What is “Gospel Convergence”?

converging arrows vimeoOur Theological Vision can be summarised in three complementary points:

  • Christ-Centred
  • Mission Orientated
  • Doxologically Driven

Christ-Centred

We believe that to be aligned with God in how he designed his universe to operate means being Christ-Centred, both in how we read and interpret the Scriptures and also in how we live our lives as individuals and within our various and varied communities.

This has profound implications for every area of our lives and we hope that we can help others, as well as ourselves, to see Christ clearer from the pages of Scripture to even the most mundane parts of our day and everything in-between.

We believe that being Christ-Centred has unambiguous Biblical warrant and tremendous practical application.

Biblical Warrant

From beginning to end the Bible is God’s story of his self-revelation in Jesus Christ. In Genesis 1 we have God creating the entire universe by the power of his word: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… And God said… and there was… And God saw that [it] was good” (vv. 1, 3, 4 ESV).

This ‘word’ is later revealed to be the Word:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…. For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (John 1:1-3, 14, 16-18 ESV)

Jesus is on the very first page of the Bible as God’s Agent of creation. We could systematically move through the narrative of Genesis and see Jesus on each and every page:

“Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God…”

(Tim Keller)

This is true not only of Genesis but the whole of the Old Testament, however, let’s move ahead into the New Testament and consider how Jesus himself interpreted the Bible.

In John 5 Jesus is speaking with some of the religious leaders of his day who interpreted the Bible as a rule book that if we obey it will earn us God’s love, acceptance and eternal life. Jesus responds to them quite emphatically, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (vv. 39-40 ESV).

Jesus points out the irony of the religious leaders hermeneutic. They spend all their time reading the Bible trying to find out how to earn eternal life and because they think it is something to be earned or achieved they miss out all together because they don’t (more accurately, they can’t) see that eternal life is a gift that is freely given in a Person, not one earned by assiduous rule keeping.

However, it wasn’t only the religious leaders who failed to grasp Jesus’ hermeneutic, his own disciples didn’t get it either until after Jesus resurrection when he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures:

“And [Jesus] said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself… Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”” (Luke 24:25-27, 44-49 ESV)

It is clear from these two passages that Jesus considered himself the central hermeneutical key to the whole Bible in terms of God’s plan of salvation which is the central theme of the Bible.

Practical Application

In considering the practical application of a Christ-Centred life we will turn to the Apostle Paul.

Two passages stand out as especially spectacular in addressing this: 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 and Colossians 1:24-2:5.

Paul writes to the church in Corinth,

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (15:1-4 ESV)

Paul feels it is necessary to “remind” the church in Corinth “of the gospel”. Obviously the Corinthians knew the gospel, they were Christians so they had to have heard it before, otherwise they would not be a church. They could not have been justified (counted righteous) by God without having heard and responded to the gospel that Christ died for their sins, was buried and then raised on the third day.

What Paul is saying here is much deeper and more profound. Look at what he says about the gospel and how he is talking about it, it is “the gospel… in which you stand, and by which you are being saved”. Notice Paul’s use of present tense adverbs. Paul is reminding the Corinthian church that there is more to the gospel than simply justification. The gospel goes much, much deeper than justification alone. Paul wants the church in Corinth to remember the gospel is meant to pervade and permeate their whole life, that it is the means of their sanctification as well as their justification.

The gospel is so much bigger than we believe and this gospel is for all of life. It is the very centre of the Christian faith and as such everything else we believe and do must be the result of, must flow out of, our understanding that the gospel is far deeper and much broader than we can fully comprehend. Yet we can understand it in part (1 Corinthians 13:12), more than we deserve and enough for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

This is a vital truth, this is oxygen. We can’t live without this truth being real, being present and active, in our hearts along with our minds.

The gospel, says Paul, results in both justification and sanctification when it is applied to our hearts. Justification happens once, sanctification, on the other hand, is an on-going process of messaging, sometimes forcefully, the truths of the gospel into our hearts by the Holy Spirit’s empowering grace. In 1 Corinthians Paul speaks of Christ-Centred sanctification more generally than he does in Colossians, which is more specific:

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of gloryHim we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.” (Colossians 1:24-2:5 ESV)

In 1 Corinthians Paul reminds the church of the vastness of the gospel, that it is gloriously big, however, in Colossians he reminds the church that the gospel is unsearchably deep.

