Here is the abstract of an article I have written for a new journal called Unio Cum Christo (International Journal of Reformed Theology and Life) Volume 1, No. 1-12/Fall 2015. This issue contains biblical and historical studies related to persecution and Christian witness, as well as articles on contemporary contexts where persecution is experienced.
In the pages of Scripture, God bears witness to the person and work of his Son, and testifies to the faith of key biblical characters. These in turn testify to Christians about the many dimensions of enduring faith. Jesus is effectively the ultimate witness to the faith that triumphs through suffering. Although Hebrews does not use the language of witness with reference to Christians, they are urged to imitate the faith and patience of those who inherit God’s promises, and to confess Jesus as the source of their hope and lifestyle.
A recent post on the Gospel Coalition website by Trevin Wax gave a helpful review of my book Possessed by God and evaluated the pastoral implications of seeing sanctification primarily as a position, rather than as a process. (thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2014/08/19/is-sanctification-a-process-or-a-position). Although the book has been published for almost 20 years, it has surprised me that little public discussion on the topic has taken place (with some notable exceptions). Apart from the pastoral implications, the thesis raises important questions about the relationship between Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology. I am regularly challenged about these issues by students in my classes!
Presbyterian and Reformed have now published Encountering God Together and I look forward to receiving reviews and comments. I hope that many people will find this book theologically challenging and practically helpful, especially those who plan and lead church services. It is easy to slip into familiar ways and not think very hard about what we do when we gather together and why we do it. From a biblical point of view, we come together to encounter God through the ministry of his word and to take out part in the building of his church. As the apostle Paul says, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16). This book explores the significance of such teaching for ministry and worship in our churches today.
In 2013 IVP UK published my latest book Encountering God Together: Biblical Patterns for Ministry and Worship. This paperback was written to help everyone involved in planning and leading church services think more biblically and creatively about this important ministry. Questions for review and reflection at the end of each chapter make it possible to use the book as a basis for group discussion. Pastors could especially consider using it as a training resource for those who share in the leadership of services.
The book begins by applying the biblical theology I outlined in Engaging with God to what we do when we gather as Christians. So there are chapters on The Gathering of God, Worshipping God, Edifying the Church and Patterns of Service. Then, there are chapters exploring specific issues such as Listening to God, Praying Together, Praising God, Singing Together, Baptism and The Lord’s Supper.
My prayer is that a better interaction with biblical teaching will cause those who lead congregational worship to reflect and plan and contribute more effectively. Our aim should be to honour and glorify God, as we take our part in the edification of his church. But we cannot do this unless we engage more honestly and holistically with what he has revealed to us in Scripture, considering also the way Christians throughout history have responded to its challenges.
Almost fifteen years ago, David Peterson’s book Engaging with God rocked my world. I had never read a book that so effectively combined faithful biblical scholarship with a passion for the gospel and linked both of them to what we call “worship.” It remains my number one book to recommend on the theology of worship. His new book, Encountering God Together, is a long-awaited follow-up, providing biblical, practical, and insightful guidelines for thinking through how God wants us to meet with him as we meet with each other. He covers a broad range of topics including prayer, Scripture reading, preaching, bodily expression, liturgy, evangelism, and emotions. And as you’d expect, the beauty and power of Christ’s atoning work shine throughout. Tight in all the right places and encouraging biblically informed freedom everywhere else, Encountering God Together should be read by anyone involved in planning or leading gatherings of the church.’
Bob Kauflin, Sovereign Grace Ministries, USA
‘David Peterson has done an excellent job in applying the theological framework of his earlier book, Engaging with God, to the practical realities of corporate worship within the life of the church. This book is fair-minded and generous, full of biblical insight and practical wisdom. Leaders of churches, congregations, preachers and musicians alike will all benefit from it.’
John Risbridger, Minister and Team Leader, Above Bar Church, Southampton; Chair of Keswick Ministries
‘What a breath of fresh air for our meeting with God and one another! David brings his theological insights and his pastoral longings together to help us reflect on how we do church in community. This is a wonderfully healthy and practical guide and challenge for those who lead and speak in Christian gatherings, but also for all of us who participate. To know better what we are doing and why will help us to make the very most of these times.’
Paul Perkin, St Mark’s Battersea Rise, London
Jonathan Griffiths has edited an important new paperback called The Perfect Saviour (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity, 2012). Eight biblical scholars have combined to write a chapter each on key themes in Hebrews: Peter O’Brien (The new covenant and its perfect mediator); Jonathan Griffiths (The word of God: perfectly spoken in the Son); Richard B. Gaffin Jr. (The priesthood of Christ: a servant in the sanctuary); David Gooding (The tabernacle: no museum piece); Thomas R, Schreiner (Warning and assurance: run the race to the end); Peter Walker (Access and arrival: metaphors of movement to motivate); David Peterson (Perfection: achieved and expressed); Bruce Winter (Suffering with the Saviour: the reality, the reasons and the reward).
The motivation for this volume is the desire to bridge the gap between the work of evangelical scholars in universities and colleges and the world of the busy preacher and Bible teacher. Specifically, it offers a theological introduction to the Book of Hebrews, by way of a set of expositions of some significant themes and difficult questions. For me it was a delightful opportunity to write a summary of the work I had done on the theme of perfection (Hebrews and Perfection [Cambridge University Press, 1982]) and to interact with some who have engaged with this topic since then.