This singular invitation to worship was soon muted when Adam allowed the serpent – the craftiest of creatures – to enter the garden-temple. Through Eve, the serpent presented Adam with an alternative liturgy. He called Eve (and through her, Adam) to abandon the call of God and follow his call: to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and become like God. It was an invitation to act in unbelief and disobedience toward God, but in faith and obedience toward the devil – to bow down and worship the creature instead of the Creator. The one who had abandoned the worship of God in heaven – angelic Lucifer himself – had come to spoil the worship of God on earth. In careless and sinful rebellion, Adam followed the lead of his wife and obeyed the voice of the serpent, eating from the forbidden tree. He abandoned his probationary fast, disobeyed the voice of his God, and bowed down to the serpent. Since evil and error are always parasitic on goodness and truth, the worship of the serpent became a counterfeit worship of God. Adam and all his descendants remained in the same state: homo liturgicus. The liturgical structure for humanity remained the same: call – response – meal. But the object of worship had changed. God had been dethroned in the heart of man, and the devil had been enthroned. The worship of the Creator had been exchanged for the worship of the creature. An alternative liturgy – idolatry – had been introduced into the world and would remain the liturgical disposition of all Adam’s descendants. Reformation Worship
Having a high view of God means something more than giving glory to God … it means giving glory to God alone. This is the difference between Calvinism and Arminianism. While the former declares that God alone saves sinners, the latter gives the impression that God enables sinners to have some part in saving themselves. Calvinism presents salvation as the work of the triune God—election by the Father, redemption in the Son, calling by the Spirit. Furthermore, each of these saving acts is directed toward the elect, thereby infallibly securing their salvation. By contrast, Arminianism views salvation as something that God makes possible but that man makes actual. This is because the saving acts of God are directed toward different persons: the Son’s redemption is for humanity in general; the Spirit’s calling is only for those who hear the gospel; narrower still, the Father’s election is only for those who believe the gospel. Yet in none of these cases (redemption, calling, or election) does God actually secure the salvation of even one sinner! The inevitable result is that rather than depending exclusively on divine grace, salvation depends partly on a human response. So although Arminianism is willing to give God the glory, when it comes to salvation, it is unwilling to give Him all the glory. It divides the glory between heaven and earth, for if what ultimately makes the difference between being saved and being lost is man’s ability to choose God, then to just that extent God is robbed of His glory. Yet God Himself has said, ‘I will not yield My glory to another’ (Isaiah 48:11).
James Montgomery Boice (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000)
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Unwarranted confidence in human ability is a product of fallen human nature … God’s grace in Christ is not merely necessary but is the sole efficient cause of salvation. We confess that human beings are born spiritually dead and are incapable even of cooperating with regenerating grace. We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by his grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life. We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature.
Soli Deo Gloria: The Erosion of God-Centered Worship
Wherever in the church biblical authority has been lost, Christ has been displaced, the gospel has been distorted, or faith has been perverted, it has always been for one reason: our interests have displaced God’s and we are doing his work in our way. The loss of God’s centrality in the life of today’s church is common and lamentable. It is this loss that allows us to transform worship into entertainment, gospel preaching into marketing, believing into technique, being good into feeling good about ourselves, and faithfulness into being successful. As a result, God, Christ and the Bible have come to mean too little to us and rest too inconsequentially upon us.
God does not exist to satisfy human ambitions, cravings, the appetite for consumption, or our own private spiritual interests. We must focus on God in our worship, rather than the satisfaction of our personal needs. God is sovereign in worship; we are not. Our concern must be for God’s kingdom, not our own empires, popularity or success.
Thesis Five: Soli Deo Gloria
We reaffirm that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for his glory alone.
We deny that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self-fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.