Trouble Times and Right Worship

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Job 20:5 (AMP and RVR 1960)


CONTEXT:

I wish to depart a little from my normal daily devotional and write about something that seems to be suddenly (due to the recent riots) making a strong return to social media, the need for folks to worship God.

First let me say, that I fully agree with this but it should not take a national crisis like COVID-19 or anarchist rioting and looting in the streets for folks to suddenly get religious and call for it on social media.  

Second, we should all remember as it is written in the book of Job these self righteous degenerates will only be basking in their own glory for a limited time. As I noted in yesterday’s study, Thou Art God, the day will come when we all stand before the Lord without excuse. Where will be there glory then?

Finally, and most importantly for today’s devotion, to all those calling for folks to get back to worshiping God I would ask the question; what kind of worship or how are you worshiping God? Some of you may be asking what does it matter? We go to church we worship this way or that and we have a great experience. 

Before we proceed we need to define worship.  Worship is usually defined as “the act of showing reverence and adoration for a deity by honoring that deity with religious rites.” But worship can go even deeper than that. Worship can be more accurately defined as “the art of losing oneself in the adoration of another.” By this definition, many acts of worship have nothing to do with God or even a presumed deity. People worship rock stars, athletes, and other celebrities. They lose themselves in the adoration of wealth, fame, and power. So there are many worship styles and practices that are idolatrous and therefore unbiblical.”¹

Now let me ask you this; do you believe God is sovereign (Isaiah 45:7)? Do you believe he is worthy to be worshiped (Psalm 42:1)? 

If you answered YES to those two questions then you should instinctively answer YES to these:

There will be false worshipers (John 4:23)

Christ COMMANDS us to worship in Spirit and Truth (John 4:24)

Worship means according to God’s revealed WORD (Christ’s Doctrine; 2 John 1:9) not man’s made up program (Also see Deuteronomy 4:12, Deuteronomy 12:32 and Revelation 22:18–19 )

If you acknowledge the above you and/or your church should be practicing (at least in some form) The Regulative Principle of Worship.  If you truly believe God is in control, worthy of all honor, glory and praise then the only conclusion is:

It is about

WORSHIPING GOD HIS WAY

not ours!


¹ Extract from GotQuestions.org


 

OTHER RESOURCES:

The Regulative Principle of Worship by Greg Price

What is the Regulative Principle of Worship?

The Regulative Principle of Worship, Banner of Truth

The Regulative Principle of Worship by Derek Thomas

RICHARD BAXTER ON CHURCHES MEETING WHEN FORBIDDEN

Okay so y’all know I love reading these old dead guys called the Puritans. Why because they (for the most part) got it, the very essence of what the bible was saying without the modern trappings of political correctness, self interpretation any other issue hanging on them. 

Here in a posts from a guy Andrew  J. Spencer I never hear of before, we find that same thing Richard Baxter wrote this nearly 400 years before the current pandemic  applies today. 

RICHARD BAXTER ON CHURCHES MEETING WHEN FORBIDDEN

The following is an excerpt from The Practical Works of Richard Baxter, the fifth volume, in his Christian Ecclesiastics, where he details answers to nearly 200 questions dealing with Christians and matters of conscience.

Richard Baxter

Richard Baxter

Baxter, an English Puritan, was obviously writing in a different day under a different set of laws, but I think that his response to these two questions is pertinent and helpful at this present time. I disagree with a few of the particulars (e.g., that it might be ok for the government to restrict meetings smaller than ten), but the general intent is, I think, well-considered and generally helpful as we process living under temporary restrictions driven by COVID-19.

Of particular value, I think, is the explanation Baxter offers regarding ceasing to hold services under orders of the magistrate due to “a time of pestilence.” He writes, “If the magistrate for a greater good, (as the common safety,) forbid church assemblies in a time of pestilence, assault of enemies, or fire, or the like necessity, it is a duty to obey him.”

As I understand it presently, that is the condition we are under. I do not like the requirement, but I think that, as long as there is a universal ban against large assemblies, we will do well to honor the orders to forebear meeting. This is not a change in position from my earlier post, which called for grace and prudence as congregations decide whether to meet or not, but a reflection of the changed circumstances. The earlier post was written when bans were not in effect and congregations were making decisions based on prudential data.

BAXTER ON MEETING WHEN FORBIDDEN BY THE GOVERNMENT

Question 109: May we omit church assemblies on the Lord’s day if the magistrate forbid them?

