Praise and Proclamation
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How is faithful Christian worship related to evangelism? Does our adoration of God lead naturally to an invitation for sinners to come to faith in Christ? Today's WORSHIP QUOTE is taken from a brand new book on prayer by J. I. Packer. Here, he discusses the way that praise of God functions as outreach to the lost.
PRAISE AND PROCLAMATION
When praise prayer becomes corporate, God invites the world to the party, and each group of those who are already at the party should be as compelling an advertisement for what goes on there as possible . . .
Psalm 66 is a recounting of God's "awesome deeds" which also includes an invitation:
Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
Say to God, "How awesome are your deeds! . . .
All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name."
Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man . . ..
Bless our God, O peoples,
Let the sound of his praise be heard . . ..
Come and hear all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul (Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 8, 16).
Praise and proclamation join hands in this psalm. In our own church worship services, at their best, the same will happen.
The New Testament speaks with similar clarity about Christian identity and Christian vocation and makes the same connection between corporate praise and evangelism.
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [God's]
own possession, THAT YOU MAY PROCLAIM the excellencies of him who
called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a
people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but
now you have received mercy (1 Pet 2:9-10, emphasis added).
The people who have received God's mercy must remember that they themselves needed that mercy and so be willing to "proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." Is the proclamation that Peter had in mind Godward in praise or manward in witness? Commentaries divide, so the only safe (and probably correct) thing is to say that it is both, though most certainly the second. Praise and proclamation once again join, therefore, this time so that others may be drawn to become "God's people," along with those who are such already.
— J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom, PRAYING: FINDING OUR WAY THROUGH DUTY TO DELIGHT (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), pp. 114-15. ISBN-10: 0-8308-3345-5
Have a great week.
Director, Institute for Christian Worship
School of Church Music and Worship
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
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