How we worship as a church.

by Pastor Christian Adjemian

First Reformed Presbyterian Church

Cambridge, Massachusetts

W e believe and confess as a church that Christ is our Sovereign King, that we are citizens of his kingdom, and that we are his thankful and joyful servants, sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. Our purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.

The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 1.6 states "The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men." We believe that in service to our Savior and Lord Jesus, we must turn to the Bible to learn how to glorify him in our lives.

One privileged aspect of our life as followers of Christ is that we worship Him together, as a church. Worship is God's idea. Worship is not an idea that originates in the mind and heart of man. It is God who calls us to worship Him. The desire for worship is given by the Holy Spirit, who leads us to Christ. We worship God, as Jesus directed, in Spirit and truth. Our worship must be Spiritual, not worldly, and it must be in truth. This refers not simply to sincerity but to conformity with the true teaching which God has given to us in the Bible.

We believe and confess that God the Lord has truly set down in the Bible how he desires to be worshipped. We Presbyterian Protestants have referred to this as God's "regulating" worship. We believe that the Scriptures set forth a principle, which we call the Regulative Principle of Worship, that directs how we go about worshipping the Lord. The Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 21:1, says, in part, "...the acceptable way of worshipping the true God is instituted by Himself, and is so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshipped according to the imaginations and devices of men, or the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representation, or any other way not prescribed in the holy scripture." This is what we believe concerning worship.

This sort of thinking certainly runs against the current in many contemporary Protestant churches, where the worship service often focuses on the perceived needs of the worshippers. But if you have read this far, let us encourage you to continue a little longer and consider the issues in this case. Any thoughtful Christian will agree that the worship of God is a central activity for our lives. Looking into what God teaches about worship is vitally important and will stimulate spiritual growth. Considering this issue may challenge and deepen your understanding of how we should approach God. So, read on!

The Regulative Principle of worship is really a special case of the more general principle that Jesus Christ is head of the Church and that He directs how the Church must function, how the Church is to be organized, and what the Church is to do until His return. He didn't just set His disciples loose in the world. He directed them to teach all that He had commanded. When we define the Regulative Principle of Worship, we are simply applying the commandments of the Lord to the specific and unique activity of Christian worship. Many sound theologians have defended the biblical basis of this approach to Christian worship. Professor T. David Gordon teaches at Grove City College in Pennsylvania. He has put together a helpful list of nine lines of argument that support the Regulative Principle of Worship. Any one of these lines of argumentation lends support to the RPW. The sum of all nine makes the RPW the most reasonable biblical approach to Christian corporate worship. Have a look. We encourage you to also read Dr. Edgar's article "What's Your Worship Style". You may also follow links to our denominational home page and read for yourself the passages in the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Reformed Presbyterian Testimony that address Christian worship. And may the Lord add his blessing to your thinking!