Item description for A Taste of Heaven: Worship in the Light of Eternity by R. C. Sproul...
Overview Dr. Sproul examines the key components of prayer, praise, and sacrifices that God gave to His people in the Old Testament. He shows how biblical principles can guide today's worshipers, for the Lord has designed worship to give His people a taste of heaven.
Dr. Robert Charles Sproul is the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries. He is featured daily on Renewing Your Mind, an international radio broadcast that has aired for more than ten years. He is currently serving as the director of Serve International, and as senior minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew's Chapel in Sanford, Florida. Dr. Sproul is ordained as a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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Dr. R.C. Sproul is the founder and chairman of Ligonier Ministries, an international Christian education ministry located near Orlando, Florida. His teaching can be heard on the program Renewing Your Mind, which is broadcast on hundreds of radio outlets in the United States and in 40 countries worldwide. He is the executive editor of Tabletalk magazine, general editor of The Reformation Study Bible, and the author of more than seventy books and scores of articles for national evangelical publications. Dr. Sproul also serves as president of Ligonier Academy of Biblical and Theological Studies, and Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida. He currently serves as senior minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew's in Sanford, FL.
R. C. Sproul currently resides in Orlando, in the state of Florida. R. C. Sproul was born in 1939.
R. C. Sproul has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about A Taste of Heaven: Worship in the Light of Eternity?
Wonderful primer on worship Dec 18, 2008
"Worship...is far too important to be left to personal preferences". This statement, made in the first chapter of Sproul's book on worship, sets the tone for the entire discussion that follows. R.C. Sproul offers the Christian community a mini-theology of worship. He convincingly argues that far from standing back and allowing us complete freedom in how we choose to worship, God in fact preciously defined worship for the Old Testament believer. The author challenges his readers to ask the question: "If God Himself were to design worship, what would it look like?" The answer is simple: "We're not left to speculate on the answer to that question, because vast portions of the Old Testament text are specifically devoted to a style and practice of worship that God Himself ordained and established among His people." While recognizing the inherent discontinuity with the New Covenant, Sproul still sees operative principles at work.
The several chapters of the book cover a wide range of issues related to worship. Worship is something which demands the entirety of the believer (living sacrifices) and involves three elements: offerings of praise, offerings of prayer, and offerings of sacrifice. The middle portion of the book is an extended discussion of the sacraments (Lord's Supper and Baptism) and their relationship to worship.
The book includes three chapters on baptism, the last one being a defense of infant baptism. In this chapter Sproul gives what is perhaps the most irenic and charitable disagreement with believer's baptism currently in print. He fairly portrays the Baptist point of view and carefully outlines his rationale for padeobaptism. Frankly, these three chapters alone are worth the price of the book. Yet, although this last chapter was very helpful it did seem out of place. It's significance to worship wasn't readily evident and if he had simply omitted this chapter the flow of the book would have been smoother and more focused.
Sproul then challenges the worshipper who is bored with worship. They are bored, he insists, "because they have no sense of the presence of God". Only when we understand that worship is an encounter with the risen Christ will ours hearts be set ablaze. To achieve this understanding, Sproul believes we must allow our whole person to enter into worship. Thus, the last section of the book argues for utilization of all five senses (following what Sproul believes to be an Old Testament model). This section was fascinating, but far too brief and ends somewhat abruptly.
Overall, this volume is an excellent overview of the basic biblical principles of worship.
An easy read from a veteran author Nov 6, 2008
Worship is one of the hardest things to define. We recognise it when we see it, fight over styles of it, read about it, write about, but defining it is really hard. Often our disputes over what does and does not constitute worship are about methodology rather than Scripture or Theology. I picked up a copy of this book, care of Reformation trust, in the hope that it would better help me to understand the true nature of worship. When reccomending books on worship I take a cue from David Hume . If a book on worship doesn't help you to understand worship better or strengthen your resolve to worship God then "commit it to the flames".
One of my favourite lecturers, Mark Strom, once said that "Fish glorfiy God, not by holding prayer meetings but by being Fish. Human beings Glorify God by getting on with the business of being human" Sproul opens along the same lines saying that fish have an ability to swim right from birth. Its something they do naturally and it is the way they worship God. But worship is not something that always comes naturally to human beings. The effects of sin has meant that we need to learn how to worship God and that true worship must be cultivated.
