Dluxe's World

Thursday, February 9

Thoughts on "Give Praise to God" - Part 4 of 3278

I could quickly sum up my feelings about the chapter 7 (a "call to the reclamation of the public reading and praying of Scripture in the corporate worship of God") of "Give Praise to God" in one word. That word - Amen!

In college, I had the cool privilege of taking a couple vocal lessons from a woman who was a fairly well-known opera singer. If I was staging an opera, it'd be pure silliness to put ask her to come sing in the chorus. "I know you're the best, but could you just go over there and sing some 'oooo's behind this pathetic soloist I've picked? Thanks!"

In case your curious, her advice relative to my singing was: "I love the saxophone... Why don't you play for me instead?" But, I digress.

My point simply is that The, Singular, Holy, Awesome God of all space and time has given us His words in the Bible. How cool is that?! To give the reading and exposition of the Bible anything but the preeminent role in our worship is just whack, to borrow from the vernacular. Duncan and Johnson are, not surprisingly, more eloquent:
In the reading of God's word, God speaks most directly to his people. And so, this act of worship, in which the verbal self-revelation of God is addressed unedited to the hearts of his gathered people, ought not to be ignored, skipped, or squeezed out... It ought to be arresting to the congregation. It ought to grab their attention. It ought sometimes to make them tremble and other times rejoice. (p.142)

As I've noted before, it's nice when you find smart people who think like you do. I'm used to finding no one who thinks like I do, making the occasional affirmation is a welcome thing. The authors go on to address two of my passions...

First, the reading should be done well. The message of Scripture accomplishes what God intends (thus saith the Lord in Isaiah 55). Still, it can seem like that effect takes longer when the verses are read... by some.. one who... caden... er, ca-den-ces their speech poorly and emphasizes strange WORDs in the text ... when they READ them. In addition, a some well-thought out exposition or context-setting prior to reading is a great thing.

One little area of potential difference: The authors assert that the reading of the Scripture within corporate worship should be solely the office of the Pastors or Elders. To quote:
It is all about the coordination of the read and proclaimed word. The read word is not on some lower order of significance than the proclaimed word, but that is the inevitable message sent if preaching in the church is restricted to ministers and elders and the the reading of the word is not. (p.144)

Point taken. But, I recall something different from my own experience. When I was growing up, it was a huge excitement and motivator for my own study when an 'average Joe', like me, could get up and read God's word with clarity and command. This helped confirm to me that the Bible was not strictly the property of academics/elites.

Again, it must be read well. No exceptions on quality! But the 'who', I believe, should not be so narrowly set.

The other point I loved was that the authors strongly advocate for the reading of large passages of Scripture. Some people in our ABF probably think that several passages in the Bible start with the words, "I'm going to jump back a couple of verses, if you don't mind." I'm deserving of the blame, I suppose.

The issue is really one of context and depth to me. For example, I alluded to Isaiah 55 earlier in this post... I could've just cited part of verse 11 to make my point:
[S]o shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose...

While that 'says' it, look how much richer the context is by simply adding verse 10 and then continuing through all of verse 11:
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Do you see a difference? With both verses, not only is God's word effective in accomplishing God's purpose but there's an added sense of the Scripture as a tender, Sovereign provision for the hearer. Now, just for more kicks, click here to read the full chapter of Isaiah 55. To me, it's like a flower blooming - pretty from the outset, but blossoming into something richer with every moment.

It takes just a few more seconds to read the extra verses... I'm convinced giving God those few extra seconds to speak to us directly is the most important thing we can do.



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