Each year at the annual Southern Baptist Convention, 9Marks Ministries sponsors a couple of gatherings held at 9pm each evening following the full day of events.  Those meetings are typically organized around a questions and answers session among leaders within the SBC.  This session was held at the 2015 annual SBC, and you will find the conversations helpful.

God Is Still Sovereign, Even When the Diagnosis Is a Birth Defect – Randy Alcorn points to the source of peace in the midst of dark times.

Hillsong Postscript – Answering questions regarding the recent series on Hillsong.

$5 Friday: Jesus, Scripture, & God’s Love – As always, Ligonier has something worth far more than $5 on their list for deals on Friday.

Can We Do Whatever We Want in Heaven? – John Piper answers an important question about eternal life.

Andy Stanley Separates Incarnation and Redemption; Paul Falsely Accused; Tim Staples Reviewed – James White deals with the recent comments by Andy Stanley regarding the birth of Christ.

LifeWay Introduces New Line Of Short-Term Missionary Selfie Sticks – Laugh, think, and then examine what often happens on mission trips.

#042: Tips For Preaching In The New Year [PODCAST] – H.B. Charles Jr. provides some tips for preachers worthy of your time and consideration.

God in the Manger – John MacArthur looks at the real meaning of Christmas.

Theology Word of the Week:  Worship

Worship. Man’s sense of awe in the presence of the magnificent, the frightening or the miraculous illustrates something of what is meant by ‘worship’. His response may be one of speechlessness, paralysis, emulation or dedication.

Revelation and response

At the heart of Christian worship is God himself. In order truly to worship two fundamental elements are needed: revelation, through which God shows himself to man, and response, through which awe-stricken man responds to God. Martin Luther claimed that ‘to know God is to worship him’. In so saying, he succinctly embraced both aspects of worship. He also insisted that worship is not an optional extra for the godly person, but an essential symptom or expression of that knowledge.

God makes himself known in a number of ways: through his works in creation (Ps. 19:1); through his written word (Ps. 19:7); supremely, through Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:18); and through the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:13).

Christian worship will depend on that revelation. It is therefore founded on theology—the knowledge of God. The shortest route to deeper and richer worship is a clearer theology. This will enable the worshipper to know who, and how great, God is. Further, it will inform the worshipper how God wants worship to be expressed.

Service

The biblical words used for worship convey significant insights into its nature. One of the most common Heb. words comes from the root ’eḇeḏ, meaning ‘servant’. This contains the idea of service of every kind, acts of adoration as well as doing the chores (e.g. Ex. 3:12; 20:5; Dt. 6:13; 10:12; Jos. 24:15; Ps. 2:11). The occasional use of hištaḥa (prostrate, religiously or in the course of duty), refers exclusively in OT to ritual acts (Gn. 27:29; 49:23). The Gk. equivalent, proskyneō, is used more extensively in the lxx and in the NT (e.g. Mt. 4:9–10; 14:33; Mk. 15:19; Acts 10:25).

The two most important words for worship in the NT are: 1. latreia, meaning ‘service’ or ‘worship’. Its exact translation depends on the context (see particularly Rom. 12:1 and commentary discussion; also Mt. 4:10; Lk. 2:37; Acts 26:7; Heb. 8:5; 9:9). 2. leitourgia, a word taken from secular life, means service to the community or state, frequently without charge or wage (Lk. 1:23; 2 Cor. 9:12; Phil. 2:30; Heb. 9:21; 10:11). The implication is that Christian worship and service are essentially one.

According to the Bible, God alone is to be worshipped or served (Ex. 20:1–3). He is to be served with man’s whole being (Dt. 6:5; Lk. 10:27). Mind as well as emotions, physique as well as feelings are to combine in God’s praise. The very nature of God, overwhelming in his attributes, demands everything of man. Personal, individual worship is practised (e.g. Psalms) and corporate acts are described (e.g. 2 Ch. 7). Wesley’s ‘O for a thousand tongues to sing/My great Redeemer’s praise’ reflects this fact: that God is so great that no one person can adequately worship him.

