Another sermon preached, another Sunday in 2018’s history, and another recap on the website! Let’s go:
Class: John 1: 19-51
Sermon: Adoring the Hallowed – Worship 2
Quick (ish) Thoughts
- Much more I’d have liked to say about the second half of John 1, but I’ll make two notes here. First, notice that in the last verse of John 1, Jesus references ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ (it wasn’t a ladder but I digress…). If you’ll remember back to the “God of Heaven” sermon mid-November I talked of thin places between God’s space and human space. Jesus is saying that place where Jacob realized God was and therefore acted accordingly, now you’ll see that on Him, Jesus, i.e. where Jesus is God is, which then adds to John’s teaching on the logos.
- Secondly, I rushed at the end of the chapter when it came to Jesus’ seeing of Nathanael. Jesus not only saw Nathanael under the fig tree but saw his heart, his honest pursuit and conviction of Messiah. Based on verse 47, this I believe is what Jesus is saying that He saw in Nathanael, which is why Nathanael so quickly and adamantly confesses faith and discipleship. Hence, do we let God see our heart, and if we did, what would He see?
- Some noticed I didn’t reference the Greek and focused on the oldness of the word ‘hallowed.’ Fair point – the word for hallowed is hagiazó which is a verb cognate of hagios, which is the word for holy, sanctified. Thus, what you hagiazó is what in your mind is holy, set apart, and most valuable. The key is, unlike the noun, that which is holy or set apart, the verb (translated hallow) is what you make or believe as holy. See how that works in with our working definition of worship the last few weeks?
In class, we covered John 1:19-51 with a few last thoughts on logos from verses 1-18. There’s admittedly not too much I’d like to add. While covering only around 35 verses (hopefully) a study is better than other paces, it still limits how in-depth we can go, and there’s always deeper to go. We could talk more about John the Baptist, more about Peter, the other apostles, how John knew his ministry and the Messiah- but alas.
I will clarify one thing – I mentioned John’s emphasis on Jesus in the flesh, that the Logos became flesh, and how important that was, and I mentioned a word that right after I mentioned it and explained it, two more hands went up asking what it was, so I’ll clarify here.
Docetism is a heresy that teaches that Jesus only appeared to have a human, fleshly body. This comes from several things, mainly that the early Christians tended to emphasize Christ’s deity almost to the exclusion of His full humanity, which eventually developed into a Gnostic thought we call docetism (Deason, p.60). John, as well as the other gospel writers, refute this tremendously, specifically John with his emphasis on seeing, hearing, and touching Christ. The problem is we still do this today, OR many moderns have swung around to making Christ so human that He couldn’t be divine, i.e. He’s a good man, a great prophet, but still just a man. Both are heresies.
It’s integral to Christ being not only the perfect sacrifice but the image of whom we’re to transform into that Christ be fully human as well as fully divine, not to mention that’s what the Bible teaches. Anything else makes Him either less able to forgive sins, or less able for us to be like Him.
There were many thoughts and opinions expressed to me after this sermon of all kinds. I remarked to someone that, in a way, that’s maybe what you want with certain subjects, a wide spectrum of feedback, because that way you know people are thinking about what you said, and you said something worth thinking about. Not to be insensitive, but I’m very much at peace preaching things that I believe are what Scripture teaches with which you may not agree all the time. Preaching isn’t just about telling you things you know or straight, easy encouragement, it’s about teaching you things you may not have been taught and helping you deepen and reckon with your faith. Sometimes that comes through disagreement, and still in the end, if we don’t agree, we’re both better for having thought through it and knowing why we each think something.
I could write many words about the different points of the sermon, but I’ll focus on two things: a particular illustration and then the last main point.
The pendulum illustration was meant to explain that while two ideas or aspects of God may see like opposites, like God being both a Father yet a transcendent God in Heaven above all things, adoration consists of keeping both in mind, praising God for both and all He is, and realizing both can be true. The pendulum effect is realizing that the deeper or farther you can ‘swing’ one way, the deeper or farther you should swing the other way. For example, if we approach God from the GOD OF HEAVEN, transcendent, above all things being that inspires perhaps more awe, respect, and fear than anything, the farther we explore and praise God for Him indeed being that, the more amazing and praiseworthy is it that He is indeed a Father, close, loving, involved, and trustworthy to and for us. Both are true, and one exemplifies the other.
Another one we tend to only focus on one or the other is God’s forgiveness and His judgment. Both are true, and our pendulums so often get stuck on one side or we never swing around to praising Him for the other. The more we realize the depths and richness of His forgiveness, the more God’s judgment not only seems more righteous and just but welcomed for those who are in Christ. The ‘trick’ is to make sure you’re praising all aspects of God, and not just focusing on one. Praise strengthens and increases the love for the whole being we’re praising in our hearts, all aspects. God deserves at least that.
Secondly, it was observed that the Psalm writers didn’t just stick with adoration, and indeed sometimes they dove right into confession, petition, lament, as well as praise and adoration. This is true, and indeed there is a time and place for all of these things. I never said yesterday that we must exclusively praise and adore, or that even it must always come first before other things, in fact, I said this isn’t like a checklist or process. The point of yesterday’s sermon was to keep fleshing out and challenge our ideas of what worship is, and then to challenge all of us on our prayer times of praise and adoration. Without any praise and adoration, and by jumping right in all the time to other aspects of prayer, as I said and have said in different ways through the last few weeks, we will have a distorted view of ourselves and God if we do not put an emphasis on praise and adoration.
Now, does that mean we do not emphasize other things? Of course not. I’ve had several times this year alone where lament was the most healing for my soul. But even those times, as do lament Psalms, come back around to praising God. There are times when it is entirely appropriate to start by asking God, or by confessing God, but even those Psalms also have and are based on a foundation of praise for the Father. Adoration and praise is less about a checklist or order of prayer, but what life in God is based on. If it is only based on asking for God things, boy, will we be disappointed. If it’s only based on confessing our sins, boy, we stink. Both, as I said, distort our view of ourselves and God, and adoration and praise put things back into focus. It reminds us of who God is, how He views us, and relate our needs and problems properly to that.
True story, I have had many things I’ve asked God for this year. Mainly for people, but sometimes for situations and events beyond my control. From personal experience, you know what happens when I focus on praise and adoration first, whether it be that prayer, that day, that week? When I finally get around to thinking to ask God, often those things don’t seem nearly as important, stressful, or worrisome. It’s not because those things in themselves are any less important, stressful, or worrisome, but it’s that I’ve reminded myself and bathed in who God is, and that praise refocuses those things where they belong, beneath my faith and love of God. It’s been by praise, not petition or confession, that peace has been something I’ve actually attained about certain things, because if God is indeed God, and I know He hears me, why indeed worry about these things?
A marriage is an intimate relationship between two imperfect people. But, to the husband who adores his wife, who tells her she’s beautiful, lovely, wonderful, who tells her how he appreciates what she does and who she is, who is the one to remind her when she’s down of all the wonderful things she does and has done – to a husband who does that, who adores and praises his wife, she is perfect to him. No amount of imperfection, real or not, no amount of weakness, real or not, can change that, and when they have conflict, when things don’t go their way, when they do have to face real life, it’s not his asking of her for things nor confessing his imperfections to her which bolster his heart towards her, but it’s the foundation and life lived of praise and adoring which has shaped his view in all things.
God is a perfect partner. He is worth praising and adoring. And it’s worth it for your relationship with Him that we do.
Grace to you.