I’m reading through the Bible again. This time, I’m reading the Revised English Bible, including the Apocrypha. I’ve journeyed through the Bible about fourteen times, but this is only the second time I’m reading the Apocrypha, too. As a convinced Protestant, I’m not reading the Apocrypha as holy writ, so don’t get your knickers in a knot!
I’ve recently encountered some Christians advising us against praying to Jesus, and I have been investigating the Scriptures and musing on this issue. My preliminary findings are that speaking to the Lord Jesus or singing to him is reported or implied in at least Psalms, Isaiah, Luke, Acts, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Hebrews and Revelation.
I notice that there are prayers to Jesus, our Saviour in the Book of Common Prayer, especially the earlier versions of it. For many centuries Christian have prayed
Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy
I notice also that we have many hymns and gospel songs in which we sing to our Lord Jesus. In churches where people are taught we must only pray “to the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit” it seems to be OK to sing to Jesus, I’m pleased to observe.
It seems odd that we can be permitted to speak of the Son, but not to the Son. And strange that we may sing to him, but not speak to him. I understand that we cannot simply waltz into the Father’s presence, and that we can only speak to him, because of what Jesus has done for us in his death and resurrection. But, I don’t think that passages of Scripture which teach this are telling us we must not thank the Lord Jesus for saving us, or tell him how much we love him.
So, as I read through the Scriptures again, I am seeking to find out how God wants us to worship him. When Jesus says in John 5
it is his will that all should pay the same honour to the Son as to the Father. To deny honour to the Son is to deny it to the Father who sent him
how are we to do this?
What does worship involve? How did the disciples worship Jesus after his ascension, as reported in Acts 24? Was it merely posture? Was it also an attitude of heart? Did it involve praising him in word or song?
What should we make of the following in Revelation 5
1. the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders prostrating themselves before the Lamb and singing
You are worthy to receive the scroll and break its seals, for you were slain and by your blood you bought for God people of every tribe and language, nation and race. 10 You have made them a royal house of priests for our God, and they shall reign on earth.
2. thousands upon thousands of angels proclaiming with loud voices
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth, wisdom and might, honour and glory and praise!
3. and all created things in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea crying
Praise and honour, glory and might, to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb for ever!
Is this an example for us to follow, or only something to tell us about what life in God’s eternal kingdom will be like? My assumption is that this is how we should praise “the one who sits on the throne and the Lamb” right now. I think many of our creators of liturgy and hymn-writers thought the same.
I’m full of questions, and expecting that God will not disappoint me, as I read his holy Word. There is a danger in this, because I may find what I expect to find, but I’m hoping that where my presuppositions are wrong-headed, God will shape them as I read.