Worship is an intricate and difficult subject to address, hence the huge debate about it. I think it may be helpful at this stage to break it up into its different components before moving forward
Worship is made up of three things, the elements, forms and circumstances. Let me explain what I mean by each one.
Elements of worship are those things which are done in public worship: ie. Prayer, singing, preaching, offering, benediction, announcements, reading of Scripture, etc
Form: is how the elements are put into practice or action: E.g. Preaching with a pedestal, lectern, pulpit, free-standing; Reading of Scripture from KJV or NKJV, Long or short passages, both Testaments or only one. Order service is conducted in: Announcements first or song first etc
Circumstances: The circumstances of worship are the setting you find yourself worshipping in, eg. under a tree, in a prison, in a house, in a church building.
By understanding what Scripture teaches on each one of the above components I think it will be possible for us to make much headway in trying to grasp Biblical worship in our current environment.
THE KEY PRINCIPLE:
A key principle in godly worship is known as the ‘regulative principle’. It is the opinion of this author, along with the historic creeds of the faith that this principle is ‘crucial’ in understanding worship. Many of the current discussions on worship which commits the error of ‘forgetting history’ lose out on this key principle and thus end up in a flurry of debate which is unnecessary.
Briefly stated the regulative principle is as follows:
“The light of Nature shews that there is a God, who hath Lordship, and Soveraigntye 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, (a.) and with all the Might. But the acceptable way of Worshipping the true God, is (b.) instituted by himself; and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be Worshipped according to the imaginations, and devices of Men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or (c.) any other way, not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures. a. Jeremiah 10:7; Mark 12:33 b. Deuteronomy 12:32
c. Exodus 20:4-6 (1689 London Baptist Confession, Chapter 22:1)”
Essentially the regulative principle says that only those things which God has explicitly stated should be practised in worship. This is opposed to the ‘normative principle’ of the Anglicans and Lutherans which says that only those things which Scripture forbids should be prohibited. Based on the above statement from the Baptist Confession of Faith I would have to disagree with the ‘Normative principle’. On another note it would be interesting to do a study of where those churches that espouse the ‘normative principle’ find themselves today, I dare say in the clutches of Liberalism, however, this is not an argument against it, Scripture is our rule of Faith.
|Regulative Principle||Normative Principle|
|Only do that which Scripture Commands||Do anything so long as Scripture does not forbid it|
The Confession goes on in Chapter 22:5 to delineate accurately just what elements the regulative principle allows in worship based on Scripture:
“The (q.) reading of the Scriptures, Preaching, and (r.) hearing the word of God, teaching and admonishing one another in Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual songs, singing with grace in our Hearts to (s.) the Lord; as also the Administration (t.) of Baptism, and (u.) the Lords 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 (x.) with fastings; and thanksgiving upon (y.) special occasions, ought to be used in an holy and religious manner.”
q. 1 Timothy 4:13 r. 2 Timothy 4:2; Luke 8:18 s. Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:19
t. Matthew 28:19-20 u. 1 Corinthians 11:26 x. Esther 4:16; Joel 2:12
y. Exodus 15:1-27; Psalm 107:1-43
Let me say at this point that I do not think this Confession has grasped all that must be said about worship, and I believe that what it has left out is telling…
I hope that you have found this week’s blog entry on worship informative. Please do take the time to think about it as next week I wish to engage with these concepts in a practical way.