Answer 1. It is one thing to forbid them for a time upon some special cause as infection by pestilence fire war &c and another to forbid them statedly or profanely.

2. It is one thing to omit them for a time, and another to do it ordinarily.

3. It is one thing to omit them in formal obedience to the law; and another thing to omit them in prudence, or for necessity, because we cannot keep them.

4. The assembly and the circumstances of the assembly must be distinguished:

(1.) If the magistrate for a greater good, (as the common safety,) forbid church assemblies in a time of pestilence, assault of enemies, or fire, or the like necessity, it is a duty to obey him. 1. Because positive duties give place to those great natural duties which are their end: so Christ justified himself and his disciples violation of the external rest of the sabbath. “For the sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath.” 2. Because affirmatives bind not ‘ad semper,’ and out-of-season duties become sins. 3. Because one Lord’s day or assembly is not to be preferred before many, which by the omission of that one are like to be obtained.

(2.) If princes profanely forbid holy assemblies and public worship, either statedly, or as a renunciation of Christ and our religion; it is not lawful formally to obey them.

(3.) But it is lawful prudently to do that secretly for the present necessity, which we cannot do publicly, and to do that with smaller numbers, which we cannot do with greater assemblies, yea, and to omit some assemblies for a time, that we may thereby have opportunity for more: which is not formal but only material obedience.

(4.) But if it be only some circumstances of assembling that are forbidden us, that is the next case to be resolved.

Question 110: Must we obey the magistrate if he only forbid us worshipping God in such a place or country or in such numbers or the like?

Answer: We must distinguish between such a determination of circumstances, modes, or accidents, as plainly destroy the worship or the end, and such as do not.

For instance,  1. He that saith, You shall never assemble but once a year, or never but at midnight; or never above six or seven minutes at once, &c. doth but determine the circumstance of time: but he doth it so as to destroy the worship, which cannot so be done, in consistency with its ends. But he that shall say, You shall not meet till nine o’clock nor stay in the night, &c. doth no such thing.

So 2. He that saith, You shall not assemble but at forty miles distance one from another; or you shall meet only in a room that will hold but the twentieth part of the church; or you shall never preach in any city or populous place, but in a wilderness far from the inhabitants, &c. doth but determine the circumstance of place. But he so doth it as tends to destroy or frustrate the work which God commandeth us. But so doth not he that only boundeth churches by parish bounds, or forbiddeth inconvenient places.

3. So he that saith, You shall never meet under a hundred thousand together, or never above five or six, doth but determine the accident of number. But he so doth it as to destroy the work and end. For the first will be impossible and in the second way they must keep church-assemblies without ministers, when there is not so many as for every such little number to have one. But so doth not he that only saith, You shall not meet above ten thousand, nor under ten.

4. So he that saith, You shall not hear a Trinitarian, but an Arian; or you shall hear only one that cannot preach the essentials of religion, or that cries down godliness itself; or you shall hear none but such as were ordained at Jerusalem or Rome, or none but such as subscribe the council of Trent, &c. doth but determine what person we shall hear. But he so doth it as to destroy the work and end. But so doth not he that only saith, You shall hear only this able minister, rather than that.

I need not stand on the application. In the latter case we owe formal obedience. In the former we must suffer, and not obey.

For if it be meet so to obey, it is meet in obedience to give over God’s worship. Christ said, “When they persecute you in one city, flee to another:” but he never said, “If they forbid you preaching in any city, or populous place, obey them. He that said, “Preach the Gospel to every creature, and to all nations, and all the world,” and that “would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” doth not allow us to forsake the souls of all that dwell in cities and populous places, and preach only to some few cottagers elsewhere: no more than he will allow us to love, pity, and relieve the bodies only of those few, and take none for our neighbours that dwell in cities, but with priest and Levite to pass them by.

What is a Reformed Baptist?

Over the years Reformed anything has been, among most “main stream” evangelical circles, nearly a four letter word. Mostly due to ignorance and misinformation folks think Reformed or Covenant Baptists are smug in their salvation and do not believe in evangelism of the Great Commission, but nothing could be further from the truth. This excellent article deals with the history and distinctions of Reformed Baptists, tomorrow I will post some of my favorite resources on Reformed Evangelism. – Mike

 

What is a Reformed Baptist?

What is a Reformed Baptist?

What is it that makes a “Reformed Baptist” distinct from other kinds of Baptists and Reformed folks? Reformed Baptists grew out of the English Reformation, emerging from Independent paedobaptist churches in the 1640’s for some very specific theological reasons, and they held to a particular kind of theology. Here are some of the theological identity markers of Reformed Baptist churches.

