I. Directives for Ordering the Corporate Worship of God
A. Introductory Perspectives
– Explanation of terminology
– In three of the four introductory perspectives the words “well-grounded conviction” are used.
a. “Well-grounded” – that which rests upon a legitimate biblical foundation and is clearly grasped by the enlightened understanding.
b. “Conviction” – that which has become a felt religious and moral persuasion.
1. You must have a well-grounded conviction concerning the divine institution of the corporate worship of the people of God
James Bannerman, The Church of Christ, vol. 1, (Edmonton, AB: Still Waters Revival Books, 1991), p. 324.
John Owen, The Works of John Owen, vol. 15, (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968), pp. 448-449.
The London Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 22, Paragraph 7: As it is the law of nature, that in general a proportion of time, by God’s appointment, be set apart for the worship of God, so by his Word, in 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, which from the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ was the last day of the week, and from the resurrection of Christ was changed into the first day of the week, which is called the Lord’s day: and is to be continued to the end of the world as the Christian Sabbath, the observation of the last day of the week being abolished. (Exodus 20:8; 1 Corinthians 16:1, 2; Acts 20:7; Revelation 1:10)
a. In the Old Covenant community
Exod. 31:1-11; 36:1
Lev. 8:5, 21, 29, 36
NOTE: Whenever the corporate worship of God degenerated into empty formalism or was defiled or abandoned in the old covenant, God ‘s word through the prophets was always a call back to his own institutions joined to a call for renewal of heart in the engagement of the worshiper in those institutions. There never was a call to innovate or to abandon the God-instituted activities and forms of divine worship.
b. In the New Covenant community
John Owen, The Works of John Owen, vol. 17, (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1968), p. 540.
1 Pet. 2:5-10
Acts 2:1, 41-42
1) Its special day for corporate worship
1 Cor. 16:2
2) Its special activities of corporate worship
1 Cor. 11:17ff; 14; 16:1,2
1 Tim. 2:1
1 Thess. 5:27
2. You must have a well-grounded conviction concerning the “regulative principle” as it relates to the corporate worship of God.
a. A definition of the “regulative principle”
See the London Baptist Confession of Faith:
James H. Thornwell, The Collected Writings of James Henley Thornwell, vol. 4, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1986), pp. 248-251.
b. Scriptural support for the “regulative principle”
James Bannerman, The Church of Christ, vol. 1, (Edmonton, AB: Still Waters Revival Books, 1991), pp. 324-326.
Clement R. Vaughan, The Gifts of the Holy Spirit. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), pp. 391-392.
See the previously cited sections in the London Baptist Confession with the scripture references.
c. Give examples of the difference between the essence and the circumstances of worship.
1 Cor. 10:11
d. Summary & Application:
1) When you and your people gather to worship, and God asks you a question contained in Is. 1:12, you must be able to say in faith, that the things you bring to God in your worship are the very things that He requires at your hand.
2) We must always remember the simple truth of Rom. 14:23 – that “whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.”
3. You must have a well-grounded conviction concerning the profound spiritual dynamics connected with the corporate worship of God.
1 Cor. 3:16
1 Cor. 14:25
John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray, vol. 3, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1982), pp. 197-198.
See the sermon by Vaughan in the Appendix.
NOTE: Many years ago I brought a series of sermons concerning the fact that in our worship we are bringing something to God, and God is conveying something to us. That series of sermons is still available from the Trinity Book Service. The code is TO-W-1-7.
4. You must have a realistic appreciation of the practical problems connected with the corporate worship of God.
a. Problems arising from your own spiritual, emotional, and physical state.
b. Problems arising from an honest effort to sort out the differences between the essence and circumstances of God-honoring worship.
c. Problems arising from the immediate circumstances of the congregation.
d. Problems arising from the spiritual nature of true worship and the spiritual state of the worshiper.
Clement R. Vaughan, The Gifts of the Holy Spirit, (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), p. 395.
- Standard Commentaries on the Second Commandment
- 1689 Confession and the Westminster Larger and Shorter Catechisms
- The Directory for Public Worship, Chapter in The Confession of Faith.
- Engle, Paul. Discovering the Fullness of Worship. Great Commission Publications.
- Packer, James I. Knowing God. pgs. 38-44
- Williamson, G.I. The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes
- Bannerman, James. Church of Christ. Vol. 1, pp. 322-420
- Murray, John. Collected Writings. Vol. 1, pgs. 165-168; Vol. 3, pp. 194-198
- Owen, John. Works Vol. 9, pgs. 53-84; Vol. 13, pgs. 462-506; Vol. 15, pp. 445-530; Vol. 15 and 16
- Edwards, Bryan. Shall We Dance? Evangelical Press.
- Clarkson, David. Works. Vol. 3, pp. 187-209
- Gibbs, A.P. Worship. Walterick Publishers
- Brooks, Thomas. Works. Vol. 4, pp. 328-381
- Vaughn. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit. pp. 391-402
- Charnock, Stephen. Existence and Attributes of God. Vol. 1, Sermon on John 4:24.
- Rayburn, Robert G. O Come Let Us Worship. Baker
- Steele, Richard. A Remedy for Wandering Thoughts in the Worship of God
- Burroughs, Jeremy. Gospel Worship Soli deo Gloria
- Harrell, William. Concerning Worship
- Allen, Ronald and Booror, Gordon. Worship, Rediscovering the Missing Jewel. Multnomah Press
- Hart and Muether. With Reverence and Awe, P. and R.
- Edited by Frank Smith and David Lachman. Worship in the Presence of God, Greenville Seminary Press
- Edited by Derek Thomas and Ligon Duncan. III, Give Praise to God, P & R
- Various authors. The Worship of God, Christian Focus Publications
- Master, Peter. Worship in the Melting Pot, The Wakeman Trust
- Horton, Michael. A Better Way, Baker Books