The Presence of God

2012 Doxology and Theology

In this 40-minute session from the 2012 Doxology and Theology Conference, Mike Cosper outlines the history of redemption from Genesis to the Cross. As he illustrates how Jesus is our high priest, you will be encouraged to trust the Trinity to lead congregants into the presence of God.

Mike is Pastor of Worship & Arts at Sojourn Community Church, where he has served since its founding in 2000. He is the author of Rhythms of Grace, The Stories We Tell, and co-author of Faithmapping. He has produced several albums of original music for Sojourn, and produced Songs for the Book of Luke for The Gospel Coalition.

Mike outlined the history of redemption, highlighting the grace of God to dwell with his people in the garden, through high priests, and now in Jesus. How does this review of the gospel narrative encourage you in your role? Does it take any pressure off to know that you are not ushering in the presence of the Lord, but simply pointing people to Jesus?
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Take a moment to read Hebrews 10:19-25 before considering the following questions.

Hebrews 10:19-25 (ESV)

The Full Assurance of Faith

19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,21and since we have a great priest over the house of God,22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

We can boldly draw near to the Lord through Jesus, our high priest (vv. 19-22). How do you remind congregants of the truth that Jesus leads them in the presence of God, not you or a worship service? How do you remind them that God is near throughout the week, not just on Sundays?
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Mike explained that worship is not about gathering to draw near to God, but rather, gathering to remember the gospel and encourage one another in faith (vv. 23-25). With this understanding, is there anything you would change about the way you lead worship?
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Mike shared the story of hymnwriter Isaac Watts, offering four things we can learn from him about worship:
  1. Worship should be both wide and deep. 
  2. Contextualization is about comprehension.
  3. Worship should be concerned with truth and beauty. 
  4. Worship leading is pastoral. 

How do the songs and passages you select each week cover the whole range of human experience? When you select songs with biblical metaphors, do you take time to explain them to congregants?
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Reflecting on this powerful message as whole, what will you take away personally? What will you incorporate into future worship services?
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Like the Israelites, we live in a corrupt and idolatrous world. Unlike the Israelites, we can dwell in the presence of God the Father through the Son and by the Spirit. The Message translation says it well:

“So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into 'the Holy Place.' Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The 'curtain' into God’s presence is his body. So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word.” ~ Hebrews 10:19-23 MSG 

For more information about the Doxology and Theology Conference and how you can attend an upcoming event, visit