01 December, 2005

The Humility to Worship

Worship has been the topic of the week here on PRESBYTERIAN THOUGHTS. When this much meditation on the subject occurs, we should enter our houses of worship on the Sabbath day in awe of a great and glorious God. This great God, who is jealous for his worship, has given us his Son as the mediator of all worship that is brought to his throne.

We need to come before God with humility as we storm the throne room of Grace for the answers that we seek. Let us be as the prophet Isaiah and come with the understanding that we are men and women of unclean lips.

Touch thou our lips that we may be cleansed to worship thee as we ought.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter xxi, Of Worship:

I. The light of nature showeth that there is a God, who hath lordship and sovereignty over all, is 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 with all the soul, and with all the might.[1] But the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scripture.[2]
1. Rom. 1:20; Psa. 19:1-4a; 50:6; 86:8-10; 89:5-7; 95:1-6; 97:6; 104:1-35; 145:9-12; Acts 14:17; Deut. 6:4-52. Deut. 4:15-20; 12:32; Matt. 4:9-10; 15:9; Acts 17:23-25; Exod. 20:4-6, John 4:23-24; Col. 2:18-23

II. Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and to him alone; [3] not to angels, saints, or any other creature:[4] and, since the fall, not without a Mediator; nor in the mediation of any other but of Christ alone.[5]
3. John 5:23; Matt. 28:19; II Cor. 13:14; Eph. 3:14; Rev. 5:11-14; Acts 10:25-264. Col. 2:18; Rev. 19:10; Rom. 1:255. John 14:6; I Tim. 2:5; Eph. 2:18; Col. 3:17

III. Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship,[6] is by God required of all men:[7] and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son,[8] by the help of his Spirit,[9] according to his will,[10] with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance;[11] and, if vocal, in a known tongue.[12]
6. Phil. 4:6; I Tim. 2:1; Col. 4:27. Psa. 65:2; 67:3; 96:7-8; 148:11-13; Isa. 55:6-78. John 14:13-14; I Peter 2:59. Rom. 8:26; Eph. 6:1810. I John 5:1411. Psa. 47:7; Eccl. 5:1-2; Heb. 12:28; Gen. 18:27; James 1:6-7; 5:16; Mark 11:24; Matt. 6:12, 14-15; Col. 4:2; Eph. 6:1812. I Cor. 14:14

IV. Prayer is to be made for things lawful;[13] and for all sorts of men living, or that shall live hereafter:[14] but not for the dead,[15] nor for those of whom it may be known that they have sinned the sin unto death.[16]
13. I John 5:14, 16; John 15:714. I Tim. 2:1-2; John 17:20; II Sam. 7:29; II Chr. 6:14-4215. Luke 16:25-26; Isa. 57:1-2; Psa. 73:24; II Cor. 5:8, 10; Phil 1:21-24; Rev. 14:13
16. I John 5:16

V. The reading of the Scriptures with godly fear,[17] the sound preaching [18] and conscionable hearing of the Word, in obedience unto God, with understanding, faith, and reverence,[19] singing of psalms with grace in the heart;[20] as also, the due administration and worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ, are all parts of the ordinary religious worship of God:[21] beside religious oaths,[22] vows,[23] solemn fastings,[24] and thanksgivings upon special occasions,[25] which are, in their several times and seasons, to be used in an holy and religious manner.[26]
17. Luke 4:16-17; Acts 15:21; Col. 4:16; I Thess. 5:27; Rev. 1:318. II Tim. 4:2; Acts 5:4219. James 1:22; Acts 10:33; Matt. 13:19; Heb. 4:2; Isa. 66:220. Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19; James 5:13; I Cor. 14:15
21. Matt. 28:19; I Cor. 11:23-29; Acts 2:4222. Deut. 6:13; Neh. 10:29; II Cor. 1:2323. Psa. 116:14; Isa. 19:21; Eccl. 5:4-524. Joel 2:12; Est. 4:16; Matt. 9:15; Acts 14:2325. Exod. 15:1-21; Psa. 107:1-43; Neh. 12:27-43; Est. 9:20-2226. Heb. 12:28.

VI. Neither prayer, nor any other part of religious worship, is now, under the gospel, either tied unto, or made more acceptable by any place in which it is performed, or towards which it is directed:[27] but God is to be worshiped everywhere,[28] in spirit and truth;[29] as, in private families [30] daily,[31] and in secret, each one by himself;[32] so, more solemnly in the public assemblies, which are not carelessly or willfully to be neglected, or forsaken, when God, by his Word or providence, calleth thereunto.[33]
27. John 4:2128. Mal. 1:11; I Tim. 2:829. John 4:23-2430. Jer. 10:25; Deut. 6:6-7; Job 1:5; II Sam. 6:18, 2031. Matt. 6:11; see Job 1:532. Matt. 6:6; 16-18; Neh. 1:4-11; Dan. 9:3-4a33. Isa. 56:6-7; Heb. 10:25; Psa. 84:1-12; 100:4; 122:1, Luke 4:16; Acts 2:42; 13:42, 44