1. The Regulative Principle of Worship. This distinctive is put first because it is one of the main reasons Calvinistic Baptists separated from the Independent paedobaptists. The Particular (or Reformed) Baptists come from Puritanism, which sought to reform the English church according to God’s Word, especially its worship. When that became impossible due to Laud’s authoritative opposition, the Puritans separated (or were removed) from the English church. Within the Independent wing of Puritan separation, some of them saw a need to apply the regulative principle of worship to infant baptism as well, considering this to be the consistent outworking of the common Puritan mindset. The earliest Baptists believed that the elements of public worship are limited to what Scripture commands. John 4:23 says, “True worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (see also Matt 15:9). The revealed “truth” of Scripture limits the worship of God to what is prescribed in Scripture. The Second London Baptist Confession 22.1 says:

The acceptable way of worshipping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshipped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.

Because the Bible does not command infant baptism, early Baptists believed that infant baptism is forbidden in public worship, and the baptism of believers alone is to be practiced in worship. This regulative principle of worship limits the elements of public worship to the Word preached and read, the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, prayer, the singing of Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and whatever else the Scripture commands.

Many Baptists today have completely abandoned the regulative principle of worship in favor of entertainment-oriented worship, consumerism, individual preferences, emotionalism, and pragmatism. Such Baptists have abandoned the very principle that led to their initial emergence from paedobaptism. One wonders whether a church can depart from a doctrine necessary to the emergence of Baptists in their English context and still rightly identify as a “Baptist” church.

2. Covenant Theology. While Reformed paedobaptist churches sometimes insist that they alone are the heirs of true covenant theology, historic Reformed Baptists claimed to abandon the practice of infant baptism precisely because of the Bible’s covenant theology.

Reformed Baptists agree with Reformed paedobaptists that God made a covenant of works with Adam, which he broke and so brought condemnation on the whole human race (Rom 5:18). They also say that God mercifully made a covenant of grace with His elect people in Christ (Rom 5:18), which is progressively revealed in the Old Testament and formally established in the new covenant at the death of Christ (Heb 9:15-16). The only way anyone was saved under the old covenant was by virtue of this covenant of grace in Christ, such that there is only one gospel, or one saving promise, running through the Scriptures.

Baptist covenant theologians, however, believe they are more consistent than their paedobaptist brothers with respect to covenant theology’s own hermeneutic of New Testament priority. According to the New Testament, the Old Testament promise to “you and your seed” was ultimately made to Christ, the true seed (Gal 3:16). Abraham’s physical children were a type of Christ, but Christ Himself is the reality. The physical descendants were included in the old covenant, not because they are all children of the promise, but because God was preserving the line of promise, until Christ, the true seed, came. Now that Christ has come, there is no longer any reason to preserve a physical line. Rather, only those who believe in Jesus are sons of Abraham, true Israelites, members of the new covenant, and the church of the Lord Jesus (Gal 3:7). In both the Old and New Testaments, the “new covenant” is revealed to be a covenant of believers only, who are forgiven of their sins, and have God’s law written on their hearts (Heb 8:10-12).

Baptists today who adhere to dispensationalism believe that the physical offspring of Abraham are the rightful recipients of the promises of God to Abraham’s seed. But they have departed from their historic Baptist roots and from the hermeneutical vision of the organic unity of the Bible cast by their forefathers. Baptist theologian James Leo Garrett correctly notes that dispensationalism is an “incursion” into Baptist theology, which only emerged in the last one hundred fifty years or so. See James Leo Garrett, Baptist Theology: A Four-Century Study (Macon, GA: Mercer, 2009), 560-570.

3. Calvinism. Because Reformed Baptists held to the covenant theology (federalism) of the 17th century, they were all Calvinists. The theological covenants of the old federal theology undergirded the early Baptist expressions of their Calvinistic soteriology. When Adam broke the covenant of works, God cursed all human beings with totally depraved natures (Isa 24:5-6), making them unable and unwilling to come to Christ for salvation.

But God didn’t leave the human race to die in sin; rather, in eternity past, God unconditionally chose a definite number of people for salvation and formed a covenant of redemption with Christ about their salvation (Isa 53; 54:10; Lk 22:29). At the appointed time, Christ came into the world and obeyed the covenant of redemption, fulfilling the terms of the covenant of works that Adam broke. In the covenant of redemption, Jesus kept God’s law perfectly, died on the cross, atoned for the sins of His chosen people, and rose from the dead, having effectually secured salvation for them (Heb 9:12).

