The Order Of Worship

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Mt 6:32–33). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


Illustration. Christ is usually portrayed in Gethsemane bowed down in prayer. Here He is best portrayed standing, His commitment made. Triumphant, He looks beyond the Cross to the glory that is to be His when He returns to the Father. Jesus also prays for His disciples and for us.

Richards, L. O. (1991). The Bible reader’s companion (electronic ed., p. 694). Wheaton: Victor Books.

“One as We are one” (17:22–23). This verse has been misused to promote the idea that Christ prayed for the organizational union of modern Christian denominations. Instead, Jesus prays that you and I might experience oneness with Him, even as He lived in a oneness relationship with the Father. How is this possible? While He was here on earth Jesus lived in oneness with the Father by being always responsive to the Father’s will (John 5:19–20; 6:38; 8:28–29; 14:9–11). By being responsive to Christ’s will, we live in oneness with Him. It’s this uniquely personal relationship that Christ prays we will experience with Him.

Richards, L. O. (1991). The Bible reader’s companion (electronic ed., p. 694). Wheaton: Victor Books.

Glorify God (17:4). The Gk. word, doxa, indicates the high opinion of a person by others. In the N.T., however, this Gk. word takes on the quality of the O.T. kabod, which emphasizes the majesty of God seen in His self-revelation. When Christ speaks of His actions bringing God glory He means that the beauty and majesty of God’s nature has been revealed in what He has done. When the Father exalts Jesus in the Resurrection, that act will display the majesty and beauty of Jesus.
The amazing reality we see in Christ’s prayer is that we too can glorify God. When we do God’s will, He expresses Himself through us. Even we can display the beauty of our God.
“You gave me” (17:6). The disciples were God’s gifts to Jesus, snatched “out of” the world. This is God, active in salvation. But human beings are active too: we “accept” Jesus’ words, “believe” that God sent Him, and “know with certainty” that Christ is from God. It is irrelevant to pit sovereignty against free will in debating how salvation is appropriated. God gives. And we believe.
Keep them safe (17:12). It’s just as irrelevant to debate whether a person once saved can be lost. God’s own power protects and keeps Christ’s own. And they persist in faith to the end.
“Protect them” (17:15). God does not remove us from danger but protects us in the midst. We are on a mission in this world in which we live as aliens. Therefore we cannot be taken out of it.
“Sanctify them” (17:17). God’s way is not to take us out of the world, but to take the world out of us. The Gk. hagiazo means to set a person apart. Through God’s Word He sets us apart from sin and from evil, that we might glorify Him.
“For those who will believe” (17:20). Christ’s prayer was for us as well as the Twelve.

Richards, L. O. (1991). The Bible reader’s companion (electronic ed., p. 694). Wheaton: Victor Books.

