The Worship Quote of the Week for (02/01/2005):

Worship's Center of Gravity
What is the main idea of faithful Christian worship? Where should planners and leaders of corporate gatherings put their greatest emphasis? Author Ralph Martin talks about a center of gravity for the New Testament’s teaching on worship. Read on. (You may want to have your New Testament handy.)

The New Testament books highlight the spiritual enrichment of life. The exultant outbursts of Ephesians 1:3, ff. and 1 Peter 1:3 ff. center our thoughts upon God’s saving mercy in Christ and the Gospel. The bounty of God’s care and provision is indeed recorded, especially in the teaching of Jesus (e.g., Luke 12:22-31); and God’s creative and sustaining power in nature is a theme of the heavenly anthem (Revelation 4:11), but there can be no doubt as to the center of gravity in New Testament teaching on worship. The lodestone which irresistibly draws the New Testament Church to the recognition of God’s love and mercy is His saving actions in the Son of His love. Martin Luther’s limpid confession of faith, “Christ the Son of God is our Savior” is sufficient to call forth the loudest and most triumphant chords of worship and praise. Christian worship finds here its true center and its main inspiration, as it celebrates that mighty act of redemption in Christ—incarnate, atoning and exalted (these are the motifs of the “new song” of the redeemed in Revelation 5:9-14); and His continuing presence with His people in the Holy Sprit makes our worship a reality and not (as it would otherwise be) an empty form (Philippians 3:3).

— Ralph Martin, WORSHIP IN THE EARLY CHURCH, from chapter 1, “The Church—A Worshipping Community,” Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, second edition, 1974 (2000 printing), p. 16. ISBN 0-8028-1613-4. [If you are interested in reading about the nature and focus of worship in the early church, this book is a great place to start.]

Have a great week.

Chip Stam
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Louisville, Kentucky

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