God made the covenant of grace with His elect people (Gen 3:15; Heb 9:15-16) in which He applies all the blessings of life merited by Christ in the covenant of redemption. The Holy Spirit mercifully unites God’s chosen people to Christ in the covenant of grace, giving them blessings of life purchased by Christ’s life and death. God irresistibly draws them to Himself in their effectual calling (Jn 6:37), gives them a living heart (Ezek 36:26), a living faith and repentance (Eph 2:8-9; Acts 11:18), a living verdict of justification (Rom 3:28), and a living and abiding holiness (1 Cor 1:30), causing them to persevere to the end (1 Cor 1:8). All of these life-blessings are the merits of Jesus Christ, purchased in the covenant of redemption, applied in the covenant of grace.

The doctrine of the covenants is the theological soil in which Calvinism grew among early Baptists. Calvinistic Baptists today need to recover the rich federal theology of their forefathers so that the doctrines of grace they’ve rediscovered will be preserved for future generations.

4. The Law of God. Reformed Baptists believe the 10 commandments are the summary of God’s moral law (Exod 20; Matt 5; Rom 2:14-22). They believe that unless we rightly understand the law, we cannot understand the gospel. The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ kept the law for our justification by living in perfect obedience to earn the law’s blessing of life and by dying a substitutionary death to pay the law’s penalty. But the gospel isn’t only a promise of justification. It’s also the good news that Christ promises graciously to give the Holy Spirit to His people to kill their lawlessness and to make them more and more lawful. Titus 2:14 says that Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession, who are zealous for good works.”

The Second London Baptist Confession, 19.5 says:

The moral law does for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof,(10) and that not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it;(11) neither does Christ in the Gospel any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.(12)

10. Rom 13:8-10; Jas 2:8,10-12
11. Jas 2:10,11
12. Matt 5:17-19; Rom 3:31

Therefore, while justified believers are free from the law as a covenant of works to earn justification and eternal life (Rom 7:1-6), God gives them His law as a standard of conduct or rule of life in their sanctification (Rom 8:4, 7). God’s moral law, summarized in the 10 commandments (Rom 2:14-24; 13:8-10; Jas 2:8-11), including the Sabbath commandment (Mk 2:27; Heb 4:9-10), is an instrument of sanctification in the life of the believer. Believers rest in Christ for their total salvation. Christ takes their burdens of guilt and shame, and His people take upon themselves the yoke of His law, and they learn obedience from a humble and gentle Teacher. 1 John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.”

Baptists who hold to new covenant theology, or progressive covenantalism, do not have the same view of the law as the dominant stream of their Baptist forebears.

5. Confessional. Most of the early Baptists, both in England and in America, held to the Second London Baptist Confession of 1677/1689. While certainly not all Calvinistic Baptists subscribed to this confession, it was the main influence among Baptists in England and America after its publication. This confession, based on the Westminster Confession (Presbyterian) and the Savoy Declaration (Independent), was originally edited and published in 1677, but formally adopted by Baptist churches in 1689 after English persecution lifted.

Historic Reformed Baptists were thoroughgoing confessionalists. They were not bare “biblicists.” Biblicists deny words and doctrines not explicitly stated in Scripture, and they deny that the church’s historic teaching about the Bible has any secondary authority in biblical interpretation. The early Baptists, however, did not believe that individual church members or individual pastors should interpret the Bible divorced from the historic teaching of the church (Heb 13:7). They believed that the Bible alone is sufficient for doctrine and practice, but they also believed the Bible must be explained and read in light of the church’s interpretive tradition (1 Tim 3:15), which uses words other than the Bible (Acts 2:31 is one refutation of biblicism, since it explains Psalm 16 in words not used in that Psalm). Reformed Baptists believed that their theology was anchored in the church’s rich theological heritage and that it was a natural development of the doctrine of the church in light of the central insights of the Reformation (sola Scriptura: no baptizing infants; sola fide: only converts are God’s people).

Under the guise of upholding Sola Scriptura, many Christians today seek to read the Bible independently and come to their own private conclusions about what it means without consulting the church’s authorized teachers or the orthodox confessions of faith. But that’s not what Sola Scriptura historically meant. Scripture teaches that the church is the “pillar and support of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15). The church as a whole is charged with interpreting the Bible, and God has authorized teachers in the church throughout history. Therefore, while every individual Christian is responsible to understand Scripture for himself, no Christian should study the Bible without any consideration of what the great teachers of the past have taught about the Bible.