Paul first reminds the Colossians of the immense truth that Christ is in them which means that they are “in Christ” (cf. John 17:20-26), one of Paul’s favourite ways of speaking of being a Christian because it so succinctly communicates how God now considers us according to Christ’s perfect obedience, wrath-bearing death and victorious resurrection and not our own sinfulness. And, secondly, that in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

We have a saying in Northern Ireland, “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing that a tomato doesn’t belong in a fruit salad.” Which is to say that there is a difference between intelligence and wisdom. Likewise, there is a difference between having an informational knowledge of Jesus and a transformational knowledge of him. Paul wants the church in Colossae to have a transformational knowledge of Jesus by virtue of his being in them and their being in him.

A transformational knowledge of Jesus is one that results in having our hearts, as well as our minds, changed by the gospel so that we know how to live with Jesus as the centre of our lives and desire to live a life with Jesus at the centre.

C.S. Lewis superbly and succinctly explains the difference between a life centred on Christ and one which is not:

“Look for yourself, and you will find loneliness and despair. But look for Christ and you will find Him and everything else.”

Lewis was clearly referencing the letter to the Hebrews:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:1-3 ESV)

The author of the letter to the Hebrews and C.S. Lewis are essentially saying the same thing, that in order to live a Christ-Centred life a person needs to take their focus off themselves and “look to/for Jesus” because only when we, by the grace of God, do this will our lives gradually become re-attuned to God’s cosmic symphony.

Looking to Jesus is trusting in who he has made us as a new creation in his image and consequently what God then says about who we are by merit of Christ’s finished work on our behalf. So when we read in Matthew,

“And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”” (3:16-17 ESV)

We can know, because we belong to Jesus and are “in Christ”, when God looks at us he says of us, “This is my beloved son/daughter, with whom I am well pleased.” We did nothing to deserve this gracious privilege, it is all because of Jesus and this should cause us to marvel and ask ourselves, “Who is this God who freely justifies undeserving sinners like us?”

To know God in this way, deeply and personally, is to be Christ-Centred.

The irony of this is that we will only find ourselves by looking outside of ourselves to Another, Jesus Christ.

To be Christ-Centred, then, is not to have all the answers but to have the one Answer who truly matters and really makes a difference (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:18-22).

Mission Orientated

We believe that to be aligned with God in being Christ-Centred necessarily results in being Mission Orientated. That is, we do not want our love for Jesus to terminate on itself but rather to overflow in service to him and others.

Mission begins and belongs to God; the mission is his, he started it and he has graciously invited us to join with him in it through faith in Jesus.

The God of Mission

The Scriptures tell us the story of Yahweh (the Lord) who out of the overflow of his love for himself and his own glory created this world and all that is within it and furthermore made himself personally known to those whom he created in his own image.

The Scriptures open with the words, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 ESV) but the story begins, as the Apostle Paul tells us, “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4 ESV). Prior to creation and time itself God existed eternally and enjoyed perfect community within himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit in all his Trinitarian glory without need or want, being eternally satisfied in his own sufficiency (Acts 17:24-25).

Creation exists to showcase the incomparableness of God, to make him known for who he is in all his goodness. This is why in Genesis 1 we hear God declaring his creation to be “good” six times (vv. 4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). The goodness we see in creation is but a shadow of which God is the substance. Creation does not exist for its own sake, nor even simply for ours, but ultimately for God’s that we might know him more deeply and enjoy him more fully.

After the creation of humanity God took a step back, so to speak, and he “saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 ESV). With humanity creation came just that little bit closer to its incomparable Creator. Humanity, because it has been created in God’s Image (Genesis 1:26-27), uniquely reflects God in a way the rest of creation does not. Thus with the Advent of Humanity creation became “very good”. As God’s Image bearers we have a special responsibility over and towards the rest of God’s creation. We are to have dominion over creation as God’s stewards, taking care of God’s creation by cultivating it and enjoying it (Genesis 1:28-30). This was God’s original intention for humanity in his creation: to fill the earth with worshippers of God who would fill the earth with worshippers of God and so on ad infinitum. God’s mission remains the same.

The Mission of God

In his exquisite creation God planted a garden for humanity to cultivate and enjoy. From there they were to spread over the whole earth and subdue it under their benevolent stewardship taking Eden with them (Genesis 1:28-31).

For a brief time Adam and Eve revelled in God’s blessing, savouring every benefit of Paradise afforded to them. However, Paradise was soon lost to them as they “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!” (Romans 1:25 ESV). They succumbed to Satan’s lies; rather than believing God’s truth they instead believed Satan’s falsehood. In doing so they forfeited, not only the abundant material blessings of creation but, the spiritual blessing of knowing God intimately as a child knows and trusts their parents. This relationship was irrevocably shattered, there was nothing they could do to repair the brokenness that now existed inside of themselves and in all creation. Naked and ashamed they tried to cover their disgrace with the very creation they had moments before corrupted because of their sin.

