The Worship Quote of the Week for (09/16/2008):

Worship: The Praise of God's Glory
Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE comes from a classic textbook on worship, expanded and revised in 2002. Author Hughes Oliphant Old presents an historical study of the worship of Israel and the early church and traces the development of worship through the period of the Reformation and beyond. These paragraphs are from the opening chapter.

We worship God because God created us to worship him. Worship is at the center of our existence, at the heart of our reason for being. God created us to be his image—an image that would reflect his glory. In fact, the whole creation was brought into existence to reflect the divine glory. The psalmist tells us that “the heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). The apostle Paul in the prayer with which he begins the epistle to the Ephesians makes it clear that God created us to praise him.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing
in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before
the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and
blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his
sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his
will, to the praise of his glorious grace . . . (Eph. 1:3-6)

This prayer says much about the worship of the earliest Christians. It shows the consciousness that the first Christians had of the ultimate significance of their worship. They understood themselves to have bee destined and appointed to live to the praise of God’s glory (Eph. 1:12).

When the Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches us, "Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever," it gives witness to this same basic principle; God created us to worship him. . . . Worship must above all serve the glory of God.

Some people today justify worship for any number of other reasons. We are told that we should worship because it brings us happiness. Sometimes worship does make us happy, but not always. We are told that we should worship because it will give us a sense of self-fulfillment. Surely worship does fulfill the purpose of our existence, but we do not worship BECAUSE it brings us self-fulfillment. We are often told that we should worship in order to build family solidarity: "The family that prays together stays together." The priests of the Canaanite fertility religions said much the same thing. All kinds of politicians have insisted on participation in various religious rites in order to develop national unity or ethnic identity. Queen Elizabeth I was not the first or the last who tried to consolidate her realm by insisting that the worship be in some way English. One can always find medicine men and gurus who advocate religious rites for the sake of good health, financial success, or peace of mind. True worship, however, is distinguished from all of these in that it serves, above all, the praise of God's glory.

— Hughes Oliphant Old, WORSHIP: REFORMED ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE, Revised and Expanded Edition, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002, pp. 1-2. ISBN 0-664-22579-9.

[Hughes Oliphant Old will deliver the 2009 Mullins Lectures on Preaching at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on March 3-5, 2009. He is the author of the mammoth multivolume study THE READING AND PREACHING OF THE SCRIPTURES IN THE WORSHIP OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH (Eerdmans).]

Have a great week,

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

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