Last week we talked about the Regulative principle and what it is. To summarize, it is a principle derived using good and necessary inference from Gods word on the subject of how to approach God and worship Him rightly. It is a command of God; it is not a thing of the imagination of men-that would be called will worship.
One might wonder how much will is in our worship; Outside of Glory, our thinking remains tainted. What we think if righteous is illicit-to a degree. Our minds are not glorified; We cannot see rightly into the things of God.
I wrote a friend recently on this subject:
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Prior to the consummation at Calvary, coming before God was restricted comparatively. Jesus has always mediated for the believer-He was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, no? In time and out of time! How does one explain the exhortation to approach boldly in contrast to the Levites who had to wear certain garments and even bells on their clothes? Surely there are changes. We don’t want dispensational error here, nor do we want legalism to cloud our ways. A friend once said to me, ‘Christians love rules’. Surely we don’t want to abuse grace and throw the baby out with the bathwater either. Was the veil rent out of time as well? Does the renting of the veil change how men approach God? If the veil was rent outside of time, much like the Lambs slain, was the OT saints obedience in this regard specific to temple worship and since the temple is destroyed, has the mentality of approaching, change?”
Could it be possible that the risen Christ now perfects all? This begs the question: Where is the line then drawn in the sand? Could you draw a line even? Theoretically, that could mean that we could do anything we thought was worthy-no supper, no singing, no prayer; Christ perfects, right? This cannot be; this thinking is flawed. I continued to think deeply about this. ‘Coming boldy’ must be done correctly; All sin is grievous in the hands of God! (repeat); You might say, “Scott, that is a fearful thing!” It is! One of the important aspects for the OT saint was the fear and awe they possessed. We can learn much from it.
Think of it this way; the veil is rent, Christs sacrifice Is perfect, accepted, received. No add’l sacrifice is ever again needed for sin. All of our sins are forgiven, past, present and future. The requirements of Gods law has been fulfilled. In the awe and fear, there is relief, no? Should we sin voluntarily? The apostle says, “God forbid!”. Should we go on sinning that grace may increase? Of course not. That would be an abuse of Gods mercy. Going boldly, must be correct. Remember, too much grace and you fall into antinomianism. To much law and you’re a legalist. Grace says yes, and not ‘I have to’. Grace says, ‘want ot’ and not have to. Prudence is key.
To go in the opposite direction creates will worship; Men are always, have always been restrained by Gods word-whether in the covenant of grace or the covenant of works. Remember, God does not change!
Whatever the case; this we can conclude; There is a correct way and a wrong way. You recall the examples we talked of last week: Cain and Abel, Nadab and Abighu, Uzza, Ananias and his wife; The exhortation in regards to taking the supper.
We talked about Christ and His perpetual mediation for the believer.
Read Burroughs pg 42
The Elements of Worship pg 46-47
What are the elements of Worship?
III. Prayer with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men; and that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of his Holy Spirit, according to his will, with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and, if vocal, in a known tongue.
IV. Prayer is to be made for things lawful, and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter; but not for the dead, nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin to death.
5. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear, the sound preaching and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence, singing of psalms with grace in the heart; as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God: beside religious oaths, vows, solemn fastings, and thanksgivings upon special occasions, which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.
2) The reading of Gods word: Our elders do this every Lords day after the call. In the private sector, in personal worship, you should be doing this. If you are not, you may want to ask yourself why.
3) Sound Preaching: This is preaching that is biblical. It is prayed over; The pastor studies hard to show himself approved, a rightful workman of God. This takes years of study. Preaching, as I have mentioned before, is an official office. Laypeople do not preach. That would be unsound preaching.
4) Sacraments: We have the Lords supper and baptism. Only to be administered by the ordained men of God or office holders.
The ordinary means of grace
5) Singing praises unto God: John leads us rightfully. This is a important discussion; it will not be solved this side of Heaven.
6) Taking oaths and vows: Doesn’t the bible tell us to not take any oaths or vows?
Matthew 5:33-37 33 “Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.
*Swear falsely is key.
6) Tithes and offerings: DO you hold to the tithe?
7) Confessing the faith: We do this when we read the creeds and the WCF
8) The pronouncement of benediction: At the end of all our corporate worship
9) Discipline: Has anyone ever seen discipline here in this church? Could you rightfully call a church a ‘church’ if the church does not practice discipline? How can a church be healthy if it neglects this?
10) The congregational Amen: Amens after all our prayers etc.
11) Fasting: David writes: “My knees give way from fasting; my body is thin and gaunt.” Probably one of the most neglected things in our walks.
12) Special days of thanksgiving; From the Directory of Public Worship of God: “Nevertheless, it is lawful and necessary, upon special emergent occasions, to separate a day or days for publick fasting or thanksgiving, as the several eminent and extraordinary dispensations of God’s providence shall administer cause and opportunity to his people.”
Mark Dever writes:
“Church leaders who have been committed to seeing the church reformed according to God’s Word down through the ages have had a common method: read the Word, preach the Word, pray the Word, sing the Word, see the Word (in the ordinances). Often referred to by theologians as the elements of corporate worship, these five basics are essential to the corporate life, health, and holiness of any local church.”
Worship is led by Gods called; Office holders. It is their primary responsibility to fulfill Gods command in the RPW and keep the flock safe from sin.
Some of the above is sometimes called, The ordinary means of grace’. This is not meant to denigrate the means of grace by calling it ordinary or typical, but it is called ordinary as to depict it is the means of grace ordinarily used by the Lord and His people.
My friend Bruce says of the Means of Grace:
“Dear friends, we may call the Word, sacraments, and prayer “ordinary” means, but by that we don’t mean common or boring. God gave us these things for the purpose of being transmitters of his grace to us, if we by faith will appropriate and use them! If we gave them up so that we might replace them with things that are “more exciting” or “more relevant,” what would that say about the “ordinary means?” It would say nothing at all about their power or their relevance, but it would say a great deal about our lack of confidence in God.”
The word, sacraments, prayer. Some reformed add a few others from the list above.
The smaller cat #88 reads:
“The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption, are his ordinances, especially the word, sacraments, and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.”
Worship broken down:
2) Private-prayer closet
(W)orship vs (w)orship: Is there a difference?
Corporate-this was discussed above.
Private worship of God