Many people may have read what Rick Warren had to say about Worship in his book "The Purpose Driven Life". While I didn't find the book particularly helpful (or theologically correct but thats a discussion for another day) it did help to break me out of the mindset that worship = the three slow songs we sang after the fast ones. Coming from a pentecostal / charamastic tradition, worship is only considered so if it is spontaneous. What I like about this book is that it showed me that no matter what style of worship we prefer or think is more biblical than another we must remember that these preferences must not become an end in themselves. Our worship of God can be formal or spontaneous. It is a matter of the heart. If our heart is not in it then its an empty ritual no matter how spontaneous it may seem. This was one are I was particularly challenged. Has lifting my hands or spontenaity become a matter of "externalism" for me? Am I just going through the motions? Where are my blind spots when it comes to worship? I'm not advocating morbid introspection but rather a healthy self examination.
"God's feelings aren't hurt by insincere praise, but neither is He honored by it. God is never honored by flattery. That's why true worship must be sincere, genuine, and honest." (page 40-1)
"Think of the gospel. What is your response to what Christ has done for you--Christ, Who spared nothing, Who gave His life for His people, Who made the ultimate sacrifice for His sheep? How do we respond to that? What is the reasonable response?" And Paul says, "Here is your reasonable service or your spiritual worship." (page 45)
One thing that did concern me was Sprouls idea of the Lords Supper. As a protestant I am not fussed whether we take communion with Coca-Cola, grape juice, or water. To me its an inconsequential detail. He claims that we need to use wine and bread if we want to "truly" worship God because He has consecrated these things. Does that mean all wine and bread are consecrated or does that mean its only consecrated when it enters the church building? What about when it leaves the Church? In most cases its not wise to try and press the Bread and Wine too far. Jesus could have said "Eat of this grape and orange" instead just like Sproul says "Cain could have offered God the shell of a nut and it would have been an acceptable sacrifice". He then follows that up with some peculiar circumstantial allowances for prisoners in concentration camps. There is a good overview of how it was perceived by the RCC, and the Reformers later in the book. But Sprouls understanding seems a lot more Roman Catholic than protestant. Personally I feel taking communion is a matter of the heart and that the drink and food we have (whatever that may be) is an emblem (which would make me a Zwinglian according to Sproul). I don't doubt that the Lord is present when take the Lords Supper, but he is also present living within me now. I think we could do with a little less speculation surrounding the Lords supper. Sproul rightly shows that communion is a time when God can and does impart fresh assurance for our salvation. That was a very wise insight from Sproul. I don't find much steam for the RCC doctrine of Transubstantiation in scripture, mostly because I wonder what happens after I've eaten and drunk of the emblems. That is, what happens when I go to the toilet? Am I ridding my body of the body and blood of Christ? I'm sure many from within my tradition would also disagree with me on my views and thats fine.
The chapters on Baptism helped me understand the reaction of John when Jesus went to be baptised and even more so the reactions of the Pharisees. I was baptised at the young age of 10. Some would say thats too early but I was ready. Now at 25 I understand a lot more about it, but still don't regret doing it at such a young age. I enjoy seeing others, who have come to faith, baptised. Sproul rightly shows that as circumcision was the sign of the old covenant, and that baptism is the sign of the new covenant. While I wouldn't advocate a belief in baptismal regeneration I would say it is a very important part of being a Christian. We identify with the dying and rising of Christ. Surprisingly Sproul follows up these comments with a peculiar one "We will drown in our sins and will be inundated by the flood of God's wrath for our apostasy." (page 82) Which is bewildering to say the least. I had to stop and scratch my head at that one for a bit. I can understand what he means in relation to "Some commentators say..." and baptism, but Sproul could have done more to explain this instead of leaving the believer wondering whether or not they had transgressed or repudiated the new covenant.
