We Must Reject All Other Instructors

Calvin on Isaiah 8:20:

Hence we learn that everything which is added to the word must be condemned and rejected. It is the will of the Lord that we shall depend wholly on his word, and that our knowledge shall be confined within its limits; and therefore, if we lend our ears to others, we take a liberty which he has forbidden, and offer to him a gross insult. Everything that is introduced by men on their own authority will be nothing else than a corruption of the word; and consequently, if we wish to obey God, we must reject all other instructors. He likewise warns us that, if we abide by the law of the Lord, we shall be protected against superstitions and wicked modes of worship; for, as Paul calls the word of God “the sword of the Spirit, ” (Ephesians 6:17), so by the word, Satan and all his contrivances are put to flight. We ought therefore to flee to him whenever we shall be attacked by enemies, that, being armed with it, we may contend valiantly, and at length put them to flight.

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/sola-scriptura.91225/, Comment 1

Worship Wars

“Worship wars”–the Bible is full of them. The first one involved Cain and Abel, leading to the first murder in the history of the world. Aaron presided over one that involved a golden calf that the people insisted on worshipping in a similar fashion to the pagans around them. The question asked by the Samaritan woman of Jesus (John 4), to judge between the competing Jewish and Samaritan worship claims, represents still another worship war. Today, after skirmishes of varying durations, many churches have traded in a simple, reverent and Bible-centered liturgy–preaching, congregational singing, prayer and offerings of thanksgiving—for a worship format conforming as closely as possible to contemporary culture–talk-show format, preaching to felt needs, drama, entertainment provided in a soft-rock format to passive audiences.

Does The Way We Worship Really Matter?

Read more: http://frcna.org/messenger/messenger-articles/item/7438-

The Church Calendar v. Biblical Worship and Biblical History

This whole cyclical liturgical view of worship is wrong. Fesko writes albeit too briefly on this, observing,

The Church Calendar conflicts with the biblical view of worship and what the Reformed tradition calls the regulative principle. There is the constant theme in Scripture that God sets the standards for worship, not man (Deut. 12.32; Matt. 15.9; Lev. 10.1-2; 1 Cor. 14.1ff). For this reason the Westminster divines write that “the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and so limited by His own revealed will” (WCF 21.1b). God has not instituted the Church Calendar. Paul exhorts Timothy to “preach the Word” (2 Tim. 4.2); he does not give him a schedule to follow. Moreover, the previously cited author claims that the Church Calendar would bring about unity that nothing else can bring about. If this was the case, why did God in all of His wisdom not command the Church to do this? Moreover, the argument that the entire Church body needs to follow the same schedule flies in the face of the occasional nature of the New Testament epistles. A Church Calendar will not bring about greater unity, only Christ can bring unity through the work of the Holy Spirit and the means of grace. If this is how the Church Calendar conflicts with the biblical view of worship, how does it conflict with the Bible’s view of history?​

Note the language that is used to describe the Church Calendar: “In the liturgical year the various aspects of the one Paschal mystery unfold. This is also the case with the cycle of feasts surrounding the mystery of the incarnation” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, p. 303, § 1171; emphasis). Notice that the church calendar operates on a cyclical pattern. It is ancient pagan religions that have a cyclical view of history: “The world-cycle runs its course, obeys it stars, absolves its round, and then the end links on to a new beginning, ushering in a repetition of the same sequence” (Geerhardus Vos, Pauline Eschatology, p. 334). A cyclical view of history is at odds with the biblical view, which is linear—a definite beginning and end, not an endless repetitive cycle. The Church should not expect “a quasi-consummation, which would bear on its face the Sisyphus-expression of endless toil” (Vos, Pauline Eschatology, p. 334). In other words, the Church Calendar repeats the same endless cycle, Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, only to start over again with Advent. The biblical view, on the other hand, recognizes that the events of Christ’s ministry are in the past and that we are moving forward to a goal—the consummation of history, the return of Christ, the final judgment, and eternity with our triune Lord.​