VII. As it is the law of nature, that, in general, a due proportion of time be set apart for the worship of God; so, in his Word, by a positive, moral, and perpetual commandment binding all men in all ages, he hath particularly appointed one day in seven, for a Sabbath, to be kept holy unto him:[34] which, from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ, was the last day of the week,[35] and, from the resurrection of Christ, was changed into the first day of the week, which, in Scripture, is called the Lord's day,[36] and is to be continued to the end of the world, as the Christian Sabbath.[37]
34. Exod. 20:8-11; Isa. 56:2- 735. Gen. 2:2-3; I Cor. 16:1-2; Acts 20:736. Rev. 1:1037. Matt. 5:17-18; Mark 2:27-28; Rom. 13:8-10; James 2:8-12

VIII. This Sabbath is then kept holy unto the Lord, when men, after a due preparing of their hearts, and ordering of their common affairs beforehand, do not only observe an holy rest, all the day, from their own works, words, and thoughts about their worldly employments and recreations,[38] but also are taken up, the whole time, in the public and private exercises of his worship, and in the duties of necessity and mercy.[39]
38. Exod. 16:23, 25-26, 29-30; 20:8; 31:15-17; Isa. 58:13-14; Neh. 13:15-2239. Isa. 58:13-14; Luke 4:16; Matt. 12:1-13; Mark 3:1-5

Discussion Points:
-What can Westminster teach us concerning worship?
-Is this view of worship too constricting to Christian liberty?
-What are some biblical examples of men and women not worshipping according to the Bible's principle of worship?


tam said...

1)cain offered fruit instead of a lamb
2)nadab & abihu offered the wrong fire
3)aaron proclaimed "feast to the Lord" and then made a golden calf for the ppl to worship Him by
4)saul sacrificing instead of obeying
5) all of israel using instruments and singing with david and uzzuh when the oxen stumbled
6)the pharisees in robbing their parents
7)the samaritans

and some more

edwardseanist said...

In a sense they are constricting, much like my seatbelt when I am getting ready to hit a brickwall at 55mph. It is a good kind of constriction. Right?

Mr. Baggins said...

I published a response to your CCM music posting, where my thoughts on church and worship are included.

Andrew Duggan said...

Its important to remember that there is no explicit command of God regarding his worship at the time of Cain's offering. The scriptures do not comment on whether or not Cain was out of bounds regarding the what of his offering. The requirement of an animal sacrifice can not be read into Cain's situation. In many of the Mosaic offerings and sacrifices the person offering ate part of the animal sacrificed. Genesis 9:3 indicates that eating of flesh (by people at least) did not take place or was not sanctioned (e.g. given by God) in the antediluvian world. So trying to impose an such a postdiluvian requirement of an animal sacrifice is reading a lot into the account of Cain and his offering. Further if you take into consideration of the phrase "firstlings of the flock" in regard to Able's offering, it demonstrates these (Cain's and Able's) offerings are much more likely to be thank-offerings, tithes or first-fruits types of offerings.

What is made very clear, however is that fact that Cain's heart was not right. This is very instructive for those who hold to the RPW. One might do everything outwardly as closely as is humanly possible to in conformance with the requirements of scripture, but his heart might not be right with God. Should he then expect to find acceptance with God any more than Cain did?

Nadab and Abihu is a very different case. God had just given extensive and detailed instructions on how He was to be worshiped, and instead of taking that seriously, they (likely) didn't think that it would be such a big deal and used fire for the incense that was not God's appointed (and supplied) fire. Neither their practice nor their hearts were right.

God supplied (miraculously) the fire that He required. God supplies the psalms (by his Spirit) that He requires. We can make our own songs (or borrow some from Isaac Watts or Fanny Crosby ), just like as Nadab and Abihu made their own fire (or borrowed fire made by someone else), but although the burning and death which follows is not immediate, it does happen. Didn't God did say, "I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments." (Exodus 20:5b-6)

Christian Liberty can only truly be found in obedience to God. The first two paragraphs of that chapter in WCF are really helpful in understanding this as it relates to worship. Worship is to be given to the triune God alone and only through and in the mediation of Christ. The acceptable way (notice the use of the singular) of worshiping God is limited by God himself in his revealed will, i.e., the Holy Scriptures, and not according to our own imaginations, devices, or the suggestions of Satan.

In the mediation of Christ is also such a critical concept. We must always remember that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father, except through Jesus Christ. (c.f John 14:6) This is not only true and right as it pertains to the ordo salutis, but in everything we do and especially in worship and prayer.

Christian Liberty is basically the freedom to love God and keep his commandments. (John 14:15).

