God Stands Upon Little Things In The Matter Of His Worship

“The second note is this: In the matters of worship, God stands upon little things.

Such things as seem to be very small and little to us, yet God stands much upon them in the matter of worship, for there is nothing wherein the prerogative of God more appears than in worship. Princes stand much upon their prerogatives. Now God has written the law of natural worship in our hearts. But there are other things in the worship of God that are not written in our hearts, that only depend upon the will of God revealed in His Word, which would not be duties except that they are revealed in His Word. And these are of such a nature as we can see no reason for them except this, that God would have them. As now, there are many kinds of ceremonies to manifest honor to princes that have no reason at all, but merely because it is a civil institution so appointed. So God would have some ways of honoring Himself that the creature should not see the reason for, but merely the will of God to have them so.

Now God stands much upon little things, though men would think it a little matter whether this fire or that fire, and will not this burn as well as that? But God stands upon it. And so for the ark. When Uzza did but touch the ark when it was ready to fall, we would think it no great matter, but one touch of the ark cost him his life. There is not any one small thing in the worship of God but God stands mightily upon it.

In the matter of the Sabbath, that’s His worship. For a poor man to gather a few sticks, what great matter is it? But God stands upon it. And so when the men of Beth-shemesh did but look upon the ark, it cost the lives of fifty thousand threescore and ten men. If it is a matter of a holy thing that concerns His worship, He would not have it abused in anything. Let us learn to make conscience of little things in the worship of God and not to think, “Oh, how nice such are, and how precise and nice in such small things!” You do not understand the nature of Divine worship if so be that you are not nice about it. God is nice and stands upon little things in the matter of His worship.”

~Jeremiah Burroughs, Gospel Worship

Source: https://puritanboard.com/threads/history-of-instruments.93085/page-2, Comment 50


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/

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/

Three Reasons Why Churches Should Not Follow A Church Calendar

Geneva OPC:

For these reasons, we do not observe the Church Calendar: (1) it is too intertwined with Roman Catholic teaching, which is at odds with the teaching of Scripture; (2) the Church Calendar conflicts with the Bible’s teaching that it is God who determines how He is to be worshipped, namely the regulative principle; and (3) it conflicts with the biblical view of history—a linear movement from beginning to end.

Read more: http://www.genevaopc.org/articles/means/45-why-dont-we-use-the-church-calendar.html

A Mere Mockery of God

John Calvin:

I come now to ceremonies, which, while they ought to be grave attestations of divine worship, are rather a mere mockery of God. A new Judaism, as a substitute for that which God has distinctly abrogated, has again been reared up by means of numerous puerile extravagancies, collected from different quarters; and with these have been mixed up certain impious rites, partly borrowed from the heathen, and more adapted to some theatrical show than to the dignity of our religion. The first evil here is, that an immense number of ceremonies, which God had by his authority abrogated, once for all, have been again revived. The next evil is, that while ceremonies ought to be living exercises of piety, men are vainly occupied with numbers of them that are both frivolous and useless. But by far the most deadly evil of all is, that after men have thus mocked God with ceremonies of one kind or other, they think they have fulfilled their duty as admirably as if these ceremonies included in the whole essence of piety and divine worship.[14]

Source: Calvin, Tracts (1844; rpt. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), Vol. 1, pp. 131-32 at http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/Xmas_ch2.htm

HT: https://xmassh8trsblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/06/calvins-quotes-on-christmas/

What do we Gain by a Contrary Course?

John Calvin:

I know how difficult it is to persuade the world that God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by His Word. The opposite persuasion which cleaves to them, being seated, as it were, in their very bones and marrow, is, that whatever they do has in itself a sufficient sanction, provided it exhibits some kind of zeal for the honor of God. But since God not only regards as frivolous, but also plainly abominates, whatever we undertake from zeal to His worship, if at variance with His command, what do we gain by a contrary course? The words of God are clear and distinct, “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men,” 1 Sam. 15:22; Matt. 15:9. Every addition of His word, especially in this matter, is a lie. Mere “will worship” (ethelothreeskia) is vanity [Col. 2:23]. This is the decision, and when once the judge has decided, it is no longer time to debate.[13]

Source: Calvin, Tracts (1844; rpt. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983), Vol. 1, pp. 128-29, http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/Xmas_ch2.htm

HT: https://xmassh8trsblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/06/calvins-quotes-on-christmas/