Beyond Bible Study

Mem (vv. 97–104)—Beyond Bible Study

Never have there been so many tools available for serious Bible study, and we are grateful for them. However, the Word of God is unlike any other book: we must be on good terms with the Author if we are to learn from what He has written. Our relationship to the Lord is determined by our relationship to His will, and that is determined by how we relate to His Word. Too many believers have only academic head knowledge of the Word, but they do not know how to put this knowledge into practice in the decisions of daily life. What we all need is a heart knowledge of the Word, and this means being taught by God (v. 102). Here are the conditions we must meet.
We must love His Word and meditate on it (vv. 97–100). We enjoy thinking about people and activities that we love, and meditation means loving the Lord by pondering His Word and allowing its truths to penetrate our hearts. (See vv. 48, 113, 127, 159, 165, 167; and 1:2.) This does not mean that we abandon our daily responsibilities or that we constantly quote Bible verses to ourselves and ignore our work. Rather, it means that our minds and hearts are so yielded to the Spirit that He can remind us of the Word when we need it and give us fresh understanding in the new challenges we face. There are many ways to learn truth. We can learn from our enemies in the encounters of life (v. 98), from our teachers in the explanations of life from books and lessons (v. 99), and from the older saints who have had the experiences of life and know the principles that work (v. 100). Joshua learned from serving with Moses, from the battles that he fought, and from the experiences, good and bad, that came to his life. But the most important thing he did was to meditate on the Word (Josh. 1:1–9), because his meditation helped him to test what he had learned in the other three “classrooms” and to put it all together into one balanced whole. God shares His truth with babes (Luke 10:21) and those who are humble enough to receive it (1 Cor. 1:18–2:8).
We must obey His Word (vv. 101–102). A true student of the Word is not a person with a big head, full of all sorts of knowledge, but one who has an obedient heart and loves to do God’s will. While God’s truth is food for our souls, it is not a “buffet” from which we select only the things we like. If the Bible tells us something is wrong, we stay off that path. If God tells us something is right, we do not abandon it. “Obedience is the organ of spiritual knowledge” (F. W. Robertson; John 7:17).
We must enjoy His Word (vv. 103–104). Honey would be the sweetest thing the psalmist could taste. However, the Word contains both sweetness and bitterness, and we must learn to receive both (19:10; 104:34; Prov. 16:24; Ezek. 2:9–3:15; Rev. 10). Samson got into trouble because of eating defiled honey from the carcass of a lion (Judg. 14:1–18). He was a Nazarite and was never to touch a dead body (Num. 6), so he defiled both himself and his parents, for Jewish people had to avoid dead animals (Num. 5:2; 9:10). God’s Word is pure, not defiled, and gives us the sweetness and energy we need to obey His commands. The unsaved person finds the Bible boring, but the devoted child of God feeds on the Scriptures and enjoys the sweet taste of truth. This is what it means to go beyond Bible study.

Wiersbe, W. W. (2004). Be exultant (1st ed., pp. 125–127). Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications Ministries. 

Nun (vv. 105–112)—We Will Be Faithful

It has well been said that the greatest ability is dependability, and this especially applies to the Christian life. We want God to be faithful to us, so is it wrong for God to expect us to be faithful to Him? Faithfulness is an evidence of faith, and faith comes from hearing and receiving the Word of God (Rom. 10:17; 2 Thess. 2:13). The psalmist described several areas of faithfulness in the life of the believer.
Faithful feet (v. 105). Two familiar biblical images combine in this verse: life is a path (vv. 32, 35, 101, 128; 16:11; 23:3; 25:4) and God’s Word is the light that helps us follow the right path (v. 130; 18:28; 19:8; 36:9; 43:3; Prov. 6:23; 2 Peter 1:19). The ancient world did not have lights such as we have today; the people carried little clay dishes containing oil, and the light illuminated the path only one step ahead. We do not see the whole route at one time, for we walk by faith when we follow the Word. Each act of obedience shows us the next step, and eventually we arrive at the appointed destination. We are told that this is “an enlightened age,” but we live in a dark world (John 1:5; 3:19; 8:12; 12:46; Col. 1:13; 1 Peter 2:9) and only God’s light can guide us aright. Obedience to the Word keeps us walking in the light (1 John 1:5–10).
Faithful words (vv. 106–108). Making vows constantly to the Lord will not lift us to the highest levels of Christian living (Rom. 7:14–8:4), but when we do make promises to the Lord or to our friends, we should keep them (Matt. 5:33–37; Num. 30:2; Deut. 23:21; Eccl. 5:1–7). The Holy Spirit can help us fulfill new resolutions if we depend on His power. What we say when we are praying (v. 107) should also be truthful. To talk to God piously without being willing to obey Him in the matters we are praying about is to bring hypocrisy into our fellowship with God. After we have prayed, are we available to be a part of the answer (Eph. 3:20–21)? Perhaps the highest use of speech is in the worship of the Lord (v. 108), and we must see our words as sacrifices offered to the Lord (Hos. 14:1–2; Heb. 13:15). Do we sing to Him from the heart (Eph. 5:19)? Do we mean the words that we pray, sing, and read aloud from the litany? If worship is the highest use of words, then to be careless in worship is to commit a great sin.
A faithful memory (vv. 109–110). The Old Testament believer did not have a pocket Bible that he could consult at will, for the Scriptures were written on large scrolls and deposited with the priests. This meant that the people had to listen carefully to the public reading of the Word and remember what they heard, an art that has almost vanished today. One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to bring God’s Word to our remembrance when we need it (John 14:25–26; 16:12–15), but we cannot remember what we have never heard and learned (v. 11; Heb. 5:12–14). The psalmist was taking risks, just as we all do as we walk through the mine fields of this world, but he knew the Word would direct him.
A faithful heart (vv. 111–112). What a precious treasure is the Word of God! (vv. 14, 72, 127, 162; 61:5). It is like a deep mine, filled with gold, silver, and precious gems, and we must take time to “dig” for these treasures (Prov. 2:1–9; 3:13–15; 8:10–11; 1 Cor. 3:9–23). A mere surface reading of Scripture will not put spiritual treasure into our hearts. Mining treasure is hard work, but it is joyful work when we “mine” the Bible, as the Spirit guides us into truth. Then, the Spirit helps us to “mint” the treasure so we can invest it in our lives (obedience) and in the lives of others (witness). Sometimes God takes us through the furnace of suffering so we can better receive the treasure into our own lives (1 Peter 1:6–12). The Word needs no purifying (v. 140; 12:6; 19:8), but we need to be cleansed so we can appreciate God’s truth and appropriate it. Once your heart is set on obeying the Word, the life is on the right course (Matt. 6:33; Prov. 4:20–27).

