Posts Tagged With: worship

Calvin on the Adoration of the Elements of Holy Communion

pope-francis-kneeling-at-st-mary-majorWho therefore can deny that it is a wicked superstition that men kneel down before bread, to adore Jesus Christ in it?  There is no doubt that the Council of Nicaea wanted to prevent such an detriment, having prohibited Christians from stopping to fix their thoughts humbly toward visible signs.  There would not have been any other reason why it was instituted in the ancient Church that the deacon would cry out to the people in a loud and clear voice before the consecration [of the elements], that everyone should have his heart up above.  And in the same way the Scripture, other than explaining to us distinctly the ascension of our Lord, when it mentions Him, exhorts us to raise our hearts up above (Col. 3:1) to remove from us from any carnal thought.  Therefore, following this rule, it is necessary for us to adore Him spiritually in the glory of heaven, rather than to invent such a dangerous form of adoration, which proceeds from a deep dream and worse than carnal, that we conceive as being from God and from Jesus Christ.

That is why those who invented the adoration of the sacrament, did not only think it up by themselves without Scripture, in which not a single word is found of it, that which would not have been forgotten, if it had been approved by God, but they also forge a new god plainly contrary to the Scriptures, according to their own will, and forsake the living God.  For what idolatry is there in the world, if that is not one, to adore the gifts instead of the Giver?  In this they have doubly erred: for the honor was taken from God, to transfer it to the creature.  And God was also dishonored, in that the gift of His goodness was soiled and profaned, when an execrable idol was made of His holy sacrament.

We, however, in order that we do not fall into the same ditch, let us fix our ears, our eyes, our hearts, our thoughts, and our tongues, entirely in the very holy teaching of God.  For it is in the school of the Holy Spirit, a very good Teacher, in which there is excellent benefit, to which there is no need to add anything else, and it is to voluntarily ignore everything that is not taught in it.

Jean Calvin, Institution Chrétienne, IV.XVII.36

Categories: Doctrine | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

John Owen on Images Depicting Christ

The great Congregational theologian John Owen (1616-1683), one of the greatest Christian minds in history, writes on the topic of images depicting Christ in his work, The Glory of Christ:

“In this way Roman Catholics are deceived. They delight outwardly in images of Christ depicting his sufferings, resurrection and glory. By these images they think their love for him grows more and more strong. But no man-made image can truly represent the person of Christ and his glory. Only the gospel can do that.

John writes not only of himself but of his fellow apostles also, ‘We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14). Now what was his glory of Christ which they saw, and how did they see it?

It was not the glory of Christ’s outward condition for he had no earthly glory or grandeur. He kept no court, nor did he entertain people to parties in a great house. He had nowhere to lay his head, even though he created all things. There was nothing about his outward appearance that would attract the eyes of the world (Isa. 53:14; 53:2-3). He appeared to others as a ‘man of sorrows’.

Neither was it the eternal essential glory of his divine nature that is meant, for this no man can see while in this world. What we shall see in heaven we cannot conceive.

What the apostles witnessed was the glory of ‘grace and truth’. They saw the glory of Christ’s person and office in the administration of grace and truth. And how did they see this glory? It was by faith and in no other way, for this privilege was given only to those who ‘received him’ and believe on his name (John 1:12). This was the glory which the Baptist saw when he pointed to Christ and said, ‘Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29).

So, let no one decieve himself. He that has no sight of Christ’s glory here shall never see it hereafter. The beholding of Christ’s glory is too high, glorious and marvellous for us in our present condition. The splendour of Christ’s glory is too much for our physical eyes just as is the sun shining in all its strength. So while we are here on earth we can behold his glory only by faith.”

Categories: The Church | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

When Things Fit Together In Unplanned Ways

I am often struck with the extent to which everything in a public worship service “fits” together, and supports the theme of the sermon.  I mean, when there are things that fit together in ways that, for my part, as the pastor who plans and leads worship, were completely unplanned.

For instance, this morning I preached on Mark 14:32-42, about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, pouring out His heart to the Father in prayer, under tremendous temptation, yet submitted to His will, as He prepares to drink the cup of God’s wrath against sinners.  I selected as first hymn for the service, “Sweetly the Holy Hymn”, a Hymn written by Rev. C. H. Spurgeon.  I selected it because it is generally an excellent hymn for starting a worship service, without rereading it in its entirety.  The fifth stanza reads, “On the lone mountain side, Before the morning’s light, The Man of sorrows wept and cried, And rose refreshed with might.”  This is a description of the same Gethsemane, the theme of the sermon for this morning!  I had not remembered this portion of the hymn at all when I selected it for this morning.  God in His providence had me select a hymn that would get the congregation meditating on Jesus’ prayer in the garden, in preparation to hear Him speak on the subject.

This seems to happen a lot.  That is, I’ve observed how God frequently overrules and overrides details and elements to make it all fit and hang together.  I make two observations:  First of all, that the worship service is so important to God, and for His people, that He uses the little details of things to draw them into His presence to bless them.  Secondly, God is in control of all these little details and He works them together in ways that we never planned for His glory.  Glory be to God!

The full text of the aforementioned hymn is presented below:


Sweetly the holy hymn
Breaks on the morning air;
Before the world with smoke is dim
We meet to offer prayer.

While flowers are wet with dews,
Dew of our souls, descend:
Ere yet the sun the day renews,
O Lord, Thy Spirit send.

Upon the battlefield,
Before the fight begins,
We seek, O Lord, Thy sheltering shield,
To guard us from our sins.

Ere yet our vessel sails
Upon the stream of day
We plead, O Lord, for heavenly gales
To speed us on our way!

On the lone mountain side,
Before the morning’s light,
The Man of sorrows wept and cried,
And rose refreshed with might.

Oh, hear us then, for we
Are very weak and frail,
We make the Savior’s Name our plea,
And surely must prevail.

Categories: The Church | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The Problem with Praise Teams

The Problem with Praise Teams, by Dr. T. David Gordon, from the Aquila Report.


Categories: Current Events, The Church | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Word is Central

If you ask church leaders today what is the central act of worship, most would say praise music; a few would say, Holy Communion. But in heaven it is not the praises of God’s people, or of the angels which are central, not the saints’ communion with Him or with one another, but it is the Word who is the center of all.

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones preaching at Westminster Chapel, London, England.

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones preaching at Westminster Chapel, London, England.

Revelation 21:22-23 (KJV)

22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

Categories: The Church, The Ministry | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at