The Downs and Ups of Worship

Biblical worship is not speculative.

It reflects a specific message that is historical and knowable,

and which invites our consideration and response.

Holy Scripture offers us glimpses of God’s person, character, and work.

These glimpses in worship move us to bow before the Lord,

even as God bends to us in mercy and grace.

The reverberating word of God moves by the power of God’s Spirit from

inspired text, to illumined text, to transforming text, to commissioning text

in our worship and every facet of Christian living.

A transforming vision of God is what worship seeks.

We begin with the Bible’s own categories,

neither less nor more than what it says, in touch with its own concerns.

If worship is to convey the message of the biblical text,

it is Scripture that calls and captivates us.

we must first learn what it says and means.

Through preaching that stays in Scripture’s story,

and worship that tells the same story,

God’s provision and purpose for us become all the more clear.

The impact of all biblical worship follows solely

the Holy Spirit’s power to mediate, illuminate, and inculcate in us

the life of God’s Son through the message of God’s written word.

Beloved preacher Earl F. Palmer says that “worship always has two aspects: a downward, revelatory one, and an upward, experiential, and responsive one. Revelation always informs experience, and not the other way around. We must trust the Bible’s power to validate itself. We don’t have to do that for it. Over time, the text will do that for itself, as will the Lord of the text, God’s living word. We don’t need to tamper with the freedom of the listener. We need to offer the Scriptures a chance to make their mark.”

Michael Denham

from Reverberating Word: Powerful Worship (Wipf & Stock, 2018)

Author: expositionalvision

Michael Denham has served many years as Director of Music Ministries at The National Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC.

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