God reminds us of this linear understanding of history, a beginning and an end, by the Sabbath. For example, the author of Hebrews writes: “There remains therefore a rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4.9). He reminds his recipients that just as God concluded His creative work and entered His Sabbath rest (Gen. 2.2; cf. Heb. 4.1-11), so too we must desire to enter God’s Sabbath rest. We get a foretaste of that final eschatological rest each and every Sunday. For this reason, OPC Minister and professor at Westminster Seminary, Richard Gaffin, notes that “the pattern of six days of activity interrupted by one of rest is a reminder that human beings are not caught up in a meaningless flow of days, one after the other without end, but that history has a beginning and ending and is headed toward final judgment and the consummation of all things” (“The Sabbath: A Sign of Hope,” OPC Position Paper, p. 6). In a sense, God has given the Church a calendar—observe a Sabbath rest and worship Him on this day (Exo. 20.8-11; cf. Acts 20.7; 1 Cor. 16.2). On the Sabbath we recall the great redemptive events of the past, namely Christ’s first advent, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension, and look forward to the consummation of the age and His second advent.​

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/real-easter-sunrise-services.92617/, Comment 5

The Simplicity of Reformed Worship

Scott Manetsch:

“Historic Reformed churches worship the Lord in simplicity.  That is, Reformed churches do not include ceremonies, festivals, crucifixes, processions, incense, relics, images, vestments, altars, and so forth in their worship services.  Reformed worship simply consists of the Word (read, preached, sung, confessed, prayed) and the sacraments (the Lord’s supper and baptism).

The main reason for the simplicity of Reformed worship is the teaching of Scripture”…

Read more: http://theaquilareport.com/simplicity-reformed-worship/

The RPW Protects Sola Scriptura

“For Reformed and Presbyterian Christians the question is not, “does the Bible allow the church to practice it” That’ is not the biblical principle of worship. The biblical principle, the question is: “Has God commanded it?” Thus, there is, at this point, a great gulf between the Anglican and Lutheran principle and the Reformed. The Anglo-Lutheran question (“is it forbidden?”) is an unintentionally conscience-binding principle that effectively undermines sola Scriptura.”

Read more: https://heidelblog.net/2017/03/sola-scriptura-protects-christian-liberty/

Papist Pagan Pomp

Stephen Charnock (Works, Vol. 2, pp. 81–83):

[A]fter the divulging of the gospel, the corrupters of religion did not fling off, but preserved the institutions of God, but painted and patched them up with pagan ceremonies; imposed their own dreams with as much force as the revelations of God. Thus hath the papacy turned the simplicity of the gospel into pagan pomp, and religion into politics; and revived the ceremonial law, and raked some limbs of it out of the grave, after the wisdom of God had rung her knell, and honourably interred her; and sheltered the heathenish superstitions in Christian temples, after the power of the gospel had chased the devils, with all their trumpery, from their ancient habitations. Whence should this proceed, but from a partial atheism, and a mean conceit of the divine wisdom? As though God had not understanding enough to prescribe the form of his own worship; and not wisdom enough to support it, without the crutches of human prudence.

Human prudence is too low to parallel divine wisdom; it is an incompetent judge of what is fit for an infinite majesty. It is sufficiently seen in the ridiculous and senseless rites among the heathens, and the cruel and devilish ones fetched from them by the Jews. What work will human wisdom make with divine worship, when it will presume to be the director of it, as a mate with the wisdom of God? Whence will it take its measures, but from sense, humour, and fancy; as though what is grateful and comely to a depraved reason, were as beautiful to an unspotted and infinite mind. Do not such tell the world, that they were of God’s cabinet council, since they will take upon them to judge, as well as God, what is well pleasing to him? Where will it have the humility to stop, if it hath the presumption to add any one thing to revealed modes of worship? How did God tax the Israelites with making idols ‘according to their own understanding,’ Hosea 13:2, imagining their own understandings to be of a finer make and a perfecter mould than their Creator’s; and that they had fetched more light from the chaos of their own brains, than God had from eternity in his own nature!

How slight will the excuse be, God hath not forbidden this or that, when God shall silence men with the question, Where, or when did I command this or that? There was no addition to be made under the law to the meanest instrument God had appointed in his service. The sacred perfume was not to have one ingredient more put into it, than what God had prescribed in the composition; nor was any man, upon pain of death, to imitate it; nor would God endure that sacrifices should be consumed with any other fire, than that which came down from heaven: so tender is God of any invasions of his wisdom and authority. In all things of his nature, whatsoever voluntary humility and respect to God they may be disguised with, there is a swelling of the fleshly mind against infinite understanding, which the apostle nauseates, Col. 2:18 . . . . To conclude; such as make alterations in religion, different from the first institution, are intolerable busy bodies, that will not let God alone with his own affairs. Vain man would be wiser than his maker, and be dabbling in that which is his sole prerogative.

