Monday, 18 March 2013

Post-Christian England Desperately Needs Puritan principles for Worship

It is vitally important to stress the need for a recovery of biblical worship. The tables need to be turned. The biblical and puritan vision was and is to be concerned with doing things the way God requires things to be done. However, often the "cart is before the horse" and Christians and churches often think to themselves: "what would I like to happen in church worship services?". This is to get things back to front. Without being irreverent, I would like to suggest that we must always ask "what does God like in worship?". However, this is rarely considered and if it is then the conclusions must be based on Holy Scripture.

Worship wars have happened from the beginning, just look at the narrative with Cain and Abel. The onset of the dark ages was the onset of spiritual darkness in the realm of public worship in Europe. Services began to be held in Latin which few understood. Preaching, reading and discussion in the church must be done in the vernacular of that day. This is what makes the proponents of the King James Version of the Bible misplaced, because its language is Elizabethan english. I love the prose of Elizabethan english but we must not produce stumbling blocks to people by making it difficult for them to understand the message of the Bible.

One of the first documents that the Westminster Assembly produced was The Directory for the Publick Worship of God. This document and Chapter 21 of the Westminster Confession of Faith lays down for us, the elements of public worship. This is what we call the "regulative principle for worship". It is to set down the "divine institution" of worship and these never change between the first and second coming of Christ.

There are many voices that contend that we are living in post-Christian England therefore they claim that we must find new ways of doing new things. Post-Christian England needs a recovery of puritan worship principles because these are biblical worship principles, not the new worship inventions of men. Fallen man has not changed. Fallen men and women are rebels, they are haters of God and we do not accomodate their whims and preferences for how we worship God. No, it is God Almighty who decides how we worship God.

Here are three worship principles for us all to consider.

I. Worship must be conducted with reverence and godly fear. Hebrews 12:28-29 "Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire".

II. We must only approach God in worship and prayer through the one mediator the Lord Jesus Christ. It is forbidden in the Bible to pray in the name of Mary, angels, saints, or anyone, but worship and prayer must be through the name of Jesus. The Bible contradicts the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and the new pope's public praying on TV which was to Mary. Let us submit to Holy Scripture in 1 Timothy 2:5, "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus".

III. Preaching and the reading of the Scriptures should be the priority of public worship. There is a misconception among some Christians who somehow think that having a good time of singing is to have a good time of worship. Listen to Paul writing to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 1:21 "For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe".

May we all learn of Christ and rediscover puritan principles for worshipping God in post-Christian England and Europe.

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