What a lamentable day!

Yet all was not lost,

“Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
 Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
 Brought death into the World, and all our woe,
 With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
 Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,”

John Milton, Paradise lost

The narrative continues:

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”” (Genesis 3:8-10 ESV)

What should have evoked awe and exultation, the presence of God, now elicits fear and shame. And in their fear and shame the man and his wife quickly turn upon one another searching for someone besides themselves to blame.

As a result of their gross sin all three were cursed.

Life would never be the same again. The man and his wife were exiled from their garden home, together yet alone – their marriage, the love and trust they shared, a memory, a husk of its former glory – simultaneously lovers and enemies.

Nevertheless, in the curse pronounced against Satan, God interjected hope into a world that now knew despair:

“The Lord God said to the serpent,

 “Because you have done this,
  cursed are you above all livestock
  and above all beasts of the field;
  on your belly you shall go,
  and dust you shall eat
  all the days of your life.
  I will put enmity between you and the woman,
  and between your offspring and her offspring;
  he shall bruise your head,
  and you shall bruise his heel.”” (Genesis 3:14-15 ESV)

God promised humanity deliverance from the tyrannical god they had chosen to serve. He would send a man to defeat the ancient serpent and free his enslaved people. And so the man and his wife left the garden paradise despondent yet hopeful because even though they had been ejected from God’s presence they had faith that someone was coming who would restore them to that relationship they once enjoyed.

As the story continues from Genesis to Malachi God’s people waited with eager anticipation for their coming Deliverer. Throughout this time God revealed to them more of who this coming Rescuer would be and what he would do.

To Adam and Eve in the garden he was revealed as the one who would bruise the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15; cf. Romans 16:20, Hebrews 2:14, Revelation 20:1-3, 10).

To Abraham he was revealed as the promised offspring through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3, 22:18; cf. Galatians 3:7-9).

To Moses he was revealed as the Prophet who would come after him yet who would be greater than him (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; cf. Hebrews 3:1-6).

To David he was revealed as one of his descendents who would sit on his throne forever as Lord and defeat the enemies of God’s people once for all (2 Samuel 7:1-17; Psalm 110:1; cf. Matthew 22:41-46).

To Isaiah he was revealed as the suffering servant who would die for the sins of his people and yet live forevermore (Isaiah 52:13-53:12; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

The Messiah and His Mission

And then, as expectation of his Advent intensified, he came. Not with the pomp and splendour that people envisioned, for,

“he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:2b-3 ESV)

Jesus the Messiah inverted his people’s presumptions.

He was not the Messiah his people expected but he was, nevertheless, the Messiah who fulfilled his people’s prophecies.

The Israelites, like their ancestors in the days of Samuel the prophet, wanted “a king to judge [them] like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5). They were looking for a king, one like Caesar, to rule over them and crush their enemies under his feet. To establish Israel as the deciding world power.

The King they received, however, was born in a stable because there was no place for him in the inn, much less a palace (Luke 2:7). He was hunted by a usurper and forced to flee to a foreign country for asylum (Matthew 2:13-18). He was misunderstood and rejected by his own family and later abandoned and denied by his closest friends (Matthew 13:57; Mark 3:21; John 7:5; Mark 14:43-50; Luke 22:54-62). He himself was homeless and poor (Matthew 8:20; 2 Corinthians 8:9). He “came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28) and “to proclaim good news to the poor… liberty to the captives and… to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18). In place of his rightful royal diadem he was crowned with thorns (John 19:2). Finally, in collaboration with the Roman government, he was brutally murdered by the very religious leaders who should have welcomed him with open arms (Matthew 27:15-56; Mark 15:6-41; Luke 23:13-49; John 18:39-19:37).

Jesus was the King God sent them. Jesus was the King they needed and Jesus is the King we continue to need.

Jesus mission was to herald the coming of the new age and to inaugurate it. From the very beginning of his ministry Jesus was sent to proclaim the gospel of God, ““The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”” (Mark 1:14-15)

Forty times in the John’s gospel narrative Jesus refers to himself as being sent by God. Jesus was sent to do the will of God and accomplish his work (4:34), to do the works of his Father (5:36), to draw the elect to himself (6:44), to teach (7:16), to bring his Father’s judgement (8:16), to make the Father known (12:45), to proclaim God’s word (14:24), to give eternal life to those who believe in him (17:3), to bring unity to his followers, (17:21) and to show the world that the Father loves his adopted children with the same love he has for his Son (17:23).