The majority of historic Reformed Baptists held to the Second London Baptist Confession of 1689 because they believed it is a compendium of theology that best summarizes the teaching of Scripture in small compass.

God is Spirit

by 

We’re living through a pandemic and much of the Christian world cannot physically gather on Sundays. Are we hindered? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that we cannot physically go to a church building to worship together. No in the sense that, since God is spirit and everywhere at all times, we can worship him in our living rooms, even though it pales in comparison to actually being with our church family.

God is spirit. What does this mean? Where is this at in the Bible? In this post, you can learn about what it means that God is spirit.

Continued at the Source: God is Spirit

Presidents and Precedents

Did our Founding Fathers Worship a Big God or Big Government?

The Three Q & A audio sessions highlight an interview between
Stand in the Gap Today radio hosts, Isaac Crockett and Dr. Gary Dull; and Tim Barton, President of Wallbuilders.

  • What is the purpose of President’s Day?
  • What do we know about President Lincoln’s faith and how did it influence his time in office?
  • What are college students learning about our nation’s history?
To LISTEN to the entire PROGRAM, click HERE.
To READ the entire TRANSCRIPT, click HERE.

The Inescapable Truth About God

I do not know if this will be a series so I will chime in with my 2 cents now :). “True Worship of God” must be in Spirit and Truth (John 4:20-26) all other ‘worship’ is false and useless. Another fallacy is the object of our worship. It certainly is not us, (I have said it over and over It is always about God and never about us) we are not there to be anything (filled, pumped, or any other adjective) that is strictly a by product of “True Worship”. An God is not the “Object” of our worship either, although is you do a google search you would think so. He is the SUBJECT of our worship. Folks there is a big  difference between object of and subject of and it is not just a matter of semantics, although in our modern language that difference seems to have been lost. 

The Inescapable Truth About God

by John MacArthur / Monday, February 24, 2020

Acceptable worship demands that God be known—worship cannot occur where the true God is not believed in, adored, and obeyed. The object of our worship must be right if our worship is to be acceptable. We must consider the God we worship.

Paul’s experience with the religious philosophers on Mars Hill in Acts 17 brought him into a classic confrontation with a case of unacceptable worship. The Greeks had an altar “to an unknown god.” Paul used that idol as a starting point to preach to them about worshiping the true God. In essence he told them, “You are worshiping in ignorance. Let me tell you about this unknown God. He can be known. It does no good at all to guess about who He is or how to worship Him.”

God has so clearly revealed Himself to us in His Word and through His Son that man is without excuse if he persists in unbelief. Faith, then—and more specifically, faith in God as He has revealed Himself to us—is the fundamental requirement for true worship. Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

That verse states two facts about God—that He exists, and that it is possible to know something of His nature. It suggests that the true worshiper must have those two issues settled in his mind.

Though he was incurably skeptical of all religion, historian Will Durant struggled with the futility of every worldview that leaves God out. He wrote, “The greatest question of our time is not Communism versus individualism. It is not Europe versus America. It is not even the east versus the west. It is whether man can bear to live without God.” [1] Even as an avowed atheist, he understood that the major issue in all of life is the reality of God.

Did Man Create God?

Skeptics say that Christians have simply invented God. Religion, they claim, has devised supernatural explanations for what men do not understand, and there really is no supernatural reality—God is a human creation.

Sigmund Freud, for example, said that man made God. That, of course, is the reversal of what the Bible says: that God created man. Freud said in his book The Future of an Illusion, that because man desperately needs security, because he has deep–seated fears, and because he lives in a threatening world in which he has very little control over his circumstances, he invented God to meet his psychological needs. Man feels the need for an invisible means of support, but there is no God except in man’s imagination, says Freud.

That idea was spawned out of a corrupt mind. It is totally indefensible, and yet myriads of people have believed it. It demonstrates a simplistic, ignorant view of the world’s religions. When the human mind manufactures a god, it is rarely a saving, delivering god. The gods invented by humans don’t become psychologically supportive; they are oppressive gods who continually have to be appeased. When a woman in India throws her baby into the Ganges River to drown, in hopes of appeasing some god, she does not see that god as someone to deliver her from her problems. Her god is a fearful ogre. Indeed, false gods are man’s invention, but they are not like the true God, and in no way do they negate the reality of the true God.

