1.1 In Spirit and In Truth by Dr Simon Chan

Hi all, went for the first session of Dr Simon Chan’s (TTC) course on worship, “In Spirit and in Truth”. I will be posting notes from each session (there are 8). This week the session was titled “Worship from a Biblical Perspective”.

I’ll break the session up into a few parts (it’s really a lot to get through). It will be numbered 1.1 (1st session, 1st part), 1.2 (1st session, 2nd part) etc.

Working Definition of Worship

His working definition of ‘worship’ is related to David Peterson’s in that it refers to the specific acts and principles as instructed in the word of God through which God reveals Himself to us and we then respond to Him as a body.

In other words, ‘worship’ consists of what Christians should must do when we gather.

He doesn’t exclude the fact that there are many other aspects of Christian life that give God glory (which is the definition of ‘worship’ some of us will use), just that he uses ‘worship’ to describe the liturgical elements of the gatherings of the body of Christ.

So this is my interpretation of what he said:

Note: He believes that NT ‘worship’ is very much based on OT tabernacle/synagogue ‘worship’ (we’ll come to why in the next post). Accordingly, we should understand what ‘worship’ is in the OT.

‘Worship’ In The Old Testament

‘Worship’ in the OT involves what we read in the Mosaic Law regarding sacrifices and rules for the tabernacle. Hence, it revolves around very clearly defined rituals, or shall we say, ‘acts of worship’.

However, it is very important to note that the performance of the ‘acts of worship’ were not enough – that God required more than just the acts themselves – He desired an inner attitude of obedience and submission towards Him (Isaiah 1:11, Amos 5:21).

God Reveals Himself, and the Israelites Respond in Obedience

‘Worship’ in OT is characterised by God revealing Himself to the Israelites and the Israelites then respond through the performance of the ‘acts of worship’ and alignment of the ‘inner attitude’.

The nature of God in the OT was that of a Holy God, Kingly and Majestic. The response from the Israelites was one of fear (awe & reverence), and submission in the form of obeying God’s covenant (I will be your God and look after you and call you my people – in return you will obey my demands of worship).

Meeting with the Presence of God

God’s presence dwelt in the temple where His people obeyed his demands (acts of worship + inner attitude). The temple was where ‘worship’ was performed, and the temple was where His glory resided.

Thus, the temple was the central focus of OT worship – that was where the Israelites met God. Remember this, we’ll see the NT application soon.

Everybody clear so far? I’ll give you time to digest =) Leave a Comment!

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~ by jonhyz on March 26, 2009.

10 Responses to “1.1 In Spirit and In Truth by Dr Simon Chan”

  1. that’s quite cool… in a sense… it looks like there’s a distinction between worship as lifestyle and congregational worship… which is what i’ve been thinking about

  2. Great! Thanks Jon!

    I’ll add a little bit more tomorrow haha, my notes are in messy bits and pieces :/

  3. This is what I got from the start of it. I’ll just piece my messy handwriting together hahaha..

    Okay he also mentioned about Jesus being the “new temple”. All the old temple and synagogue ways of worship were fulfilled through Jesus Christ. The reality that the temple symbolized has arrived.

    However, Christians did not forsake the old way of temple worship. They continued to see the temple as an icon, a picture of Jesus. In the NT, Jesus as the “new temple” became a very prominent theme.

    • yup! i’m going to talk about that in the next post. Seems like a lot when I went through the OT because he didn’t explain too much and I’ve had to try and understand what he said.

  4. Thanks for this discussion. I’m looking forward to reading the coming posts as this is a topic I frequently wonder about. I often wonder if God is pleased by our modern day approach to worship.

    • in a sense, our congregational worship in church is more of a human cultural construct and is therefore more for man than for God. Which is why people ask if our worship is for man or for God. Generally i like to think that our congregational worship is primarily for man, and the worship of our lives are all for God.

      We can’t deny that at the end of the day, our human construct of congregational worship is still an expression that we all need to have as humans and i’m sure God understands that we need that outlet to express ourselves. When Eugene Yeo was back in December, he mentioned about Darlene Zschech talking about “playing as a child loved”. Our form of congregational worship, whether traditional or charismatic is not of essential importance. some kids might choose to colour a picture of their mom/dad, others may just play in a sand box… but the picture being portrayed is for the Father to be standing there watching us and smiling over us.

  5. whoa ian… i totally agree that we can see congregational worship as primarily for man…. BUT…. we need to clarify what we mean when we say ‘for man’….indivdual men? or the body of people? what about this man are worship serrvices catering to? definitely not bring the idea of ‘consumerism’here! “, good thought!
    on the other hand, we can say it’s ‘for man’ as in building up the BODY….

    ok i’m rambling cos i’m rushing outta here… haha ian, pardon me if i’m late later :S

    • haha no worries, Jesse was later than u still. yup, that’s what i meant… for man as in for the edification of the church.

      as for the consumerism… i believe it can be argued that there needs to be a bit of that. i don’t totally advocate it but the recent church fathers (by recent i mean last 300 years perhaps) have identified the need to pander on man’s emotions to a certain degree. there’s a reason why ym service is pitched at “crowd” level. “seeker sensitive” to put it in better terms. haha

  6. […] In Spirit and In Truth by Dr Simon Chan Carrying on from the previous post about the Temple in the Old Testament, Dr Simon Chan went on to talk about how it relates to the New Testament. In the last post, we […]

  7. […] Simon Chan’s overview of a Biblical Theology of Worship (as promised). Do see the previous posts: 1.1 & […]

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