From both Exodus 20 and John 14 you can see that if we love and obey God (especially in worship) he will have mercy on us for thousands of generations, but if not, his mercy in visiting our iniquity will expire in the third or fourth generation. He reminds us that those, who do not keep his commandments especially those regarding worship, hate Him and show their contempt of Him though their will-worship. I find it amazing that there are those who will insist their hearts are right before God even as they engage in the wildest imaginations of their own mind in their vain attempts to worship God. Jesus has some strong language for that: Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. (Matt 15:7-9)

Take a look back through church history. Even a casual survey will show that in three to four generations of the introduction of commandments of men in worship, e.g., non-inspired hymns, musical instruments, and holidays, you find the total lapse of that church into unbelief and apostasy.

So the question is: are we so sure that what we are doing is not such a big deal to God and God doesn't really care one way or the other that we are willing to risk the eternal salvation of our grandchildren?

For any that might be preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ in a couple of weeks, or sing something that is not the Word of Christ (Col 3:16) this coming Lord's day, prove to yourselves that God is not speaking to you in Isaiah 1:12a

When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?

Anonymous said...

God is more concerned about our hearts before him as we come to workship as compared to the mode. Some who chooses a contemporary/charamatic service can have their hearts and minds totally focused on God's charater, have a loving heart towards other, and be in a state of brokeness and repentence because of their daily sin. Where as some who prefers a more traditional/ Psalm singing only service may have a more self-righteous, judgemental, and Pharacitical attitude when in corporate worship.

Nate said...

We are not talking about inwards. We know that the heart must be in the right place, but sometimes the heart is in the right place and we are still in sin bc our worship does not conform outwardly to Gods revealed will.

The woman at the well asked this question about worship's outwards to Jesus. The text does not indicate that she was not 100% sincere, but Christs answer to her was "You do not even know what you worship!"

We all agree that the heart needs to be in the right place (and the Westminster says that), but you can have Pentacostals that are judgmental bc they see us old school Presbys as being less than spiritual and not filled with the spirit bc we have sober and grave worship instead of jumpy clappy worship.

I have GREAT friends that are Pentacostal, I love em! But they know where I stand as well!

Droll Flood said...

“Some who chooses a contemporary/charismatic service can have their hearts and minds totally focused on God's character, have a loving heart towards others, and be in a state of brokeness and repentance because of their daily sin. Where as some who prefers a more traditional/ Psalm singing only service may have a more self-righteous, judgmental, and Pharasaical attitude when in corporate worship.”

-So…are you trying to insinuate that the exclusive psalmists are sinning? On the basis of what? That they refuse to be lawless in their worship? Is there brokeness in regards to one’s sin apart from the Law? How could you not be assuming a standard in judging the exclusive psalmists to be legalists if you say “sin” on their part? Did God reveal moral law governing His worship or not?

-We affirm that a person will not rightly worship God apart from the applied work of Christ in granting repentance, brokeness, etc. However, God also regulates life in thankfulness to Him...

-Anon. In love, please get a name. I really don't like having to sort out who's who amongst anonymous posts. Because I know your name, doesn't mean I'll send my heretic-hunting-hounds on you. I also really doubt Nate would either...though he may threaten to invite you over for coffee.

Anonymous said...

Psalm 33:1-3
Sing for joy in the Lord, O righteous ones;
praise is becoming to the upright. Give thanks to the Lord with the LYRE
Sing priaises to him with a HARP fo ten strings.
Sing to him a new song.
PLAY skillfully with a shout for joy.
I think passage supports my arguement. I do not see any NT passages especially Acts that say that you shall not worship with instruments and sing hymns of the faith. We are no longer under the restraints of the OT law. When Christ came, he established a new convenant totally different from the one given to Israel. He did not keep the old one and changed the details.
I am very solid in my doctrine. I consider myself a Bibical theologian as compared to a Systematic one. I don't hold to one system because they are man made. Dispensationalist are right on on certain areas and so are Reformed people. Maybe I should send the heretic police out on you Droll.

Nate said...


The Levites were the only ones that were allowed to play instruments during worship. If we allow this Psalm to be a defense of instrumentation then we can use these two to defend priestly duties as well:

Psalm 118.27 The Lord is mighty, and hath given us light: bind the sacrifice with cords unto the horns of the altar.

Psa 51:19 Then shalt thou accept the sacrifices of righteousness, even the burnt offering and oblation: then shall they offer calves upon thine altar.

As for being a biblical verses systematic theologian...biblical theology as a discipline began in the late 1800s and the father of biblical theology is Geerhardus Vos...making a biblical theologian to follow the systems of men.

No real theologian sets the two against each other, all biblical theologies recognize that both BT and ST are required to "do theology". Biblical Theology seeks to understand the unfolding of redemption through God's revealed word where systematic arranges it in categories of doctrine.

In Biblical theology you would see that instruments are connected to sacrifice....even theologians who defend instruments acknowledge that.

AS for heresy hounds, I have none. Just a mean Jack Russel and a fat old schnuazer....but I do have an open invite for those with whom I disagree.

Droll Flood said...

My understanding of what Beth was saying in being a 'Biblical theologian' was that she followed the Bible, not the Biblical Theology in the sense of organizing principle/ Geerhardus Vos. Good points regarding BT and ST.
-Sidepoint: Didn't John Owen write a Biblical Theology?