Reformed Worship
  • Reverent
  • Biblical
  • Covenantal

Introduction

This page is an introduction to the subject of Reformed Worship and a brief summary in answer to some common questions.

A more detailed answer is given from the scriptures in the pages which follow in this section.

Links to sections on this page

brief answers to questions

"Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil," Ecclesiastes 5:1.

For more study

The following material is drawn from a series of lectures given in June of 2004 on the subject of the biblical principles of the holy reverent worship of God. It is intended for further study of various issues.

The need for this material arises out of the serious and profane corruption of Christian worship which is increasingly common today. The Christian church today walks in its manner of worship like Israel after the sin of Jereboam, I King 12:28-33.

Solemn and reverent worship?

Your worship services seem so solemn. Why aren’t you more active? Is it tradition? The Bible teaches that God is holy (Isaiah 6), even describing him as a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). Scripture admonishes us to “keep our foot,” when going to worship God (Eccl.5:1). We do indeed worship with joy actively, but it is an active spiritual joy in which we remember also the majesty and holiness of our God, as He has commanded us. "Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strengthen. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. O Worship the Lord in the beauty of Holiness: fear before him, all the earth." Psalm 96:7-9.

Moreover God’s Word teaches us the principles of true Christian worship (John24). We worship God biblically, not as a matter of tradition, but as a matter of principle. Worship is not human entertainment to please men, but the holy service of God in reverence and love. At the heart of that worship is preaching, for Jesus commanded us above all else to preach the word in its unity, doctrine and application. The center of Christian worship is preaching (Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15

Lecture Series general theme:

The Holy Worship of God

Lecture #1 Living participation

Lecture #2 Reverent and Biblical

Lecture #3 Preaching: the Heart of Worship

Are children included in your worship services?

Yes, the word of God teaches that we are to worship God as families.This has always been the practice of the people of God, II Chronicles 20:13; Matthew 14:21; Matthew 15:38. It is also implied in Jesus' own instruction, Mark 10:14 and in the command to bring up our children "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," Ephesians 6:4.

The scriptures teach that God works faith in the heart by the preaching of the gospel, Romans 10:13-17. This is no less true of the children of believers according to God's covenant promises, Acts 2:39; Acts 16:31, 32. To exclude them from the preaching or substitute some false invention of men in its place, is to deprive them of the means of grace. It is to prevent them from coming to Christ by faith, Mark 10:14.

Bible version KJV and Why?

Why do you use the King James or Authorized Version of the Bible? Wouldn’t a modern version be easier to understand?

This is an important question, particularly because of our strong belief in the inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible. While we have no objection to modernizing the language of the King James Version, we insist that the church and believers must use a faithful and accurate translation of the scriptures. Many modern versions are paraphrases of scripture rather than word by word translations. This leads to doctrines of men being substituted for the genuine word of God. "Thy word is truth," John 17:17

We also use the pronouns “thee” and “thou” in prayers in public worship, in part, to maintain a consistency with the King James Version. These words also reflect in their original sense, the intimacy of prayer as communion and fellowship with God.

For further study of worship

The word of God has much to say about worship. Jesus word and example also speak to this subject.

The following materials address what Jesus said and did.

The subject of worship and its elements is also discussed in the following pamphlets:

Why do you only sing settings of Psalms?

As churches coming out of the Protestant Reformation, we believe that our mode of worship is to be determined by the principles of Scripture, also in our congregational singing. God tells us in His Word, “Is any merry (cheerful)? let him sing psalms” James 5:13. Further, Colossians 3:16 tells us to teach and admonish one another in “psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs...,” the reference being to a three-fold division of the book of Psalms.

While we enjoy listening to non-inspired hymns on occasion in our homes and at choir programs, we believe that in public worship we should use the songbook which God has given us in His inspired Word and which God has commanded us to sing. We endeavor to sing settings which faithfully reflect the words and contents of the Psalms. The more we sing the Psalms, the more we love them.

Indeed we would ask: Since we are taught repeatedly in the New Testament to sing the Psalms, and these are the only references to singing in the New Testament, may we ignore it for our own inventions? When we are explistly told to do something in God's word, is it not human pride to turn from it in our own wisdom to do otherwise?

For a fuller discussion of preaching, catechism and the use of confessions in preaching see the following:

Why do you have two worship services?

Because we believe that Sunday is the Lord’s Day. First, the first day of the week is the New Testament Sabbath of the fulfillment of God’s promises in Christ. In harmony with Jesus’ example of His resurrection, appearances after it, and the outpouring of His Spirit on Pentecost we speak of the Lord’s day which has come (Acts 2; Rev. 1:10). In harmony with God’s command to keep a day of worship and sanctify the day (Exodus 20:8-10), in harmony with the New Testament fulfillment, and in harmony with the example of the apostolic church, we worship on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day (Acts 20:7; Rev. 1:10) I Cor 16:2).

Secondly, we are called to sanctify or consecrate it as the Lord’s Day. We believe it is most profitably spent delighting in the worship of God and hearing His Word. It is a day of worship—not a mere hour. Therefore we have two services. It is also the means to carry out Jesus’ calling to preach His Word and to teach men to observe all things He has commanded us. At one service our pastor brings systematic doctrinal instruction in the unity of scripture, using the Heidelberg Catechism and at the other service, he sets forth the meaning of a particular text, often following the practice of preaching a series of sermons on a chapter or book of the Bible.

What is this Heidelberg Catechism to which you refer?

Written in the 16th century as a means of instruction, and adopted by the Reformed churches of the Netherlands to be regularly expounded in the pulpit, it is a systematic setting forth from the Word of God of the only comfort of the child of God. This comfort is found in a three-fold knowledge of his sinful condition by nature, his salvation in Christ, and his walk of gratitude for his salvation.

Isn’t it enough for Christians to just believe the Bible? You make much of the Reformed confessions in preaching and teaching. You recite the Apostles’ Creed, use the Heidelberg Catechism in preaching, and read from your Confession of Faith. Isn’t this setting man-made documents above Scripture?

The truth of God’s Word is a living unity which is to be set forth and explained, comparing scripture with scripture. Jesus Himself said that we were to teach men to observe all things which he has commanded us Matthew 28:20. We must clearly state, define, and contend for that truth over against all error (Jude 3, 4). The creeds and confessions we hold are simply a systematic expression or setting forth of the truths of the Word of God.

The confessions are not above scripture or its authority but serve our understanding of the Word of God. Forming also the basis of our doctrinal unity as churches, they give a testimony of the hope that is within us (I Peter 3:15). Nearly every cult and sect claims to believe the Bible, but it is characteristic of those that teach errors in the Christian church to hide their errors with lack of clarity and to twist the meaning of the Bible (II Peter 3:16). By means of our confessions we seek to clearly explain and defend what we believe from the scriptures.

The confessions, while a faithful statement of the truth, are not infallible. In fact, Reformed churches have always had a means whereby the confessions can be challenged and corrected if it can be shown to the churches that what they teach is contrary to the Bible. But, as a faithful statement of the doctrine contained in the Word of God, they also have authority. We believe that the promise of Jesus in John 16:13 to “…guide you into all truth” has been and is fulfilled as the church expresses the truth of the Word of God systematically, especially over against the many heresies which would creep into the church

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