God, transcendent and immanent

The tension between God’s transcendence (his wholly otherness) and immanence (being at hand) has frequently brought dissension. In both testaments these attributes are explicit (Ex. 19:10; Jb. 38–41; Ps. 8; Is. 40:12ff.; Jn. 1:1–14; Heb. 1–2; and Gn. 3:8; Dt. 7:21–22; Ps. 23; Is. 43:1–2; Mt. 1:23; 28:20; Phil. 4:19). From the OT it is clear that sin cuts people off from God, but through sacrifice he brings about a new oneness (Gn. 3; Lv. 16; cf. Redemption). With the ultimate atonement made by Jesus’ own sacrifice, the rituals of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are no longer relevant; but their careful exposition is still important since they reveal abiding principles of worship. For example, sincerity, purity and holiness are constant requirements, as is the offering of what is best to God (e.g. Ex. 24–40; Lv. 1–10; 16; 21–27; Nu. 7; 15; 28; 2 Ch. 3–4).

In the NT the commands of Jesus embrace a comprehensive understanding of worship and service (e.g. fellowship, Jn. 13:34; ordinances, Mt. 28:19–20; 1 Cor. 11:23–24 and evangelism, Mt. 28:19–20). The fulfilment of these commands is worship—‘in the beauty of a holy life’ (Ps. 96:9, rsv).

With the giving of God’s Spirit in fulfilment of prophecy (Joel 2:28–32; Jn. 14:26; 16:7) at Pentecost upon all who believe in Christ (Acts 2), the church was empowered as a ‘kingdom and priests to serve … God’ (Rev. 1:6; Ex. 19:6). From time to time in its history, the church has been engaged in divisive controversies about the nature of the gifts of the Spirit, but without exception Christians agree that the Spirit’s enabling is vital to worship-service.

Worship in history

From the outset the Christian church recognized herself as a people who worship and not so much a place of worship. In the early church Christians normally worshipped in homes (Acts 2:46; 11; 12:12), public halls (Acts 19:9), synagogues (Acts 13:14ff.; 14:1; 17:1–2) and at the Temple (Acts 2:46; 3). Evangelism was conducted in those places and in the open (Acts 16:13–14; 17:22–23). The conversion of emperor Constantine (ad 312) brought greater freedom to build basilicas for corporate worship.

Music and singing were an important part of the worship of biblical Judaism (e.g. Pss; 1 Ch. 16:7ff.; 25). Together with the reading and explaining of the Scriptures and prayer, this constituted the heart of synagogue worship and stood alongside the sacrificial aspects of Temple worship (1 Ch. 22:17–19; 2 Ch. 6:12ff.; Ne. 8:1–8). The early Christians included music and singing in their corporate gatherings (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19) as well as in personal devotion (Acts 16:25), though history shows considerable differences of opinion about the place of music and other creative arts in worship.

The division between the Church of the East and that of the West in the 11th century reflected tensions in approaches to worship, to which the stronger mystical element of the East and the rational element of the West contributed.

With the Reformation in the West, religious practice was largely released from superstition, and from what had become merely ceremonial or ritual. The Reformation’s emphasis on the word as central to worship led to the Protestant emphasis on preaching as the royal sacramant and as the highest raison d’être of corporate worship. In the context of mind-stretching, relevant and passionate exposition of Scripture, the liturgy of music and prayer become simpler and less ritualistic. Together with an emphasis on the need for the Holy Spirit to enliven preacher and congregation, this emphasis has undergirded evangelical worship until today. Tensions continue between those who look for a common liturgy, uniting churches wherever they meet, and those who depend on the spontaneous expression of faith. Many have found the need to be free to use both forms. What is central to Christian worship is not ‘forms’ but the presence of the triune God, who through his word, the Bible, and by his Holy Spirit, enlivens, enlightens and enables all who believe in order that they may worship-serve him in spirit and in truth. [1]


  1. Sinclair B. Ferguson and J.I. Packer, New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 730–732.