Man has not made God—in fact, if man had his way, he would prefer that the God of the Bible did not exist. The unregenerate mind is God’s would–be murderer. It is “hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Romans 8:7). Therefore, every fallen sinner does his best to eliminate the true God. He invents false gods. He postulates theology that says God is dead. He devises philosophies and lifestyles that assert that the very idea of a God is ludicrous.

The majority of people deny God’s existence one way or the other. Many who are not philosophical atheists are practical atheists. Although they do not reject the concept of God, they live as if He didn’t exist. Titus 1:16 describes such people: “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.”

That has been the norm since Adam and Eve. Immediately after they sinned, they hid themselves from God. They tried to act as if God didn’t exist, and mankind has followed that same pattern throughout history. Romans 1 tells us that men know in their hearts God exists. Verse 19 says, “That which is known about God is evident within them.” Verse 20 says, “Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen.” Verse 21 says, “They knew God.” And verse 28 says, “They did not see fit to acknowledge God.”

Freud is wrong. Man has not invented God. Man suppresses his knowledge of God through unrighteous behavior (Romans 1:18) in a vain attempt to silence the truth he already knows. Man would wish God out of existence, if he had his way. They ignore the many compelling proofs God has given us of Himself through His creation and within our reasoning powers. And we’ll consider those next time.

(Adapted from Worship)

 

 

Idols

Image result for You shall make have no idols.

Exodus 20:3-4

“You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself any idol, or any likeness (form, manifestation) of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth [as an object to worship]. (AMP)
No tendrás dioses ajenos delante de mí. No te harás imagen, ni ninguna semejanza de lo que esté arriba en el cielo, ni abajo en la tierra, ni en las aguas debajo de la tierra. (RVR 1960)

John Calvin Harmony of the Law (V2)

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image. In the First Commandment, after He had taught who was the true God, He commanded that He alone should be worshiped; and now He defines what is His Legitimate Worship. Now, since these are two distinct things, we conclude that the commandments are also distinct, in which different things are treated of. The former indeed precedes in order, viz., that believers are to be contented with one God; but it would not be sufficient for us to be instructed to worship him alone, unless we also knew the manner in which He would be worshiped. The sum is, that the worship of God must be spiritual, in order that it may correspond with His nature. For although Moses only speaks of idolatry, yet there is no doubt but that by
synecdoche, as in all the rest of the Law, he condemns all fictitious services which men in their ingenuity have invented. For hence have arisen the carnal mixtures whereby God’s worship has been profaned, that they estimate Him according to their own reason, and thus in a manner metamorphose Him. It is necessary, then, to remember what God is, lest we should form any gross or earthly ideas respecting Him. The words simply express that it is wrong for men to seek the presence of God in any visible image, because He cannot be represented to our eyes. The command that they should not make any likeness, either of any thing which is in heaven, or in the earth, or
in the waters under the earth, is derived from the evil custom which had everywhere prevailed; for, since superstition is never uniform, but is drawn aside in various directions, some thought that God was represented under the form of fishes, others under that of birds, others in that of brutes; and history especially recounts by what shameless delusions Egypt was led astray. And hence too the vanity of men is declared, since, whithersoever they turn their eyes, they everywhere lay hold of the materials of error, notwithstanding that God’s glory shines on every side, and whatever is seen
above or below, invites us to the true God.

Since, therefore, men are thus deluded, so as to frame for themselves the materials of error from all things they behold, Moses now elevates them above the whole fabric and elements of the world; for by the things that are “in heaven above,” he designates not only the birds, but the sun, and the moon, and all the stars also; as will soon be seen. He declares, then, that a true image of God is not to be found in all the world; and hence that His glory is defiled, and His truth corrupted by the lie, whenever He is set before our eyes in a visible form. Now we must remark, that there are two parts
in the Commandment — the first forbids the erection of a graven image, or any likeness; the second prohibits the transferring of the worship which God claims for Himself alone, to any of these phantoms or delusive shows. Therefore, to devise any image of God, is in itself impious; because by this corruption His Majesty is adulterated, and He is figured to be other than He is. There is no need of refuting the foolish fancy of some, that all sculptures and pictures are here condemned by Moses, for he had no other object than to rescue God’s glory from all the imaginations which tend to corrupt it. And assuredly it is a most gross indecency to make God like a stock or a stone. Some expound the words, “Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven image, which thou mayest adore;” as if it were allowable to make a visible image of God, provided it be not adored; but the expositions which will follow will easily refute their error. Meanwhile, I do not deny that these things are to be taken connectedly, since superstitious worship is hardly ever separated from the preceding error;
for as soon as any one has permitted himself to devise an image of God, he immediately falls into false worship. And surely whosoever reverently and soberly feels and thinks about God Himself, is far from this absurdity; nor does any desire or presumption to metamorphose God ever creep in, except when coarse and carnal imaginations occupy our minds. Hence it comes to pass, that those, who frame for themselves gods of corruptible materials, superstitiously adore the work of their
own hands. I will then readily allow these two things, which are inseparable, to be joined together; only let us recollect that God is insulted, not only when His worship is transferred to idols, but when we try to represent Him by any outward similitude.

