In our world today, there are a multitude and variety of worship songs coming out left and right. This is not a bad thing necessarily. I love to worship corporately in song and to worship in my own personal time as I listen to or sing songs. I have recently been blessed by Paul Baloche’s newest album, The Same Love. The two songs – The Same Love and We Are Saved – are truly stirring and encouraging.
Not unexpectedly, one of the greatest themes of songs is that of the cross. And it should be! The enthroning and saving act of Christ, continued in his resurrection and ascension, is the most gripping act in history. What a strange, yet good, way for God to become king and provide salvation for humanity!
But one wrong way to focus on the cross (and, yes, there is a wrong way) is to see it as the central place of worship. It is actually not.
Yes, that’s correct.
Rather, the central place is that of the throne of grace.
When we turn to a place like Revelation 4, we read about 24 elders gathered around the throne. I take it the imagery of 24 elders stands as a representative picture of all God’s people, encompassing the old covenant saints (via the 12 tribes) and the new covenant saints (via the 12 apostles of the Lamb). They are also joined by the 4 living creatures, which might be representative of the angelic order.
But they are gathered round the throne, not the cross.
Now, of course, in just the next chapter, in Revelation 5, these elders and living creatures are singing a new song because the Lamb is the one who can open the scroll. And in the song, they remember that, by his blood, he has purchased for God ‘persons from every tribe and language and people and nation’ (vs9). Christ is worthy of worship because of his faithfulness, even in death, to accomplish God’s good saving purposes.
But our worship, that worship that is to be in spirit and truth, is all centred not around the cross, but at the throne, the ever-majestic and beautiful throne of grace. This is where the saints gather for worship. You worship a king not at the place where his enemies killed him. Just as we do not worship him at his tomb. Rather, we are called to worship him at his throne.
We can remember the cross, praise him for it. But we are to centrally and primarily gather around his throne of grace. For it is there we may ‘receive mercy and find grace,’ even in great time of need (Heb 4:12).
So let’s sing about the cross, remember the cross and worship him for such an act. But let’s remember it is not the place where we are called to worship. That place is reserved for his throne.
Let’s gather even today, in spirit and truth.