Wiersbe, W. W. (2004). Be exultant (1st ed., pp. 127–128). Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications Ministries.

The Glory Enters The Tabernacle

When the tabernacle was upraised, the wonderful ark of gold was placed within it, and within the ark were laid the divinely written tablets, the chief treasure of Israel. The other implements of worship were set in place, and then Moses summoned the aid of Aaron and Aaron’s sons. Aaron was made high priest, his sons were his helpers, and together they prepared all things about the ark and the tabernacle for the presence of God.
The work was finished; and then, before the awestruck vision of all the people, the pillar of cloud wherein God was, appeared above the tabernacle, covering it and entering into it. Moses and Aaron and his sons were compelled to withdraw from the tabernacle entirely, because they could not remain alive amid the great Glory of that cloud. Thus did God make manifest His approval of the labors done in His name.


Test the Spirits

I. We Have a New Nature (4:1–8)

John begins with a warning about the false spirits in the world. Keep in mind that the NT was not yet completed and what had been written was not widely known; until the completion of the NT, the local churches depended on the ministry of people with spiritual gifts to teach them truth. How could a believer know when a preacher was from God and that his message could be trusted? (See 1 Thes. 5:19–21.) After all, Satan is an imitator. John states that the false spirits will not confess that Jesus is the Christ (see 1 Cor. 12:3). The false cults today deny the deity of Christ and make Him a mere man or an inspired teacher. But the Christian has the Spirit within, the new nature, and this gives overcoming power.
There are two spirits in the world today: God’s Spirit of Truth, who speaks through the inspired Word, and Satan’s spirit of error that teaches lies (1 Tim. 4:1ff). Teachers sent by God will speak from God, and God’s children will recognize them. Satan’s workers will speak from and depend on worldly wisdom (1 Cor. 1:7–2:16). The true sheep recognize the voice of the Shepherd (John 10:1–5, 27–28). True sheep also recognize and love one another. Satan is a divider and destroyer; Christ unites people in love.

Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (p. 774). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