 

 

Biblical Contentment, Part VII

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Prayer: Proverbs 16:3 
Study: Psalm 119:11
Fellowship: Hebrews 10:25
Stewardship: 1 Peter 4:10
Worship: 1 Chronicles 16:29

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;[a(ESV)

Tributad[a] al Señor la gloria debida a[b] su nombre;
traed ofrenda[c], y venid delante de El; adorad al Señor en la majestad de la santidad[d].(LBLA)

Sharing: 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Walking: 1 John 2:6

Let us begin today with a question¹; What is the chief end of man? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, ( 1 Corinthians 10:31 ) and to enjoy him for ever. ( Psalms 73:25 Psalms 73:26 ). True worship of God must be built upon the understanding that God is entitled to and deserves to be worshiped.

In the 96th Psalm David quotes from our main text in verses 7-9 

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    bring an offering, and come into his courts!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness;[a]
    tremble before him, all the earth!

So the question must be asked what is Worship? Today it can mean anything from dancing and waving flags in the isles to very solemn and ritualistic ceremonies. In other words from one end of the spectrum to the other. The correct answer as usual is somewhere in the middle.

Looking again at the Puritan Catechism we see this: Question 2 What rule has God given to direct us how we may glorify him? Answer The Word of God which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New TestamentsEphesians 2:20 ; 2 Timothy 3:16 ) are the only rule to direct us how we may glorify God and enjoy him.1 John 1:3 ). In other words it is scripture not some worship leader, youth pastor or the tread of the month club that dictates how we worship God.  This applies to both our personal most importantly (as this is where the abuse is so prevalent) corporate worship) 

There are hundreds of verses and instances referring to Worship in the bible we could look at but I will focus on three:

Vain Worship:  Jesus calls out the Pharisees and scribes for worshiping according to the traditions of men; Matthew 15: 7-9  You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” It concerns me that a large percentage of “Evangelicals” in America today fall into this category. One only has to read the survey results from showing church attendance, positions on Abortion, LBGTQ and other anti-biblical ideas. 

Ignorant Worship: Paul informs the people at Mars hill how foolish they are to erect and idol to an unknown god, just in case they might have missed someone or something Acts 17:23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. This is the reason for Matthew 28:18-20 the Great Commission. It is our job to share the Gospel message to all who are ignorant of the truth of Christ.  

True Worship: Jesus makes it clear that soon only those who worship in Spirit and Truth will be acceptable to God John 4:21-24 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”  This worship is God centered, is never about me, my experience or my feelings. It is rewarding not because “I” but because “HE” was glorified there are no other motivation for this type of worship except God and Him Glorified. 

To be objective there are two common types (or principles) of worship seen in “Christian” churches the Regulative and Normative Principles. The Regulative principle basically says that it is scripture that dictates what we can do in our worship. An example nowhere in scripture do we see a church service being held in conjunction with a day at the beach or pool party so the Regulative would say it is a no go.  The Normative says if scripture does not forbid it is is good to go so grab your swim suit. An extreme example, maybe but you tube it 😦

I am a strong advocate for the first, or Regulative Principle. God is sovereign and as such His Word (Sola Scriptura) dictates to us how we are to live and act in our daily lives. Most Evangelicals accept this, but want to worship god their own way not His (See Vain Worship above) 

The bottom line if you desire Biblical Contentment you can not exempt yourself from personal and corporate Worship of God and it must be all be done in Spirit and Truth. 


Addition Resources: 

What Is the Regulative Principle of Worship?

The Regulative Principle of Worship by 

The Freedom of the Regulative Principle by Kevin DeYoung

Regulative Principle of the Church by Sam Waldron

 

 

¹ The Baltimore Complete Catechism   (Also know as the Puritan Catechism) Compiled by C. H. Spurgeon

Fear the Lord

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I like the way the Berean Study Bible has rendered this verse “Above all” compared to the most common rendering of “only” in most bibles,  it puts an emphasis a priority upon the need for me to fear the Lord.

