The Liturgy shapes the Conscience to be like Heaven

The liturgy shapes the conscience to be like heaven | Listen Notes

This was a particularly fantastic episode that took me a few listens and notes to unpack. I wanted to put those notes together for a broader audience, particularly to emphasize the connection of the heavenly council to the liturgy which then impresses our consciences week in and week out. Rev. Weedon has noted in his Revelation studies that novelty for the liturgy is from the future, that is our life in heaven. But it's also for now, as Rev. Wolfmueller shares. 

The Heavenly Council

- Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Revelation gives us glimpses into the heavenly throne room

  • There are five aspects of the heavenly council
    • Conversation: Jesus' baptism; Ps 22
    • Court: Job; Revelations 12; Heb 4, 5, 7;
    • Petitioning: Images of prayers and incense
    • Worship: Four creatures
    • Sending: Angels, prophets

The Conscience

Our conscience is a little courtroom, a little judgement seat, that can go wrong in many ways

  • Instead of accepting the good judgement of our own conscience, we accuse others
  • We try to make the case for our own goodness in the courtroom of our conscience
  • We replace the 10 commandments (righteousness before god) with our own standard (for example Environmentalism is righteousness by carbon footprint)

The Liturgy

Thesis: Christian worship exists to imprint the shape of the heavenly council on our own conscience.

  • In the Old Testament, Moses was given instruction for worship, construction of temple, etc. "make a copy of what you see" - that is, earthly worship is a shadow of the heavenly reality (Hebrews 10).
    • Tabernacle made with hands is a reflection of a tabernacle not made with hands
    • Holy of Holies is a reflection of the throne room in heaven
    • Mercy seat is a shadow of the heavenly throne
    • Day of Atonement is a shadow of Jesus' crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension
  • Paraclete (1 John 3)
    • Holy Spirit speaks what is known in heaven on earth in the Bible 

Revelations 12 is what holds this all together. The story of the woman and the dragon is an image of church history. When the male child is caught up to God and his throne (Revelations 12:5), that is Jesus' ascent into heaven having suffered, died and rose, and when Satan is cast down to earth (Revelations 12:10) that is his removal from the heavenly throne room. Now instead of accusing us in the courtroom before God, he has no place to stand because Jesus has the proof of his victory, in his blood poured out, which covers us, and Christ now declares us Not Guity. Now, Satan can only accuse us in the courtroom of our conscience! How is Satan conquered? By the blood of the Lamb and the Word of the testimony (Revelations 12:11). This is the picture of Christian worship! The Service of the Word and the Service of the Sacrament. The Word and the Blood.
  • We declare ourselves guilty in the confession in church and that goes to the heavenly courtroom
  • We receive absolution from the heavenly courtroom through the declaration by the pastor
  • We hear the conversation of the heavenly throne room in the scriptures
    • We confess it in the Creed
    • We expound on it in the sermon
  • We offer our praises in response
  • The same blood Jesus carries to heaven, Jesus provides on the altar
  • We partake in the evidence of the heavenly court. We eat the same body and blood offered up on Calvary. It is brought into us
Through the liturgy, the words spoken in the heavenly throne room echo on here on earth. 

Some advocate for reshaping the liturgy to add more praise, or add more 'whatever.' But the main activity of the liturgy is the main activity of the heavenly throne room and the main activity of our conscience - it is a judicial case. This idea is echoed in Solomon's prayer of dedication for the temple (2 Chronicles 6), where Solomon repeatedly asks God to hear our prayer and forgive sins.