Why Kneel in Worship?

January 11, 2015 in Bible - NT - Revelation, Bible - OT - 1 Kings, Bible - OT - Psalms, Ecclesiology, Liturgy, Meditations, Rome, Tradition, Worship
1 Kings 8:54 (NKJV)
54 And so it was, when Solomon had finished praying all this prayer and supplication to the LORD, that he arose from before the altar of the LORD, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread up to heaven.
In its public worship, every church has traditions. Whether it is a tradition of spontaneity or a tradition of regularity, traditions are unavoidable. They are an inescapable part of human life. It is important, therefore, that we regularly evaluate our traditions to make sure that they reflect and not undermine biblical principles.
Among the traditions we have as a congregation, one of them is kneeling when we confess our sins. In just a moment I will invite you to kneel with me as we confess our sins to God. Many people, visitors especially, find this practice uncomfortable or objectionable – in fact, many have refused to return and worship here because we kneel during our service. The preaching is fine; the music is acceptable; the fellowship seems sweet – but why do you kneel?
This question often causes me to scratch my head and wonder what in the world is happening in the church today. What is it about kneeling that bothers us? Some say it reminds them too much of Roman Catholic worship. But, of course, if we were to reject whatever the Roman church practices, then we’d have to eliminate Scripture reading, prayer, and public singing as well. So I’m not sure that’s the real issue. I think the real issue is deeper.
Kneeling is an act of humility; it is to bow before another and acknowledge that that other is greater than I, more important than I, and hence worthy of my respect and honor or even my adoration. It is also sometimes a visible expression of wrongdoing, a plea for mercy as it were. Hence, there are times when kneeling is inappropriate. Mordecai refused to kneel before Haman; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego refused to kneel before Nebuchadnezzar’s statue; God reserved 7,000 in Israel who would not kneel to Baal. There are times when kneeling is compromise and sin.

But there are other times when kneeling is glorious: all Israel bowed the knee to King David; a leper kneeled before Jesus begging to be healed; a man kneels before his beloved and asks for her hand in marriage. In such situations, how can one do anything but kneel? So what about worship? We have entered into the presence of Almighty God, the Creator of Heaven and earth, the High and Holy One – the One whose glory fills heaven and earth; the One whose power governs all that occurs; the One whose love compelled Him to send His only-begotten Son to rescue His people from sin and Satan and death – how could we imagine that to kneel before this One is unfitting or inappropriate? Uncomfortable at first? Maybe. But profoundly wise and biblical.
So in our passage today, we see that Solomon – the Son of David, the King of Israel, and the wisest of men – kneeled before God to make supplication and prayer. And Psalm 95 summons us, O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our God our Maker! And note that this isn’t a summons to private but to public kneeling – O come, let us kneel ­– let all of us together bow before God for He is worthy! And so the four living creatures and the 24 elders in the book of Revelation fall down before the Lamband they sing a new song saying, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!

So this morning, as we consider that we have entered into the presence of Almighty God, let us kneel and confess our sin to the Lord.

The Public Reading of Scripture

January 12, 2014 in Bible - NT - 1 Timothy, Bible - NT - James, Bible - NT - Revelation, Lord's Day, Meditations, Tradition, Word of God, Worship
1 Timothy 4:13 (NASB95)
Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.
In its public worship, every church has traditions. Whether it is a tradition of spontaneity or a tradition of regularity, traditions are unavoidable. They are an inescapable part of human life. It is important, therefore, that we learn to distinguish between our traditions and God’s commands so that we are able to evaluate our traditions in light of His commands. Nothing is more deadly than imagining that we don’t have traditions – for this is the first step to subverting the Word of God with our traditions.
Among the traditions which we have as a congregation, one of them is reading various passages from the Word of God each Lord’s Day. Apart from the sermon text, we read Old and New Testament passages. Why do this?
The passage today answers this question. For while many of our traditions are simply applications of biblical principles, the public reading of the Word of God is the implementation of a biblical tradition. Paul exhorts Timothy to “give attention to the public reading of Scripture.” Likewise, John in the book of Revelation pronounces his blessing on the one who was to read in worship the book he was composing. Reading portions of the Word of God each Lord’s Day is not simply a church tradition – it is an apostolic tradition.
Given that Paul places such a premium on reading the Word of God in our public assembly, how ought we to approach it? First, how ought we to read the Word of God? The Scriptures give us a number of principles. We ought to read with reverence and awe for it is the Word of the Living God, the God who is a consuming fire. We ought to read in a language that God’s people can understand – for when Ezra read to the people of God in the Old Testament he translated to give the sense (Neh 8:8). We ought to read with joy – for the Word is life itself, giving us wisdom and direction for our lives. Finally, we ought to read with discretion – giving due attention to the tone of the passage – whether it is pronouncing doom upon the unrepentant or comfort to the afflicted; tone matters.
Second, how ought we to listen to the Word of God? We are told in Nehemiah 8:3 that “all the people were attentive to the book of the law.” And this is our first and primary obligation. We should be straining our ears to hear the Word of the living God. Our ears should be attentive to His message; all our being should be focused on God’s revelation of Himself. Taking every thought captive, let us hear what the reading is announcing to us today.
And, having heard, let us not be like the man who looks at his face in a mirror and immediately forgets what sort of person he is. No, rather let us not only give ear to the Word but as God uses it to poke and prod us, let us give heed to in in the alteration of our attitudes and actions.

