinity Sunday, the Sunday the Church has historically emphasized the Triune nature of God. It is this that Jesus does in our text. Worshiping the Father in Spirit and Truth is not an exhortation to heartfelt, genuine worship – that exhortation had been given throughout the OT. Worshiping the Father in Spirit and Truth is to worship the Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And it was this transformation that Jesus anticipated and announced to the Samaritan woman. “The time is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth.”

So what does this mean for us? It means that this morning as we gather together to worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth, as we gather to worship the Triune God, we are approaching the central sanctuary of God, the place where God dwells. Mount Zion is His dwelling place and it is this place to which we draw near every time we gather to worship the Lord together. Hebrews tells us, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first born who are registered in heaven…” (Heb 12:22-23) And, like Isaiah, who entered the presence of God in the Temple, the first thing that should strike us is our own unworthiness – in ourselves, we are not worthy to be here. And so let us kneel and seek His forgiveness through Christ.

A Prayer for our Service Men & Women

May 4, 2017 in Bible - OT - Psalms, Coeur d'Alene Issues, Politics, Prayer, Thankfulness

Today was the National Day of Prayer. Our local pastors gathered at McEuen Park for our annual lunch time prayer gathering. I was asked to pray on behalf of our service men and women. This was my prayer:

Psalm 105:4 – Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face evermore!

Almighty and Everlasting God, unless You guard the city, the watchman stays awake in vain; so we come seeking Your guidance, Your protection, and Your blessing on our service men and women.

Guide them, O Lord. Give them wisdom to know the right and honorable thing to do in any and every circumstance. To the commanders: grant that they would submit the might of our armed forces to the principles of right and justice which You have revealed in Your eternal law; that we might never, as a people, permit the ends to justify the means and that we would declare war and wage war justly. To all our service men and women: grant that they would be brave, courageous, and conscientious amid conflict; that they would be a credit to this nation and to the principles for which we stand.

Protect them, O Lord. Some men trust in chariots, some trust in the horse, but we will depend upon the Name of Christ our Lord. Protect them from the hand of the enemy; protect their marriages from the stresses of military life; protect their children from the absence of a parent; and protect their minds and hearts from the terrors of war.

Bless them, O Lord. Bless their plans and their strategies. Grant our generals wisdom and insight. Grant our service men and women satisfaction in their labor, joy in their service, and excellence in their calling. Grant that they might never have cause to be ashamed of serving this nation – that we would reflect the honor and courage to which we call them.

Finally, we ask Your forgiveness for increasingly placing our women in combat roles and even considering drafting them for military service. Forgive us, and grant us men willing to sacrifice their own lives and reputations to protect the women and children of our society. All this we ask in the Name of Christ our Lord,

Amen.

This corruptible must put on incorruption

April 30, 2017 in Bible - NT - 1 Corinthians, Bible - OT - Psalms, Easter, Meditations, Resurrection
1 Corinthians 15:51–57 (NKJV)
51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Last week we observed that we are in Eastertide, the period when the Church has historically continued to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection is too momentous an event to celebrate only one Sunday – for it is Jesus’ resurrection that eliminates for us the fear of death and assures us that the bodies of all those who believe in Him shall likewise be raised from their graves.
And it is this theme upon which Paul dwells in our text today. This corruptible body must pass through the furnace of death and be raised incorruptible; this mortalbody must pass through the furnace of death and be raise immortal. And when this has happened, when at the Last Day Christ has returned in glory and raised all those who believe in Him from their graves, when He has transformed us into conformity with His own body – righteous, incorruptible, and immortal– then shall come to pass the promise of Scripture, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
In other words, brothers and sisters, we have immense hope. Death is not the final word. As horrible as death is, as devastating as it is, death is a conquered foe. Jesus rose from the dead; Jesus dealt death a death blow. We now live in sure and certain hope of the resurrection of the dead. Therefore, because Christ has risen, we can have immense confidence in the face of death itself and in the face of all death’s minions – sickness, pain, torture, persecution, hardship, trial. None of these things have the last word – the last word belongs to Jesus and to life. And this is what Psalm 27:13 articulates. “I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.” In the words of Paul in our text today, “Oh death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So how are we to treat death? With contempt. Why? Because Christ is risen and has broken his power. Even as Christ rose from the dead, we too shall rise. This corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality. So what should characterize our lives? Fearless and unshrinking zeal to maintain the truth of God against all opposition – whether from our own flesh or from the world or from the devil himself. Congregation of the Lord, Christ is Risen! (He is Risen indeed!)

So reminded of the power of Christ’s resurrection but no doubt reminded also that we frequently are fearful and shrinking rather than fearless and bold, let us kneel and confess our lack of faith to the Lord. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.

And let all the people say, “Amen!”

March 6, 2017 in Bible - OT - Deuteronomy, Bible - OT - Psalms, Ecclesiology, Liturgy, Meditations
Psalm 106:48 (NKJV)
48 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel From everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the LORD!
For some weeks now we have been attempting to explain why our elders have implemented various traditions to guide our corporate worship. Today we consider our practice of declaring, “Amen!”, after singing psalms and hymns. Why do we do this?
The declaration, “Amen!”, is a means of affirming what has been said. It is shorthand for, “So be it! That’s right! That’s true! I agree with that!” or even, “May that come to pass!” So, in our text today, the people are to say, “Amen!” upon hearing the declaration, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting!”
We see this same dynamic at work in Deuteronomy 27. Moses instructed the Israelites to divide in half after they entered the Promised Land and to stand, half on Mount Gerizim and half on Mount Ebal. The Levites were then to speak with a “loud voice and say to all the men of Israel:”
15 ‘Cursed is the one who makes a carved or molded image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’
“And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen!’
16 ‘Cursed is the one who treats his father or his mother with contempt.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
17 ‘Cursed is the one who moves his neighbor’s landmark.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
18 ‘Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
19 ‘Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
20 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s bed.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
 21 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with any kind of animal.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
 22 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
 23 ‘Cursed is the one who lies with his mother-in-law.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
 24 ‘Cursed is the one who attacks his neighbor secretly.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
 25 ‘Cursed is the one who takes a bribe to slay an innocent person.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’
 26 ‘Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ ”
The verbal affirmation, “Amen!” is a way of confirming the truth of what has been said or sung. So when we pray or sing and close with, “Amen!”, or when we shout, “Amen!” during the sermon, we are saying, “So be it! I agree with that! May these things truly come to pass!”
So how ought we to speak this “Amen!”? First, make sure you agree with what has been said or sung. Don’t say, “Amen!” if you don’t mean it. Part of our rationale for singing the psalms and other substantive hymns is to protect us from saying, “Amen!”, to things that we ought not affirm. If the preacher were to declare, “Good is evil, and evil is good!” the last thing that you should say is, “Amen!” Say, “God forbid!” or “May it never be!” but don’t say, “Amen!” Why not? Because to say, “Amen!” is to declare that you agree with what was said or that you truly want it to happen.
Second, issue your Amen heartily. Either you agree with what has been said or you don’t. If you do, then do it. You’ll note that the “Amens!” in your Bible are typically printed with an exclamation point. That’s because they are exclamations. And the word “exclamation” comes from two Latin words: ex, which means “out,” and clamare, which means “to shout.” So you’re supposed to “shout it out”! Say it like you mean it. “Amen!”

Reminded that we often approve of things that we should condemn and that we are often tepid rather than hearty in our approval of what God has said, let us confess our sin to the Lord. And as you are able, let us kneel as we confess our sins. We will have a time of silent confession followed by the corporate confession found in your bulletin.