Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What We Do When We Get Together...

"The reading of the Scriptures, preaching, and hearing the Word of God, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to the Lord; as also the administration of baptism, and the Lord's supper, are all parts of religious worship of God, to be performed in obedience to him, with understanding, faith, reverence, and godly fear; moreover, solemn humiliation, with fastings, and thanksgivings, upon special occasions, ought to be used in an holy and religious manner. "
-The Baptist Confession 22.5

Lord's Day worship each Sunday as the church gathers, is an opportunity to be matured in the faith, and for the Lord to receive glory from His people.  In our day, the methods through which people seek to order their Christian worship services is often very divergent from the ways the text indicates that the people of God are to worship.  The Baptist Confession mentions prayer, and then the next section (above) gives what, in addition to prayer, ought to mark our worship services.  To say that these are the things that ought to occupy our time together is not a legalistic practice, but rather a dependence upon Apostolic tradition--upon the Word of God as the guide for how the covenant people of God ought to worship and commune together with their God.

The Lord has not left us without instruction regarding how we ought to worship.  Often times, we seek spiritual nourishment from man-made cisterns that really hold no water.  Many will resort to means other than the Lord's given means to assemble.  And often these things are not inherently sinful ontologically, but when they become replacements for His given means of worship, they are detractors, and at best spoilers of the meal to come.  In an earlier section, the Confession reads: 

"The light of nature shews that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all; is just, good and doth good unto all; and is therefore to be feared, loved, praised, called upon, trusted in, and served, with all the heart and all the soul, and with all the might. But the acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures. " 22.1

This is not to imply that the Lord is not watching over His children.  It is not to imply that He isn't glorified in things we do throughout the week, for example the talents He has given us.  Painting, doing drama, building something with our hands, etc., are all things that the Lord can be glorified through as His children perform them unto His glory.  However, these are not things for example that the church should focus on in its assembled worship time.  We have an apostolic pattern.  We have  the Lord's institution of the ordinary means of grace.  Therefore, we should let the Word be our guide for how we come to worship.  When we do, a byproduct is that we are not longer looking for an "emotional" experience in worship to drive our times.  We are also not designing our services for the non-believer, as if the assembling of the body is primarily for non-covenantal purposes.  We are gathering as covenantal people, using our covenant maker's instructions on how to assemble in His name.  We are free to expect God to use what He has shown He will use versus resting on our own imaginative devices for the next "big" experience that we hope will move us.  

May God be glorified as His churches worship Him according to His Word.