This “fear” spoken of here is used 4 times in 1 Samuel 12.

14 If you fear the LORD and serve Him and obey His voice,…

18 …As a result, all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.

20 “Do not be afraid (fear) ,” Samuel replied…

It is the same Hebrew word translated Yare’ (yaw-ray’) with meanings of 1) to be afraid (vs. 18) or reverent awe (vs. 14, 20 and 24).

So above all else we are to reverently serve andworship him faithfully with all our heart”. This cannot be a fleeting or superficial act. Samuel has just warned Israel that they are GUILTY (as we all are) of grossly sinning against God. yet He is merciful and willing to forgive those who are genuine and wholehearted in their repentance.

Why should we fear the Lord? Why should we serve and worship Him faithfully with all our hearts? Just like ancient Israel we have but one answer, “consider what great things He has done for you.”

 

How you can serve our guests tomorrow on Resurrection Sunday (and every Sunday after that)

How you can serve our guests tomorrow on Resurrection Sunday (and every Sunday after that)

I know this is two days late, but it arrived in my inbox yesterday afternoon 😦  However I think the message on serving guests is relevant. 
 | APRIL 20, 2019

[I wrote the following for our church to help us prepare for welcoming guests who will join us for worship tomorrow. The principles could be helpful for other churches, too.]

Tomorrow, like many churches, we expect more than the usual number of guests to join us for worship. Some of these will have been specifically invited by our members and some will attend for other reasons. Nearly all first-time guests to our worship services feel a little self-conscious. They don’t know all that we know, including simple things like, where they should sit, where the bathrooms are, if their children are welcome in the service and what to expect. You can go a long way to making our guests feel welcome by looking for those you don’t know and taking the initiative to introduce yourself to them and talking to them for a few minutes.

Here are 10 practical suggestions that can help us all show the love of Christ to guests who visit our worship gatherings.

  1. Pray on Saturday night and Sunday before church for our worship time. Ask the Lord to help those who lead us and to speak through His Word. Pray for yourself—that God will strengthen your faith in Christ and your repentance for sin. Then pray that the Lord will bring guests to join us and ask Him to grant them faith and repentance by speaking to them through His Word.
  2. If you are able (and I know many are not) park in the least desirable spots, even across the street if you can. This will allow those who are less familiar with us to easily find the best parking places near the building.
  3. Greet people in the parking lot—those you know and those you don’t know. Let those who have taken the initiative to visit us know that we are glad they are with us. Offer to show them inside and introduce them to others.
  4. Sit in the least desirable seats, if you can. That usually means near the front, on the sides and in the middle of the sections. Try to leave seats that are easily accessible for those who might arrive late.
  5. If you see someone who looks like they may not be sure where to go or what to do, go and introduce yourself to them. Ask them to sit with you (if they agree, feel free to take one of the better seats J).
  6. Silently pray before and during the service for the Lord to manifest His presence among us.
  7. Worship! Listen when a leader is speaking or reading the Word. Pray along silently when we are being led in prayer. Sing wholeheartedly as to the Lord when we sing. Let those among us who do not know the Lord witness the sincere devotion of those of us who do.
  8. Plan not to leave at any point during the service (and help your children plan to stay without needing to walk out). Some people must get up and leave during worship due to sickness, pregnancy, caring for children or an emergency. But I suspect most of this kind of movement during our services is really not necessary. Take time to go to the bathroom and get water before the service (and if you have children, help them to do the same) so that you can focus without distraction and not unnecessarily be a distraction during the service.
  9. After the service look for guests and greet them. Encourage them to go to our welcome center. Offer to show them the way. Tell them you are glad they came. Consider offering them your contact information with an invitation to contact you if they have any needs or questions (especially if they are new in the area). Invite them back.
  10. Pray. During the invocation (first prayer of the service), pray specifically for the guests among us. If, in speaking with a guest, it is appropriate, ask them how you can pray for them. Write down what they say, and commit to do so. Consider praying briefly (very briefly) for them right there, by asking something like, “Would it be ok if we step aside and I pray briefly for you right now?” If they agree, be specific and brief.

Remember what it was like the first time you attended a worship service at Grace. Did anyone particularly show you kindness and warm hospitality? Imitate them tomorrow. Could someone have done something that would have made you feel more welcome or less awkward? Then do that for someone tomorrow.