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/papist-pagan-pomp.91665/, Comment 1

The Lord Hates a Mixture

[The Lord] hates a mixture. It is a mark put on Samaria (2 Kings 17:33), [that] They feared the Lord, and served their own gods. This is that which brings the stretched out arm of the Lord’s fury on the land (Zeph. 1:5), because they swear by the Lord, and by Malcom, and because the people halt between the Lord and Baal (1 King 18:21). And it is Jehu’s reproachful reformation (2 Kings10:28, 29). Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel. Nevertheless he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Oh how fearful to be under this? He is for the good cause, nevertheless, he knows nothing of the power of religion, so he is right in the house, nevertheless he complains much with malignants. It is known to you all when the whore of Babylon was cast out of the church, that she left behind her a gold ring, and some lover tokens, I mean Episcopacy, and human ceremonies. This was the whore’s policy to leave a token behind her that she might find an errand in the house again. And she was indeed returning to the house to demand her love token again, but it shall be heavenly wisdom to make a perfect reformation; keep nothing that belongs to Babylon, and let not a stone to be a cornerstone or a foundation be taken out of Babylon for building of the Lord’s house, for they are cursed stones [cf. Jer. 50].

~Samuel Rutherford, “Sermon Before the House of Commons, January 31, 1644,” on Daniel 6:26, Sermons Preached Before the English Houses of Parliament by the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly of Divines 1643–1645 (Naphtali Press, 2011) 409.

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/the-lord-hates-a-mixture.91668/, Comment 1

Liturgy Is Too Confining

Keith W.:

The liturgical calendar also has an accompanying lectionary – a set of verses tied to each Sunday of the year, and to the extra celebrated days of the year of that denomination. A lectionary might be on a one year cycle, a three year cycle, etc. A lectionary by definition does not include all parts of the Bible. (Maybe there are ones which do.) It does not even have to include a lot of verses gathered together coherently on the same subject. This practice is too confining to the person who wants to learn from all of God’s Word.

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/threads/do-the-sign-of-the-cross-and-the-liturgical-calendar-violate-the-regulative-principle.91824/, Comment 9

The Biblical Basis for Ruling Elders

George Gillespie:

THE word elder answereth to zaken in the Hebrew, and presbuteroV in the Greek. It hath four different significations: (1.) It noteth age; (2.) Antiquity; (3.) Venerability; (4.) An office. In the first signification, elder is opposed to younger, as 1 Tim. 5.1, “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father, and the younger men as brethren.” 1 Pet. 5.5, “Likewise ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder.” In this sense was the apostle John called the elder, because he outlived the other apostles, 2 John 1.; 3.1. In the second signification, elder is opposed to modern, Matt. 15.2, “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?” that is, of them of old time, Matt. 5.21. In the third signification we find the word, Isa. 3., where the Lord saith, that he would take away from Israel “the prudent and the ancient,” vezaken; that is, the worthies among them, and such as were respected for wisdom. The same word (and peradventure, in the same sense), is turned elder, Exod. 2.16, Eth-zikne Israel, the elders of Israel. So the Spanish seijor, the French seigneur, the Italian signore, all coming from the Latin senior, signify a man of respect, or one venerable for dignity, gifts, prudence, or piety. Contrariwise, men of no worth, nor wisdom, men despicable {9.b.} for lack of gifts and understanding, are called children, Isa. 3.4,12; Eph. 4.14. But it is the fourth signification which we have now to do withal, and so an elder is a spiritual officer, appointed by God, and called to the government of the church, Acts 14.23, “When they had by voices made them elders in every church.” They have the name of elders, because of the maturity of knowledge, wisdom, gifts, and gravity, which ought to be in them: for which reason also the name of senators was borrowed from sense…

Read more: https://purelypresbyterian.com/2017/01/09/basis-for-ruling-elders/

Review: Exclusive Psalmody or New Covenant Hymnody? By Lee Irons

Reno Presbyterian:

“The beginning of the article starts with the definition of the regulative principle: “One of the most important aspects of Reformed worship is its insistence that whatever God has not commanded to be done in worship is forbidden. This is known as the regulative principle of worship, a principle that is warranted by the second commandment” (Irons).  Here we should commend Irons for getting most of this right. The regulative principle, to an extent, is “whatever is not commanded is forbidden” (Irons). In other words, there must be warrant for anything we do in worship. This does not just include what we do and use but how we do these acts…

Read more: https://renopres.com/2016/04/10/review-exclusive-psalmody-or-new-covenant-hymnody-by-lee-irons/