Concurrently, in Jesus’ Incarnation we glimpse what life will be like when he comes again to make all things finally and fully new. In his miracles we see a restoration of the created order: sickness, oppression, hunger non-extant. Creation released from its groaning and turmoil, once again at peace (Romans 8:19-22). Jesus’ life and teaching speak of a better age, the new age, when he will reign bodily upon the new heaven and new earth, and every knee will bow before him in submission and every tongue confess that he is Lord to the glory of God the Father. His resurrection flaunts his powerful victory over Satan, sin and death, who are not long for this world, as a foretaste of what awaits all who trust in him (Revelation 20-22; Philippians 2:9-11).

In his life, death and resurrection Jesus was bringing an end to the old age and instigating the new age in which Satan, sin and death will become undone.

The Church Exists for Mission

In the interim, we live in the overlapping of the ages: the old is passing away and the new is coming but has yet to fully arrive. In his life, death and resurrection Jesus inaugurated the new age. When he returns he will usher in the new age bringing the new heaven and new earth with him in all their fullness.

Presently, the world we live in is still fallen and remains in “bondage to corruption” (Romans 8:21), nevertheless,

if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20 ESV)

As partakers of this new creation, members of Christ’s body: the Church, we share in Jesus’ mission as he makes all things new.

“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21 ESV)

Like Jesus our mission as the church is to herald the coming of the new age in which Christ reigns bodily and triumphantly over all of his renewed creation. This means we tell the gospel story in all its breadth and depth. The gospel is deeply personal in its application and vastly cosmic in its scope. Accordingly, the gospel impacts how we live as members of both Jesus’ Kingdom and our respective cultures and societies because it gives us direction for seeking the greatest good for ourselves, our neighbours, our towns and cities. It is our desire to bring the gospel to bear in word and action where we live in contextually appropriate ways for the glory of God and the joy of all people.

We do this in the power of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus has sent to indwell and empower us to carry out his mission on the earth.

We want to learn how to engage with our various cultures so we can communicate the gospel well and by God’s grace see people reconciled to God and communities transformed by the power of the gospel.

We want to learn what it means to be all things to all people that we might save some (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).

And we want to see the gospel take deep root in our own lives and the lives of the people in our churches.

Mission Accomplished

This is a daunting task, one which we are powerless to accomplish in our own strength. We freely confess that it is a mission beyond us but it is not beyond God who “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3).

“And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

It is God alone who saves. God alone who raises the dead and transforms hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. He is our confidence, our refuge and our strength. God in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit will accomplish his mission through his church for his own glory and our joy in him. Then Christ shall come, with the new heaven and the new earth in tow, and as it once was so it will be again, ““It is finished,”” (John 19:30).

Doxologically Driven

We believe the driving force behind our Christ-Centeredness and Missional Orientation has to be Doxology.

What is Doxology?

The word doxology comes from two Greek word: doxa and logos.

The Greek word doxa (δόξα) means glory. When Hebrew scholars began translating the Old Testament Scriptures into Greek (giving us what is now known as the Septuagint or LXX) they had to choose a word that could convey the same meaning as the Hebrew word kavod which conveyed heaviness or weightiness. Originally, the word doxa described a person’s opinion and in the Hebrew scholar’s translation process it adopted the decidedly positive nuance of a good opinion or reputation. To speak of the kavod or doxa of God then came to refer to God’s greatness or glory which was always spoken of as praiseworthy while still maintaining its sense of weightiness because to the Hebrew scholar who is great except God? The English word glory captures the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words well, emphasising the praiseworthiness and weightiness of God. It is, therefore, not unusual that we have come to link doxology with praise.

The Greek word logos (λόγος) means word.

From these two Greek words we get the Latin word doxologia which means “words of praise (to God)”. It is from the Latin we have received our English word doxology which refers to a song or hymn in praise of God.

When we hear the word doxology our minds are often drawn to the idea of worship in songs and hymns, perhaps most notably the Doxology:

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Thomas Ken, “Awake, my Soul, and with the Sun”

Songs and hymns of praise to God are a crucial part of worship, however, worship is more than songs and hymns alone.

Worship Beyond Words

Worship is never less than words, it is always much more.

Worship is about a transformed heart.

Prophesying to the people of Israel, at some time between 740 BC and 680 BC, Yahweh said through Isaiah the prophet, “this people draw near with their mouth and honour me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,” (Isaiah 29:13 ESV).