God Justifies
Romans 8:33–34


8:33–34. The next two questions Paul raised and answered are forensic or legal in nature. Who will bring any charge (enkalesei, “make a formal accusation in court; press charges”; cf. Acts 19:40; 23:29; 26:2) against those whom God has chosen? Satan is identified as “the accuser” of God’s people (Rev. 12:10; cf. Zech. 3:1). His accusations are valid, because they are based on the believer’s sinfulness and defilement. But Satan’s accusations will be thrown out of court, because it is God who justifies. The Judge Himself declares the accused person righteous on the basis of his faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:24; 5:1). As a result all accusations are dismissed and no one can bring an accusation that will stand.
The related question is, Who is He that condemns? The Greek participle ho katakrinōn can have a future sense, “will condemn,” which seems preferable here. (Cf. katakrima, “condemnation, punishment” in 8:1.) Jesus Christ is God’s appointed Judge (John 5:22, 27; Acts 17:31), so Paul answered this question by stating, Christ Jesus. But Jesus is the very One whom the believer has trusted for salvation. Furthermore, He is the One who died—more than that (lit., “but more”) who was raised to life—who is at the right hand of God (cf. Luke 22:69; Acts 2:33; 5:31; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22) and is also interceding for us. The Lord Jesus Christ is indeed the Judge, but He is also the One with whom each believer is identified by faith. As a result he is a believer’s Sacrifice for sin (cf. Rom. 5:8; 8:32), his new life (a believer shares in Christ’s resurrection life; 6:4, 8, 11; Eph. 2:5–6; Col. 2:13), his Intercessor (cf. Heb. 7:25; also the Holy Spirit intercedes, Rom. 8:26–27) and his Defense (1 John 2:1). Certainly the Judge will not condemn His own who are in Him by faith! (cf. Rom. 8:1)

Witmer, J. A. (1985). Romans. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 475). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

8:35–37. Paul’s final questions are in verse 35: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? The context (vv. 37, 39) shows that “the love of Christ” is His love for believers (not their love for Him; cf. 5:5). The apostle suggested seven things a believer might experience (Paul experienced all of them; 2 Cor. 11:23–28) that some might think could come between a believer and Christ’s love—trouble (thilpsis, “pressure or distress”; mentioned frequently by Paul in 2 Cor.) or hardship (stenochōria, lit., “narrowness,” i.e., being pressed in, hemmed in, crowded) or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword. These things—stated in increasing intensity—do not separate Christians from Christ; instead they are part of the “all things” (Rom. 8:28) God uses to bring them to conformity to His Son. Then Paul quoted Psalm 44:22 to remind his readers that in this life the people of God must face much affliction (cf. John 16:33) including even martyrdom for some. In the early days of the church one or more Christians were martyred every day, or faced the possibility of it. Their persecutors valued Christians’ lives as nothing more than animals to be butchered.
In all these adversities (cf. “all things” in Rom. 8:28 and “all things” in v. 32 with all these things in v. 37), rather than being separated from Christ’s love, believers are more than conquerors (pres. tense, hypernikōmen, “keep on being conquerors to a greater degree” or “keep on winning a glorious victory”) through Him who loved us. Jesus Christ and His love for believers enable them to triumph (cf. 2 Cor. 2:14).
8:38–39. Paul then ended his discussion on believers’ safety in Jesus Christ and the certainty of their sanctification with a positive declaration—For I am convinced (perf. tense, “I stand convinced”; cf. 15:14) that nothing can separate believers from the love of God (God’s love for them, not their love for God; cf. v. 35). Paul’s list of 10 items begins with death, where the list of 7 items in verse 35 ended. These elements in God’s universe include the extremes of existence: (1) death and (2) life (in either death [2 Cor. 5:8–9] or life, believers are in God’s presence); the extremes of created spiritual armies: (3) angels and (4) demons (angels would not and demons could not undo God’s relationship with His redeemed ones); the extremes in time: (5) the present and (6) the future (nothing known now, e.g., the hardships listed in Rom. 8:35, or in the unknown time to come); spiritual enemies: (7) powers (perhaps Satan and his demons; cf. Eph. 6:12; or possibly human governments); the extremes in space: (8) height and (9) depth (nothing overhead or underneath can suddenly come swooping down or up to sever believers from God’s love); and (10) everything in the entire created realm. Absolutely nothing in His Creation can thwart His purpose for believers in Christ. What a climactic way to affirm the certainty of believers’ salvation!

Witmer, J. A. (1985). Romans. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 475–476). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

V. God’s Righteousness Revealed in Sovereign Choice (chaps. 9–11)

Since God is the self-existent Being who is the Creator of everything that exists outside Himself, He is sovereign and can therefore use and dispose of His Creation as He wishes. This sovereignty reveals not only His personal righteousness but also His provided righteousness.

Witmer, J. A. (1985). Romans. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 476). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Thanking Logos Bible Software and Faithlife for all these bible excerpts in today’s vast and every changing daily devotionals for this very inspiring topical study I’ve been able to gather on worship.


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