Baptism is a controversial topic to say the least, especially when it comes to infant baptism. The case he built for infant baptism was as he said, by inference rather than explicit command. Some of the puzzling conclusions raised, such as the one page 104 "Based on the New Testament, there is no doubt that our children have covenant privileges" This only raises further questions about their salvation and the mysterious age of accountability. Clearly the New Testament also emphasises repentance as an essential element of salvation? I have no problem with infant baptism. I have a problem with the confusion it may breed in may congregations. How Children can now be part of the new covenant without repenting of sin is a mystery to me and I would have appreciated some more discussion on this. But there is only so much you can accomplish in such a short book. Each of these chapters could be books in themselves. I was reminded continually throughout the book that much of what we do in Church as worship to God is symbolic and many of those symbols are continuous with practices in the Old Testament. The Eucharist could be compared to passover, baptism to circumcision, the altar of incense to the corporate prayer and so forth. But they are also discontinuous and it is not wise to press them too far as Sproul says on many occasions. Often as protestants we want to remove all symbolism for fear we are becoming more like Rome. But this need not be so. We need not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I liked his comments on "Formalism" and "Externalism" showing that these symbols became ends in themselves and many times this is what the reformers were reacting against.
The Book contains 13 short chapters and an Epilogue which are devotional in nature. I could imagine using this book for a two week small group study on worship. It certainly gave me a lot to meditate on. Those expecting a complex treatment of worship throughout the whole of a persons life will be dissappointed. The book focuses almost exclusively on Worship within the Church. While not a bad thing, it does tend to be one sided. One thing about devotional books is that they are very quotable. When trying to explain a complex idea, they can help explain the idea generally. Its a short easy read and one well worth reading particularly if you're a new Christian or just seeking a general idea of how worship should look within the Church. It shouldn't take you long to read this book. You could probably do it in a few hours. But be careful, its simplicity is deceptive and it will give you some meat to chew over for days to come. I would reccomend taking a chapter a day over two weeks and meditating on it. Theres much to think about in this book, but don't swallow it all uncritically. Test every conclusion. There so much more I could go over in this review but I fear its already becoming too long. I guess thats a sign of a good book is that it makes you think and keeps you testing its conclusions. I'll close with one of the most profound quotes from the book.
"The single most important thing to understand about worship is that the only worship that is acceptable to God is worship that proceeds from a heart that is trusting in God, and in God alone." (page 38)
Another Great One Jun 10, 2008
This is another great work by R.C. Sproul. He share with me some views i had not previously thought much about and showed through this book the involvement of God in everthing. I especially loved how he connects the old testament with the new to show us our current application of biblical principles. Thanks R.C.
How Does God Prefer to be Worshiped? Mar 23, 2008
Dr. Sproul goes through great lengths to describe baptism as a sign or seal to the New Testament covenant. As Circumcision was a sign or seal to the Old Testament covenant, Baptism is a sign or seal to the New Testament covenant. The author does a fair job describing the counter argument to believers Baptism. Dr. Sproul argues that Baptism is assign of coming to the Family of God; actual belief is a realization of this fact. I disagree; I believe that a person needs an actual knowledge and belief to be identified with God's Kingdom. The author goes through great lengths in describing the difference between a sign and symbol. A sign points to the actual fact whereas a symbol represents the actual thing. Symbolism is not to be confused with mere symbolism or activity that does not reflect the actual glory of God and His great acts. Dr. Sproul goes to great length to identify worship with the God described in the Bible. If one accepts the idea the Bible is God's word then what the Bible teaches about worship should be prescribed in God's Church. TH e words of the Bible should take precedence over personal taste, enjoyment or fulfillment. Worship is not about oneself. This should not be confused that worship should only touch the cerebral. Yes worship service should provoke thought, understanding about whom God is and the works of God. Pure knowledge of these things should provoke an emotional response. That does not mean that the form, the organization of the service, worship surroundings, and actual activity of the service cannot form additional emotion about God and His great deeds. R.C. Sproul argues the Old Testament worship as prescribed about the Old Testament did this and some of it can be used enlighten us about worship in the New Testament Church. Yes the New Testament looks at the perfected sacrifice of Jesus. No current repetitive sacrifice need occur.
The author does an excellent job of describing why the Lord's Supper in representation and the actual Spirit of Christ in the Lord's Supper should a very emotional experience in reverence to what God has provided so one need not pay the consequence of their sin. Not be confused with a physical actual corporal body being involved. R.C. Sproul also argues baptism as identification to Jesus and the New Testament Covenant.
a very catholic sproul Apr 7, 2007
This is an excellent book on worhsip. Sproul stresses the importance and the use of the 5 senses in worship. it is also a solid apologetic on infant baptism and he makes a great appeal for the use of wine in the Lord's supper. This book will unfortuntley fall on deaf ears, but happy is the church that follows his suggestions.