This same refrain is later picked up by Jesus in one of his many heated conversations with the religious leaders of his day,

“And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Mark 7:6-7 ESV)

To the religious leaders in Jesus’ day, the Pharisees, worship was little more than giving lip service to God. They believed with all their hearts that by living publically moral lives before their fellow Israelites, saying the right things and being descended from Abraham would be enough to earn them God’s favour. Their passion for God’s law, and more importantly their additional rules, was sadly misplaced.

The Pharisees had set their hearts on the wrong thing. They had placed their hope in their own ability to obey God’s law instead of in the God who wrote the law and in the Person of Jesus Christ who perfectly obeyed that law for us.

Worship is not principally external.

When God created humanity he designed us to worship him. There was no other option. Sin changed that. We now have countless options, though in actual fact we have only two: we either worship God or we worship an idol. John Calvin has famously said, “man’s nature [his heart], so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols” (Institutes 1.11.8). The root of our worship problem is not in our behaviour. The root of our worship problem goes much deeper, right down into our hearts. Idolatry is an insidious evil because it takes something which is good and elevates it in our affections, our heart, to the status of deity.

The Pharisees, for example, had done this with the law. They had taken something good that God had given to them and they elevated it far beyond what it was ever meant to do. The Apostle Paul, a former Pharisee himself, comments on this in his first letter to Timothy, “Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully” (1:8 ESV). The Pharisees believed that through the law they could earn God’s favour and eternal life, however, that was not why God had given the law in the first place. It was never meant to be a means of salvation (John 5:39-40).

There is, at this moment, a worship war taking place in each of our hearts because our hearts are intrinsically wired to worship. The war is over who or what we will worship. Our heart is the battlefield on which that war is won or lost. The outcome of the many battles that rage in our heart will determine how we live, they will shape our behaviour and they will determine whether or not our actions are pleasing to God.

Our worship goes far beyond our words, the doctrines we profess and the songs we sing, to the very lives we lead.

More Than Songs

Our whole life is to function as unceasing worship to God for all he has done for us in Christ. Paul writes to the church in Rome, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1 ESV). Our life is to be one of worship through sacrifice. As Christians we should be known for our sacrificial giving because our God is a sacrificial giver. The life of a Christian, then, is characterised by giving whether in the form of time, money, energy, forgiveness or love. This is how we ought to be known. We have been blessed by God so we can in turn be a blessing to others:

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:7-11 ESV)

This kind of sacrificial living is only possible because of the gospel:

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.” (Romans 16:25-27 ESV)

The Chief End of Man…

The ultimate end for which we praise and worship, sacrifice and serve, live and love is so we can bring glory (doxa/kavod) to God:

“whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV)

All we do should be carried out by faith in the Son of God who loves us and gave himself for us (Galatians 2:20). As we work and rest, cook and clean, read and play we do it all while trusting in the finished work of Christ on our behalf.

In Christ we are fully loved, accepted, forgiven and cleansed. As we continually rest in who God has made us in Christ all that we do will bring glory to God.

When we forget who we are in Christ and sin we repent because we know God loves, accepts, forgives and cleanses us from our sin completely and exclusively because of Jesus.

Benediction and Doxology

The words of C.S. Lewis in the introduction to his Reflections on the Psalms are a fitting conclusion and summation of what we aim to achieve:

“This is not a work of scholarship… [We] write for the unlearned about things in which [we are] unlearned [ourselves]. If an excuse is needed (and perhaps it is) for writing such a [blog], [our] excuse would be something like this. It often happens that two schoolboys can solve difficulties in their work for one another better than the master can. When you took the problem to a master, as we all remember, he was very likely to explain what you understood already, to add a great deal of information which you didn’t want, and say nothing at all about the thing that was puzzling you… The fellow-pupil can help more than the master because he knows less. The difficulty we want him to explain is one he has recently met. The expert met it so long ago that he has forgotten. He sees the whole subject, by now, in such a different light that he cannot conceive what is really troubling the pupil; he sees a dozen other difficulties which ought to be troubling him but aren’t.

In this [blog], then, [we] write as one amateur to another, talking about difficulties [we] have met, or lights [we] have gained… with the hope that this might at any rate interest, and sometimes even help, other inexpert readers. [We are] “comparing notes,”… The thoughts [contained] are those to which [we have] found [ourselves] driven in reading the [Scriptures, doing ministry and living life]; sometimes by [our] enjoyment of them, sometimes by meeting with what at first [we] could not enjoy.”

We hope you’ll join with us as we seek to unearth the treasures of the gospel for the joy of the church and the glory of God.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

The Gospel Convergence Team

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