This reminds us that we often fail to give heed God’s Word as we ought. Our attention is often distracted when it is read. Our own opinions often intrude. Our heart often refuses to obey when we have heard. Let us then draw near to God and ask Him to cleanse us of our faults.

Marriage Supper of the Lamb

March 1, 2010 in Bible - NT - Revelation, Postmillennialism

“The existence of the Church as the congregation of the New Covenant marks an entirely new epoch in the history of redemption. God was not now merely taking Gentile believers into the Old Covenant (as He had often done under the Old Testament economy). Rather, He was bringing in ‘the age to come’ (Heb. 2:5; 6:5), the age of fulfillment, during these Last Days. Pentecost was the inception of a New Covenant. With the final divorce and destruction of the unfaithful wife in A.D. 70, the marriage of the Church to her Lord was firmly established; the Eucharistic celebration of the Church was fully revealed in its true nature as ‘the Marriage Supper of the Lamb’ (v. 9).” Chilton, p. 473.

Millennial Muddle

March 1, 2010 in Bible - NT - Revelation, Postmillennialism

Just finished preaching a series on eschatology which is available online via our website or for purchase via email info_at_trinitycda.org. I wanted to put up a number of quotations from David Chilton’s Days of Vengeance which I found particularly helpful in the course of study.

“With the rise of divergent eschatologies over the last two centuries, the traditional evangelical optimism of the Churchwas tagged with teh term ‘postmillennialism,’ whether the so-called ‘postmillennialists’ liked it or not. This has had positive and negative results. On the plus side, it is (as we have seen) a technically accurate description of orthodoxy; and it carries the connotation of optimism. On the minus side, it can too often be confused with heretical millenarianism. And, while ‘amillennialism’ rightly expresses the orthodox abhorrence of apocalyptic revolution, it carries (both by name and by historic association) a strong connotation of defeatism. The present writer therefore calls himself a ‘postmillennialist,’ but also seeks to be sensitive to the inadequacies of current theological terminology.

“This ‘generic’ postmillennialism holds that Jesus Christ established His mediatorial Kingdom by His death, resurrection, and ascension to the heavenly Throne, and as the Second Adam rules over all creation until the end of the world, when He shall come again to judge the living and the dead; that He is conquering all nations by the Gospel, extending the fruits of His victory throughout the world, thereby fulfilling the dominion mandate originally given by God to Adam; that eventually, through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, ‘the earth will be ful of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea’ (Isa. 11:9); and that the Biblical promises of abundant blessing, in every area of life, will be poured out by God upon the whole world, in covenantal response to the faithfulness of His people.” Chilton, pp. 497-498

Disarming the Principalities and Powers

January 18, 2010 in Augustine, Bible - NT - Colossians, Bible - NT - Revelation

Colossians 2:13-15 (NKJV)
13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

This Lord’s Day we explored the inauguration or beginning of the Kingdom of God through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. One of the issues discussed was the conquest of the demonic forces, the principalities and powers, that at one time ruled men and nations. These minions of the devil were, according to Paul, disarmed when our Lord was crucified. Imagining themselves the victors, they were defeated. Augustine explains this winsomely. Below is a quotation I read in the sermon – rearranged by me to make the oral hearing of it easier to follow. I pulled the quotation from David Chilton’s The Days of Vengeance: A Commentary on the Book of Revelation:

The devil was conquered by his own trophy of victory. The devil jumped for joy, when he seduced the first man and cast him down to death…. [He] jumped for joy [again] when Christ died; [but] by the very death of Christ the devil was overcome: he took, as it were, the bait in the mousetrap. He rejoiced at the death, thinking himself death’s commander. But that which caused his joy dangled the bait before him. The Lord’s cross was the devil’s mousetrap: the bait which caught him was the death of the Lord… By seducing the first man, [the devil] slew him; by slaying the last man, he lost the first from his snare. The victory of our Lord Jesus Christ came when he rose and ascended into heaven; then was fulfilled what you have heard when the Apocalypse was being read, “The Lion of the tribe of Judah has won the day.”