Monday, July 02, 2007

The Bible in Worship (Bulletin Insert)

The Word of God should be central in the worship of God. This simple statement guides my understanding of services of the worship of God. Below is the bulletin insert from Sunday, June 24.

The Word and Worship

One of the unique aspects of worship services at Parkwood Southern Baptist Church is our emphasis upon the Bible. The words of our God call us to worship every Sunday morning as Pastor Todd reads a psalm. A Scripture reading is placed in the middle of our hymns and songs to remind us of the centrality of the Word of God in our services. In the evenings, we are reading through the book of Proverbs to complement our pastor’s preaching in the book of James, both books of which are very practical in focus.
Why so much Scripture? The late Presbyterian pastor James Montgomery Boice gives a cogent response:

To worship God we must know who God is, but we cannot know who God is unless God first chooses to reveal himself to us. God has done this in the Bible, which is why the Bible and the teaching of the Bible need to be central in our worship. [1]

Our worship is not a generic service of worship where we simply gather to do the act of worship. We come together to worship God, so that Bob Kauflin of Sovereign Grace Ministries prefers to speak of church worship services as the community gathering not for a “Service of Worship” but for a “Service of the Worship of God.” Therefore, if our worship is to be God-glorifying, it has to have the Word of God at a central place. Worship is not about our collective feelings, and we do not gather to worship so that Our hearts will be blessed, although our good God does often see fit to quicken our affections for Him and His glory as we worship. Our services of the worship of God are all about Him and His glory, and thus His book, the Holy Bible, has center stage in our church. No person, song, instrument, or emotional response should take center stage in our worship. The moment these things become the focus of any church the Word of God becomes supplanted, an idol has been erected, and God’s glory is offended so that what happens bears no resemblance to what can rightfully be termed Christian worship.

One church shares a similar high view of God’s Word with regard to worship. This church—First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Mississippi—has a motto that captures this view of the Bible as it relates to worship: “Read the Bible, Preach the Bible, Pray the Bible, Sing the Bible, See the Bible.”[2] The pastor, J. Ligon Duncan, sums up the aim of biblical worship:

“Our aim then is to have a public worship service that is according to Scripture: that is, a service rooted in the Bible’s teaching about the form and substance of congregational worship."[3]

These are some of the reasons why the Word of God is implemented in various ways during the course of our service. Our attempt is to shape and fashion our worship services according to the Word of God and a proper theological understanding that comes from the study of God’s Word.

On this Lord’s Day, consider an important question: Is the Word of God a central theme in your life? If our worship is based on Scripture, how much more should our relationship with God be governed by the principle of Scripture-centeredness? May the Lord be pleased by our worship today and by our devotion to Him and His Word every day of our lives.

[1] Philip Graham Ryken, Derek W. Thomas, and J. Ligon Duncan III, eds., Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2003), [vii].

[2] J. Ligon Duncan, Worshiping God Together: Congregational Worship at First Presbyterian Church (Jackson, MS: First Presbyterian Church, 2005), 9.

[3] Duncan, Worshiping, 13.

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